NY Jets RB Israel Abanikanda shows promise in Hall of Fame Game

Jets rookie running back Israel Abanikanda made a strong first impression
NY Jets, Israel Abanikanda
NY Jets, Israel Abanikanda / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

On Thursday, the NY Jets met the Cleveland Browns in the Hall of Fame Game live from Canton, OH. This marked the beginning of the 2023 NFL preseason, and more importantly, it marked football season officially kicking off.

The Jets would, unfortunately, fall to the Browns in a nail-biter, losing by a final score of 21-16. Behind strong play from the likes of Zach Wilson, Malik Taylor, and Israel Abanikanda, the Jets were able to put up 16 points without any of their starters playing.

Of course, things will look very different come Week 1 of the regular season, but this wasn't a bad start, especially for the rookie running back out of Pittsburgh.

Israel Abanikanda flashed for the NY Jets in the Hall of Fame Game

The Jets selected Abanikanda in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and many at the time insisted he was an absolute steal. Abanikanda could very well be the best running back in the 2023 NFL Draft class, and we saw glimpses of why that may be the case in the Hall of Fame Game.

Abanikanda tallied 27 yards and a touchdown on nine attempts, and it was that touchdown run that showcased his potential. Around midway through the second quarter, Abanikanda broke free for a 10-yard touchdown run around the outside.

Abanikanda's explosiveness was seen first-hand during this game, especially on the touchdown run. With nothing coming to fruition yet of Dalvin Cook to the Jets, the running back room still currently consists of Abanikanda, Breece Hall, Michael Carter, and Zonovan Knight.

Knight and Carter haven't shown anything special, while Hall has proven that he is the team's franchise running back for the long term. With Abanikanda already showing a lot of promise, a case could be made for the Pittsburgh product to be the team's RB2.

There's still a lot of preseason left to be played, but it should be interesting to see how this all plays out. Abanikanda has a real opportunity to earn a role in the offense this year.