More breakout players

September, 4, 2008
9/04/08
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Earlier this week, the hard-working staff at ESPN.com picked eight breakout players -- one for each division -- in the NFL for the 2008 season. One of those players is Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes from the AFC North, who is looking for the first 1,000-yard season of his career.

But Holmes isn't the only player in the division looking to make a name for himself this season.

In no particular order, here are five additional candidates:

1. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore Ravens

Why: Ngata has more than doubled his tackle numbers and tripled his sack numbers from 2006 to last season. So there is no reason to believe the ceiling is still high for this former first-round draft pick. Ngata has the important responsibility of keeping offensive linemen off linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott. He's done a great job of that his first two years.

2. Johnathan Joseph, CB, Cincinnati Bengals

Why: Joseph gets his hands on a lot of balls and has the potential to be one of the best cover corners in the division. He had four interceptions last year while playing on an awful defense. If the Bengals are able to improve defensively, particularly against the run, Joseph should put up bigger numbers.

3. Lawrence Timmons, ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Why: Both Timmons and teammate LaMarr Woodley are looking for breakout seasons in Pittsburgh. But Timmons has flashed the most ability in training camp and the preseason. Timmons is a bruising hitter that fits in well with Pittsburgh's physical style of defense. He will push Larry Foote all year for a starting job at middle linebacker.

4. Kamerion Wimbley, OLB, Cleveland Browns

Why: Wimbley finally has some help up front with the additions of defensive linemen Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. That should mean less double teams and more free space to get to the quarterback, which is what Wimbley does best. He has 16 sacks in his first two NFL seasons.

5. Stacy Andrews, OT, Cincinnati Bengals

Why: At 6-foot-7, 342 pounds, Andrews has always had the physical tools. But now in his fifth season he is finally starting to get the NFL game mentally and develop solid technique. So much is the case that Andrews has unseated long-time stalwart Willie Anderson at right tackle in training camp. The Bengals are high on Andrews' potential in 2008 and rightfully so.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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