Monday, August 29, 2011
Which 2011 first-round picks are starting
By Mike Sando
Twenty-one 2011 first-round draft picks have started at least one preseason game this summer.
Seattle's James Carpenter is the only one from the NFC West to start so far. He has struggled in pass protection while showing promise in the running game. Like some other rookie offensive linemen -- Green Bay's Derek Sherrod comes to mind -- Carpenter is facing growing pains in his transition to the NFL.
Arizona's Patrick Peterson is the only player drafted among the top six overall picks without a start. He returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown Saturday night. The Cardinals like their depth at cornerback. Coach Ken Whisenhunt also tends to make rookies earn their starting spots. Greg Toler's injury could lead to increased snaps for Peterson.
The two first-round NFC West pass-rushers, Aldon Smith (San Francisco) and Robert Quinn (St. Louis), are easing into their roles. Smith has at times looked like a favorite to start right away, but he continues working with the backups. The Rams have no plans to push Quinn into the starting lineup right away. They're set at defensive end. Quinn could use seasoning after missing the 2010 season.
Three of the 11 first-rounders without starts this summer have been sidelined by injuries: Nick Fairley (Detroit), Prince Amukamara (New York Giants) and Jon Baldwin (Kansas City).