By: Barry Barnes, Founder
The Week Two of the NFL is shaping up to feature some solid intrigue among the NFL Regional Combine pioneers. Several players turned out and had strong performances in Week One. Week Two should be no different.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (0-1) VS. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (0-1)
Cardinals star running back David Johnson will miss between two to three months due to a wrist injury. The Cardinals have a community of running backs with Kerwynn Williams, Andre Ellington and veteran ball carrier Chris Johnson, who has reportedly rejoined the club after posting 814 yards in 2015 for the Cards.
Will 2016 NFL Regional Combine standout Elijhaa Penny have the opportunity to experience some regular season action for the first time against the Indianapolis Colts?
Penny had a credible preseason, as he did last year. He has the ability to hit the holes quickly and not shy away from contact. The Colts team is not a physical squad. This contest would be fitting for Penny to get rolling, as well for tight end Ifeanyi Momah.
However, they may have to contend with Colts defensive back Chris Milton. Milton played a couple series for the Colts against the Los Angeles Rams in Week One and registered a tackle.
While Penny and Momah may collide against Milton, Colts offensive lineman Denzelle Good will definitely have his hands full against the Cardinals front seven.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-0) VS. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (1-0)
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen jumpstarted his 2017 campaign with a monster performance against the New Orleans Saints when he blitzed the secondary with nine catches for 157 yards. Thielen will be challenged by Steelers defensive back Robert Golden several times throughout the contest. Golden is physical and plays against the slot well, but he will have to work to contain Thielen.
Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villaneuva is becoming one of the league’s best at the position. The Vikings have a fast and furious pass rush led by one of the NFL’s best defensive ends in Everson Griffen, who had six tackles including a sack against the Saints.
NEW YORK JETS (0-1) VS. OAKLAND RAIDERS (1-0)
Jets linebacker Julian Stanford is getting settled in head coach Todd Bowles’ scheme. The Raiders will run the ball and he will be needed to slow Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch. More importantly, Stanford’s drop back skills may be useful knowing Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts will be lurking around center field.
Roberts is probably the NFL’s best third-receiver as he is not a stranger to the end zone. The 2014 RC pioneer scored five times last season and started this campaign with a 19-yard touchdown pass against the Tennessee Titans in the team’s win in Week One.
The Jets will look to play defense, and field positioning will be a battle and points may be few. Fortunately, the Raiders have a kicker in place to combat Giorgio Tavecchio. Tavecchio went five for five in his debut, nailing two attempts 52 yards out.
THE R.C. RUN-THROUGH
- Cleveland Browns rookie wide receiver Reggie Davis will match up against the powerful Baltimore Ravens defense. If the Browns want to surprise their divisional foe, Davis will have to give them a rough awakening at M&T Bank Stadium.
- Will Chicago Bears defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris get his hands on Tampa Bay Buccaneers full back Alan Cross? If Harris gets some action on the field, he is more than likely to get his mitts on offensive tackle Leonard Wester.
- New Orleans Saints defensive back Chris Banjo will look to make stops against the New England Patriots.
- Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Kamu Gruiger-Hill recorded a tackle in Week One. He should get more against the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole was targeted once against the Texans. Look for quarterback Blake Bortles to get this young pass catcher involved early and often since Allen Robinson is placed on IR.
- Tackling machine linebacker Jatavis Brown is slowly but surely becoming the leader of the Los Angeles Chargers slowly. He attacked the Denver Broncos for 14 tackles in Week One. Following in his path is rookie linebacker Nigel Harris who registered a tackle in his debut. The Chargers are deep at the tight end position, so if Sean McGarth makes an appearance, he can be a comparable threat to the others.
- Defensive back Cody Davis is getting more involved with the defense for the Los Angeles Rams, as well as Washington Redskins defensive back Quinton Dunbar. Both players will be geared up to put their hands on someone. Points and field positioning will be key in this matchup. The Rams are in great hands with kicker Greg Zuerlein who is good for threes and extra points, while All-Pro punter John Hekker will consistently place the Skins deep into their territory. Hekker signed a two-year extension guaranteeing him $10 million.
- Dallas Cowboys defensive end Benson Mayowa came close in sacking New York Giants Eli Manning as he slipped through his grip. He will have another shot at getting Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian when they line up across from each other.
- Brandon McManus is one of the marquee kickers in the NFL, and the Broncos made it clear that he is just that since they signed the 2013 NFL Regional Combine pioneer to a three-year extension worth $11.254 million with $6 million guaranteed. McManus will match wits with Dan Bailey, probably the best place kicker in the game.
- When the Green Bay Packers journeyed to Atlanta, wide receiver Trevor Davis scored his first NFL touchdown from 11-yards out and had a solid 41-yard punt return. Davis is primarily a return specialist, but he is a threat either way, especially for the Falcons. Falcons defensive back Kemal Ishmael is physical and he is always in attack mode.