NFL Week Two: Three Breakout Candidates

NFL Week Two: Three Breakout Candidates

NFL week two is here. After an eventful opening weekend, some players were impressive and others disappointing. There is no reason to panic or give up on anyone yet, as it is only one game, and this week brings new opportunities for new players to make a statement. Here is a list of three players who had high expectations coming into the season, failed to produce in week one, but could be set up for a breakout game in NFL week two.

1. RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

After being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft this year, Najee Harris came into the season with high expectations. His first career game was unimpressive statistically, totaling just 49 yards, but there are reasons to be optimistic. He received 16 carries and was targeted three times in the passing game, which is solid volume. Most importantly, he was the only running back on the roster to get any touches at all.

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This demonstrates that the Steelers are committed to their young back. Better outputs will come this year and a matchup with the Raiders is an enticing one. They allowed 189 rushing yards on 5.6 YPC to a Ravens team that was missing their top two running backs. Additionally, the Steelers should be protecting a lead in this game so the game script may call for more of a ground attack than last week.

2. WR Marquez Callaway, New Orleans Saints

After an impressive preseason, Marquez Callaway earned the WR1 role for the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, he was only targeted twice in week one, catching one pass for just 14 yards. This was an interesting game where quarterback Jameis Winston threw for five touchdowns in a blowout win over the Packers but on only 20 pass attempts. Winston spread his 14 completions to eight different receivers, with no player catching more than three passes.

This implies that there is no real reason to believe that Callaway has dropped from the WR1 slot, but rather the flow of the game did not favor his abilities. He is still a deep threat who can make big plays and the Panthers’ defense should provide him with better opportunities. They gave up three passes of 25 yards or more against a very weak group of Jets wide receivers. Winston loves to air it out deep downfield, and Callaway will surely have his big chances at some point.

3. RB Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers

Trey Sermon came into this season with expectations of sharing the 49ers backfield duties with veteran Raheem Mostert. Surprisingly, Sermon was left inactive for the first game of the season. As a result, when Mostert went down with an injury, it was Elijah Mitchell who came out of nowhere to register 19 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Shanahan is always fluid, and quite unpredictable, with his running back situation.

On the positive side, it seems like whoever gets carries in this offense always produces solid results. Just because Sermon was inactive and Mitchell had a huge game, does not at all mean that Mitchell will continue to receive the bulk of the workload moving forward. Shanahan is no stranger to shuffling his backs, and there is a good chance that Sermon gets his opportunities this week with Mostert on the injured list.

Adam Hulse

After attending Villanova University, I am now a sports writer, podcaster, and broadcaster who covers a wide variety of topics. Follow me on Twitter: @AdamHulseSports

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