Rookie Meter: McCann's heads-up play sparks Cowboys

Posted Nov. 23, 2010 @ 6:22 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Dallas' Bryan McCann has played in just three games in his NFL career. He has a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Not a bad start.

An undrafted rookie out of SMU, McCann was activated with injuries to starting corners Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins. Against the Giants in Week 10, McCann jumped Giants WR Hakeem Nicks' route and picked off an Eli Manning pass, taking it 101 yards the other way for six.

An undrafted rookie in his second game in the NFL picks off one of the top QB-WR duos in the league this season? It was good enough for McCann to take home NFL Defensive Player of the Week honors.

McCann one-upped himself in Week 11's win over the Lions on a bizarre, instinctive play.

Trailing by five in the third quarter, the Cowboys were set to return a Lions punt. Nick Harris' punt bounced inside the five and appeared to be placed perfectly to pin the Cowboys with their backs against the wall. A Lions player tipped the ball to keep it from heading into the endzone, and instead of just watching the ball come to rest, McCann grabbed it at the three-yard line and took off.

"I grabbed it, turned around. I couldn't see where everybody was, but I could kind of hear the crowd cheering, so I was thinking I had the edge. As soon as I turned the corner, I saw all my guys rolling with me, so I just knew we had to find the endzone," said McCann.

The rookie made a game-changing play for the second week in a row, and the Cowboys are 2-0 under interim coach Jason Garrett. McCann doesn't have the numbers to make the Rookie Meter, but there are some new faces on the list following Week 11.

1. Rams QB Sam Bradford (first round, first overall)
Last week's ranking: 1

Bradford's streak of consecutive passes without an interception came to an end Sunday, but not before he set a rookie record at 169 pass attempts. The pick was costly, coming on a misguided shovel pass with the Rams driving near the goal line. Bradford did complete 27-of-42 passes for 233 yards and two TDs in the Rams' 34-17 loss to the Falcons.

2. Buccaneers WR Mike Williams (4, 101)
Last week's ranking: 2

The Bucs continue to roll with a squad full of rookies, led by Williams. The wideout caught his sixth touchdown of the season, tying him with Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski and Cowboys WR Dez Bryant for the rookie lead. His 681 receiving yards lead all rookies. Williams had three catches for 54 yards, putting his yards per catch at 15.8.

3. (tie) Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (1, 24)
Last week's ranking: 3

Bryant had just three catches, but one put him on the highlight reel. He caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Jon Kitna in the first quarter, leaping in the corner of the endzone to bring down the jump ball. Bryant finished with three catches for just eight yards while Kitna spread the ball around. Bryant passed Williams into second among rookies with 44 receptions and trails Lions RB Jahvid Best by five for the rookie lead.

3. (tie) Lions DT Ndamukong Suh (1, 2)
Last week's ranking: 4

Suh's stats resemble that of an outside linebacker or defensive end, not a defensive tackle. He had eight tackles in the Lions' loss to the Cowboys, including a half-sack. His seven sacks lead all rookies, as well as all defensive tackles.

5. Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount (undrafted)
Last week's ranking: 9

Blount joins Williams, DT Gerald McCoy and FS Cody Grimm as Bucs rookies making a big impact on the 7-3 club. The undrafted rookie has 441 rushing yards this season, just 40 behind Chris Ivory for the rookie lead. He is tied with Best for the rookie lead with four touchdowns and leads all rookies with 63 rushing yards per game.

6. Chiefs FS Eric Berry (1, 5)
Last week's ranking: 5

Berry joined fellow rookie CB Javier Arenas in leading the team with eight tackles in the Chiefs' 31-13 win over the Cardinals. He is second among rookies with 57 tackles and has two interceptions on the season.

7. Browns FS T.J. Ward (2, 38)
Last week's ranking: NR

It's about time Ward makes the Meter, and he could earn NFL Defensive Rookie of the Week honors after his performance in the Browns' loss to the Jaguars in Week 11. Ward hauled in two interceptions and recorded five tackles. He leads all rookies by a wide margin with 72 tackles this season, adding seven passes defensed and a forced fumble.

8. Browns QB Colt McCoy (3, 85)
Last week's ranking: NR

This could be McCoy's first and last time on the meter, depending on his ankle injury. He completed 17-of-28 passes for 241 yards with a touchdown and interception in the Browns' loss to the Jags. Thrust into the starting role after injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, McCoy's accuracy is 63.8 percent this season and he has also rushed for 87 yards and a score.

9. Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez (4, 113)
Last week's ranking: 7

Hernandez had just one catch in the Patriots' win over the Colts, but it was an eight-yard touchdown grab, his third TD of the season. His production has decreased steadily over the past couple weeks and his snaps have gone down, but Hernandez still leads a good crop of rookie TEs with 444 receiving yards this season.

10. Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (1, 14)
Last week's ranking: NR

Thomas picked off a pass in the Seahawks' Week 11 loss to the Saints. It was his rookie-leading fifth interception of the season. Thomas added eight tackles, upping his total to 52 on the year. The 21-year-old has seven passes defensed on the season.

On the cusp (listed alphabetically)

Jaguars DT Tyson Alualu (1, 10)
Lions RB Jahvid Best (1, 30)
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (2, 42)
Browns CB Joe Haden (1, 7)
Raiders DE Lamarr Houston (2, 44)
Saints RB Chris Ivory (undrafted)
Patriots CB Devin McCourty (1, 27)
Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy (1, 3)
Chiefs TE Tony Moeaki (3, 93)
Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey (1, 18)