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The Rookie Report: Week 2 In Review

Welcome everyone to the second regular season 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.

We will start this week with a moment of silence to let everyone in the

Houston,

Galveston and

Gulf

Coast area that our thoughts are with them in their recovery effort from the Hurricane Ike disaster.

In the aftermath of the disaster, the Texans vs. Ravens game was postponed until November, and Texans’ RB Steve Slaton will have to wait another week to get his first start as a professional. Before all of the hurricane news, Slaton was set to start in the place of Ahman Green, who appears to be losing his grip on the starting role every week as he simply cannot stay healthy.

Houston has a couple more tough rushing matchups upcoming against the Titans and Jaguars, so expectations must be tempered with Slaton’s performance early in the Texans season.

In

Carolina this week, two emerging rookie running backs square off against each other with both turning in impressive performances. Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart relieved starter DeAngelo Williams and never looked back, finishing the game with 77 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 14 carries. With Stewart’s impressive performance, it will not be a surprise if Stewart is starting in Week 3 and for the remainder of the season as he had a coming out party against a tough Bears run defense.

On the other side of the ball, Matt Forte showed the world that his performance against the Colts in his debut was no fluke. Forte turned in another solid performance with 113 yards on 26 touches. Short of Chris Johnson, no other rookie running back has been as impressive in the first two weeks of 2008. Another detail to watch is in the Colts game, backup Kevin Jones got a significant number of carries in relief of Forte; however, against the Panthers, Forte was given the full load with Kevin Jones only receiving one carry. It appears that Forte’s job as the feature runner is secure and with his two opening performances, a running back by committee approach in

Chicago is less likely.

As mentioned earlier, Titans RB Chris Johnson is the most impressive rookie RB through the first two weeks of the season. His combination of speed and vision on the field translates each week into game changing runs. Against the Bengals on Sunday, Johnson totaled 121 yards on 23 touches including a 51-yard breakout run. Johnson continues to split carries with LenDale White; however, with the run-oriented offense the Titans run there are plenty of touches to go around each week.

With the Titans running game going full force, Bengals LB Keith Rivers turned in another solid performance with four solo tackles and four assists. He continues to be a solid performer worthy of starting each week in tackle heavy leagues.

Packers WR Jordy Nelson registered his first catch as a professional this week against the Lions on a 29-yard touchdown pass. Lions RB Kevin Smith averaged four yards per carry and registered three catches for 20 yards in the losing effort; however, with the Lions trying to keep pace with high flying attack of the Packers, the Lions resorted more to the pass and it limited Smith’s opportunities throughout the game. Lions LB Jordon Dizon has been a disappointment thus far in 2008 as he continues to fail to outplay starting MIKE Paris Lenon for time in the middle. In Week 2, Dizon failed to even be on the field for one defensive snap.

Jaguars DE Quentin Groves received extending playing time in Week 2 and turned in a good performance against the Bills.

Groves finished the game with three solo tackles and a sack. For the Bills, WR James Hardy made an appearance in the red zone catching two passes for 12 yards and a touchdown.

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