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Week 14 and 15: Rookie Standouts

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Is it just me, or is the season getting better every week? This week had it all: high-stakes drama, questionable refereeing, the biggest comeback win in NFL history, and possibly the most mind-blowing finish to a game this season. Since I missed last week’s entry, here are three rookies that stood out in weeks 14 and 15.

Week 14 

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Brock Purdy, Quarterback – San Francisco 49ers

Purdy looked confident in the pocket as he finished 16 of 21 for 185 yards and two touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 134.0, all of this while starting opposite the greatest of all time.

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Travon Walker, Edge – Jacksonville Jaguars

The number one pick in the draft finally regained that swagger as he ended his five-week sack drought with a dominant performance. Finishing with two hurries, one sack, and one fumble, he recorded a 91.6 PFF pass rush rating.

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Isiah Pacheco, Running Back – Kansas City Chiefs

After delivering solid rushing performances this season, Pacheco has started to become a threat in the passing game. Finishing the game with 93 all-purpose yards, he also forced five missed tackles with his aggressive running style.

Week 15 

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Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge – New York Giants

Thibodeaux bet the house on himself this week with a bold statement in the lead up to the Giants’ 20-12 win over the Washington Commanders. When asked if he liked prime time, the rookie responded with bravado and swagger: “Prime time like me.”

He backed up that quote straight away by stuffing two runs on the Commanders first possession before getting another on their second. Despite being shown on the sidelines getting oxygen, nothing was slowing him down. However, at the start of the 2nd quarter, he charged past Washington lineman Charles Leno Jr. to bat the ball out of Taylor Heinicke’s hands, pick up the fumble, and rumble in for his first career touchdown. Kayvon finished the day with 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 touchdown, and 12 tackles (9 solo).

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Tyler Allgeier, Running Back – Atlanta Falcons

This is probably an overdue appearance for the Falcons’ rookie running back. He’s quietly flown under the radar due to his split load with Cordale Patterson, but has made the most of his opportunities, picking up tough yards and first downs.

Despite a slow start this week, where he only had one carry in the first quarter, he quickly found his rhythm, and despite finishing on the losing side in the game against the New Orleans Saints, he managed to have a career day. Finishing with 139 yards from 17 carries, Allgeier tore up the Saints defence at a rate of 8.2 yards per carry, converting eight first downs and forcing six missed tackles, leading to 100 of his 139 yards coming after contact. He also converted a touchdown and a 2-point conversion. Allgeier now sits at 743 yards, only 280 yards behind the Falcons rookie rushing record set by William Andrews in 1979. 

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Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver – Washington Commanders

In the last three weeks, Dotson has played the Giants twice either side of a well-deserved bye week, and on both occasions, the continued evolution of the chemistry between him and Taylor Heinicke has been in full flow, and as such, Dotson has been able to showcase his ability to make highlight reel catches.

The rookie out of Penn State eclipsed 100 yards for the first time in his career, with the majority of them coming after a 61-yard catch that almost sparked a late-game tying drive. With the Commanders backed up at their own 9-yard line, Heinicke uncorked a deep shot that Dotson managed to haul in despite impressive coverage by the Giants’ Jason Pinnock. Finishing the game with four receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown, Dotson took his touchdown total to six for the season, only two behind the Commanders rookie franchise record held by Charlie Brown.

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Week 12: Rookie Standouts

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Thanksgiving week always brings us a feast of games, and this year was no different, with three exciting contests on Turkey Day itself. The weekend didn’t disappoint either, with multiple shock results and a couple of overtimes sprinkled in for good measure. Here are three rookies that stood out among the pack:

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Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver – New York Jets

What a difference a week makes. After being frustrated by last week’s abysmal quarterback performance from Zach Wilson, there was a new man under centre this week, and Mike White was able to turn things around thanks in part to his main target, Garrett Wilson.

Wilson continued his stellar year by catching five passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown, a 51-yard catch and run, was somewhat fortuitous as the Bears’ Eddie Jackson, who was covering Wilson, suffered a foot injury on the play, which put him on the ground; however, it was still an outstanding midair catch, and as they say, they all count. Wilson’s second score wrestled the lead back from the Bears just before halftime, and the Jets took care of the rest, shutting the Bears out in the second half.

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Brian Robinson, Running Back – Washington Commanders

Another week and another stellar performance from the Washington running back, who, along with Taylor Heinicke, has been a major part of the Commanders’ recent resurgence, and both players’ fortunes could be a major factor in a late playoff push for yet another NFC East team.

Robinson finished the day with 105 yards on 18 carries, including a long of 21 yards. He also had two catches on three targets for 20 yards and a touchdown. In the last three games, all wins for the Commanders Robinson has now recorded 248 rushing yards on 59 carries at an average of 4.2 yards per carry. With two upcoming games against the Giants, who allow the second-most yards per carry, Robinson will be confident in his ability to maintain his ground dominance.

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Trent McDuffie, Cornerback – Kansas City Chiefs

It’s safe to say that it’s been a fractured season for first-rounder Trent McDuffie. Following a hamstring injury in Week 1, the cornerback was placed on injured reserve before being activated at the start of November. Though it is highly unlikely that McDuffie will get close to a defensive rookie of the year nomination, it could very well be a case of what might have been.

Since his return, McDuffie has stayed mostly under the radar while playing some of the best football of any of the rookie cornerbacks. This past week, he only allowed two catches for 13 yards on six targets and had a pass breakup. In his four games since his return from injury, he’s been targeted 19 times and only allowed 10 receptions.

Honourable Mentions

Kayvon Thibodeaux (New York Giants), Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh Steelers), Jake Ferguson (Dallas Cowboys), Malcolm Rodriguez (Detroit Lions), Skyy Moore (Kansas City Chiefs)

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Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Team

Welcome to the final instalment of our Power-5 All-Conference series! We have loved putting these articles together and making our picks, we hope that your appetite is sufficiently whetted for some football.

We will end things with the Pac-12 conference selections here with our man, Lee Wakefield making the picks. However, if you want to go back and have a look at the previous four articles in this series, check out the college section of the site here and have a browse. Don’t forget to let us know what you think and have your say in the Twitter comments!

Here come the picks:

Here is how Lee has justified the selections that he’s made;

We all know that the Pac-12 is firmly positioned as the fifth of the Power 5 conferences, however, I do feel like this team could mix it with the best in college football. Cam Rising will be a name on the lips of a lot of people come January and is about as talented of a passer that Utah have had, since Alex Smith almost 20 years ago.

The skill positions are packed with production and a good mixture of size profiles, with Rome Odunze and Benjamin Yurosek providing the size/speed profiles, with a pair of receivers who are both under 6′ (probably), who combined for over 3,000 yards last year in Jordan Addison and Jacob Cowling – Although both were outside of the conference last year with Addison in the ACC with Pittsburgh and Cowling in Conference-USA with UTEP.

Zach Charbonnet rounds out the weapons and he was an absolute revelation last year at UCLA, and he’ll be looking to build upon this over the next season.

The offensive line has a lot of talent too, with the headliner being USC’s Andrew Vorhees, who could be a first round pick when April rolls around. Outside of Vorhees, Washington Tackle, Jaxson Kirkland has a lot to prove over the next few months, but he has the talent to get it done, although he could probably benefit from an extra 10-15lbs of weight being put on. LaDarius Henderson will be a draft riser whereas Myles Hinton and Alex Forsyth are very solid and join a number of their team mates on my All-Conference team.

Defensively, I feel like there’s star power at every level with Korey Foreman, Noah Sewell and Clark Phillips.

Foreman is the former #2 recruit in the 2021 class – He has athletic abilities that are off the charts and is already in possession of an NFL edge rushers’ frame – He only registered 2.5 sacks as a Freshman but he is set up to have a more prominent role moving into 2022.

Noah Sewell is one of the better players in the conference as a whole and should be the heartbeat of the Ducks’ defense this coming year. A player who can do it all, he’s going to accumulate the tackles, shut down run plays in his sleep and if Oregon uses him to his full potential, he could be used as a weapon in the blitz games too. Sewell, much like his older Brother, should be a first round pick when he declares for the NFL Draft.

Finally in this rundown of the defensive stars, Clark Phillips is a top-5 corner prospect and will be a playmaker for a Utes team who I have down as the conference champion – I think he will be an elite nickel defender in the NFL but whilst I he playing in Salt Lake City he’ll be an outside corner and a problem for quarterbacks throughout the conference.

Elsewhere on defense, don’t forget my other edge defender, Zion Tupuola-Fetui, ZTF has recovered from an achilles tear but he returned before the end of last year and he’ll be another player looking to kick on and show his full potential in 2022.

Thanks for reading this, we hope you enjoyed this and the rest of the series! Check back later today, as we are dropping part 2 of our writer’s preseason takes! Part 1 can be found here.