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Rookies start strongly

A slew of rookies distinguished themselves on the NFL’s opening weekend. The stellar debuts included those by Green Bay receiver/returner Randall Cobb, Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and cornerback/punt returner Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals.

None was more impressive – or seemed more improbable – than the performance of Carolina’s Cam Newton, who broke the NFL record for most yards passing by a rookie in his pro debut.

Newton ignited a Carolina offense that finished last in the NFL last season by throwing for 422 yards.

“He did everything everybody didn’t expect him to do,” said receiver Steve Smith, who caught TD throws of 77 and 26 yards from Newton. “He was on point. He made some great runs, some great reads and some fantastic throws.”

Browns on 3rd punter

Just more than a month since losing punter Reggie Hodges to a season-ending injury, the Cleveland Browns are already on his second replacement.

The Browns signed 14-year veteran punter Brad Maynard on Tuesday and placed Richmond McGee on injured reserve, two days after he injured his back during warmups before his NFL debut.

Maynard spent the past 10 seasons with the Chicago Bears, the last three working with Browns first-year special teams coach Chris Tabor, before being released in July.

Extra points

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said he is fine after being tested for a concussion following the team’s season-opening victory over Dallas Cowboys. … Veteran kicker Nick Novak agreed to a two-year contract with the Chargers to replace the injured Nate Kaeding. … The Steelers placed starting right tackle Willie Colon on the injured reserve list hours after he underwent surgery to repair a torn right triceps suffered in a season-opening loss to Baltimore. Pittsburgh signed well-traveled veteran Jamon Meredith to fill Colon’s roster spot.