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Kiko Alonso making early case for defensive rookie of the year

By Tim Graham

When the Buffalo Bills drafted Kiko Alonso in April, it wasn't for his interview skills.

Alonso is a man of few words, as national media outlets have learned the past few days.

But he's a man of big plays so far in his young NFL career.

Alonso leads the Bills with four interceptions, including two mammoth ones in Sunday's 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Alonso became the first rookie linebacker to have at least one interception in three straight games since Al Richardson did it for the Atlanta Falcons in 1980.

Alonso leads the Bills with 32 tackles. He has one sack, a forced fumble and a recovery.

He'll be a legitimate candidate for NFL defensive rookie of the year if he can stay healthy.

In two years as a starter for Buffalo, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard had two sacks, zero interceptions, two passes defensed, zero forced fumbles and one recovery.

Here are some more statistical nuggets on Alonso's hot start:

  • He leads all NFL rookies in tackles.
  • He's tied with New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib and Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner.
  • At, he leads all inside linebackers in fewest catches allowed per coverage snap. He has dropped into coverage 142 times and has allowed six receptions. 
  • He's two interceptions away from matching Mike Stratton in 1963 for most in team history by a rookie linebacker.
  • He's the first Bills linebacker with a three-game interception streak since Darryl Talley in 1993.
  • He's the fourth linebacker in NFL history to record four interceptions in the month of September, joining Chuck Howley in 1968, John Anderson in 1978 and Jack Lambert in 1979.
  • He's the third player in Bills history with a four-game takeaway streak. Jairus Byrd holds the record at five games in 2009. Bryan Scott had a four-game streak last year.


Darryl Talley | Jairus Byrd | Kiko Alonso
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |