Michael Turner and 5 NFL Starters Who Must Be Phased Out Immediately

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIINovember 27, 2012

Michael Turner and 5 NFL Starters Who Must Be Phased Out Immediately

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    Not every NFL starter is worthy of their spot atop the depth chart.

    Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner has hit the wrong side of 30 and is quickly being phased out in favor of the younger Jacquizz Rodgers.

    What players are in similar situations?

    Let's start with a constant underachiever in Detroit... 

5. Gosder Cherilus

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    The Detroit Lions have a competent left tackle in Jeff Backus and an extremely mediocre tackle opposite him in Gosder Cherilus.

    Cherilus has failed to assert himself as a quality starter since being drafted in 2007 despite being given ample opportunity to do so.

    However, the Lions' latest first-round pick, Riley Reiff, is a tremendous run-blocker that has looked impressive in limited action this season. Why not give Reiff the majority of the reps in place of Cherilus the rest of the way?

    Backus (once healthy) can continue to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford's blind side while Reiff develops at RT. 

4. Mark Sanchez

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    Tim Tebow may not be the future leader of the New York Jets offense, but Mark Sanchez continues to prove that he definitely should not be.

    The beleaguered signal-caller has the worst completion percentage of any NFL starter and has failed to develop properly since entering the league in 2009. Sanchez has thrown 61 interceptions in his almost four-year career and has posted a mere 55.3 completion percentage.

    New York is an embarrassing 4-7 this season, and it would be hard to argue that the failings of Sanchez are not a huge part of the Jets' problem. It is time for this franchise to look in a new direction. For the time being, that may be Tebow, but a fresh face will likely be needed soon.

3. Steven Jackson

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    After rushing for 139 yards on 24 carries in Week 12, it may seem ridiculous to suggest that Steven Jackson be phased out of the St. Louis Rams offense.

    However, with Jackson's contract up at the end of the season and a capable Daryl Richardson behind him, it is time for St. Louis to start looking toward life without Jackson.

    Richardson has averaged 5.5 yards per carry on 82 carries this season and deserves a chance to shoulder the offensive burden. 

    Jackson does not need to be completely forgotten, but with the Rams at 4-6-1 and almost guaranteed to miss the playoffs, it makes sense to prepare for the future.

2. Greg Little

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    Greg Little refuses to live up to the immense talent within his 6'2", 220-pound frame. The Cleveland Browns wide receiver has been plagued with dropped balls throughout his career—particularly this season.

    Little has just 31 receptions on 59 targets this season and has caught only two touchdowns. Players like Josh Gordon, Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs are all better options and deserve targets before Little.

    Little has had moments of success this season, though in his best game he had only 77 yards and zero TDs against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4. Little has had issues with head coach Pat Shurmur and does not seem to value his position on the Cleveland roster.

    He should be phased out as soon as possible.

1. Michael Turner

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    The Atlanta Falcons may already be phasing Michael Turner out of the offensive game plan. The RB was on the field for just 23 offensive snaps in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while backup Jacquizz Rodgers saw 31 snaps.

    Rodgers is a younger and more explosive back that provides a solid complement to Turner's between-the-tackles style. Still, Rodgers has been demanding an increased workload in recent weeks, and Turner has struggled to keep a firm hold on his position.

    Turner has just two 100-yard rushing games this season and is averaging 3.5 yards per carry. He has rushed for less than 50 yards in each of the Falcons' last three contests.