10 NFL Veterans Whose Play Will Fall off Dramatically in 2012

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIJune 15, 2012

10 NFL Veterans Whose Play Will Fall off Dramatically in 2012

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    Sadly, all things have to come to an end—no matter how hard you try, there's an end to every road. The same could be said for NFL players. No matter how illustrious a player's career has been, there needs to be an end at some point.

    But prior to the end there is a point that both the player and the team have to struggle through—a period in which the player's talent and production simply diminish. 

    We saw it with Chad Ochocinco in 2011, and we'll certainly see it with some players in 2012.

    In that spirit, let's take a look at 10 NFL veterans whose play will fall of dramatically in 2012. 

Matt Hasselbeck

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    This will likely be the end of Matt Hasselbeck's career and the beginning of the Jake Locker era with the Tennessee Titans.

    Hasselbeck might have a had a bounce back year in 2012 with the Titans, as he finished with an 82.4 quarterback rating while tossing 18 touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions, but I like to call this a one-year wonder.

    Prior to Hasselbeck's first season in Tennessee, he threw 17 interceptions in consecutive seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. 

    Could 2011 have been just a fluke for Hasselbeck? I tend to believe so.

    Hasselbeck won't make it out of training camp as Tennessee's starter—Locker is simply too talented to have sitting on the bench. 

Willis McGahee

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    There's only one reason why Willis McGahee ran for so many yards in 2011—and it's because of Tim Tebow and how the Denver Broncos were strictly a run-first, run-on-almost-every-down kind of offense.

    McGahee had just so many touches that he'd without a doubt accumulate a large chunk of yardage.

    With that being said, Tebow is no longer the quarterback in Denver—Peyton Manning is.

    Denver will turn into a pass-first offense, and that will likely cause McGahee's play to fall dramatically—not to mention, he is turning 31 years old in October, which is ancient for an NFL running back. 

Carson Palmer

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    What do I have to say about Carson Palmer? Well, he's a "has-been."

    Much like Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, Palmer's glory days have come to an end, and it was clearly evident in 2011 when he threw 16 interceptions compared to 13 touchdowns.

    I suppose his injuries over the years might be taking a toll on his body, but I just don't think that this guy has enough left in the tank.

    Kudos to the Cincinnati Bengals for ripping off the Oakland Raiders in their trade that sent Palmer to Oakland for a first-round pick in 2012 and a conditional second-round pick in 2013. 

Kevin Kolb

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    Kevin Kolb is nothing short of a bust.

    Kolb failed to stay healthy in his first season with the Arizona Cardinals, and when he was healthy, he was ineffective. In nine games in 2011, Kolb completed just 57.7 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.

    Kolb went just 3-6 as a starter in 2011, while his backup John Skelton went 5-2.

    Entering 2012, I firmly believe that Skelton will be Arizona's starting quarterback, not Kolb. 

Mark Sanchez

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    I'm not sure why I think this, but I really do with a strong passion—Mark Sanchez is mentally soft and cannot handle the pressure.

    With that being said, I believe that he's going to crumble into tiny pieces this upcoming season with Tim Tebow being his backup.

    Why? Because it's New York, and the New York media is crazy—and not to mention, there's something called "Tebowmania."

    As soon as Sanchez throws an interception in 2012 or does anything wrong, the media and fans will be calling for Tebow to be thrown into the mix, with Sanchez ultimately being benched.

    I just don't see Sanchez being mentally tough enough to handle a player with so much hype sitting behind him on the depth charts. 

Ray Lewis

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    Ray Lewis is the greatest linebacker of our generation and is one of the greatest players to ever play the game—but he's 37 years old and entering the twilight on his career.

    Last season we saw Lewis struggle with a toe injury which caused him to miss four games. This upcoming season, I'm predicting that we'll see Lewis struggle with more injuries, and we'll ultimately see his production take a noticeable decrease. 

    Let's be honest, he's 37 years old and there can't be much left in the tank. However, for the Baltimore Ravens' fans sake, I hope that Lewis can prove me wrong. 

Frank Gore

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    For the first time in Frank Gore's career he will be a part of a running back committee with Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James.

    Gore will certainly be as efficient and threatening, but we probably won't see him gain as many yards as we're accustomed to simply because of the lack of carries. 

    Not to mention, the San Francisco 49ers have beefed up the passing game with the likes of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and A.J. Jenkins.

    Gore's production will definitely decrease noticeably in 2012.

LeGarrette Blount

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    This might be a no-brainer but we will definitely see a drop of production out of LeGarrette Blount in 2012.

    With the selection of Doug Martin in the first round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found a replacement for their No. 1 running back—which will take a huge chunk out of Blount's carries. 

    Blount will likely score a lot of touchdowns, considering he'll be projected as the team's goal-line back, but I see Martin getting most of the touches and accumulating over 1,000 yards. 

Terrell Suggs

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    Terrell Suggs just balled so hard. That's all that it is. 

    With Suggs allegedly tearing his Achilles playing basketball, he'll likely miss the majority of the 2012 NFL season, and when he does come back—if he does at all, for that matter—I'm sure his play will drop dramatically.

    Achilles injuries are rather serious, and it's so hard to play with pain in that area, as you're using your Achilles on every single step.

    He'll definitely be less explosive than he used to be. 

Devin Hester

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    Goodbye Devin Hester and hello Alshon Jeffery.

    For years now, I have been saying that Hester should not be a wide receiver—he should strictly be a return man. That's all.

    Hester might be projected as the Chicago Bears' No. 2 wide receiver entering the 2012 season, but during preseason I see Jeffery proving that he is the real deal and that he can start opposite of the newly acquired Brandon Marshall

    Jay Cutler is going to have a lot of fun throwing passes to Marshall and Jeffery in 2012.