Saturday one-liners

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Against New England, Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh was on the field for every defensive snap (but Miami is still done with him, right?)

The Patriots will count on Cam Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle to continue to fill the void now that RT Marcus Cannon‘s five-week absence will extend through the rest of the season.

The noise of the Superdome could make things even rougher for a struggling Jets offensive line.

The Bills will be renovating the sideline clubs at New Era Field, and ownership is privately funding the project.

The Ravens want to get TE Benjamin Watson more involved; against Pittsburgh, he wasn’t. At all.

The Bengals’ special teams haven’t been.

Browns LT Spencer Drango is bracing for an onslaught from Terrell Suggs.

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant could be the key to winning against New England.

Texans RB Lamar Miller has a long run of 21 yards this year, the shortest long run of his career.

Colts TE Brandon Williams tweeted good news, a day after his scary moment on the field.

Jaguars WR Allen Hurns will miss his fifth straight game on Sunday, due to an ankle injury.

The Titans have reduced plays and focused on fundamentals as they try to fix their offensive woes.

Has QB Trevor Siemian played his last game for the Broncos?

The Chiefs weren’t surprised that nickel CB Steven Nelson bounced back the way he did after an ugly outing in New York.

With the stakes dramatically higher in Kansas City tonight, the Chargers are trying to keep things as normal as possible.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio believes WR Amari Cooper will be back this year.

Cowboys LB Sean Lee has a simple scouting report on RB Marshawn Lynch: You can’t tackle him with one guy.

Giants coach Steve Spagnulo hopes the family feud between Landon Collins and Eli Apple is over.

The Eagles were worried about, and supposedly prepared for, an injury to QB Carson Wentz.

Washington hopes a win over Arizona will get the franchise out of the “doldrums.”

The Bears need to find some receivers in the offseason.

Lions TE Eric Ebron will augment his Color Rush uniform with cleats that pay homage to the original PlayStation game.

Should the Vikings keep their heads on a swivel with Cincinnati in town?

Packers CB Davon House (fractured transverse process) hopes to return for the December 23 game vs. Minnesota.

Falcons WR Julio Jones is prepared to face 10-man coverage, if that’s what it comes to vs. Tampa.

Amini Silatolu will replace Panthers G Trai Turner (concussion) vs. Green Bay.

Saints LS Zach Wood has been practicing with linebackers to improve his tackling skills.

Should Jon Gruden want to return as head coach of the Buccaneers?

Would a win over Tennessee be the biggest one yet at the 49ers’ new stadium?

The Rams know to keep feeding RB Todd Gurley.

Seahawks S Bradley McDougald is getting it done in place of Kam Chancellor.

With nine sacks in the team’s last three games, Cardinals LB Chandler Jones would set the single-season record.

Le’Veon Bell wins fan Pro Bowl voting

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Just as the Eagles quarterback was preparing to hold up a newspaper (he wasn’t) with the headline “Wentz Defeats #Tommy,” another player emerged to win the popularity contest that is the NFL’s Pro Bowl voting.

The league has announced that Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell racked up 855,539 fan votes in the process that ended on Thursday. Wentz had been the leading vote-getter at every prior voting checkpoint.

He actually fell to fourth place, behind Tom Brady (833,481) and Steelers receiver Antonio Brown (832,446). Wentz, with 829,174 votes, comfortably finished ahead of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, with 743,355.

The rest of the top 10 consisted of Rams running back Todd Gurley, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Rams quarterback Jared Goff, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette.

The Steelers had the leading vote-getters at seven positions among AFC teams, including inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is recovering from a serious spinal injury. (The others are Bell, Brown, Alejandro Villaneuva, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, and special-teamer Tyler Matakevich.) The Patriots have the leading vote-getter at three positions in the AFC field (Brady, Gronk, and Stephen Gostkowski), and the Jaguars have two (Tommy Bohanon and A.J. Bouye).

In the NFC, the Rams have leading vote-getters at five positions (Gurley, Goff, Aaron Donald, Greg Zuerlein, Johnny Hekker, and punt returner Pharon Cooper). The Cowboys have three (Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick), the Seahawks have two (Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas), the Eagles have two (Wentz and Zach Ertz), the Cardinals have two (Chandler Jones and special-team Budda Baker), and the Vikings have two (Everson Griffen and Xavier Rhodes).

The final Pro Bowl teams will be determined based on consideration of fan voting, player voting, and coach voting. The rosters will be unveiled Tuesday, December 19.

Jaguars newest star was recently sleeping in his car

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The Jaguars have plenty of great players. One arrived fairly recently, joining the practice squad in late September, climbing to the active roster in late October, and twice winning the AFC special-teams player of the week award since then.

Receiver Jaydon Mickens, who had been cut by the Raiders in September, had no idea whether he’d stick around in Jacksonville. Faced with the challenge of securing what could be short-term living arrangements, Mickens decided not to.

“If you’re on a month or year lease, you can’t break it,” Mickens said, via Phillip Hellman of the Florida Times-Union. “I didn’t know how long I was going to be here. You can be here for two weeks and then gone tomorrow.”

So Mickens and receiver Larry Pinkard would find a place every night to park their cars, and there they’d sleep. For Mickens, it was a no-brainer to save his money.

“You can go into an offseason and not get paid for six months,” Mickens said. “I would rather save every check if I’m on the practice squad for the whole year and have something to fall back on.”

Mickens was discreet about his choice of sleeping arrangements, telling not many teammates. He also didn’t ask the Jaguars for assistance in securing temporary arrangements.

“I came from nothing,” Mickens said. “I’ve been through way worse.”

Mickens is going through way better now; he’s the first Jaguars player ever to win the special-teams player of the week award twice, thanks to his punt-return skills.

Reggie Bush knows he’s done, wants to retire as a Saint

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A couple months ago, Reggie Bush was putting out word that if any team needed a veteran running back, he was available. Now Bush realizes that isn’t happening.

“I’m done,” Bush said on NFL Network. “I’m done. I said it. It’s not breaking news. I’ve been saying it. I said it all season, I said, ‘Listen, if I don’t play this year, I’m going to retire.’ Because I’m not going to spend a whole year off, come back, 33 years old, trying to get back in the league. Listen, once you get to a certain age as a running back, they just start to slowly weed you out.”

Bush entered the NFL with the Saints as the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, and although he later spent two years with the Dolphins, two with the Lions, one with the 49ers and one with the Bills, he still considers himself a Saint.

“The Saints know I’m coming home at some point,” Bush said. “I’m going to come home to retire as a Saint. But yeah, man, I’m done. For sure. I’m done.”

Although Bush never became the NFL superstar some expected him to be during his great college career at USC, he does finish his career with 10,001 all-purpose yards as a pro. His NFL career, if not a great one was at least a very good one.

Concerns of inconsistency emerge regarding Panthers investigation

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When learning last night that the Panthers are investigating Panthers owner Jerry Richardson for allegations of workplace misconduct, my first thought was this: Why isn’t the NFL doing this?

I’m not alone. As one league source explained it, other teams wouldn’t have the luxury of conducting their own investigation. And few, if any, team personnel other than owners would ever get that level of consideration.

Part of the problem is that, as PFT reported last night, the Panthers told the NFL about the situation only after the Panthers started their own investigation, ultimately overseen by someone who owns part of the team — and thus is a PARTNER of the person who is the subject of the probe. And so the NFL has been caught flat-footed by what only can be perceived as an effort by the team to control the investigation, to manage the fallout, and to engineer the preferred outcome.

The breadth of the Personal Conduct Policy, and the league’s history of aggressively taking action against anyone and everyone ensnared by it, makes the failure to do anything as to Richardson even more conspicuous, and inconsistent. Only five days ago, the NFL immediately suspended three NFL Network on-air employees (Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans, Ike Taylor) based on allegations made in a sexual harassment lawsuit . . . pending an investigation.

Yes, pending an investigation. That same kind of investigation that the Panthers have decided to conduct regarding the person who owns the bulk of the Panthers, overseen by a person who owns part of the Panthers.

This doesn’t mean the NFL will continue to do nothing. But don’t be surprised if that’s what the NFL does; Richardson, after all, was one of the two owners who led the search for a Commissioner in 2006 — and one of the two owners who personally delivered the good news to the man who won the $200 million so far/$200 million to go (and maybe more) job on the fifth ballot.

Whatever it was that prompted the team owned by Richardson to mobilize an investigation against Richardson should prompt the NFL to do the same thing, and to treat Richardson the same way any other person connected to the NFL would be treated.

Nick Bosa: I think I’d be ready for the pros now, if the NFL would let me

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Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa can’t enter the 2018 NFL draft because he’s a sophomore, and league rules require players to be three years out of high school before they can turn pro. But Bosa thinks he’d be ready to make a big impact in the pros right now, if only the league would let him.

I think I would,” Bosa told Cleveland.com. “But an extra year of development is really important. I think I’ll be a lot more ready next year.”

Nick comes from a family of first-round draft picks. His older brother, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, was the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. His father, John Bosa, went to the Dolphins with the 16th overall pick in the 1987 NFL draft. His mom’s brother, Eric Kumerow, went to the Dolphins with the 16th overall pick in the 1988 NFL draft.

Some day, Nick Bosa is likely to be the fourth member of his family to be a first-round draft pick. This year he was named the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year (an award Joey won twice at Ohio State), and he’s undeniably an NFL talent. He’ll just have to play in college one more year before he can get there.

NFL must explain why Michael Bennett faced no discipline

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When the NFL fines or suspends a player, it issues a statement about what the player did to draw the fine or suspension. This week, the NFL needs to issue a statement to explain what a player did to avoid a fine or suspension.

The player in question is Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who was flagged for taking a shot at Jaguars center Brandon Linder‘s knee late in Seattle’s loss at Jacksonville on Sunday. It was Bennett who started an ugly chain of events that saw players on both teams flagged for personal fouls, two Seahawks ejected, and the potential for a crowd-control nightmare when Jaguars fans threw objects at Seattle’s Quinton Jefferson and Jefferson tried to go into the stands to confront them.

So why did Bennett, who started it all, get off scot-free?

NFL Media reported that the league bought Bennett’s explanation, as relayed by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, that Bennett was just trying to swipe the ball as Linder snapped it to Blake Bortles for the kneeldown at the end of the game.

That explanation is preposterous, and if the NFL actually accepted that explanation, then the NFL needs to say so — if for no other reason than so that the rest of us can understand, once and for all, that the people at the league office simply don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to finding any fair, reasonable and consistent standard for player discipline.

Bennett may have been initially attempting to swipe the ball the instant Linder snapped it to Bortles. But that doesn’t explain why Bennett then continued rolling into Linder’s knee, long after Bortles had taken the snap and kneeled down, as Linder attempted to get away from Bennett to protect himself from injury.

Two officials were standing on either side of Bennett as he rolled into Linder, and both of them threw their flags. If the NFL thinks Bennett was just trying to swipe the ball, then the NFL needs to explain what those two officials were looking at when they threw their flags.

The NFL also apparently thinks commentator Daryl Johnston was hallucinating when he described what Bennett did while FOX showed a replay. Johnston, a former NFL fullback who knows the difference between dirty play and clean play, was outraged as he described what Bennett was doing.

“Michael Bennett rolling into Brandon Linder — that’s what started everything, right there,” Johnston said. “And then he comes back and hits him again. So this tape is gonna be reviewed by the NFL. They didn’t get Michael Bennett out of the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something from the league that comes down on Michael Bennett because that’s disrespect to an opponent on the field. There’s no place in this game for that.”

You know who else thinks it’s dirty to go after an opponent’s knee? Michael Bennett. Last year, after Bennett took a shot to the knee in a game against the Falcons, he was furious about it.

“Honestly, I think if you dive at someone else’s legs, you’re a little [expletive],” Bennett said. “If you are big in the NFL, you just line up and play — why you got to cut someone on the [expletive] play? I mean, I don’t know. That [expletive] is just stupid to me. Why cut somebody when you can just line up and win? I don’t know. I don’t come off the ball jumping at offensive linemen’s legs.’’

But now we know that Bennett does come off the ball jumping at offensive linemen’s legs. And the NFL lets him get away with it. The league needs to explain why.

Is the XFL coming back?

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In 2001, the WWE (then the WWF) and NBC launched the XFL, a no-holds-barred football league that served as a supplement to the NFL, whose broadcast rights NBC didn’t have at the time. A documentary that debuted earlier this year regarding the long-defunct league ended with WWE owner Vince McMahon and former NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol musing about a revival.

Now, out of nowhere, rumors of a potential return of the XFL have surfaced, with Brad Shepard reporting that McMahon is “looking to bring back the XFL and may announce it on January 25th, 2018.”

The WWE, when asked to confirm or deny a potential XFL reboot by David Bixenspan of Deadspin.com, said this: “Vince McMahon has established and is personally funding a separate entity from WWE, Alpha Entertainment, to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football. Mr. McMahon has nothing further to announce at this time.”

That’s far from a denial, and it feels like an implicit confirmation.

Arguably, the time may be right for the XFL or something like it. A November 2016 Sports Illustrated article regarding the current state of football in America created the distinct impression that fans want old-school football, with all the big hits and none of the obsessions over safety.

“Those attitudes from fans coupled with the messages that invariably will be sent by the incoming Commander-in-Chief,” we wrote on November 16, 2016, “suggest that the time may be right for someone to roll the dice with $250 million or so in the hopes of launching a football league that would essentially operate like a modern-day XFL — loud, proud, violent, brutal, bloody, and everything that the NFL was before political, legal, and social sensitivities forced the league to change.”

The XFL may not compete with the NFL; McMahon suggested in his comments to Ebersol that the league could be connected.

“I don’t know what it would be,” McMahon said. “I don’t know if it’s gonna be another XFL or what it may be or how different I would make it. It seems like in some way it would tie in either with the NFL itself or the owners.”

And then Ebersol said this, which becomes a lot more intriguing in light of recent developments: “Well, certainly the most adventurous owner is Jerry Jones.”

Currently, there’s a disconnect of sorts between what the NFL gives fans and what the fans want (and what the players want to do). Even with everything everyone now knows about the risks of football, players would sign up in droves to play football like it was played 20 or 30 years ago, with helmet-to-helmet hits on defenseless players, crack-back blocks, full-speed collisions, and everything else that football was before the NFL decided to make changes on its own before politicians forced the NFL to do so.

For decades, pro football leagues other than the NFL have launched and then failed. But the time could be right to give fans and players exactly what they want, especially since the NFL in many ways arguably no longer is.

Right, wrong, or otherwise, there’s potentially a lot of money to be made by someone who is willing to say, “Let’s make football football again.” In the current political climate, roughly half of America would embrace it.

Especially if the players are required to stand for the national anthem.

Ejections should last for 60 minutes of game time

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Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Jaguars was marred by another late-game tantrum from Seattle defenders who sometimes have a hard time processing the fact that the team may not be as good as they think it is. Like the final snaps of Super Bowl XLIX, things got ugly, prompting multiple ejections.

But no one was suspended. (Amazingly, defensive lineman Michael Bennett wasn’t even fined for diving in to the legs of Jags center Brandon Linder.) And so the end result of the ejection was missing a snap or two that ultimately didn’t matter, because the game was essentially over.

So here’s an idea, so simple and obvious that it never will be adopted. When a player is ejected, he’s gone for a full 60 minutes of action, even if it carries over to another game.

Thus, get ejected in garbage time of one game, return with the same amount of time left in the next game. Get ejected five minutes into the first quarter of a game, return at the exact same point in the next game. It’s that simple, and it would go a long way toward deterring late-game shenanigans that may not result in a league-imposed suspension.

Of course, that could make officials even more reluctant to issue ejections, since they already shy away from decisions that could affect the outcome of a game. But if the goal is to encourage good behavior — and to discourage bad behavior — a 60-minute ejection would work a lot better than the current rules.

Which, again, means it never will happen.

Xavier Howard played Monday night with the flu

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The performance of Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard already was sufficiently impressive to land him the AFC defensive player of the week award. The performance becomes more impressive with the knowledge that he played on Monday night against the Patriots with the flu.

He told reporters on Friday that the bug hit him on Monday morning.

“I was throwing up mostly like water and I had taken some Pedialyte, so I was just throwing that up,” Howard said, adding that he had two IVs to help replenish his fluids. He remained sick during the game.

“I still was throwing up a little bit on the sideline,” Howard said.

He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bills, due to the same illness. He said he expects to play, and that he feels “a little bit better.”

The Dolphins have gotten a lot better over the past two weeks, beating the Broncos and Patriots and keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. They face Buffalo then the Chiefs in Kansas City before finishing the year against the Bills in Miami.

Antonio Brown for MVP campaign is rolling

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A kicker has won the league’s MVP award, but a wide receiver never has. Not Don Hutson. Not Jerry Rice. Not Randy Moss.

But Washington kicker Mark Moseley won the award in 1982.

Man, that’s crazy,” Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown said, via Chris Adamski of triblive.com. “That’s crazy, man. Hopefully, we can make a change in that.”

As Mike Florio noted earlier Friday, Brown’s name has been mentioned far more than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s has when it comes to consideration of Steelers candidates. Brown is on pace for 122 catches, 1,857 yards and 11 touchdowns.

With Carson Wentz out for the year and Aaron Rodgers having missed seven games, the award is wide open with (in no particular order) Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson, Roethlisberger and Brown among the candidates.

“It would be an extreme honor,” Brown said. “But that’s not my focus right now. We have a huge game this weekend. We have some big goals in front of us and just staying singularly focused on the task at hand.”

Social media has a hashtag for Brown’s campaign — #AB4MVP — and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has endorsed Brown.

“I don’t think there is anybody who is as dominant as he is in the game right now,” Fitzgerald said.

Matt Ryan trusts process as he tries to rebound from three-pick game

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Matt Ryan has had more than a week to get over his last outing. He’s put the three interceptions and season-low 55.2 passer rating behind him. Of course, it helped that the Falcons beat the Saints.

“I feel like I’ve got a good process, a good routine that I get into that helps me prepare week in and week out the absolutely best I can,” Ryan said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN. “I felt like in the game [last Thursday], made a couple of mistakes, but those things happen from time to time.

“But I feel like my process is really good. I feel like I do everything I need to do every week to give me the best chance to play the best I can.”

Ryan won’t repeat as league MVP this season. His numbers aren’t close to what he did last season: He has 772 fewer yards, 13 fewer touchdowns and four more interceptions than he did through 13 games a year ago.

Ryan has struggled the past two games, completing 55 percent of his passes with one touchdown and three interceptions. His confidence, though, hasn’t waned.

“You can’t beat yourself up,” Ryan said. “It’s hard enough in this league to go out there. You know every week you’re a week away from being humbled. I learned that early on. I have great belief in myself, but I know it’s a tough league.”

Hue Jackson doesn’t have much to say about John Dorsey’s remarks

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On Thursday, Browns G.M. John Dorsey submitted to a radio interview that generated several significant headlines. Browns coach Hue Jackson has now met twice with the media since Dorsey said what he said.

And, based on the transcripts generated by the team, no one directly asked Jackson about the most important thing Dorsey said. Or didn’t say.

Specifically, Dorsey failed to categorically declare that Jackson will be back next year. In neither press conference was Jackson asked to react to Dorsey’s reticence to echo owner Jimmy Haslam’s claim that Jackson will definitely be back.

On Thursday, Jackson was asked whether he feels Dorsey’s support.

“I’m not going to really get into those particular things,” Jackson said. “John Dorsey has been outstanding. He is football 24/7. I have enjoyed getting to know him more and spending time with him and talking about our football team and what we need to do. Obviously, there are some good players in our locker room. The guys work extremely hard. I think John’s big focus is to try to get us more guys as we move forward on our football team that can best help us get this turned and become what we can become. He is walking up and down these halls preaching, ‘Let’s win. Let’s get to winning as fast as we can.’ I appreciate that. He is doing everything he needs to do on his end. We have to continue to keep coaching better and get our guys to play better.”

On Friday, Jackson was asked whether Dorsey explaining that the team needs to get a quarterback affects rookie DeShone Kizer.

“I would hope not at all,” Jackson said. “When you are on the team and playing quarterback, I don’t think you can worry about those things. Just me knowing DeShone, he would tell you he can only worry about what he can control. What he can control is playing well against Baltimore, finishing the season strong. Right now, none of those things matter. Like I said, John is doing an outstanding job in doing what he needs to do to continue to as we move further to put better talent on our team. I think he will look at every area of our football team and see how we can become better.”

Dorsey surely will be looking at every area of the football team. His failure to say “of course” when asked to confirm that Jackson will be back underscores the reality that every aspect of the team is being evaluated.

NFL has no comment on Jerry Richardson situation

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The Panthers have launched an investigation regarding allegations of workplace misconduct against owner Jerry Richardson. The NFL, for now, is saying nothing.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email that the league has no comment on the situation at this time.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL first became aware of the situation this afternoon, when the Panthers informed the league that an investigation has been launched.

It’s unclear why the team and not the league is handling the investigation. The conduct at issue arguably falls within the scope of the Personal Conduct Policy, which could give the league jurisdiction over the situation.

The specific accusations against Richardson are not known, and it’s unclear what, if any, penalties the team could impose on the franchise’s owner.

Cooper Kupp breaks team rookie record for catches in a season

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The Rams didn’t draft Cooper Kupp until the third round. They got a steal with the 69th overall choice.

Kupp has more catches, more yards and more touchdowns than the three wide receivers drafted in the first round combined. He already has set the team rookie record for receptions and needs 142 receiving yards to break another franchise rookie mark.

“As soon as you flip [his college tape] on, in terms of some of the traits and characteristics that you’re looking for, he was a guy that jumped off the screen at you,” coach Sean McVay said, via quotes distributed by the team, “and fortunately we were able to end up getting him. I remember kind of jokingly saying, ‘Oh, yeah we’re going to get this guy,’ and it ended up working out for us in the end.”

Kupp has 56 receptions for 783 yards and four touchdowns. Corey Davis, John Ross and Mike Williams, the three rookie wide receivers drafted in the top 10, have combined for 35 catches for 343 yards.

Former Rams wide receiver Eddie Kennison lost his team rookie record for receptions, and his receiving yards record is in danger. Kennison, the 18th overall selection in 1996, had 54 catches for 924 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie.