NFL Predictions 2010: Ten Names To Learn Right Now
Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning are household names that their respective teams can count on each and every Sunday to produce. Brady came out of nowhere to lead the New England Patriots to three Super Bowl victories.
Johnson was a first round pick but nobody thought he would be a Pro Bowler his first two seasons and rush for 2,000 yards in his second. Peterson and Manning were expected to be great from the start and they have lived up to expectations.
Here are 10 names that you need to know before the regular season starts.
Montario Hardesty had a breakout season running the ball for the Tennessee Volunteers a year ago. Now he is a Cleveland Brown and is competing with Jerome Harrison for the starting position.
It hasn't been all smooth sailing for the rookie as he has been out with an injured knee for the past couple weeks but in his absence Harrison hasn't exactly run away with the job. He lost a fumble in the team's last preseason game against St. Louis and was benched for a short while.
Hardesty didn't play in the game due to the knee injury but when he gets back he will be given the opportunity to win the job. Another thing going for the rookie is that he is six feet tall compared to the shorter Harrison who comes in at 5'9".
No matter how you look at it, Hardesty is going to be playing a big role in the Cleveland backfield this season.
If it weren't for Steve Slaton's miserable year last season Arian Foster wouldn't be in position to be Houston's No. 1 back for season opener. After Ben Tate's ankle injury took him out of the running back competition the job has gone to Foster.
Foster didn't receive a carry in his rookie season till Week 14. He ended up getting the majority of the carries in the team's last two regular season games and took the opportunity to show off his talent running for 216 yards on 39 carries.
Now he will be the Texans' primary running option and will be joining a talented offense that features Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Throw in Foster to the mix and it could be enough to propel Houston to their first playoff berth.
When Julius Peppers left the Carolina Panthers this offseason to sign with the Chicago Bears it left a gaping hole on the defensive line for Carolina. Peppers' replacement, Everette Brown, had two sacks in the past preseason game against the New York Jets.
More sacks from Brown are going to be needed in order for Carolina fans to forget about Peppers. While he isn't nearly as athletic or skilled as the former Panther was he has a chance to see his sack numbers take a significant jump this season. The right defensive end spot is Brown's for the taking and he has done everything in his power to do so.
Carolina's pass rush has 11 sacks through two preseason games and if that is a sign of things to come Brown could be in position to post double-digit sacks.
He may be immature and his coaches don't care for how he prepares himself but there is no doubt that Nate Davis can play. The former Ball State quarterback showed off his talents this past Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings when he completed a bomb to Ted Ginn Jr.
It wasn't just the deep pass that was impressive about the young quarterback. He displayed good pocket awareness and was able to get the ball out of his hands quickly to his receivers. His performance was a step in the right direction for a player that hasn't exactly won over his coaches.
Alex Smith is firmly entrenched as San Francisco's starting quarterback and David Carr was signed this offseason to back him up after two years with the New York Giants. The word is still out on whether or not Smith can make it as a starting quarterback in the league.
If he struggles it wouldn't be a surprise if Davis got a chance at some point in the season. Carr has been around for awhile and it's clear that he is much better suited as a backup at this stage in his career. Keep your eyes on Davis the rest of the preseason as he is set to get more "meaningful" snaps in the team's final games before the regular season starts.
Darelle Revis' holdout has been one of the big stories throughout the offseason and now into the preseason. The question is when will the New York Jets get their shutdown cornerback back on the field? Nobody seems to know that answer right now.
That's why it's time to get used to Revis' replacement for the time being. Kyle Wilson was a star at Boise St. and was drafted No. 29 overall in this past draft yet, not much attention has been given to him.
The Jets drafted Revis at No. 14, which turned out to be a steal. They hope they will be able to say the same about Wilson one day. He has impressed the Jets' coaching staff throughout training camp and preseason. With Revis Island closed right now, it's providing a golden opportunity for Wilson to make a name for himself.
The former Syracuse wide receiver was drafted in the fourth round by Tampa Bay this past April and with that selection he brought a lot of baggage to the Buccaneers. Mike Williams is a talented individual that had more than his fair share of issues while he was a member of the Orange.
He quit the team during the middle of the season because of a suspension that was looming over him. Two years ago he was out because of an academic suspension but his overall ability was enough to get him drafted.
As long as he matures and is able to keep his head on straight the Bucs may have gotten one of the steals of the draft. Williams has looked good all throughout camp and shown off just how athletic he is during the preseason.
On a team that is desperate to find receivers for quarterback Josh Freeman to throw to Williams is a welcomed addition to the roster.
Aaron Hernandez was drafted in the fourth round by the Patriots and was the second tight end New England grabbed in the draft. Hernandez may have gone after his fellow teammate, Rob Gronkowski, but as the picture above indicates Brady has formed a good relationship with Hernandez.
He is tied for the team lead in receptions so far in the preseason and showed good chemistry with Brady. Hernandez isn't a traditional tight end as he is only 6'1". There's a good chance he'll be used in the slot this season or lined up behind another tight end.
The former Florida Gator brings speed to a position that was overhauled from a year ago. Alge Crumpler was also brought in to go with the two rookies. Out of all of them, don't be surprised if it is Hernandez who inflicts the most damage on opposing defenses this season.
After a disappointing rookie season, in which Donald Brown failed to push Joseph Addai for carries, the Colts hope Brown can have a bounce back year. In his second season look for Brown to potentially take Addai's job at some point during the year.
Addai is an experienced vet that Peyton Manning and Head Coach Jim Caldwell trust but he doesn't have the speed that Brown has. This could be Brown's chance to prove to the organization that he can be a part of the Colts' backfield for years to come.
Another disappointing season could cause Indianapolis to look elsewhere at season's end for their future back.
The Seattle Seahawks added Leon Washington this offseason and still have Julius Jones hanging around. Justin Forsett just may end up being the best out of the bunch and could be poised for a breakout season.
Forsett only received double-digit carries four times last season. In each of those games he rushed for at least 70 yards, with the most being 123. Washington will push for carries and Jones will be given an opportunity also.
It could mean that the trio will split carries to start the season and whoever's running the best will get the majority of the carries in that particular game. Head Coach Pete Carroll is eventually going to have to pick a lead back and Forsett is the best option at this point.
Yes, Javon Ringer is a real running back in the NFL.
In fact Ringer is the backup to Tennessee Titans' running back Chris Johnson. Backing up the game's best running back means that carries will be scarce. That may be true but look for the Titans to reduce Johnson's carries from last year meaning Ringer should receive well over the eight carries he got all of last season.
Ringer has impressed coaches throughout training camp and ran for 60 yards on seven carries in Tennessee's first game of the preseason. If Johnson were ever to go down with an injury Ringer would have the chance to become the team's No. 1 back.
Giving Johnson more rest throughout the game will be important to lengthening his career. Having a valuable backup is exactly what the Titans hope Ringer will bring to the team.