NFL: Ranking the Most Shocking Preseason Developments so Far

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

NFL: Ranking the Most Shocking Preseason Developments so Far

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    The 2012 preseason won't match the intensity of the regular season, but it can provide some valuable insights. Therefore, it's worth the time to look at what crazy developments have occurred. 

    The biggest draw of the preseason is to see how the rookies are doing. They're the shiny new toy of each fan base, and there have been some semi-surprising results.

    Another big story has been the return to relevancy of faded NFL stars. Apparently, you can teach old dogs new tricks.

    Just as an aside, there won't be any true team analysis based on game performance. If you need a reason why, the Detroit Lions went 4-0 the year they finished without a single victory. 

    Click through to find out the biggest developments of the preseason. 

10. The NFL Allowed the Regular Referees to Gain Quite a Bit of Leverage

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    Roger Goodell is quite adept as a negotiator. How many people do you know could complete a deal that gives him initial punishment rights and appellate power in these days of constant suspensions?

    That's why is it so surprising that the NFL has allowed the league to be overrun with replacement referees.

    Quite simply, these guys have been below average at best. Between botched touchback calls and announcing a team that isn't even playing, the regular refs have be licking their chops.

    The NFL might be the only game in town, but fans are not going to allow the backups to decide meaningful contests. With each passing week, the league is losing leverage.

    Your move, Roger. 

9. A Wide Receiver Made the Respectable Call

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    NFL wide receivers have a long and storied history of driving fans insane with their actions and words. The term prima donna is thrown around often on talking-head shows.

    Dwayne Bowe certainly seemed headed down that path. The Kansas City Chiefs slapped him with the franchise tag and were not going to match his demands for a long-term deal.

    Technically, he could have continued to hold out until the first week of the regular season. He didn't. 

    Bowe manned up and signed his franchise offer. Maybe the hype surrounding the Chiefs brought him back. Maybe he just wanted to gain a few public relations points.

    Regardless, he's in camp. 

8. Chris Johnson Has Stayed Silent and Has Regained His Mojo

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    Chris Johnson found himself in the entire nation's doghouse in 2011. After boasting of impending domination, Johnson only doled out frustration to all those who laid down large cash in fantasy auctions.

    This year hasn't found the former 2,0000-yard rusher making too many headlines due to his pronouncements. There was a tweet dismissing his five-carry, eight-yard effort against the Seattle Seahawks, but that's about it. 

    Perhaps keeping the proper perspective about an ultimately meaningless game kept his head level. More than likely, a poor debut after a sub-par season sparked the beast inside to regain his former drive. 

    Regardless, Johnson ripped off a nice 14-yard touchdown (he had two total) while picking up 46 yards on 10 carries. He'll need to do more before his crown is restored, but the foundation has been laid. 

7. The Cincinnati Bengals Released a Talented, Viable Receiver in Jordan Shipley

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    Aside from a season or two, the AFC North has been a two-team battle. 

    The Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Browns would rise up to challenge the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers occasionally, but they always faded back into obscurity.

    For once, history will not repeat itself.

    The Bengals are here to stay. The release of talented wide receiver Jordan Shipley officially ushers in a new era in Cincinnati that even the ascension of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green couldn't signal.

    The reasoning being that once a team reaches a point where the roster cuts include proven commodities before the final 53-man deadline, the tide has no longer just turned, it will remain consistent. 

    It's true. The franchise formerly dismissed as the Bungles is here to stay. 

6. The Baltimore Ravens Offense If Officially More Scary Than the Defense

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    Much like the Cincinnati Bengals, the times are changing for the Baltimore Ravens.

    Once upon a time, the Ravens featured a fierce defense that inspired so much fear in offenses that it seemed to disable its own. 

    Well, Joe Flacco doesn't appear intimidated anymore.

    Prognosticators have truly begun to believe that the strong-armed signal-caller will thrive this year. Others have been touting his his skill set prior to 2012, but there is a rising tide of support for the fifth-year veteran.

    Conversely, the defense doesn't appear to have the same buzz. Haloti Ngata's weight gain sparks concern that he won't be as explosive as years past and a slimmed down Ray Lewis may or may not pan out.

    Then there is the matter of attempting to replace Terrell Suggs and his Defensive Player of the Year output. The best way to do that is for the offense to score more points. 

5. Is There a Reason the Minnesota Vikings Don't Utilize Joe Webb More?

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    Did anyone notice what Joe Webb was doing during the preseason tilt with the Buffalo Bills? Or were they too busy trying to determine his worth as an in-the-pocket passer

    Webb has a certain value that far exceeds what he can do under center. He repeatedly made defenders look confused as he would disappear only to reappear five yards down the field and closer to the sideline.

    The kid is a natural playmaker. And on a team that has two bona fide offensive threats, the Vikings should be drawing up ways to get Webb involved in the offense.

    Have they never heard of Brad Smith?

4. Rookie Signal-Callers Are Slinging the Rock

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    The young guns came in with a ridiculous amount of hype and didn't shy away in their preseason debuts.

    Obviously, the performances of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill should all be taken with a grain of salt. Most of the defenses are sticking to their vanilla schemes, so these guys aren't being challenged mentally the way they will once the snaps count.

    That doesn't completely invalidate their performances though.

    Luck tossed a couple of touchdowns against the St. Louis Rams. He didn't start well against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but still showed the necessary moxie to come back strong with some beautiful throws.

    RG3 has yet to throw a pick and has completed nine of his 14 attempts. Tannehill started the second preseason game and showed enough to stay in front of his position competition.

    All of these guys will experience some ups and downs this year. However, the future appears bright for the Colts, Redskins and Dolphins. 

3. A Football Player Named Retire: The Chad Johnson Saga

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    It wasn't supposed to end like this.

    Chad Johnson had been given a lifeline for extending his football career with the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately, the opportunity vanished as quickly as it appeared. 

    Johnson recently wed Evelyn Lozada. The latest addition to the Johnson clan is famous for her starring role on Basketball Wives and for leaving Antoine Walker once he went broke.

    Soon after the signing and wedding, Johnson and Lozada has a squabble over a box of condoms that turned physical. Which person inflicted injury on the other is unclear, but the fallout from Johnson's arrest was definite.

    In one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in Hard Knocks history, Johnson was cut from the team.

    The shock isn't that Johnson was cut—it's likely his play could have resulted in such a fate anyways. The surprise derives from the fact that Johnson was cut for an arrest as opposed to any field-related antics.  

    Despite all of his irreverent celebrations and brazen proclamations, Johnson isn't known for off-the-field incidents. Sad indeed. 

2. The Rejuvenation of the Aging Wide Receiver

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    Father Time is considered an undefeated heavyweight. That hasn't stopped a few age-enhanced wide receivers from landing damaging blows to an otherwise sterling reputation.

    Randy Moss has been making waves all preseason. Besides proving that his physical attributes remain intact, the polarizing wide out has made it a point to be a team player.

    The Seattle Seahawks are also mounting their own offensive against ageism. 

    Pete Carroll took a couple of risks by bringing in Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens

    Edwards has shown up in the preseason games by hauling in both of his targets for 51 yards. Owens' spectacular tryout has not transferred to the field, but there is still plenty of time for him to make a contribution and the team.

    It would appear that the Russian is cut.  

1. Can No One Use a 6'5" Red-Zone Threat?

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    Apparently every team in the NFL is all set when it comes to putting up points. Absolutely no one needs a wide receiver capable of snatching end-zone jumpballs. 

    Plaxico Burress returned to the NFL last season with the New York Jets. He had his worst 16-game season reception-wise, but his third-best scoring season ever.

    Burress' 6'5" height coupled with his wingspan make him a viable red-zone threat despite his 35 years of life experience. Surely, someone should be able to find a spot on their roster for such a talent.

    Yet no one has even brought him in for a tryout.