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Best performances from NFL rookies in Week 10: Christian Watson shines for the Packers

Vincent Frank

Some big-name NFL rookies starred during the Week 10 slate, including multiple running backs who have performed at a high level throughout the season.

Aidan Hutchinson continued to do his thing for a suddenly streaking Detroit Lions squad. Meanwhile, a certain Green Bay Packers youngster played a huge role in their upset win over the Dallas Cowboys.

These are among the five NFL rookies who shined the most during Week 10’s action.

Related: Top NFL rookies on each side of the ball

George Pickens, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

nfl rookies: george pickens, pittsburgh steelers
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh’s decision to trade Chase Claypool has put this second-round pick out of Georgia under a microscope. Catching passes from fellow rookie Kenny Pickett didn’t net much in the lead up to Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. Heck, Pickens caught just three passes for 32 yards.

With that said, he did make a game-changing play to open things up in the first quarter — scoring a touchdown on the ground to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead.

It might not be sexy, but the result helped Pittsburgh win just its third game on the season. The team will want more from this receiver moving forward as it attempts to get a look at rookies and youngsters throughout the remainder of what will end up being a non-playoff campaign.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL power rankings

Rachaad White, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

nfl rookies: rachaad white
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As it relates to NFL rookies and the running back position, White had not received a ton of play heading into Sunday’s outing in Germany. The Bucs entered Week 10 ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing while forcing 45-year-old quarterback Tom Brady to throw the ball too much.

This changed during Tampa Bay’s win over the Seattle Seahawks with White taking over primary ball-carrier duties from Leonard Fournette. The third-round pick from Arizona State put up 105 yards on 22 attempts, providing the Bucs with the necessary balance to overcome recent struggles.

We can expect White to continue seeing a bulk of the rush attempts with Fournette struggling to do much in the backfield. In turn, the hope is that he continues to provide Brady with the balance to succeed moving forward.

Related: Ranking NFL defenses

Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Detroit Lions

nfl rookies: aidan hutchinson
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Hutchinson entered Week 10’s outing against the Chicago Bears leading NFL rookies in tackles for loss, QB hits, QB pressures and sacks. It was just last week that he picked off his first pass as a pro, accomplishing the feat against Aaron Rodgers in a huge Lions win.

Hutchinson was back up to his old tricks on Sunday as Detroit won its second consecutive game. The former Michigan star recorded eight tackles, one sack, a QB hit and two tackles for loss in the victory. After some initial struggles this season, Aidan Hutchinson has proven to be more consistent. This is a big deal for a Lions squad that’s turning things around in a huge way.

Related: Best performances from NFL rookies in Week 9

Christian Watson, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

nfl rookies week 10: christian watson
MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK

Look at this. Watson had been under fire throughout the early portion of his first season with the Packers. Heck, even Aaron Rodgers called him out ahead of the start of the regular season. With Green Bay in desperate need of a win amid a five-game losing streak, the former North Dakota State star picked the best time to shine.

Watson caught four passes for 107 yards, including a whopping three touchdowns, in the Packers’ surprising 31-28 win. That included a 58-yard score to open the Packers’ scoring in the first quarter. Watson then broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown to give Green Bay a fighting chance early in the fourth quarter.

It goes without saying that Rodgers has struggled connecting with his young receivers this season. Watson had not lived up to expectations through the first nine weeks. That changed big time on Sunday with the Packers pulling off a huge win to pretty much save their season.

Related: Best performances from NFL rookies in Week 8

Dameon Pierce, running back, Houston Texans

nfl rookies: dameon pierce
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Houston’s league-worst 1-7-1 record, this first-year player from Florida continues to dominate for his team. Pierce entered Sunday’s outing against the New York Giants on pace for north of 1,400 rushing yards. He added to that total with another 94 yards on 17 attempts in going up against a pretty darn good defense.

The Texans are going nowhere fast. They’ll likely move off Davis Mills for a young quarterback next season. But at least the team has a building block in Pierce, one of the top NFL rookies this season.