Halfway through a topsy-turvy 2010 season, a surprising number of new names are vying with old standbys for all-star recognition
This is an article from the Nov. 8, 2010 issue
Matt Ryan can't live without him: He throws to White 12 times a game. A two-time Pro Bowl pick in his sixth season, White is on pace for a mind-boggling 123 catches.
Injuries throughout the receiving corps have left Manning throwing to the likes of Brody Eldridge and Blair White. Ho hum. His greatness is undiminished.
Came out of nowhere at the end of '09 and kept it going through the beginning of '10. His 231 yards in the opening win against Indy keyed Houston's strong start.
Talk about your classic deep threat. Lloyd was averaging 20.9 yards per catch through Sunday and is a major reason Kyle Orton is among the league leaders in passing.
Undrafted out of Hawaii in 2008, Bess has carved out a place as a third receiver in Miami. Good hands, explosive off the line and elusive. What more do you need?
In his eighth season, Gates is averaging a career-best 16.6 yards per catch. No player is as superior to his peers at his position than he is.
The No. 1 pick in 2008 is fast becoming the foundation of rebuilding Miami. Says coach Tony Sparano, with little irony, "I thank God ... I have Jake Long at left tackle."
His opening-day shift from right guard to right tackle has been a godsend for Baltimore; the fourth-year veteran helps keeps Joe Flacco clean (just 10 sacks).
Some thought Mack was picked too high at 21st in 2009, but the Cal product was an instant starter— and now he's a franchise center.
Wondering why LaDainian Tomlinson has looked reborn? Moore, an eighth-year pro, is a strong drive blocker in New York's running attack and never errs mentally.
Released by the Colts last March, the Super Bowl XLIV starter was snapped up as a free agent and has shored up a weak line, helping Kansas City lead the league in rushing.
Accurate on field goals (83.3%) and might be even more valuable on kickoffs: The sixth-year veteran leads the league in touchback percentage, at 56.3%.
Was averaging more than 30 yards per return, and with two touchdowns the second-year man has made New England dangerous in the kicking game again.
The 14th pick, out of Texas, Thomas has been victimized a few times, but he's also had four interceptions in a four-game span for the NFC West leaders.
The fourth-year man out of LSU has become an absolute force in Washington's secondary. He's averaging nearly 10 tackles over the first half of '10.
Looking for big interception numbers? You won't find them—for the simple reason that teams know better than to throw at Oakland's shutdown specialist.
An emerging star who plays well in tight coverage, Flowers has two picks, a forced fumble and eight passes defensed for this season's most improved team.
A tough call over Ray Lewis at inside/middle 'backer, but Pittsburgh's fourth-year vet gets the nod—helped by his 15-tackle games in Weeks 2 and 4.
The former CFL player has been the surprise of 2010. With Wake's 6½ sacks from his outside linebacker spot, Miami's pass rush hasn't missed Jason Taylor.
The '08 second-rounder has shored up the middle of the line in his first year as a starter; his two crushing sacks of Tony Romo keyed the Week 5 win at Dallas.
At 6'4" and 350 pounds, the fifth-year veteran is an amazingly strong pass rusher. Opposing O-lines consistently dedicate two blockers to deal with him.
A mainstay on the New England defensive line for the last six seasons, this 3--4 end plays inside and out with the same level of dominance.
A sixth-year veteran who's thriving in Philly's 4--3 system, Cole is on pace to surpass last season's 12½ sacks, with six; he has 17 quarterback pressures as well.
His two-year TD drought on returns is over. Hester has taken two punts to the house in the first seven games, leaving opponents to wonder: Why kick it to him?
After becoming just the third punter in NFL history to average more than 50 yards per attempt last season, Lechler is again eyeing that lofty plateau.
Clay Matthews III
Matthews means as much to the Pack's D as QB Aaron Rodgers does to the offense. Even a strained hammy hasn't slowed this second-year sack machine.
Most Valuable Player
Tom Brady, Quarterback, Patriots
New teammates practically throughout the offense, but the same Brady production.
Roddy White, Wide receiver, Falcons
His average game: eight catches, 107 yards. His biggest: 11 catches, 201 yards against Cincinnati.
Haloti Ngata, Defensive tackle, Ravens
A space eater on a topflight D who commands extra attention and still makes plays.
Maurkice Pouncey, Center, Steelers
The first-rounder out of Florida has solidified a shaky Pittsburgh line from Day One.
Ndamukong Suh, Defensive tackle, Lions
The second pick has 6½ sacks in seven games—and it takes two to block him.
Bill Belichick, Patriots
Incorporated new players all over the roster—and has New England atop the division.