2012 NFL training camps are here, and it is the first step in a redemption story for NFL players who were some of the biggest disappointments in 2011.
Luckily for the players who disappointed, they have a chance to redeem themselves over the course of the 2012 season. Whether they are in a new location, have an upgraded team around them or are fully recovered from injury, NFL players always have a chance to bounce back from a lackluster season.
NFL fans can be the forgiving type if a player is able to bounce back and have a stellar season while leading the team to the promised land. Redemption for an NFL player on an individual level is performing better than the previous season and potentially improving the record of the team.
These individuals certainly have the ability to improve on their past statistics and make their teams better. Here are eight NFL players who will redeem themselves in 2012:
The Tennessee Titans compiled a 9-7 record last year despite their star running back not playing anywhere close to a high level.
Chris Johnson wanted a new contract before the season and held out of offseason activities. He got his big payday, but he appeared out of shape and had a less than stellar season.
In 2011, Johnson only rushed for 1,047 yards and four touchdowns, a horrible stat line considering he ran for 11 touchdowns in 2010, and in 2009, he rushed for over 2,000 yards with 14 touchdowns.
Johnson has the ability to bounce back in a big way. Now that he will participate in a full offseason of conditioning the sky is the limit. While 2,000 yards is probably a bit of a stretch, he can have a much better season than he did a year ago while leading an up-and-coming Titans squad to the playoffs.
Sam Bradford performed well in his rookie campaign in 2011, and it appeared all he had to do was stay the course and he could develop into a franchise quarterback for the St. Louis Rams.
He did not stay the course.
Instead, in 2011 Bradford only played in 10 games while battling injuries. He threw only 2,164 yards and had six touchdowns and interceptions. In that same time span, the Rams struggled to a 2-14 record.
Like other players on this list, Bradford is more than capable of turning things around in a big way. Head coach Jeff Fisher is quickly changing the culture of the organization for the better, and Bradford should flourish with the new regime in place.
If the New York Jets are going to improve on their mediocre 8-8 finish from a year ago, running back Shonn Greene is going to have to improve even more.
Greene rushed for 1,054 yards and six touchdowns last season, but the Jets struggled to win games in part because of a lack of a legitimate running threat on every down.
With the arrival of Tim Tebow, it appears as if the Jets are going to run the ball even more than they did last season, which could benefit Greene in a big way. If Tebow and Greene are on the field at the same time, opposing defenses have to account for both which could open up huge running lanes for Greene.
He will likely not be a top-10 back in the league, but Greene has a real chance to shoulder the load for the Jets as they finally live up to they hype of a team playing in New York.
Peyton Hillis is quite the character. After having a laughably bad 2011 season with the Cleveland Browns, he had a WWE Superstar-esque offseason filled with CIA plot lines and a Madden curse before landing with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hillis rushed for 587 yards and only six touchdowns a year ago, but has a real shot at excelling in Kansas City. He will act as the bruising running back behind starter Jamaal Charles, and it is the perfect role for Hillis.
The Chiefs were only able to finish with a 7-9 record in a weak division last year, and a lack of a running game certainly played a role. Hillis will change that. Hopefully his redemption story is not as ridiculous.
Josh Freeman was one of the breakout stars of the 2010 season, and was expected to do nothing but improve in 2011. He proceeded to throw only 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions with a 74.6 rating in 2011, making for one of the most disappointing performances of the season.
While Freeman was mingling in mediocrity the Tampa Bay Buccaneers racked up a 4-12 record, and Freeman's inability to play at a high level was a big factor in the final tally.
Luckily for Freeman he has the ability to turn things around quickly. He is a prototypical NFL quarterback, and finally has some stellar pieces around him. The team went out and signed a true No 1 receiver for Freeman in Vincent Jackson, and drafted a running back in Doug Martin that will take pressure off him.
Freeman will likely be a breakout star again in 2012, and he is poised to lead the Buccaneers to a postseason berth if he can play close to his 2010 production.
The Arizona Cardinals gave up the farm to trade for Kevin Kolb and paid him a boatload of money to be the franchise quarterback.
How did he repay the Cardinals organization?
If you guessed only appearing in nine games, not even throwing for 2,000 yards and throwing nine touchdowns to eight interceptions while the team stumbled to an 8-8 record, then you should buy a lottery ticket.
Luckily for Kolb, he does not need to win the lottery after the ridiculous amount the Cardinals paid him. What he does need to do is stay healthy and learn to play better with the pieces around him before he ends up without a job.
Kolb has a chance at bouncing back, especially with the addition of wide receiver Michael Floyd, who is the perfect No. 2 across from Larry Fitzgerald. Ryan Williams is returning in the running game which should take some pressure off Kolb. It is now or never for Kolb.
Like most teams on this list, the Philadelphia Eagles struggled to an 8-8 record in 2011 while their star player was mostly absent.
For Philadelphia, that player would be Michael Vick.
Vick was not horrible per se, but he had a drop-off in production. In 2011 he threw for 3,303 yard and 18 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, which seems fine. However, in 2010 he threw for 3,018 yards, but with 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
The hype surrounding the Eagles last year was immense, and it will be again in 2012 because Philadelphia has one of the most talented rosters in the league—on paper.
Vick can be an elite offensive threat when healthy, and 2012 may be one of his last chances to chase a championship. He has the ability to do so, but it just seems as if everything needs to come together perfectly.
When healthy, Jon Beason is arguably the best linebacker in all of football. Outside of last season, from 2007 to 2010 he has recorded tackle numbers of 140, 138, 141 and 121. Obviously tackle numbers are not everything, but it gives you an idea of what a force Beason is on the field.
Unfortunately Beason only appeared in one game last season. He tore his Achilles tendon and missed the remainder of the season. He has been medically cleared to play this offseason, and the redemption story is now underway.
Beason will thrive next year not only because of his elite talent, but because the team around him is improving so much. The arrival of rookie Luke Kuechly will only help Beason, and the Carolina Panthers defense will likely be an elite unit in 2012, led by Beason.