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Rookie Meter: Smith had a quarter to remember

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Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain

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Posted Sept. 27, 2011 @ 7:44 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Ravens WR Torrey Smith, the speedster out of Maryland, had three first-quarter touchdowns in a debut for the ages Sunday at St. Louis, as Week Three was his first start. And if that wasn't impressive enough, how Smith got to this point is extremely remarkable.

If you haven't, you owe it to yourself to learn the hardships he persevered through on his way to the NFL in this story from The Washington Post.

On the field, the Ravens have been looking for a speedy, downfield threat for a while, and they were very fond of the hometown hero before the draft. His stock dropped a bit, but his speed sure didn't, as evidenced in the win over St. Louis. Smith finished with five catches for 152 yards and the three scores on eight targets. With Lee Evans missing Week Three with an ankle injury, Smith could continue to play a big role in the deep game for the Ravens.

While Julio Jones and A.J. Green continue to be as good as advertised, a trio of non-first-round rookie receivers that are also helping their team: Smith, Denarius Moore and Titus Young, and all three are known for the same thing — speed.

The meter continues to stay somewhat constant, as the top rookies continue to play up to their potential making it difficult for the "On the cusp" players to crash the party, but Browns DT Phil Taylor's play deserves to be recognized, which is why this week's meter has 11 players.

1. Broncos OLB Von Miller (first round, second overall)
Last week's ranking: 1

Miller has made a big play in each of his three professional games. On Sunday, he notched a sack and forced fumble among his four tackles in a loss at Tennessee. He has two sacks and two forced fumbles on the season. Now, if only his team could take advantage of his big plays and get some wins.

2. Panthers QB Cam Newton (1, 1)
Last week's ranking: 2

Looks like he can't throw for 400 yards every week. Newton played in terrible weather conditions on Sunday and did a good job of taking care of the football. He completed 18-of-34 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown with zero turnovers in his first NFL victory. His TD throw to Greg Olsen in the fourth quarter was the game-winner.

3. Falcons WR Julio Jones (1, 6)
Last week's ranking: 4

Jones had a monster game receiving for an Atlanta team that couldn't get anything going on the ground against Tampa. He finished with six catches for 115 yards (19.2-yard average) on seven targets.

4. Bengals WR A.J. Green (1, 4)
Last week's ranking: 3

Expect Jones and Green to stay in the upper half of this meter, and Jones had the better game in Week Three. Green, who played with a toe injury, followed up a big Week Two with just two catches for 39 yards on five targets. QB Andy Dalton struggled, and the Bengals scored only eight points to San Francisco.

5. Texans DE J.J. Watt (1, 11)
Last week's ranking: 6

Stephanie Stradley of the Houston Chronicle tweeted to national football writers to give Watt some love on Defensive Rookie of the Year lists. Well, Stephanie, we are well-aware of Watt's early contributions. In a losing effort at New Orleans Sunday, Watt had four tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss.

6. Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan (1, 16)
Last week's ranking: 7

Kerrigan and Watt are going at it for defensive rookie honors just like they did in the Big Ten. Kerrigan had a sack among four tackles recorded in Monday night's loss to the Cowboys. Going against fellow rookie ORT Tyron Smith, Kerrigan's speed helped him get near Cowboys QB Tony Romo often.

7. Saints RB Mark Ingram (1, 28)
Last week's ranking: 4

Ingram had the game-winning touchdown vs. Houston, but he still hasn't gotten the Saints' rushing attack off the ground. He finished with 38 yards on nine carries and is at risk of falling off the meter, especially with the way Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas has begun his career.

8. Bills DE Marcell Dareus (1, 3)
Last week's ranking: 8

Dareus won't fill up the stat sheet (he had just one tackle in the win over the Patriots) but he is making an impact in the run defense that kept the Patriots' rushing attack in check. Dareus' penetration allowed him to get a helmet on a Tom Brady pass that landed in the arms of CB Drayton Florence, who took it to the house on a game-changing play.

9. Raiders WR Denarius Moore (5, 148)
Last week's ranking: 10

Moore spent the week getting plenty of attention for his breakout Week Two performance and had another good game against the Jets. He took a handoff 23 yards on a reverse to the house and had four catches for 34 yards on six targets. Going against a Patriots defense that is struggling next Sunday, Moore could be primed for another good game.

T-10. Buccaneers MLB Mason Foster (3, 84)
Last week's ranking: NR

Foster is the leading tackler among rookies after five tackles and a sack in the Bucs' win over the Falcons. He assumed the role of starting middle linebacker early on, making the decision of whether or not to re-sign Barrett Ruud an easy one for Tampa Bay, and Foster is making the Bucs look smart for going with him.

T-10. Browns DT Phil Taylor (1, 21)
Last week's ranking: NR

Taylor did draw a 15-yard penalty, but he wreaked havoc again up the middle with DT Ahtyba Rubin. Taylor had seven tackles and a sack and is second on Cleveland with 18 tackles. D-tackles generally don't rack up that many tackles, but Taylor has been a force on the inside for Cleveland.

On the cusp (listed alphabetically):

Buccaneers DE Adrian Clayborn (1, 20)
Packers WR-KR Randall Cobb (2, 64)
Bengals QB Andy Dalton (2, 35)
Redskins RB Roy Helu (4, 105)
Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson (1, 5)
Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (1, 15)
Ravens WR Torrey Smith (2, 58)
Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas (2, 62)
Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson (1, 30)
Lions WR Titus Young (2, 44)


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