High impact NFL rookies of 2012

At the NFL’s midway point, there have been many surprises (both good and bad) in both conferences, none more so than the better-than-expected performances of the league’s 2012 rookie crop, especially at QB. A record five first-year signal callers were under center for Opening Day, an almost unheard-of number in this era of “polished” field generals.

The No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Luck with the Colts, hasn’t disappointed. As the Colts surround him with more and more weapons, there’s no reason to believe Indianapolis won’t be back in the mix for AFC elite status sooner, rather than later. In D.C., Robert Griffin III is the talk of the town, even in an election year. The mercurial Heisman Trophy winner has displayed unusual poise far sooner than anyone expected. As in Luck’s case, the ‘Skins need to stockpile as many talented skill players around him as possible.

Miami’s Ryan Tannehill has probably been the biggest surprise of the QB crop, reviving a stagnant offense that hasn’t shown this much consistency since Chad Pennington was under center. Seattle’s Russell Wilson is another QB to keep an eye on. The undersized Wisconsin via N.C. State product has had his issues with tall pass rushers, but his elusiveness and coolness under pressure have Seahawk fans giddy. The remaining rookie QB starter, Brandon Weeden in Cleveland, is surrounded by far less talent than his colleagues, but he’s steadily improving.

The 2012 RB group wasn’t highly-touted, but some pleasant surprises have emerged nonetheless. Cleveland’s Trent Richardson got off to a slow start due to a knee injury, but has quickly demonstrated why scouts were so high on him coming out of Alabama. Tampa’s Doug Martin’s versatility and energy has pushed former starter LaGarrette Blount to the bench, and he should become a star very soon. The biggest surprise at RB, by far, is Alfred Morris of the Redskins. The sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic has already racked up three 100+ yard games and is second behind fellow rookie Doug Martin (794 yards) with 793 yards.

Rookie WRs in 2012 include Kendall Wright of the Titans (RGIII’s favorite receiver at Baylor), who has latched onto 42 passes and 3 TDs. Andrew Luck has wasted little time in targeting his college teammate TE Coby Fleener, with the former Stanford batterymates combining for 21 receptions. With little else in the way of deep threats, Brandon Weeden has gone to Josh Gordon (another Baylor product) in Cleveland, and the 21-year old Gordon has been the best downfield rookie with 4 TDs and increased attention from opposing safeties.

Matt Kalil, the first O-Lineman selected, hasn’t disappointed in Minnesota. Whether it’s pass protection or blocking for Adrian Peterson, Kalil already appears to be cut from the same cloth as other legendary Viking linemen such as Ron Yary and Steve Hutchinson. The only other OT drafted in Round 1, Riley Reiff of Iowa, has already become a leader on Detroit’s frequently maligned (and aging) O-Line. As the Lions develop a running game, Reiff will become even more of a factor. Read more…

Ryan Tannehill takes all the first-team reps

Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill

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In another good sign that Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be ready to go Sunday at Indianapolis, he took all the first-team reps during the portion of practice open to the media,

According to Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post, Tannehill was still wearing a brace and compression sleeve on his left knee, and was “still clearly favoring his knee.”

But after splitting the first team reps with backup Matt Moore yesterday, having Tannehill do all the work is a sign of apparent progress.

Moore’s an excellent relief pitcher, who has stepped into several bad situations and made them better, and the Dolphins have to be glad they kept him for just such a situation. Read more…

Dolphins name Tannehill the starter

Ryan Tannehill

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Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin might want to become a poker player.

Over the weekend, Philbin said that he wasn’t sure that the team would stick to its plan of naming the starting quarterback before the third preseason game of the year. So, naturally, he started his press conference on Monday by announcing that rookie Ryan Tannehill will be the team’s starting quarterback this season.

The signs actually started appearing at Dolphins practice on Monday when Tannehill got every snap with the first-team offense as the team started doing more game planning in advance of this week’s game against the Falcons. Philbin said that he informed Tannehill and Matt Moore of the decision before the practice to inform them of his decision and praised the professionalism of both men.  Read More…

Dolphins’ Tannehill uninspiring in starting debut

Ryan Tannehill

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If this was quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s test drive, he hit a few potholes, but was generally able to get the car back to the dealership in one piece.

The Miami Dolphins rookie, in his first opportunity with the starting offense had a mixed bag of a debut, but didn’t necessarily embarrass himself in a half of work. Mostly, he looked like a guy who could use some help.

He went three-and-out on his first two possessions, before gaining a first down just before the end of the first quarter.

And this is against a Carolina defense that struggled mightily a year again, Read more…


Tannehill turns heads in South Beach

Ryan Tannehill, Pat Devlin

Ryan Tannehill may have missed two days of camp due to his contract, but he believes he still has a legitimate chance to win the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback job.

The first step in upsetting veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard would be outplaying them on the practice field. And Tannehill is off to a promising start.

Per Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post, it’s been “hard not to notice” how effective Tannehill has been throwing the football through a few days of training camp. Volin says Tannehill has shown “good velocity, accuracy, and anticipation.” Coach Joe Philbin relayed that Tannehill had 53 “competitive snaps” in Sunday’s practice — just a day after he signed his contract — and the rookie passer completed “over 40″ of his throws.

“For a rookie quarterback,” Philbin confirmed, “I think he’s doing very well.”

Throwing with the “accuracy and anticipation” observed by Volin is a key for Tannehill after his reportedly interception-filled OTA and minicamp season. Read more here…