Football

Gators in the NFL: Week 9

Photo by Frank Jansky / Getty Images

It was a week steeped in mediocrity for Florida alumni in the NFL. The normally consistent defensive players like Jon Bostic, Janoris Jenkins and Marcus Maye struggled. But amongst the suckage, a couple of Gators quietly pitched their best performances of 2019.

Antonio Callaway (wide receiver, Cleveland Browns) had his best day since returning from a four-game suspension in Week 5. The second-year player caught four passes (five targets) for 56 yards, doubling his total receptions for the year, as the Browns fell to the Denver Broncos, 24-19. Also having a stand-out Sunday was fifth-year player Jaylen Watkins (corner, Los Angeles Chargers). Watkins made four tackles (all solo), including a tackle-for-loss, in his first start of the season. It was just the sixth start of his career, as Los Angeles trounced the Green Bay Packers in a 26-11 victory.

Jarrad Davis (linebacker, Detroit Lions) and Joe Haden (corner, Pittsburgh Steelers) also quietly contributed some nice plays for their respective teams. Davis mustered six tackles (three solo) in a 31-24 loss at the Oakland Raiders, while Haden secured three tackles (all solo) and defended a pass in the Steelers’ 26-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

One player who was expected to have a strong 2019 and hasn’t delivered is Trey Burton (tight end, Chicago Bears). The sixth-year pass catcher was targeted only once in Chicago’s 22-14 loss at the Philadelphia Eagles, its fourth-straight defeat.

The struggles of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense have manifested themselves in Burton, who only has 14 receptions (23 targets), 84 yards and no touchdowns through seven games.

A season ago, the tight end caught six touchdowns, hauled in 71 percent of the passes thrown his way and averaged 10.5 yards per reception and 35.6 yards per game (54 receptions for 569 yards). In 2019, Burton is only catching 60 percent of Trubisky’s passes and averaging just 6 yards per reception and 12 yards per game. From a statistical perspective, Burton is one of the NFL’s most disappointing players in 2019 thus far.

Mark Stine is a contributing writer for Chomp Talk. Follow him on Twitter @mstinejr.

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