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#pounditWednesday, May 25, 2022

15 Standout performers of NFL Week 1

Calais Campbell

Many players had standout performance in Week 1 of the NFL season. Things kicked off on Thursday night with the Kansas City Chiefs surprising many with a spectacular game against the Patriots, thanks largely to explosive performances from many players who find themselves on this list. A few teams that disappointed last season had great games on Sunday, and their top performers have made this list. So did quite a few youngsters making their NFL debut. Here’s a look at 15 standout performers from Week 1.

Antonio Brown, Steelers

After an offseason of rumors and drama, Brown opened the season by reminding us that he is simply one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers. On a day when Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant offered very little, Brown simply took over. He didn’t catch any touchdowns, but he didn’t need to. He had 11 receptions for 182 yards (on 11 targets), including a crucial late grab over Jason McCourty that gave the Steelers a much-needed first down to enable them to run out the clock on the Cleveland Browns. There is a reason that he may well be the NFL’s premier wide receiver.

Calais Campbell, Jaguars

There are lots of fun ways to look at Campbell’s performance. There is the obvious one — his 3.5 sacks had shattered the Jaguars’ franchise single-game record by halftime, and he added another half a sack in the second half to make it an even four. Another way? Campbell’s career high in sacks is nine, set in 2013 with the Arizona Cardinals, meaning that after just one week of action with Jacksonville, he is over a third of the way to matching his career high — and halfway to matching the eight he collected last season. That’s dominance. The Jaguars owned Houston up front all game, but Campbell was definitely the star of a unit that now refers to itself as “Sacksonville.”

Derek Carr, Raiders

Steady as it goes, Carr was his usual reliable self as the Raiders beat the Tennessee Titans. While there was nothing mindblowing about his showing, his numbers were quite gaudy: 22-32, 262 yards, two touchdowns, and a 114.3 QBR. This was his first meaningful action since breaking his leg at the tail end of last season. He didn’t look like he’d missed a beat, putting in a strong, confident performance that will have the Raiders thinking he’ll be every bit as good as he was in 2016, when he was a legitimate MVP candidate.

Tarik Cohen, Bears

Cohen is a 5’6″ rookie drafted in the fourth round out of North Carolina A&T, a school not quite known as a factory of NFL talent. He also only had five carries on Sunday, making him, on the surface, a bit-part player in Chicago’s loss to Atlanta. Those who saw Cohen sat up and took notice, though, as he collected 66 yards on those five carries, including a touchdown and another 46-yard run that involved the shifty speedster stopping, turning, reversing, and throwing Atlanta’s Brooks Reed into a tailspin. He doesn’t have to be an every-down back to make an impact. hH’s one of the more exciting players you’ve probably never heard of.

Mike Daniels, Packers

The Packer defense on the whole dominated the Seattle Seahawks, but Daniels had a big day and was right in the middle of arguably the biggest play. Daniels ended up with 1.5 sacks, but the big moment was his forced fumble on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Green Bay recovered, setting up a go-ahead touchdown, and never looked back after that. Wilson had a rough day, and as Daniels was the one breathing down his neck for much of the contest. He deserves a lot of credit for the part he played.

Jared Goff, Rams

Can Goff still justify his No. 1 overall selection and becomes the Rams’ franchise quarterback despite his poor rookie season? Based on Sunday’s evidence, the answer is yes. He was comfortable and reliable, completing 21 of his 29 pass attempts for 306 yards and a touchdown — and importantly, no interceptions. Even though he was facing a depleted Colts team, there can be no denying that this was a hugely encouraging performance for the second-year pro. New coach Sean McVay has to be feeling good about what he can do with his young quarterback.

Kareem Hunt, Chiefs

Hunt’s NFL career got off to an inauspicious start when he fumbled his very first NFL snap. It’s safe to say he ended up making up for that mistake. He was a threat both on the ground and through the air, with 98 yards and two receiving touchdowns to go along with 148 yards rushing and another score on the ground. Alex Smith will have no shortage of weapons if Hunt and Tyreek Hill can continue to play like they did against New England.

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