After looking at the most valuable players on offense, defense, and specail teams, now I want to look at which players that are new to the team have stood out in the first half of the year.
Rookie of the Year: Desmond Trufant
Unlike last year, this is a much harder choice to make now. The Falcons are getting more solid play from multiple rookies. Trufant has been logging starters’ reps at cornerback and has been playing well. Robert Alford has seen an increase in snaps in recent weeks, but has also been helping on special teams. Malliciah Goodman and Levine Toilolo have had their moments. Undrafted rookies like Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu have also made major contributions as well.
But in the end, it has to go to Trufant. He’s had his ups and downs as all rookie corners are prone to have, but he’s been able to break up or intercept a pass in every game this year. That’s something that Brent Grimes didn’t even do when he was playing at a Pro Bowl level here in Atlanta.
With the play of the other rookies and potential for more playing time, this award might be even more contentious by year’s end.
Top Newcomer: Osi Umenyiora
This goes to the best non-rookie that is new to the team. There are a couple of choices to consider, but Osi Umenyiora is hands down the winner.
Steven Jackson has had his moments but spent too much of the first half of the year injured to be a consideration. Jeremy Trueblood proctored in the slight improvement the offensive line has seen since the first two games, but individually he has been more mediocre than good.
While I’ve criticized Osi throughout this year as being a disappointment and too often a non-factor, he still remains an effective pass rusher at times. He’s made several game-changing plays through the first half of the year, with sack-strips and a defensive touchdown. And while his ability to put heat on the quarterback probably hasn’t been as great as I would prefer, ultimately he still shows up every game and is consistent, even if underwhelming at times.