Jason Taylor by Scott Cunningham/ Getty Images
The NFL season opens Thursday with the New York Giants beginning their quest to defend their unlikely Super Bowl title. Eli and the gang host the Washington Redskins in the prime-time clash between NFC East rivals (Sept. 4, 7 pm/ET, NBC). On the other side of the ball, all eyes will be on Jason Taylor, who joined the Skins in July after 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

Believing their six-time Pro Bowl defensive end should have spent the off-season working on his pass rushing rather than Dancing With the Stars, the Dolphins were eager to unload him. The Redskins, who needed defensive linemen because of late-summer injuries, snapped him up in a deal that could earn a perfect 10. "That position he was in, some guys make a stink about things and end up in a worse situation- and he ended up in a better situation," says ex-Giant Michael Strahan, now an analyst for Fox NFL Sunday. (Strahan nearly wound up playing for the Giants in Thursday's game after briefly considering coming out of his recent retirement to fill in for injured defensive end Osi Umenyiora.)

The Dancing With the Stars experience gave Taylor national exposure, but his sacking abilities were already well known in the NFL. He has 117 career sacks, the most among active players, and has started every game the past eight years. "I think he has a lot of credibility and brings instant fear among quarterbacks in the division," Strahan says. And now that he's done wearing sequins, he's happy to share the spotlight. "I'm not coming in on a white horse to be the savior," Taylor says. "I'm just here to help this team win in any way I can. My ego isn't that big that I'd try to overshadow everybody." - Karen Rosen