Nittany Lions In The NFL: Midseason Roundup

Week 9 of the NFL season is now in the books, but it was a quiet one for Nittany Lions.

Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants had a bye week, while Allen Robinson and Mike Gesicki failed to record a reception for the Chicago Bears or Miami Dolphins, respectively. We’ve reached the midway point of the season with several scintillating performances by Penn Staters. Let’s look back and see how each player has fared so far this year.

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Saquon Barkley is, without a doubt, the best Penn Stater in the pros right now. He’s been a beast for New York this season in the air and on the ground behind a brutal offensive line. No. 26 is just shy of a 1000/1000 pace, and would be the third player ever to accomplish this feat. The others? Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig.

Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. have been the lone bright spots for a struggling New York offense on the 1-7 Giants. The Coplay, PA native has an impressive 4.7 yards per carry this year as well, tied with Pitt Panther-turned-Pittsburgh Steeler James Conner for the best in the NFL. His best game came against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football, when he absolutely torched their defense for 229 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Godwin came into the year without many expectations, but has been a vital part of this Tampa Bay offense. He’s registered 30 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns, after having only one score his rookie year. Despite the Buccaneers’ inability to decide on a starting quarterback, Godwin has flourished in his role as a No. 3 receiver.

Both Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick have relied on Godwin in the red zone to make plays, and he’s delivered so far this season. His season high in yardage in 74 against Pittsburgh, but he certainly provides Tampa Bay with reliable safety valve outside of Mike Evans. Godwin did struggle against Carolina with only 40 yards receiving, but could be in for a big game when the Bucs face the Washington Redskins next week.

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

Like most rookie tight ends, Gesicki has been eased into action. He has 16 receptions for 146 yards on the season, but flashed his potential in an offense devoid of many playmakers on the outside. His most notable play came in Miami against the Chicago Bears:

Gesicki was held without a reception last weekend against the Jets when the Dolphins’ only touchdown of the game came on defense. Miami is now 5-4, and it doesn’t get any easier from here on out. The Dolphins will face a tough Green Bay Packer team next Sunday.

Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers

James has split time with tight end Vance McDonald for the entire season, and that should continue for the foreseeable future. With the number of weapons the Steelers have on offense, it’s tough to imagine James getting many targets. He has 21 catches for 336 yards and a touchdown this season, while McDonald has nearly the same stat line (26 catches for 346 yards and a score). Pittsburgh has been on a roll as of late with four consecutive victories, including one against the Baltimore Ravens last weekend. James and the Steelers will face Carolina on Thursday night.

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

Robinson has been unexpectedly disappointing this season, and was unable to play against the Buffalo Bills this week due to a groin injury. A-Rob did tally ten catches and 83 yards against Seattle early in the season, but hasn’t been as consistent as Bears fans may have expected. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has spread the ball around to many different receivers each game, limiting Robinson’s target volume.

His stat line currently sits at 25 catches for 285 yards and two scores. However, he should be healthy enough to face the Detroit Lions this Sunday and help Chicago improve its 5-3 record. Even though he only has two touchdowns on the year, it’s only a matter of time before we see the Robinson of old once again.

Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins

Sam Darnold may have won the battle against Penn State, but he definitely hasn’t won the war against Nittany Lions in the NFL.

Troy Apke was on the right end of Darnold’s first interception of the 2018 preseason, and Cameron Wake gave Penn State another moral victory over the current New York Jet. He sacked Darnold twice during a defensive slugfest in Miami as his team won 13-6.

Wake has played in seven of the Dolphins’ first nine games of the season, totaling 21 tackles and three sacks. His role for Miami will likely continue to diminish as he ages, but he’s certainly been a fine player during his 10-season NFL career. 

Other Notables

Veteran Trevor Williams has been solid for the Los Angeles Chargers this season. He currently sits at 19 tackles along with one interception.

Adrian Amos has been a stud for a dominant Chicago Bear defense, as well. Amos has 40 tackles, one sack, and a pick on the season.

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About the Author

Austin Smith

Austin Smith is a junior broadcast journalism major. He grew up in New Jersey and is a writer for Onward State. He specializes in football, basketball, and the New York Knicks.

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