Chargers second-round pick cornerback Asante Samuel jr. was voted the Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Week. It was for his performance on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. He had a big showing on national television.
This was a fan voting system, so they had to vote using the hashtag PepsiROW + the player's name. He received 47% of the voting for the week.
"It's definitely a blessing," Samuel said. "I want to thank my family, my friends, my fans for the Bolt nation, helping me get to where I am at."
This award was won by quarterback Justin Herbert nine times last season, which was tied for the most. Samuel is one of four Bolts defenders to win the award Shawne Merriman (2005 week 11), Jatavis Brown (2016 week six), and Joey Bosa (2016 week seven) being the other three.
Numerous plays from Sunday stood out. One was on the opening drive by the Cowboys, quarterback Dak Prescott throws to receiver Amari Cooper in the end zone, but Samuel was all over him and even put his hand through Cooper's arm to knock it down.
He was going up against the best and didn't blink.
"I try to keep the same mindset with any receiver," Samuel explained. "Whether it's a third-string receiver or Amari Cooper or the best receiver in the league, I am going to bring the same approach and preparation each week. So, it’s kind of didn't really mean nothing to me."
Later in the first, he is defending Cooper again but had his eyes looking back at Prescott. The Cowboys quarterback seemed to have miscommunication with receiver CeeDee Lamb and floated one into the waiting arms of Samuel.
The fact that he was alert and kept his eyes on both the quarterback and the receiver helped him make the play.
"I was on top of Amari Cooper, and he tried to do a double move on me," Samuel said. "I stayed on top of it, and I saw the ball come, and my instincts took over."
So, what did he do with his very first football?
"I lost it on their sideline," said a smiling Samuel.
In the video, Samuel drops the ball when he goes out of bounds around the Cowboys sideline.
"I kind of blacked out when I caught the pick," Samuel said.
It hasn't been all perfect for the Florida State product in the first two weeks. He gave up a 35-yard pass interference call against Washington. Last Sunday, Lamb hit him with a triple head fake and caught a 14-yard sideline reception. He is learning.
"We really like coaching the guy," Staley said. "He's got real toughness, real instincts. He's going to have to continue improving his game because the type of passing game that you have to see in the NFL is fierce, and the type of people he's going to have to tackle is fierce. He's the type of competitor, though, that we really like coaching."
The rookie cornerback will have a bigger task this weekend because he will cover either Tyreek Hill or Mecole Hardman. They are one of the fastest duos in the NFL.
He has been challenged these first two weeks, but Sunday could be a different beast.
"I'm a rookie," Samuel stated. "I know I'm going to get tested. To see if I'm supposed to belong here, but I honestly think I'm supposed to be here. So, it's kind of like I just proved to the world and not myself."
Samuel mentioned that he has been watching Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes for years. He feels like he is a great quarterback. The rookie corner has stated numerous times that he wants to face the best of the best.
That is what he will get Sunday. A chance to face one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
"I'll be excited to compete against him this week, and I'm just thankful for the opportunity," Samuel said.
Nuts N’ Bolts
· Chargers injury report, Didn’t practice: Joey Bosa (foot/ankle), Chris Harris Jr. (shoulder), Justin Jones (calf). Full: Austin Ekeler (ankle), Matt Feiler (ankle), Derwin James (toe), Kenneth Murray (ankle).