As we gear up for another NFL season, eleven players on the offensive side of the ball will be attempting to extend their league-leading, regular-season consecutive starts streaks among the NFL's active players. But some of them will be attempting to extend their streaks with new teams as they strive to fend off Father Time and continue their careers as starters.
Here are the eleven players who would take the field as the league's current Ironman Team on offense, along with the men who are next line to step up if any of them falter.
Quarterback: Former Packer Brett Favre nearly passed the torch for most consecutive starts among active quarterbacks to the Colts' Peyton Manning when he retired earlier this year. But Favre signed on with the Jets and will add to his 253 career starts this September.
Next in Line: The Colts' Peyton Manning (160) and the Patriots' Tom Brady (110).
Running Back: LaDainian Tomlinson was forced to the sidelines after trying to play on an injured knee during the AFC Championship Game in January. But L.T. appears to be ready to add to his 48 consecutive starts this year as the Chargers attempt to make another run at a Super Bowl Championship.
Tight Ends: The Chicago Bears' Desmond Clark leads a pack of players by a narrow margin with his 51 consecutive starts. The Redskins' Chris Cooley trails him by only three games at 48, while two others are less than ten games behind his pace.
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Wide Receivers: When Marvin Harrison was sidelined by a knee injury last season, the Colts' Reggie Wayne grabbed the opportunity to post a league-leading 1,510 receiving yards. His 81 consecutive starts pairs him with Cincinnati's Chad Johnson (68) as the league's ironmen at the wide receiver position. Johnson, who was wearing a shoulder harness at practice earlier this week, revealed that he has a torn labrum in his left shoulder, but plans to play through the injury this season.
Offensive Tackles: At the age of 34, Philadephia's Jon Runyan enters the 2008 season with 176 regular-season consecutive starts. Like Favre, the 6-foot-7, 330-pound veteran has a wide gap over his nearest competition, Detroit's Jeff Backus, who enters 2008 with 112 consecutive starts.
Next in Line: Minnesota's Bryant McKinnie (87) could see his streak come to an end early this season as he faces a possible multi-game league suspension as a repeat offender of the league's conduct policy. McKinnie was reportedly involved in a fight that broke out while he was outside a Miami nightclub in February. That could open the door for Carolina's Jordan Gross and the Giants' David Diehl, who both have 80 consecutive starts, to move up into third place this season.
Center: Former Chiefs center Casey Wiegmann's streak of 111 starts appeared to be over after he was signed as a free agent during the offseason to back up 37-year old Tom Nalen in Denver. But Nalen just recently had arthroscopic knee surgery as a follow-up to his June operation on the same knee. The team is hopeful that he'll be ready for the regular-season opener, but if not, Wiegmann will have a chance to extend his streak by at least one more game -- and that's all he would need to end up no worse than tied for first place by the end of the year with the two players who are currently nipping at his heels.
Guards: Former Steelers All-Pro Alan Faneca will be extending his streak with the New York Jets after relocating through free agency. His 96 consecutive starts puts him in a tie with the Texans' Chester Pitts. But an ankle injury has hobbled Pitts since the second preseason game. "He's day to day," coach Gary Kubiak recently told reporters. "We tried to push him last week, and it wasn't responding as well as we would have liked. He's gotten a lot of rest."
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email through this link.