NFL Week 2: Ten Players We Can’t Wait To Watch
The NFL is a judgmental place. Get overhyped about a player or team after one week and it’s overreaction central. But the thing is, there aren’t that many weeks in a season, so I say, ride the wave of opinions and predictions – even if they come back to bite you. With that in mind, here are the 10 players I am impatiently waiting to watch in Week 2.
Aaron Donald, Rams DT (vs. Washington): Donald, arguably the NFL’s best defensive player issued a serious holdout as he tried to get a new contract prior to the season. 48 hours before the Rams Week 1 game, Donald was home on the East Coast. But he coalesced and by Saturday afternoon was in Los Angeles passing his physical. Donald makes his debut Sunday and is so antsy to return to his disruptive, game-changing ways that he is already terrorizing his poor teammates in practice.
Tarik Cohen, Bears RB (vs. Bucs): Jordan Howard owners fumed as the shifty rookie running back was more of an offensive factor. Cohen not only rushed for 66 yards, not only showcased Devin Hester-potential on special teams but was the Bears leading receiver with 8 catches, 47 yards and a touchdown. The 5’6” Cohen, who has remarkable power for his size, adds a fascinating element to an otherwise blasé offense.
Jay Cutler, Dolphins QB (at Chargers): Cutler will be looking to rekindle the magic of 2015 with Adam Gase, the most productive and efficient season of his topsy-turvy career. Playing under Gase again is the predominant reason Cutler eschewed his FOX duties and returned to the NFL though Miami’s depth at receiver should provide plenty of comfort and possibilities. Cutler’s first test will be in the Chargers’ miniscule stadium against his former nemesis.
Calais Campbell, Jaguars DE (vs. Titans): Jags fans are already rejoicing that Campbell chose to sign in Jacksonville instead of Denver this March. With 4 sacks in Week 1, Campbell is on pace to break ever sack record in NFL history. How will he follow an absolutely dominating performance last Sunday, in which he played all over the defensive line? With Campbell (and rookie Leonard Fournette) the vibe in Jacksonville already feels vastly different.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers RB (vs. Vikings): Despite Bell missing training camp and most of the preseason as part of a holdout, no one predicted his Week 1 clunker (32 yards on 10 carries) against the Browns. “You can sing that Le’Veon Bell camp song all you want. He’s here, we’re working,” said Mike Tomlin after game. The Vikings interior line is superior to Cleveland’s but many, including our Pat Fitzmaurice, expect a major bounce back.
Alex Smith, Chiefs QB (vs. Eagles): In pounding the Pats, Smith transformed from quiet game-manager extraordinaire to fiery gunslinger. His 368 and 4 TDs were jaw dropping but the Eagles will present a far tougher defensive matchup. If Smith continues his torching ways, early MVP chants will start permeating his world.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings WR (at Steelers): Diggs hauled in 7 of 8 catches for 93 yards and two scores in the Vikings’ MNF win over the Saints. Even more impressive than the numbers was the degree of difficulty of some of those catches. It’s early but Diggs looked especially dialed in.
Tom Brady, Patriots QB (at Saints): The Patriots biggest issue is clearly its defense, and particularly its front seven. But in the kickoff loss to Kansas City, Brady looked more like 40 than at any point last season. (Granted, he was 39.) The loss of Julian Edelman is massive – and with Danny Amendola out, Chris Hogan will not be asked to fill that irreplaceable slot. Even so, conventional wisdom says that Brady should avenge Week 1 by torturing the hapless Saints secondary. If he does not, his prospects (along with the team’s) will look very different than they did a few weeks ago.
Giorgio Tavecchio, Raiders K (vs. Jets): Tavvechio sounds like a fashion designer, but in actuality he just became the first kicker to make to field goals over 50 yards in his first NFL game. Tavecchio had four field goals in total and was named the AFC special teams player of the week. It’s strange seeing a Raiders kicker other than Sebastian Janikowski but the exuberant Tavecchio is refreshing and talented – and uses a flip phone!
Jared Goff, Rams QB (vs. Washington): In his first start under Sean McVay, Goff looked like a new quarterback – the franchise variety. He was efficient (72.6 completion percentage) but also willing to take chances. The pocket presence was improved. The footwork was improved. Actually, everything improved. McVay should dial up some fun playcalling for Goff against his former employer.