- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 8.
It was pretty slim pickings this week as half the division was on a bye, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals both suffered losses. But Pittsburgh rookie receiver Emmanuel Sanders gets the nod as the AFC North's High Energy Player of the Week after a pair of solid returns against the New Orleans Saints.
With Pittsburgh's offense struggling most of the game, Sanders provided a boost on special teams by returning a kickoff 41 yards and a punt 38 yards to help change field position. His punt return led to a second-quarter field goal, which accounted for Pittsburgh's only points in the first half. Sanders also caught one pass for 21 yards.
Playing behind receivers Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and Antwaan Randle El, Sanders has found his niche as the Steelers' primary kick returner. He was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 7 and followed that up with a pair of good returns this past Sunday.
Sanders still needs to work on ball security. The third-round pick fumbled twice in the past two games, losing one. But otherwise he has provided an upgrade on Pittsburgh's special teams.