Hype, for lack of a better word, is good. As we head into week 2 of the NFL preseason, there was a bit of a sea change in our nominees for this week after a somewhat subdued performance in week 1 against the Falcons. However, we would be remiss in not recognizing a former Mason/Brennan legend, Brandon Banks, with a special honorary (albeit non-voting) nomination. Banks, who must have felt the yearnings of a million ‘Skins fans for a pre-season hero and ripped off a 126-yard touchdown (or "touchdown" as it's known in the CFL) from a missed field goal attempt last week for the BC Lions that made it feel like it was 2010 all over again.
There hasn't been a Lache Seastrunk, Sultan McCullough, or Nehemiah Broughton just yet, but there is still time to raise a pre-season legend in the coming weeks. Until then, we continue to commemorate two of the best and brightest preseason heavyweights, Marcus Mason and Colt Brennan, whose legends live on in the hearts, minds, and draft boards of Redskins fans.
The Mason/Brennan award is presented each week of the preseason to the player who has received the most hype, as voted upon by you, the fans. This week's vote will cover week 1 of the preseason in preparation for the Redskins upcoming contest against the New York Jets.
1. Player must have been drafted late (let's say after the third round) or signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent. Players who have only been on other teams practice squads before being signed by the team are also eligible.
2. A player who has been on the team for several years is still eligible if most of that time has been spent on the practice squad, inactive, or with very limited playing time.
3. The Pat White Rule: High draft picks (busts/out of the league) from other teams who have never completed an NFL pass, but can run the read option/wildcat are eligible.
I feel compelled to note that you have no idea how badly I want to throw Su'a Cravens a nomination because he's a Hype! Machine. But, a man’s got to have a code and, as an upstanding publication, it would be wrong to include the second-round draft pick who has just too good a pedigree in this conversation. If there was a Fred Smoot/Jon Jansen award for a 2nd/3rd rounder who exceeded expectations, Su’a would be a lock, but alas, we’re here to dig a little deeper.
The list of nominees are subject to change week-to-week in order to account for roster moves, and players who ride the hype-coaster up or down based on their performance. Read up, place your vote for who is most deserving of the hype, and, as we head into preseason matchup number two, feel free to write-in any player that you think is worthy of being nominated.
Our candidates for the Mason/Brennan Award this week are:
Austin Reiter, C - Without pointing any fingers, naming any names, or casting any aspersions, the general consensus among fans and pundits alike is that the Redskins could stand to improve along their offensive line, broadly in between the tackles, but specifically between the guards. Enter Austin Reiter, who after being selected out of South Florida in the 7th round of the 2015 draft, spent his first professional season on the practice squad. Coming into the 2016 season, the Hype-mogrifier has charged up the 6’3", 307 lb. center as a possible solution for the perceived issues in the interior line. Reiter looked solid, both run blocking and pass protecting in the second half against the Falcons, which around these parts did little to stifle the confirmation bias that preseason hype brings.
Robert Kelley and Mack Brown, RB - I'm going to group these two together for now (though you can vote for them separately), because it's a little hard to tell which of the two has pulled away in the hype! department. They both had nearly identical stat lines, though Kelley takes the slight edge in yards and in picking up the mid-third quarter touchdown. Frankly, the running game overall was so futile (24 attempts for 79 yards) that it feels like one or both of these guys is primed for a big opportunity to capture our collective imaginations as the hype back in waiting.
Lynden Trail, OLB - Trail was a monster on the field, both disrupting the pocket on drop-backs, penetrating off the edge, and making plays in the backfield. I think I heard Sonny compare him to Ray Nitschke on the radio call, but it’s kind of hard to tell sometimes. Athleticism has never been a question with Trail. Rather, his issues have stemmed from not being in the right place at the right time, and he showed he’s more than capable of doing just that last week.
Nate Sudfeld, QB - The bar is set unfairly high for any quarterback to earn this award, when its namesake played the same position. But Nate Sudfeld looked very solid, if not Brennan-esque, in his Redskins preseason debut. He finished the evening 10/15, 89 yards and 1 TD for a 104.6 quarterback rating. There was a lot to like in the rookie, who played nearly the entire second half as expected, and it might not take much to vault him into the upper echelons of hypedom with a repeat performance.
.@bstabbe Bryan I don't know what game you were watching but clear Mason/Brennan frontrunner after tonight is none other than M. Spaight.— Hogs Haven (@HogsHaven) August 12, 2016
Out of the running (for this week at least):
Keith Marshall, RB Man, talk about throwing some water on what was a scorching hot hype! fire. Our week 1 Mason/ Brennan winner (54%) finished the night with 5 carries for a total of -1 rushing yards, and added 2 catches for 10 yards. He definitely didn’t get much help from his line (Moses and Lichtensteiger got blown off the ball on his runs up the middle), his coaches (telegraphing stretch runs), or his QB (McCoy put the flare pass intended his way several yards behind him), but overall it still was a debut he’d like to forget. Not only do his paltry numbers tell a story, but he didn’t exactly pass the eye test either. Perhaps there were some butterflies suiting up against NFL competition for the first time, or maybe there’s still some lingering injury issues that have followed him to the pros, but either way Marshall gets relegated to runner-up status for this week’s awards.
Lloyd Carrington, CB - Absent from the stat sheet, his only noteworthy participation came from being on the coverage unit that allowed J.D. McKissic to return the second half kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown. Minicamp practice interception twitter videos can only keep the hype! alive for so long, so until he gives us something to work with, Carrington is on hype! hiatus.
Marcel Jensen, TE -Jensen was hot and cold against the Falcons, both collecting a 6-yard touchdown grab (his only catch) from fellow M/B nominee Nate Sudfeld, but also occasionally being overmatched when tasked with blocking on a few outside runs. He’s still got a shot at a roster spot given the team’s predilection for utilizing their tight ends as much as possible, and the somewhat lackluster play of his direct competition (dude, Vernon, what more could McCoy have to give you a TD catch on that ball?), but I don’t know if the hype! Is there right now.
Kendal Thompson, WR - 0 catches, 0 yards. *crickets*
Joe Kerridge, FB/RB - 0 carries, 0 yards. *crickets*
Nila Kasitati, OG - Do a quick Ctrl+F "Kasiati" on just about any piece written in the last week, and that should give you an answer on his current hype! level. Overall, the offensive line play was less than stellar, and Kasiati didn’t do much to impress on his own. So much for Fergie-Jesus in week 1, let’s see if he can get it going against the J-E-T-S.