Week 15 belonged to the NFL’s rookie rushers as there were about a handful of rookie backs to make a big impact for their teams. One Ravens defender let his play dig himself out of a hole that was dug by some questionable remarks about one of the games best. Some key rookies have begun to establish their roles while on their way to a playoff push while others are trying to carve out niches for the 2014 season.
E.J. Manuel – Quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Manuel had one of his better games of the season in the Bills 27-20 win over the Jaguars. Throwing for nearly 200 yards and 2 touchdowns while adding nearly 40 yards and another score on the ground.
Eddie Lacy – Running Back, Green Bay Packers
Lacy went over 1,000 yards rushing on the year in the Packers win over Dallas. 171 total yards and a touchdown on 25 touches.
Zac Stacy – Running Back, St. Louis Rams
With 143 total yards and a touchdown in a 27-16 win, Zac Stacy and the St. Louis ground game wore down the New Orleans defense and kept the explosive Saints offense off of the field.
Andre Ellington – Running Back, Arizona Cardinals
Ellington has developed into one of the most explosive offensive playmakers in the NFL. The 6th round pick out of Clemson accumulated over 150 yards on a mere 14 touches.
Robert Woods – Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills
Was E.J. Manuel’s main target against Jacksonville, catching 5 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Jaguars.
Keenan Allen – Wide Receiver, San Diego Chargers
Only had 2 catches, but both went for scores. With his 2 touchdowns in the Chargers win over the Broncos, Allen now leads all rookies with 7 receiving touchdowns and 931 yards.
Timothy Wright – Tight End, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wright was a lone bright spot for the Buccaneers in the 33-14 loss against the 49ers. 7 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown for the undrafted rookie from Rutgers.
David Bakhtiari – Left Tackle, Green Bay Packers
Kept Demarcus Ware from getting any sacks and helped the Packers orchestrate a 4th quarter comeback in a 37-36 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Sam Brenner – Left Guard, Miami Dolphins
The undersized but scrappy rookie helped clear the way for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense on their way to a 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots.
Travis Frederick - Center, Dallas Cowboys
Frederick has continued to shine in the middle of the Dallas line. The Cowboys racked up nearly 500 yards in a loss to the Green Bay Packers and averaged nearly 7 yards per play.
Chance Warmack – Right Guard, Tennessee Titans
Held down the right guard spot for an offense which gained over 450 yards against a good Cardinals defense.
D.J. Fluker – Right Tackle, San Diego Chargers
Fluker and the Chargers offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and had their way with the Denver defense. Flukers play at right tackle has sparked a resurgence in Ryan Matthews career.
Sylvester Williams – Defensive Tackle, Denver Broncos
Williams 5 tackles and a sack was the best single game effort of his young career.
Sheldon Richardson – Defensive Tackle, New York Jets
Was disruptive defensively with 4 tackles and added his first rushing touchdown of his career on a one yard plunge in the 3rd quarter.
Datone Jones – Defensive End, Green Bay Packers
Jones had 2 tackles, a half a sack, and a quarterback hit in the Packers win over the Dallas Cowboys.
William Gholston – Defensive End, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gholston continues to make plays now that he has been given more playing time. 8 tackles, a tackle for loss, and 2 deflected passes in a loss against San Francisco.
Alec Ogletree – Outside Linebacker, St. Louis Rams
Ogletree registered 7 solo tackles, a tackle for loss, and a pass deflection in the Rams victory over Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
Vince Williams – Inside Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
Williams was a rock in the middle of the Steelers defense which gave up under 3 yards per carry to a talented Bengals offense. His 6 solo tackles paced the Steelers.
Bjoern Werner – Outside Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
The slow developing Werner flashed in the Colts 25-3 victory over the Texans, registering a sack, and 3 tackles including a tackle for loss.
Desmond Trufant – Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta secondary got roughed up by Kirk Cousins, but Desmond Trufant came to play and finished with 7 tackles, 2 passes defensed and an interception in a win over the Washington Redskins.
T.J. McDonald – Safety, St. Louis Rams
McDonald rose to the occasion against a powerful New Orleans Saints passing game, grabbing 5 tackles, a pass deflection, and an interception on future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
Matt Elam – Safety, Baltimore Ravens
After calling Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson “old” earlier in the week, Elam responded with his best game of the season with 10 tackles, 1 for loss, and a game clinching interception late in the 4th quarter.
Eric Reid – Safety, San Francisco 49ers
Reid has shown serious ball hawking potential for the 49ers defense in 2013, he had 3 tackles and registered his 4th interception of the season in the 49ers win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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