Ask Vic: 'Other' impressive rookies

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Question: What can you tell us about rookies we don't hear that much about? We've heard plenty about Adrian Peterson, Dwayne Bowe and Patrick Willis, who are making quite an impact on their respective teams. My question mostly focuses on less-talked-about positions (not quarterback, running back, wide receiver or punt/kick returner). -- Jean H.

Okay, let's talk about offensive linemen. The best rookie, and one of the best players period in the NFL, is Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas. He has not allowed Derek Anderson to be sacked, which has gone a long way toward allowing the Browns' passing game to be as explosive as it has been.

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Another impressive rookie offensive lineman is Indianapolis tackle Tony Ugoh, who has stepped up nicely as a replacement after the surprise retirement by standout veteran Tarik Glenn.

Let's talk about rookie defensive linemen. Houston tackle Amobi Okoye has leads all rookies with five sacks. Brian Robison, an end for Minnesota, has 3.5 sacks.

How about rookie cornerbacks? Aaron Ross of the Giants and Leon Hall of the Bengals have three interceptions apiece. Like Hall, Darrelle Revis of the Jets also is having a solid season on a bad team.

Rookie safeties? LaRon Landry has caused many heads to turn while pairing with Sean Taylor in the Redskins secondary.

You did mention Willis, who has been a tackling machine for the 49ers. Another impressive rookie linebacker is the Steelers' LaMarr Woodley, who has 3 sacks.

Question: Why does it always seem that Kansas City never goes out and gets a decent quarterback? Trent Green was never very good and Joe Montana was near the end of his career when he joined the Chiefs. Up to this year, the Chiefs have always had a good offensive line. Now they have a good receiver in Dwayne Bowe, who will just get better, but they seem unconcerned with the quarterback situation and seem to think that they have to just use what they have instead of taking some action. I think with Anderson doing well in Cleveland that they should make a move at Brady Quinn. -- Ryan, Iron Mountain, MI

I don't buy the argument that the Chiefs "never" get a decent quarterback. Green gave them some good production, and Montana, while nearing the end of his career, did quarterback them to the AFC Championship Game.

The Chiefs thought they found a long-term answer at the position by making former Alabama standout Brodie Croyle a third-round draft pick in 2006. I didn't view it as an off-the-wall pick at the time, but now it looks like a mistake. After Croyle proved to be a disappointment this summer, the Chiefs were forced to turn to Damon Huard.

It will be interesting to see what the Browns do with Anderson or Quinn. Anderson's outstanding season so far is likely to force them to decide whether to commit to him with a lengthy contract extension and part ways with Quinn, or send Anderson packing and turn the job over to Quinn. It could very well prove to be one of the most pivotal decisions in the recent history of the franchise.

Question: Is blitzing the only way to beat the Patriots? Why not take chances and hit Tom Brady as hard as you can as much as you can. Nothing cheap, but beat the snot out of him. He may beat you with a quick pass, but he'll beat you for sure if you don't pressure him. -- Susan A.

It is true that Brady is at his very best when can he can comfortably sit in the pocket, scan the field, and pick out the open receiver. It also is true that when Brady is forced to throw on the move, he still does an excellent job of finding the open target but he is not quite as accurate.

Blitzing is a risk against any quarterback, although it is particularly dangerous against Brady because not only does he excel at blitz recognition he also has a superb group of receivers who excel at adjusting their routes accordingly and providing him with an open man for a quick throw. You say that teams should concede the quick pass while focusing on pressuring Brady, but if enough of those passes are completed they can do significant damage because they move the chains and set up favorable down-and-distance situations that will quickly take an opponent out its blitz mode.

I think the best way to disrupt Brady is to use a variety of defensive line stunts to bring the heaviest pressure from the middle. That way, it leaves a sufficient number of defenders in coverage while causing Brady to run horizontally and compromising his ability to see the entire field.

Question: Why was Jack Lambert not at the celebration of the Steelers' 75th anniversary all-time team on Monday night, Nov. 5? -- Jeff M., Galt, Ontario

I don't know, but it caught my attention as well because his name and face are synonymous with the franchise's rich history. The Steelers didn't offer a reason for his absence beyond saying that he did inform them that he wouldn't be there. Lambert also was missing from an event at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center honoring the all-time team on Sunday night, Nov. 4.

All I can say is that since his retirement after the 1984 season, he has maintained a fairly low profile.

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