Preseason viewers guide: Will Kyle Van Noy sack Johnny Manziel? (16 items)
Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah had an unforgettable pro debut during his first NFL preseason game last season.
On the fourth play from scrimmage, Ansah intercepted New York Jets Mark Sanchez and returned the pick 14 yards for a touchdown.
Even while dealing with injuries, Ansah finished his rookie campaign with eight sacks and 32 tackles.
Could another former Cougar, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, make an indelible impression in his first NFL action this weekend?
Van Noy, a second-round pick by the Lions, will have the chance to when Detroit faces the Cleveland Browns, and the much-hyped rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, on Saturday. The game, set for a 5:30 p.m. MST start, will be broadcast nationally on NFL Network.
Earlier this week, the Browns announced Brian Hoyer will start against the Lions over Manziel. Van Noy is listed as the backup at outside linebacker on Detroit's most recent depth chart. Chances are, Van Noy and Manziel will be on the field at the same time for a portion of Saturday's game.
Van Noy is expected to be a versatile piece in the Lions' defense this season.
“He shows us the pass rushing when he’s got an opportunity to do it. He’s very smart, understands in terms of the run fits and getting in the pass coverage," Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told reporters on Tuesday. "Again, it’s just going to be live game reps and seeing how far we can bring him.”
Starters don't play much in Week 1 of the preseason, so it will give many of the 68 players with Utah ties on NFL active rosters, including 21 rookies, the chance to make their case to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
Here's a game-by-game look at the NFL preseason and which local ties to watch for this weekend (rookies are noted):
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1 of 16. Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets
On the Colts roster:
Stanley Havili, FB, Cottonwood High
On the Jets roster:
Tevita Finau, DT, Utah
Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah
Caleb Schlauderaff, G, Utah
Michael Smith, RB, Utah State
What to watch for: Reilly makes his professional debut after being selected in the seventh round by the Jets in this year's NFL draft. He has an uphill battle in the preseason as Reilly is currently fourth on the depth chart at outside linebacker. … Havili (shoulder) started fall camp on the physically unable to perform list and will not dress for the game, according to inkonindy.com.
2 of 16. San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens
On the 49ers roster:
Chuck Jacobs, WR, Utah State
David Reed, WR, Utah
Will Tukuafu, FB, East High
On the Ravens roster:
Haloti Ngata, DT, Highland High
A.J. Pataiali’i, DT, Utah State, Snow College and Hunter High (rookie)
Dennis Pitta, TE, BYU
Steve Smith, WR, Utah
What to watch for: Smith is making his debut as a Raven after 13 years with the Carolina Panthers. With new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, it will be interesting to see how Smith and Pitta, expected starters, factor into the offense. … Reed, in his first year with the 49ers, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "So far, I feel like camp is going pretty well. I feel like I’m doing everything in my power to make this team.”
3 of 16. New England Patriots at Washington Redskins
On the Patriots roster:
Jordan Devey, OL, Snow College and American Fork High
Sealver Siliga, DT, Utah and Copper Hills High
L.T. Tuipulotu, DT, Utah (rookie)
Eathyn Manumaleuna, DT, BYU and Timpview High (rookie)
On the Redskins roster:
Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU (rookie)
Tevita Stevens, OL, Utah
What to watch for: Hoffman makes his NFL debut, and earlier this week he told redskins.com, "I bring a game-changing ability. I feel like I can change a game with one catch." He is three inches taller than any other wide receiver on Washington's roster. … According to ESPN, Siliga won't play in the game after injuring his left hand Tuesday. Devey, a second-year player who's third on the depth chart at left tackle, could see plenty of action on the line.
4 of 16. Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
On the Bengals roster:
R.J. Stanford, DB, Utah
On the Chiefs roster:
Alex Smith, QB, Utah
Sean Smith, CB, Utah
Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU (rookie)
What to watch for: Sorensen, who signed with the Chiefs after going undrafted this year, has been impressing during fall camp. On Monday, he had two interceptions and a pass breakup in 7-on-7 drills. “He’s playing good football,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid, also a BYU alum, told kcchiefs.com about Sorensen. “He’s a good special teams player also, which is important in a backup safety role. He’s making progress as we go." … Stanford was picked up by the Bengals this season, and according to ESPN's Coley Harvey, he has been a pleasant surprise and will see plenty of game action. "The veteran has gotten his share of reps covering some of the team's best receivers, and he's handled his own," Harvey wrote. … Also of note, Smith and Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton will face off just days after Dalton signed a six-year deal worth $96 million (it could increase to $115 million), according to ESPN. There are ongoing negotiations for Smith, who is in the final year of his contract.
5 of 16. Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos
On the Seahawks roster:
Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
On the Broncos roster:
Cody Larsen, DL, Southern Utah and Jordan High
What to watch for: Turbin is entering his third NFL season and in the game matching last year’s Super Bowl teams, he could start. With Marshawn Lynch holding out the first week of camp, Turbin has received plenty of practice reps. "He’s a guy that’s just a workhorse, on and off the field he’s mentally strong," Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson told Sports Illustrated on July 27 about Turbin. "He’s always going to put his best foot forward, always run the ball into the end zone every time." … According to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Wagner will not play; he's out with a hamstring injury.