Year of the Rookie: NFL Young Guns Shine In 2009

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 01:  Austin Collie #17 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 1, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In a season that has been the exact resemblance of a roller coaster ride, amongst the bigger and more important issues is that fact that the NFL rookies are coming out in full force and playing more impressively than ever.

Percy Harvin has snatched the 2009 Rookie of the Year Award, however, that doesn't discount the other young stars who have made a name for themselves in the league this year.

Heading into a vital week in the playoffs where all the remaining teams are going head to head with fierce opponents, some young rookies will shine, while others will vanish into the shadows as they are overcome with nerves and pressure come game time.

The current list of rookies who need to bring their "A" game this weekend are as follows:

-Mark Sanchez

-Austin Collie

-Shonn Greene

-Percy Harvin

-Chris "Beanie" Wells

Although there are many more rookies who are expected to perform well, this is the list of the men who really need to carry their team.

Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene

As prolific as Mark Sanchez was last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, the San Diego Chargers are a much tougher test.  Shonn Greene will be right behind him to share the pressure, but one thing is for certain, San Diego is going to bring the heat off the corner blitz.

Whether or not Sanchez can recognize defensive strategies while leading up to a play is a question.  He's showed signs of it in the past, but he's also shown signs of fatigue and basically, poor judgement.  Not that that isn't expected from a young rookie.

Austin Collie

No. 17 for the Indianapolis Colts, Austin Collie is one of the more underrated receivers in the league.  With a small but decent piece of yardage on the season and seven touchdowns under his belt, Collie will be one of Peyton's several go-to guys in their game against the Baltimore Ravens.

In my opinion though, I wouldn't be surprised to see Collie have a quiet game.  Fresh out of BYU, Collie is the type of receiver who strives on his teammates playing well.  If Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Pierre Garcon get shut down, the weight may fall onto Collie's shoulders.  Will he deliver?  I say not.

Percy Harvin

Migraines or not, surely the Rookie of the Year Award has gone to his head a little.  If there is one thing that Harvin has had too much of, it is time to reflect and relax on the upcoming game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Harvin has 790 yards on the season with six touchdowns.  Not too bad for a guy that was expected to come into Minnesota and maybe take a backseat behind Bernard Berrian.  With a strong Cowboys defense lurking at just about every area of the field, Harvin is going to have to work extra hard to maintain a distance from corner backs Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins.

After playing in many big games with the University of Florida in his college years, Percy would be used to a big game atmosphere.  The Metrodome is one of the loudest in the NFL, and the slightest communication delay could cause an incompletion.  Rookie nerves and jitters are almost inevitable, but he needs to do the best he can to control them.  The Vikings will definitely need him.

Chris "Beanie" Wells

As one of the contributing factors to the Cardinals' narrow defeat of the Green Bay Packers last weekend, Beanie Wells comes into the Superdome more confident than ever.

With 793 yards on the season and seven touchdowns, Wells will be relied upon to run the short screen routes and pound the ball over the goal line should Arizona get into the red zone.  Cardinals fans have no reason to fear though, Wells is averaging 4.3 yards per carry, so a touchdown in this game for the young rookie may be his fate.

The rookies this season have been more impressive than any other year.  Candidates who weren't a part of postseason teams also deserve some recognition.  For so many dominant young players to come fresh out of college and play the way they have, is nothing short of remarkable. 

Jitters, dropped balls, incompletions, fumbles and butterflies may be what we see this week though.  The rookies have to step up to the plate, their teams need them.

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