Studs, duds from Saturday’s XFL Week 3 action

Jesse Reed
P.J. Walker, XFL, NFL
Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Roughnecks and Dallas Renegades emerged victorious Saturday as star players shined during the XFL Week 3 action. On the other side of the coin, the Tampa Bay Vipers are still without a win, and the Seattle Dragons fell to 1-2 thanks to some poor execution on offense.

We’re starting to see some players taking big steps toward becoming bona fide superstars in this burgeoning league. Meanwhile, others who have been expected to shine have taken a back seat.

These are the biggest studs and duds from Saturday’s XFL Week 3 action.

Stud: P.J. Walker is a legit MVP candidate

No offense intended to Cardale Jones, but he’s not the MVP favorite right now. That honor goes to Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker, who continues to electrify the masses with insane highlights on a weekly basis.

A dual-threat passer, Walker has made a ton of big plays with his legs, and on Saturday he rushed for 34 yards and that touchdown on just four carries.

But it’s his arm that has everyone talking. He passed for 306 yards and three touchdowns without a pick against the Vipers, and his 84-yard touchdown strike while getting plastered was the highlight of the season so far in the XFL.

Dud: Taylor Cornelius continued to struggle

We talked about this last week. The Tampa Bay Vipers have the worst quarterback situation in the XFL right now, which is saying something. On Saturday, Taylor Cornelius continued to hold the offense back.

The former Oklahoma State star completed just 16-of-31 passes against Houston for 193 yards with one touchdown. He also threw a back-breaking interception in the fourth quarter that doomed the Vipers to yet another week of misery as the worst team in the league.

To this point, Quinton Flowers seems to be the best option for Tampa Bay. But he hasn’t been given the chance to run the offense for more than small stretches at a time. Given the dire situation, the Vipers should see what he can do next week.

Stud: Cam Phillips is absolutely ridiculous

Coming into XFL Week 3, Roughnecks receiver Cam Phillips was emerging as one of the most productive pass catchers in the league. He caught 12 passes for 130 yards and four touchdowns (leading the XFL) in his first two games.

Then, he exploded against the Vipers Saturday.

All told, Phillips hauled in eight of the 10 passes that came his way, going off to the tune of 194 yards and three touchdowns. This kid has the skills to pay the bills, folks, and you’ll be seeing him later this summer on an NFL roster.

Dud: Sammie Coates’ disappearing act

When the XFL started up again earlier this month, one of the more recognizable players on a roster was former NFL deep threat Sammie Coates, who had a pretty nice 2016 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Coates caught just two of nine targets in the season opener against the Los Angeles Wildcats, then caught just one of four targets for eight yards in Week 2. On Saturday, he was once again an afterthought, catching just one of three targets for 11 yards. This doesn’t bode well for a potential return trip back to the NFL after this XFL season.

Stud: Donald Parham wows with big plays

If you’ve never heard the name Donald Parham before, we can’t blame you. An undrafted rookie out of a small FCS school (Stetson), he didn’t make it in the NFL last season, getting cut from Detroit and Washington’s rosters. Now he’s getting a chance to show what he can do in the XFL, and on Saturday he put on an eye-opening performance.

Last weekend, Parham put up up a five-catch, 76-yard performance punctuated by a touchdown. Against Seattle on in Week 3, he led both teams with 101 receiving yards and two scores on five receptions. His second touchdown was stunning, as the 6-foot-8 tight end romped 65 yards to the house to put the game away.

Dud: Landry Jones’ turnover problems continue

The Dallas Renegades have a team that could potentially challenge DC and Houston for the XFL title in 2020. But if starting quarterback Landry Jones continues to be careless with the football, that potential will be wasted.

Jones missed Week 1 with a foot injury. He started last weekend and put up a ton of yardage, but he also threw two brutal interceptions. On Saturday, he threw two more and lost a fumble on a sack.

These turnovers are killers, and against better teams the consequences will be dire.

Stud: Steven Johnson was everywhere

Seattle linebacker Steven Johnson spearheaded an incredible overall effort from the Dragons’ defense, which didn’t get much support from its offense in a losing cause.

The 31-year-old showed he still has a passion for the game with an inspirational performance. He racked up 14 total tackles, including nine solo and two for a loss, and broke up a pass in coverage. His defense also gave the Renegades all they could handle from start to finish, and if the Seattle offense had any juice at all the Dragons would have won.