YEAR TWO: THE SECOND TIME AROUND
What a difference a year makes! Year two in the NFL can provide a clearer understanding for players of what it takes to succeed.
"Do I feel like I'm better than I was last year? Hands down, without a doubt," says Jets second-year quarterback MARK SANCHEZ, who has his club off to a 4-1 start. "I feel so much more comfortable, sharper. It's only going to build."
Jets’ coaches have certainly been impressed with Sanchez’s improved decision making in year two. Sanchez has eight touchdowns versus zero interceptions in 2010 and joins former Jets quarterback VINNY TESTAVERDE (2001) as the only quarterbacks since 1970 to have started each of their team’s first five games without throwing an interception a season after recording 20-plus interceptions.
Indianapolis Colts second-year wide receiver AUSTIN COLLIE is tied for second in the NFL with 37 receptions and is on pace to surpass his 60-catch performance as a rookie last year. The Colts’ fourth-round pick (No. 127) in 2009, Collie says that his increased production in year two is due to playing with confidence and being more relaxed.
"It has to do with being more comfortable," says Collie. "Now I’m a little more to the point of reacting, playing more instinctive as opposed to thinking all of the time. Your first year, you’re trying to not make a mistake instead of just playing."
Houston Texans running back ARIAN FOSTER, who leads the NFL with 564 rushing yards and 716 scrimmage yards, has made a quantum leap in his second season. Foster entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and spent the majority of last year on the Texans’ practice squad.
"The more you stay on the field, the more comfortable you get," says Foster. "You gain more respect from your peers and your coaches, and that’s always comforting."
Tennessee Titans third-year All-Star running back CHRIS JOHNSON increased his rushing total by 778 yards following his rookie season (1,228 in 2008; 2,006 in 2009). Johnson says the formula to success in year two is attributed to going through an entire offseason.
"As a rookie, you’ve gone from a bowl game straight to training for the combine to getting ready for the draft, and then you’re right in the middle of the workout program and OTAs," says Johnson. "Before you know it, you’re playing games. In your second year, you really get your first full offseason to relax and take time off first and then do all of the work it takes to play a full season. Your second training camp is better because you know what to expect and can just go out and play."
The largest increases in several key statistical categories from year one to year two among active players (minimum 10 starts as a rookie):
Name / Team / Rookie Year / Passing Yards / 2nd Year / Passing Yards / Increase
Joe Flacco, Baltimore 2008 / 2,971 / 2009 / 3,613 / +642
Name / Team / Rookie Year / Rushing Yards / 2nd Year / Rushing Yards / Increase
Le’Ron McClain, Baltimore / 2007 / 18 / 2008 / 902 / +884