5 Up-and-Coming NFL Stars Ready to Break out in the Second Half
The second half of the NFL season is just about ready to get underway and a few players are on the verge of breaking out.
With eight weeks under their belts, many rookies, who are no longer playing like rookies, are prepared to make their name on the scene.
There are also a couple of other young guys making some noise as well.
Let's take a look at what up-and-coming stars are ready to shine.
Jonathan Baldwin, Wide Receiver: Kansas City Chiefs
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The Chiefs' first-round draft pick, rookie wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, came into the season with high expectations, predicted to make an early impact in Kansas City's receiving corp.
Unfortunately, an injured thumb, the result of a tussle with running back Thomas Jones during training camp, prevented Baldwin from playing until Week 8 against the Raiders.
Easing back into play, Baldwin had just one catch for 14 yards in his debut.
However, Baldwin's second game during Week 8 against the Chargers was a much different story. Baldwin had a breakout game, catching five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
Watch for Baldwin to be a highlight for the rest of the Chiefs not-so-great season.
Christian Ponder, Quarterback: Minnesota Vikings
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Just two games in as a starter for the Minnesota Vikings, rookie quarterback Christian Ponder has faired pretty well with the job.
He already has a win under his belt with a 1-1 record, his single loss coming from the undefeated Green Bay Packers.
Ponder has yet to do anything spectacular, but he was pretty solid in the win against the Carolina Panthers during Week 8. In that game, Ponder was 18-for-28 for 236 yards and a touchdown.
The Vikings have high expectations for Ponder to finish the season strong and accumulate a few wins to begin to build his career on.
Jackie Battle, Running Back: Kansas City Chiefs
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Chiefs running back Jackie Battle is a veteran player who has been awaiting his opportunity for four years. With Kansas City's running back woes this season, the time has finally come for Battle.
Given the start during Week 5 against Indianapolis, Battle has been handling a majority of the Chiefs carries for the last three games.
Despite having scored just one touchdown so far, Battle has faired pretty well as a starter, carrying for 119 yards in his first game, 76 in his second and 70 and his third.
A man on a mission, don't be surprised if Battle breaks out in the second half of the season and proves himself worthy as an NFL starter.
Greg Little, Wide Receiver: Cleveland Browns
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Cleveland Browns rookie wide receiver Greg Little has sort of been on the verge of breaking out all season.
He started out a little slow, but Little has since picked it up and is averaging over five catches per game in the last four games.
Not only is Little quarterback Colt McCoy's favorite target, but he is one of the top targeted receivers in the league.
Little is player with a ton of upside that could explode at any moment.
Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver: Pittsburgh Steelers
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Steelers' second-year receiver Antonio Brown has accumulate a few 60 and 70-yard games already this season and as of late seems to be really starting to break out.
Ben Roethlisberger's favorite target the last two games, Brown caught seven passes during Week 7 and Week 9, including his first touchdown during Week 8.
Furthermore, Brown is averaging 12.7 yards per catch.
With a big matchup against the Ravens coming up in Week 9, Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb was asked about the matchup and defending Steelers top receiver Mike Wallace. He had this to say, "Every time somebody asks me, they're always talking about Mike Wallace. But they have a guy No. 84 in Antonio Brown who is better than 17 in all aspects of the game," Webb said. "He's a great returner, a great wide receiver."