Yes, it's only the preseason, but it gave the beleaguered fans in St. Louis something to savor. That said, a lot is expected of the No. 1 pick who got a record $50 million in guarantees.
Here are 10 lower-profile players who have made the most of their training camps:
QB Chase Daniel, Saints: Battling with Patrick Ramsey for the backup job, Daniel has done a very smart thing: he has hitched himself to Drew Brees, spending as much time as possible around the Saints star and even likening him to a big brother. Daniel and Brees are quite similar, both undersized scrappers from Texas who have spent much of their careers determined to disprove critics. Beating out Ramsey is no layup, though. After Daniel threw for three touchdowns against Houston in the second exhibition game, Ramsey got all the backup snaps against San Diego in a solid performance.
LB Kamerion Wimbley, Raiders: The Raiders have been searching for a reliable strong-side linebacker for years. With the way Wimbley has looked in the preseason, the club might be able to breathe easy for a while. The Raiders gave the Browns a third-round pick for Wimbley, who had four sacks in the first half of an exhibition game against the Bears — shades of his rookie year when he had 11. He looks like a solid addition to a team that has overhauled its linebackers.
WR Anthony Armstrong, Redskins: Armstrong, who has caught most everything Donovan McNabb has thrown his way, might be an instant star in Washington, but he took the long road to get there. The speedy, 5-foot-11 receiver went from West Texas A&M to something called the Intense Football League, to the Arena Football League, to the 2008 Dolphins practice squad. The Dolphins waived him twice in a one-year period before the Redskins picked him up last season and had him on their practice squad for their final 10 games.
C David Baas, 49ers: Not only do the 49ers have two rookie first-rounders starting on their offensive line — tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati — but they have Baas, a converted guard, starting at a position he hasn't played since college. He stepped in when longtime center Eric Heitmann went down with a broken leg in practice earlier this month, and with Baas' snaps and blocking it's so far, so good.
WR Stephen Williams, Cardinals: While Arizona still can't seem to figure out what it's doing at quarterback, the Cardinals have to be excited by what they've seen from Williams, a 6-foot-5 undrafted rookie from Toledo. Assuming the Cardinals carry six receivers, the surprisingly fast Williams is in good position to grab one of the three spots behind Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet.
RB John Conner, Jets: The rookie fullback is an explosive blocker and repeatedly has shown why he's nicknamed Terminator, a reference to the fictional John Connor in Hollywood's "Terminator" franchise. Jets coach Rex Ryan loves him and constantly raves about him on "Hard Knocks." All indications are the team will keep both Conner and seasoned fullback Tony Richardson.
WR Victor Cruz, Giants: Like Conner, Cruz has "Hard Knocks" to thank for his instant stardom. HBO cameras captured the free-agent rookie from Massachusetts catching three touchdown passes in a game against the Jets, and afterward Ryan raved about him. It has been three years since a Giants receiver had a similar hat trick — that coming when Plaxico Burress caught three touchdown passes in a loss to Dallas.
TE Ed Dickson, Ravens: The Ravens love what they're seeing from Dickson, a third-rounder who was in a spread offense at Oregon and knows how to find up-the-middle seams. There has been a lot of wear and tear on Todd Heap, 30, who last season was on the field for more than 1,000 snaps (only the Cowboys' Jason Witten and the Colts' Dallas Clark had more.) The Ravens will keep both Dickson and fourth-round tight end Dennis Pitta.
DT Matt Toeaina, Bears: Toeaina has a wider body than most defensive tackles who thrive in Rod Marinelli's system, but he can both penetrate and play the run. A sixth-round pick by the Bengals in 2007 who was signed to the Bears' practice squad that December, Toeaina appeared in just five games the past three seasons. Now, though, he likely has played his way into the defensive tackle rotation behind starters Tommie Harris and Anthony Adams.
OT Brandyn Dombrowski, Chargers: The holdout of Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill was a real jolt to the Chargers, but so far the emergence of Dombrowski has taken the sting out of that situation. Dombrowski, who logged time at right guard and right tackle last season, has done a respectable job of protecting Philip Rivers' blind side. Now, if the Chargers could find an equally capable replacement for receiver Vincent Jackson.