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7/19/2010 12:00:00 AM
Poor work inside the red zone cost the Houston Texans a franchise-first postseason appearance in 2009, something rookie RB Ben Tate might help change.
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The 2010 NFL betting campaign kicks off with the preseason in just a few weeks. Once the regular season begins and games count for keeps, there are a number of rookies that could have a huge impact on their teams.
That means these rookies will have a big impact on your analysis of this year's pro football odds. Here are five to include in your preseason handicapping.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
The 2008 Heisman Trophy winner is probably going to be given the reins for the Rams at some point early in this season, if not immediately in Week 1. The former Oklahoma Sooner missed the majority of the 2009 season for the Big XII giants, as he only threw 69 passes, completing 56.5 percent of them for 562 yards and two TDs.
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But two seasons ago, Bradford proved his value, as he won the Heisman for a season in which he threw for 4,720 yards and an even 50 TDs.
If recent seasons by Matt Ryan and Matt Stafford, also former No. 1 picks in the NFL Draft, are any indication, Bradford could be in for some ups and downs. Both Ryan and Stafford showed signs of brilliance in their opening seasons, but both had issues as well.
However, Ryan had a fantastic Atlanta team behind him to work with while Stafford had a horrifying Detroit squad. Bradford will have more downs than ups, but at least he can give the city of St. Louis something to be happy about.
Ben Tate, Houston Texans
Statistically speaking, the Houston Texans had the worst red zone offense in the NFL last year. Three games ended with Houston just short of the goal line because it was unable to pound the ball to pay dirt.
Tate, the Texans' second round draft selection, had 10 rushing TDs for the Auburn Tigers last season, and he has the ability to be a major asset for head coach Gary Kubiak. Tate also rushed for 1,362 yards on 263 carries for the Tigers in '09, and could find himself as a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
There won't be a rookie more highly scrutinized than Tebow. The Florida Gator was, without a doubt, one of the best college football players of all time. However, considering the fact that the Denver Broncos traded up in to draft No. 15, head coach Josh McDaniels is really putting his career on the line on Tebow's left arm.
The biggest question is whether or not Tebow's inexperience taking snaps from under center is going to ultimately be his undoing at the professional level. Still, no one is going to question Tebow's heart and his knack for winning games though. Denver has definitely adopted a winner.
Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
Berry left the University of Tennessee after his junior season and immediately cashed in by getting drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs with the fifth overall selection of the NFL Draft. After leading the Volunteers in picks last year with three, Berry will join the Chiefs and hopefully be a real playmaker in the mold of Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu.
Kansas City knows that it needs quite a few players on its defense, and head coach Todd Haley and new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel have taken the first step by drafting Berry, a safety with the skill set of a cornerback and the size of a small linebacker.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers probably reached just a bit when they traded up to take Mathews out of Fresno State. The former Bulldog ran roughshod on the Boise State defense last year, something that hardly anyone else could say. With future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson leaving town for the Big Apple, the Bolts had a real void at the running back position.
Mathews has the size and strength to carry the load and take pressure off of Darren Sproles, who is clearly too small to take the pounding of a regular back for a full 16 games. Expect great things out of the second running back taken in the NFL Draft, particularly on a San Diego team that should be bleeding the clock in a ton of games this season.