It's only been three games into his NFL career, and the Bills have posted just one victory, but there's no denying the production of Buffalo's rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.
The big plays turned in by Alonso have been a weekly occurrence as he appears in just about every statistical category defensively for Buffalo.
He leads the team in tackles (27), interceptions (2) and is tied for the team lead in fumble recoveries. He is also the only player on the squad with a forced fumble to his credit and is tied for second in sacks.
Alonso's first big play of the season came in Week 1 when he scooped up Tom Brady's muffed center to quarterback exchange on 4th-and-goal at the Bills one-yard line to complete a goal line stand. That was followed by his interception off Cam Newton in Week 2 at the Buffalo 26 to turn back a Carolina scoring drive.
This past week, Alonso picked off Geno Smith and returned it all the way to the Jets 13-yard line. A field goal was the result of his takeaway allowing the Bills to make it a one score game late in the third quarter Sunday.
"I'm telling you he's really showing out as a rookie," said veteran LB Manny Lawson. "He's really stepped up and is playing a major role in our defense especially as the 'mike' linebacker. That's where calls are made and where we get our plays from. When you have a guy in general that's going out there every week making big plays like he has that speaks volumes. More importantly it gets your defense going."
Alonso had a promising training camp and preseason as his athleticism and keen diagnosing of pass and run plays often has him in the right position to foil offensive plays. Still, the second-round pick chooses to focus on the plays he doesn't make when reviewing the game tape.
"It's definitely frustrating, but it's good to see because I know I can play a lot better," Alonso told Buffalobills.com. "I know I haven't played close to as good as I can play. I'm not really beating myself up I just need to get better. It's as simple as that."
Lawson likes that Alonso isn't satisfied with the big plays he's made, and wants to improve.
"He's not selfish. He really wants to help this team and he really wants to contribute," said Lawson. "The plays that he's not making, he's focusing hard on that. He is his biggest critic. That's what any player should be. We should be our own worst critic and being that he wants to go out there and improve on the plays that he's not making it's going to help us in the long run."
Alonso's interceptions in back-to-back weeks made him the first rookie with an interception streak since Jairus Byrd did it over the course of five games in 2009. Buffalo's young linebacker was more disappointed that he failed to score on his most recent interception against the Jets.
"I saw the film on that and I just had bad vision," he said. "I should have just kept going straight. I made a wrong cut. If I went to the sideline I might've had it possibly. Who knows?"
What's exciting for Alonso's teammates is the fact that the rookie linebacker is just scratching the surface of the player he'll become.
"Just to see his production on the field, especially early on he's not trying to feel his way in. He's jumped out there and he's making strides," said Lawson. "I'm just looking forward to see how things are going to pan out for him the rest of the season. I can't wait."
"I know I can play a lot better," said Alonso. "I know I haven't played close to as good as I can play."