NFL Nation: 2010 Week 1 High Energy AFC

NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

It has to be Kansas City rookie Dexter McCluster.

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John Rieger/US PresswireDexter McCluster's punt return helped lead the Chiefs to a win on Monday night.
Because he is effective as a running back and receiver, McCluster has referred to his position as an OW: Offensive weapon. After one NFL game, McCluster should now be labeled an OW/STW. He’s a weapon on special teams as well.

McCluster, a diminutive second-round draft pick from Mississippi, provided the defining moment of Kansas City’s huge 21-14 upset of visiting San Diego in the second quarter during a driving rain storm. McCluster went 94 yards for a touchdown on a punt return. It was a franchise record.

Nice job, rookie.

The touchdown gave Kansas City a 21-7 lead, and it not only energized his team, but it fired up a soaking-wet crowd in the first regular-season game at the renovated Arrowhead Stadium.

McCluster benefited from big blocks on the front and back ends of his return. Yet, McCluster showed stunning breakaway speed. McCluster quickly outraced the coverage, sprinting down San Diego’s sideline on his way to the end zone.

Teams with upset designs look for these type of energizing plays, and McCluster delivered big time.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Michael Griffin was a mess last season. He let off-the-field stuff distract him, he dealt with a shoulder injury and that contributed to an awful season of bad angles, missed tackles and biting on play-action fakes.

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Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesTitans safety Michael Griffin had a team-high 11 tackles Sunday against Oakland.
To contend in the AFC South, where Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub reside, a reliable free safety seems an utter necessity. I’ve said a return to form by Griffin is a crucial storyline for Tennessee. And out of the Titans’ opening day win over the Oakland Raiders, it appeared Griffin was more the 2008 Pro Bowl version than the 2009 disaster.

“He was very productive all over the field, just focused and his rededication over the offseason paid off,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “I expect it to continue.”

Griffin was a sure tackler who was tight in coverage and a help in run support for the Titans. He dished out several big hits. Titans coaches credited him with a team-high 11 tackles. He recovered an early fumble and he added a pass defensed.

He was blitzing from the left on a first-quarter first-and-10, when Jacob Ford forced a Jason Campbell fumble. Griffin shed the block of Oakland running back Darren McFadden and was in prime position to pounce on the loose ball.

The Titans got a complete effort and showed themselves as superior to the Raiders. Among all the good signs, the quality showing by Griffin was one of the most encouraging.
Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis is probably the last NFL player who needs extra motivation. But the New York Jets insisted on getting the future Hall of Famer riled up for their big "Monday Night Football" showdown at New Meadowlands Stadium.

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Ed Mulholland/US PresswireRay Lewis made several big plays Monday night that won't show up on a stats sheet.
After weeks of trash-talking by the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan, which only intensified as the game got closer, Lewis had an even sharper edge than usual when it was finally time to take the field. The result was a lights-out performance by Lewis and Baltimore's defense during a 10-9 victory. The Jets' offense only mustered six first downs, 176 total yards and couldn't reach the end zone.

"We have a rule," Lewis explained after the game. "If they don't score, they don't win."

Lewis recorded four tackles against New York. But there were hidden plays that didn't show up in the stats that also told the story.

Lewis blew up the fullback several times to help stuff running plays and made all the proper checks to make sure the Ravens' defense stayed one step ahead. Lewis also put a final exclamation point on the game by blasting Jets tight end Dustin Keller to force a key incompletion on New York's final drive.

With all the trash-talking and hype leading up to this game, it was clear Lewis, 35, had extra pep in his step.

"Ray Lewis has lost a step? I don't think so," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Ray Lewis is the best linebacker in football. No doubt about it."

AFC East High Energy Player of the Week

September, 14, 2010
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Tackles aren't a certified NFL stat. While they do track them on play-by-play transcripts within a given game, each coaching staff tallies up its team's tackles when it reviews game film.

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Tom Croke/Icon SMIPatrick Chung was all over the field in Sunday's win over Cincinnati.
New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung unofficially recorded 16 tackles, including one for a loss, in Sunday's 38-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium. That unofficially places him second in the NFL by one tackle.

He officially established himself as a player opponents must keep their heads on a swivel to find.

The Patriots drafted Chung last year with the 34th overall selection, acquired from Kansas City in the trade for quarterback Matt Cassel and outside linebacker Mike Vrabel. Chung started only one game as a rookie, but was in the opening-day lineup because incumbent free safety Brandon McGowan was placed on season-ending injured reserve a week earlier.

ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said: "Chung is starting to remind me of a young Lawyer Milloy. He has a good knowledge of the game, is a hard worker, is physical and tackles very well."