Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver, New York Giants
The Giants have had trouble finding a spark on offense in recent years. With a franchise quarterback in Eli Manning, they have been searching for a receiver who could make plays and be the go-to-guy for Manning. You couldn’t ask for much more in Cruz, a rookie out of UMass. Since joining the team, Cruz has been a lightning bolt that has electrified the offense. So far this preseason, he has caught twelve passes for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns came against cross-town rivals, the New York Jets, in a game in which he put up 145 yards. That total is almost as much as any other receiver in the NFL has totaled in the entire preseason. Cruz has come on strong for the Giants and should be a playmaker all season long.
Daryl Washington, Outside Linebacker, Arizona Cardinals
After losing Karlos Dansby during free agency, the Cardinals were in dire need of a new linebacker that could step in immediate and have an impact. It appears that they did just that with the addition of Washington, a rookie out of TCU. So far this preseason, Washington has made 19 tackles, including a dominant 13-tackle performance against the Houston Texans in which he also had a fumble recovery. He has also made two pass deflections, proving that he can be valuable while dropping back as well as playing the run. Having Washington in their linebacking corps should ease the pain of losing Dansby.
Jahvid Best, Running Back, Detroit Lions
The Lions were another team looking for a spark this year after a lackluster offense lead them to a disappointing season in 2009. With a few key pieces already in place in Detriot, they decided to trade up in the 2010 NFL Draft to snatch Best, a game breaker out of Cal. And so far, he has not disappointed. In only fifteen carries this preseason, Best has tallied 129 yards on the ground, including a 51-yard burst against the Cleveland Browns. He has also added four catches for 29 yards. Second-year quarterback Matt Stafford should be feeling pretty excited about getting to hand off to this sparkplug, which should take some of the pressure off of the Lions’ passing game and make their offense more of a two-dimensional attack.
Pat Angerer, Inside Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts
Despite the fact that the Colts are 0-3 so far during the preseason, they have a definite bright spot on the defensive side of the ball. Pat Angerer, a rookie out of Iowa, has come on strong and has made a huge impact for a struggling defense. After three games, he has totaled 24 tackles, including 14 solo tackles, as well as two sacks. No one has more tackles at this point in the preseason than Angerer has. He has been flying around the field, making plays since the beginning and is showing that he can be a difference-maker this season for the Colts’ defense.
Greg Hardy, Defensive End, Carolina Panthers
At the beginning of this offseason, the Panthers thought that they would be in trouble after losing star defensive end Julius Peppers to the Chicago Bears during free agency. When the preseason started and games got under way, they almost immediately discovered a rising star that could take Peppers’ place in the near future. Greg Hardy, a rookie out of Ole Miss, has had a great preseason wreaking havoc on quarterbacks. He has played with tenacity and is constantly breathing down the neck of the opposing passer. So far this preseason he has notched three sacks, including two against the Baltimore Ravens. To go along with those sacks, Hardy has also racked up twelve tackles. Even with no Peppers, the Panther defense should be getting a Hardy helping of sacks this season.
Watching Preseason Games