IT'S ALWAYSdangerous in midsummer--when legs are still fresh and dreams haven't yet beendashed by three-game losing streaks--to predict the stars of late autumn. Butduring a training-camp tour, SI unearthed these five potential breakoutplayers.
Derrick Johnson, LB, Chiefs Kansas City's first pick in the 2005 draft wasexpected to produce more than 6 1‚ÅÑ2 sacks in his first 29 games, but Johnsonwas slowed by a sprained ankle last year. The addition of linebackers DonnieEdwards and Napolean Harris--plus the development of promising second-yeardefensive end Tamba Hali--should help take the pressure off.
Bernard Berrian,WR, Bears This third-round pick out of Fresno State has caught 79 passes inthree seasons--but could match that total this year if the addition of rookietight end Greg Olsen and return-man-turned-receiver Devin Hester helps him getopen. During a practice last week, the 6' 1", 185-pound Berrian twiceburned fleet corner Nathan Vasher for long receptions.
Paul Posluszny,LB, Bills Slowed as a senior at Penn State by torn knee ligaments suffered inthe '06 Orange Bowl, he was downgraded to a second-round pick in April byscouts who questioned his mobility. But coach Dick Jauron has installedPosluszny as the Bills' starter in the middle, and the rookie is roaming likethe playmaker he was in his first three college seasons.
Cullen Jenkins,DE, Packers Until Aaron Kampman's breakout in '06, Green Bay's best rushing endof the post-Reggie White era had been Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. But he surrenderedhis starting spot to Jenkins last season--and it doesn't look like he'll get itback. A versatile run stuffer, the 303-pound Jenkins has shown quickness andsome great spin moves in camp.
August 12, 2007
Jerious Norwood,RB, Falcons He's not the sexy bust-out pick that Marshawn Lynch or AdrianPeterson are, but Norwood should play a key role in coach Bobby Petrino'smultiple-option offense. With Michael Vick likely gone for the season andWarrick Dunn coming off back surgery, the second-year back will get plenty ofcarries behind Atlanta's strong run blocking line.