September 10, 2012

Rookie of the Year: George Rogers, 1981


Running Back, New Orleans Saints



Age: 23 (Dec. 8)
College: South Carolina
Height: 6’2”    Weight: 220

Prelude:
Rogers rushed for 5204 yards and 33 touchdowns in a college career capped by winning the 1980 Heisman Trophy. He was taken first overall by the Saints in the ’81 NFL draft and moved directly into the starting lineup.

1981 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 378 [1]
Most attempts, game - 31 (for 113 yds.) vs. Cincinnati 10/25, (for 97 yds.) at Minnesota 11/15
Yards – 1674 [1]
Most yards, game – 162 yards (on 29 carries) vs. LA Rams 9/13
Average gain – 4.4 [16]
TDs – 13 [2, tied with Billy Sims & John Riggins]
100-yard rushing games – 9

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 16       
Most receptions, game – 3 (for 7 yds.) at Minnesota 11/15
Yards – 126
Most yards, game - 36 (on 2 catches) at Cleveland 10/18
Average gain – 7.9
TDs – 0

All-Purpose yards – 1800 [8]

Scoring
TDs – 13 [5, tied with Alfred Jenkins, John Riggins & Steve Watson]
Points – 78

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: Sporting News
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP, PFWA
NFC Rookie of the Year: UPI
1st team All-NFL: AP, Sporting News
2nd team All-NFL: NEA
1st team All-NFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

Saints went 4-12 to finish fourth in the NFC West while ending up 25th in the league in total yards (4705) but seventh in rushing (2286).

Aftermath:
After showing an impressive durability as the primary offensive weapon for the Saints as a rookie, Rogers dealt with nagging injuries during the strike-shortened 1982 season, but was still chosen for a second-straight Pro Bowl. Knee problems kept him out of three games in ’83 as he rushed for 1144 yards, often in tandem with RB Wayne Wilson. Splitting time with aging star RB Earl Campbell in 1984, Rogers rushed for 914 yards and was traded to Washington in the offseason. Once again he was sharing time with a fading great player, RB John Riggins, and while he started just five games, he rushed for 1093 yards with a career-high 4.7 average gain per carry. Rogers took over the starting role in ’86 and gained 1203 yards while scoring a NFL-leading 18 touchdowns. But following another injury-marred year in 1987, Rogers retired. In all, he played seven seasons and ran the ball 1692 times for 7176 yards (4.2 avg.). Never much of a receiver out of the backfield, Rogers added 368 more yards on 55 catches. All 54 of his touchdowns came on the ground.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

[Updated 2/6/14]

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