It’s not often in the NFL that the leading receivers for opposing teams are rookies. But not often arrives at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. Again.
On one hand, there’s A.J. Green, the fourth pick overall in April’s NFL Draft who leads the Cincinnati Bengals – and all NFL rookies, for that matter – in receptions (29), receiving yards (453) and touchdown catches (four). On the other hand, there’s Doug Baldwin. Despite going without a catch last week, the undrafted free agent is the Seahawks’ leading receiver (20 for 330) and tops all rookies in the league in per-catch average (16.5).
When was the last time this rookies-leading-the-way oddity happened? Well, it was last Sunday, when Baldwin and the Seahawks met Greg Little and the Browns in Cleveland.
OK then, when was the last time it happened at CenturyLink? That would be Week 4, when Baldwin and the Seahawks hosted the Atlanta Falcons and Julio Jones, the sixth pick overall in the draft.
Hmmm. This year’s class of rookie receivers is turning the abnormal into the normal.
At the NFL scouting combine in February, Green and Jones were joined at the hype – as seemingly everyone was debating which SEC receiver was better, and which would have a more immediate impact in the league.
“We still talk,” Green said this morning in a conference-call interview from Cincinnati, where the 4-2 Bengals are preparing for Sunday’s game. “I feel like we’re both great receivers. We’re both having a great rookie season so far.”
Jones has 25 receptions for 358 yards, and ranks second to Green in both categories among the rookie receivers – despite missing the past two games with a strained hamstring.
Baldwin? He went unnoticed by NFL teams during the draft, as well as some of his fellow receivers at the combine.
Asked if he knew Baldwin, Green’s less-than-expansive response was, “No. No.”
But Green has gotten acquainted with Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner while studying video of the Seahawks defense this week. Six-foot-4 corners have a way of standing out.
“They’ve got some long corners,” Green said. “I’ve never faced a 6-4 corner. It’s like another receiver out there. It’s going to be challenge, but I’m up to it.”