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NFL Rookie Watch: Week 12

by Robbie Gillies

Matt Ryan (Falcons) – Mark Bradley wrote an article Monday calling Ryan the best rookie QB ever. At first I thought this was simply the Atlanta media pandering to their base but his analysis is spot on. Ryan has the Falcons at 7-4 after beating the Panthers 45-28. Ryan completed 17 of 27 passes for 259 yards and while he didn’t have any touchdowns he set up some short TD runs for Michael Turner.
Darren McFadden (Raiders) – It looks like the Raiders are working McFadden back into the offense. He returned last week after sitting out three weeks with turf toe but only had three carries. This week he had 10 carries for just 38 yards but contributed with 2 touchdowns. He should become a bigger part of the Raiders offense down the stretch.
Leodis McKelvin (Bills) – As a top 15 pick McKelvin was expected to challenge for a starting spot and work his way into the lineup while contributing in the return game. It took McKelvin awhile to break the starting lineup but he showed his potential against the Chiefs. McKelvin had his first and second career interceptions and returned one of those 64 yards for the touchdown that gave the Bills the lead for good.
Joe Flacco (Ravens) – The most important stat is Flacco is 7-4 as a starter. He completed just 12 of his 26 pass attempts for 182 yards. But he had 2 touchdowns and more importantly no interceptions. The Ravens defense took care of the rest against the Eagles.

Chris Johnson (Titans) – Maybe Chris Johnson is hitting the rookie wall. His last three games have been three of his worst. He’s still managed 61 total yards against a tough Jets defense but he does seem to be slowing down. Luckily for him the Titans face Detroit, Cleveland, and Houston in their next three games.

Dustin Keller (Jets) – Keller has come on strong the past three weeks. After very little production in his first eight games he has become a huge target for Favre recently. He’s had at least 6 receptions in each of his last three games including 6 catches for 42 yards Sunday. He now leads rookie tight ends in receiving yards.

Matt Forte (Bears) – The Bears playoff hopes lie with Forte. Forte is on pace to trail only Walter Payton for most yards from scrimmage in Bears franchise history. He has quietly become the best and most consistent rookie running back in a very deep class. Forte had 20 carries for 132 yards and scored two of the Bears three touchdowns against the Rams.

DeSean Jackson (Eagles) – Jackson now leads all rookies in receiving yards. He once again led the Eagles in receptions and yards. It didn’t matter whether it was McNabb throwing him the ball or Kevin Kolb.

Kevin Smith (Lions) – Poor Kevin Smith. He and Calvin Johnson seem to be the only salvageable spots in the car wreck in Detroit. Smith had 86 yards on 16 carries as the hapless Lions fell to 0-11

Harry Douglas (Falcons) – Everyone seems to be contributing for the Falcons. Douglas led the Falcons with 92 receiving yards and had a touchdown on a 7 yard run and a 61 yard punt return.

Steve Slaton (Texans) – Slaton carried the load for the Texans against the Browns. He had 21 carries for 73 yards. For some reason the Texans have stopped using him as a pass option. This past two weeks he has had no receptions.

Tim Hightower (Cardinals) – Hightower is back to pleasing fantasy owners but displeasing Cardinals’ fans. Hightower had 21 yards on 10 carries but got into the end zone twice. He is tied with Matt Forte among rookie running backs with 9 touchdowns.

Peyton Hillis (Broncos) – So I guess I was wrong about this guy. I thought for sure after his 116 receiving yards against the Dolphins that would be it. A one time fluke. But then he scores two touchdowns last week. But that had to be it right? He’s supposed to be a fullback. But he produced yet again this Sunday. Hillis had 74 rushing yards and scored the Broncos lone touchdown. He should have a tough time next week against the Jets but then faces the Chiefs the week after that.

Davone Bess (Dolphins) – Bess is proving his stats at Hawaii weren’t all about the system. Bess had 5 receptions for 87 yards in a loss against the Patriots.