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The 2022 NFL pre-season officially begins after the Hall of Fame game Thursday night.
While the results of these games will not count towards the ranking, there will be plenty of useful insights to be distinguished from the upcoming event.
Some of the most important information revealed from these exhibition competitions and training camps involves players who have something to prove.
Whether it’s because they’re involved in contested positional battles, want to prove they deserve their preliminary status or are in a contract year with money on the line, these players will use prior reason to prove their worth and earn their team’s trust.
With that in mind, here are the five players – listed alphabetically – the most proven during pre-season 2022.
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The Baltimore Ravens’ receiving corps will look a lot different this year. With Marquis Brown – the current No. 1 option – traded on enlistment night and veteran Sammy Watkins leaving in free agency, the team will rely on several young talents to take on the burden of picking up passes.
Rashid Bateman will step in in the role vacated by Brown, but the 2021 first-round team selection order remains unclear.
Devin DuVernay is one of the leading candidates to serve as WR #2 in Baltimore. The 24-year-old earned an All-Pro nod as a returning man last year, but he didn’t really cut his teeth as an NFL receiver, reeling in just 53 receptions for 473 yards and a pair of touchdowns on his first two career seasons.
That should change in 2022 after the Ravens chose not to make any big additions to WR. DuVernay will contend with the likes of James Brosh II, Tillan Wallace, Jaylon Moore and Benjamin Victor for goals behind Batman and tight-knit superstar Mark Andrews.
With no proven talent among the WR2 nominees, Duvernay — a third-round pick in 2020 — has the inside track to be the team’s third pick in the passing game. He’s got uncanny velocity and speed that allows him to burn defenders slower, but still has to show his ability to win contested balls and run down clear paths.
If DuVernay struggles, the crows may be in trouble. The club is already deploying one of the fiercest attacks out there and may have to rely more on the ground game for success if it cannot find a wide range to support Pittman and Andrews during pre-season.
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Baker Mayfield is running out of opportunities to show he could be the NFL quarterback.
After losing with the Cleveland Browns, who showed a distrust of the signal caller by trading for Deshaun Watson, Mayfield remained on the roster for several months. The Carolina Panthers eventually emerged as a business partner, providing an opportunity for the disgruntled QB to rehabilitate his career through a change of scenery.
Despite this, Mayfield does not guarantee a start in business with the Panthers. organization only give up Conditional pick for Day Three and pays less than $5 million in salary for the final season on the 27-year-old’s deal.
Considering Mayfield is coming off the worst campaign of his professional career – the one he’s been in Seriously injured But it was pushed to the detriment of himself and Brown. It also still has to beat Sam Darnold, an early 2018 classmate who landed in Carolina after being caught up in his original franchise.
With Mayfield and Darnold fighting not just for a starting job, but the right to turn their careers around, the Panthers could host the fiercest positioning battle in pre-season.
Mayfield had slightly more individual success than Darnold during his first four years in the NFL. It’s only a season he has been removed from leading Brown’s team with 11-5 and it’s his first playoff win since 1994.
Darnold has yet to make it to post-season, and his best showing was a 7-6 record start with the New York Jets in 2019. The 25-year-old only went 4-7 last year – his first campaign with the Panthers – before going down Shoulder injury.
If Mayfield can show his return to his 2020 form during pre-season, it should be the Panthers’ job to lose. If not, Darnold will likely start the 2022 campaign as Carolina QB1.
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Bernhard Raimann was widely regarded as one of the best attacking opportunities in the 2022 class. Despite plenty of experts ratification
The Central Michigan producer would come off the plate on day one, and slipped all the way to the third round before the Indianapolis Colts stopped his fall.
Part of the reason for Rayman’s sharp drop in enlistment day is his relatively raw skill set. The Austrian started his collegiate career as a tight end before switching to left-handed tackle in 2020, collecting just six games of experience during a shortened campaign.
While a record number 12 began on his way to being named to the All-MAC first team last year, Raimann still has to prove he’s ready to take on top-tier defenders. That can be tough with Hungry Veteran Matt Pryor to win indy competitions starting left-handed interference in Contract year.
Pryor works with First team During the boot camp despite the lack of experience in this position. Jake Arthur SI.com noted that the 2018 sixth-round pick has scored just 172 out of his 1,294 career. offensive snaps
When processing the left.
While Pryor is currently at the top of the LT depth chart, Raimann has It said
Colts Brass impressed with his early lead while practicing in several offensive line positions.
The 6’6″, 303lb rookie has the physical tools to become a franchise for an offensive line that desperately needs to find a champion out there. He found stability after Anthony Castonzo retired after the 2020 season.
If Raimann can make solid preparations for the season and show that he’s their easier handling of the future, the Colts may speed his way into the starting lineup as a rookie.
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The Cincinnati Bengals may head off on an impressive run to the Super Bowl, but the franchise still has many question marks in key positions as it looks to defend the AFC title.
One of the points that has undergone a noticeable change from last year is the tight end. Cincinnati was elected to allow veteran CJ Ozuma to walk on free agency after seven years of service with the club.
With the current TE1 out of the picture, the pressure will be on Drew Sample to perform this season. The Bengals are clearly putting their faith in the fourth-year veteran to come out as the best finish after Ozuma’s departure.
The sample has been an interesting talent since he ranked 52nd overall in 2019. He showed flashes in his second year when he made the 40th best reception of his career for 349 yards, but the offense was phased out last year and just caught 11 passes for 81 yards .
Washington producer’s offensive workload decreased from 868
In 2020 it dropped to just 459 last year despite appearing in another game in 2021.
The sample, whose rookie contract is coming to an end after the upcoming campaign, is now getting his best chance to prove himself, but the 26-year-old will still need to beat Hayden Hurst in the shots. Hurst, a first-round pick in 2018 who failed to meet the expectations of the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons, is also fighting to put his career on the right track.
scary training camp leg injury
Sample could make a comeback in his quest to become a key player – he was already working with his second series attack before the injury – but there should be plenty of opportunities for Sample to usurp Hearst atop the depth chart in pre-season if he can stay healthy.
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Michael Thomas may have been close to being unstoppable in 2019, but the super receiver at the New Orleans Saints has been essentially invisible in the wake of his record-breaking season.
Thomas has appeared in just seven games since making 149 receptions for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019, scoring just 345. offensive snaps He crossed seven games in 2020 and missed the whole of last year as he recovered from a nagging ankle injury.
The Saints’ aerial attack has struggled without Thomas in the squad – they’ve had the worst passing attack in the league in 2021 – but the club looks set to turn around the corner with or without a Pro Bowler three times in the lineup.
There are a lot of mouths to feed in the Big Easy now, competition that could reduce Thomas’ workload if he’s not at his best.
Not only did fellow Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry pick free agency, the Saints also landed rookie rookie Chris Olaf with pick number 11. They also have Taysom Hill closed as a pass tight end Instead of courting the position of QB.
Thomas turned 29 in March, and he’s not sure he’ll be back in his All-Pro form even with a clean bill of health. He’s only had 40 passes for 438 yards and hasn’t touched a touchdown in 2020 and has plenty of rust to throw after being sidelined for so long.
At its best, viewing at scale would be a massive upgrade for the Saints receiver wire. In the run-up to the 2022 season, the team will be hoping to be able to showcase the skills that have made him one of the greatest in his position, but Thomas has a long way to go to prove he is still that player.