NFL Players Who Need to See More Snaps in Week 2

Alex BallentineSeptember 17, 2022

NFL Players Who Need to See More Snaps in Week 2

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    ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 10: Kadarius Toney #89 of the New York Giants runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL game at AT&T Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
    Kadarius Toney was a non-factor in the Giants game plan in Week 1. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

    Taking a look at the snap counts across the NFL in the season's first week is a revealing exercise.

    After months of hearing coach-speak and seeing snippets of action, we finally got to see how players will be utilized in games.

    Of course, coaches are always looking to make adjustments. There are players who saw the field too much and those who should be utilized more often or in better ways.

    Based on team situation and player talent, these guys should be getting a bigger opportunity in Week 2.

WR Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans

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    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 11: Treylon Burks #16 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball during the game against the New York Giants at Nissan Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
    Justin Ford/Getty Images

    Treylon Burks had an up-and-down offseason that included some asthma-related conditioning issues, so it should come as no surprise that he played a reduced role in his debut.

    He saw just 37 percent of the Tennessee Titans' offensive snaps, playing a significant amount less than fellow rookie receiver Kyle Phillips, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Robert Woods.

    Despite the lack of action, Burks was one of the team's most efficient receivers. He commanded a 33.7 percent share of the team's air yards in the passing game. Ja'Marr Chase, for example, had 34.7 percent of the Bengals' air yards, per Next Gen Stats.

    Only Deebo Samuel averaged more separation than Burks (4.9 yards) last week. So when he was on the field, he was running routes and getting open. He brought in three of his five targets for 55 yards.

    The Titans passing game flat out needs more from its receivers. Phillips led the way with six catches for 66 yards. Running back Dontrell Hilliard was second in receiving with 61 yards.

    Burks showed the ability to get open and make plays. Now he has to see more of the field to make a bigger impact.

DT Jordan Davis, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 12: Jordan Davis #90 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on against the New York Jets during the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 12, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Jets defeated the Eagles 24-21. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Jordan Davis was a part-time player at Georgia, so it should come as no surprise that the hulking defensive tackle was a rotational player for the Philadelphia Eagles in his NFL debut.

    The 6'6", 336-pounder played just 22 defensive snaps (32 percent) in the team's 38-35 win over the Detroit Lions. While he had just two tackles, his impact against the run was noticeable.

    Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports noted that on the 22 plays Davis was on the field, the Lions had 14 rushes for 43 yards (3.1 per carry). When he was off, they gave up 138 yards on 14 carries (9.9).

    The Eagles also didn't tackle particularly well.

    Still, Davis performed well on those runs despite seeing limited snaps in the Eagles four-man fronts. Zangaro noted that only four of his snaps came in such looks. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon seemed to realize Davis should be on the field more.

    “I feel comfortable with Jordan playing in the three- and four-man fronts,” Gannon said. “He's a defensive tackle and can play all those techniques within all those schemes. Moving forward he'll be playing in everything that we do.”

    The Eagles played five defensive tackles Sunday. That makes sense with the multiple looks they want to play. However, Davis needs to be involved more often if the Eagles are to get better at stopping the run with Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota Vikings on tap.

TE O.J. Howard, Houston Texans

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    HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 11: O.J. Howard #83 of the Houston Texans celebrates scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    O.J. Howard scored on 16.6 percent of the snaps he played for the Houston Texans on Sunday.

    Not 16.6 percent of his routes or even targets. That's 16.7 percent of the time he was on the field. That's the epitome of efficiency.

    The tight end practiced with the team for about a week after not making the final 53-man roster with the Buffalo Bills. Then he turned in a two-touchdown performance.

    Obviously, that won't be the case over a larger sample, but he brings interesting upside. The 6'6", 251-pound first-round pick from 2017 had to deal with a crowded tight end room in Tampa Bay, which limited his opportunities.

    The Texans are still trying to figure out their receiving options outside Brandin Cooks. At tight end, Pharoah Brown had just one target, which he caught for 17 yards, while Brevin Jordan saw two, catching one for five yards.

    "(O.J. Howard) came in really last week and got to work, put his head down, and I think he's in a really good spot right now," quarterback Davis Mills told the media after the game.

    It's clear Mills already trusts the big target to produce. As he settles in, he should only see a bigger role on a team that he could significantly help.

RB Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

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    HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Dameon Pierce #31 of the Houston Texans carries the ball during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    Dameon Pierce's fantasy managers will agree with this one: It was shocking how much more Rex Burkhead played than the rookie in Week 1.

    Pierce was a preseason darling but only saw 29 percent of the Texans' offensive snaps, while Burkhead saw 71 percent.

    To be fair, Pierce didn't do much with his opportunity. He had just 33 yards on 11 carries and caught one pass for six yards. Meanwhile, Burkhead was much more useful in the passing game with five catches for 30 yards and a serviceable 14 carries for 40 yards.

    Regardless, head coach Lovie Smith considered the lack of playing time for Pierce a miscue on his part.

    "The plan of course was for him to get more. You get into the game and situations make you go a little bit different direction. You learn from those mistakes like that, mistakes of those situations that you look at the day after," he said, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com.

    The argument isn't that Pierce should have gotten more touches because he was clearly superior to Burkhead. He does look more explosive, but this is about the direction of the Texans.

    They are clearly a young team looking to build something. Pierce should be given every opportunity to show he's a staple of the offense.

RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

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    ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Tony Pollard #20 of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled by Joe Tryon-Shoyinka #9 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at AT&T Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
    Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    This isn't an argument that Tony Pollard should get more carries than fellow Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. It's a simple plea to get Pollard the ball more in general.

    Dennis Houston—an undrafted rookie free agent receiver—played one more snap than Pollard did on Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The running back was on the field 38 times (55.1 percent), garnering just six carries and two targets.

    With Dak Prescott going down for at least four weeks because of a thumb injury, the Cowboys should lean on Pollard a little more heavily—and it would be worth putting him on the field with Elliott.

    Throughout the offseason, there were reports that Pollard was set to take on a role as a slot receiver. His ability to catch the ball and make something happen afterward could be a vital tool, as the team needs to make life easier on replacement QB Cooper Rush.

    Of course, Pollard can still run the ball. He only got eight yards on six carries in Week 1, compared to Elliott's 50 yards on 10 attempts, but was not always utilized as a traditional running back and lost eight yards on his first attempt. He also averaged 5.5 yards on 130 carries last year, a big jump over Elliott's 4.2 on 237 attempts.

    He needs to be a bigger part of the offense.

Edge Dominique Robinson, Chicago Bears

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    Chicago Bears defensive end Dominique Robinson (91) celebrates the Bears win against the San Francisco 49ers in an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
    AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

    If they were to have odds on which rookie edge defender would have the most successful debut, the Chicago Bears' Dominique Robinson might not have even been on the board. With the top two picks, Aidan Hutchinson and Travon Walker, set to make their first appearances, the fifth-rounder out of Miami (Ohio) didn't have much hype.

    He sure created some in Week 1, though.

    Robinson was all over the field in 28 defensive snaps for the Bears. Robinson blew by Mike McGlinchey on an inside move to register a one-handed sack on 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. But he also showed off his motor to track down a screen pass thrown to Jeff Wilson Jr.

    In all, he was second on the team in tackles despite playing less than half of the snaps, and he led the way in sacks with 1.5.

    The Bears are witnessing a youth movement. When they traded Khalil Mack, it was a sign they were ready to play young guys and build toward the future.

    Robinson is one of those young guys who could become a key player in the defense of the future.

    They would do well to continue to elevate his role. His effort level when flying to the football will help build the culture, and he's flashed the ability to be a dangerous pass-rusher.

WR Kadarius Toney, New York Giants

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    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 11: Wide receiver Kadarius Toney #89 of the New York Giants runs upfield during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Head coach Brian Daboll did a lot of things right in guiding the New York Giants to a 21-20 win over the Tennessee Titans. But his usage of Kadarius Toney was baffling.

    The wide receiver flashed a ton of potential as a rookie in 2021, hauling in 39 catches for 420 yards in 10 games. With the chance to start fresh with a new coaching staff, it was assumed he would get a shot at expanding his role in 2022.

    That wasn't the case in Week 1. He saw just seven snaps, effectively making him the sixth receiver in the offense.

    To Toney's credit, he handled questions about the lack of playing time as well as one could expect.

    "I get paid to play, not coach," Toney said, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN. "I don't know what the plan was. At the end of the day, I have to prepare as if I was going and playing every play. I don't know what else to say."

    It would be understandable if the Giants were deep at receiver. They aren't. Kenny Golladay hauled in just two catches on his 46 snaps.

    Richie James, a seventh-rounder in 2018, was the most prolific receiving option of the bunch in terms of catches. He brought in five passes for 59 yards.

    The Giants need to either give Toney a role or look to trade him while he still has upside.

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