Column: 2006 a banner year for rookies (1 Viewer)


Gone but will never forgotten. R.I.P. Nate
Aug 13, 1998
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Anniston, AL

DAVE GOLDBERG / The Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints will start three rookies Sunday and a fourth would be starting if he wasn't hurt. The Houston Texans will have five rookie starters. Unusual in most seasons. Not this year, when what appears to be the best draft class in years is having an impact at both the top and bottom of the league - with players from both the top and bottom of the draft.

The Saints (6-3) and Texans (3-6) are two examples. But so are others: The Bears and Giants at the top of the NFC are both getting major contributions from rookies, as well as the up-and-coming Jets, the perplexing Cowboys, and the building Bills and Packers.

Even the historically challenged Cardinals, whose 1-8 record is the worst in the league, look like they've had a good draft, led by Matt Leinart, the Heisman-winning quarterback who should work through his growing pains. There is a caveat, though: Youngsters have done well before with the Cards, but the best players - Simeon Rice, Thomas Jones, Kyle Vanden Bosch and others - leave and become better elsewhere.

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