Peyton Manning and 5 NFL Players Turning Their Careers Around in 2012

Jeremy Sickel@https://twitter.com/JeremySickelContributor IIINovember 26, 2012

Peyton Manning and 5 NFL Players Turning Their Careers Around in 2012

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    The NFL season is quickly winding down with Week 12 now in the books. 

    While there are certainly a number of intriguing storylines to follow—from the Andrew Luck-Robert Griffin III debate to the cluttered MVP prattle—the underlying theme could be the way a handful of players are reviving their careers in 2012.

    Whether it is someone proving that a year off won't get in his way or someone who has seen little success finally making a name for himself, the league is full of inspiring resurgences. 

    Here are five guys turning their careers around in 2012.

Danario Alexander

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    San Diego Chargers wide receiver Danario Alexander has been on a tear over the last four weeks, tallying 20 receptions for 365 yards and three touchdowns. What is even more impressive about his success is that he has suffered from serious knee injuries since his days as a Missouri Tiger.

    Previously with the St. Louis Rams, Alexander has yet to put together a full season in the NFL. But with good health and continued usage, it isn't difficult to see how much of an impact he can make in this league.

    It is never hard to root for a guy trying to overcome adversity, especially someone as resilient and as talented as Alexander.

Josh Freeman

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    In his fourth year out of Kansas State, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman's early career has been about as up-and-down as any that you will see. Fortunately for the young signal-caller, 2012 is treating him very nicely.

    After regressing in 2011, the quarterback's resurgence has come as a shock to some. On the season, Freeman is completing 57 percent of his passes for 2,761 yards and 21 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. 

    Freeman has Tampa Bay at 6-5, and surprising owners of one of the league's top offenses. Though the Bucs' schedule tightens up to end the season and they will likely finish just outside of the playoff picture, 2012 is a major step in the right direction for this team.

Tim Jennings

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    Before the 2012 season, Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings had only picked off seven career passes. Through 11 games this year, he has tallied a league-leading eight interceptions and is one of the key players on a defense that ranks third in the NFL in total yards and second in points allowed.

    Jennings is a complete corner and doesn't mind sticking his nose where the ball is, as evidenced by his 53 tackles and 18 passes defended, the latter of which is tied for the NFL lead.

    If the Bears are to continue as one of the NFC's elite teams, Jennings will need to keep up his torrid pace in the defensive backfield.

Reggie Wayne

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    Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne had a down year based on his standards in 2011. His 75 receptions and 960 yards were his lowest totals since the 2003 season, but considering who was throwing him the ball—Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins—things could have been much worse.

    So far in 2012, Wayne has tallied a league-high 84 receptions on 144 targets and his 1,105 yards are good for second in the league.

    It certainly helps that he had the luxury of Peyton Manning throwing him the ball prior to last season. That said, no one could have imagined how well Wayne and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck would click early on.

Peyton Manning

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    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning missed all of last season with a severe neck injury, and no one knew what to expect of the future Hall of Famer in his first season back.

    At this point, it's safe to say that those who doubted him were in the wrong.   

    Manning hasn't missed a beat and is having one of his best seasons in 2012, something that is hard to fathom considering he entered the campaign at 36 years of age. His 67.7 completion percentage, 26 touchdowns, 3,260 yards and 104.8 quarterback rating are all good for top-six totals in the league.

    The star signal-caller has always had a knack for making the players around him better. While Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are fine receivers, it is hard to imagine them being as productive without Manning under center.

     

    Follow Jeremy on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy.