Media Pressure: Mark Sanchez and the Top 10 Players Under the Spotlight
Whether players like it or not, the media has a big part in sports now days. It can pump you up or make you want to hide, the media surrounds today's NFL game and there is no way of making it go way.
Here is a list of 10 NFL players who face plenty of media attention this upcoming season. Performances tilt it from being positive or negative, either way you have not heard the last from these ten situations.
Byron Leftwich - Pittsburgh Steelers Leader
With the controversy surrounding fellow quarterback Big Ben, many may have forgotten about the pressure that Bryon Leftwich will face from game one in 2010. Roethlisberger being suspended for the first six games, it leaves Leftwich to lead the Steelers offense forward.
Last years tender at the Buccaneers was very disappointing for Leftwich. After starting the first 3 games, it was a dismal effort against the New York Giants that saw his season end early as he was dropped to the bench for the year. Knocked down to 3rd string QB behind Freeman and Johnson, Leftwich then picked up an elbow injury and failed to make any further contribution.
Pittsburgh are itching to get back into the playoffs, and although Leftwich may only play the first six games, its enough to impact a season.
Albert Haynesworth - Will He Show Up?
Albert Haynesworth is looking like a broken down record with all the injuries keeping him from training camp involvement. Lack of fitness, a swollen knee and headaches have relegated him to the second team in almost all workouts.
Last year Haynesworth signed a seven-year, $100 million contract with the Redskins and appeared in 12 games. Performances were down from his time with the Titans but he still remains a dominant defender in the league.
Everyday we seem to be hearing that he has missed yet another practice. The question is can Haynesworth be healthy in time to have a successful campaign for the Redskins, they are certainly paying him enough for it and how long can they wait on the big man?
Antrel Rolle - The Help We Need?
Splashing the cash to get there man, the New York Giants agreed a five-year, $37 million contract with Antrel Rolle over the summer to fix up their leaky secondary.
With figures like that, Rolle is one of the highest earning Safties in the NFL. Fresh off his first appearance in the Pro Bowl last season, has Rolle earned his large pay cheque?
We all like to compare contracts, so would you consider him to be up there with the likes of Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed?
New York certainly hope so as they look to get back into the playoffs.
Ryan Matthews - The Replacement?
With L.T now in New York, the Chargers will be relying on Darren Sproles and rookie running back Ryan Matthews to carry the running game.
Matthews is expected to see plenty of the ball and expectations are high in San Diego as the team look to conquer the AFC West and push on to a potential Superbowl date
Is the rookie prepared for to be thrown in the deep end, the Chargers coaching staff believe he can handle it so know it is up to proving to the fans he is indeed capable.
Alex Smith - Playoff Potential?
Many are considering the 49ers to take down the NFC West this season with the retirement of Kurt Warner from Arizona.
Despite being taken number 1 in the 2005 draft, Smith has been pretty quiet in his NFL career thus far. This year is better than ever for him to take that next step and have a break out season that his potential promised.
He will need to be sharp making fast decisions and improve his completion percentage, but all the signs are positive in the pre-season that he can be the leader of the team this year.
Antonio Cromartie - Alcrotraz's second chance?
Antonio Cromartie has had his problems in the past, but he will hope he has left that all behind in his move to the Jets. Coming off a rather quiet year with the Chargers, he will be hoping to return to his 2007 form in which he recorded 10 interceptions.
He was planning to line up next to Darrelle Revis, but after his contract hold outs it looks like Cro will be the number one CB. Missing Revis, their best player, questions if indeed the Jets can win a Super Bowl this year.
Over the summer, the coaching staff have been drilling him on man-to-man coverage skills, something the Jets defense thrives on. Making the most of his 6-7 wingspan, will Antonio will be living up to his nickname? Alcrotraz - a place no man can escape.
Brandon Marshall - The Fins Go To Man
In Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins have finally got the talented wide receiver that they have needed the past few years. Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross has boldly predicted that his team will finish this season in Texas playing for the Super Bowl.
Expectations to preform will be high, the AFC East is looking very competitive this year and Marshall will have to be at his best if the Fins are to progress into the playoffs.
From his time in the NFL so far, we have learned that he carries an edgy emotional side to his game. After getting his wish to leave Denver, the Dolphin fans will be antcipiating he forms a chemistry with quarterback Chad Henne as both players need a smooth season to prove their worth.
Marshall could brake a franchise record the first year he plays in South Beach. He will be going for his fourth consecutive 100+ reception season, while O.J. McDuffie's single-season franchise record stands at a targetable 90 catches.
Matt Leinart - Big Shoes To Fill
Once Kurt Warner decided to retire at the end of last season, Matt Leinart knew he would have big shoes to fill. The former first round pick gets the chance to prove his ability when many are ruling the Cardinals out of a playoff return. He still has a lot of unanswered questions if he can perform at this level.
Warner was great at fast decision making, is Leinart's reaction time and ability to fire the ball out of the pocket up to scratch? His speed and mechanics certainly need to improve as well as becoming more accurate. From his four years in the NFL his pass percentage is a low 57 percent. Pass completition can be a big confidence booster to a QB, and Leinart is going to need plenty of confidence to perform.
Either way the coaching staff will adjust to what they have got with him. Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower will get more chances to run it, opening up play-action for Leinart to ease his way into things.
He may not have the NFL resume, but dont rule out Leinart just yet. We have all been waiting four years for him to take over the Cards.
Kevin Kolb - The Changing Of The Guard
With Donovan McNabb gone to Washington, Kevin Kolb takes over the helm in Philadelphia for the Eagles. After playing back up for the past three seasons, Kolb now has the pressure on his shoulders to lead the Eagles to a better record than division rivals the Redskins. Its want Philly fans want more than anything.
Kolb's margin for error will be slim, a few bad performances and the media in Philadelphia will let him know about it. Another quarterback troubled by his pass completion, Kolb will have to be more cautious when airing out the football. In his two career starts, Kolb has attempted 85 passes with 7 of them ending in interceptions.
Talk around the Eagles organization has built up Kolb, with plenty showing faith in his ability to produce this year. He is quick decision maker, and with a bit of sharpening should be able to carry the load. The Redskins visit in week 4, and winning that in front of the home fans would give Kolb a massive boost.
Mark Sanchez - Chasing Lombardi
Is this the year of the New York Jets? After last seasons fairytale like playoff stretch to the AFC championship game, people started to take notice of the Jets. This season there is no hiding and they start as a favorite to go one better and reach the Super Bowl. This is something Mark Sanchez is very well aware of.
Getting ready to start his second year in the NFL, Sanchez has a taste for the NFL and now needs to build on it. Coming into the league with an established offense around him, he did well to lead the team from the huddle in his rookie year. The Jets are a fairly complete team that have added more talent over the summer on both sides of the ball. If the team doesn't succeed, most of it will undoubtedly come back onto the quarterback.
Rex Ryan has said that this year he will be given more freedom on the field. Sanchez was up and down last year when it came to throwing the ball, and the interception rate will need to come down before he gets to creative.
The season hasn't started yet, but with the Jets being covered by HBO's "Hard Knocks", the realization of expectations and media coverage has already kicked in for Mark Sanchez.