2016 Stats: 69 attempts, 344 rush yards, 30 receptions, 245 receiving yards, 5.9 avg yds, 0 TD
Sunday afternoon, former Michigan State (2010-12) and now Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had a decent showing, despite a loss to the New England Patriots. Although the Steelers are on a two-game skid, Bell and the rest of the team are still on top of the AFC North with a one game lead at 4-3. Last week, Pittsburgh lost to Miami, and a home loss to New England could serve the team as a wake-up call.
Le’Veon had been an outstanding running back at Michigan State and became known on the national level. When he first came to the NFL in 2013, he transformed into a duel threat, becoming a solid receiver on top of his running ability. Now four years into the league, Bell has become a major threat.
Sunday, Bell ran for 81 yards on 21 attempts, but a more impressive stat comes from what he did on receptions. He was able to gain 68 yards on just 10 catches, and was able to lead his team with 149 yards in total. However, it was not enough, as the Steelers fell 27-16.
This season, Bell has made breakthrough plays and has amassed quality touches on the ball to help his team. At this time last season, he had the same amount of combined rushes and catches (99), but this year, he has over an additional 85 yards more than his mark last season.
Next week, the Steelers will look to end their losing streak by going on the road for a critical division matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
By: Andrew Birkle
2016 Stats: 20 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 passes defended
Trae Waynes, the former Michigan State cornerback (2011-2014) and original member of the “No Fly Zone,” is now a part of what many consider to be the best defense in the National Football League. The Minnesota Vikings currently sit atop the NFC North, an extremely competitive division with the always prevalent Green Bay Packers and a pesky Detroit Lions team that knows how to win close games. The Vikings, despite a loss last week to a good Philadelphia Eagles team, remain 5-1.
Approaching Week 8, the Vikings are looking like strong Super Bowl contenders. With a stifling defense that few teams in the NFL can move the ball on, their secondary may be the team’s best feature. Player such as Captain Munnerlyn, Terence Newman, Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes make up a secondary that is feared by many. When you add a young player with tremendous upside like Trae Waynes into that mix, look out.
The Vikings defense is only allowing a mere 14 points per game through the first six games this season. Despite season-ending injuries to their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and starting running back and future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, the team’s defense continues to carry them to victories.
Waynes has seen his fair share of highs and lows so far in his career. In a nationally televised game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2, former league MVP Aaron Rodgers picked on the defensive back for the entire night. Waynes struggled, picking up several pass interference penalties, and he was burned deep multiple times. When the game went to overtime and it mattered most, Waynes showed his true grit, intercepting Aaron Rodgers and sealing the game for the Vikings.
Waynes has 20 tackles and has added two interceptions in the team’s first six games. These statistics are both greatly improved from last season, as he only had 30 tackles and zero interceptions the entire year.
Waynes was the 11th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and is known for running the fastest 40-yard dash time–4.31 seconds–at the 2015 NFL Draft combine.
Coming off their first loss of the season, the Vikings will take a trip to Chicago to face a weak Bears team on Monday Night Football at Soldier Field.