June 3, 2013

Rookie of the Year: Johnny Roland, 1966

Running Back, St. Louis Cardinals



Age: 23
College: Missouri
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 207

Prelude:
A star on both offense and defense in college, Roland was chosen by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 1966 NFL draft. While there was talk of putting him at safety, he was utilized at halfback on offense where his outside speed and pass receiving ability could be put to best use.

1966 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 192 [7]
Most attempts, game - 23 (for 76 yds.) at NY Giants 11/6
Yards – 695 [11]
Most yards, game – 109 yards (on 20 carries) at Washington 10/23
Average gain – 3.6 [15, tied with Junior Coffey]
TDs – 5 [11, tied with Ken Willard & Don Meredith]
100-yard rushing games – 1

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 21      
Most receptions, game – 4 (for 34 yds.) at Pittsburgh 11/13
Yards – 213
Most yards, game - 40 (on 2 catches) vs. Philadelphia 9/11
Average gain – 10.1
TDs – 0

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 15
Yards – 347
Most yards, game – 116 (on 4 ret.) vs. NY Giants 10/9
Average per return – 23.1 [16]
TDs – 0
Longest return – 33 yards

Punt Returns
Returns – 20 [6]
Yards – 221 [3]
Most yards, game – 142 (on 3 ret.) at Philadelphia 10/2
Average per return – 11.1 [1]
TDs – 1 [1, tied with five others]
Longest return – 86 yards

Passing
Attempts – 8
Completions – 5
Yards – 130
TDs – 1
INT – 0

All-Purpose Yards – 1476 [5]

Scoring
TDs – 6
Points – 36

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: UPI
Pro Bowl

Cardinals went 8-5-1 to finish fourth in the NFL Eastern Conference.

Aftermath:
Roland followed up his outstanding rookie season with another Pro Bowl year in 1967. He rushed for 876 yards and 10 TDs and caught 20 passes for another 269 yards and a score. However, in the next to last game he suffered a knee injury that required surgery and, while he played for another six years, never again approached his early level of performance. His highs for rushing attempts and yards during the remainder of his career were 138 and 498, respectively, in 1969. In 1972, his last year with the Cards, he reached career highs with 38 pass receptions for 321 yards. Altogether with St. Louis he rushed 962 times for 3608 yards (3.8 avg.) and 27 touchdowns and caught 131 passes for 1240 yards and five TDs. He spent one last year with the New York Giants in ’73, gaining 142 yards on the ground and 190 yards on 22 receptions. With two punt returns for scores, he had a total of 36 TDs.

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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).


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