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Monday, 03 June 2013 01:10

The Year Two Jump

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It has served as an indicator for what the rest of a player’s career will look like.

In 2011, J.J. Watt posted 56 tackles and 5.5 sacks in his rookie campaign. That same season, Jason Pierre-Paul recorded 86 tackles and 16.6 sacks, good enough for fourth best in the NFL. The previous season, as a rookie, the South Florida product registered 30 tackles and just 4.5 sacks. Watt followed his first year in the league with a breakout season similar to Pierre-Paul’s. This past season, the Texans defensive end led the NFL with 20.5 sacks, while contributing 81 tackles and four forced fumbles.

Year two is expected to be the season when players put it all together. A player’s sophomore season reflects his work ethic, commitment and how strong of a desire he has to be great.

While Don’t’a Hightower and Chandler Jones will certainly continue to grow after this season, history indicates that this is the year the two will evolve, for the most part, resembling what the rest of their careers will look like.

In their first campaigns, Jones and Hightower had Patriot nation buzzing, making the type of plays that indicate the duo can be a part of New England’s core for years to come.

Despite missing two games due to injury, Jones had six sacks, second best on the team, behind Rob Ninkovich.Jones also had 45 tackles and forced three fumbles.

As for the Patriots other 2012 first round selection, the versatile linebacker from Alabama finished the season with 60 tackles and four sacks.

Both players are dynamic and immensely talented. They are vital pieces to the Patriots championship aspirations.

How the duo performs in year two is a deciding factor in whether or not those aspirations come to fruition. 

Bobby Krivitsky

CLNS Radio contributor. Writer for Sports Illustrated's NBA blog KingJamesGospel.com and for Celtic-Nation.com. Analyst for Citrus TV in Syracuse. Former Manager of the Syracuse University Basketball Team. @Bobby_k91