And they’re off!
The 2012 NFL season is under way, and what an exciting first week of action it offered up. Although we got plenty of what we expected – and plenty of what we didn’t – we witnessed a number of impressive performances from players making their NFL debuts.
Enough lollygagging, though. Here’s a quick rundown of the top rookie performances of Week 1 and how they made an impact for their respective teams.
Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins
It didn’t take long for the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to show his worth. Leading his team against a tough New Orleans Saints defense, Griffin racked up an impressive 320 passing yards while completing 73.1 percent of his passes. He notched two passing touchdowns, including an 88-yard catch-and-run to Pierre Garcon, and ended the day with a 139.9 passer rating. Suddenly the Redskins are relevant.
Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, New York Jets
So much for the Jets’ passing game being a joke. With the help of veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez, Hill burst onto the scene in Week 1 as the NFL’s most productive rookie wide receiver. While dominating the Buffalo Bills secondary, Hill hauled in five passes for 89 yards, including two highlight-reel touchdown grabs. The Jets needed a playmaking wide receiver; looks like they found one.
Alfred Morris, Running Back, Washington Redskins
In his first NFL game, Morris fell just short of the 100-yard mark, amassing 96 yards on 28 carries. He looked confident with the ball in his hands and ran with a chip on his shoulder. Even with all of the questions that have surrounded the Redskins running back corps, it was promising to see Morris prove in his first action that he’s capable of carrying the load.
Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, St. Louis Rams
The Rams got everything they wanted and more out of Jenkins in Week 1. When they drafted the troubled cornerback, they knew they were getting a talented player with huge bust potential. Jenkins, however, avoided the “bust” label against the Detroit Lions, picking off one pass and racking up six tackles. He looked confident in coverage and will continue to grow as one of the league’s most promising young cornerbacks.
Blair Walsh, Kicker, Minnesota Vikings
When the Vikings replaced veteran Ryan Longwell with sixth-round pick Walsh back in April, questions arose about the rookie’s ability to deliver consistently. Who knew he would nail all four of his field goal attempts in his first NFL game, including a clutch 55-yarder to send the game into overtime? I doubt there’s anyone in Minnesota questioning his abilities now.
Other worth mentioning:
Chandler Jones, Defensive End, New England Patriots
Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Doug Martin, Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears
Harrison Smith, Free Safety, Minnesota Vikings