Charles Rogers, the Lions' first-round draft pick, the second choice in this year’s player selection, suffered an open dislocation of his left ring finger during practice last week and needed two stitches. "I kind of jammed it,” Rogers said. “It's not an injury that's going to have me out a long time."
Try he’ll be back on the field by this weekend. He needs to be. With Carson Palmer learning from the sidelines, Rogers is the highest drafted rookie that will be starting this season.
A sprained finger, even one that was quite gruesome, won’t be enough to keep him off the field to prove he's worth the new six-year, $56 million deal he signed in July. And people want to see what the biggest thing to happen to the Lions since Barry Sanders can do. They won't be dissapointed.
If anyone can turn a team into a winner it’s Rogers. Mr. Rogers is the best bet for an I-told-you-so player to break the traditional fantasy stigma of receivers having to spend three years in the NFL before enjoying fantasy success.
With Steve Mariucci, he’ll be playing for a proven offensive-minded coach right off the bat. Mooch has had success with receivers and quarterbacks before with the 49ers. It was under Mooch in 1998 that Terrell Owens had his first 1,000-yard season, and it was under Mooch in 2000 that Jeff Garcia threw his first 4,000-yard season. Now he gets to start all over in Detroit in 2003.
Detroit’s offense finished 28th last year, not much better than the expansion Texans, but their top two wide receivers, Az Hakim and Bill Schroeder, weren’t exactly a great one-two punch. Last year the two combined for only 73 catches for 1,136 yards and eight scores. Needless to say, the Lions needed, and got, a number one wideout.
Rogers is the guy Joey Harrington has been praying to pass to. In his last year in college, Rogers had 68 receptions for 1,351 yards and 13 scores. His college coach, Bobby Williams, is the new Lions' receiver coach and will help give Rogers as smooth of a transition into the NFL as possible. The Lions will build their offense around the young star, and one part talent mixed with an ounce of opportunity creates fantasy studs.
Before we hail Rogers as the next Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, it would be wise to warn you of the slow learning curve for new receivers in the league. Since Randy Moss’ rookie year in 1998, where he was breakin’ fools off like leprosy with 1,313 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns, no other first year wide out can boast a 1,000 season. Plus, Moss had the benefit of playing alongside future Hall of Famer Cris Carter and had veteran Randall Cunningham throwing him the ball.
While we’re not promising fantasy success his first year, more likely he’ll put up stats comparable to a mediocre number two wideout, we do suggest taking him high in keeper leagues. After a year or two in Mariucci’s offense, Rogers will be as safe a bet to go over 1,000 yards and eight or nine scores as anyone in the league.