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    Assistant Coach coldrolled's Avatar
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    Pittsburgh Coach Tomlin says

    DeAndre Hopkins among offseason rookie standouts By Chris Wesseling Around the League Writer

    Published: June 16, 2013

    Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin provided our annual reminder not to read too deeply into offseason practices because it's just "football in shorts." The most important function is to install the offenses and defenses that the players will take into training camp.

    For the incoming draft class, though, it's our first chance to see how they are integrating at the next level. Which rookies are leaving the biggest impression on coaches, teammates and beat writers? Here's a sample of nine first-year players standing out from the pack.

    DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans wide receiver

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    Under general manager Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak, the Texans habitually have dispensed the notion of competition when it comes to first-round picks. They are drafted to be thrown into the fire as immediate contributors. Kubiak's praise for Hopkins already has run the gamut from "extremely special" to "obviously very gifted" and "very competitive."

    Asked how quickly Hopkins might be ready for a major offensive role, Kubiak replied, "I'm expecting it right off the get-go." Between Hopkins and a healthy Ben Tate, the Texans finally might possess enough playmakers to get past the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in the AFC playoffs.

    Johnathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars safety


    The No. 33 overall pick in the draft was the team's organized team activities/minicamp MVP "in a landslide," according to The Florida Times-Union. This comes after Cyprien was "a man among boys" at rookie camp. We expect him to emerge as the Jaguars' premier defensive player as a rookie.

    Manti Te'o, San Diego Chargers, linebacker


    The Chargers have done a commendable job of sweeping Te'o's fake-girlfriend scandal under the rug. All of the talk out of offseason practices was about Te'o's on-field impact. The former Notre Dame star appears to be one of those rare NFL-ready rookies with instincts who just "gets it." Te'o might not be a three-down linebacker, but he's going to start from Day 1.



    D.J. Swearinger, Houston Texans safety


    As Ed Reed waffles on his availability for Week 1, the No. 57 overall pick continues to impress the Texans coaching staff with confidence, instincts and ball skills. "He's very smart in picking things up with what we're doing," Kubiak said last week.

    "I think he's going to be a big contributor early."

    Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals tight end


    Coach Marvin Lewis' first on-field reaction was that Eifert is "as advertised" as a receiver as well as a blocker. The Bengals plan to move him around the offense to create mismatches against linebackers and cornerbacks.

    "From Day 1 nothing has seemed too big for him," quarterback Andy Dalton said. "That's why we picked him with the first pick, and he's really well-deserving."



    Matt Elam, Baltimore Ravens safety


    The last pick in the first round is impressing teammates as a quick study who always is around the ball. "He's tough, he's fast, he gets football," secondary coach Teryl Austin said, "and I think he is going to be a fine player for us soon."

    Elam already is playing in both base and nickel packages. "That's pretty impressive," veteran cornerback Corey Graham explained. "You don't see that much, especially in the first couple of months of being on the team."

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    Sio Moore, Oakland Raiders linebacker


    A pre-draft favorite of NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, Moore has had normally reticent head coach Dennis Allen gushing in offseason pracices.

    "I like Sio," Allen said last week. "He's a big, powerful man. And he's got a little bit of pass-rush ability to him. So, I like some of the flexibility that he gives us. His work ethic and his understanding of the game of football is what's going to allow him to be a good player for us."

    Moore should be penciled in as the starting outside linebacker opposite Kevin Burnett.

    Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals safety


    As expected, the man formerly known as Honey Badger was "buzzing around plays" as an immediate starter in nickel packages during OTAs. "He gets things the first time the coaches tell it to him," head coach Bruce Arians said. "He's got natural instincts to play football. I'm really happy for him. He's playing really well."

    Quarterback Carson Palmer has compared Mathieu's closing speed to that of long-time nemesis Troy Polamalu.



    Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers tight end


    McDonald "may have been the biggest standout" this offseason among the 49ers' rookies, according to the Sacramento Bee. The No. 55 overall pick was a favorite target of all the quarterbacks and showed a knack for making difficult catches. He's expected to fill Delanie Walker's role as the No. 2 tight end, complementing Vernon Davis.

    Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coldrolled View Post
    Under general manager Rick Smith and coach Gary Kubiak, the Texans habitually have dispensed the notion of competition when it comes to first-round picks. They are drafted to be thrown into the fire as immediate contributors.

    So they don't sit on the bench and watch until their contract is almost up? They actually play? What an amazing concept.

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    Assistant Coach Real Deal Steel's Avatar
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    Head Coach LatrobePA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nolrog View Post
    So they don't sit on the bench and watch until their contract is almost up? They actually play? What an amazing concept.
    LOL... Our defense is to difficult to learn as a rookie, 2nd year, and even 3rd year player!

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    Starter cmerrifield's Avatar
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    Re: Pittsburgh Coach Tomlin says

    Quote Originally Posted by LatrobePA View Post
    LOL... Our defense is to difficult to learn as a rookie, 2nd year, and even 3rd year player!
    Cortez Allen. Its not always the defense, sometimes its the players not putting in the work

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2

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    Head Coach LatrobePA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmerrifield View Post
    Cortez Allen. Its not always the defense, sometimes its the players not putting in the work

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2
    That sounds like a coach or lack of issue??

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    Starter cmerrifield's Avatar
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    Re: Pittsburgh Coach Tomlin says

    Quote Originally Posted by LatrobePA View Post
    That sounds like a coach or lack of issue??
    If they got a C in a class is it the professor's fault? Sometimes you can tell people what it will take to succeed and they are too lazy or have gotten by on natural talent too long. I will say, I think Horton wad a terrible secondary coach and Lake is much better at developing talent, but still some of the blame has to be on the players. Also remember, some of these defensive players are switching schemes here and they are not on teams still playing a 4-3, that makes a difference.

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2

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    Head Coach LatrobePA's Avatar
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    Send them packing...

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    2nd String FlatsSteeler's Avatar
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    Give me a break it's F##@ football........On Defense find the guy with the Ball and Knock him on his A$$........on Offense DON'T get Knocked on your A$$ especially if you have the Ball......Pretty Simple when you think of it........

  10. #10
    Waterboy
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    Quote Originally Posted by LatrobePA View Post
    LOL... Our defense is to difficult to learn as a rookie, 2nd year, and even 3rd year player!
    Putting hands over face from realizing the above is true

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