Youth movement: Cooper, Diggs, Evans touch greatness

In case you hadn't heard, the NFL is a passing league, people. Wide receivers have more leeway than ever in matchups with cornerbacks and quarterbacks are smothered in bubble-wrap weekly. While some fans choose to live in the past and fondly recall the days when "Football was football and not whatever this two-hand touch pansy nonsense is", we at the league choose to look toward the future, toward what's next. So it's no surprise that the greatest road performances of Week 7 came from young wide receivers, making the most of the space that was -- and wasn't -- given to them.

Greatness on the Road winner...

Amari Cooper


The presumptive Offensive Rookie of the Year added more highlights to his resume Sunday with a dominant performance at the way-too-friendly confines at Qualcomm Stadium. Surrounded by invading Raider fans, Cooper gave them something to cheer about with two remarkable plays that highlighted his five-catch, 133-yard day.

Late in the second quarter, Cooper streaked downfield and came down with a 45-yard Derek Carr bomb, boxing out and outleaping safety Jimmy Wilson to put the Raiders in scoring position. On the play, Cooper looked every bit the deep threat that late Raiders owner Al Davis always wanted -- and thought Darrius Heyward-Bey could be.

But the rookie from Alabama outdid himself just a few minutes later. With just over a minute to go in the half, Cooper took a bubble screen pass from the same line of scrimmage as the previous highlight, broke two tackles, scampered into the red zone and then unleashed one of the nastiest jukes of the season -- heck, of the millennium. Cooper planted his right foot deep in the Jack Murphy turf and sent Wilson -- the same safety -- flying into one of his own defenders, killing two birds with one deke. Cooper burned through the rest of the secondary and took it to the house, putting the Raiders up 30-3, a lead even the Oakland defense couldn't relinquish.

Runners up

Stefon Diggs

Can you Diggs it? You better because the Vikings wide receiver won't wait for you to get to know him. The 2015 fifth-rounder out of Maryland has burst onto to the scene in recent weeks and announced himself to the world with an absurd outstretched go-ahead touchdown pass in the Vikings' 28-19 win in Detroit. Merely a bench warmer for Charles Johnson to start the season, Diggs has earned his spot alongside Mike Wallace and Kyle Rudolph with two back-to-back 100-yard receiving games -- he caught six balls for 108 yards and that touchdown, which happened to be his first career TD snag, on Sunday. In three career games, he's averaging 108 yards and 17.1 yards per catch for the 4-2 Vikings, and is easily the team's breakout star of the first half.

Mike Evans


Yeah, the Buccaneers lost a heartbreaker to the Redskins. Yeah, the team blew a 24-point lead in the first half. Yeah, losers shouldn't be honored with "great" connotations. But when you put up 164 yards receiving with a rookie quarterback and bully an entire secondary for the whole 60 minutes, you get cut some slack. Evans was as good as previously advertised against Washington on Sunday after a slow, hampered start to the season. His strong touchdown catch early in the game -- Evans' first of the season -- set the tone for the Bucs' offense and announced a return to his dominant rookie form.

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