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Monday Morning Quarterback—Preview Edition
Peter King
September 01, 2008
I was thinking, This is the season for an AFC power shift. Then I stopped at Patriots camp and saw the Brady-Moss connection
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September 01, 2008

Monday Morning Quarterback—preview Edition

I was thinking, This is the season for an AFC power shift. Then I stopped at Patriots camp and saw the Brady-Moss connection

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Breakout Potential
They aren't recognizable now, but watch for these players on the highlight shows

This summer I visited 16 training camps, traveled a total of 9,000 miles by car and plane, and got wowed by three young players who are not on America's radar yet. They will be, very soon.

1. LaMarr Woodley, OLB, Steelers
Four sacks in 80 defensive snaps last season—plus two more in the playoffs—was good enough for Pittsburgh to give this thick-legged, faster-than-he-looks second-year man the strongside job full time. Just watch: Woodley could become Shawne Merriman East, equally good at bull- and edge-rushing.

2. Tanard Jackson, FS, Buccaneers
Last year, when coordinator Monte Kiffin named him the first rookie to start on the Tampa Bay defense in a season opener since 1996, Kiffin told the former Syracuse corner, "Lead the league in effort." Sixteen starts later, Kiffin had a safety who hits like Jack Tatum and can cover.

3. Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys
When Dallas got him with the No. 22 pick on draft day in April, team scouting czar Tom Ciskowski sidled up to owner Jerry Jones and said, "We stole one." Mark my words: Felix Jones, who shared the backfield with Darren McFadden at Arkansas, enters the NFL as one of the best cutback runners in the game.

You Can Believe It Or Not (I Don't)

Just a few of the things I've heard this summer that left me shaking my head

This is the Cardinals' year. It was their year in 2006 when they bought Edgerrin James and drafted Matt Leinart; they went 5--11 again. It was their year in '07 when a new coaching staff swept in; they won two meaningless games late to get to 8--8. This year? Shut up and play.... The Steelers will hold off the charging Browns. Pittsburgh was No. 1 in total defense last season, but that vaunted D allowed 29 points per game as the Steelers finished 1--5, including two losses at home to Jacksonville. They did not sign a first-rate defensive free agent and went offense on their first two draft picks. Mike Tomlin better know what he's doing.... Tarvaris Jackson can't take the Vikings deep into the playoffs. In Minnesota's 5--2 finish last season, the second-year QB completed 65.2% of his passes. I guarantee, if he's a 65% passer in '08, the Vikings will win at least one playoff game.... Asante Samuel is worth $9.5 million a year. He's a top 10 corner, but he was wildly inconsistent last year and cost the Patriots the Super Bowl with horrendous fourth-quarter coverage of David Tyree. How silly is it that the Eagles are paying him $11 million more than Brian Westbrook over the next three years?

Games I'd Pay to See

A half-dozen matchups worth the scalper's price

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