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2013 NFL rookie of the year race, Week 15: Robert Woods hitting his stride

Robert Woods is healthy and making plays for the Bills again.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Health has always been the issue for Robert Woods.

The Buffalo Bills' second-round pick in 2013 fell that far because of the injury he suffered in his final season at USC. His play suffered and so did his draft position. Injuries have held him back a bit as a rookie, too. He's missed a few games and so has his quarterback, so it's been tough for him to get into rhythm.

In Week 15, Woods and fellow rookie E.J. Manuel were clicking, though. The results gave Bills fans a glimpse at what the future could hold. Woods looked like a top tier option and Manuel was plenty comfortable throwing him the ball.

Woods leads off the rookie report for Week 15.

Three up

Robert Woods, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills: Woods had his best game as a pro in Week 15 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have a rapidly improving secondary. Woods was targeted six times and hauled in five of those targets for 82 yards a touchdown. He looked comfortable getting separation and making plays in traffic. Keep an eye on him heading into his second season. If he stays healthy, he could be one of Buffalo's top options in the passing game moving forward.

Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, Denver Broncos: Sylvester Williams has had a quiet rookie season. He hasn't commanded a ton of snaps for the Broncos and hasn't done a whole lot with them. But last Sunday against the Chargers, Williams looked like a player worthy of the first-round pick Denver spent on him. He was disruptive from the interior. He had a hand in five tackles and even picked up a sack. More of the same from Williams will be big for the Broncos down the stretch.

Nickell Robey, Cornerback, Buffalo Bills: Quietly, former USC cornerback Nickell Robey has been one of the best rookies at his position in the NFL. Since he mostly plays in the slot, he gets overlooked at times, but Week 15 was another quality outing for Robey. Not only was he characteristically solid in coverage, but he even picked up a sack on a quarterback blitz.

Three down

Matt McGloin, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders: Remember when Matt McGloin looked like he could be the answer to the Raiders' quarterback problems? That was short-lived. McGloin has been awful lately, and Sunday may have been a new low-point. He threw four interceptions and barley completed 50-percent of his passes. This experiment is over.

Josh Boyce, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots: With Rob Gronkowski out again, Josh Boyce had a chance to prove himself. The speedy receiver from TCU was given the opportunity to succeed with seven targets from Tom Brady. Three dropped passes and an ankle injury proved to be just another setback in an uneventful rookie season for Boyce.

Robert Alford, Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons: Robert Alford has been a weak link in Atlanta's secondary this season, but it's never been worse than it was in Week 15. Alford was thrown at nine times against the Redskins and allowed a catch on every single one. He was also responsible for two touchdowns.

Rookie of the Year

Offense: Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver, San Diego Chargers: Keenan Allen has really started to run away with Offensive Rookie of the Year in recent weeks. Giovani Bernard was his best competition, but the Bengals have gotten away from him a bit lately. Allen, meanwhile, has become Philip Rivers' favorite receiver to throw to. Another two-touchdown game in Week 15 gives Allen 63 catches for 931 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.

Defense: Sheldon Richardson, Defensive end, New York Jets: Week in and week out, Sheldon Richardson is making plays for the New York Jets. He's not the only impact rookie on the defensive side of the ball this season. Kiko Alonso and Star Lotulelei are both worthy candidates for this award as well. But Richardson has been a work horse for the Jets and deserves this award.

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