Cards' Peterson the top debutant

Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson returns a punt for a 89-yard touchdown against the Carolina...

Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson returns a punt for a 89-yard touchdown against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. (AFP)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:59 PM ET

Cam Newton statistically had a very good to great debut for the Carolina Panthers.

But in terms of rookies who had the biggest impact on the outcome of their first NFL games, Newton isnít in the conversation.

In fact, Newton wasnít even the most impactful rookie on Sundayís outcome in the game he played.

That honour went to Patrick Peterson, the LSU cornerback who fell to fifth in the draft to the delight of the Arizona Cardinals.

Peterson took his lumps defensively as he put his college experience up against 11-year veteran Steve Smith and paid the price accordingly.

But when it came to winning the game, it was Peterson who found a way returning a punt 86 yards for the winning score. Newton had the numbers on the day but it was Peterson who was the difference maker.

Also in the conversation were Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers, who was still around 63 picks into the draft when Green Bay grabbed him with their second round selection.

All Cobb did was return a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown and caught a 32-yard touchdown. Technically he messed up on both plays running the kick out against his coaches wishes and running the wrong route only to be saved by Aaron Rodgers. But who is going to argue with a two-touchdown performance in a NFL debut.

A third rookie, Washingtonís Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins first-round pick at 16 in the draft, provided the winning touchdown from his linebacker position when he tipped a pass intended for Hakeem Nicks and caught it before scampering nine yards into the end zone.

So in this book itís either Cobb, Peterson or Kerrigan that get the nod as rookie with the best debut. Newton had the numbers but they didnít add up to a win.

HOLDING MY NOSE

Never thought I would admit this, but itís getting tougher and tougher to cheer against Dan Snyderís Washington Redskins.

Donít get me wrong. I can still cackle until the cows come home at every misfortune that befalls Snyder, but his football team is making it very hard to cheer against them.

Not only did they look professional and composed in downing the New York Giants on Sunday in Week 1, but have since refused the day off that normally comes on a winning week.

Win in Washington on Sunday and you get Monday off. That has been the way it is with the Redskins only this time the team declined head coach Mike Shanahanís offer of a day off.

Apparently they would prefer to practice and watch film and basically get better.

Now if youíre not already throwing up in your mouth, you kind of have to respect a team that turns down a day off.

FORGETTING THE REASON

Much was made both Sunday and through Monday about the surprising number of kickoffs that were returned in the first week of the season.

The concern among many was that by moving the kick up five yards and not allowing the cover team more than a five-yard running start behind the ball, the NFL rule makers were trying to take the kickoff out of the game.

In reality, the move was made to protect the players from injury.

But if you want the necessity of such a rule change really driven home check out Tim Grahamís piece in Mondayís editions of the Buffalo News.

Chances are you will have no problem with the rule change after reading that story.

Graham paid a visit to former Bills tight end Kevin Everett who had his career and very nearly his life on a kickoff a few years back.

The story is much more in depth than just this, but told by Graham that New England head coach Bill Belichick believes the league is just trying to eliminate the kickoff entirely with the rule change, Everett responded: ďI canít do anything but agree. Go ahead and get rid of it,Ē Everett said. ďItís the most dangerous and lethal aspect of the game, that kickoff.Ē

Evidence this past weekend though suggests that wonít happen.

Yes, there were 57 touchbacks this past weekend (not including last nightís two games) but 36 returns of kickoffs as well. Nine were returned shy of the 20-yard line where a team gets the ball if it concedes the touchback. Twenty-seven others were returned past the 20 including three touchdowns.

THIRD AND SHORT

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was openly questioning the use of receiver Dez Bryant in the return game after Bryant suffered a bruised quad on a return early in the loss to the New York Jets. Bryant, who was on fire in the first Dallas series of the game which culminated in a touchdown pass to No. 88 was not the same player after he hurt his leg making a return. It will be interesting to see how committed Jones is to keeping his wide receiver healthy if it means a less productive special teams ... As if a beating at the hands of the Buffalo Bills wasnít enough, the Chiefs confirmed on Monday that second-year safety Eric Berry would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL ... The expected breakout season for Tampa Bay RB LeGarrette Blount got off to a shaky start with the bruising back only getting the rock for five carries which he turned into 15 yards. The Bucs got behind early and spent the second half in pretty much a constant hurry-up offence limiting Blount to just a single carry in the second half. Blount complained in the media Monday and the Bucs agree they canít let a weapon like him sit idle like he did on Sunday again.


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