2011 NFL Starters Who Will Be Backups in 2012
With the 2012 NFL offseason in the books, many 2011 starters are now backups. Whether it was through a draft pick, a free agent or a trade, their only shot at starting is an injury.
Tim Tebow went from starting in Denver to backing up Mark Sanchez in New York, all because of the Peyton Manning signing. This is an unusual scenario, but it illustrates the domino effect of one signing.
So which starters from 2011 are going to be riding the pine in 2012?
Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland drafted Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round, and general manager Tom Heckert has admitted that he expects Weeden to start. At 28 years old, there's no sense in letting Weeden spend time on the bench.
Clearly, Colt McCoy is the odd man out. The Browns drafted Weeden to take McCoy's job, and the former Texas star hasn't given the Browns enough reasons to have faith in his abilities.
LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New head coach Greg Schiano criticized LeGarrette Blount for fumbling too much, and the Buccaneers traded up to draft Doug Martin in the first round.
Martin is a more complete player than Blount, and will get the majority of snaps as a rookie. Blount should get some playing time, but his time on the field is going to dramatically decline.
Nate Clements, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals prioritized the cornerback position in the offseason, signing Terrence Newman and Jason Allen while drafting Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round.
Cincinnati already had Leon Hall returning from injury, so it seems unlikely that Nate Clements will get much playing time at all, much less start like he did a year ago.
Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans
Matt Hasselbeck has been a stop-gap quarterback while Jake Locker developed. By all accounts, Locker is ready to take over the quarterback position at this point in time.
Locker is incredibly talented, and his ability beats out Hasselbeck's experience. This should be an easy decision for Tennessee.
Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins
After trading up to draft Robert Griffin at No. 2 overall, the Redskins clearly plan to start the rookie. That leaves Rex Grossman without a starting job.
Grossman had his chance in 2011, but he played horribly and, as a result, has now been benched. His only chance at playing in 2012 is if RG3 gets injured.
Gosder Cherilus, Detroit Lions
Jeff Backus seems likely to retain his starting position at left tackle, leaving first-round draft pick Riley Reiff to take over Gosder Cherilus' spot at right tackle.
Cherilus has never been anything special, and Reiff should be an immediate upgrade. There is a chance Cherilus will start at guard, but that doesn't seem likely.
Kellen Winslow, Seattle Seahawks
After being traded to Seattle, Kellen Winslow will backup Zach Miller. Winslow started and played pretty well for Tampa Bay in 2011, but Miller is the more complete player.
The former No. 6 overall pick has been a good but not great receiver throughout his career, and he is a terrible blocker. Winslow will get his fair share of playing time, but when the Seahawks have one tight end on the field, it will be Miller.
Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs
In 2010, Peyton Hillis gained national publicity for his bruising style of play. He struggled in 2011, though, and will now be backing up Jamaal Charles in Kansas City.
The Chiefs probably won't want Charles a full load of carries coming off a torn ACL, so Hillis is sure to get some playing time. Charles will see the majority of snaps, though.
Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals drafted Michael Floyd at No. 13 so he could be a starter. Floyd is much more talented than Andre Roberts is, and would provide a legitimate threat opposite Larry Fitzgerald.
Roberts will probably get some action out of the slot, but he won't see the field in Arizona's base offense.
Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks
Technically, Tarvaris Jackson is in a competition with Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson, but he is highly unlikely to win the starting spot.
Like every other year of his career, 2011 did not go well for Jackson. He held on to the starting job all year, but his results were far from impressive.
Barry Richardson, St. Louis Rams
Barry Richardson was so bad for Kansas City in 2011 that the team was forced to cut him. Richardson signed on with the Rams, but he will be backing up Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith at tackle.
Richardson may be able to get some time at guard, but he probably won't.
Tim Tebow, New York Jets
Tim Tebow led the Broncos to the playoffs last year, but he won't have the chance to bring New York there in 2012. Mark Sanchez has been declared the starter by the Jets brass.
Tebow will be used in a specialist capacity, so he won't only be riding the bench. However, Tebow will not be taking snaps from under center with any regularity.
Joseph Addai, New England Patriots
Though he was injured in 2011, Joseph Addai still started the majority of games for the Colts. In 2012, however, Addai will probably be backing up Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
Addai is a great blocker, so he might see some time in that capacity, but he won't be carrying the ball too often, and he definitely won't be the No. 1 back.
Mike Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars signed Laurent Robinson to a big free-agent contract and drafted Justin Blackmon No. 5 overall. Mike Thomas is not in the team's long-term or short-term plans.
Thomas was Jacksonville's No. 1 wide receiver in 2011, but he will struggle to find playing time in 2012. In fact, there are rumors Thomas may even be cut.
Arrelious Benn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Williams was Tampa Bay's No. 1 wide receiver in 2011, but the team signed Vincent Jackson to a massive contract in free agency. Unless Arrelious Benn miraculously beats out Williams, he will be a backup.
In 2011, Benn caught just 30 passes for 441 yards. That's not good enough to start, especially over the talented Williams, who was much more productive, catching 65 passes for 771 yards.
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