NFL Preseason 2012: Rookies Who Shined in Week 1 Action
One week into the preseason and the NFL and its legions of fans are already ablaze with buzz.
The Tim Tebow experiment didn't work out so well in New York the first week. Peyton Manning had a pedestrian beginning to his career in Denver, and countless players were no doubt excited to get back to work.
But, it's not the established veterans that are the most interesting story line to follow in the preseason—that distinction belongs with the rookies.
The rookie class is full of unknown quantities. Everyone has high expectations for their first-round pick, and the first week of the preseason is the first available window to see if they will pan out.
Some players had terrible Week 1s, but there were numerous rookies that shined. Let's take a look at a few of those.
Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers selected Luke Kuechly with the No. 9 overall pick to shore up their shaky run defense.
If his preseason debut is any indication of regular-season success, the pick was the correct one.
Kuechly started for the Panthers on Saturday against the Texans, and he was all over the field.
The former Boston College Eagle racked up four tackles, including a forced fumble. He filled up the run holes nicely, and his instincts were evident.
Add him to an already gifted group of linebackers, and the group should be quite formidable in 2012.
Quinton Coples, New York Jets
OK, Tebowmania might not have worked out great in Week 1 of the preseason, but at least first-round pick Quinton Coples looked to be in fine form.
The ultra-talented former Tar Heel made an abundance of plays and provided a bright spot for the Jets in an otherwise lackluster performance.
Coples recorded five tackles and a sack, knocked down a pass and even forced a fumble.
It was an excellent debut by a player whose draft stock fell because of work-ethic issues. If he plays like this all season, there won't be a single person mentioning that in the Big Apple ever again.
It's hard to have a better start to a career than Andrew Luck did.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft went 10-of-16 for 188 yards and two touchdowns. That total was impressive, but when you consider that his first pass in an Indy uniform was a 63-yard touchdown, it was a legend-sparking start.
The guy was already proclaimed as a franchise savior, and after the way he looked on Sunday, it looks like those predictions could be accurate.
Luck commanded the field against the Rams and looked like a 10-year veteran, not a rookie QB from a school known more for academics than football.
He has a long way to go before he reaches the lofty expectations that have been placed upon him, but he's certainly up to a very good start.
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