NFL Players That Need To Step It Up In Week 2 | Burning The Bag Ain’t Earning The Bag

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is one of the NFL's high-priced stars who needs to step his game up in Week 2. (Photo: @ezekielelliott/Instagram)

The first week of the NFL season saw some surprisingly brutal losses by “contending” teams like the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers. While Josh Allen played well for the Bills, Aaron Rodgers was downright awful for the Packers. Rodgers joins some other big-name players who need to turn up for their teams in Week 2.

Ezekiel Elliott: Is Anybody Out There?

In Week 1 Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore decided to have Dak Prescott throw the football 58 times in a 31-29 loss to the Buccaneers.

Star running Ezekiel Elliott spent the bulk of his night pass blocking. When Zeke did carry the football, he gained a paltry 33 yards on 11 rush attempts against the league’s best run defense. Things should get easier for Zeke against the Chargers, whose pass rush pales in comparison to the Super Bowl champs. Zeke should be doing plenty of his signature “feed me” gesture after runs come Sunday.

The three-time Pro Bowl player received widespread criticism for his lack of production, but he wasn’t having any of it. He fired back.

The Cowboys will look to control the clock more on offense with both starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence (broken foot) and Randy Gregory (COVID-19 list) out. Running the ball and shortening the game will give the Cowboys a chance, as it keeps Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense on the sidelines.

Aaron Rodgers: He Looks Like He’s Already In Retirement

Watching Aaron Rodgers struggle so mightily against the Saints last weekend in a 38-3 blowout was something we’re not used to seeing. Could it have been lingering effects of an offseason of drama between the reigning MVP and the organization? Maybe the great Rodgers has finally hit the proverbial wall.

Either way he has a lot to prove as his Packers prepare for a “Monday Night Football” matchup against the hapless Detroit Lions. If there’s any week for A-Rod to get on track, it’s this week, as the Lions just surrendered 41 points and 300 yards passing to Jimmy Garoppolo’s San Francisco 49ers team last week.

Xavien Howard: Walk It Like You Talk It

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard is the self-proclaimed best cover corner in the NFL. That belief in himself led to a holdout this offseason. Fast forward to Week 1.

With restructured contract in hand, Howard’s late-game takeaway sealed the victory over the New England Patriots.

While he played well against a group of weak receivers, Howard’s test stiffens in Week 2 with the assignment of covering dynamic receiver Stefon Diggs and the Buffalo Bills’ explosive offense. Locking down one of the NFL’s top receivers could lead to a huge payday for the veteran cornerback.

Lamar Jackson: Signature Game

Lamar Jackson didn’t play poorly in a 33-27 overtime loss to the Raiders on Monday night. You probably couldn’t tell by the criticism he received from some talking heads, but a few costly turnovers ruined an otherwise electric performance.

He’s got to be razor-sharp this week. With Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on deck on “Sunday Night Football,” this becomes a must-win for the Ravens, who can’t afford to fall two games behind the Steelers in the AFC North.

Julio Jones: I’m Just Here So I Don’t Get Fined

The Tennessee Titans traded for All-Pro Julio Jones this summer believing he was the missing piece to a Super Bowl team. Julio adds some juice to the passing game, but he doesn’t play defense or the offensive line, and the Titans are inefficient in both of those areas and it showed.

But let’s not act like Jones played great. The all-time great was a virtual no-show in his Titans debut with just three catches for 29 yards in a 38-13 home blowout loss to the Cardinals. If this is the type of production we can expect going forward, then maybe the Falcons saw Julio’s game diminishing and that’s why they let him go after drafting Kyle Pitts from Florida.

Jones was even called out by his head coach Mike Vrabel after he picked up a personal foul that stymied momentum as the Titans looked to mount a comeback. Look for him to be better this week against the Seahawks’ porous secondary.