1 Player on Every NFL Team Who Has Earned More Playing Time

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystSeptember 24, 2020

1 Player on Every NFL Team Who Has Earned More Playing Time

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The NFL is a living, breathing organism that changes on a daily basis. The league never remains static, especially during the regular season.

    Injuries occur. Some players outperform expectations while others disappoint. The outlooks for teams morph throughout a campaign and often appear far different by the end of the regular season. 

    With that in mind, we're casting a spotlight on the players who have earned more playing time. Even after two weeks of play, certain names have worked their way to the forefront by making their respective teams better. 

    Who they are and where they play depends on each franchise and its particular roster setup. Some are highly regarded rookies. Others previously went undrafted. Some veterans finally found their footing. Maybe a new situation helped an individual take off. All these possibilities exist as coaching staffs adjust to what's already happened on the field. 

    The time is now for the following players to be handed bigger roles and show their early-season performances aren't aberrations. 

Arizona Cardinals: WR Andy Isabella

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Wide receiver Andy Isabella didn't contribute much as a rookie despite being a second-round pick last year. He needed to learn from the veterans in front of him and grow as a route-runner. He now seems ready to contribute more in what's already an explosive Arizona Cardinals offense. 

    "What he's learned, what he's learning to do, is be more efficient with his speed and quickness off the line," wide receivers coach David Raih told reporters during training camp. "If you can't get off the press, you can't even use your speed. You're seeing Andy, he's gone through the pain of learning how to get off the press."

    Isabella has only caught two passes so far this season, but one of those receptions was a 54-yard bomb from quarterback Kyler Murray.

    The second-year receiver is showing he can be a vertical threat to complement Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk.    

Atlanta Falcons: DT Deadrin Senat

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Deadrin Senat is the Atlanta Falcons' fourth defensive tackle behind Grady Jarrett, Tyeler Davison and rookie Marlon Davidson. Opportunities are limited even with Davidson nursing a knee injury. 

    However, Senat's performance should make him a bigger part of the rotation.

    Senat is primarily an athletic and disruptive defensive tackle. He's not going to bump Jarrett off the field, of course. On the other hand, Davison is a limited run-defender. Senat should be used regularly in the team's sub-packages to create more stops in the backfield. He recovered a fumble in Sunday's last-second loss to the Dallas Cowboys. 

    Once Davidson is fully healthy, the Falcons can feature an explosive front with Senat and Jarrett along the interior, Dante Fowler Jr. and Takkarist McKinley working off the edge and the rookie flexing inside or outside depending on the situation. 

Baltimore Ravens: RB J.K. Dobbins

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens running attack already established itself as the best the NFL has ever seen. Why not make it even better? 

    Yes, quarterback Lamar Jackson is the focal point with running back Mark Ingram II serving as the complementary hammer to make sure defenses stay honest. 

    The Ravens now have a home-run threat as well in second-round rookie J.K. Dobbins. Through two games, he's averaging 7.8 yards per carry with two touchdowns, though he's only been given nine total totes. Baltimore certainly has everything it needs to be successful in Jackson and Ingram, but the unit could be even more difficult to defend with Dobbins in the mix. 

    "The young bull—he's a baller, man," Ingram said during an appearance on ESPN's Monday Night Megacast (h/t 247 Sports' Garrett Stepien). "So, we're going to get him right, for sure."

Buffalo Bills: WR Isaiah McKenzie

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    John Munson/Associated Press

    Don't look now, but the Buffalo Bills, led by quarterback Josh Allen, feature the league's best passing attack. 

    Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley are an excellent trio of targets, but the Bills have even more at wide receiver in Isaiah McKenzie and rookie Gabriel Davis. 

    "We believe in our playmakers here and [offensive coordinator Brian] Daboll is not the one to shy away from putting the ball in my hands," Allen told reporters. " ... We've got guys that can step up and fill roles and make plays the way they did. That's huge for a team's success." 

    McKenzie has been particularly effective. The diminutive receiver has caught all five passes thrown his way, yet he's seeing less time on the field than Davis. Buffalo can flip those two and utilize four-receiver sets to spread out opposing defenses. 

Carolina Panthers: DT Woodrow Hamilton

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    Veteran defensive tackle Kawann Short couldn't go in Week 2 due to a foot injury. As a result, the Carolina Panthers called up Woodrow Hamilton from the practice squad, and the fifth-year lineman played well in Short's stead. 

    "He was a positive coming from the practice squad and that's who he is. He was put on the practice squad, he's a veteran player, he's continued to work every week. He's continued to try and get better every week and I appreciate that," head coach Matt Rhule told reporters. "I was proud to see him go out there and make some plays and we'll look to see how his role improves as we move forward."

    Hamilton does the dirty work in the middle. With this year's seventh overall draft pick, Derrick Brown, getting off to a slow start, Hamilton should be a part of the rotation even when Short returns. 

Chicago Bears: WR Darnell Mooney

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Darnell Mooney got lost in the wash of a historic wide receiver draft class this April. The Chicago Bears picked the Tulane product in the fifth round after 23 wide receivers heard their names called. 

    Draft slot means nothing once games begin, and Mooney is showing exactly why he should potentially replace Anthony Miller as the Bears' second option.

    "Well, I think the first thing is [Mooney is] very, very explosive," wide receivers coach Mike Furrey told reporters this summer. "He's gonna probably be one of the most explosive guys that we have in our room in regard to matching his speed with his agility."

    Miller has four receptions on nine targets. Whereas, Mooney has six receptions on six targets. Obviously, both can be on the field alongside Allen Robinson II in 11 personnel, but Mooney is making things happen when he gets the chance.

Cincinnati Bengals: WR Mike Thomas

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    An underrated aspect of properly developing a top quarterback prospect is placing receivers on the field he's comfortable targeting. Rapports don't happen overnight. They develop over time—and not always with the receivers everyone expects. 

    In the Cincinnati Bengals' case, this year's first overall draft pick, Joe Burrow, looks quite comfortable targeting Mike Thomas. 

    A.J. Green has been off to a slow start. John Ross III provides very little. Tyler Boyd is the one constant. Thomas has caught six of seven passes thrown his way, including a touchdown during last Thursday's contest against the Cleveland Browns. 

    Green is playing under the franchise tag, so he's going to be featured. At the same time, there's no reason whatsoever for Ross to play more than Thomas as the season progresses when the latter is clearly better. 

Cleveland Browns: Edge Porter Gustin

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    Kirk Irwin/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns searched for defensive end help all offseason when the solution may have been on the roster all along. 

    The Browns flirted with Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen and Vinny Curry before moving forward with Olivier Vernon and Adrian Clayborn as Myles Garrett's second and third fiddles. 

    Vernon is dealing with an abdomen injury, though, while Clayborn left Thursday's victory over the Cincinnati Bengals due to a hip issue. As such, Porter Gustin, who previously went undrafted before beating out 2018 third-round pick Chad Thomas, received plenty of opportunities. He's manufactured five quarterback pressures through the first two contests. 

    "He just kept making plays every chance he was out there [during practice], and I think it is starting to show up a little bit in these games," head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters.

Dallas Cowboys: TE Blake Bell

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    When Blake Jarwin suffered a torn ACL in the Dallas Cowboys' season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, Dalton Schultz and Blake Bell were left to fill the void.

    Both are playing better than expected. Schultz caught nine passes for 88 yards and a touchdown during Dallas' comeback victory Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Bell, meanwhile, snagged a crucial 24-yard third-down catch in the fourth quarter. 

    Currently, the Cowboys utilize two or more tight ends only 10 percent of the time, per Sharp Football's Warren Sharp. That number needs to go up. Bell is both a viable receiving threat and a solid blocker.

    Schultz can continue in a starting role, but 12 personnel could be beneficial for the entire offensive unit, even if it takes one of Dallas' talented wide receivers off the field for a few plays. 

Denver Broncos: WR Tyrie Cleveland

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    Justin Edmonds/Associated Press

    Tyrie Cleveland opened the season in the Denver Broncos' wide receiver rotation, caught a pass for seven yards and contributed on special teams before disappearing in Week 2. 

    Injuries have been a big part of the Broncos' roster shuffling so far this season, but Cleveland shouldn't be lost in the mix. He's an outstanding route-runner with yards-after-the-catch ability. 

    With Courtland Sutton now on injured reserve because of a torn ACL, there's no reason to hold back the roster's other young wide receivers. Cleveland should join fellow rookies Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler alongside Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton to help whoever is starting at quarterback. 

    "When we drafted those [three] guys, we felt like we had one of the most talented receiving corps from top to bottom in the league," Patrick told reporters. "With Courtland going down, it truly is that next-man-up mentality. ... We talked about it all camp that we have one of the best receiver corps. We're prepared for this."

Detroit Lions: DT Kevin Strong

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions defense didn't have a banner day against the rival Green Bay Packers. The unit surrendered 488 total yards, including 259 rushing yards, in the 42-21 loss. 

    Obviously, something needs to change up front after they were gashed.

    The Lions signed Danny Shelton this offseason to serve as the nose tackle and gobble up blockers, yet he's been largely ineffective. Nick Williams continues to deal with a shoulder injury. As such, the team called up Kevin Strong from the practice squad, and he graded the best along the Lions defensive line during the Packers' ground assault, albeit in limited snaps, according to Jeff Risdon of USA Today's Lions Wire. 

    Maybe Detroit should consider letting a younger player take some reps from those who simply aren't getting the job done despite their contract status. 

Green Bay Packers: OG Jon Runyan Jr.

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers have shuffled their offensive front quite a bit to start this season due to injuries.

    Elgton Jenkins went from his normal spot at left guard to right tackle in Week 1 and back to left guard in Week 2. Lucas Patrick went from left guard to right guard while filling in for an injured Lane Taylor, who is now on injured reserve with a knee injury. Rookie sixth-round pick Jon Runyan had to take over at right guard due to the aforementioned injury. 

    Veteran center Corey Linsley told reporters that Runyan had a "good feel" for the game when he entered Green Bay's first contest. 

    Currently, Linsley has an injury to his snapping hand. Patrick continues to deal with a shoulder issue. Billy Turner is coming back from a knee injury, as well. 

    Due to the uncertainty currently found along the Packers' offensive interior and based on his initial contributions, Runyan's number will likely be called again with no hesitation. 

Houston Texans: Edge Jacob Martin

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Translatable traits are important when evaluating young players because they often determine how effective they can be in a team's system. For example, the Houston Texans saw the potential in Jacob Martin when he was included as part of the Jadeveon Clowney trade with the Seattle Seahawks. 

    "Jacob has a unique skill set," Houston head coach Bill O'Brien told reporters this summer. "He's going to play a lot of football for us this year. He plays really hard. He's got good speed for the position that he plays."

    Martin displays excellent first-step quickness and flexibility to bend the edge. Now, he needs to build off last season's 3.5-sack performance. According to Texans Cap, he has already generated three quarterback pressures through two games. 

    Brennan Scarlett isn't nearly as explosive off the snap. As Martin continues to improve, he can be an excellent bookend to Whitney Mercilus. 

Indianapolis Colts: TE Mo Alie-Cox

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Mo Alie-Cox's inclusion comes with an asterisk. The tight end currently leads the Indianapolis Colts with 131 receiving yards. 

    It's no secret that Philip Rivers loves to target tight ends. After all, Antonio Gates served as the San Diego Chargers' top receiving threat for years. 

    However, Alie-Cox's production is due, in part, to starting tight end Jack Doyle nursing ankle and knee issues. Still, he shouldn't relinquish any playing time upon Doyle's return. 

    The Colts want to be a smashmouth team. They feature arguably the game's best offensive line, and Jonathan Taylor shined during his starting debut with 101 rushing yards. Emphasis should be placed on using 12 personnel.

    Currently, Indianapolis is using the formation at a 20 percent clip, according to Sharp Football's Warren Sharp. Eleven other teams use two-tight end sets more often. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Laviska Shenault Jr.

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    Laviska Shenault Jr.'s inclusion is less about his playing time and far more about making him an integral part of the Jacksonville Jaguars offense. 

    Shenault is a dynamic weapon who should consistently be included in specific packages when he's not playing opposite DJ Chark Jr. The rookie was once considered the best wide receiver in college football before injuries derailed his time at Colorado. Now, he's looking like the same player who was absolutely deadly with the ball in his hands. 

    So far, Jacksonville has manufactured 13 touches for its second-round draft pick, which have resulted in 119 total yards and a touchdown.

    "But the one thing I knew, when he got the underneath crossing route caught, he's such a physical guy, a big strong receiver that I really felt like, 'Hey listen, it's going to be hard to tackle this guy,' going into the season because we haven't done any live tackling in that situation," head coach Doug Marrone told reporters last week. 

Kansas City Chiefs: DT Tershawn Wharton

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs are excited about a pair of rookie defensive linemen in Tershawn Wharton and Mike Danna. 

    "Both guys have done a great job since we got them here," defensive line coach and run-game coordinator Brendan Daly told reporters. "They work hard, they come in every day, they are very smart, they take great notes, they've got a business-like demeanor about them that I've been very impressed with both of them, to be honest."

    Wharton gets the nod here for three reasons.

    First, his contributions are unexpected as an undrafted free agent. Second, he hasn't played as much so far. Finally, he's excellent against the run. According to Arrowhead Pride's Ron Kopp Jr., he made two stops in only six run-defense snaps during his debut. 

    The Chiefs are getting Mike Pennel back from a two-game suspension this week, but Wharton shouldn't find himself out of the mix. 

Las Vegas Raiders: Edge Arden Key

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders should be worried that last year's fourth overall draft pick, Clelin Ferrell, isn't going to develop into a top-flight edge-defender. The second-year defensive end is solid in most areas and a good locker room presence, hence why the Raiders drafted him where they did, but he lacks juice off the edge. 

    Ferrell managed only 4.5 sacks as a rookie. He hasn't generated too much pressure to start the 2020 campaign, either. Maxx Crosby has outplayed his classmate so far, and Arden Key continues to show more promise as an edge-rusher. 

    According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Key generated a team-leading six pressures Monday against the New Orleans Saints. No other Raider had more than one. 

    Key struggled himself through his first two seasons. If he continues to apply pressure in the same manner he did against the Saints' standout offensive tacklesRyan Ramczyk and Terron Armsteadhe could replace Ferrell in key situations. 

Los Angeles Chargers: QB Justin Herbert

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn can't possibly be as obtuse as he presented himself recently. He surely saw what everyone else did when Justin Herbert made an emergency start in place of an injured Tyrod Taylor and looked unflappable against the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. 

    "There's a lot we didn't get done with Justin on the field yesterday," Lynn told reporters Monday. "He's a backup for a reason."

    Herbert was also this year's sixth overall draft pick for a reason.

    The rookie, who didn't receive starting reps throughout practice all week because Taylor was expected to go, had the Chargers in a position to beat the NFL's best. He threw for 311 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score. 

    Sure, he's going to make mistakes. At the same time, he showed more than enough playmaking ability and comfort in the system to anoint him the starter. 

Los Angeles Rams: RB Darrell Henderson Jr.

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams entered this season with expectations of rotating through three different running backs. Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. are a talented trio. Injuries opened the door for one of those ball-carriers to take on far more responsibility in the coming weeks. 

    Akers is dealing with a rib injury while Brown hurt a finger during Sunday's victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Henderson responded with 14 touches for 121 yards and a touchdown. 

    "Darrell did great," quarterback Jared Goff told reporters. "He really stepped up and did a good job."

    Currently, the Rams feature the league's third-best rushing attack. Henderson, meanwhile, has the highest receiving grade of any back, according to Pro Football Focus. He can step into the starting role and be featured more while Brown and Akers aren't 100 percent healthy. 

Miami Dolphins: Edge Andrew Van Ginkel

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins are struggling to generate any type of pass rush. They have three sacks through two games while allowing a 131.1 passer rating.

    If anyone on the roster can provide some semblance of a consistent pass rush, he should be on the field. 

    Andrew Van Ginkel isn't the most explosive edge-rusher by any means, but he has five quarterback pressures and 1.5 sacks in his eight career games. Those numbers may not seem like much, yet he's been limited in how often he's used. Van Ginkel doubles as a slightly above-average run defender as well to set the edge. 

    The Dolphins spent a combined $96 million on Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah in free agency this offseason. That threesome has combined for nine total pressures so far. If they can't get the job done, others deserve an opportunity. 

Minnesota Vikings: RB Alexander Mattison

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    No one on the Minnesota Vikings has played particularly well yet. But the team has a chance to build an identity while simultaneously taking pressure off quarterback Kirk Cousins by becoming a run-first offense thanks to a talented running back duo. 

    Here's the problem: The Vikings treat Dalvin Cook like the focal point of their offensive scheme, but Alexander Mattison could be a much bigger contributor. 

    Cook has 26 carries compared to only nine for Mattison, even though the latter is averaging 7.0 yards per carry.

    The second-year ball-carrier has 96 total yards on 14 touches so far this season. His effectiveness may be limited behind Cook, but Minnesota's staff should find ways to get both running backs the ball consistently. 

New England Patriots: OT Michael Onwenu

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Marcus Cannon's decision to opt out this season created uncertainly at right tackle for the New England Patriots. Yodny Cajuste's trip to injured reserve didn't help matters, either.

    In response, the Patriots have shuffled guards at the spot. Jermaine Eluemunor and rookie sixth-round pick Michael Onwenu have held down the fort, with the latter particularly excelling. According to Pro Football Focus, Onwenu is the second-highest-graded first-year blocker through two weeks of play. 

    "Mike's a very flexible player. I don't think he's played tackle since high school, but he played a number of positions for us in training campguard, tackle, we saw tight end there in the game yesterday," head coach Bill Belichick told reporters after the Patriots' Week 1 win over the Miami Dolphins. "... Mike's earned playing time and he's been able to play different spots for us."

    Perhaps the Patriots should insert Onwenu as the full-time starter.

New Orleans Saints: TE Adam Trautman

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    Tyler Kaufman/Associated Press

    Michael Thomas' absence clearly affected the New Orleans Saints' passing attack in Monday's loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. 

    Sure, Drew Brees still managed 312 passing yards, but that effort said more about the Saints trailing throughout the contest than the unit's normal efficiency. 

    Thomas may not return until next month because of a high-ankle sprain, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Until he's back, the Saints can utilize their tight ends more.

    Veteran Jared Cook is already one of Brees' top targets. Meanwhile, third-round rookie Adam Trautman caught his first professional pass Monday for a 17-yard gain. He's also a good in-line option. 

    Brees, who has struggled this year, could have two valuable tight ends on the field in Cook and Trautman. That would make his life much easier, especially during Thomas' recovery period. 

New York Giants: WR C.J. Board

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    The New York Giants will be without second-leading receiver Sterling Shepard for at least the next three games after placing him on injured reserve because of turf toe, per Michael Eisen of the team website. 

    Darius Slayton is clearly WR1 in New York with Golden Tate battling a hamstring issue. 

    Since injuries are currently hampering the Giants' wide receiver rotation, one of the lesser-known options must help quarterback Daniel Jones and take some pressure off Slayton.

    Damion Ratley played 27 snaps Sunday compared to C.J. Board's 11, but Ratley hasn't caught a pass this season, while Board has snagged all five balls thrown in his direction. Ratley is explosive with outstanding natural tools, but none of that matters if he isn't actually catching the ball. Board is, and he should be rewarded for his contributions with more playing time.

New York Jets: Edge John Franklin-Myers

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The New York Jets lack a true edge-rusher and have for some time. Safety Marcus Maye and interior defender Quinnen Williams currently lead the squad with two sacks apiece. Last season, linebacker Jordan Jenkins managed a respective eight, though he was far from the league leaders in that category. 

    Someone who consistently applies pressure would greatly impact the Jets' defensive effectiveness. 

    Although John Franklin-Myers didn't register a sack in his season debut during New York's Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the 2018 fourth-round pick managed three quarterback hits, per NJ.com's Chris Ryan

    Sacks aren't the be-all, end-all of bothering opposing signal-callers. If Franklin-Myers can be disruptive off the edge, Williams will be better, the Jets won't be as reliant on blitz packages, and they can use Maye in other ways. 

Philadelphia Eagles: LB T.J. Edwards

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles' linebacking corps is a disaster. However, they do have one promising young defender among the group.

    Philadelphia doesn't place a heavy emphasis on the position, but Jatavis Brown's abrupt retirement in August didn't help matters. Nathan Gerry and Duke Riley—two undersized but athletic options—are now receiving the bulk of the snaps.

    T.J. Edwards is a more traditional linebacker, and he's technically the starting "Mike." However, he's often pulled out for sub-packages.

    The 24-year-old isn't the most fluid when working in space, which holds him back to a degree. But the Eagles have to determine whether they're fine with Gerry and Riley not playing well or if they're willing to take a chance on Edwards, who is their best overall linebacker. They should give him the opportunity to sink or swim in a bigger role. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: OG Kevin Dotson

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    How good was rookie fourth-round guard Kevin Dotson in his first professional start? Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger awarded him a game ball after the effort, per ESPN's Brooke Pryor

    According to Pro Football Focus, Dotson hasn't allowed a single pressure. 

    Most young offensive linemen take time to develop, but Dotson appears to be the rare exception. The Steelers should thus pounce on the opportunity to keep him in their starting lineup, even if it means reworking their offensive front.

    Right guard David DeCastro, who Dotson replaced for a game, was a full participant in practice Wednesday. Left guard Matt Feiler can move back to his old spot at right tackle after Zach Banner's season-ending knee injury. Dotson can then take over at left guard since Stefen Wisniewski is also on injured reserve because of a pectoral injury.

San Francisco 49ers: TE Jordan Reed

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Jordan Reed is already tallying NFL Comeback Player of the Year votes with how he's played this season. Although he's played only 31 percent of the San Francisco 49ers' offensive snaps, he's managed nine receptions for 62 yards and two touchdowns over the first two weeks.

    The tight end's career looked to be over after he suffered his seventh documented concussion last season, but Reed wanted to give it one more shot. The move appears to be paying off. 

    "All the hard work this season, having faith in myself, and it actually coming true like that," Reed told reporters Sunday. "It's just a great feeling. I understand that I have to keep improving, just keep grinding."

    All-Pro tight end George Kittle is nursing a sprained MCL and will be the focal point of the passing game when he returns. But Reed can be a fantastic complementary piece in 12 personnel as long as he remains healthy. 

Seattle Seahawks: WR David Moore

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks already have the league's most underrated wide receiver duo with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. But David Moore shouldn't be overlooked when discussing this position group. 

    Through two games, Moore has caught all six passes thrown his way, including one of the most improbable scoring grabs in recent years. A combination of reliability and playmaking ability is hard to beat in a third wide receiver, and the Seahawks will need Moore to continue in his current role for the next few weeks and possibly longer if he continues to excel. 

    The Seahawks placed Phillip Dorsett on injured reserve due to a foot problem, though he's expected back this season. Seattle is also awaiting the possibility of Josh Gordon returning to the team if/when the NFL reinstates the mercurial wide receiver.

    Moore doesn't need to take a back seat to anyone with how he's played as of late. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Leonard Fournette

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    A running back is positioned for success when his offensive line wants to block specifically for him. 

    According to the Tampa Bay Times' Eduardo Encina, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Leonard Fournette asked his front five to give him an inch so he could take it a mile. 

    "I loved it," guard Ali Marpet said. "(It was) a little bit of a burst of energy. I’m going to try to give him more than an inch, but if that’s all he needs—it got me excited (and) I think it got the rest of the offensive line excited and fired up. The best part about it is he backed it up. He brought it."

    In his second game with the franchise, Fournette ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Head coach Bruce Arians told reporters he isn't removing Ronald Jones II from the starting lineup, but Fournette will almost surely get the bulk of the carries moving forward, especially late in games.

Tennessee Titans: CB Kristian Fulton

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans had the luxury of easing second-round pick Kristian Fulton into their cornerback rotation with veterans Johnathan Joseph and Malcolm Butler already on the roster. 

    When asked about Fulton in training camp, head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters what it would take for him to earn playing time.

    "To really be good in a defensive scheme, or any scheme, it helps to know what’s going on around you. You have to learn your job first and, as you branch out, you have to learn what the pieces around you are doing so maybe you can do your job a little better and your job’s a little easier when you understand what other people are doing."

    Fulton looks to be getting comfortable in the scheme quickly. He had three tackles, a deflected pass and an interception against the Jaguars in Week 2.

    Since Joseph suffered a leg injury during Sunday's contest, there's no reason to hold Fulton back any longer. 

Washington Football Team: S Kamren Curl

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The majority of NFL teams can't sit capable defensive backs as they face pass-happy offenses on a weekly basis. The cliche that "you can't have too many good cornerbacks" exists for a reason, after all. 

    That also applies to safeties in today's sub-package world, where offenses are always trying to exploit mismatches.

    Normally, an organization isn't in a rush to get a recent seventh-round pick onto the field. The Washington Football Team is in a very different place right now with Kamren Curl. 

    Curl, who also played cornerback at Arkansas, can flex to multiple different spots. He currently ranks first with 0.22 yards allowed per snap from the slot and sixth with three passing-game stops, per Pro Football Focus. The rookie is also currently tied for the team lead with two tackles for loss despite playing only 37 percent of the defensive reps in his first two games.

    All snap counts via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.