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5 Rookies to Watch in Week 8

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IINovember 17, 2015

5 Rookies to Watch in Week 8

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    As we approach the halfway point of the NFL season, several rookies are making big names for themselves, while others are showing signs of struggle.

    Players either drafted in late rounds or not drafted at all are beginning to surprise many, while others are beginning to have their teams question their decisions.

    There are some big games this week and some big rookies to keep an eye on.  Here are the five rookies to watch for this week.

Josh Gordon

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    Josh Gordon has become one of Brandon Weeden's favorite targets, especially when it comes to the deep pass.  Gordon currently leads the league in yards per catch at 23.8.  

    Gordon has sprung up as a big threat in the last three weeks, scoring four touchdowns.  His speed has been shocking to the opposing secondaries. 

    Gordon could find himself making more big plays this week, going against a team that has allowed 17 passes of 20 yards or more.  Overall, San Diego has allowed 268 pass yards a game, ranked 25th in the league.

    If Weeden can keep calm in the pocket and look down the field, he should find Gordon a few times this week.

Stephen Hill

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    After dropping such a crucial ball in the game against New England last week, Stephen Hill needs to show everyone this week that he can make big plays.

    Hill hasn't been able to do the best job of getting open the past two weeks after missing two games with a hamstring injury.  He will need to find ways of getting open in order to be most effective this week.

    New York is going against a Miami defense that has allowed 1,709 yards passing, but only seven passing touchdowns.  Hill will need to play big to help the Jets struggling passing game get going.

    If Hill can shake off the drop from last week, he will be able to play well this week.

Casey Hayward

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    With the loss this week of Charles Woodson, the Packers secondary will need to play better as a whole to make up for his absence.  One player in particular will be Casey Hayward.

    Hayward has been playing great in his first season, and he will need to continue to do so. Hayward made his first career start last week, replacing the injured Sam Shields.  He was able to get his fourth interception of the season on a bad pass from Sam Bradford and now is tied for the league lead in interceptions.

    It will be interesting to see how Hayward continues to play as he gets progressively more playing time.  With Woodson's absence, we could very well see Hayward playing all over the field.

Matt Kalil

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    Matt Kalil has been having a great season, and the Vikings are playing well because of it.  He may not be the entire reason the Vikings have turned it around this season, but he is certainly a factor.

    Kalil has been showing that he deserved to be a top five draft pick.  He was been helping block for the run, where Adrian Peterson has done a tremendous job, and in the pass, where Christian Ponder has had more time to find the open receiver.

    The Vikings will play Tampa Bay tonight, and while people don't tend to pay attention to linemen, this is one you definitely need to keep an eye on.

Robert Griffin III

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    Robert Griffin III is playing like Cam Newton did last year, only better.  He has been able to bring his team back into relevance this season and provided New York with quite a scare last week.

    Griffin is currently leading the league in completion percentage at 70.4 percent.  A rookie leading the league in this category is something you don't often see.  Along with that, his other passing numbers have been good, with seven touchdowns and only three interceptions. His passer rating is one of the best in the league at 101.8

    What Griffin has really excelled at is running.  In just seven games, he has ran for 468 yards and six touchdowns.  His 7.6 yards per carry is ridiculous.  That's really the best word to describe it.

    Griffin will be playing another tough opponent this week in the Pittsburgh Steelers.  He will need to show off both his running and passing skills this week to prove he can play with the best of the best in the NFL.  If he can play at his best, the Redskins have a chance to pull the upset.

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