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Rookie of the Year watch: Anderson, Hicks out for year

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The football gods struck down two of the NFL's top 10 rookies last week, as Colts defensive end Henry Anderson and Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks were lost for the season with an ACL tear and a torn pectoral, respectively.

Anderson had been the best player on an Indianapolis defensive line that has graduated from pushover status to a respectable 15th in Football Outsiders' metrics.

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Philadelphia's leading tackler, Hicks was enjoying perhaps his finest game -- highlighted by a brilliant 67-yard pick-six -- when he suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' victory at Dallas.

Barring a setback in rehab, both defenders have bright futures in the NFL.

They can look to Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu for inspiration. Mathieu is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate two years after a shredded knee prematurely ended his own promising rookie campaign.

While we've heard the last from Anderson and Hicks this season, there are other rookies still impressing. Here is Around The NFL's latest Rookie of the Year watch for Week 10:

1. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams running back: It's rare to see a running back of any experience level averaging 5.63 yards on 100-plus carries this late in the season. Already enjoying a Pro Bowl-caliber season, Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph should garner All-Pro consideration as the seminal force behind Gurley's pedestrian performance in Week 9.

2. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders wide receiver: We can overlook Cooper's eight dropped passes, which are behind only Mike Evans' 10. The No. 4 overall pick has been a key factor in the Raiders scoring at least 30 points four times -- more than the previous three years combined.

3. Ronald Darby, Buffalo Bills cornerback: The stickiest rookie cover corner added to his case for Defensive Rookie of the Year with a season-high 10 tackles versus the Dolphins in Week 9. He added three more tackles in the Bills' win Thursday to push his season total to 43.

4. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans quarterback: En route to overcoming a 21-10 deficit versus the Saints, Mariota became the first rookie in history to generate two games with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. As impressive as Mariota was, two factors beyond his control also bode well for the stretch run. Interim coach Mike Mularkey adjusted his protections, resulting in zero sacks for Mariota. Talented second-round wideout Dorial Green-Beckham finally led the team in targets, while his snaps increased for the eighth consecutive week. Mariota needs DGB to emerge as a week-in, week-out force outside the numbers.

5. Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills running back: Williams returned to the lineup with a bang, averaging 12.22 yards on nine carries versus the Dolphins. The fifth-round power back beat Jets linebacker Demario Davis for a 26-yard score Thursday night, becoming just the second player in history with touchdowns in each of his first six NFL games.

6. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver: Diggs will have to bulk up next offseason if he's going to become established as a true No. 1 receiver. Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson easily out-muscled him for an interception that could have been a touchdown last week.

7. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback: Winston's completion rate has dropped the past two weeks, but he wasn't sacked versus the Giants and hasn't been intercepted in more than a month. Bucs fans had to love seeing him soar for the pylon with a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter last week.

8. Leonard Williams, New York Jets defensive end: Williams' snaps and impact plays have fallen off since Sheldon Richardson returned to the lineup in Week 5. Darby is pulling away in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race.

9. Stephone Anthony, New Orleans Saints linebacker: Anthony's 64 tackles are the most by any rookie, with rising Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander (59) next on the list.

10. Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys defensive back: Jones' Week 9 performance was a mixed bag. He deflected a potential touchdown pass at the goal line in the second quarter, but the Eagles picked on him with a pair of play-action passes to Jordan Matthews, including the game-winner on which Jones slipped and was left in the dust.

Watch list: Marcus Peters, Damarious Randall, Eric Kendricks, Hau'oli Kikaha, Kwon Alexander. T.J. Yeldon, Vic Beasley, Markus Golden, Duke Johnson, Jamison Crowder, Tyler Lockett, Dorial Green-Beckham, Devin Funchess, Jaquiski Tartt, Jay Ajayi, Jake Ryan, Lorenzo Mauldin

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