Super Bowl LIII: Five Players to Watch
Rams Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks
Cooks will be taking the field this Sunday in his second-straight Super Bowl. This time however, he’ll be matched up against the team that took him there a year ago.
A trade last year from the New Orleans Saints landed Cooks on the New England Patriots. After their Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Patriots traded him away to Los Angeles.
Being moved around the league hasn’t stopped Cooks from producing. The Rams wide out has recorded 1,000 yards receiving in four-straight seasons.
A hard hit took Cooks out of the last Super Bowl early, and he left the game with one reception for one yard receiving. Now that he’s back in the big game, Cooks could be looking for redemption.
Patriots Running Back Sony Michel
In recent years, the Patriots have found a stable running game through rotating their backfield. Two years ago, they became Super Bowl champions off of the heavy running of LeGarrette Blount and the clutch playmaking of James White.
This time, they may win it all again with the help of the rookie Sony Michel.
The former-Georgia Bulldog averaged 71.6 yards rushing a game in his first season in the NFL. He also guided the Patriot offense through the playoffs by recording over 100 yards rushing in both of the team’s playoff games.
Michel will have to try to get the run game going against one of the toughest run defenses in the league this Sunday. If he’s successful, the Patriots may be able to find their way through a stingy Rams defense.
Rams Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald
If Pats quarterback Tom Brady’s three Super Bowl losses have shown one thing, it’s that the way to beat a Patriots super team is aggressive pass rush. The two Giants teams and last year’s Eagles teams toppled the strong Pats rosters through incredible defensive line play.
The Rams may have the explosive pass rush they need in Aaron Donald.
The star of the Rams defense recorded 20.5 sacks this season. That kind of production is rare from a traditional defensive tackle, but through his athleticism and versatility, Donald has proved he is far from a traditional player.
Donald may be a type of pass rusher the Patriots have never faced before. If they’re unable to find a way to stop him, then Brady may be in for another loss.
Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski has been a star on the Patriots for close to a decade. It should be no surprise that he’ll be important in another Super Bowl, but it’s important to note this may be one of Gronk’s last.
Gronkowski has battled injuries his whole career, as he’s missed 13 regular season games in the past three years.
Coming off a season with over 1000 yards receiving, this season fell short of expectations, as he tallied only 682 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
There are rumors Gronk will be contemplating retirement this offseason, making this next bout against the Rams his final game in the league.
While this has been a disappointing season for Gronkowski, he could try to make the most of what could be his last game in the league.
Rams Corner Back Marcus Peters
After being traded from the Kansas City Chiefs, Peters has become the most outspoken and confident member of the Rams roster. His comments about other teams have put him under a spotlight the whole season.
Now, Peters will have to back his confidence up in the biggest game of the year.
The Rams corner finished off the season with 43 tackles and three interceptions with one returned for a touchdown. While the stat line isn’t the most impressive, Peters, since the start of his career, has become a defender quarterbacks are scared to throw near.
There’s a long history of over-confident players getting into their own heads in high stakes games. Peters has made clear he’s held nothing back in the media room, and now it’s time to see if he holds anything back against the Patriots.
Francesco de Falco is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com