Scout NFL Roundtable: Biggest Threat

Fourteen of our NFL team experts share their thoughts on which player from the opposing team this week provides the biggest challenge to the NFL team they cover. Check out who's causing them concern as the NFL prepares to kickoff another season.

Gregg Hayim,
New York Jets

Aside from the obvious choice of Tom Brady, who gives everyone a hard time, the most difficult challenge for the Jets on Sunday against the Patriots will be the combination of defensive end Jarvis Green and outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. Obviously, New England added a slew of talent to flank Brady and shore up the aerial attack.  Yet, in a sense, it will be the deficiencies of the left side of the Jets offensive line that holds the key to this game. With Pete Kendall no longer there, the Jets will look to either rookie Jacob Bender or Adrien Clarke to fill the left guard spot. Neither of the two has much experience and the position has been a problem throughout the preseason. With Green coming off the edge, and Colvin pass rushing from the right side, if neither Clarke nor Bender performs well, it could be a long afternoon for Chad Pennington.

Charlie Bernstein,
Jacksonville Jaguars

The player from the Tennesse Titans that will likely give the Jaguars the biggest headache is Kyle Vanden Bosch. Vanden Bosch is one of the league's best pass rushers, even if not many people around the country know his name. He has a nice mixture of size and speed at his position, and his numbers have been impressive ever since signing with the Titans. Vanden Bosch has 19 sacks in the last two seasons, which is even more impressive when you consider that he draws plenty of double-teams due to a lack of surrounding talent across the Titans defensive line.

Although Vince Young may get most of the press in Tennessee, the Jaguars should be most concerned with the powerful, pass-rushing end. If the Jaguars don't block Vanden Bosch well, he will force turnovers and could single-handedly keep the Titans in the game.

Denis Savage,
Oakland Raiders

Detroit Lions linebacker Ernie Sims. With the Raiders employing a new blocking scheme, getting a body on Sims as he knifes through the big bodies up front will be the key element to a successful Oakland running game. The problem, however, is Sims' superb athleticism and knack for clogging the hole as soon as it appears. If Oakland's line can't find a way to put their mitts on Sims, it will put the team in third-and-long, an unenviable place to be.

Matthew Postins,
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shaun Alexander
Scott Halleran/Getty

Given how the Bucs were so middling at stopping the run last year, I'll say Shaun Alexander. The Seahawks running back rushed for nearly 100 yards against the Buccaneers last year, and I'm not sure the Bucs have done enough to shore-up that weakness. Jovan Haye is relatively new to being a full-time under tackle. The pass rush -- as far as the first-team players are concerned -- has been suspect during the preseason. And rookie end Gaines Adams will start on Sunday against one of NFL's best left tackles in Walter Jones. I see Alexander running to the left side often on Sunday if the Bucs are unable to improve on their defensive push from last year.

Craig Massei,
San Francisco 49ers

Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald? Take your pick, which is really picking your poison as far as the 49ers have been concerned the past two seasons when they've been swept by the Arizona Cardinals each year. The two big wide receivers have abused San Francisco during that span, racking up huge numbers -- a combined 34 receptions for 503 yards in two 2005 games, and 21 receptions for 352 yards last year. The 49ers paid $80 million to cornerback Nate Clements and $30 million to safety Michael Lewis in free agency this year with those two wideouts in mind.

But the pick for biggest challenge facing the 49ers on Monday night against Arizona? It has to go to Boldin. He's a beast, and as Niners coach Mike Nolan says, "He is as good a run-after-the-catch guy as there is in the league."

John Crist,
Chicago Bears

I hear this LaDainian Tomlinson guy is pretty good. Coming off perhaps the greatest season in NFL history for a running back, Tomlinson has solidified himself as the best player in football and is starting to enter the best-of-all-time conversation. While shutting him down is simply not going to happen because he's just too good and has too many weapons around him, the Bears must contain him to some degree if they want to win in San Diego this weekend.

Getting Mike Brown back from injury at safety should do wonders for Chicago's run defense, but defensive tackle Tommie Harris must prove to fully recovered from last year's torn hamstring if this team is going to open the season 1-0.

Michael Lombardo,
San Diego Chargers

Devin Hester
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

The player the Chargers fret most about is Devin Hester. As Hester proved throughout last season -- and especially in the Super Bowl -- no amount of preparation can keep him from getting where he wants to go. He changes field position, momentum and scoreboards in the blink of an eye. The Chargers will use a little bit of everything to stop Hester, from special teams aces like Kassim Osgood and Carlos Polk to defensive starters like Quentin Jammer and Clinton Hart, but even that might not be enough.

Usually, one or two plays dictate the outcome of the game. Hester has the uncanny knack for authoring that game-changing play more often than not. There is about a 30 percent chance that Hester takes one to the house against the Chargers, and a 100 percent chance that special teams coach Steve Crosby is utterly sleep deprived by opening day.

Jim Wexell,
Pittsburgh Steelers

Kellen Winslow. Doesn't it seem the guy you like the least is always the thorn in the side? That's what I expect from Winslow on Sunday. Tight ends have hurt the Steelers over the years and that trend continued this preseason, with the irresistable force, Chris Cooley, doing the most damage. The Browns brought in Rob Chudzinski from San Diego as their offensive coordinator and the guess is he knows how to use a tight end.

Ken Palmer,
New York Giants

There's no question the biggest matchup problem the Giants will have against Dallas will be trying to contain dangerous receiver Terrell Owens. The Giants secondary looks to be a trouble spot once again. The corners are weak, with only rookie Aaron Ross showing any consistent cover ability thus far -- not to mention that it's uncertain whether or not veteran Sam Madison will even be able to play. With Michael Strahan's return, the run defense and pass pressure should be up to par. But handling Owens will likely be a whole different story.

Alain Poupart,
Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins face the Washington Redskins in the opener, and the Redskins frankly are a team that doesn't possess a lot of guy that scare opponents. That said, tight end Chris Cooley probably is the one guy who could give the Dolphins problems. Cooley is one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the league, and tight ends have given the Dolphins defense problems in recent years. With Jason Campbell at quarterback, it's likely that he'll look to Cooley quite a bit all season, so the Dolphins need to do a good job with the short pass defense.

Tim Yotter,
Minnesota Vikings

Grady Jackson
Ronald Martinez/Getty

Vikings coach Brad Childress seems most concerned about Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson -- at least that was the first player Childress mentioned when discussing what he considers a formidable defensive line for Atlanta. Childress called Jackson "a great run stopper," and if the Falcons are looking to maximize his effectiveness, they will try to match up Jackson against the Vikings' left guard, an unsettled position still. Last season, stopping the Vikings' interior run game might have been the end of their offense, but the addition of Adrian Peterson and his ability to get to the edges should help somewhat alleviate the overall effect Jackson can have against the Vikings overall offense.

Todd Korth,
Green Bay Packers

Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes, whom the Eagles traded for during the offseason, could give the young Packers offensive backfield some problems. If the Packers can run against Philadelphia's revamped linebacking corp, all the better for Brett Favre and the offense.

Stan Jones,
Tennessee Titans

The Titans will be tested by QB David Garrard since they have been developing their game plan for Byron Leftwich who was released last week.  Garrard has had good success against the Titans and has proven himself with an overall record of 10-8 as a starter for the Jaguars. With this change, Tennessee will forced to change their defensive game plan stop Garrard, who is a much more mobile QB and a greater threat of tucking and running.

The Titans defense should show some improvement with the addition of Nick Harper and Michael Griffin in the secondary, and the interior line could prove to be better in putting pressure on Garrard to help push the team past the Jaguars in Week 1.

Jon Scott,
New England Patriots

Changes to New England's secondary could cause issues for the Patriots as they try to cover the New York Jets' wide receivers on Sunday. Although Laverneus Coles garners most of the attention it's Jerricho Cotchery who has thrived against the Patriots' backup secondary. Cotchery racked up 121 yards and a touchdown on six receptions in their first matchup -- a 24-17 Patriots win. He recorded 6 more catches for 70 yards in their regular season rematch and racked up 100 yards on just four receptions during the Wild Card game -- both Patriots victories. New England must find an answer for him this time.


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