Tight end HEATH MILLER of the Pittsburgh Steelers and linebacker DE MARCUS WARE of the Dallas Cowboys are the NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Month for October, the NFL announced Thursday.
OFFENSE: TE HEATH MILLER, PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Pittsburgh's first-round pick HEATH MILLER from Virginia (No. 30 overall) caught 17 passes from his tight end position for 184 yards (10.8 avg.) and five TDs during the month and caught a season-high two TDs in the Steelers' 20-19 Monday Night win against Baltimore in Week 8. Miller leads all Steelers with six touchdowns, already accounting for the most in a season by a Steelers tight end since MARK BRUENER recorded six in 1997. Miller's six TD catches are tied for the most by an AFC tight end, helping Pittsburgh go 3-1 (.750) in the month. His 36 points lead all rookie non-kickers on the year. Miller has an active streak of four consecutive games (all in October) with a TD reception, tying the team record for tight ends set by ERIC GREEN in 1991. Miller is only the third rookie tight end in NFL history to catch six TD passes in his first seven games, joining RAYMOND CHESTER (Oakland Raiders, 1970) and Green (Steelers, 1990). Miller led the Steelers with six receptions for 58 yards and a TD in Week 7 at Cincinnati. He has started six of the Steelers' seven games this season.
Miller is the second Steelers player to earn NFL Rookie of the Month honors in the past two Octobers as quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER earned the award in October 2004.
DEFENSE: LB DE MARCUS WARE, DALLAS COWBOYS
A starter in each of the first eight games of his career, DE MARCUS WARE, a first-round draft pick from Troy (No. 11 overall), has made an immediate impact. Ware has been an integral part of a Cowboys defense that is ranked fifth in the league, surrendering 282.6 yards per game. A college defensive end, Ware has made the transition to linebacker in the NFL and totaled 16 tackles, 3.0 sacks and seven quarterback pressures in October, helping Dallas to a 3-2 record in the month. His exploits came against some of the league's toughest offenses. In a 33-10 win against Philadelphia on October 9, Ware had a sack and helped limit the NFL's top-ranked offense entering the game to 129 total yards. Then the following week, Ware added another sack and four tackles as the New York Giants fell to the Cowboys 16-13 in overtime, with Dallas' defense limiting New York's then-ninth-ranked offense to its lowest point total of the season. For the month, the Cowboys' defense allowed four touchdowns in five games.
Ware is the second Cowboy defender to win NFL Rookie of the Month honors since the award was instituted in 1996, joining DEXTER COAKLEY, the October 1997 winner.
2005 NFL ROOKIES OF THE MONTH
RB Carnell Williams, Tampa Bay (Auburn)
LB Odell Thurman, Cincinnati (Georgia)
TE Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (Virginia)
LB DeMarcus Ware, Dallas (Troy)
Other nominees for the October NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month were:
Miami running back RONNIE BROWN (first-round, Auburn), who in four October games rushed for 320 yards and two TDs on 57 carries for a 5.6-yard average. Brown had 95 or more rushing yards in three of four October games and also caught 12 passes for 90 yards
Tampa Bay guard DAN BUENNING (fourth-round, Wisconsin), who has started every game for the 5-2 Buccaneers, helping the club average 124.9 rushing yards per game, fifth in the NFC. Buenning has assisted in paving the way for the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Month in September, CARNELL "CADILLAC" WILLIAMS, who ranks second among rookie rushers with 467 yards.
Chicago quarterback KYLE ORTON (fourth-round, Purdue), who led the Bears to a 3-1 record in October, passing for five touchdowns versus just one interception. Orton posted an 84.3 passer rating in the month and has an active streak of 62 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.
Other nominees for the October NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month Award were:
Green Bay safety NICK COLLINS (second-round, Bethune-Cookman), who started all four October games, posting 19 tackles, three passes defensed and one forced fumble.
Miami linebacker CHANNING CROWDER (third-round, Florida), who recorded 27 tackles and a fumble recovery in four October games.
Seattle linebacker LOFA TATUPU (second-round, USC), who led the team with 30 tackles in October, adding 1.0 sack and one interception for a defense that has not allowed a 100-yard rusher through seven games.
Denver cornerback DOMONIQUE FOXWORTH (third-round, Maryland), who made 31 tackles and intercepted two passes during the month, while adding nine pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.