USC to NFL: Cushing Earning His Contract

Bob Levey

Brian Cushing continues to have a great start to the season and Jordan Cameron had another strong game. See how all the USC alums did in the opening NFL weekend.

Studs:

Jordan Cameron (Cleveland) - Brandon Weeden has his favorite target in #84. Jordan Cameron was targeted seven times, grabbing five balls for 95 yards, including a big 53-yard reception on Cleveland's first offensive play setting up a short field goal to give the Browns an early lead. He is averaging over 100 yards per game through the first two weeks.

Brian Cushing (HOU) - Three weeks ago, Brian Cushing signed a six-year, $52.6 million contract extension.

"I put a lot of training in to be better than I ever was before," he said. "I feel like I am. I appreciate (football) more than I ever have before. I appreciate being back. It’s so much fun being back out there. I had to through almost a whole season of just watching. Now, I want to be an impact player on every play." -- Houston Chronicle

In his first two games since the contract signing and first two games back after missing nearly all of 2012 with a torn ACL, Cushing has been phenomenal. Last week on Monday Night Football, he had his first career interception return for a touchdown. He followed that up with a career-high 11 tackles, four of them behind the line of scrimmage, including a career-high two sacks.

Malcolm Smith (Seattle) - Malcolm Smith earned a role in the Seahawks starting lineup before the season. In last night's dominant victory over rival San Francisco, Seattle's defense was nearly flawless. Smith recorded three tackles and while he wasn't technically credited for a safety, he created a safety by forcing 49ers fullback Bruce Miller into a holding call in the end zone.

Terrell Thomas (New York Giants) - After not playing for 980 days, missing the last two seasons with two ACL tears (and having his third ACL reconstruction), Terrell Thomas has been one of the Giants best defenders through two weeks. He had seven tackles and a pass deflection in Week 1 and added another five tackles along with a pass deflection in the Giants loss to Denver.

Robert Woods (Buffalo) - Robert Woods was only targeted twice in Week 1, but his only catch was a touchdown. He played a bigger role in the offense this week, being targeted six times. Woody pulled in four receptions for 68 yards, his longest going for 28 yards. He also was given a rush attempt that went for three yards, but his biggest play in Buffalo's one-point win was a two-point conversion catch to tie the game in the third quarter. (The two-point conversion was the same playcall as Buffalo's game-winning touchdown with two seconds remaining.)

Others of Note:

Sam Baker (ATL) - 0 penalties, 1 sack allowed for -7 yards
Charles Brown (NO) - 0 penalties, 1 sack allowed for -11 yards
Jeff Byers (CAR) - 0 penalties, 0 sacks allowed (Played sparingly as a reserve.)
Reggie Bush (DET) - 9 carries, 25 yards; 3 catches, 44 yards, fumble, (Bush was injured on a 26-yard catch and run in the second quarter when he took a helmet to the knee. He came back into the game for two plays in the third quarter, but fumbled on the second play and did not return saying he felt he couldn't explode on the injured leg. Without Bush, Detroit's offense sputtered in the second half.)
Jurrell Casey (TEN) - 3 tackles, pass deflected
Fred Davis (WAS) - 2 targets, 1 catch, 3 yards (Davis only has three catches in two games for 0-2 Washington.)
Stanley Havili (IND) - 2 targets, 2 catches, 12 yards
Matt Kalil (MIN) - 1 false start, 0.5 sacks allowed for -1.5 yards (Adrian Peterson ran for 100 yards, but the Vikings defense couldn't hold a late lead.)
Ryan Kalil (CAR) - 0 penalties, 0 sacks allowed (The Panthers allowed six sacks, but 4.5 of those were off the edge by Mario Wiliams. Not much a center can do about that.)
Kaluka Maiava (OAK) - 2 tackles
Clay Matthews (GB) - 3 tackles, 1 stuff (Matthews didn't put up big numbers, but the Packers defense kept RGIII and Washington in check all day.
T.J. McDonald (STL) - 3 tackles
Mike Patterson (NYG) - 2 tackles
Carson Palmer (ARI) - 22-of-39, 248 yards, TD, INT for TD, sacked once (Losing one of the game's top receivers early is never going to help your offensive attack, but Palmer was able to lead the Cardinals to a victory despite having Larry Fitzgerald exit due to injury. He was only 3-of-8 in the fourth quarter, but got a pass interference in the end zone to set up the game-winning touchdown late.)
Nick Perry (GB) - 3 tackles, pass deflection
Nickell Robey (BUF) - 2 tackles, pass deflection
Tyron Smith (NYG) - 0 penalties, 0 sacks allowed
Shareece Wright (SD) - 5 tackles (Former Cal wideout Desean Jackson got the best of Wright several times, including burning him for a 61-yard touchdown, but Wright drew a big personal foul on Jackson that helped lead to good field position for San Diego setting up its game-winning field goal with seven seconds remaining. Wright also tied for the team-high in tackles.)

No Impact:

Rhett Ellison (MIN), Everson Griffen (MIN), Fili Moala (IND), Mike Morgan (SEA), Keith Rivers (NYG), Frostee Rucker (ARI)

DNP:

David Ausberry (OAK), Matt Barkley (PHI), Allen Bradford (NYG), Matt Cassell (MIN), Khaled Holmes (IND), Wes Horton (CAR), Damian Williams (TEN)

Still to play:

Rey Maualuga (CIN), Taylor Mays (CIN), Troy Polamalu (PIT)

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