4 NFL Stars Being Phased out of Their Teams' Game Plans

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 9:   Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots catches a pass before a preseason game with New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 9, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Week 1 saw many offenses shifting away from familiar trends and for four players in particular, that means they are likely to be steadily phased out of their respective teams' game plans.

They include two former 1,000-yard rushers and a man many consider the premier slot receiver in the NFL. Here are the four players set to be phased out of their teams' game plans:

Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons

During the offseason, the Atlanta Falcons made a commitment to moving away from the smash-mouth style that has defined their offense during the last four seasons. That means less Michael Turner.

The new trend was evident during the Falcons' emphatic opening-day win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The bruising runner only had a meager 11 carries against the Chiefs, while quarterback Matt Ryan aired it out 31 times.

That's quite a shift considering Turner has had over 300 carries in three of the last four seasons. It certainly looks as though the Falcons are determined to be a different kind of offense this season.

Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots

The New England Patriots certainly weren't shy about reorganising their receiving corps during the offseason. Aside from adding Brandon Lloyd and a host of tight ends, it seems the Patriots plan to rely less on diminutive slot receiver Wes Welker.

According to NFL.com, against the Tennessee Titans, Welker shared time with Julian Edelman, a wideout of a similar mould and style. Welker signed his franchise tender this offseason, but it already appears as though the Patriots are getting ready for life after the player who has exceeded 110 receptions in four of the last five seasons.

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

No player ever wants to lose his job though injury. However, that's just the position Buffalo Bills star Fred Jackson could find himself in, after his understudy put up spectacular numbers on opening day.

Jackson left the field against the New York Jets with a knee injury, that NFL.com's Marc Sessler reports will keep him out for up to four weeks. With Jackson off the field, youngster C.J. Spiller rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, at a whopping 12.1 yards per carry average.

The Bills had planned to share carries between Jackson and Spiller this season. If Spiller continues to put up those kind of numbers, it's easy to wonder what kind of role Jackson will have when he returns.

Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins

As sad as it may be for diehard Washington Redskins fans to witness, veteran flanker Santana Moss is clearly being steadily phased out of the offense in D.C.

The 33-year-old was limited during preseason and caught only three passes in Sunday's shock win over the New Orleans Saints. More importantly, the Redskins spread the ball around on third down, usually Moss's best opportunity to shine under head coach Mike Shanahan.

Perhaps most significant, was the fact that when Pierre Garcon left the game with a foot injury, Moss wasn't called in to replace him. Instead of trusting his experience and knack for the big play, Shanahan instead went with little-used youngster Aldrick Robinson.

Having added Garcon and Josh Morgan in free agency and being willing to turn to youngsters like Robinson, it seems the Redskins no longer need Moss like they used to.