Sep 19, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) looks on during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Philadelphia won 29-14. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
This is a list of several NFL Rookies who will stand out in week 3 of the 2016 NFL season.
As we head into week 3 of the NFL season we have already seen plenty of NFL rookies make an impact. The biggest coming from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. However, he’s not among my predicted top performers for this week.
Wentz and the Eagles have a tough test against the Pittsburgh Steelers who will no doubt look to make things difficult for the rookie quarterback.
This week might be a tough matchup for Wentz but there are several matchups that favorable for other rookies. The rookies that appear on this list are here because of their talent, matchup and production so far this season.
One player you won’t see on this list is the Cleveland Browns Cody Kessler. The situation just doesn’t fit the mold needed for a strong NFL debut. Cleveland just doesn’t have the overall talent needed to make things easy for Kessler.
The situation only got worse this week when news broke that rookie receiver Corey Coleman will miss several weeks with a fractured hand. He’s been one of the few bright spots for the Browns this year.
Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) at the line of scrimmage against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. The Dallas Cowboys won 27 – 23. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys are coming off their first win of the season. They are looking to build their momentum when they take on the injury-riddled Chicago Bears. Things are set up nicely for Prescott to have a nice game.
Chicago will be without several key starters this weekend. The defense will be missing Danny Treveathan, Lamarr Houston and Eddie Goldman. It also appears likely that Adrian Amos, Bryce Callahan and Kyle Fuller will miss the game.
The secondary could consist of spare parts with rookies and journey men in the starting lineup. This will create plenty of mismatches for the Cowboys offense.
Chicago doesn’t have a defensive back capable of matching up against Dez Bryant when at full strength. Now, they’ll even have trouble dealing with the secondary options like Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley.
The Bears have also had issues this year generating pressure on the quarterback. This combined with the Cowboys elite offensive line should provide Prescott with plenty of time to locate open targets.
It’s not out of the question that we see Prescott produce his first 300-yard game. The only hope for Chicago is the fact they have strong coaching with John Fox and Vic Fangio running the defense.
Sep 11, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Jabari Price (25) after catching a pass during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Minnesota won 25-16. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee Titans vs. Oakland Raiders
Tajae Sharpe is the Tennessee Titans go-to receiver. He leads the receivers with 11 receptions, 18 targets and 109 yards. This week Sharpe and the Titans take on the Oakland Raiders who currently have the 31st ranked pass defense.
The Raiders just haven’t been able to shut down their opponents passing attack.
Sharpe’s success hasn’t been a 2-game fluke as he also showed a lot of promise in the preseason. It’s obvious that quarterback Marcus Mariota already trusts the rookie wide receiver.
Get the FanSided App
Despite the Titans preference to run the ball, look for Sharpe to see plenty of targets this weekend. Oakland will likely look to stuff the box in order to keep Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry from beating them.
This will open things up for the passing game and provide some single coverage opportunities. The one pass catcher Oakland would likely focus on is Delanie Walker who is a more proven commodity.
If Sharpe struggles it will likely be due to Mariota having issues or Sean Smith’s physical style of play. Sharpe has yet to face someone like Smith who isn’t afraid to initiate contact and keep receivers from getting off the line of scrimmage.
Something to remember is that these two teams faced off in the preseason with Sharpe hauling in a 60-yard receptions.
Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) makes a reception past Carolina Panthers cornerback James Bradberry (24) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
James Bradberry, Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings
James Bradberry is making a quick transition to the NFL and already creating turnovers. The rookie isn’t on the same level of Josh Norman, but it’s clear why the Panthers feel good about this youngster’s development.
Bradberry has a great opportunity to add to his interception total this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are coming off a big win against the Green Bay Packers but have been decimated by injury.
They head into this game without two key offensive starters in Adrian Peterson and Matt Kalil. The Peterson injury has gotten all the press, but losing Kalil weakens an already poor offensive line.
Carolina is going to use their talent up front to put pressure on Sam Bradford and force him to make poor throws. As a whole it’s likely that the Vikings offense will struggle to move the ball against the Panthers defense.
Even with Peterson in the lineup the Vikings were only to manage 1.9 rushing yards per attempt. Carolina is more than capable of shutting down Minnesota’s ground game with just their front-4. This will give defensive coordinator Sean McDermott the option to drop extra defenders in coverage.
Sep 18, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) hauls in a third quarter pass against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins
The marquee matchup this weekend is Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman. These two are noted rivals that play on two teams, New York Giants and Washington Redskins, which happen to be division rivals. All the attention on this matchup should open things up for New York’s other receivers.
Sterling Shepard should be the main benefactor with Washington’s other top corner likely monitoring Victor Cruz.
Want your voice heard? Join the With the First Pick team!
Shepard has had a strong start to the season and appears to have developed a good relationship with Eli Manning. The veteran quarterback is already comfortable going to Shepard in big situations. This weekend he may need to target him more than usual.
Washington has already announced that they plan to have Norman shadow Beckham. This is going to be a great battle, but Eli won’t try to force the ball to his star receiver. Manning knows that this game is more about winning and not about Beckham getting the best of Norman.
Another factor leaning towards Shepard having a big game is injury to Rashad Jennings. New York may be forced to go with Shane Vereen as their top running back which could mean more passing attempts. Vereen is significantly more dangerous in the passing game than he is as a runner.