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Rebels in the Pros: Week 8 was all about Wilkins

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The offense continues to explode.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

All things were go across the NFL in Week 8 and it resulted in five one-possession games and quite a few duds. The Jets were embarrassed by the Chiefs, the 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle for the season, and the NFC East continued to NFC East, but there were a few standout positives across the league and some big days came out of Oxford.

A few former Rebels found themselves with impressive performances on Sunday, here is how they fared:

Offense

  • As a senior at Ole Miss, Jordan Wilkins became only the fifth runner to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in a season and joined elite company alongside players like Deuce McAllister. He was drafted by the Colts in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft and has played a limited, but productive role in Indianapolis thus far. That changed on Sunday when he burst onto the scene as the team’s leading rusher, surpassing rookie Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. He is a strong runner that refuses to go down.

Wilkins ended the day with 68 yards on 20 carries and scored his first NFL touchdown!

The Colts have rotated their backfield through the first eight weeks, but No. 20 earned his share of touches on Sunday.

  • To no one’s surprise, D.K. Metcalf had himself another day in the Seahawks’ 37-27 win over San Francisco. He had 100 yards receiving at halftime and finished with 161 yards on 12 catches. The 230-pound receiver showed his speed when he tracked down Budda Baker in Week 7 and blew by his opponents again in Week 8 for his first touchdown of the game.

He took his foot off of the gas for his second score of the afternoon, but showed his unmatched strength in traffic.

Metcalf’s dominance has reached the point that it’s easy to forget he’s playing against full-grown men. He struggled more against three cones than he has against NFL defenses.

  • As the other half of the Nasty Wideout duo, A.J. Brown was one of the lone positives for the Tennessee passing game in its embarrassing loss to the Bengals. Brown didn’t top the box score with catches or yardage, but his touchdown in the fourth quarter made the score look better than it was.

Don’t test him, because he will burn you or run through you. He is a YAC monster.

  • On the offensive line, it was both good and bad. The bad news came when Bobby Massie suffered a knee injury early in the Bears’ game against the Saints. He looked pretty beat up when the trainer came to his side, and did not return to the game. His status is unknown, but it didn’t seem like it would be a quick return to the field. The good came with Laremy Tunsil’s dominant day. He continues to be the best tackle in the league and has not allowed a sack on 288 snaps this season.

Tunsil played every snap for Houston and finished as the top-rated pass blocking tackle. His left tackle replacement in Oxford, Greg Little, played 43 percent of plays for the Panthers and continues to show why he was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft.

  • Just outside of the tackles, Dawson Knox was again inactive due to COVID-19 protocol and Evan Engram continues to have a baseline year on the 1-7 Giants. He had four catches for a team-high 55 yards in the loss to the Buccaneers on Monday and his longest of the night came on a pretty good snag. Maybe it will serve as a confidence booster for someone who has had a minor case of the dropsies all season.

Defense

  • It was a very slow day on the defensive side of the ball, but Marquis Haynes had his best game of the season and his career on Thursday. The dynamic linebacker recorded two tackles and made a crucial sack to keep the Panthers alive momentarily— though they ended up losing.
  • Haynes’ Carolina counterpart Myles Hartsfield is on the other end of the spectrum. He didn’t see time on offense this week, but was thrown into 31 percent of the team’s defensive snaps at safety and made a pair of tackles. However, a defensive holding penalty nullified a Panthers sack that extended the Falcons’ drive and led to points.
  • D.J. Jones made a pair of tackles for the 49ers, and his health on a 49ers team that has seen injury after injury has proved valuable on the defensive line. He is a good player that doesn’t get enough respect because he won’t make the flashy play.