Four preseason standouts who flopped fast

Football has now been on your television for a full week. That means life feels complete again, and the universe is properly aligned.

But has football actually, really been on your TV? Look closer, and tell me what you see. I see Michael Vick with a vintage Vick 14-yard scrambling run against mostly second teamers. And I see Johnny Manziel making his highly anticipated NFL debut against… mostly second teamers.

That doesn’t mean those performances and more are entirely hollow. Not at all, but it does make it difficult to determine what’s real, and what’s a mirage. The extreme saturation of the talent pool in August (especially early in the month, when rosters top out at 90), leads to cloudiness and confusion. Often, it can make us believe there’s promise when really, little is present.

It’s happened before. For every August hero like Victor Cruz, there’s a…

Kevin Kolb

Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007 with their 36th overall pick, it was assumed and hoped that Kevin Kolb was the future. Or eventually he would be, and he’d be Donovan McNabb’s successor.

Under the August sun those plans looked promising. During his first preseason Kolb passed for 617 yards (second most that preseason). Over 70 pass attempts he didn’t throw an interception, and he completed 66.0 percent of his passes.

Then when it mattered, the crumbling began. While with the Eagles he made 19 regular-season appearances, and that ended in 11 touchdowns next to 14 interceptions, and 9 fumbles. Though he hasn’t officially retired, Kolb’s career is now likely over after multiple concussions, the latest last August in Buffalo.

Bobby Carpenter

Bobby Carpenter failed to carve a starting role for himself over his first two seasons after the Cowboys made him the 18th overall pick in 2006, starting only one game. Then suddenly during his third preseason there was hope, there was promise, and there was life. He recorded 28 tackles during the fake August football of 2008, third most that preseason.

But alas, the mirage turned into so much sand. Carpenter still wasn’t worthy of a starting spot for the entire 2008 season, and a year later his time in Dallas ended with a trade to St. Louis after only three starts.

J.P. Losman

The Buffalo Bills have selected a quarterback in the first round only three times. One was Jim Kelly, and he was sort of alright, since you can now find his likeness in Canton. And you’re usually greeted with a shoulder shrug when asked about E.J. Manuel.

J.P Losman is the other guy. Emphasis on “other”, as Losman spent much of his time in Buffalo fighting off old man Doug Flutie, and also a whole lot of time throwing the ball to wrong colored jerseys. Losman threw 34 interceptions and 33 touchdowns.

But there was preseason charm once, so long ago. During the 2006 preseason he finished with 514 passing yards, moving along at a steady clip of 8.3 per attempt. It all meant absolutely nothing, and the next August against scrubs Losman completed only 55.8 percent of his passes.

Charlie Whitehurst

With Russell Wilson now doing his spinning, chucking, and championship winning things in Seattle, it’s hard to remember a time when the Seahawks believed Charlie Whitehurst had any value whatsoever

No really, that happened. The Seahawks thought highly enough of Whitehurst to give up a third-round pick for his mediocre services in 2010, the second time in his career the current Titan had been deemed worthy of that pick (the Chargers originally selected him in the third round).

They did it even though Whitehurst hadn’t started a single professional football game yet. Initially there was great joy when he led the 2010 preseason with 635 passing yards, though even that was  knocked aside by other far more meaningful and damning numbers (four interceptions, and a completion percentage of 51.1).

For reasons only the gods above can possibly understand, Whitehurst has still retained meaningful NFL employment. The Titans signed him to a two-year deal worth $4 million this offseason, putting us a Jake Locker injury away from actually having to watch Whitehurst in a real NFL game. No worries though, Locker never gets hurt.

About Sean Tomlinson

Hello there! This is starting out poorly because I already used an exclamation point. What would you like to know about me? I once worked at a mushroom farm, which is sort of different I guess (don’t eat mushrooms). I’m pretty wild too, and at a New Year’s Eve party years ago I double-dipped a chip. Oh, and I write about football here and in a few other places around the Internet, something I did previously as the NFL features writer and editor at The Score. Let’s be friends.