Top 10 Rookie Performances of the 2011 NFL Season so Far

Alex PalmaContributor IIOctober 18, 2011

Top 10 Rookie Performances of the 2011 NFL Season so Far

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    The 2011 season so far has been a roller coaster, especially for the latest NFL draft class. We've seen single-game rookie records shattered, The NFL's youngest player break off the leagues longest return in history, and a rookie catch three touchdowns on his first three career receptions.

    Here are the top 10 single-game performances by rookies so far in the 2011 NFL season.

No. 10: Mason Foster, MLB, Buccaneers, Week 2 vs. Vikings

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    Mason Foster was a punishing force for Tampa against Minnesota, allowing for a second-half comeback with 10 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble. Foster is currently the second leading rookie in tackles and has filled in for the departure of Barrett Ruud nicely.

No. 9: Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Redskins, Week 1 vs. Giants

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    Defensive rookies sometimes get overlooked. but it was hard to miss the impact Ryan Kerrigan had on the Redskin's opener with his pick six, along with five tackles.

No. 8: Randall Cobb, WR/ KR, Packers, Week 1 vs. Saints

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    The youngest player in the NFL was the star of NFL's Thursday night opener with his athletic flip during a crazy 108-yard kickoff return score in addition to a nice 32-yard catch and run for a touchdown.

No. 7: Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins, Week 3 vs. Browns

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    Before the season, it looked like Reggie Bush was in line to be the feature back in Miami, but Daniel Thomas showed against Cleveland that he can carry the load with 23 carries and three receptions for a total of 122 yards and a score.

    With more games like this, it may be hard for Bush to become more than a third down back in Miami.

No. 6: Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks, Week 5 vs. Giants

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    Baldwin, who had been mostly quiet since Week 1, lit up the Giants' secondary for 136 yards and the go-ahead touchdown for the win in Week 5. After getting overlooked in the draft, Baldwin has proved everyone wrong and been the Seahawk's biggest surprise of the year.

No. 5: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers, Week 2 vs. Packers

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    Cam Newton started to raise eyebrows when he passed for 400-plus yards for his first two NFL starts when John Elway had two 400-plus yard games his entire career.

    While Newton showed his inexperience with three interceptions, he has become a can't-miss show every week and the sky is the limit.

No. 4: Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders, Week 2 vs. Bills

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    Few knew the kind of break-out talent Denarius Moore had before Week 2 when he torched Buffalo for 171 yards with only six touches, through the air and on the ground.

    This late-round pass catcher out of University of Tennessee looks to be the No. 1 target in Oakland for years to come if he continues to play like this.

No. 3: Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals, Week 6 vs. Colts

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    Dalton has been overlooked this season, leading the Bengals to a 4-2 start of the season but will be hard to ignore after a 25-for-32, 264-yards and one-touchdown performance in Week 6. The rookie QB looked poised and played like a veteran by not turning the ball over or taking a sack the entire game.

No. 2: Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens, Week 3 vs. Rams

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    Smith was already gaining a reputation as a bust before Week 3 when he went off for 162 yards receiving and rushing, catching three touchdowns as his first three career receptions.  

No. 1: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers, Week 1 vs. Candinals

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    The No. 1 overall pick put on a passing clinic Week 1 against a young Cardinals secondary putting up 422 yards, accounting for all three Panthers touchdowns. Had Carolina's defense and special teams played at the same level, Newton would have gotten his first win along with all the rookie records he amassed that day.