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Terps in the NFL: Okonkwo shines for Titans

Rookie Chigoziem Okonkwo is starting to break out, and other former Terps made impacts in week 14.

NFL: DEC 11 Jaguars at Titans Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There weren’t a lot of impressive performances among former Terps in the NFL in week 14, but one rookie had arguably his best showing in the NFL so far Sunday.

Tennessee Titans rookie tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo had the most catches he’s had in a game this season against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. While playing 49% of offensive snaps, he had six catches on six targets for 45 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown catch wasn’t an easy one either, with him having to leap through two defenders at the goal line to get into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown.

Okonkwo also had a helmet catch on a two-point conversion, scoring eight of only 22 points for the Titans in their 36-22 loss to division rival Jacksonville. Okonkwo has no doubt been breaking out of his shell as a receiving threat in the second half of this season. Since week nine he hasn’t had fewer than 30 receiving yards in any game, and he’s doing this all while playing more than 40% of special teams snaps each game. With the Titans in the current playoff picture as the AFC South division leader, Okonkwo might take an even bigger step forward as the season continues.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs had his worst game of the 2022 season against the New York Jets on Sunday. However, he still managed to put up decent numbers, with three catches on five targets for 37 yards. Jets rookie cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is looking like one of the best in the league already, so it’s no surprise that Diggs had some trouble.

Despite this performance, Diggs managed to pass his receiving yards total from last season already with four games left to play. He’s already tied his touchdown total of 10 from last year, which is his career high for touchdowns in a season.

His 1,239 receiving yards this season rank fourth in the NFL, and his 94 receptions rank third.

Other performers

  • Defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson started for the second time this year for the Seattle Seahawks against the Carolina Panthers. Jefferson played 56% of defensive snaps and had two combined tackles, but the Seahawks’ defense wasn’t able to keep up with the Panthers, as Jefferson’s squad lost, 30-24. Seattle remains in the hunt for a playoff spot heading into week 15.
  • Detroit Lions linebacker Josh Woods came up big on special teams again in week 14 against the Minnesota Vikings. In his usual role, Woods was on the field for 72% of special teams snaps this week. He recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter that led to the Lions sealing the game against the division rival Vikings, 34-23, staying alive in the playoff hunt.
  • Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore had his least productive game of the season Sunday against Seattle. After going for over 100 receiving yards last week, Moore had no catches on three targets while playing 96% of offensive snaps. Moore’s only scrimmage yards came via the rush, where he had two carries for six yards. Moore did injure his ankle, though, and is undergoing further tests. The Panthers’ win keeps them alive in the NFC South.
  • Running back Ty Johnson has been an offensive contributor for the New York Jets in recent weeks after being mostly a special teams player in the early part of the season. Against the Buffalo Bills in week 14, Johnson reverted back to his early season role, playing no offensive snaps and only playing 77% of special teams snaps. Rookie Zonovan Knight is playing over Johnson, who didn’t record a stat in the Jets’ loss.
  • Tennessee Titans defensive end Sam Okuayinonu had a half a sack and 10 combined tackles in five games with the team this season. Right before week 14, he was waived from the active roster and signed back to the team’s practice squad. For this reason he did not get to play for the team against the Jaguars on Sunday.
  • After being a contributor during his team’s Monday Night Football win over the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. reverted back to the practice squad a few weeks ago and hasn’t been on the active roster since.
  • Running back Jake Funk has bounced around a lot this season after being drafted in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Rams last year. Now on his third team, Funk remained on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad this week.
  • Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Kenadre Jones hasn’t got much of an opportunity to prove himself on the active roster this season. He was not moved up from the practice squad this week, where he’s been since week three.
  • Seattle Seahawks tight end Tyler Mabry hasn’t played a snap for his team since last season. He was signed to the practice squad after training camp, and he has not been called up to the active roster at all this season.
  • Linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. played three games as a special teams contributor for the Cleveland Browns after being called up to the active roster. Since that three-game streak, he’s been back on the practice squad for two weeks straight.
  • Miami Dolphins cornerback Tino Ellis presents emergency help for the team if they start to lack depth in the secondary, but he has been on the practice squad since October.
  • There were a lot of former Terps who had byes this week. Indianapolis Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackle Byron Cowart and rookie safety Nick Cross all were on bye this week. Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage and Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Jared Bernhardt were also on a bye. Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Michael Dunn is on the injured reserve, along with Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson.