By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Football Editor
This football season has been all about the rookies. Every highlight reel, every pre-game show – even plenty of posts on Beckett – are dedicated to Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson and the slew of talented 2012 rookies.
However, it was not so long ago we were talking about last year’s guys.
Remember Cam Newton? Of course, you do. He’s still playing. However, it’s tough to get excited when he plays on a team with a lousy record. But he still has a gun for an arm.
There are many second-year players making their mark on this season. It’s not all about the 2012 rookies.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals – Dalton is averaging 251.7 yards through 11 games. He’s thrown 23 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. But more amazing seems to be the Bengals record. They are 6-5 after winning three straight games. With Dalton at the helm and other young talented players, Cincinnati s giving its fans something to be excited about.
2011 Exquisite Collection #145 JSY AU /135
2011 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs refractors
2011 Playoff National Treasures #326 JSY AU RC /99
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco – Three weeks ago, Kaepernick may not have made the list. However, taking over the starting job from Alex Smith after he suffered a concussion has made Kaepernick’s cards some of the most sought after right now. Over his last three games, Kaepernick has three touchdowns, an interception and 591 yards. And no losses.
2011 National Treasures #327 JSY AU RC
2011 Upper Deck 100 Stripe #56
2011 Topps Rookie Autographs #413
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers – While Newton isn’t having the same success as last year, he’s still averaging 245.5 yards through 11 games this season. He has more than 2,700 total passing on the year. However, his touchdown to interception ratio leaves a lot to be desired with 11 TDs and 10 INTs this year.
2011 SP Authentic JSY AU /299
2011 Topps Chrome Rookie Autographs #1
2011 Crown Royale #228 JSY AU /199
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals – One of the beneficiaries of Dalton’s success at quarterback has been Green. The 2011 first-round draft pick is averaging 92.9 yards through 11 games, which is fourth in the league. He also has 10 TDs, tied for the most among wide receivers.
2011 Topps Five Star #180 JSY AU /65
2011 Panini Gold Standard #254 JSY AU /325
2011 Donruss Elite #101 RC /999
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons – The Alabama product is having a great second season. He’s averaging 80.3 yards through 11 games, and added six touchdowns. He also has four games this season of 100-plus receiving yards.
2011 Playoff National Treasures #323 JSY AU RC /99
2011 Panini Playbook #120 JSY AU /399 RC
2011 Bowman Sterling #BSRJJ JSY RC
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars – Mount Union is a Division III college with an enrollment of about 2,200 undergraduates. Shorts used to be one of them. Now, he’s the leading receiver for Jacksonville. He has 747 total yards, averaging 67.8 yards in 11 games, and six touchdowns.
2011 Playoff Contenders #118 AU /99 RC
2011 SP Authentic Autographs #51
2011 Finest Jumbo Jersey Autographs #AJRCS /589
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens – Smith is coming off one of best offensive performances with 144 yards against the San Diego Chargers. However, he will be best remembered for his performance against New England. A day after his brother died in a motorcycle accident, Smith caught six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He’s averaging 63.5 yards through 11 games and has seven TDs this year.
2011 Exquisite Collection #140 JSY AU /135
2011 Topps Inception #107 AU /200 RC
2011 Topps Five Star #175 AU /75
Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions – Leshoure hasn’t received a lot of attention this year, but the Illinois product is putting together a solid season. In nine games, he has 534 rushing yards and six touchdowns. His first game of the season, he ran for 100 yards against Tennessee on Sept. 23.
2011 SP Authentic Autographs #85
2011 Topps Five Star #176 JSY AU /75
2011 Absolute Memorabilia #212 RPM AU /299
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots – The Patriots haven’t been known for their run game over the years, but Ridley is making opponents think about it now. He’s seventh in the league with 939 total yards. He also has eight touchdowns, tied for the third in the NFL.
2011 Panini Playbook #131 JSY AU /399 RC
2011 Crown Royale #233 JSY AU /299
2011 Topps Triple Threads #129A JSY AU /99
Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos – Miller was last season’s AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he he hasn’t slowed down much. Miller has 14 sacks and four forced fumbles this season. Miller was also named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November.
2011 Playoff National Treasures #307 JSY AU /99
2011 Panini Threads #252 AU /300
2011 Topps Inception #113 AU /199
Aldon Smith, LB, San Francisco 49ers – Smith has been a beast this year at linebacker. He leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks for a total of 122 yards lost. He has also forced three fumbles. On Nov. 19 against Chicago Bears, Smith registered 5.5 sacks.
2011 Rookies and Stars #287 AU /299
2011 Timeless Treasures #131 AU /299
2011 Bowman Sterling #2
J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans – In 11 games, Watt has 54 tackles, 14.5 sacks and 13 pass deflections. It seems as though he’s everywhere. Watt really came on to the scene this season after compiling 5.5 sacks last season.
2011 Playoff Contenders #137 AU
2011 Topps Platinum Red #86 /25
2011 Panini Playbook #68 /999