This was election week, and Americans all over our country went to the polls for the midterm elections. The Lions' Sunday victory also marked the midway point of their 2002 season. The Lions now sit at 3-5, which is a far cry from the 0-2 record they had coming out of the gate. In addition, the beginning of the Joey Harrington era has brought a dose of optimism that has not been seen in the Motor City since Barry Sanders finished his 2,053 yard season back in 1997.
While all the excitement around Joey and his 3-3 record as a rookie starter is justified, I want to put in a plug for the young man whom I believe deserves strong consideration for Detroit Lions' Rookie of the Year, cornerback Chris Cash.
The 6th round draft choice out of Southern California has stepped into the starting cornerback role and has performed as well as any Lion corner since Ray Crocket. He has played in all of Detroit's eight games, and currently stands tied with Chris Claiborne as the Lions' leading tackler with 51 stops. Cash leads the team in solo tackles with 41. In an era where form tackling seems to be a lost art, Cash's open field tackling has been superb. While he has made mistakes at times in coverage against his veteran opponents, he has shown great progress since taking over the starting spot in place of veteran Eric Davis.
He also seems to have a knack for finding the ball, as evidenced by his two 2 fumble recoveries.
Because of Chris' performance as a rookie at one of the NFL's toughest positions, I recently went back to research where Cash was ranked at his position before last April's draft. To my surprise, he was nowhere to be found.
In the cornerback ratings I looked at, Cash was not even listed in the top 25. The fact that Chris was overlooked when it came to combine numbers, and 40 time brings me to my final point. The most important thing that Chris Cash has shown is that he is a football player. He is getting the job done. If you can play, you can play, end of story. Lion history is full of guys who were not number or combine friendly. Barry Sanders and Doak Walker were once thought to be too small for their position. Many experts said Chris Speilman was too small and too slow to play NFL linebacker. The thing that truly mattered was what they did when they stepped onto the field. They were football players. Chris Cash is a football player, too. He has proved to be the top rookie on the team through the first half of the season.
When the Lions wrap up the 2002 season, Joey Harrington will likely get my vote as Lions' MVP, but Chris Cash will surely get my vote for Rookie of the Year.
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