Another week of preseason action is done and dusted. This week saw tons of great plays from a multitude of players, and some of those top (and bottom) performers were a part of the XFL this year. Today I’ll break down which players are gaining momentum, and which are losing steam.
In the last week we had 10 signings with RB Jacques Patick, Edge Delontae Scott, DL Matthew Gotel, QB Jordan Ta’amu, DL Tomasi Laulile, T Garrett McGhin, RB Brian Hill, CB Elijah Hamilton, WR Juwan Green, TE Sal Cannella, and WR Josh Hammond all getting opportunities.
We also had two players lose their chance, with RB John Lovett and WR Hakeem Butler both getting cut by the Steelers. Be sure to check out last week’s article on XFL Newsroom, look out for the USFL version of this article on USFL Newsroom.
DL Niko Lalos, New Orleans Saints
Last week Lalos was on my stock down list, and I finished by saying that Lalos “needs to turn it around if he’s going to get that practice squad spot.” Well, he did that and more. Lalos had a crazy stat line this week with 3 sacks, 4 TFLs, 5 tackles and a PBU. He also graded out well with a 77.9 PFF grade (60 is average). That amount of play making will get you on a practice squad and maybe even more. Lalos is an athlete who is beginning to realize his potential to make a 53 man roster, and is coming through on the high hopes I had for him this preseason.
WATCH: DE Niko Lalos with an UNREAL outing for the New Orleans Saints:
Jontre Kirklin was a dynamic playmaker for the Roughnecks this season before his injury with great touchdown catches and even a great touchdown throw and this week, the hometown kid brought that playmaking back to New Orleans. The highlight of the game was his 55 yard catch and run on a scramble drill, but he was effective on the few targets, and one run he got vs. the Chargers. Kirklin definitely opened the possibility of sticking around in New Orleans with another solid performance this coming weekend.
Jacques Patrick’s first opportunity after being basically the entire offense for the Brahmas was not a fair one. Patrick was cut by Denver before even getting to minicamp, but Patrick has had a few workouts but finally signed to a second team with the Titans this week and was thrown into action quickly. Patrick had a strong start with 8 carries for 29 yards but most importantly, scored great in every category according to PFF who had Patrick with a 78.3 offensive grade. It might be too late, but Patrick is set on making them truly consider him for a practice squad spot.
This one breaks my heart. Hector was one of the big surprises from week 1 and was my top stock up player for his incredible plays he made on short notice against the Panthers. This positive momentum didn’t carry to week 2 as Hector graded out as one of the worst jets defenders in the game with a 32.9 defensive grade. The Jets have a lot of good options on the defensive line so Hector could play his way out of a spot.
Four sacks and four first downs allowed so far.@iambrucehector with the strip sack!
We’re now 2-for-2 on stock up players from week one being stock down players from week two. Ben Dinucci’s issue has always been a Jekyll and Hyde show with good moments surrounded by bad or vice versa. This was a bad week even with Dinucci throwing his first touchdown of the preseason. He graded out at a horrid 25.3 which is last among Bronco offensive players. It seems like the pipe dream of Dinucci stealing Stidham’s backup spot is over and now Dinucci has to prove he’s worth a QB3 spot on the 53-man roster.
Darren Evans’ most notable play this week was when he was a victim of XFL-on-XFL crime. Former Battlehawk WR Gary Jennings beat Evans on a deep route and ended with him catching a touchdown on him. That was the exclamation point on a rough day for Evans who scored a 37.5 PFF score this week. He’ll need to flush that performance and end strong to have a chance to stick in the big apple.