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