Merril Hoge's All-Game Tape team
Troy Polamalu and Zach Thomas are among a group of players who take special advantage of the film room.
Merril Hoge, who played for the Steelers and Bears from 1987 to '94, picks his All-Game Tape team -- players who use their film study to best advantage.
CB Asante Samuel, New England Patriots: His ability to cover wide receivers like a glove is not an accident, as his tape study has allowed him to maximize his cover skills. Other teams know he studies tape and will avoid throwing the TOG route, in which the No. 1 receiving option runs a vertical route and the No. 2 receiving option runs a 10-yard out pattern.
OL Olin Kreutz, Chicago Bears: As the first player to touch the ball when the Bears are on offense, Kreutz has to direct traffic, including the responsibilities of each player in pass protection. Tape study is paramount for him to make the right calls in the passing and running games.
QB Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals: Despite sitting out his first year, Palmer has taken the league by storm. A big reason has been his willingness to study tape and learn every tendency of his opponents. Tape study has also helped him improve his own skills.
WR Mike Furrey, Detroit Lions: A wide receiver playing in the slot must be able to identify coverage on the move. Furrey studies so much tape that he is able to feel and anticipate coverage, allowing him to get open a lot.
OL Mike Flanagan, Houston Texans: The key to protecting a quarterback in passing situations is identifying who is coming after him. Flanagan studies enough tape to know exactly which defender will rush the quarterback.
2007 NFL PREVIEW
In our 2007 preview, 'Secrets of The Game," we take you inside the NFL, with stories on the playbook, video preparation and a peek at Peyton Manning's passing camp.
THE BASICS• Team-by-team previews, more
• Power rankings: Pats clear No.1
• For your ears only: SB predictions, more
• Our experts' picks... | ...and yours
SPORTSNATION• Vote: And the Super Bowl teams will be...
• Vote: NFL 101 | Week 1 Pick 'em
• Rank 'em: Teams | MVP favorites | QBs
DAY 1: Mystery of the playbook• The NFL's sacred diary of trust
• Scouts Inc on go-to plays: AFC | NFC
• Inside an '04 playbook | 10 pages from it (PDF)
• Playbook stories: Lost, found, confused
• Pasquarelli: How different are they?
• For your ears only: Talking X's, O's
• Scout-speak: A glossary
DAY 2: Tales of the tape• Breaking down the game with Matt Hasselbeck
• How teams collect, dissect video
• Merril Hoge's all-game tape team
• Film room: 'Holy land' of the NFL
• Video: Hoge, EA Sports on tape study
• Future film study could be like video game
• Clayton: Five sleeper teams
• Scouts Inc.: 10 unnoticed contributors
• Jeremy Green: What I learn from tape
DAY 3: Inside Manning's passing camp• Behind the scenes with Manning & Co.
• Football joy at Manning Passing Academy
• Milestones: Favre, others approach marks in '07
• Brett Favre Zoom gallery
• Scouts Inc: 5 passers of near future
• Scouts Inc: 5 passers of distant future
...and in ESPN The Magazine
Season preview: NFL players spend the entire offseason looking forward to September. Then poof! A star QB (hi, Mike) is indicted and a marquee DT blows out his knee (that's gotta hurt, Booger). Winning the Super Bowl isn't easy. Ask LT, who's trusting his my-way-is-the-only-way GM to take him all the way.
On newsstands Wed., Aug. 29
...and on ESPN
Watch the season debut of the award-winning "Sunday NFL Countdown" on Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. (ET).