Welcome, everyone, to the sixth and final preseason installment to the 2008 Rookie Report. Each week during the regular season, the report will cover trends, news items and analysis of notable performances by the NFL’s 2008 Rookie Class to assist in your pursuit of dynasty championship gold.
The first five weeks of the rookie report served to introduce this year’s rookie class by position. With training camp ongoing over this five-week period, it is useful to analyze the happenings of training camp as we sit at the doorstep of the regular season.
This week’s edition will focus on members of the 2008 rookie class who were standouts in training camp and players to watch closely early in the regular season.
QB Matt Ryan,
After a strong training camp, Matt Ryan was named the Week 1 starter following the third preseason game. Ryan has picked up the offense quickly and has shown flashes of his potential to-date in the preseason. Through the first three preseason games, Ryan is completing over 60% of his passes with two TDs and two INTs. Ryan will likely have his ups and downs as an inconsistent rookie learning the NFL game and speed of play; however, the Falcons and their fans have to be happy with his progress this offseason.
Chris Johnson has been a beast since hitting the field for the Titans this summer. He has highlighted his vision, receiving skills, speed and quickness thus far in both practice and in games. In three preseason games, Chris Johnson is averaging 6.3 yards per carry to go along with 12 yards per catch. Coach Jeff Fisher emphasized throughout
There has been plenty of hype surrounding Tim Hightower in fantasy circles during training camp. Hightower resembles Marion Barber’s physical style of running. He will begin his career as the backup running back and short yardage/goal-line back as a TD vulture. Hightower has proven his worth in this short-yardage/goal-line role in the preseason as evidenced by him having a touchdown in each of his first three preseason games. In fantasy scoring systems that are TD heavy, Hightower should make an immediate impact in all league formats in 2008. Long-term, the future looks very bright for Hightower as the Cardinals appear to have found a diamond in the rough with Hightower as a potential future starter whenever Edgerrin James moves on.
RB Ray Rice,
Ray Rice did not waste any time establishing himself a role in the Ravens offense with a solid preseason showing and Willis McGahee missing time due to a knee injury. Rice averaged 5.7 yards per carry and had an impressive eight catches in the first three preseason games. With the Ravens likely to ease McGahee back into the starter’s role in the early weeks of the season, Ray Rice appears to be in line to see carries early and often in his rookie year.
RB Steve Slaton,
Steve Slaton has been the only Houston Texans running back to show any potential through the first three games of the preseason. Slaton is averaging over four yards per carry thus far, and rebounded from a rough start with fumbles in practice. Slaton likely will never carry the full load for the Texans due to durability and size issues; however, he is in a good position to see the field as part of a committee in
WR Keenon Burton,
With Donnie Avery’s injury in training camp, the door was left open for Keenon Burton to step in and secure a role in the Rams’ offense.
WR Josh Morgan,
Josh Morgan was impressive stepping in while Bryant Johnson, who missed a large part of training camp with an injury. Josh Morgan registered nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown in the first two preseason games before having a quiet third preseason game and missing the fourth game due to injury. Morgan will likely start as the third wide receiver for the 49ers to begin the season; however, in Mike Martz’s pass happy system, he could emerge into a decent fantasy play considering he is behind Bryant Johnson (who was plagued by injuries this preseason) and Bruce (who is not getting any younger).
WR Harry Douglas,
followed up an impressive OTA session with an equally standout training camp. He secured the slot receiving role in the Falcons’ offense beating out Michael Jenkins and Laurent Robinson for the WR3 position on the team.
WR DeSean Jackson,
With both Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis missing time during training camp, DeSean Jackson was very impressive in preseason action with 16 catches for 189 yards. So far in camp, he has looked most impressive when operating out of the slot. With Curtis out due to his sports hernia injury and Brown questionable to begin the season,
WR Eddie Royal,
Eddie Royal has been the topic of a considerable amount of buzz in the Broncos’ training camp and OTAs. Although not having any breakout games in the preseason, Royal appears to be opening the season as the WR2 in