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NFL Rookie Watch: Week 8

by Robbie Gillies

Jake Long (Dolphins) – The Bills were without their best pass rusher, Aaron Schobel, but Chad Pennington had all day to throw and there was little pressure coming from the left side due to Jake Long.

Chris Long (Rams) – Long had 2 sacks going into Sunday and got 2 more on Pats’ Matt Cassel. With Long and Donnie Avery, the Rams have two of the best rookies on either side of the ball.

Matt Ryan (Falcons) – Ryan had his best game of the season last week against the Bears but proved he is still learning this past Sunday against the Eagles. Ryan went 23 for 44 for 277 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. One of his interceptions was on a poor attempt at a fade route to the endzone to Roddy White that was intercepted by Lito Sheppard.

Jonathan Stewart (Panthers) – Stewart got his share of carries but couldn’t do anything against the Cardinals getting just 8 yards on 10 carries.

Joe Flacco (Ravens) – Flacco wasn’t very accurate against the Raiders. He was 12 for 24 for 140 yards but he didn’t throw an interception and contributed in other ways. For a QB that’s not extremely athletic, Flacco had an odd stat line. Aside from throwing the ball he also ran 4 times for 23 yards including a touchdown and the most bizarre is he had a 43-yard reception. The Ravens are again above .500 at 4-3.

Aqib Talib (Buccaneers) – Talib is quickly becoming the luckiest rookie in the league. He is tied among rookies with 3 interceptions but two of them have been off tipped balls. He got one Sunday night against the Seahawks and last week he intercepted a tipped ball thrown by Jake Delhomme.

Chris Johnson (Titans) – The Titans continue to prove there are plenty of rushing yards and touchdowns to go around. The combo of Smash (LenDale White) and Dash (Johnson) both got their stats against the Colts. Johnson got the majority of carries whereas LenDale got the goal line carries. Johnson had 19 carries for 77 yards including a 16-yard touchdown. Johnson is 4th in the NFL in rushing yards and the only rookie among the top 10.

Donnie Avery (Rams) – The Patriots secondary took a hit when they lost Rodney Harrison for the year last week and it showed against the Rams. Avery destroyed the Pats with 6 catches for 163 yards including a 69-yard touchdown. He’s developing quite a rapport with Marc Bulger.

Brandon Flowers (Chiefs) – Flowers became the first rookie to return an interception for a touchdown this season. Flowers picked Favre off twice and returned his second interception 91 yards for the score. The return gave the Chiefs the lead but they couldn’t hold on and fell to 1-6.

DeSean Jackson (Eagles) – Jackson led the Eagles in receiving yards for the fourth time this year. Jackson had just 3 catches but had 72 yards as the Eagles beat the Falcons 27-14.

Ray Rice (Ravens) – It seems the Ravens are working Rice back into the mix. Since week 6 Rice has been target a lot more both on the ground and as a receiver. Rice went over 100 total yards with 64 rushing and 37 receiving against the Raiders. The Ravens seem to be managing their three RB’s well.

Jamaal Charles (Chiefs) – With Larry Johnson out, Charles got a little bit of playing time. Though the Chiefs only mustered 80 rushing yards Charles had 45 of them on just 5 carries.

Kevin Smith (Lions) – The Lions are only averaging 78 rushing yards a game and they had just 57 on Sunday. Smith had just 4 carries for 12 yards but contributed in the passing game with 7 receptions for 50 yards.

Steve Slaton (Texans) – The Texans have won three straight games and that’s in part due to Slaton. Only Tim Hightower has more touchdowns as a rookie than Slaton who got into the endzone for the fifth time this weekend. Slaton ran for 53 yards and capped it off with a 20-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter.

Tim Hightower (Cardinals) – Hightower remains the goal line back for the Cards. He’s averaging just 3 yards per carry but is also averaging a touchdown every 7 carries. Hightower had 6 carries for 3 yards but 2 of those yards came on a touchdown run.

Chaz Schilens (Raiders) – Zchilens became one of the few 7th round picks that have made an impact this year. He led the Raiders with 3 catches for 76 yards including a 60-yard grab but it only resulted in a field goal.