With training camp just over two weeks away, it’s time to dust the cobwebs off our pigskins and start thinking about football again.
But instead of focusing our energy on contracts, holdouts and other yawn-inducing storylines, let’s fast forward to Week 1 and talk about 10 players worth keeping an eye on this upcoming season.
#10 Frank Gore
One of several running backs hoping to prove 30 is not the “End of Days”, Gore heads to Indianapolis to ply his trade for a team that looks to pass first and run as an afterthought.
Gore has rushed for over 1,000 yards in eight of the past nine seasons when defenses knew he was getting the ball. I can’t help but think Andrew Luck’s passing game is going to open up a whole new world for a runner who has long been accustomed to facing eight-man fronts.
The Colts are praying that their newly-signed, ageing back doesn’t turn into the next Steven Jackson. If he doesn’t, this squad could be on their way to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco, which would be quite the fitting homecoming for a player the Niners felt was past his prime.
— Comcast SportsNet (@CSNAuthentic) June 25, 2015
#9 Andre Johnson
Staying in Indy, Andre Johnson is literally the WR equivalent of Frank Gore. Once the most dominant player at his position, the veteran receiver will be entering the 2015 season with two firsts under his belt:
1. He won’t be the #1 receiver. Not even close.
2. He’ll be catching balls from a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback.
Johnson is, in fact, past his prime. No matter. He’ll come up big as a role-player and score plenty as Luck’s secondary or even third target.
#8 Ndamukong Suh
Suh’s departure from Detroit was big news when it all went down but for whatever reason the controversial defensive tackle’s name has disappeared from the limelight.
Ndamukong was recently named as the 24th-best player in the entire League and is arguably the single most dominant defensive player in the game. Without question he’ll make an impact in Miami – but can he be enough of a difference-maker to take the Fins back to the playoffs?
Miami plays only four teams in 2015 that made the playoffs last year but their slate includes a pair of contests against the World Champion Patriots and four more versus the rising Bills and NY Jets.
The AFC East could very well be the top division in the NFL and one of the more exciting races to watch – particularly if Brady’s suspension is upheld and New England gets off to a slow start.
#7 Todd Gurley
Who says you don’t draft RB’s in the first round?
The Rams took Georgia star Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick and have big plans for the former Bulldog to be a workhorse back.
But there are obvious question marks for a player coming off ACL surgery before he’s even taken a single NFL snap.
— stlrams (@stlrams) June 18, 2015
#6 The Manning Brothers
We’ll do a two-for-one deal here and say that both quarterbacks will still remain on the annual watch list until ‘Big Bro’ finally succumbs to his age.
It’s easy to forget that the Broncos are just one season removed from boasting the top offense in the game. Denver is still a solid contender to avenge their most recent Super Bowl flub if #18 continues to stay healthy.
Eli’s story is one of wild fluctuations but the rapport he has with rising star Odell Beckham could keep the G-Men competitive in what’s still a goofy division.
With luck the Manning family will also come out with yet another awesome rap video.
#5 Odell Beckham Jr.
Speaking of the devil, Beckham has a huge pair of shoes to fill this season: his own.
Racking up 1,300+ yards and 12 TD’s as a rookie was an extraordinary feat. In the National Football League, however, producing an encore performance is easier said than done.
I believe he’ll deliver but it will be interesting to see what the League’s defensive coordinators have drummed up over the off-season to combat Mr. One-handed Catch.
#4 DeMarco Murray & LeSean McCoy
OK, this list is turning into more than 10 players, but it’s hard not to look at these two backs in the same light for obvious reasons.
They’ve both got something to prove.
‘Shady’ looks to show the world Chip Kelly was a fool for letting him go and Murray hopes to prove once and for all his rushing title had more to do with his legs than the Boys’ stellar offensive line.
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) June 22, 2015
#3 Jimmy Graham
On paper the addition of Graham makes the Seahawks look unstoppable. Fortunately for the rest of the League, games are playednon on papyrus, but on grass or field turf.
The story goes that Russell Wilson has been missing a big, reliable, go-to type receiving target.
Yeah, things could get ugly real quick for Seattle’s opponents should the Wilson-Graham combo come even remotely close to Brees-Graham.
Let’s not forget how hard it is to score against that defense.Even if Michael Bennett holds out for a better contract.
#2 Carson Palmer
Before Carson Palmer went down with a season-ending knee injury the Cards were dominating the NFC West and talk was circulating that the then-Super Bowl Champion Seahawks might just miss the playoffs.
We all know how that story played out, but it left Arizona fans with a big stinky “What if?” on the tip of their tongues.
Palmer should be back at full-strength here soon. The clock is ticking on #3’s Super Bowl dreams, but if he can stay upright we could have yet another West vs. West classic NFC Championship battle – one that doesn’t involve the soon-to-be (4-12) San Francisco 49ers.
— Revenge of the Birds (@revengeofbirds) June 28, 2015
#1 Adrian Peterson
A lot of running backs on this list as many teams look to take a page from the Old School playbook and pound the rock in a pass-happy NFL.
‘All Day’ put up one of his best seasons ever following ACL surgery. How will he fare in his next comeback attempt?
Don’t expect all this controversy to faze Adrian Peterson. You’d think he’d want to lay low after this whole child abuse debacle. Nope.
I know hundreds of player’s that wished their team would’ve HONORED the contract! But instead got threw to the side like like trash.
— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015