OLD SCHOOL BEST


Rookies are great, especially when they're tied to the practice-field goal posts with athletic tape. But here are five vets who deserve to have at least two rookies carry their luggage.

Marshall Faulk - What do you get by mixing the stop-on-a-dime footwork of Barry Sanders, the full-throttle power of Emmitt Smith, the route running of Jerry Rice, and the breakaway speed of Deion Sanders? Well, don't ask the Colts. They traded Marshall to St. Louis three seasons ago. Simply put, Faulk is without peer.

Kurt Warner - Warner's lightning-quick decisions and release, combined with his uncanny accuracy, make him football's premier quarterback.

Peyton Manning - Not too far behind Mr. Warner is the Colts' signal caller. Manning tried to take on the world by himself last season after his Pro Bowl backfield mate, Edgerrin James, was lost for the year and his defense decided to take an early vacation. The results were often ugly as Manning forced too many passes. With Tony Dungy straightening out the D in Indy, Manning can relax and excel as the AFC's best quarterback.

Michael Strahan - First of all, Strahan's record-setting sack against Brett Favre in the Giants' season finale was a setup. Duh. But does that take anything away from the greatest pass-rushing season in NFL history? Of course not.

Brian Urlacher - Urlacher has sparked a football revival not seen since the mid-1980s. He's a sideline-to-sideline hitter who possesses the speed and instincts to both cover running backs and crumple them into a heap if they dare enter his turf. - K.


SUDDEN IMPACT


These five rookie sensations are sure to make an immediate impact on game day.