Buffalo Bills rookie middle linebacker Kiko Alonso was the 26th defensive player selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. But in the first season of pro football for the 2013 class, he might be the best selection of all.
Alonso was an important figure in the Bills' 23-20 win Sunday over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. He registered five tackles and two interceptions, including a pick late in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory for Buffalo.
The game was just one example of Alonso's work in the first four contests. His stats through one-quarter of the season are outstanding.
Alonso's four interceptions have him tied for the NFL lead with two defensive backs. He has 32 tackles, which leads the team and is tied for 18th in the NFL. And while he only has one sack, it was a big one. He sacked Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton at the end of the game to secure the Bills' first win of the 2013 campaign.
While statistics show Alonso's contribution on defense, one thing you won't find on the stat sheet is the presence he has on the field. The Bills have lacked a strong middle linebacker since the departure of Paul Posluszny, who was a tackling machine. Now they have one who can not only tackle, but make plays and force turnovers.
At this rate, Alonso is a favorite to win the NFL defensive rookie of the year award. As long as he continues to contribute and have an impact on defense, he will remain one of the favorites to win by the end of the season.
Nationally televised game coming up Thursday against Cleveland
One of the great things about the NFL is the change made last season that gives each team one primetime game. It gives fans a chance to see their team play a nationally televised game, which in the past, wasn't always a guarantee.
The Bills' primetime game will be played Thursday night when Buffalo travels to Cleveland for a battle between two 2-2 teams. The game is scheduled to start at 8:25 p.m. on NFL Network.
Reverses an effective way to get wide receivers involved on offense
The Bills used two wide receiver reverses Sunday with great results. T.J. Graham took a pitch from E.J. Manuel and picked up 14 yards. A similar play put the ball in Robert Woods' hands and he picked up 13 yards.
It's not something you want to do a lot -- teams will pick up on it -- but it's a great way to get guys like Graham and Woods involved. It's also a nice change of pace to take some pressure and attention off of running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.