Rookie Meter: Injuries opening the door for patient rooks

Pro Football Weekly
Rookie Meter: Injuries opening the door for patient rooks
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Rookie Meter: Injuries opening the door for patient rooks

Not every rookie gets the privilege of starting in the NFL from Day One. Whether it is due to the depth chart or more development, it can take rookies some time to get on the field and get noticed.

The Rookie Meter, for obvious reasons, honors those who go coast to coast as rookies and make significant contributions to their teams along the way.

The 49ers, one of the best teams in the league, have had arguably the smallest impact from their rookie class. But injuries to WR Kyle Williams and RB Kendall Hunter could give rookies WR A.J. Jenkins and RB LaMichael James a chance to show what the future has in store down the stretch.

Giants rookie RB David Wilson has had an up-and-down season, and with Andre Brown’s surging play, Wilson had taken a back seat. But Brown is out for the rest of the season, allowing Wilson to get more opportunities.

Here’s a look at some other big-name rookies who have had to wait their turn, but will get a look in the final month of the season:

Eagles QB Nick Foles Foles took over as the starter after Michael Vick’s concussion and the results haven’t been pretty. Vick will likely return to the starting spot when he’s healthy, but Foles has yet to give Eagles fans much hope that their long-term quarterback is on the roster.

Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley Kevin Kolb’s injury and John Skelton’s poor play gave Lindley a chance to start, but he threw four interceptions in a loss to the Rams. Like Foles, Lindley will give his starting spot back once Kolb is healthy, but he should get at least one more chance to impress against the Jets.

Eagles RB Bryce Brown Brown had seen a few touches a game in the first 11 weeks, but got to start in Week 12 for LeSean McCoy and broke out for 178 rushing yards and two scores. He did lose two fumbles, but can show he can protect the ball and get big gains in the final few weeks.

Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu Andrew Hawkins’ injury has allowed Sanu to see a bigger role in the offense, and he has flourished with four touchdowns in the last three games. He started the last two games and had five catches vs. Oakland.

Steelers OG David DeCastro The Steelers’ O-line is banged up and it could get a lift from DeCastro, who has been out since suffering a preseason MCL injury. DeCastro was activated from the short-term injured-reserve list earlier this week.

Eagles DE Vinny Curry — Andy Reid said that by cutting Jason Babin, the Eagles could give opportunities to younger D-linemen, like Curry, the second-round pick who had five tackles in his first game on Monday night.

Chargers S Brandon Taylor — The third-round pick out of LSU has not been active for a game yet this season, but he will get his chance after Atari Bigby got hurt in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens.

Now, onto the Week 12 Rookie Meter:

1. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (first round, second overall)
Last week’s ranking: 1

PFW’s Offensive Player of the Week, RG3 completed 20-of-28 passes for 311 yards four touchdowns and one interception in a Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys. He had a passer rating of 132.6.

2. Colts QB Andrew Luck (1, 1)
Last week’s ranking: 2

Luck completed 20-of-37 passes for 240 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the Colts’ win over the Bills. He remains on-pace to break the record for most passing yards in a season by a rookie.

3. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (3, 75)
Last week’s ranking: 4

In Seattle’s loss to the Dolphins, Wilson completed 21-of-27 passes for 224 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also had five carries for 38 yards and at one point completed 16 consecutive passes. Wilson leads the rookie QBs with 17 touchdown passes.

4. Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (1, 31)
Last week’s ranking: 3

Martin rushed for only 50 yards on 21 carries, but did score two touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s loss to the Falcons. He also had two catches for 13 yards. He leads all rookies with 1,050 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns.

5. Buccaneers LB Lavonte David (2, 58)
Last week’s ranking: 5

In the Bucs’ loss to Atlanta, David had eight tackles, including his 14th for a loss this season. David leads the rookies in TFLs and is second in tackles.

6. Redskins RB Alfred Morris (6, 173)
Last week’s ranking: 8

Morris had a big Thanksgiving, rushing for 113 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries. He is 18 yards away from 1,000 on the season.

7. Panthers LB Luke Kuechly (1, 9)
Last week’s ranking: 7

Kuechly had eight tackles and a fumble recovery in Carolina’s win over the Eagles. He is first among rookies with 105 tackles, which is good for fourth in the league. He also has three fumble recoveries on the season.

8. Browns RB Trent Richardson (1, 3)
Last week’s ranking: 9

Richardson put together a workhorse-like performance in Sunday’s win over the Steelers, carrying the ball 29 times for 85 yards and one touchdown and catching four passes for 27 yards. He is third among rookies in rushing and second in receptions behind only Titans WR Kendal Wright with 41.

9. Packers CB Casey Hayward (2, 62)
Last week’s ranking: 6

Hayward had a quiet game in the Packers’ loss to the Giants, recording one pass defensed. He still leads all rookies with 15 passes defensed on the season.

10. Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner (2, 47)
Last week’s ranking: NR

Wagner had nine tackles, one interception and two passes defensed in the Seahawks’ loss to Miami. He would have had a second pick, which came in the endzone, but the play was nullified by Earl Thomas’ penalty. Wagner is third among rookies in tackles.

On the cusp (listed alphabetically)

Buccaneers SS Mark Barron (1, 7)
Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon (1, 5)
Titans LB Zach Brown (2, 52)
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (3, 92)
Seahawks DE Bruce Irvin (1, 15)
Patriots DE Chandler Jones (1, 21)
Vikings S Harrison Smith (1, 29)
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (1, 8)
Browns QB Brandon Weeden (1, 22)
Titans WR Kendall Wright (1, 20)

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