<
>

Rookie spotlight: Patriots-Seahawks

The Patriots have benefited from stellar play by their top rookies during the early parts of the 2012 regular season, as well as unlikely performances from lesser-heralded prospects such as running back Brandon Bolden. The first-year players figure to own another important role when they take the field this weekend in Seattle, where they will face the Seahawks, who have also received a strong start from several rookies.

Much of the talk relating to the Seahawks and their rookie class revolves around quarterback Russell Wilson, a third-round pick who usurped Matt Flynn for the starting job. Wilson has had bright moments during his first five games as a pro, but he's not the only Seahawks rookie who is off to an impactful start.

Here's a brief overview of a sampling of rookies from each team, and what they've accomplished thus far in 2012.

PATRIOTS

DEFENSIVE END CHANDLER JONES (SYRACUSE)

Draft status: First round, 21st overall

Quick stats: 18 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FF

Role: Starter

LINEBACKER DONT'A HIGHTOWER (ALABAMA)

Draft status: First round, 25th overall

Quick stats: 17 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR

Role: Starter

SAFETY TAVON WILSON (ILLINOIS)

Draft status: Second round, 48th overall

Quick stats: 21 tackles, 2 INT's, 2 FR

Role: Sub-package safety, core special-teamer (note: Wilson has been a starter at safety in Steve Gregory's recent absence)

RUNNING BACK BRANDON BOLDEN (OLE MISS)

Draft status: Undrafted

Quick stats: 37 carries, 206 yards, 5.6 avg., 2 TDs

Role: Reserve running back, core special teamer (note: his offensive role has flowered over the past two weeks)

Others of note: safety Nate Ebner (sixth round, Ohio State), cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (seventh round, Nebraska)

SEAHAWKS

DEFENSIVE END BRUCE IRVIN (WEST VIRGINIA)

Draft status: First round, 15th overall

Quick stats: 5 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF

Role: Part of a rotation of ends that play heavy snaps

LINEBACKER BOBBY WAGNER (UTAH STATE)

Draft status: Second round, 47th overall

Quick stats: 29 tackles, 1.5 sacks

Role: Starter

QUARTERBACK RUSSELL WILSON (WISCONSIN)

Draft status: Third round, 75th overall

Quick stats: 79/125, 815 yards, 5 TD, 6 INT; 27 carries, 92 yards, 3.4 avg.

Role: Starter

RUNNING BACK ROBERT TURBIN (UTAH STATE)

Draft status: Fourth round, 106th overall

Quick stats: 17 carries, 71 yards, 4.2 avg.

Role: Reserve running back

Others of note: cornerback Jeremy Lane (seventh round, Northwestern State)