August 17, 2009
Lists are one thing that can be counted on to consistently fire people up, and that's one thing we don't do enough of here on The Corner: make you angry. From time to time, Shutdown Corner will present a list of five NFL-related somethings. Today, little known players who could have a big impact on the NFL.
I wanted today's Shutdown Five to be a tribute to Y.E. Yang and his thrilling win over Tiger Woods at the PGA yesterday. My first thought was to do a list of the five best Koreans in the NFL, but I don't think we're ready for that just yet.
Instead, I present five little-known players (which also presents certain challenges, since virtually every player in the NFL is better-known than Y.E. Yang was before this weekend) who could have a big impact on the 2009 NFL season.
1. Pierre Garcon(notes) and/or Austin Collie(notes), WR, Indianapolis Colts. These two gentlemen are currently battling over the Colts' No. 3 receiver spot, and whoever ends up getting the burn in that position, Peyton Manning(notes) will turn them into a contributor.
He always does. When the Colts are in obvious passing situations, they spread the field, and after Reggie Wayne(notes), Anthony Gonzalez(notes) and Dallas Clark(notes) have all been accounted for by the defense, scraps are always left for a third receiver. Whether it's Qadry Ismail, Troy Walters(notes), Brandon Stokley(notes) or Gonzalez, Manning has always seemed to make sure that that guy makes an impact. Garcon and Collie are your candidates this year.
2. Sage Rosenfels(notes), QB, Minnesota Vikings. OK, so most NFL fans know of Sage Rosenfels, but that doesn't make him a household name. Ask the average Joe on the street about Sage Rosenfels, and they might say, "Well, that certainly sounds delicious."
But Rosenfels is your current leader in the Vikings quarterback sweepstakes, and I think he'll end up winning it. If he does, he immediately becomes the key to the Vikings' Super Bowl hopes. If Rosenfels is adequate or something better, the Vikings have a well-rounded and dangerous team. If not, they're a one-dimensional offensive attack that will be solved by someone before they get a crack at the Super Bowl.
3. Pierre Thomas(notes), RB, New Orleans Saints. Saints fans know and love him, and good fantasy football players know him, but outside of that, there's not a lot of love for Pierre Thomas out there. Reggie Bush(notes), of course, is the big name in the New Orleans backfield, but Pierre Thomas is the one doing the heavy lifting.
The Saints would be doing Thomas, Bush and all of their fans a disservice if this wasn't finally the year that they established clear roles for Thomas and Bush. Thomas is the primary back, he works between the tackles, and they figure out ways to get Bush the ball out in space. Period. They work as a team, and each guy knows his role. That's the way it should be.
4. David Clowney(notes), WR, New York Jets. Most depth charts have Chansi Stuckey(notes) listed as the starting Z receiver for the Jets, but Clowney was a playmaker in the Jets' first preseason game. He was Mark Sanchez's(notes) first target on a deep ball down the right sideline in the Jets' preseason opener, and he made the catch for a 48-yard gain. He later caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Erik Ainge, too. I'm also petitioning the NFL to require that Clowney takes the field wearing giant shoes and a red, round foam nose every week.
5. Fred Jackson(notes), RB, Buffalo Bills. He played his college ball at Coe College in Iowa, then signed with the Sioux City Bandits of the National Indoor Football League, and spent some time with the Rhein Fire of NFL Europa. He'll start the first three games of this season for the Buffalo Bills, and he'll play very, very well.
Jackson emerged last year as a complement to starter Marshawn Lynch(notes), though Lynch wasn't necessarily the better back. Jackson had a better yards-per-carry average on the season. Lynch, though, is suspended for the first three weeks of the season, so Jackson will have the running back spotlight to himself. I'd be surprised if he didn't make a great impression.
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