Every rookie in the National Football League is less than two weeks into his career, but a handful of players have already shown signs of being able to make an impact, while others have gone the complete opposite direction at the start of training camp.
Training camp and the preseason are both tremendous tools for evaluating which players are ready to burst onto the scene in their first year of NFL action. Last week we took a look at the ten best rookies for the upcoming season. This week, I'll analyze which players have helped themselves or hurt themselves so har in practice. The preseason kicks off shortly, so expect updates based on how these players perform in those games as well.
After the jump are the risers and fallers of training camp thus far.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints - Mark Ingram was one of the top rookies in the league coming into training camp. His impressive collegiate career along with his terrific skill set made Ingram a first round pick and an early favorite to win offensive rookie of the year. Now, all of the hype is formulating into something on the field. According to Sporting News, Ingram has looked as good as advertised in the early going of training camp.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars - Don't look now, but Blaine Gabbert could very well be the opening day starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former Mizzou quarterback has gotten off to a terrific start in training camp and will have a chance to steal the show by starting the team's first preseason game due to David Garrard's back injury. If Garrard's back problems linger, and Gabbert continues to play well, the Blaine era could begin sooner rather than later in Jacksonville.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Green has not even seen game action yet, but the rookie wide receiver is already all the rage at Bengals' training camp. The rookie receiver was taken fourth overall back in April and has earned the praise of everyone in the organization and trust of his teammates. Check out this piece in the Washington Post to see what I'm talking about.
Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions - Mikel Leshoure was drafted to be the powerful and durable compliment to the speedy injury prone Jahvid Best. However, it was Mikel Leshoure who went down with a season ending achilles tear in the first week of training camp, bringing an end to his rookie season.
Nick Fairley, Detroit Lions - Leave it to the Detroit Lions to have terrible injury luck with their early draft choices. In addition to Mikel Leshoure's season ending injury, the Lions have also had to endure a broken foot to their first round pick Nick Fairley. Fairley had surgery and will miss the entire preseason. Though he should be back for the starting of the regular season, Fairley is missing valuable reps.
Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys - The guys over at Blogging the Boys have done an excellent job breaking down Tyron Smith's progression thus far in training camp. As expected, Smith is having a difficult time in the early going. He is athletically gifted but still very raw in his technique. Word is he is working as hard as any player on the Cowboys, which is a great sign, but there is still a bit of work to be done.