The two-time Pro Bowl linebacker returns to the field after tearing his ACL in Week 3 of last season. He made his preseason debut on Aug. 26 and looked like his old self. When Spikes makes big hits, it's contagious. When he was out, the Bills' D lost its mojo.
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Miami hopes that the No. 1 overall pick of the 1994 draft is still a capable run-stuffer at 36 years old. Big Daddy will likely rotate with another aging veteran, Keith Traylor, to present a formidable obstacle in the middle.
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He hasn't reached his potential in two seasons, but the 6-foot-3, 255-pound tight end has been a monster during this preseason. He leads the Pats with 13 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown and is becoming one of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite targets.
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He may contribute at receiver, but New York really needs him to excel as a punt returner. The Jets are young and have holes all over, so they need a few big plays on special teams to have a shot at a winning record this year. Dwight has five career return touchdowns.
5 of 32David Bergman/SI
He had 44 receptions, 471 receiving yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. Not great stats, but when you figure that Kyle Boller was passing him the ball, that's not bad. The speedy Clayton should flourish with new quarterback Steve McNair.
6 of 32Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The second-year linebacker had 4.5 sacks last year and showed flashes of excellence, but he has been struggling throughout the preseason with a hamstring injury. Getting him healthy is important for Cincinnati's defense.
7 of 32Jamie Sabau/SI
If he stays healthy, he'll be the one weapon in the Browns' offense that opposing defense will have no answer for. His cuts have looked sharp in the preseason and he's been able to take hits. Winslow's health could be the key to second-year QB Charlie Frye's chances for success.
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The Steelers rarely make any changes on their defensive line, so there are big expectations for the fifth-year defensive end. Keisel will take over for the departed Kimo Von Oelhoffen and has been impressive during the offseason.
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From the team's inception, the Texans' major problem has been their offensive line. Former Pro Bowler Flanagan hopes to bring a new attitude to this unit. If he succeeds, Houston's offense might finally start to produce.
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Although he's still competing for playing time, Jackson could make a serious impact at cornerback this year. He didn't show much as a rookie, but he has great athleticism and can help against the run.
11 of 32Al Tielemans/SI
Jags QB Byron Leftwich is looking for a go-to guy now that Jimmy Smith has retired, and he seems very comfortable with Wilford, who caught 41 passes for 681 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Wilford, a fourth-round pick in 2004, took the starting job from former first-rounder Reggie Williams midway through last season and never gave it back.
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Everyone knows that Mawae, a six-time Pro Bowler, is as tough as they come, but how much can the Titans realistically expect from the 35-year-old center? The answer to that question might be the key to how successful this young offense is in 2006.
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The Broncos hope he'll return to his 2004 form, when he caught 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Packers. Walker missed the majority of the '05 season with a torn ACL, but he has looked good during the preseason.
14 of 32John Rieger/US Presswire
He was in horrible shape last year and still had 10 interceptions for the Jets. This season Law is reportedly slimmer and ready to go. The 32-year-old cornerback has great instincts and should provide the big-play capability the Chiefs' D has lacked.
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The former No. 2 overall pick moves from right tackle to his natural position, left tackle. Head coach Art Shell knows offensive linemen, so if Gallery is going to live up to his hype, it will be in 2006.
16 of 32Jerry Lai/US Presswire
He missed his junior season at Florida State with a torn ACL and has little game experience, but the Chargers are excited about the talented cornerback. Look for him to develop quickly during the season in a nickel-situation role.
17 of 32Simon Bruty/SI
The Cowboys like starting running back Julius Jones, but Barber is too talented and dangerous a runner to leave off the field. Look for him to be the third-down back and play a few series to give Jones a rest. Coach Bill Parcells loves Barber's blocking and receiving skills.
18 of 32Rich Kane/US Presswire
New York invested a lot in Arrington, despite the rap that he's a freelancer on defense. The 28-year-old end is coming off knee surgery and missed a lot of practice this summer, but he should be a disruptive force if the knee doesn't give him too many problems.
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Although Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb dominated the headlines in Philadelphia last year, perhaps the Eagles' biggest problem was their lack of a pass rush. Philly needs Howard to reenergize the line and allow the defense to get some turnovers. The Eagles have been thrilled with Howard's effort and ability so far.
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Antwaan Randle El
New offensive coordinator Al Saunders is still tinkering with the offense, and one of his priorities is figuring out how to use Randle El. It's a given that Washington will use him as part of trick plays and as a traditional receiver. The Skins, however, did not let Randle El throw the ball in the preseason -- they're probably waiting for the regular season to unveil that scheme.
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Ricky Manning Jr.
The former Panther has impressed the Chicago coaching staff and is pushing for major playing time. He has a knack for making big plays, and this is the perfect defense for him. The Bears' offense is pathetic, but the D could score enough points to make the team dangerous.
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He missed five games last year with an ankle injury and has struggled with a hamstring injury during the preseason. But once he gets into game shape, watch out. Bailey is a playmaker whom coach Rod Marinelli has called a potential "centerpiece."
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Green Bay is paying Woodson to be a shut-down corner, but it remains to be seen if he has enough juice left in his legs to stop a No. 1 receiver. The Packers' secondary will have a long year if Woodson doesn't play as well as he did at the peak of his career.
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The third-year pro out of USC is finally healthy and ready to deliver on the big expectations the Vikings have for him. Minnesota expects its line to be the strength of the defense, so the speedy Udeze has a chance to reach double digits in sacks.
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People forget how talented he is because the Jets were so bad last year. He will get a clean slate in Atlanta and should be rejuvenated on this defense, since offenses won't be able to consistently double-team him.
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He has value as a backup to oft-injured running back DeShaun Foster, but the key for the first-round pick out of Memphis is his skill as a return man. He had a beautiful kick return for a touchdown against the Dolphins and will be a dangerous weapon for the Panthers this season.
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He has shown flashes of the explosiveness that made him a legend at USC, but at times he's looked merely mortal against fast NFL defenders. The Saints hope to keep teams guessing as to how they'll use the No. 2 overall pick. Look for new coach Sean Payton to devise numerous ways to get Bush into open space, where he can make big plays.
28 of 32Bill Frakes/SI
The former Stanford tight end was such a pleasant surprise in his rookie season (41 catches) that the expectations for him are increasing. Coach Jon Gruden has said he wants Smith to step up his all-around game before Gruden makes him a featured part of the passing game. Still, the athletic Smith should be one of QB Chris Simms' favorite targets.
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He's had a bumpy road rehabbing from a knee injury that eliminated his rookie season. Reportedly, the second-year cornerback dedicated himself to working out over the summer and is as strong as ever. Rolle hasn't been hesitant at all during the preseason and should help solidify the Cardinals' secondary.
30 of 32Brad Mangin/SI
With starting wide receiver Isaac Bruce nearing the end of his career, Curtis is set to emerge as the next great Rams receiver. St. Louis' offense has gotten off to a slow start under new coach Scott Linehan, but as it improves, the speedy Curtis should be a big-play threat at receiver and on special teams.
31 of 32David E. Klutho/SI
He was impressive enough in the offseason for the 49ers to comfortably trade running back Kevan Barlow. Gore ran for 4.8 yards per carry last season and led the team in rushing with 608 yards. But since his days at the University of Miami, the shift back has not been able to stay healthy. His rebuilt knees may very well be the key to the Niners' season.
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Seattle's defense was already pretty good, but the Seahawks couldn't resist adding the talented Peterson. The seventh-year linebacker struggled last season because of an Achilles injury in 2004. He appears to be healthy and will be valuable as a freelance playmaker and pass-rush specialist.
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