A number of players had bounce-back seasons in 2011, but four guys had particularly dominant seasons. The criteria used for choices was simple—guys who had mediocre seasons in 2010 and vastly exceeded expectations in 2011.
Alex Smith had a tough go of it in his first NFL
seasons, going from coordinator to coordinator, battling injuries and rarely getting the support of his coaching staff. All that changed when Jim Harbaugh arrived in San Francisco. Smith has had his best season of his career by far, and the Niners are positioned to make a deep run in the postseason.
Steve Smith, statistically speaking, has put together a Hall of Fame career. But after a disappointing 2010 season, it appeared as if Smith was finally slowing down. That changed this season in a big way. Smith dominated from Week 1 to Week 17, earning himself a Pro Bowl selection.
Darren Sproles is another player who has had a nice career, but took a huge leap forward in 2011. Sproles was the sparkplug of the Saints' offense, catching over 80 balls and rushing for another 600-plus. Not bad for a guy who wasn't retained by his previous ball club.
Not very long ago, Reggie Bush
's name was being mentioned in conversations as one of the biggest NFL busts ever. While his reputation may be permanently sullied, there's no doubting that he proved he can be a legitimate home run threat in the NFL after rushing for 1,000-plus yards this season.
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