ProToppers Primer: NFL Preseason Week 1


As I’m sure most, if not all of you, are aware, tonight kicks off the first full slate of preseason games in anticipation for the 2014 NFL season. And, as WKU football becomes more and more prominent, we have nine, count ’em, nine, ProToppers that we get to keep track of (hopefully) all season long, and for a majority of them, they’ll be fighting for roster spots, while a few of our “veterans,” are looking to solidify their role for more playing time.

Jack DoyleIndianapolis Colts (vs. New York Jets @ 6:00 pm)
While many folks will have their eyes on this game to look at the Jets’ QB battle between Geno Smith and Michael Vick, we Toppers will be watching to see how Jack Doyle does for a majority of the game, and once the game rolls into the second quarter, Doyle will most likely be the most targeted tight end. A depth chart released yesterday showed Doyle was third at the TE position, behind NFL names Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. Once Allen and Fleener play a few downs, look for Doyle to be in a ton of packages, especially after halftime, to show Chuck Pagano and company what he can do. Call me optimistic, but I like what this pre-fall can bring for Mr. Doyle.

Bobby RaineyTampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Fri. 6:30 pm)
After having a coming out party of sorts towards the tail end of last year, Antonio Andrews’ predecessor Bobby Rainey will look to prove why he was placed second on the preseason depth chart for the Bucs (who, depending on who you talk to, might be one of the worst teams in the league) behind only Doug Martin for that coveted starter spot. Tonight could bode very well for Rainey in his first true audition for the year, as the Jags were the fourth worst team at stoping the run a year ago. (The team that Rainey torched, the Atlanta Falcons, finished last year as the second worst team in the league in the same department.)

Quanterus SmithDenver Broncos (vs. Seattle Seahawks @ 8:00 pm)
After missing all of last year with an ACL injury, Q Smith is back and ready for NFL action, and will have a great challenge ahead of him as he and his Broncos will have a Super Bowl rematch with the defending champs, the Seahawks. All signs appear to be a-go for Q, as the first Broncos depth chart have him in the number two spot at right defensive end, behind seven time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. The lone draft pick out of the studded 2012 squad, hopefully he will prove to the Broncos higher ups they didn’t waste a pick on someone from little Ol’ Western.

While we are getting used to the ProToppers above playing week in and week out, we will have the opportunity to see six Tops who were on last years squad get their first taste of NFL action over the weekend.

Antonio AndrewsTennessee Titans (vs. Green Bay Packers, Sat. 7:00 pm)
It’s such a great coincidence that one of the most popular WKU players is with a team so close to “home,” and because of that, is a very popular pro team among those who pull for the Tops. Andrews is getting plenty of talk about in Titans camp, but has a lot to prove, as he was listed as fifth on the depth chart for Sunday night’s game against Green Bay. My best guess is A.A. will see more time returning kicks in the first game or so before being put in the back field, and he will truly have to earn his stars (get it?) in order to be on the roster come official kick off.

Jonathan DowlingOakland Raiders (vs. Minnesota Vikings, Fri. 7:00 pm)
This game may interest some of you on multiple levels. On the one hand, one of WKU’s two draft picks, Jonathan Dowling, will be making his debut in the silver and black of the Oakland (soon to be San Antonio? Who knows these days) Raiders. On the other hand, former Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater will get his first look at NFL play. But, here, we will stick to the former. Heading into tomorrow, Dowling is listed as the number three strong safety, but the second-string SS, Usama Youngis injured, so either Oakland can move a free safety to that #2 SS spot, or Dowling will get an unanticipated higher look. Number one on the depth chart is Tyvon Branch (for those who are wondering).

Andrew Jackson – Indianapolis Colts
Joining Doyle in Indy is another WKU draft pick, Andrew Jackson, and he will suit up as the third string “Mike,” linebacker (whatever the heck that means) against the Jets, and boy what a statement that would be to play well against either Geno or Vick.

Kadeem Jones – St. Louis Rams (vs. New Orleans Saints, Fri. 7:00 pm)
Another game which will have a lot of eyes on it (Michael Sam is a Ram, after all), we will be looking at fullback Kadeem Jones, who was signed as a non-drafted free agent, has survived rookie camps, off season cuts, and is FIRST ON THE DEPTH CHART!…as the only fullback on the team. But hey, it’s a start! However, there are six running backs listed on the depth chart in preparation for tomorrow’s game against the Saints. Now, I don’t know what type of offense the Rams are planning to run, but I can’t imagine they have too many packages with a fullback…yet. Either that, or they’ll plug in one of their fifth or sixth string RB’s to the FB position to give some competition with Kadeem. But, nevertheless, the fact that KJ is still on the roster and will see a preseason game is something to celebrate.

Derrius Brooks – New Orleans Saints (vs. St. Louis Rams, Fri. 7:00 pm)
Well, lookie here, only one week of preseason action and we already have a ProTopper vs. ProTopper game, as former CFLer Derrius Brooks will look to move his name up the cornerback depth chart (where he is presently fifth). Last season with the Calgary Stampeders, Brooks recorded 35 tackles, broke up six passes and intercepted three more.

Xavius BoydBuffalo Bills (vs. Carolina Panthers, Fri. 6:30)
Xavius Boyd signed a UFA deal with the Baltimore Ravens after the draft, but a few weeks ago, he inked a new deal with the Buffalo Bills, and will play in his second game of the preseason, after recording two tackles in the 17-13 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

Which ProTopper do you think has the best chance to stay on an NFL roster? Who are you most excited about watching? Let us know below or on twitter (@WaveTheRedTowel) by using the hastag #ProToppers. Also, if you live in one of these areas and can actually watch one of these games, tweet us and let us know how our boys did, and your tweet might end up in a future post!