John Clayton built a team of good players performing under the radar who deserve recognition. Clayton
Lyle Sendlein, center: Fifty-four consecutive starts, including six in the postseason, haven't gotten much acclaim for the most consistent player on the Cardinals' offensive line. Guard Deuce Lutui's fluctuating weight has made news. Tackle Levi Brown gets significant attention as the fifth player chosen in the 2007 draft. More recently, guard Alan Faneca made headlines for retiring after a career that makes him a future candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Sendlein skates through mostly unnoticed, generally a good thing for an offensive lineman. He is tough, dependable and keeps a low profile. No wonder line coach Russ Grimm likes him so much.
James Hall, defensive end: Hall collected 10.5 sacks for the Rams last season. The organization celebrated by drafting his replacement, Robert Quinn. As much as the move made sense -- Hall is 34 years old, after all -- it also fit perfectly with Hall's career. He wasn't drafted out of Michigan in 2000, but he was a full-time starter for the Detroit Lions by 2002. The Rams have used two first-round picks on defensive ends since Hall joined the team in 2007. It will be an upset, however, if Hall gives up his starting job this season. He's a good all-around player with a very strong bull rush.
Defensive end Isaac Sopoaga has only missed one game over the past six seasons.
Isaac Sopoaga, defensive end: 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive end Justin Smith keep going to Pro Bowls. Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin played last season as the team's franchise player. Sopoaga, meanwhile, kept plugging away as a mainstay on the line. He has missed only one game over the past six seasons, all with the 49ers. Sopoaga holds up well against the run. He has the versatility to play more than one position on the line. He will be additionally valuable to the team if Franklin leaves in free agency. A fourth-round choice in 2004, Sopoaga has developed nicely under line coach Jim Tomsula.
Chris Clemons, defensive end: The Seahawks hoped Clemons would benefit from a change of scenery in 2010, but there was no indication the seventh-year veteran would suddenly become one of the better pass-rushers in the league. Clemons collected a team-high 11 sacks in his first season with the team. His toughness stood out. Clemons played through injuries and brought needed attitude to the defense. After six seasons with three other teams, the 29-year-old Clemons appears to have found a home in Seattle. He was particularly productive against NFC West teams, collecting seven of his sacks against division opponents and adding one more during the postseason.