Every NFL team has a player who will be on the spot, the focus of fans, media members and their own coaches and teammates.
How that player responds will go a long way toward deciding whether a team can make major improvements, maybe even win it all. Some other players are in the spotlight for different reasons, maybe coming off an injury, or a rookie with baggage that has traveled with him from college.
So here's a player on the spot for each of the league's 32 teams, many with varying reasons. Not surprisingly, many are quarterbacks.
On the spot: Quarterback Carson Palmer
There is a misconception that Palmer wasn't good in 2016. He started slowly, but Palmer played well in the second half of the season. Even so, he enters this year with a lot of eyes on him. Palmer threw 26 touchdown passes and 14 picks last year, but in the final six games he threw 13 touchdown passes and four interceptions. He turns 38 in December, but Palmer is still more than capable of leading this team to a Super Bowl -- even if some out there don't agree.
On the spot: Nose tackle Dontari Poe
He signed a one-year deal with the Falcons as a free agent, which makes this a big year for him personally. The Falcons need him to step up and improve a run defense that was 26th in the league in yards per rush. That has to come down a lot for this defense to continue to improve. That means Poe has to be play like he did earlier in his career when he was a force against the run for the Chiefs.
On the spot: Outside linebacker Matt Judon
As a rookie last season, he flashed some nice pass-rush potential, getting four sacks in a backup role. With Elvis Dumervil gone and Terrell Suggs getting up in years, they need Judon to become a 10-sack player to help improve a pass rush that wasn't good last season. They also drafted Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams this year, but Judon is a player they are counting on to improve the pass rush.
On the spot: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor
The new coach and personnel man didn't bring him to the team, so there is no loyalty. Yet they did the wise thing and brought Taylor back on a three-year deal after the previous regime seemed to be willing to let him go. Taylor had 17 touchdown passes and six interceptions last season, but there are still questions about his long-term chances to be this team's franchise passer. This year will be his big test to show first-year coach Sean McDermott he can be that and more.
On the spot: Quarterback Cam Newton
After an MVP season in 2015 while leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl, Newton wasn't the same player last season and his team floundered. All of his numbers went down, and his passer rating fell from 99.4 to 75.8. He threw 19 touchdown passes, compared to 35 the year before. It wasn't all Newton's fault, as the line struggled and his weapons didn't play up to expectations for the most part. But this is a big year for Newton to show he can still play at an MVP level.
On the spot: Wide receiver Kevin White
It would have been easy to put quarterbacks Mike Glennon and rookie Mitchell Trubisky in this space, but I went with White. He's the player who needs to play big for whoever throws the passes in Chicago. White, drafted seventh overall by the Bears in 2015, has played just four of 32 games the past two seasons because of broken bones in his left leg. With Alshon Jeffery gone to Philadelphia, White needs to stay on the field and become a factor for whoever is throwing the passes.
On the spot: Running back Joe Mixon
How about a rookie running back being on the spot? With all the controversy surrounding the Bengals taking Mixon in the second round, he will be watched closely. But not just for his off-field issues. There were some scouts who thought he was the best back in the draft class, but he fell because of the videotape that showed him punching a woman. All eyes will be on him this fall for a lot of reasons, but he will certainly push Jeremy Hill for the starting job.
On the spot: Defensive end Myles Garrett
They used the first pick in April on Garrett, who has unreal athletic ability and skill. But he didn't always put up big numbers at Texas A&M, and there are those scouts and personnel people -- and even some former NFL players -- who wonder if he's truly going to be a great pass rusher. He needs to get off to a great start to silence some of those doubters. He can't just be good.
On the spot: Quarterback Dak Prescott
When Tony Romo went down, Prescott stepped in last season and did a hell of job leading the Cowboys to a division title. He was calm, cool and confident. But he had some moments late in the season that showed some flaws. Now that he has been around for a year, it will be interesting to see if he grows and becomes an even better player or if teams figure him out some. He has to do a better job of driving the ball down the field in 2017.
On the spot: Quarterback (Whoever it is)
They will go to camp with the job to be decided between Trevor Siemian and second-year player Paxton Lynch. Siemian did some good things last season as the starter, which gives him the edge. But Lynch is a big, strong passer with a powerful arm. That will be hard to keep on the bench. This will be a fun competition to watch, and the football-mad fans of Denver will eat it up.
On the spot: Running back Ameer Abdullah
He struggled as a rookie in 2015, with fumbling an issue, but he appeared ready for a big season in 2016 when he had 120 total yards (63 rushing and 57 receiving) against the Colts in Week 1. But in the second week he tore a foot ligament that put him on the sideline the rest of the season. Now he's back working again, and the Lions did little to find a replacement. There are guys on the roster like Theo Riddick who did a nice job last season, but they need Abdullah to be the lead back.
Green Bay Packers
On the spot: Outside linebacker Clay Matthews
The Packers decided to re-sign edge rusher Nick Perry, which was a smart move, but they need to get more from Matthews. Heading into his ninth season, the 31-year-old Matthews had just five sacks in 12 games last season, the lowest total of his career. They need more than that from Matthews if the defense is going to take a step forward in 2017.
On the spot: Quarterback Deshaun Watson
They traded up in the first round to take him in April, paying a steep price to do so. But they clearly think he's their future franchise quarterback. The Texans say he will compete with Tom Savage to start, but I would expect to see Watson on opening day. If he starts, and plays well, this team could go a long way. He has talent, but he wasn't great at a lot of NFL quarterback traits in college. The transition will be fun to watch.
On the spot: Running back Frank Gore
He has had a borderline Hall of Fame career, but he's 34 and coming off consecutive seasons averaging under 4 yards per rush. Even so, he enters the season as the team's No. 1 back, with the only real challenge being fourth-round rookie Marlon Mack. That means Gore is about to get a heavy workload at a time when most backs are spending their days in retirement.
On the spot: Quarterback Blake Bortles
There are those out there who already consider him a bust. That's not the case, but this season will tell the story. He has spent a lot of time working on his mechanics this offseason, and reports have been good. But that won't matter until the live bullets fly. The team picked up his fifth-year option, which was the right thing to do. There is little risk. But he has to play better than he did last season, when it all seemed to come apart. He does have 68 touchdown passes the past two seasons, which is why the front office was willing to take another chance with him in 2017.
Kansas City Chiefs
On the spot: Quarterback Alex Smith
They moved up to draft Patrick Mahomes II in the first round, which puts Smith's job in jeopardy after this season. Even if he plays well, barring winning a Super Bowl, it's probably being turned over to Mahomes next season. That means, as usual, Smith is the player on the spot. He has been good at times, but he has just not been good enough. Does that change this season?
Los Angeles Chargers
On the spot: Wide receiver Keenan Allen
Allen is coming off a season that saw him tear his ACL in the opener and miss the rest of the season. He has missed 25 games since coming to the team in 2013. When he's on the field, he has been a productive player. But he has to stay on the field. The Chargers drafted Mike Williams with the seventh overall pick and with Allen getting a big contract extension last offseason, the pressure is on him to produce and stay on the field.
Los Angeles Rams
On the spot: Running back Todd Gurley
It would be easy to point the finger at quarterback Jared Goff, but this will be his first full year starting so it might take time and he's the candidate for this spot in 2018. For now, it's Gurley. He had a bad season in 2016 after making a splash as a rookie in 2015. The bad line had a lot to do with it, but he didn't look like the same runner either as his yards per rush was an abysmal 3.2. He has to get that back over 4 and up to 4.3 or so to be considered worth his top-10 draft spot.
On the spot: Wide receiver Devante Parker
The Dolphins' first-round pick in 2015 (14th overall) had 56 catches last season after getting 26 as a rookie. But the team expects a lot more than that. He scored four touchdowns last season, a number that needs to be doubled. He did have issues with a hamstring early on in 2016 that held him back some, but he has to be an 80-catch, eight-touchdown player in 2017.
On the spot: Left tackle Riley Reiff
They paid him a lot of money to come over as a free agent from Detroit to be their left tackle. He was a left tackle for the Lions for his first four seasons before moving to the right side in 2016. The Vikings had major issues up front last season and they hope Reiff and Mike Remmers, another free-agent tackle, can help fix those problems.
New England Patriots
On the spot: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore
They paid him a lot of money to sign as a free agent to be their top corner, even trying to trade Malcolm Butler, who has been a better player. That's a lot of pressure on Gilmore, who was inconsistent with the Bills. He struggled early last season, but played well in the second half. They need him to be a top-tier corner for what they are paying him.
New Orleans Saints
On the spot: Running back Adrian Peterson
He's not a star in game anymore, but he is in name. That's why he will get a lot of attention. They signed him to a two-year deal that is essentially a one-year, look-see deal. Peterson will likely share carries with Mark Ingram, but how much does he have left at the age of 32 coming off a season where he played three games because of injury?
New York Giants
On the spot: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
He's not here for his on-field play, but rather the immaturity stuff that shows up with him. See: Boat trip, kicking net, Josh Norman, etc. Beckham is a wonderful talent, one of the best receivers in the league, but the Giants need to get him focused more and make him quit the stuff like fighting with Norman two years ago and that controversial trip to South Florida the week of a playoff game last January. I think he will mature, but we've seen guys who haven't.
New York Jets
On the spot: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson
He signed a five-year, $85 million deal last summer, but his season didn't go as planned. Injuries slowed him and his production wasn't as good. His sacks fell from 12 to 4.5 and he admitted to regularly being late and missing team meetings. That's not a good look for a mega-money player. He has to be better than that this season. The talent is certainly there to do it.
On the spot: Running back Marshawn Lynch
After retiring for a year, Lynch is back playing football, this time for his hometown team, the Raiders. They acquired his rights from Seattle and he signed a deal and is expected to be their starting running back. His last game was in November 2015, which is a long time away for a runner who is 31. What does he have left? Is there any more Beast Mode left?
On the spot: Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery
The Eagles signed Jeffery to be their No. 1 receiver but he's playing on a one-year deal. That means he's rolling the dice that he can prove he's a long-term solution to their receiving issues. Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz needed help outside, and Jeffery is an upgrade. But he has to show he's worth more than just a one-year deal.
On the spot: Outside linebacker Bud Dupree
He is expected to be the next dominant rusher for the Steelers. After missing the first part of last season with an abdominal pull, he impressed down the stretch with his ability to rush the passer. He had 4.5 sacks in the final four games to offer a peek into his ability going forward. He is a hard worker who should be able to get to 10-12 sacks this season for a Steelers team that needs more from the edge.
San Francisco 49ers
On the spot: Defensive end Solomon Thomas
He is the first draft pick of the John Lynch-Kyle Shanahan regime, so a lot of focus will be put on him. They landed him with the third overall pick in the April draft to be a building block of their roster. He has a lot of talent, and he's only 20, so that is a lot of pressure on a young player. I think he can handle it, but some scouts wonder if he's worth being that high of a pick.
On the spot: Running back Eddie Lacy
They signed him as a free agent to a one-year deal with the idea he would get in shape and help them get back to being a power running team. With Thomas Rawls coming off an injury, Lacy could end up being the starting back if he's in shape, which he wasn't for much of time with the Packers. His weight will be a focal point as he reports for camp and on into the season, but he did make weight last week to earn a bonus. He does have a tendency to balloon up.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
On the spot: Defensive end/outside linebacker Noah Spence
The Bucs seem poised to take a big step forward this season, but the defense has to be improved rushing the passer to do so. That means Spence. As a rookie in 2016, he had 5.5 sacks and showed the ability to get even more. He can play down or up in the Bucs scheme, which is something that could happen this season. That would mean more snaps and more rush chances for a player who needs to get double-digit sack numbers.
On the spot: Cornerback Logan Ryan
The Titans had major problems last year at corner, which is why they gave Ryan a hefty deal to sign him away from the Patriots. Ryan has been a good, solid corner, but right now he is their No. 1 guy, which is a role that will be new to him. I think he's up to the challenge, but time will tell and that's why he will be in the spotlight.
On the spot: Quarterback Kirk Cousins
Who else could it be? Cousins is playing on another one-year franchise tag, and the two sides have not agreed on a long-term deal. Do the Redskins have doubts about him? He has played well the past two seasons, but he wilted late last season with a playoff berth on the line, and that has to be concerning. Even so, if he goes out and has a big season again in 2017, he's going to be a rich man -- either for the Redskins or another team.