Can you feel it?! Football is almost back, well, sort of.
This Thursday the NFL will put on the Hall of Fame Game live from Canton, Ohio and we will get our first look at the Browns taking on an opponent that doesn't don the same colors and inhabit the same locker room.
Several rookies and young players will get an opportunity to make the roster starting on Thursday against the New York Jets. For many around the league, this preseason will be their last time playing NFL football, while others will continue to live out a dream.
On the flip side of that, some players will ball out during the preseason and still not make the roster. After all, there are only 53 spots available.
Which player will breakout during the Hall of Fame Game?
There are many candidates for this particular question, but I'll go with wide receiver/kick returner, Jaelon Darden.
Darden is entering his third season in the NFL after being selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He only has eight career receptions for 69 yards, but his calling card to making this roster could be in the return game.
In 23 career games, Darden has returned 52 punts for 487 yards and 21 kickoffs for 426 yards. His 4.46 40-yard dash time isn't fully indicative of the speed he possesses.
That's the area where he can excel and impress his coaches on Thursday night. With the combination of Marquise Goodwin (blood clots) and Jakeem Grant Sr. (recovering from an Achilles injury), Darden has a shot, that once seemed bleak, to really shine.
He has stood out in the early stages of training camp, both receiving passes and in the return game. Dawg Pound Daily's own Randy Gurzi has Darden as one of the three players to watch on Thursday.
Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman, and David Bell are all virtual locks to make the roster, and the question nobody has an answer to is whether or not the Browns will carry six or seven receivers on the roster come September.
That will depend on injuries, of course, but as of now, the door is wide open for Darden to dart through. Could he be what Anthony Schwartz or Goodwin were supposed to be? Time will tell.
We all know this season and beyond hinges directly on the play of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has been connecting with all of his weapons thus far in camp, including Darden.
While the Hall of Fame Game isn't make or break for any player in particular, Darden has a chance to break out of the pack and become one step closer to making the 53-man roster.