Dede Westbrook had a nice final stat line for the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday. But he did take some punishment in the process.
The third-year wide receiver was absolutely nailed by Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick while trying to make a catch across the middle of the field:
Westbrook bounced back up after that hit, which was completely legal.
Westbrook, a 2017 fourth-round pick, finished with four catches for 29 yards and a touchdown in the game. He looks to build upon last season’s strong showing where he had 63 catches for 707 yards and five touchdowns.
Every year, we see NFL players across the league come into their own despite not having much of a track record. They can be all types; many are second- or third-year players who have matured and overcome injury or adapted to the NFL. There are others who were never highly-touted but find themselves in the right situation.
Each NFL team has breakout candidates. Here is a leading candidate from all of them.
Arizona Cardinals — Haason Reddick, LB
The 13th overall pick in last year’s draft flashed potential and appeared in all 16 games, but only started three of them. He still made an impact, with 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on the season. The Cardinals plan to move him to inside linebacker, where he’s been studying tape of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. That bodes well for a big year two breakout.
Atlanta Falcons — Austin Hooper, TE
Year three could be the one that sees Hooper mature into a big target at tight end. His numbers improved last season, as he caught 49 passes and scored three touchdowns. A more prominent role and regular playing time could await him in 2018 and make him a Matt Ryan favorite. He’ll just have to compete with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Atlanta’s talented running backs for touches.
Week 11 saw plenty of surprises and several big disappointments as the playoff race truly heats up. Playoff contenders are separating from each other, with some teams looking a bit worse for wear as they come up against each other.
So who was a letdown in Week 11? Here are 15 big disappointments.
Dallas Cowboys in the second half
They say it’s not about how you start but how you finish. And the Dallas Cowboys could not have finished Sunday’s game any worse. Dallas went into halftime leading their division rivals 9-7. After that, they gave up 30 unanswered points as the wheels completely fell off. The Cowboys allowed touchdown drives of 75, 90 and 85 yards. They punted twice on their possessions in between Philly’s big scoring drives. Then they gave up a strip sack that was returned for a touchdown as the game turned into a laugher. As if that weren’t enough, their first decent drive of the half ended with an interception in the end zone. This marks two straight embarrassing defeats for Dallas without Ezekiel Elliott.
Sean McDermott, coach, Bills
The easiest thing to do would be to list Nathan Peterman and his five first half interceptions on here and be done with it, but frankly, that would be unfair to Peterman. He wasn’t ready and he shouldn’t have started — especially over Tyrod Taylor, who had done nothing to lose his starting job. But McDermott decided to make the change, and he watched as Peterman was picked off five times in one half as the Los Angeles Chargers essentially had the Bills buried by halftime.
This is on the coach. It’s his job to know his players and put them in the best situation to win. Now, he’s put the rookie Peterman into an awful spot, dented his confidence, and left Taylor wondering what McDermott saw in him to make him the inferior option. It is an enormous self-inflicted error that has only served to muddy the waters — especially when he was left with no choice but to put Taylor right back in after the nightmarish first half.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams
Dede Westbrook is getting his first true taste of the spotlight as he was a Heisman Trophy finalist this weekend. At the same time, some details from the Oklahoma wide receiver’s past are emerging, and they show some very concerning events.
According to the Tulsa World’s Cody Stavenhagen, who did a lengthy profile on Westbrook that you should read, Westbrook was arrested twice for domestic violence issues. Both incidents involved the mother of Westbrook’s children in his hometown of Cameron, Texas. The woman eventually got a restraining order against him.
The first arrest occurred in July 2012, not long after police were alerted by a neighbor to Westbrook breaking a window at the woman’s home to see his child. The woman did not press charges. But a month later, the woman went to the police seeking a criminal trespassing warrant after hearing a window break again and Westbrook entering. He allegedly grabbed her by the arms and threw her to the ground.
The second arrest occurred at the woman’s apartment in 2013 after the two had trouble at a park when the woman saw a text Westbrook received from his ex-girlfriend. They apparently had a fight at the apartment and Westbrook was accused of throwing an Xbox and breaking it. He then allegedly grabbed the woman’s wallet and Xbox games and tried to leave with the items. The woman grabbed Westbrook to try stopping him from leaving, and he allegedly bit her arm and punched her in the head.
Police were called to the apartment, and this time the district filed domestic violence charges. The problem is they were unable to locate the witness. Westbrook’s mother talked to the woman and pleaded with her not to do anything because it could ruin her son’s life. The case was dismissed due to a lack of witness cooperation.
The Sooners senior wide receiver twice had issues with police in 2016 in matters involving the mother of his children, according to the Tulsa World’s story.
“There were some disagreements in the past that were cleared up years ago,” Westbrook said in a statement to the Tulsa World. “We have resolved our issues and are focused on the future.”
He also tweeted the following:
Westbrook has 1,464 receiving yards and has scored 17 touchdowns this season. He finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting.
He may have been at the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York City, but all Dede Westbrook could think about was food.
The Oklahoma wide receiver was one of the Heisman Trophy finalists, and all of them were interviewed as a group during ESPN’s show on Saturday night. At one point Westbrook was asked what he was thinking about, and he answered pretty bluntly: “McDonald’s.”
Westbrook said he wasn’t even trying to plug the fast food company. It’s a good thing, because Wendy’s is one of the Heisman Trophy sponsors.