Super Bowl 2012: 4 Rookies Guaranteed to Rise to the Occasion
Every NFL season has its story lines, and often times, they center around rookie players who are making an impact on their team.
All too often, those players see their season end prior to the Super Bowl considering it isn't often that top contending teams rely on rookies in key positions.
This season's Super Bowl opponents do not have any players vying for Rookie of the Year honors, but that doesn't mean that they do not have rookie players making solid contributions in every game.
Here are four rookie players for the Giants and Patriots who are sure to rise to the occasion in the big game.
If any rookie on the Patriots has proved that he raises his game in pressure situations, it's SMU's Sterling Moore.
Not only did Moore strip the game-winning touchdown out of Lee Evans' hands to ensure a trip to the Super Bowl for New England, but he also came up big in the comeback against Buffalo that helped ensure home field throughout the playoffs.
The Patriots are going to need a lot of help in the secondary trying to keep a lid on the coverage of emerging superstar receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz of the Giants.
Moore is a tireless worker and will be ready to step in whenever called in Super Bowl XLVI.
Henry Hynoski is an undrafted rookie out of Pittsburgh, and he doesn't show up often on the stat sheet in Giants games. However, his efforts are regularly rewarded with points by paving the way for Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
The Patriots defense has been much maligned throughout the regular season, but in the playoffs, they have gotten the job done. Hynoski's job will be to help New York impose their will on the ground and control the game.
He may not have a carry, a catch or a touchdown in the game, but he will get plenty of camera time if the Giants are dictating the pace of the game.
No rookie playing in the Super Bowl will have a tougher task than Nate Solder, who will be asked to try and slow down the dominant pass rush of the New York Giants.
Solder, the rookie out of Colorado, has looked like a poised veteran at tackle in this offense and used his size and smarts to steal the starting job from Sebastian Vollmer.
It stands to reason that Solder will face his toughest test in the Super Bowl. Some might point to the fact that this is the second time Solder has faced the Giants, but that Giant team (despite the victory) was not firing on all cylinders defensively like it is now.
It will take a combination of great blocking and quick releases from Tom Brady to make Solder look good in this game, but he has shown that he has the chops to make it happen.
Technically, Cruz is not a rookie, but due to injury, this season was his first true action in the NFL, and even though he won't qualify for ROY honors, he had a season of firsts that will conclude with his first Super Bowl appearance.
If the Giants are expecting anyone to rise to the occasion for this game, it's Cruz. His connection with Eli Manning is uncanny, and his production has been prolific this season and postseason.
Giants fans don't just hope, they expect to see Cruz doing his salsa dance in the end zone at least once.