An injured JuJu Smith-Schuster headlines this week of Trojans in the NFL, but there are plenty of performances to recognize from Week 5.
Smith-Schuster was forced to exit Sunday’s contest against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter after taking a big hit to the shoulder. He finished the game with no catches and six rushing yards. It’s a tough break for Smith-Schuster, who dealt with a rib injury just a few weeks ago. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season and undergo surgery. Assuming Sunday was his final game of the year, Smith-Schuster finishes the season with 15 receptions, 129 yards and one rushing touchdown.
Alas, the Robert Woods of years past was resurrected on Thursday night in the Los Angeles Rams’ 26-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Woods finished the contest with a season-high 12 receptions and 150 yards. Rams head coach Sean McVay stated earlier in the week that he wanted to get Woods more opportunities, and Thursday night was proof of that. Woods led the team with 14 targets and outperformed Cooper Kupp — who had seven catches for 92 yards — for the first time this season. Woods benefited heavily against a vulnerable Seattle defense, and will look to repeat his performance against a similarly undermanned New York Giants defense next week.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to trend in the right direction. In a crushing 19-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, St. Brown recorded seven catches for 65 yards. St. Brown led all Detroit Lions pass catchers with eight targets and continues to build rapport with quarterback Jared Goff. In the past two weeks, St. Brown has totaled 16 targets. He looks to continue having an increased role in the Lions offense, even more so due to wide receiver Quintez Cephus’ broken collarbone.
In his second consecutive loss of the season, Sam Darnold had 177 passing yards and one touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a brutal game for Darnold, who had three interceptions, rushed for only 10 yards and was sacked three times, twice on crucial third downs. The Philadelphia defensive line pressured Darnold all game long, forcing him to make inaccurate throws and miss wide-open receivers. His third interception of the game came on what could have been a game-winning drive for the Panthers. The pick allowed the Eagles to run down the clock and secure a 21-18 victory.
Darnold’s performance on Sunday showed us shades of the quarterback the New York Jets were eager to replace. The Panthers are hopeful that running back Christian McCaffrey can return in Week 6 which should put Darnold in a much better position to help the Panthers get back in the win column.
Michael Pittman Jr.
In the Indianapolis Colts’ nail-biting 31-25 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, Michael Pittman Jr. had six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. The 42-yard score was Pittman’s first of the season. Pittman gave his best Randy Moss impression, snatching a deep ball from over the defender’s head and running it into the end zone to give the Colts a 16-3 lead early in the second half. Pittman has firmly established himself as the team’s best receiver with 29 receptions and 368 yards on the season.
Everson Griffen is right back where he left off with the Minnesota Vikings. Griffen returned to Minnesota, where he spent the first 10 years of his career, after short stints with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. In his first start of the season since returning to the team, Griffen recorded four tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in a 19-17 win over Detroit. His two sacks came on consecutive plays and resulted in a fumble that Minnesota recovered. Griffen’s impressive play throughout the season has been enough for coaches to give him the starting nod at defensive end. Through five weeks, he ranks among the top 15 in sacks.