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Kiko Alonso, Robert Woods stand out for Buffalo Bills


EJ Manuel gets all the attention, but other Buffalo Bills rookies have been balling through four weeks.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso should be the answer to the question: Who is the leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year?

The 6-foot-3, 238-pound linebacker has 32 tackles and forced a turnover each week so far (five total). His four interceptions over the last three games put him in a tie for the league lead with cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Alterraun Verner.

Alonso intercepted Joe Flacco twice Sunday, including a spectacular diving pick with less than a minute left to clinch the 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

"You see a player that's getting a better feel each week, getting better each week," Bills coach Doug Marrone said, per The Baltimore Sun. "He's playing very well, at a high level."

Fellow rookie Robert Woods was Manuel's No. 1 target against the Ravens, catching four passes for 80 yards, including a big 42-yard touchdown hookup.

It's interesting that Woods has seen the field more than veteran receiver Steve Johnson in recent weeks. Woods played 80 of 84 offensive snaps Sunday, while Johnson saw just 69 plays, per ESPN.

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Woods' versatility in the offense makes him a reliable target for Manuel. The two rookies are creating a chemistry that we might see grow this season and beyond. Woods was arguably the best wide receiver in the Pac-12 before Marqise Lee showed up, so it shouldn't be a big surprise that Woods has been productive early in his rookie year.

The young Bills have displayed some growing pains thus far, but they have a chance to climb above .500 against the Cleveland Browns on "Thursday Night Football."

Looking at the rookies' play and the other young Bills players on the roster, Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley have the wagons circling in Buffalo.

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