As the end of the 2022 NFL regular season approaches, week 16’s top performances from former Terps in the NFL came from some pass catchers and a bench player who had his best game of the season.
It would’ve been a hard thing to comprehend a few months ago, but the Carolina Panthers are currently in the race for a playoff spot. This week, wide receiver D.J. Moore helped keep his team alive with a great performance against the Detroit Lions. On Saturday, Moore had five catches on seven targets for 83 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for eight yards on one attempt as the Panthers beat the Lions 37-23. Two of those five catches included this 47-yard deep ball down the middle, followed by a screen pass from a few yards out for a touchdown.
A Very DJ Christmas! pic.twitter.com/TBbCC6vAUL— Maryland Football (@TerpsFootball) December 24, 2022
Moore has been putting up some great numbers in recent weeks since quarterback Sam Darnold has been the starter for the Panthers. He’s had over 70 receiving yards in three of his last four games after not having more than 50 yards in any of his first four games of the season. He’s had a big turnaround, now with 761 receiving yards on the season, which leads all Panthers receivers. In order for the Panthers to make the postseason they’ll have to win out, and even with their promising rushing attack, Moore will have to put up good numbers.
Tennessee Titans rookie tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo had a down week as a receiver. He had his fewest targets and fewest catches in a game since week 11, and only had one catch for 10 yards against the Houston Texans. However, Okonkwo was not disturbed by his offensive production because he was able to make an impact on special teams. He only played seven snaps on special teams, but came up with a solo tackle and an assisted tackle, which tied his season high of two combined tackles in a game.
Okonkwo has been big for the Titans in recent weeks as a pass catcher, having seven straight games with 30 receiving yards or more prior to Saturday’s 19-14 loss to the Texans. A rookie finding ways to contribute without playing offensive snaps is very valuable to any team, and Okonkwo has shown that value with seven tackles on special teams this season. Even during his performance in week 13 when he had his career high 68 receiving yards, Okonkwo still had two solo tackles on special teams. With his raw speed and size, Okonkwo is proving to be a valuable asset to the Titans already.
Detroit Lions special teams ace Josh Woods had his best game of the season, tackling on kickoffs and punt returns. Woods had a whopping three solo tackles on special teams this week while playing 90% of special teams snaps as the Lions lost to the Panthers. Woods has had bursts of consistency this season but hasn’t really been able to maintain anything until recently. He’s had at least a tackle in three of his last four games played and is exactly the type of player that head coach Dan Campbell prides himself on coaching. If Woods can keep this up to finish the season, he can maybe make a play to help the Lions reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
- Indianapolis Colts defensive end Yannick Ngakoue failed to reach double-digit sacks on the season this week against the Los Angeles Chargers. He played 71% of defensive snaps and had two solo tackles, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit in a 20-3 loss. He still remains at 95 sacks on the season and has the most combined tackles he’s had in a season since 2019 with 29.
- It’s the first time that Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been in the second section of this article this season, as it’s clear that he wasn’t the focal point of the Bill’s offense this week. Diggs had just two targets and two catches for 26 yards while playing 67% of offensive snaps, his lowest snap count since week 11. The Bills still managed to pull out a dominating 35-13 win, but it looks like Diggs is no longer on pace to set a personal best of receiving yards in a season.
- For the first time since week 13, New York Jets running back Ty Johnson was given some offensive snaps to showcase his abilities with the ball in his hands. While playing 20% of offensive snaps, Johnson had just two carries for seven yards, and was not thrown the ball once. With his lack of playing time with the regular offense, it will be interesting to see what the Jets or Johnson do this offseason, as they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 19-3.
- Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson started just his third game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday. He was able to make some impact against quarterback Patrick Mahomes, getting a quarterback hit and a pass deflection while playing 36% of defensive snaps for Seattle. Despite his efforts, the Chiefs still came out on top 24-10, as the Seahawks find themselves on the outside looking in on the wild card at the moment.
- Although he started the first 11 weeks of the 2022 season for the Green Bay Packers, Green Bay Packers safety Darnell Savage hasn’t had a big performance since being benched. This week against the Dolphins, Savage had one solo tackle while playing 64% of defensive snaps as a Packer. He’s given up catches on 70.6% of his targets and 16.3 yards per completion from the safety position. It’s not looking like the Packers will be trusting Savage with the starting spot again this season.
- After not playing in weeks 13 and 14, linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. has been on the Cleveland Browns active roster for two straight weeks and has shown up on the stat sheet. While playing 28% of defensive snaps and 91% of special teams snaps, Carter Jr. has had two combined tackles in the last two weeks. This week against the New Orleans Saints he had a solo tackle in the Browns’ 17-10 loss.
- Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Byron Cowart has been playing a rotational role all season. On Monday Night Football against the Los Angeles Chargers Cowart played 22% of defensive snaps and didn’t record a stat as the Colts lost their 10th game of the season. It was the sixth game this season that Cowart hasn’t recorded a stat.
- Rookie safety Nick Cross has been quite a mystery for the Indianapolis Colts after being benched at the start of the season. Since then he hasn’t been much but a special teams player, and this week against the Los Angeles Chargers he played 4% of defensive snaps and 67% of special teams snaps. Cross didn’t record a single stat during the Colts loss.
- Tennessee Titans defensive end Sam Okuayinonu had a few weeks this season in which he got some playing time. But since week 12, he has been on the team’s practice squad and is still awaiting another opportunity to play.
- Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. hasn’t been a big factor for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. He was on the practice squad this week, and hasn’t been a member of the active roster since week 12.
- Indianapolis Colts running back Jake Funk has been around the NFL in his second year in the league, being on a roster and two practice squads throughout the year. This week he wasn’t called up to the active roster, and he hasn’t played this season since he was on the Los Angeles Rams.
- Seattle Seahawks tight end Tyler Mabry was added to the team’s practice squad before the regular season began. With the play of other tight ends like Noah Fant, the Seahawks have not found a use for Mabry in any game during the regular season in 2022.
- Linebacker Keandre Jones was only featured once for the Cincinnati Bengals this season, and he was not on the team’s active roster for week 16.
- Miami Dolphins cornerback Tino Ellis has yet to be called up from the practice squad to the team’s active roster this season.
- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Jared Bernhardt, Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Michael Dunn, and Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson didn’t play this week due to injury.