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Rookie receiver race: Mike Williams' return adds potential star power

He didn't get a ton of work Sunday afternoon, but Mike Williams was on the field for the Los Angeles Chargers. He had his first career reception. He played 11 snaps -- fourth among Chargers receivers.

Considering he was coming off a herniated disc in his lower back that has kept him off the field since May, getting him some work before midseason is a good sign for Williams' present and his future.

"They told me I would have between 10 and 15 plays," Williams said after the game, according to ESPN Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams. "It felt good. I knew I was going to be limited, so I wasn't just on the sideline not getting any chances. They told me that before the game, so I was just waiting on my opportunity."

For a rookie receiver class seeking a breakout star, Williams returning to the field could help.

Injuries have hurt rookie receivers this season. Four top prospects have all missed games because of health issues. Tennessee's Corey Davis hasn't played since Week 2. Cincinnati's John Ross has appeared in one game. Detroit's Kenny Golladay missed the past three weeks with a hamstring injury. Williams debuted in a limited role Sunday.

Only four rookies -- Zay Jones, Cooper Kupp, Juju Smith-Schuster and Trent Taylor -- have found defined roles thus far, although that number could increase as players return from injury and some teams start looking toward the future to get younger players involved.

With that in mind, here's a look at rookie receivers through six weeks with every receiver targeted this year included (according to ESPN Stats & Information):

Corey Davis, Tennessee (YTD stats: 7 rec., 73 yards, 13 targets, 51 routes): Davis was inactive Monday night against Indianapolis as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury.

John Ross, Cincinnati (YTD stats: 1 carry, 12 yards; 0 rec., 0 yards, 0 targets, 2 routes): The Bengals were off in Week 6.

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (YTD stats: 1 rec. 15 yards, 1 target, 7 routes): The first-round pick made his NFL debut in Week 6, catching his only target for 15 yards. As he gets comfortable in the offense, he could be a player to watch.

Zay Jones, Buffalo (YTD stats: 5 rec., 66 yards, 20 targets, 159 routes): The Bills were off in Week 6.

Curtis Samuel, Carolina (YTD stats: 4 rec., 12 yards, 10 targets, 64 routes): He did not run a route against Philadelphia and had one kick return for 33 yards. He has five kick returns this season for 107 yards.

Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh (YTD stats: 15 rec., 192 yards, 2 TD, 23 targets, 172 routes): He caught all three of his targets for 32 yards against the Chiefs as he seems to be pushing for a bigger role. Although Martavis Bryant says he's "good" with what's going on in Pittsburgh despite reports of his unhappiness, Smith-Schuster appears to be getting more work. The former USC Trojan could end up as one of the top rookie receivers this year. Also, if you missed this cool feature on Smith-Schuster from Jeremy Fowler, check it out.

Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (YTD stats: 19 rec., 265 yards, 2 TD, 32 targets, 154 routes): He cooled off a bit from his start, catching two of three targets for 35 yards. He still leads all rookie receivers in yardage and receptions.

Taywan Taylor, Tennessee (YTD stats: 7 rec., 133 yards, 1 TD, 12 targets, 74 routes): Taylor had a big game Monday night, with two catches for 61 yards on four targets -- including the game-winning 53-yard touchdown catch from Marcus Mariota. With Davis out, Taylor has become the Titans' No. 3 receiver -- giving Tennessee two potential rookie receivers for the future. *Route numbers are through five games because they were not available in time for publication.

Kenny Golladay, Detroit (YTD stats: 7 rec., 102 yards, 2 TD, 14 targets, 79 routes): Golladay practiced on a limited basis last week but missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury. The Lions are off in Week 7, but he could return against Pittsburgh in Week 8.

Mack Hollins, Philadelphia (YTD stats: 5 rec., 70 yards, 3 targets, 39 routes): The surprising 5-1 Eagles got some production out of Hollins on Thursday with two catches for 38 yards. He caught both of his targets and more than doubled his yardage from the first four weeks. He led all rookie receivers in yards last week.

Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams (YTD stats: 1 rec., 28 yards, 1 target, 22 routes): Reynolds was not targeted against Jacksonville.

Amara Darboh, Seattle (YTD stats: 3 rec., 26 yards, 7 targets, 35 routes): The Seahawks were off in Week 6.

Chad Williams, Arizona (YTD stats: 2 rec., 23 yards, 3 targets, 17 routes): Williams was inactive against Arizona.

Trent Taylor, San Francisco (YTD stats: 14 rec., 110 yards, 1 TD, 26 targets, 161 routes): Taylor continues to be a high-target receiver with the 49ers, but doesn't have much run-after-the-catch potential. He had a rookie-best five targets, but only caught two passes for 11 yards.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay (YTD stats: 5 rec., 61 yards, 8 targets, 42 routes): He's in a tough spot in Tampa Bay because of a lot of receiving talent ahead of him. He caught his only target for nine yards.

ArDarius Stewart, New York Jets (YTD stats: 4 rec., 36 yards, 7 targets, 45 routes): Stewart was targeted twice, but only caught one of those passes for two yards.

Isaiah McKenzie, Denver (YTD stats: 1 rec. 0 yards, 4 targets, 43 routes): McKenzie had his first career catch Sunday night against the Giants. He failed to gain a yard. He's been more valuable as a punt returner, with 14 attempts for 139 yards. Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold reported that he was carted to the locker room after injuring his ankle.

Noah Brown, Dallas (YTD stats: 1 rec., 13 yards, 1 target, 3 routes): The Cowboys were off in Week 6.

Stacy Coley, Minnesota (YTD stats: 1 target, 8 routes): The former Miami receiver played in his second game Sunday and was targeted for the first time, but did not have a catch but ran eight routes.

The New York Jets' Chad Hansen (17) and Dallas' Ryan Switzer (7) have run routes but have yet to be targeted this season. Kansas City's Jehu Chesson has played in one game, but has not run a route.