Eagles vs Seahawks: 4 Rookies in the Spotlight on Thursday Night Football
To some, the Thursday night game between Philadelphia and Seattle may not matter, as both are extremely likely to miss the postseason.
However, if you are a fan of football, there are four rookies to keep a close watch on, as both franchises will be improved when 2012 kicks off. So, here are two rookies from each club that are in the spotlight.
Casey Matthews: LB, Eagles
Most know him solely as the younger brother of Green Bay's Clay Matthews, but Casey has been good for Philly thus far.
Being a bit undersized, he is overlooked, but the Eagles' underachieving defense can use all the help they can get. That being said, against Seattle they need LBs more than anything to step up.
Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch is one of the best backs at breaking tackles, so Philly needs to match strength and size with power.
This type of game can really put a young player like Casey on the map, especially if he makes some good solo tackles. And that contribution will also be big, as Philly needs a win to get something positive out of such a disappointing season.
Brian Rolle: LB, Eagles
No surprise here to see another rookie LB in Philly, since they need as many sure tacklers in the box as possible to contain Marshawn Lynch.
The difference from Casey Matthews to Brian Rolle however, is that Rolle has compiled 37 tackles (29 solo) and gotten as many as nine in one game (Buffalo). He's definitely stolen the show over Matthews, but nonetheless, both will need to step up in Week 13.
Rolle has also forced one fumble this season and has three pass deflections. So anytime Seattle does throw the rock, if Brian can use those instincts to wall off any crossing routes, that would take a lot of pressure off having to play man-coverage all game.
In turn, that will also make it easier to stop the run, because making any offense one-dimensional, especially when they haven't been consistently productive like Seattle, is vital to a defense and a rookie's confidence.
Doug Baldwin: WR, Seahawks
Moving on to Seattle, here we see WR Doug Baldwin, who's arguably the best and most well-established rookie playing in this game.
On the year, Baldwin has compiled 604 receiving yards on 37 receptions, but he's only scored twice. Now, much of that can be attributed to Seattle having a more presentable rushing attack, as well as a non-established QB.
That said however, if the Seahawks want to remain a balanced offense and have any success against an improving Philly D, Baldwin must be targeted often.
Watch for the Eagles to even double-cover him with younger DBs to then really isolate other targets like Ben Obamanu and Golden Tate.
But if Baldwin can establish himself as a legit receiving threat against a pass defense like Philly, well, he'll quickly become that much better of a player and attract attention away from the rest of the offense.
Richard Sherman: CB, Seahawks
Along with Doug Baldwin, CB Richard Sherman also came from Stanford, and has been contributing significantly well in 2011.
Thus far, he has recorded 35 tackles (27 solo), one forced fumble, two INTs and nine pass deflects. Not bad for a rookie playing on a defense that's been missing Marcus Trufant for a while.
And last week he got a season-high seven tackles against Washington, as well as his second pick. Versus a potentially explosive offense in Philadelphia on Thursday night, Sherman needs to step up big.
You can anticipate that the Eagles will attack him early and often when throwing the ball, being that he is a rookie, so if you're a Seahawks fan, this is the future at corner.
To this point, he's played quite well, but Philadelphia will be one of the more difficult challenges for the young and prominent DB.