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Rookies of the Week – Week 1

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The return of the NFL season really had everything. Shock results, devastating injuries, struggling superstars, and outstanding rookies.

Let’s look at my standout seven from Week 1.

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Will Anderson Jr, Edge – Houston Texans

Emotions may have gotten the better of Anderson pre-game, but he was zoned in as soon as he stepped on the field to start his NFL career. The versatile rusher, who lined up predominantly on the left side, recorded four tackles, three hurries, two quarterback hits, and a sack against the normally elusive Lamar Jackson.

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Jalen Carter, Defensive Line – Philadelphia Eagles

Now that’s why he was touted as potentially going first overall! A 92.1 overall PFF grade puts Carter as the 2nd overall defensive tackle, and it’s not hard to see why. In a monstrous performance, Carter had eight pressures, one sack, and one assisted tackle. It’s no wonder that Mac Jones will be seeing him in his nightmares.

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Zay Flowers, Wide Receiver – Baltimore Ravens

Does Lamar Jackson have a new favourite weapon? Flowers continued his strong preseason with an outstanding showing against the Texans, and much like the later mentioned Bijan Robinson, he was making defenders miss all over the place. Nine catches on ten targets for 78 yards led the Ravens, while he also had two rushes for nine yards.

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Xavier Gipson, Wide Receiver – New York Jets

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of! No one saw the Jets game winner being an undrafted rookie free agent, but here we are. He forced his way into contention due to his electric preseason on special teams, which caught the eye of head coach Robert Salah. Now, thanks to his 65-yard walk-off punt return touchdown, he can now say he is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

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Puka Nacua, Wide Receiver – Los Angeles Rams

If you were asked to predict the only rookie receiver to go over 100 yards this weekend, I can guarantee no one would have mentioned Puka Nacua. With Cooper Kupp now on IR, the Rams needed someone to step up, and their fifth-rounder did just that. 14 targets, 10 receptions, and 119 yards. Job done.

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Anthony Richardson, Quarterback – Indianapolis Colts

Richardson wasn’t perfect by any means, as he played conservatively and had an ugly interception, but he is now the proud owner of two NFL records. Against the Jaguars, Richardson not only became the youngest player ever with a passing and rushing touchdown in the same game, but he also became the first rookie in history to have at least 200 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, a passing touchdown, and a rushing touchdown.

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Bijan Robinson, Running Back – Atlanta Falcons

A shared snap count with Allgeier didn’t count against Bijan on Sunday, as he finished with 10 rushes for 56 yards while adding six receptions on six targets for 27 yards and a touchdown in the passing game. Add in five forced missed tackles, including that disgraceful stop-start on an attempted tackle from Frankie Luvu, and you’ve got yourself a debut.

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Week 8: Rookie Standouts

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We’re almost at the halfway point of the season, and as expected, many rookies are getting opportunities due to trades, injuries, and inconsistent form. Here are three rookies that stood out this week.

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Isaiah Likely, Tight End – Baltimore Ravens

As discussed in my first ever Full10Yards article, Isaiah Likely was the Ravens’ second tight end drafted on Day 3, but in minicamp and OTAs, he had already started to separate himself from the pack. The biggest issue that Likely would face, though, is being behind two-time pro bowler and all-pro Mark Andrews.

So, when Andrews, who was already dealing with a knee injury, landed awkwardly on his shoulder and was ruled out after 10 snaps, it was Likely’s time to shine, and shine he did. Likely slotted straight into Andrews’ shoes, catching six of his seven targets for 77 yards and a touchdown, in which he showed great body control to keep himself in bounds. With Andrews now dealing with multiple injuries, this breakout couldn’t have come at a better time for the Ravens.

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Malcolm Rodriguez, Linebacker – Detroit Lions

The Lions are currently sitting at the bottom of the pile in the NFL overall standings, and despite some initial optimism spurred on by their stint on NFL Network’s Hard Knocks, they look to be yet again not getting anywhere near the postseason.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as Aiden Hutchinson has already made this list before, and though production has slowed, he’s still been a disruptive force. Now you can add Hard Knocks’ favourite Malcolm Rodriguez to the list.

He was arguably the best defensive player for the Lions in Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins, as he recorded his first-ever NFL sack, jointly led the team with seven tackles, and recovered a fumble forced by fellow rookie Kerby Joseph.

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Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver – New York Jets

With questions swirling about the future of Jets quarterback Zach Wilson after another rough showing, it’s another Wilson who took the headlines this week. Garrett Wilson made the most of his limited targets (seven) and showed exactly why he should be the team’s number 1 receiver and should be targeted more often, especially seeing as the Jets threw the ball 41 times.

Against a New England Patriots cornerback unit that includes rookies Jack Jones and Marcus Jones, both of whom are in the top ten for the lowest completion rate, Wilson took his lowly seven targets, caught six of them, and recorded an impressive 115 yards, making him the 2nd Jets rookie ever to have two 100 yard plus games in a season, behind Ring of Honor member Al Toon.

Honorable Mentions

Sauce Gardner (New York Jets), Greg Dulcich (Denver Broncos), Martin Emerson (Cleveland Browns), Ikem Ekwonu (Carolina Panthers), Tomon Fox (New York Giants)