clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Terps in the NFL: Moore finds consistency, Okonkwo continues to emerge

Many former Maryland pass-catchers had great performances over the weekend.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s already week 15 of the 2022-23 NFL season, and this week former Terps in the NFL had some great showings, especially by big-time pass catchers and consistent performers on the defensive line.

The Carolina Panthers have had quite the whirlwind of the season, and so has wide receiver D.J. Moore. But now that the Panthers have settled on a starting quarterback in Sam Darnold, Moore has had some better performances, including one this week. He had five catches on six targets for 73 yards and a touchdown in a 24-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. His touchdown catch was a beautiful, diving toe-drag catch on the right side of the end zone.

Moore now has at least 70 receiving yards in two of his last three games. He’s only amassed 678 receiving yards on the season after getting over 1,000 yards receiving in his last three seasons, but it’s not completely apparent if this dip in production is due to Moore or the stability of the team around him.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs has cooled down from his insane start to the 2022-23 NFL season, but he still remains a consistent option for quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills offense. Against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night, Diggs had five catches on nine targets for 60 yards as the Bills went on to beat the Dolphins, 32-29.

While he hasn’t broken the 100-yard receiving mark in a game since week 10, Diggs has still been productive for the Bills. His 1,299 receiving yards are the second best he’s had in a season since he entered the league and third in the NFL this season. He’s also third in receptions and tied for third in receiving touchdowns, putting him in the upper echelon of wideouts in the league this year. He’ll be a big piece for the Bills come playoff time.

It’s been a brilliant second half of a rookie season for Tennessee Titans tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo, who continued his consistent production in week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Okonkwo started for the first time since week 11 and had four catches on five targets for 54 yards and a rush for six yards in a 17-14 loss. Even though he was starting, the rookie also played 44% of special teams snaps, where he came up with one solo tackle, his fifth of the season.

It seems that “Chig” comes up with a big play for chunk yardage every week. Here was his highlight from Sunday’s game.

Okonkwo has become known for his big-play ability, averaging 15 yards per reception this season. He leads all rookie tight ends with 374 receiving yards, and he’s averaged 46 receiving yards per game over the last seven weeks. With game-breaking speed for his position and reliable pass catching, it’s safe to say Okonkwo has carved his way into the Titans offense for the foreseeable future.

Two veteran former Terp defensive lineman made a big impact rushing the passer and coincidentally had the same exact stat line in two non-Sunday NFL games.

Yannick Ngakoue is having a great season for the Indianapolis Colts, and while his team managed to blow the largest lead in NFL history against the Minnesota Vikings, he still had an impactful game.

He had a sack, two solo tackles, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit while playing 69% of defensive snaps. Ngakoue has been the guy on this 2022 Colts defensive front, with a team-high 9.5 sacks this season to go along with 27 tackles. These numbers are just a half sack and one tackle away from the numbers he put up last year with the Las Vegas Raiders. Ngakoue is very close to having his third double-digit sack season in his career, which is very important for a player on a one-year, prove-it deal.

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson has only started in two games this season, but he had one of his best games of the year coming off the bench this week. While playing 53% of defensive snaps against the San Francisco 49ers, Jefferson had a sack, two solo tackles, one tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. It’s just the fourth time this season that Jefferson has had a sack in a game.

The veteran defensive lineman is also just a half of a sack away from tying his career-high for sacks in a season, set last year when he was with the Las Vegas Raiders. It was one of Jefferson’s best games of the year, but the Seahawks lost to their division rival 49ers, 21-13, as they are now out of the wildcard picture.

Other performers

  • Indianapolis Colts rookie safety Nick Cross has been relegated from defensive duties since starting the first two games of the season. Since then he’s played just three defensive snaps, one of them being this week. Cross had a great week on special teams, playing 60% of snaps and coming up with two solo tackles during the Colts’ heartbreaking loss to the Vikings.
  • Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage was out for a few weeks after getting injured during the Packers-Eagles game in week 12. But he made his return to the field and the lineup on Monday Night Football against the Los Angeles Rams. Savage had a decent game with two solo tackles as the Packers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 24-12 win at Lambeau Field.
  • Detroit Lions linebacker and special teams ace Josh Woods did his job this week against the New York Jets by making a play on special teams. He made a solo tackle while playing 82% of special teams snaps for the Detroit Lions, who would go on to beat the Jets, 20-17, to get to .500 for the first time this season.
  • Defensive tackle Byron Cowart has been a rotational piece on the defensive line for the Indianapolis Colts all season. He continued to play this role for the team on Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings, putting up one assisted tackle during the loss. It is the fifth straight week that Cowart has recorded a stat in a game, his longest streak of the season.
  • Cleveland Browns linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. was called up from the practice squad this week to play his fourth regular season game for the squad this season. He played 72% of special teams snaps but only 16% of defensive snaps. However, he made the most of it and recorded an assisted tackle as the Browns beat the Ravens 13-3.
  • New York Jets running back Ty Johnson had a decent stretch of games this season where he found himself getting touches on offense. However after the emergence of Zonovan Knight in the Jets backfield, Johnson hasn’t played an offensive snap for two weeks straight. He played 46% of special teams snaps against the Detroit Lions and didn’t record a stat as the Jets lost their third straight game.
  • Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. remained on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad this week. He’s only played in three regular season games over the last two seasons, with only one of them being this season.
  • Defensive end Sam Okuayinonu has played five games for the Tennessee Titans this season, and recorded half a sack over that game. But on Dec. 8, Okuayinonu was moved back down to the practice squad and hasn’t been called back up to the active roster since.
  • Indianapolis Colts running back Jake Funk has yet to play a snap for his new team this season after starting the season on the Rams, moving to the Saints roster, and then ending up on the Colts practice squad in November. He was not on the Colts active roster for week 15.
  • Cornerback Tino Ellis was on the practice squad of the Miami Dolphins before the season started, and was then re-signed midseason. He still hasn’t played a single snap with the team all season, nor has he ever played a snap in the NFL.
  • Linebacker Keandre Jones was not called up to the active roster for the Cincinnati Bengals for week 15. He has only played in one game this season for the Bengals.
  • Seattle Seahawks tight end Tyler Mabry remained on the practice squad this week; he hasn’t played a regular-season snap for the team since the 2021 season.
  • Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Jared Bernhardt, Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Michael Dunn and Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson remained on injured reserve this week.