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Minnesotans make their mark during first week of NFL preseason


Three Minnesota natives really stood out in their respective preseason openers on Thursday night.

Waconia native and former Gophers star Maxx Williams, Eagan standout Zach Zenner, and Totino-Grace running back John Crockett all made some big plays, while getting their first taste of NFL Football.

Maxx Williams: TE Baltimore

The Ravens were facing a fourth-and-20 on their final drive when third-string quarterback Bryn Renner found Williams wide open on a dump off in the flats.

Williams then went to work, turning upfield before jumping over one Saints defender trying to take him out at the legs, then lowering his shoulder to run over another.

"I bailed out on the hurdle," Williams told reporters after the game. "I was going to go for it more, but then I realized I wasn't there yet."

By the time the Saints were able to stop Williams, he had picked up 22 yards and the key first down.

The drive finished with Renner taking the ball across the goal line with two seconds left to win the game.

Zach Zenner: RB Detroit Lions

Eagan native and South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner also had a big night in his NFL Preseason debut with the Detroit Lions.

Zenner got a long look from the Lions in the opener and he didn't disappoint running for 55 yards on 13 carries.

"He's fun to watch," Lions coach Jim Caldwell told the Detroit Free Press. "You can see he can bang it up in there, and he's got vision and he's deceptive. You can see him accelerate through the holes with a good forward lean, has some pop behind him. He's fun to watch."

Zenner also did a nice job in pass protection.

John Crockett: RB Green Bay Packers

Totino Grace standout and former North Dakota State star John Crockett stayed in the green and gold with the Green Bay Packers.

He didn't have as big of a night as either Williams or Zenner, but he did something the others didn't – he got into the end zone.

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