All four teams in the AFC East were in action once again in Week 5, with the Miami Dolphins being the only losers out of the field. This means that the Buffalo Bills are back in first place in the division with a 4-1 record.
For the past couple of weeks on the AFC East Roundup, we have talked about the division’s MVPs and LVPs. Now, we turn our attention to some of the rookies who’ve turned some heads in Week 5.
Buffalo Bills: RB James Cook, WR Khalil Shakir, CB Kaiir Elam
There were a lot of expectations placed on second-round running back James Cook coming into the season. Eyebrows have been raised of late due to his slow start, but Cook found the end zone on Sunday for his first NFL touchdown. Perhaps Sunday’s effort could serve as the spark to get him going for the remainder of the 2022 season. With injuries at receiver, fifth-round rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir took advantage of his opportunity with three catches for 75 yards—including his first NFL touchdown. On defense, cornerback Kaiir Elam, the team’s 2022 first-round draft pick, didn’t have his best game—but he did have his first career interception.
New York Jets: RB Breece Hall, CB Sauce Gardner
The Jets are loaded with rookie talent, especially at running back with Breece Hall. The second-round pick rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown in the victory over the Dolphins, adding 100 receiving yards on just two receptions. He also did “the waddle” touchdown celebration in a dig towards receiver Jaylen Waddle. New York’s first-round pick, cornerback Sauce Gardner, made an impact right out of the gates with a rush on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater that resulted in a safety to get the team on the board first. Later on in the game, Gardner captured his first interception, as well.
Miami Dolphins: QB Skylar Thompson
The Dolphins saw one of their rookies unexpectedly take snaps after quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went out with an injury. Quarterback Skylar Thompson, picked in the seventh round performed admirably considering the situation and having never played in a regular-season game. Thompson passed for 166 yards, but he did have an interception. All told, it was a tough task for the rookie facing a talented Jets defense.
New England Patriots: QB Bailey Zappe
New England’s offense seemed to have a lot more trust in Zappe in his second career start after coming up just short against the Green Bay Packers last week. Zappe was an efficient 17-of-21 for 188 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ shutout win over Detroit, averaging nine yards per completion. Now, this probably won’t cause a quarterback controversy once starting quarterback Mac Jones is healthy. Still, this game is important for Zappe to have under his belt. You never know when a backup will be thrust into game action, so every bit of experience will only help in the long run.