Charles Krupa/The Associated Press. As part of rookie hazing, the Patriots’ Zach West, left, and Oscar Lua had their hair buzzed by veterans…
The game is bigger, faster and harder. With a whole new team and a whole new play-book, the incoming Trojan rookies are showing their youth when it comes to the NFL learning curve.
Inside: A player by player look at the Trojan rookies in the NFL.
Dwayne Jarrett: Jarrett was picked by many to start, replacing Carolina Panthers’ receiver Keyshawn Johnson. But a hamstring injury has kept him out of much of practice. Despite some impressive displays of his ability during his able practice days, the nagging injury has slowed his climb up the depth chart. Although he’s currently second on the chart, expect Jarrett to get some quality playing time this upcoming season.
Steve Smith: Probably the most impressive Trojan rookie so far in the NFL, Smith scored the only Giants’ touchdown during the 13-12 preseason win over the Baltimore Ravens. But the good news only lasted so far as following his TD, Smith suffered a concussion and was taken out of the game.
Ryan Kalil: Kalil played his entire career with the Trojans at center. He was drafted to the Carolina Panthers as a center. The coaching staff was so impressed during the pre-season, that Kalil was promoted from second-string center to starter. Then came the exhibition game loss to Philadelphia that peppered Kalil with mixed reviews and showed he still has a lot to learn. The Panthers currently switched Kalil back to second-string and even has him practicing at right-guard.
Dallas Sartz: Even after missing practices with a hamstring injury and some sort of unspecified allergic reaction, Sartz has beaten out other Redskins competition to place himself as 3rd string strong-linebacker. Not bad for a fifth rounder. Expect him to get some meager playing time this season. And when he does play, Sartz will have to make an immediate impact if he wants to see more quality time on the field. If he keeps playing like he did in the pre-season game against Baltimore, he should be fine; Sartz scored the only Redskins’ touchdown when he made a second-half interception and ran it back to win the game.
Oscar Lua: Lua looks decent in New England. This is despite missing patches of his hair as part of a New England Patriots’ rookie hazing ritual (see photo above). He played in the pre-season opener (a loss) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he netted five tackles. In a stroke of fortune (or misfortune) Lua has been seeing more playing time while a couple of the Pats’ starting linebackers nurse their injuries. Lua’s time to prove himself is now, if he wants to make the regular season cut. One way to make sure he stays on is to keep playing like he did in the pre-season game against the Panthers, when Lua picked off a key pass as the Panthers threatened the NE red-zone.