Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1st-round pick Doug Martin impressed in his debut, carrying the Bucs to a 16-10 victory over the Panthers.
Martin carried the ball 24 times for 95 yards and added another 23 yards on four receptions. And if there was any question as to who the feature back was in this offense, LeGarrette Blount had just four touches on the day (three rushes, one reception).
I had Martin as the 14th rated player on my board in this year’s draft, so his performance doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s a legitimate feature back and this game should simply set the tone for the rest of his season.
The Indianapolis Colts spent their first two picks in the draft on college teammates in hopes that it would ease their transition to the NFL. And so far, it seems to have worked. Andrew Luck was shaky in his debut, but he definitely looked comfortable working with Coby Fleener.
While Reggie Wayne was understandably Luck’s go-to receiver, he also targeted Fleener 10 times on Sunday. The two connected on six of those plays for 82 yards.
There’s obviously still a lot of work to be done in Indy, but it’s encouraging to see Luck and Fleener developing a connection early in their NFL careers.
New York Jets 2nd-round pick Stephen Hill turned in a strong debut, catching five passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets win over the Bills.
Hill made an immediate impact for the Jets
He’s first Jets rookie with two touchdown receptions in a game since Keyshawn Johnson in 1996.
Even in this performance it was clear that Hill is still developing as a receiver, but it was also clear that his speed and athleticism makes him an immediate threat.
Hill caught five of the six balls thrown his direction, and that type of consistently should only lead to a larger role in the Jets offense as the season progresses.
You couldn’t have scripted a worse debut for Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.
It was a long day for Weeden against the Eagles
They day started with Weeden getting caught under the American flag during pregame ceremonies. He then proceeded to throw four interceptions en route a 5.1 quarterback rating – the lowest in the NFL since Jeff Garcia posted a 0.0 in 2004.
Weeden also managed to complete more passes to Eagles defensive backs Kurt Coleman and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie than Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs and Greg Little combined.
The issue for Weeden was his accuracy. He missed open receivers on a number of occasions, including twice overthrowing wide-open targets in the end zone. It’s clear he has a long way to go before he’s ready to compete at this level.
Taylor Lewan OT Michigan #77
Size/Athleticism: Impressive height and long arms. Elite athlete for the position. Has the quick footwork necessary to handle elite speed rushers at the next level. Fast enough to get downfield and make some plays at the second level. At times he almost looks like an oversized tight end the way he moves, getting to the second level and when pulling.
Pass Protection: Quickness is his best asset in pass pro. Very quick off the snap and can easily slide outside to slow down edge rushers. Limited strength makes him a liability against bull rushers. He lacks the elite upper body strength to consistently handle more physical players. His height adds to his struggles, as shorter, stronger linemen are able to use good leverage to force him into the backfield. Needs to consistently stay low and fight the urge to play more upright. Has improved in this area, but definitely still needs work to reach an elite level.
Run Blocking: Does a better job staying low as a run blocker. Explodes off the snap and uses his momentum to drive defenders back. More physical in the run game than you might expect from a guy who’s more of a finesse pass blocker. Fights hard to the whistle. Often pulls on traps and sweeps and his athleticism makes him a dangerous weapon on these plays – he has the ability to get into position quickly and can adjust to the pass rusher even when matched up with more athletic linebackers.
Intangibles: Dad played offensive line at Minnesota. Struggled with penalties early in his career but has developed into an intelligent football player. Well liked and respected by teammates and coaches. Regarded as a hard worker and a team leader.
Durability: No significant issues.
Comments: Lewan is still developing, but has all the physical attributes necessary to be an elite left tackle at the next level. He would probably benefit from adding some weight to improve his ability to anchor against the more physical pass rushers he’ll see at the next level, but he clearly has the frame to do so and will likely improve in this area with the help of an NFL coaching staff.
New York Giants 1st-round pick David Wilson fumbled on his second career carry midway through the 1st quarter, and was promptly benched. The Giants handed the ball off to Wilson on two of their first five running plays, but Wilson didn’t touch the ball for the remainder of the 1st half.
Wilson struggled with ball security throughout his brief college career, so his fumble comes as no surprise. But it’s definitely a rough start to his pro career.
While the Giants clearly shied away from giving him more carries, Tom Coughlin and his staff don’t have many other options. Ahmad Bradshaw has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, so they need Wilson to share the workload in order to keep Bradshaw fresh.
Dallas Cowboys 1st-round pick Morris Claiborne could be the key to their performance against Eli Manning and the Giants on Wednesday night.
Eli Manning will look Claiborne's direction early and often
Last season, the Giants picked on Terrence Newman, completing 12 of 19 passes thrown his direction for 240 yards in their two meetings. This year, Newman is gone, replaced by Claiborne and veteran Brandon Carr.
Given the choice, Manning will likely target the rookie Claiborne, and will hope to have the same success he found when picking on Newman last season. If Claiborne can come up some big plays, the Cowboys may be able to pull off the upset. But if Claiborne can’t improve upon Newman’s performance in 2011, it will likely be another long night for the Dallas defense.
Robert Griffin III – The Washington Redskins selected RG3 to be their franchise quarterback and he will fill that role from Day 1. Realistically, we should expect some growing pains and he’ll probably cost the team a few games in the early going. But it’s all part of the process, and he should have plenty of highlight-reel plays as well.
Morris may be a surprise impact rookie
Kirk Cousins – We probably won’t see Cousins on the field this year, but he was impressive during the preseason. He’ll be groomed as trade bait and may wind up starting elsewhere in two or three years.
Alfred Morris – The 6th-round pick is one of three running backs on the roster. Considering the way Mike Shanahan treats his backfield, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Morris gets a start or two this year.
Kennan Robinson – Robinson may be the only impact rookie on the defensive side of the ball. He’ll back up Perry Riley and London Fletcher at inside linebacker.
Others: offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus, cornerback Richard Crawford
Nick Foles – The Philadelphia Eagles may have found their eventual replacement for Mike Vick. Foles won the backup job over Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards.
The Eagles have high expectations for Cox
Fletcher Cox – The 1st-round pick isn’t expected to start, but he will play a significant role as part of the defensive line rotation. They’ll likely ease him into a more prominent role as the season progresses.
Mychal Kendricks – The 2nd-round pick is expected to start at strong-side linebacker and could be a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
Brandon Boykin – Boykin may see playing time as the nickel corner, but will make his biggest impact on special teams. He is expected to begin the year as the team’s primary kick returner.
Vinny Curry – Curry was slowed by a high ankle sprain this offseason which may have limited his ability to make an early impact. He’ll be part of the defensive line rotation, but could compete for a starting job by the end of the year.
Damaris Johnson – The undrafted free agent likely won’t see many balls thrown his way, but is expected to be return punts.
Others: running back Chris Polk, running back Bryce Brown, offensive tackle Dennis Kelly
Seattle Seahawks rookie Robert Turbin may be forced into a starting role for his NFL debut as Marshawn Lynch is reportedly questionable for their opener against the Cardinals.
Turbin may start on Sunday
The Seahawks also have Leon Washington and Kregg Lumpkin on the roster, but Tubrin would be the best fit in terms of replacing Lynch. He’s a physical runner with a similar build to Lynch and should be able to step in fairly seamlessly - at least for one game.
This could prove to be a critical division showdown, so it will be disappointing if Lynch is out, but it could also be a great opportunity to give Turbin some valuable playing time early in the season.