Mark Sanchez has made a big splash as a rookie NFL quarterback this season but he’s not the only first-year player making headlines. Matthew Stafford, Percy Harvin, Johnny Knox, Knowshon Moreno, Kenny Britt, Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Austin Collie are a few of the other rookies making news too.
Sanchez, the New York Jets’ top draft pick and fifth overall out of USC, burst onto the scene in the season opener, passing for 272 yards, the third-most for a rookie, along with a touchdown in a win over Houston. He is also the first quarterback to start and win his first three games.
The No. 1 overall selection in the draft was Stafford, out of Georgia, who led the Detroit Lions in snapping their 19-game losing streak in Week 3 against Washington. He threw for 241 yards and a touchdown in that game.
Harvin and Knox have become receiving and return threats for their teams. Harvin, Minnesota’s top pick out of Florida, caught 18 passes for 233 yards and two TDs through Week 5. He also had 14 kickoff returns for 437 yards, including a 100-yard return for a touchdown in the Vikings win over San Francisco.
Knox, out of Abiline Christian, has turned out to be a steal after he was selected 140th overall by Chicago in the draft. He had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in an earlier win over Pittsburgh and a 102-yard kickoff return for a TD in the Bears’ victory over Detroit. Through the first five weeks, Knox led the league with an average of 35.8 yards per return.
Denver’s No. 1 pick, running back Knowshon Moreno, ranked 11th on the league’s rushing list going into Week 6 with 337 yards and a touchdown. He caught a TD pass in the Broncos’ Week 4 win over Dallas.
There is an abundance of rookie wide receivers gaining attention. Tennessee’s first-round choice Kenny Britt topped all rookie receivers with 289 yards through Week 5. Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace followed him with 246 yards.
Others of note include Austin Collie of Indianapolis, a fourth-round, 127th overall selection. His biggest game in the opening five contests came in the Colts’ win at Tennessee in Week 5, with eight receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
Also, Philadelphia receiver Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles first-round pick, ranked 16th in the NFL before Week 6 with a 15.6 average per catch. He had six catches for 142 yards and two TDs (51, 40) in a Week 5 victory over Tampa Bay. And Hakeem Nicks is becoming a key player in the Giants’ offense. He had a 54-yard TD catch in a win over the Chiefs in Week 4 and another TD reception the following week against the Raiders.
- Premature Celebration: Dré Bly of the San Francisco 49ers. After intercepting Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan at the 49ers 9-yard-line midway through the third quarter in a game on Oct. 11, Bly started to celebrate before reaching midfield. He was caught from behind and fumbled the ball over to the Falcons at San Francisco’s 44. That led to an Atlanta field goal and a 38-10 Falcon lead. “Dré’s going to be Dré,” Bly said. “When I make plays, and I’ve made a lot, I express myself.”
- Record-setter: Miles Austin, who caught 10 passes for a Dallas franchise-record 250 yards in a 26-20 win over Kansas City in Week 5. Austin, who made his first career start, broke the record of 246 yards set by Hall of Famer Bob Hayes in 1966.
- Most Comebacks: The Miami Dolphins, who rallied-from-behind three times in the fourth quarter of a 31-27 Week 5 win over the New York Jets.
Did You Know?
Linebacker Junior Seau, 40, has come out of retirement three times, recently signing with New England for a 20th NFL season.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning keeps reaching milestones. Here’s what he achieved after beating Tennessee 31-9 in Week 5:
- Joined Kurt Warner and Steve Young as the only quarterbacks to open a season by throwing for at least 300 yards in the first five games.
- Threw his 343rd TD pass (345 total), moving into third place all-time behind Brett Favre and Dan Marino.
- Became the third quarterback in NFL history to have 70 games with a passer rating of 100 or better.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought I’d still be playing at 40 and not miss a game at this point.”
–Vikings QB Brett Favre
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