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: Nov 28, 2009
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:55 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

CJ isn't half the back AP is, and he's a thug idiot who'd be a drug dealer if he didn't run a 4.3.  AP has class which is something CJ knows nothing about...definitely has nothing to do with Minnesota fans.  CJ's not even top 5 as far as top backs in the league. 

Since: Sep 15, 2011
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:00 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

I'm guessing the twist is that the list is a joke piece. 

1st Criteria: Injury or Haven't played much in recent history.

2nd Criteria: You had to be decent before the sudden misstep.

These are usually the two things taken into consideration when chossing comeback player of the year. 

A prime canidate would be someone like Dqwell Jackson from the Cleveland Browns. He has only played 6 games the last two seasons becuase of  injuries. Before this injury streak he lead the NFL in tackles.In week one Dqwell Jackson had 11 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble.Your right to choose quarterbacks but Grossman is the only one who has actually cameback from something.I guess the confusion of your joke list comes in the fact that you have put 2 realistic canidates(Grossman and Sanders) with some that you find humorous.In the future your better off just making one funny list and one serious list just to avoid flustering the people that hate you. 

Since: Dec 19, 2006
Posted on: September 15, 2011 9:50 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

I don't understand the Chris Johnson hate?  Is it all from Minnesota fans that are mad because someone other than AP is getting love?

CJ2K is faster, shiftier, and has longer hair than AP.  Book it.  Cool

Since: Jul 8, 2007
Posted on: September 15, 2011 9:08 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Stafford, Henne, and Hightower are coming back from what, exactly?

Stafford was never a standout player to begin with. If he breaks out, it'll be just that, a breakout.
Same with Henne. And, he started last year!
Hightower just switched teams, and was a fringe starter to begin with. 

Since: Oct 1, 2008
Posted on: September 15, 2011 4:35 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

The only thing that should book is you.  Book out that is!

Since: Nov 8, 2010
Posted on: September 15, 2011 2:22 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

In two years he'll just be starting his four-year extension.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: September 14, 2011 3:34 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Chris Johnson will do worse than he did last year, and in two years will be released.  Book it.
And become the starter in Seattle next year.

Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: September 14, 2011 1:46 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

Chris Johnson will do worse than he did last year, and in two years will be released.  Book it.

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