There are only two undefeated teams remaining after AAF Week 3 concluded Sunday night in San Diego as the Fleet hosted the Commanders on NFL Network.
The third weekend of AAF action saw perhaps the end of one quarterback’s career while heralding a big second chance for the passer who replaced him. Running backs showed out well, and one particular cornerback had a huge game in a winning cause.
These were the standout performers from AAF Week 3.
Rashad Ross, wide receiver, Arizona Hotshots
Arizona lost to Salt Lake in Week 3, but none of the blame for the loss falls on the shoulders of Rashad Ross.
The 29-year-old longtime practice-squad player in the NFL is making a name for himself in the AAF thanks to catches like the one you’re about to see, which resulted in a touchdown against the Stallions.
.@RocketRoss_19 is at it again, his 4th TD of the season!@aafhotshots | #AZvsSL pic.twitter.com/ltIUlf6gEU
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) February 23, 2019
All told, Ross hauled in six of the eight passes thrown his way, going for 51 yards and the only touchdown of the game for the Hotshots.
Zach Mettenberger, quarterback, Memphis Express
Christian Hackenberg’s nightmare AAF career might just be over after he threw two interceptions against Orlando Saturday. However, head coach Mike Singletary and the Express may have discovered something to build on going forward in Zach Mettenberger.
The one-time NFL starter came into the game to relieve Hackenberg and shined. Completing 8-of-14 passes for 88 yards, Mettenberger threw two second-half touchdowns.
De’Mornay Pierson-El, wide receiver, Salt Lake Stallions
Pierson-El’s Week 3 performance was either a sign of things to come or a freakishly good outing. The 23-year-old former Nebraska star caught all eight of the passes that came his way against Arizona for a total of 90 yards.
Pierson-El also caught the only touchdown of the game thrown by Josh Woodrum — a sweet 25-yard score in which he did much of the work after the catch.
An undrafted free agent last spring, Pierson-El never got a chance to prove his worth at the NFL level, getting cut soon after he was signed by Washington last May. He might just be opening some eyes now.
D’Ernest Johnson, running back, Orlando Apollos
D’Ernest Johnson has gradually earned the opportunity to become Orlando’s starter this season, culminating with a 16-touch effort on Saturday against Memphis. He turned those 16 touches into 97 yards and a touchdown.
The game MVP has to be D'Ernest Johnson with 13 carries for 79 yards and one touchdown, averaging 6.07 yards per carry. The guy has proven to be the starter for the rest of the season.@MichaelWaddell_ @aafAPOLLOS #aaf #orlvsmem #memvsorl #takeaim #jointhealliance pic.twitter.com/HlXDt4MutV
— Apollo News (@NewsApollos) February 24, 2019
The AAF is all about helping young and/or inexperienced players get some much-needed reps and exposure. Safe to say, Johnson is taking full advantage of his chance with Orlando.
Jamar Summers, cornerback, Birmingham Iron
This undrafted NFL free agent out of Connecticut last year has done some pretty special stuff through three weeks playing for Birmingham in the AAF.
Pretty much doubling up on a stellar Week 1 performance that saw him tally three passes defensed and an interception, Summers got his hands on five passes Sunday, one of which he hauled in for an interception. He was one of many stellar defenders for Birmingham against Atlanta as the Iron forced four turnovers.
Trent Richardson, running back, Birmingham Iron
Former No. 3 overall NFL draft pick Trent Richardson may not be the most dynamic runner in the AAF. He’s only averaging 2.46 yards per carry through three games — a stat that surprises absolutely nobody who ever watched him at the NFL level.
However, Richardson has been consistently good about doing one thing: He’s scoring touchdowns and had three on the ground Sunday against Atlanta.
Tr3nt Richardson pic.twitter.com/XqVeNgRgch
— Arif Hasan, solstice-liker ❄️ (@ArifHasanNFL) February 24, 2019
With his three scores in Week 3, Richardson has now found his way into the end zone six times this season and has scored twice on two-point conversions.
Ja’Quan Gardner, running back, San Diego Fleet
For the second week in a row, Ja’Quan Gardner makes this list with ease.
Following up a 104-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 2, Gardner romped once more on Sunday night against San Antonio. The passing game was going good early, so his chances were slim. But in the third quarter Gardner busted out with the longest run in AAF history so far (watch here).
All told, the 5-foot-7 dynamo racked up 121 rushing yards and the touchdowns on just 12 runs, helping the Fleet blow out the Commanders, 31-11.