Former Trojans are making an impact in the NFL

Robert Woods led all NFL players in receiving yards in Week 13, helping his Rams knock off Arizona 34-7. (Daily Trojan file photo)

Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver

Woods has continued to play the best football of his professional career under Sean McVay in Los Angeles. He already has 64 receptions for 835 yards along with 12 carries and a rushing touchdown through 11 games. 

Woods’ high usage rate continued this week in Arizona, as he hauled in 13 receptions for 172 yards on a whopping 19 targets. Despite not catching a single touchdown pass so far this year, Woods is well on his way to his second consecutive 1,000-plus-yard-season with the Rams.

Clay Matthews, Los Angeles Rams linebacker

In his first season back in Los Angeles since 2008, the Trojan great has had an immediate impact despite fighting through a broken jaw he suffered in Week 5. In those first five games, Matthews had six sacks and was looking likely to continue racking up more. 

Despite missing five weeks with the jaw injury, Matthews has capitalized on his nine appearances, racking up eight sacks. Matthews and the Rams aim to end the Coliseum’s tenure as an NFL venue in successful fashion, while Matthews looks to finish out the first season of his two-year contract strong.

Sam Darnold, New York Jets quarterback

In what has been an eventful 2019 campaign for the Jets, the former Trojan quarterback has thrown 13 touchdowns in nine starts, adding two scores on the ground. Turnovers and consistency have been a problem for Darnold, as his 10 interceptions is tied for ninth-worst in the league despite missing three games. 

Darnold has been impressive in flashes this season, with two 300-yard passing performances under his belt. Ultimately, he has done a decent job adjusting to an entirely new offense and coaching staff in just his second season in the NFL, but he’ll certainly need to expect more from himself moving forward. 

Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings defensive end

In his 10th NFL season, Griffen has been a consistent pass-rushing and run-stopping force on the end for nearly a decade. This season has been no different, as he currently has seven sacks, three tackles for a loss and an interception, consistently wreaking havoc on the defensive side of the ball. From Weeks 7 to 11, Griffen racked up four sacks over five games in a particularly dominant stretch. Griffen and the Vikings look to secure a playoff spot in the final weeks of the season. 

Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back

The 2018 second round pick is enjoying quite the sophomore season in Tampa Bay under new head coach Bruce Arians. Jones is threatening 1,000 all-purpose yards from scrimmage and has scored five touchdowns this season. 

After Week 8, Jones was formally announced as the Bucs’ starting running back, following weeks of competing for the role. His success comes as a refreshing surprise after a disappointing rookie season. The Bucs will only face one team with a winning record in their remaining games, so Jones has the opportunity to put up more 100-plus-yard performances.