After each slate of games, Pepsi nominates six players around the NFL for its Rookie of the Week Award. In Week 7, Azeez Ojulari stands out as the lone defender in the group.
The second-round draft choice had the best game of his young career against the Panthers, registering 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and eight total pressures. Ojulari was also nominated in Week 3 after becoming the first player in franchise history to record a sack in each of his first three games.
"As I continue to play these games, I'm getting used to it and adjusting to the game speed and everything. It's just kind of slowing down for me and getting better by the week..." Ojulari told the media Monday. "I'm blessed to be able to go out there and compete and make those big plays out there. At the end of the day, I was just happy to get the win, to get back in the win column. I'm just happy to get the win for the team and just continue to go from there and just keep going. So, it was a great day."
The other nominees for this week's award include:
- New England Patriots QB Mac Jones: 24 of 36 (66.7 percent) for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns
- Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase: 8 receptions for 201 yards and 1 touchdown
- Atlanta Falcons TE Kyle Pitts: 7 receptions for 163 yards
- San Francisco 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell: 18 carries for 107 yards (5.9 avg.) and 1 touchdown
- Chicago Bears RB Khalil Herbert: 133 scrimmage yards (18 carries for 100 yards, 5 receptions for 33 yards)
Ojulari now has 5.5 sacks through the first seven games, good for the most in the 2021 rookie class as well as the most on the Giants. He has already tied the franchise rookie record for sacks, matching B.J. Hill's 5.5 in 2018.
Ojulari's performance on Sunday earned him a 74.0 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus. His 68.8 pass rush grade on the season is currently the highest among all rookie edge defenders.
The Giants selected Ojulari with the 50th overall selection (second round) in this year's draft after trading down from No. 42 with the Miami Dolphins, acquiring their 2022 third-round pick along the way. The rookie linebacker was the first NFL player to record a sack in each of his first three games since Cleveland's Myles Garrett in 2017.