If you are even a casual NFL fan, you already have an idea of who the usual suspects are. I don’t have to tell you that Adrian Peterson is a beast or that Calvin Johnson is hands-down the most dominant wide receiver in the game.
But, with a new year comes new story lines. Certain players have been thrust into compelling situations, and the way they react to those changes might alter the course of the season for their respective teams.
The following are some players to watch and why.
- Wes Welker: After logging a very productive tenure with the New England Patriots, Welker has the luxury of yet another elite quarterback in Peyton Manning. The Denver Broncos had no shortage of capable targets for Manning last year, but they threw Welker in the mix nonetheless, which could help gaudy passing numbers get even gaudier.
- Geno Smith: The New York Jets are like a car wreck — you don’t want to watch, but you just can’t turn away. Mark Sanchez has been a bust at quarterback. Now, rookie Geno Smith has come to the table looking to steal the position, but he’s not looking so great either. Will the Jets remain in the cellar, or can Geno lift them out?
- Darrelle Revis: Probably the one thing the Jets had going for them is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Revis will instantly beef up the defensive secondary like no other player can. The big question is, how will Revis come back from the torn ACL he suffered last year?
- Giovani Bernard: The former North Carolina Tar Heel is one of a handful of rookie tailbacks that is looking to make some noise in the NFL this year. Bernard has already challenged BenJarvus Green-Ellis (somewhat successfully might I add) for the starting role in Cincinnati. With quarterback Andy Dalton coming along, this could potentially make the Bengals offense a little more potent.
- Eddie Lacy: Can you remember a time where the Green Bay Packers had a running game to write home about? Me either. Eddie Lacy might change that. He comes from top stock (Alabama) and could be the Ahman Green or Dorsey Levens that the Packers need to mix it up.
- Tavon Austin: The Rams gave up four of their picks in the draft to nab this showstopper. Well, he was a showstopper in college — we will see if that translates to the pros. The Rams have long been on the lookout for a go-to receiver since Sam Bradford took over at quarterback four years ago. St. Louis has a ton riding on their young wide out.
- Danny Amendola: Who is Tom Brady going to throw to this year? He always had relied on his tight ends, but one is injured and the other is sitting in jail. Enter Danny Amendola, who will have to quickly make the transformation from forgettable to memorable in order for the Patriots to avoid some serious bumps in the road.
- Robert Griffin III: After an unforgettable rookie season came to a close with a season-ending knee injury late last year, all eyes are on RG3 this season. Some athletes can’t shake an injury of this nature, and many are skeptical that he will be able to maintain his elusive mobility. If he can’t, he certainly will not be the RG3 we remembered from last year.