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Florida Gators in the NFL: Kadarius Toney hops a flight, Marco Wilson takes one

One electrifying Gator will finally get more chances to make plays as good as the thrilling one another made in prime time.

New Orleans Saints v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

We wait so long with bated breath for the football season to roll along. Then once it’s here, it goes by so fast, you blink and you miss a week. Since we didn’t publish last week’s recap, I’m using a little different format this week - combining weeks 6 and 7 together and forgoing the normal intro and notables section and putting my notes down below specific to each player. Should make it a little easier to read and follow.

But before we get to the normal Player of the Week and Play of the Week and the stats and notes of each player, we have to start with Thursday’s huge trade involving one of the most exciting players in Florida football history.

Kadarius Toney Traded to Kansas City

Kadarius Toney swapping New York City for Chiefs Kingdom seems like a great deal for all parties involved. The Giants’ new regime obviously wanted to move on from the 2021 first-rounder. Toney clearly needs a fresh start after his first season and a half has been derailed by injuries. The Chiefs are searching for playmakers to fill the Tyreek Hill-hole in their offense. Win, win, win.

Ultimately, though, it might be best for Toney — this is practically manna from heaven. He was dying a slow death buried in Brian Daboll’s doghouse. And if Toney was given the power to hand-pick his team, coach, offense, and quarterback, he’d probably choose Kansas City, Andy Reid, and Patrick Mahomes 10 times out of 10. The Chiefs’ offense has looked explosive the past few weeks after a rough start and now they’re adding a dude who is a legit threat to score on every touch?

The Chiefs scheme will put the ball in Toney’s hands in a variety of ways. You will see him lined up in the backfield, in the slot, and wide — and they’ll get the ball to him in motion, in space, and with the best chances of taking advantage of his elite ability to make defenders miss. I think the Chiefs may take a look at Toney in the return game, too, as rookie Skyy Moore has really struggled catching punts.

Toney is still rehabbing both of his hamstrings and the Chiefs have a bye this week, but we could see Toney as soon as week nine on Sunday Night Football against the Titans. Once he gets on the field, it is going to be must-see football — both for those of us who remember just how good he can be and those who will find out shortly.

Player of the Week

Marco Wilson is playing the best football of his young NFL career and it finally paid off last Thursday night. How’s a pick-six for your first career interception?

Opposing quarterbacks are completing 56 percent of their passes when targeting Wilson — last season that figure was 70 percent — and his passer rating allowed is 77.4, down from 120 (!) last year. He has five passes defended already this season, exceeding last season’s total of four. And he’s generally been more of a playmaker, smart enough to break away from his man to make plays like this.

Two weeks ago, he had one of the plays of the day in saving a Tyler Lockett touchdown with a great pass breakup.

Andy can vouch for me: I wrote in that unpublished piece last week about how “he’s been close on interceptions twice in the past few games, so the first career pick should be coming soon.” (He did! — Andy) Give Marco his due — and GIVE ME SOME, TOO!

Play of the Week

It could only be.

I mean can you name five football photos better than this?

Put it in the Louvre.

Here are all of the Week 6 and 7 stats (ranked and tiered in order of performance):

The Good

  • Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, PHI, S

Week 6: 2 INT, 15 return yards, 4 tackles, 2 PD, 51 snaps (76%)

Week 7: Bye

If we had published last week, Gardner-Johnson would have garnered back-to-back player of the week designations. He wasn’t perfect on that Sunday night two weeks ago. His hand got banged up and he missed a few series. He missed a few tackles, too — a persistent problem this year. But two picks, including the game-clincher on an all-out dive with the injured hand saving the ball from the turf, backed up his reputation as a big-game player. In the national spotlight in primetime, Ceedy Duce delivers.

Game ball from the Sunday Night Football crew: Check.

  • Marco Wilson, ARI, CB

Week 6: 6 tackles, 1 PD, 60 snaps (88%)

Week 7: INT, 38 return yards, TD, 3 tackles, 2 PD, 56 snaps (78%)

  • Dameon Pierce, HOU, RB

Week 6: Bye

Week 7: 20 rush, 92 yards, 4 rec, 25 yards, 34 snaps (52%)

A “quiet” week for Pierce, who didn’t score a touchdown for the first time since Week 2 and totaled “only” 117 yards from scrimmage on 24 touches. Probably wasn’t impressive on film, right?

Ho-hum. That run won’t crack the top 20 for Pierce at the end of the year. His season grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF) now sits at 81.7, highest among all offensive rookies. And with four straight games with 100+ total yards now, Pierce is in elite company.

I mean, Kevin Jones? UCF and Lions legend, that guy.

Pierce’s Rookie of the Year candidacy likely got the biggest boost it will get all year this weekend, too, though in an unfortunate way: Breece Hall, who has been excellent for the New York Jets, is now out for the year, leaving Pierce without his biggest competition for the rookie rushing title.

  • Kaiir Elam, BUF, CB

Week 6: 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD, 51 snaps (76%)

Week 7: Bye

Elam had his second interception in as many weeks in Week Six — and it was a thing of beauty against Patrick Mahomes.

The all-22 shows Elam in zone coverage in the flat before reading Mahomes, drifting back, and making the one-handed catch.

In the NFL’s biggest game of the season, Elam set the tone early with that touchdown-saving play, and that certainly helped the Bills knock off the Chiefs in Kansas City. And his family was there to watch and celebrate with him.

  • Kyle Pitts, ATL, TE:

Week 6: 3 rec, 19 yards, TD, 33 snaps (57%)

Week 7: 3 rec, 9 yards, 37 snaps (79%)

Pitts scored a regular season TD on U.S. soil for the first time in Week Six. It had been just over a year since Pitts’ only other TD, in London in 2021 against the Jets.

The relative ease of this score — Pitts split out wide, 1-on-1 with a smaller defensive back, free release on the inside slant ... even with Mariota throwing late, it’s still an easy touchdown — is part of the reason it’s been so frustrating watching Pitts getting iced out in the red zone week after week.

Plus, if we’re getting the Dirty Bird after scores, I think Atlanta is legally required to find him more.

Realistically, though, the Falcons are a run-first team — and one that’s been toting the rock as well as any team in the league this season. So instead of weekly touchdowns, we’re just going to have to celebrate just how good of a blocker Pitts has become. Watch the wipeout downblock from him on the edge here.

As Nate Tice points out, love Pitts crowd surfing at the end of the play too. My NFL Network colleague Brian Baldinger thinks Pitts might have loved that block even more than his touchdown catch.

Pitts is not at 100 percent presently, with a nagging hamstring injury limiting him a bit, and the Falcons want to ground and pound this year, so I’ve resigned myself to not seeing Travis Kelce-style stat lines for Pitts. And, sure enough, Week 7 saw three grabs for a paltry nine yards. But there was another red zone target, with Pitts making a great catch as he was drilled and coming up about a foot short of his second TD in as many weeks.

Going forward, we should see a few more touchdowns but likely not a ton of catches or yards.

  • Alex Anzalone, DET, LB

Week 6: Bye

Week 7: 0.5 sack, 7 tackles, 1 QB hit, 56 snaps (89%)

Of all the NFL players I review each week, Anzalone is the most attacked and disrespected by fans, analytics, and some media. Yet when I watch the tape, I see a guy who — although clearly limited and a liability in certain situations — plays his ass off and generally gets the most out of his abilities.

For example: Tony Pollard is one of the best running backs in football and one of the fastest in space and on the edge, but there’s the underrated Anzalone closing and making the stop.

  • Brandon Powell, LAR, WR

Week 6: 4 rec, 27 yards, 3 rush, 13 yards, 1 PR, 15.0 avg, 25 snaps (38%), 12 ST snaps (46%)

Week 7: Bye

Rams coach Sean McVay said in the preseason they wanted to find a role for Powell beyond just returning kicks, and he’s up to nine catches and seven rushes on the season. Powell’s seven touches in Week Six were the most offensive touches in one game in his NFL career. He was tackled twice on the two-yard line and also almost hauled in an errant pass in the end zone as he seeks his first offensive score since 2020.

  • Dante Fowler, Jr., DAL, OLB

Week 6: 1 sack, 2 tackles, 1 QB hit, 1 TFL, 15 snaps (21%)

Week 7: 2 tackles, 16 snaps (27%)

Fowler is making the most of his limited playing time, both in a good and bad way. He picked up his third sack of the season in week six against Jalen Hurts.

He also jumped offside — just a bit — prior to a crucial fourth and four, giving the Eagles a first down on what would turn into a touchdown drive.

  • Marcus Maye, NO, S

Week 6: 4 tackles, 57 snaps (100%)

Week 7: 5 tackles, 66 snaps (100%)

  • Keanu Neal, TB, S

Week 6: 4 tackles, 64 snaps (100%)

Week 7: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit, 1 PD, 41 snaps (82%)

Neal cracked the starting lineup in Tampa the past two weeks, and has had a few of his trademark big hits near the line of scrimmage. Last Sunday, he was most effective in slowing Pittsburgh’s run game.

  • Carlos Dunlap, KC, DE

Week 6: 1 tackle, 1 PD, 27 snaps (37%)

Week 7: 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD, 46 snaps (58%)

  • Demarcus Robinson, BAL, WR

Week 6: 3 rec, 5 targets, 27 yards, 45 snaps (76%)

Week 7: no stats, 15 snaps (23%)

Robinson had his most catches and targets with the Ravens in Week Six. His playing time was steadily increasing — until this past week, when he played his fewest snaps and didn’t see a single target for the first time this season. Perhaps that was a mistake, especially given routes like this one that Lamar Jackson missed.

  • Tommy Townsend, KC, P

Week 6: 3 punts, 57.7 avg

Week 7: 1 punt, 33.0 avg

Townsend punted only once this past week as the Chiefs offense dominated Sunday in San Francisco. But the week prior, he was bombing away per usual — to the point that the NFL was maybe a little skeptical someone could consistently kick a football that far and that high.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, Townsend is second in punt average and first in net average. He’s having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, even if he isn’t the clear best punter in his division, where the Raiders’ A.J. Cole is the Pro Bowl incumbent and the only punter with a higher net average than Townsend.

  • Evan McPherson, CIN, K

Week 6: 1/1 FG, Long 52, 3/3 XP

Week 7: 5/5 XP

You know, the Bengals’ offensive revival might hurt Evan’s chances of scoring records. Maybe consider settling, guys.

  • Jawaan Taylor, JAX, RT

Week 6: 63 snaps (100%)

Week 7: 71 snaps (100%)

  • D.J. Humphries, ARI, LT

Week 6: 71 snaps (100%)

Week 7: 62 snaps (94%)

  • Zach Carter, CIN, DT

Week 6: 2 tackles, 30 snaps (42%), 6 ST snaps (21%)

Week 7: 5 tackles, 34 snaps (72%)

Carter has started the last four games for the Bengals and is getting better every week. He had a career-high five tackles against Atlanta this past week.

  • Eddy Pineiro, CAR, K

Week 6: 1/1 FG, Long 42, 1/1 XP

Week 7: 3/3 XP

  • C.J. Henderson, CAR, CB

Week 6: 5 tackles, 44 snaps (68%)

Week 7: 4 tackles, 33 snaps (49%)

Henderson has started the past two weeks for the Panthers and has been banged up in both. But the highlight of his season so far was this fourth down stop of Leonard Fournette.

  • Taven Bryan, CLE, DT

Week 6: 1 tackle, 45 snaps (64%), 6 ST snaps (21%)

Week 7: 1 sack, 1 tackle, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit, 54 snaps (84%), 8 ST snaps (30%)

Bryan recorded his first sack as a Cleveland Brown.

  • Trent Brown, NE, RT

Week 6: 70 snaps (100%)

Week 7: 52 snaps (100%)

Monday night was not a good one for Brown. He committed four penalties and the Patriots were blown out by the Bears, struggling to get their running game going all night.

Even the good ones like Brown have bad nights. And even on those bad nights, the good ones like Brown do things that former pros see and marvel at.

  • Max Garcia, ARI, G

Week 6: 49 snaps (69%)

Week 7: 13 snaps (20%), left with shoulder injury

The Limited

  • T.J. Slaton, GB, DT

Week 6: 1 tackle, 20 snaps (36%), 9 ST snaps (31%)

Week 7: 3 tackles, 24 snaps (32%), 9 ST snaps (31%)

  • Jonathan Bullard, MIN, DT

Week 6: 1 tackle, 1 QB hit, 28 snaps (36%)

Week 7: Bye

  • Tyrie Cleveland, DEN, WR

Week 6: 1 tackle, 20 ST snaps (67%)

Week 7: no stats, 19 ST snaps (68%)

  • Marcell Harris, NYJ, LB/S

Week 6: 1 tackle, 20 ST snaps (69%)

Week 7: no stats, 9 snaps (11%), 16 ST snaps (57%)

  • Feleipe Franks, ATL, TE

Week 6: 6 ST snaps (27%)

Week 7: 1 tackle, 1 snap (2%), 11 ST snaps (44%)

  • Jon Bostic, WAS, LB

Week 6: 17 ST snaps (85%)

Week 7: 16 ST snaps (55%)

  • Malik Davis, DAL, RB

Week 6: 15 ST snaps (63%)

Week 7: 16 ST snaps (73%)

Davis became the fourth former Gator to make his NFL debut this season. He’s played on special teams the past two weeks after the Cowboys elevated him from the practice squad. Players can only be elevated from the practice squad twice before they must be signed to the active roster, so Davis will now have to wait for injuries in the Dallas backfield before getting another opportunity.

  • Quincy Wilson, PIT, DB

Week 6: 11 snaps (15%), 5 ST snaps (18%)

Week 7: Practice Squad

Wilson was activated from Pittsburgh’s practice squad and saw his first regular season action in two years during Week Six. He didn’t record a tackle in limited snaps, but just getting back — and at the same time as his little brother’s breakout week — had to feel good for the corner. He was returned to the practice squad this past week.

  • Fred Johnson, TB, G/T

Week 6: 1 snap (1%), 4 ST snaps (14%)

Week 7: Inactive

  • Stone Forsythe, SEA, T

Week 6: 5 ST snaps (19%)

Week 7: 7 ST snaps (24%)

The Inactive

  • Kadarius Toney, NYG, WR: Inactive (Hamstring)
  • Teez Tabor, SEA, S: Inactive
  • Kyle Trask, TB, QB: Inactive
  • Jonathan Greenard, HOU, DE: Injured Reserve (Calf)
  • Van Jefferson, LAR, WR: Injured Reserve (Knee)

Jefferson was designated to return from injured reserve on Monday. That doesn’t mean he’ll make his season debut this weekend, but at least he’s trending in the right direction since undergoing knee surgery in August.

The Practice Squad

  • Freddie Swain, MIA, WR
  • La’Mical Perine, MIA, RB

Perine is back, signing with the Dolphins practice squad last week. Perine played two seasons with the Jets before being released this summer. He hooked on with the Eagles practice squad but they released him earlier this season. In Miami, he’s way down the depth chart, but if injuries strike, he could make his way up to the active roster at some point.

  • Quincy Wilson, PIT, DB
  • Duke Dawson, PIT, DB

Dawson was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad last week. The corner played well in the preseason with Carolina, but a late camp injury sealed his fate. He’s healthy now and one step closer to returning to regular season action for the first time since 2020.

  • Jarrad Davis, DET, LB
  • Jeff Driskel, HOU, QB
  • David Sharpe, BAL, T
  • Jeremiah Moon, BAL, LB
  • Jabari Zuniga, NO, DE