The NFL season is already through six weeks, and the Blue Zone gets you caught up on some former Duke football players and how they are performing at the next level:
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
It was a day to forget on Thursday for the sixth overall pick, who threw three interceptions in a 35-14 loss to the undefeated New England Patriots. It was the second loss in a row for the Giants, who fall to 2-4 on the year and third in the NFC East.
The signal caller had easily his worst game of the year, posting just 161 yards and a touchdown with tallying an ugly 35.2 passer rating and a 48 percent completion percentage. It wasn’t all bad for Jones however, as one of the interceptions was a well-thrown ball that was dropped by his receiver, and he also had a beautiful 59-yard touchdown throw to Golden Tate.
While he struggled mightily this week, the rookie was tasked with solving the best defense in the league in just his fourth start. He’ll look to rebound next week at home against the Arizona Cardinals and No. 1 pick Kyler Murray in what will be the next step in his development as New York's quarterback of the future.
Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets
The fifth year receiver bounced back after a series of poor performances with 6 catches for 98 yards in the Jets’ first win of the year against the Cowboys. It was his first game with more than 5 catches and 40 yards since Week 1, and it came in no small part due to the return of quarterback Sam Darnold, who was sidelined with mononucleosis for the last four weeks.
Crowder expressed relief and excitement over Darnold's return, suggesting that his game was not a fluke, but rather an indicator for his upcoming production. With his signal-caller back, Crowder should be ready for his first touchdown of the year in the coming weeks.
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Ross Cockrell, CB, Carolina Panthers
In his first season since his brutal leg injury that left him with a broken tibia and fibula, Cockrell has made the most of the opportunities shown his way in 2019. He has performed well in coverage, and has earned enough trust among the Carolina coaching staff to see the field for all but one of the Panthers’ defensive snaps since Week 3. The former fourth round pick came up with his second interception of the year in a 37-26 win against the Buccaneers Sunday, high-pointing the ball to seal a Carolina victory with a little over two minutes left in the game.
Next up, The Panthers will have their bye week before taking on the undefeated San Francisco 49ers and will look to Cockrell to help shore up a defense that has been a tad shaky against solid opposition. Still, the corner should play a major role on a team that has an outside shot of making the playoffs.
Laken Tomlinson, OL, San Francisco 49ers
The now 5-0 Niners entered their matchup against the Rams down two of their starting offensive lineman and Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk, posing a potential problem against All-Pro Aaron Donald and the formidable Los Angeles Front-Seven. Still, the offensive line held strong, allowing just 2 sacks and paving the way for rushing touchdowns from Jimmy Garoppolo and Tevin Coleman. Tomlinson, a former first round pick, played a huge role in the 20-7 victory, playing in every offensive snap in addition to featuring on special teams.
Matt Skura, C, Baltimore Ravens
The fourth year center has emerged as a mainstay on one of the best offensive lines in the league. Behind incredible play from breakout quarterback Lamar Jackson, Baltimore sits at 4-2 and is in great position to win the AFC North, with big thanks in part to stellar line play. Jackson has been sacked just 11 times over six games, giving him time to utilize his unique skill set as both a runner and a passer.
In their 23-17 win Sunday against the Bengals, the quarterback became the first player in NFL history to throw for over 200 yards and rush for over 150 in a regular season game. Look for Skura and the Ravens offensive line to shine as they pave the way for both a historic season for Jackson and a playoff berth.