Peyton Manning

Colts quarterback

Peyton Manning is not satisfied with Indianapolis deciding to build its team around him. He also wants to show them how to do it.

Manning entered his rookie season saying he wanted to play as much as possible so he could hasten his adjustment to the league. He wound up being the only quarterback in the NFL to participate in every one of his team's plays from scrimmage.

Many observers were surprised when Indianapolis used the fourth overall choice in the 1999 draft on RB Edgerrin James instead of Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams. But Manning said he hoped all along that the club would draft James, whom he called "a better receiver" than Williams after a pre-draft workout.

The Colts built around Manning by overhauling an offensive line that gave up 62 sacks in 1997. Last season, they hired a new line coach and had four starters who were either new or playing different positions -- and they gave up just 22 sacks.

With all of that protection, Manning set NFL rookie records for completions (326), attempts (575), yards (3,739) and touchdowns (26).

The only thing he did not do last season was win; the Colts finished 3-13. Manning had gone 73-11 as a starter, dating from high school. Not that the Colts' poor record hurt his popularity. He is the only Colts player with his own Web site (Peytonmanning.com) and his presence helped the club achieve an average home attendance of 55,136 -- the second-highest average since the club-record of 58,430 in 1989.

Keyshawn Johnson

Jets wide receiver

New York Jets Coach Bill Parcells wanted to give more playing time to speedy WR Dedric Ward. Parcells' choices were to cut into the playing time of Wayne Chrebet (217 receptions in the past three seasons) or Keyshawn Johnson (216 receptions in past three seasons).

The decision was an easy one. Parcells said Ward and Chrebet, who is out with a broken foot, eventually will share time in the team's two-wide receiver formations.

Johnson has been a constant since the Jets made him the first overall selection in the the 1996 draft. He has caught at least one pass in all of his 46 NFL games. He also has caught touchdown passes from five quarterbacks in his three-year career.

Johnson proved his value in last season's playoffs, as the Jets reached their first AFC title game since 1982. In two playoff games, he totaled 16 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown, and added a crucial touchdown run in a 34-24 victory over Jacksonville in an AFC semifinal.

Perhaps all of this means Johnson has matured since his first days as a pro, when he released a book that criticized Chrebet and criticized the team for not throwing him the ball more often. He is now married and has two children. He withstood some overly physical play and verbal jabs from several Giants' defenders during a preseason game the Jets won.