I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Saturday, September 29, 2012

NFL Rookie Watch

It's Week 4 of the NFL season and a good time to check in on the performance of this year's rookies. The transition to NFL play takes time and is always met with varying degrees of success.  I would recommend you keep an eye on these three rookies who are handling the transition very well and are already hitting their stride at this level:

Doug Martin
1)  Doug Martin (RB Tampa Bay) 
A former Boise State Bronco, it was expected that Martin would rotate and work his way into the lineup with the Bucs. That has not been the case.  Martin has been a workhorse for the Bucs with 63 carries going into tomorrow's game. (By comparison, the next highest is Josh Freeman with 8 carries.) The Bucs believe that Martin can handle the heavy workload, and that he can block and also catch out of the backfield. The bigger question will be whether Martin can handle the physical punishment that NFL running backs endure. Watch how Martin handles the pressure of running, blocking and receiving against a hungry Washington Redskins team.

2)  Morris Claiborne (DB Dallas)
Morris Claiborne
Claiborne came from the vaunted LSU program and has performed exceptionally well while keeping a low profile on a team where that is not an easy task. Claiborne is being asked to play corner and safety, and he is handling the duties like a seasoned veteran. Claiborne brings speed, agility, and the ability to break quickly in one complete package, and he also has an advanced football IQ to handle Rob Ryan's complicated defensive schemes. Look for Claiborne to become more of a playmaker and start to showcase his many talents against some of the NFL's best receivers.  He will be providing coverage against Chicago's Brandon Marshall this weekend, and that will be a matchup worth watching.

3)  Robert Griffin III (QB Washington) 
Robert Griffin III
Griffin's success at Baylor and his Heisman Trophy were just the beginning, as he is performing extremely well under center with the Redskins. He has enjoyed success running the ball in his early games, and now he has started working more downfield passes. Keep an eye on how the Redskins continue opening up the playbook and allowing him to utilize his running and passing abilities. Griffin has adapted very quickly to the speed of the NFL game and seems to have adjusted to the different schemes that teams are showing him. Any team that allows its QB to run in the NFL has to hold its breath any time the QB tucks and crosses the line of scrimmage.  The Redskins are willing to take the risk, and hopefully Griffin
can stay healthy as he continues to present a dual threat running and passing.

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