Week 5 of the NFL season started and ended with games featuring the league’s most high-profile defensive rookies and rookie quarterbacks, and some fared better than others.
On Monday Night Football, one New York Jets rookie on each side of the ball stole the spotlight as the Jets came up with a big win over a disappointing Atlanta Falcons team.
Jets quarterback and 2013 second-round pick Geno Smith had the best performance of his young career, completing 16 of 20 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns, which included leading the Jets down the field during an impressive two-minute drill that set up the game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired.
Defensively, Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson continued to make his case for Defensive Rookie of the Year with another fantastic performance on the defensive front, highlighted by two tackles for loss, including one sack.
Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo and Buffalo Bills inside linebacker Kiko Alonso both made highlight-reel plays to lead their defenses on Thursday Night Football, but the night was not as kind to Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. He suffered a sprained LCL in his right knee that is expected to keep him out for four to six weeks.
Manuel’s injury keeps him out of the Top 25 in this week’s Bleacher Report NFL Rookie Rankings, but the other mentioned players all moved up on the list—or at least maintained their high rankings—this week.
Note: Advanced statistics and snap counts were found using Pro Football Focus’ premium statistics database. A subscription is required to access the database.