The Hall of Fame Game marks the official start of the NFL preseason with the Dallas Cowboys squaring off against the Arizona Cardinals this year.
This game provides an initial glimpse of the year’s incoming rookie class, which fans were deprived of last season as the event was canceled due to inclement field conditions.
Without further ado, here are three players to watch on Thursday.
Haason Reddick, LB, Cardinals
Reddick’s stock skyrocketed during the final months of the pre-draft process and Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians raved about him numerous times during the summer, lauding him for his coverage skills and versatility. The 22-year-old ran a blazing 4.52 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, and can run with running backs, receivers, and tight ends. Even though he’s playing limited downs, it’s worth keeping an eye on him.
“He’s not going to play a ton,” Arians said to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. “He’s going to play, though. Injuries at some positions could cause guys to play more than I want them to play.”
Reddick is a sleeper Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate and Thursday night could be the starting point of a great carer ahead.
Taco Charlton, DE, Cowboys
Although his delightful nickname would suggest a lighthearted presence, Vidauntae “Taco” Charlton is here to prove he’s the real deal. Charlton was candid early in training camp, admitting he believes his nerves got the best of him while trying to acclimate to the professional level. In any event, Charlton is a mercurial talent, capable of taking over games with his combination of power and athleticism. This game provides the Cowboys’ first-round pick with a real chance of overcoming his relatively slow start to camp.
Chad Williams, WR, Cardinals
Williams may face a tough transition from Grambling State to the professional ranks, but he may be too talented to ignore. Larry Fitzgerald compared Williams to Anquan Boldin and the rookie wide receiver awed the team’s scouting staff with a 4.37 40-yard dash. In some sense, Williams is reminiscent of John Brown, a fellow third-round pick who impressed the Cardinals in his rookie year after joining the team from little-known Pittsburg State. Williams could improve his chances of gaining meaningful regular-season snaps with a big game Thursday.
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