Linebacker Nick Barnett of the Green Bay Packers and running back Domanick Davis of the Houston Texans are the NFL Defensive and Offensive Rookies of the Month for October, the NFL announced Thursday.
Barnett, the Packers' top selection and first linebacker chosen in the 2003 NFL Draft (No. 29), earned defensive honors and has played a vital role on the Green Bay defense throughout the season.
In three October games, the former Oregon State star totaled 31 tackles, one sack and one pass defensed and was the only Packer to take part in all 203 defensive snaps during the month.
Barnett posted 11 tackles in a 35-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks on October 5, notching his second sack of the season. He totaled 14 tackles on October 12 against Kansas City and closed the month with six versus St. Louis on October 19.
"Nick has been a very consistent player for us and he will continue to improve," says Packers head coach Mike Sherman. "I'm not surprised at how he's played so far and he's pretty much everything that I thought he would be. Not only is he a good athlete, he also has a great work ethic and a passion for the game."
Barnett, who has worked as a deejay and owns an album collection nearing 1,000, is the first Oregon State product to be drafted in the first round since quarterback Terry Baker was chosen first overall by the Los Angeles Rams in 1963.
Barnett leads the Packers with 73 tackles, his two interceptions tie for most among NFC rookies (Ricky Manning, Car) and his two sacks rank second (Kevin Williams, Min).
Selected in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft (No. 101), the 5-9, 216-pound Davis has been an integral part of the AFC's No. 4-ranked offense (337.0 yards per game).
In three October games, the Lafayette, La. native led all NFL rookies in both rushing yards (297) and receptions (23). The 22-year-old LSU product gained his 297 rushing yards on 59 carries for a 5.0 average and caught at least seven passes in each of Houston's three October games.
Davis recorded the club's first-ever 100-yard rushing game with 129 yards against the Jets (10/19). The next week at Indianapolis (10/26), he produced a 109-yard performance to become the NFL's first rookie to rush for 100 yards in each of his first two starts since Denver's Mike Anderson in 2000.
If Davis rushes for 100 yards at home this Sunday against Carolina, he will become the first NFL rookie to gain at least 100 rushing yards in his first three career starts.
"We've been impressed with him since day one," says Texans head coach Dom Capers. "Domanick has been impressive in the classroom and in the weight room. He's a mature guy and he understands how important preparation is. His production on the field earned him the starting job. Well done is a lot better than well said in this business."
"Winning this award is a dream come true," says Davis, who off the football field is an outstanding artist. "The offensive line has done a great job blocking up front and the receivers have done a great job blocking downfield for me. I'm giving all of the credit to them first. I'm happy to make the most of my opportunities."
Other nominees for the October NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month:
- Rams running back Arlen Harris (free agent, Virginia), who rushed for 189 yards and four touchdowns and added seven receptions for 43 yards. Harris' four touchdowns are the most in the NFL among rookies.
- Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich (first-round, Marshall), who in his first four starts has passed for 981 yards, only 53 shy of Vinny Testaverde (1,034), who produced the most passing yards by a rookie in that span with Tampa Bay in 1987. Leftwich has accounted for a touchdown (rush or pass) in all six of his games.
- Philadelphia tight end L. J. Smith (second-round, Rutgers), who posted eight receptions for 101 yards receiving. Smith was the team leader in receiving yards in all three Eagles victories in October.
- Pittsburgh kick returner Ike Taylor (fourth-round, Louisiana-Lafayette), who returned 10 kickoffs for 269 yards (26.9 avg.), including returns of 42, 43 and 53 yards.
Other nominees for the October NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month:
- Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (second-round, Hawaii), who totaled 19 tackles and one forced fumble.
2003 NFL ROOKIES OF THE MONTH
Offense: WR Anquan Boldin, Arizona (Florida State)
Defense: LB Terrell Suggs, Baltimore (Arizona State)
Offense: RB Domanick Davis, Houston (LSU)
Defense: LB Nick Barnett, Green Bay (Oregon State)