Blog Entry

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Posted on: September 14, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: September 14, 2011 10:43 am
M. Stafford, if he stays healthy, could be a candidate for comeback player of the year (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Some had disappointing seasons last year only to find themselves in a brand-new setting this year. Some had worn out their welcome in one city and were rewarded with a new home in a new part of the country. Some were injured, and some just flat-out stunk.

But this is a new season, and it’s never too early to make predictions about the 2011 comeback player of the year, especially since two-time winner Chad Pennington is out for the season and won’t be eligible for his third award until 2012.

You won’t find Albert Haynesworth on this list, because a man who duped one organization out of tens of millions dollars only to find himself holding a golden parachute to the league’s most respected franchise doesn’t need another reward if he potentially plays well (or, unlike in Washington, plays at all). But pretty much everybody else is eligible for a spot on our latest Top Ten with a Twist: Potential Comeback Players of the Year.

10. Kevin Kolb: I originally wasn’t going to put him on this list, because simply put, I’m not entirely sure he’s going to live up to his $63 million ($20 million guaranteed) contract in Arizona. But after his 18 of 27, 309-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Cardinals win against the Panthers (all while getting sucked into the “Cam Newton is awesome” maelstrom), it’s at least a possibility Kolb will play like Arizona believes he can. Kolb supporters point to an impressive two-game stretch he had in 2009 for why he’s worth all that money. I’m more interested in his 130 quarterback rating from Sunday and where he can go from there.

9. Chris Johnson: You might not know this, but last year, Johnson had a disastrous season. When you compare him to 2009, his performance declined by more than 600 yards and he scored three less rushing touchdowns. If that’s not the sign of a guy who has already become much less effective … wait, what’s that? Johnson still rushed for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns last season? Oh, never mind. But here’s the thing with Johnson. He keeps proclaiming that he’s going to rush for 2,000 yards, and while he did it in 2009, he fell woefully short last year. And yes, he won’t make it 2,000 in 2011 either. But he’ll also be better than last year, particularly since he now should be completely happy with the money he’s making.

8. Bob Sanders: We all know Bob Sanders can’t stay healthy. Not after missing 64 of 112 career games with the Colts. And because we’ve barely seen the guy (only nine times in the past three seasons) we always seem to lose sight of the fact that Sanders was once a premier safety threat  mentioned in the same breathe as Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. One good sign for Sanders’ return to respectability: he didn’t have to spend this offseason rehabbing an old injury. But Sanders also is 30 now, where the aches and pains increase rather than diminish. In his first game with San Diego, he accumulated six tackles. But at least he didn’t leave the game with an injury. Which, with Sanders, is pretty good news.

7. Tim Hightower: You’ll recall that Hightower had a bit of a fumbling problem as the No. 2 running back behind Beanie Wells in Arizona -- he had eight lost fumbles combined in the past two seasons -- and though Hightower had good production in place of the injured Wells, the Cardinals decided they’d rather have Wells than Hightower. The Redskins, who were saying goodbye to Clinton Portis, went after him, and their interest was rewarded this week when Hightower looked solid, rushing 25 times for 72 yards and a score. Just as important, though, is his pass protection and his versatility (he’s a pretty good receiver as well). Just as long as he doesn’t fumble, he could be a really good addition for Washington.

6. Steve Smith (Eagles version): We still don’t know how healthy Smith is, but the fact that he was active for the first game -- much to the chagrin of the Giants, I imagine -- is awfully impressive, considering he was coming off microfracture surgery on his knee. He wasn’t targeted by Michael Vick, and he didn’t play all that much. But the fact he was out there at all was pretty ridiculous. Smith probably won’t be healthy enough to produce the stats that would give him a legit shot at the comeback player of the year, but he’s already gone to extraordinary lengths to return this soon, so why not?

Henne5. Steve Smith (Panthers version): Aside from all those Panthers fans who now have hope, receiver Steve Smith has to be one of the biggest Cam Newton fans around. For a guy who wanted out of Carolina as soon as possible (and as receiver, why would he want to try to field passes from Jimmy Clausen?), the infusion of Newton into this offense was the main reason Smith exploded for eight catches, 178 yards and two touchdowns. Considering he only accumulated 46 catches for 554 yards and two (!) scores in 2010, a little Newton in his life apparently has gone a long way.

4. Chad Henne: Despite Miami fans chanting that they wanted Kyle Orton (who now has to hear the chants of “We want Tebow” in Denver) in the preseason, the popular storyline out of south Florida is that Henne finally will turn himself into a legit starting quarterback. Henne was a major storyline in the offseason -- coach Tony Sparano said “we’ll see” about Henne’s chances of starting and receiver Brandon Marshall laid out in detail why Tyler Thigpen was a better player until Henne began to make believers out of his teammates, who voted him offensive captain. It’ll continue to be a storyline as long as Henne plays the way he did against the Patriots (30 of 49 for 416 yards, two touchdowns and a garbage-time interception) in one of the best performances of his pro career.

3. Rex Grossman: Based on the way he played against the Giants on Sunday, I thought about putting Grossman higher on the list. But I just don’t see him as a top-15 quarterback -- this season or any other. Maybe if he got to play against the Giants shell of a defense every week. But until that happens, I don’t see him taking home the hardware. That said, Grossman surprised many people this week -- including, I imagine, John Beck -- and didn’t look like the same quarterback who was Donovan McNabb’s two-minute offense replacement. At least, he played like a legitimate starting quarterback.

2. Bryant McKinnie: Surely, McKinnie would be the first comeback player of the year award winner to have weighed 400 pounds (allegedly) and gotten released from his old team for it (not to mention earning $75,000 for getting down to a trim 372). But McKinnie, as the new left tackle for the Ravens, helped set the tone last Sunday when, on the first play of the first Ravens drive, he dispatched Steelers linebackers James Farrior and James Harrison, allowing Baltimore running back Ray Rice a 36-yard gain. Baltimore ended up beating Pittsburgh by four touchdowns, and don’t think McKinnie wasn’t a big reason for that. If he keeps it up, perhaps McKinnie can make history as the first offensive line ever to win the award.

1. Matthew Stafford: The Lions quarterback scared the daylights out of just about everybody when he hobbled to the sideline with an apparent injury in Detroit’s season-opening win against the Buccaneers. For a guy who’s missed 19 games the past two years with various ailments, that was not a moment for the weak at the heart. But it was only cramps, and during Detroit’s victory, Stafford showed that he still has the talent to be a top-five quarterback. And considering most of the comeback players of the year happen to be quarterbacks, that doesn’t hurt his chances either.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
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Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

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Since: Nov 28, 2011
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:54 pm
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Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 23, 2011 10:22 am
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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:36 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

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Since: Nov 28, 2009
Posted on: September 15, 2011 5:46 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Really...gonna go with the racist card.  C'mon...okay just to defend myself...I think Kyle Turley is a moron too, and would be in the penitentary if he wasn't freakishly strong and fast...and he's white.  That better?    And for you to even think of muttering CJ's name anywhere in the same sentence as Barry Sanders is absurd.  Chris Johnson is out for Chris Johnson...bottom line.  Did you catch any of the press regarding his contract negotations?  Guy's a moron.  Ray Rice...Lesean Mccoy....Jamal Charles...Arian Foster...and of course AP...he ain't cracking that five.  And you're telling me everybody who runs a 4.3 has to work...I've seen a ton of 4.3's in my day belonging to the laziest people in the world.  That's why fast people get drafted in baseball...cuz you can't teach somebody to run a 4.3....or 6.3 in baseball cuz they run 60's.  Yeah I'm a couch potato...we'll just leave it at that. 

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2011 4:32 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Chris Johnson has had plenty of good games without Vince Young, the Season before his 2000 yard performance, C.J. put up pretty good numbers with Kerry Collins. I think C.J is a good back no matter who is at Qb, the guy has dealt with teams having no respect for their passing game and still put up pretty good numbers. Give him time, he will get rolling and once again be the leagues best back once he get's into form!

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2011 1:51 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Chris Johnsons best games were with Young as the starter. The defenses had to have a spy on Young and that takes a player away from containing the run by Johnson. So many times I watched as Young would hand th ball off to Johnson and then "run a bootleg" with 1 or 2 players following Young, Johnson would then get his big gains. This was all set up by Young running the bootleg so well, teams had to account for his running abilities. Last year after Young was tossed Johnson barely broke 100 yards. Without a running QB at the helm Johnson is not the threat he was before, he is an average RB at best.

Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:45 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Your reply has nothing to do with his article or what he said about CJ.  Read and make sure you understand the words in front of you, before spewing out your own nonsense

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:44 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Come on Godfrey, C.J. is not a top 5 back???? C.J is great, in fact he is Barry Sanders-like! The guy has done nothing but give a bad team a chance by juking, twisting, and flying his way through other defenses! "A thug idiot who would be a drug dealer", if that's not a racist comment, I don't know what is? The fact is he is not a drug dealer, he busted his a** to become the player he is, you don't just naturally run a 4.3 40 yard dash! I sense a little jealousy, maybe it's because while Chris Johnson was busting his a** to become a great NFL running back, you sat back on your couch and guzzled beers and ate cheetos! Chris Johnson is a great running back, their is no arguing that! He had to earn his spot in the NFL, wasn't handed a silver platter like some RB's!

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