It was a quiet week for many of the Scarlet Knights currently playing in the NFL as several teams including the Patriots (D. McCourty, Ryan, Harmon, Freeny) Cardinals (Cooper), and Bengals (Harris, Kroft) had byes. The Pipeline to the Pros (courtesy of Jim) did get plenty of action in multiple time slots otherwise illustrating the high number of former Rutgers players who have been able to continue their careers at the next level.
There were solid efforts for the second straight week by Mohamed Sanu on Thursday Night football (5 catches, 74 yards on only 7 targets) as well as Andrew DePaola. DePaola did not snap on any field goal attempts, but the Bucs did convert the two extra points attempted and all three punts ended up inside the 20.
The Sunday early games featured key performances from two less heralded Knights, Michael Burton and Jeremy Zuttah. Burton recorded one tackle but no offensive stats as he did not run the ball and only was targeted once in the passing game. The Lions did get the win in overtime. Zuttah started at center and helped the Ravens defeat Pittsburgh. As a team, they surrendered 3 sacks and only rushed for 50 yards, but in the NFL, a win is a win which ties Baltimore with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North.
Still waiting to break out, Leonte Carroo was only targeted once. It came on a third down play that he beat two defenders but was overthrown by Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins did win, much to the dismay of Rutgers fans who moonlight as Jets faithful.
The late games were highlighted by Brandon Coleman (2 catches, 25 yards), Kenny Britt (4 catches, 49 yards, 1 Touchdown), and Jason McCourty. McCourty followed his 11 tackle game a week ago with 9 more today in sunny San Diego, but the Titans were bludgeoned by Melvin Gordon for 196 yards on 32 carries.
During Saturday's game, a fellow Scarlet Knights fan asked me while we conversed at halftime who would be my top two receivers on my all-time Rutgers offense, a question for another time. This did get me thinking especially after Sanu's last few performances, Britt's solid season, and Carroo's potential if a Scarlet Knights receiver has ever eclipsed 1,000 yards in an NFL season. For you statheads out there, you know the first Rutgers receiver to do it for the Knights was Tres Moses in 2004. Then Britt AND Underwood eclipsed the 1,000 mark in the same season (2007) made even more impressive by the fact that Rice also ran for over 2,000 that year. Since then Britt (again - 2008), Tim Brown (2009), Sanu (2011), and Carroo (2014) have hit the mark.
But in the NFL? For starters by my count, four Knights who have eclipsed 2,000 receiving yards for a career: LJ Smith, Rice, Sanu, and Britt. None of those players have hit the thousand yard mark in a season ... yet.
With big performances, Sanu and Britt have a chance at doing it this year. Sanu has 416 yards with 7 games remaining so he would need to average 84 yards per game to do it which is asking a lot considering his best game of the season was 84 yards against Green Bay.
Britt broke free for a late Touchdown today, and has a more realistic chance with 584 yards thus far and 8 games remaining. He is actually on pace to crack the mark, only needing 52 yards per game the rest of the way. As the number one receiver on the Rams, he draws a lot of double teams and the possibility of the Rams making a switch to rookie Jared Goff at some point adds to the risk. That said, it will make for exciting viewing for Scarlet Knights fans down the stretch of this NFL season!
Also of note, Jonathan Freeny joined George Johnson and Tim Wright on Injured Reserve. All three should be ready to go next season.