What Five NFL Players Are Under the Most Pressure To Succeed in 2009?

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What Five NFL Players Are Under the Most Pressure To Succeed in 2009?
(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Every player in the NFL has to prove themselves every year. It is part of the "What have you done for me lately?" concept that makes the NFL so great. Some players, however, need to prove more than others. Here are the five players that have the most pressure to succeed in the 2009 season:

5. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, Running back

Peterson is the only non-quarterback on this list. Last season, Peterson owned the NFL as far as rushing yards. I mean, he was a monster, but there was a flaw:  Peterson fumbled the ball nine times. This is a problem that can kill a team, especially considering the amount of times Peterson carries the ball. Peterson needs to start taking over his team, because, well, they do not have a quarterback that will do it. The entire franchise rests on Peterson's shoulders. 

4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, Quarterback

Most people will argue that Brady has nothing to prove; he has won three Super Bowls and holds the record for most touchdown passes in a season. Well, the truth is he does.  Last season, when Brady went down, he was replaced by Matt Cassell, who found success in New England. The Patriots then traded Cassell this off-season to the Kansas City Chiefs. This means that Brady must produce now, because there is no back-up plan any more. 

3. Matt Cassell, Kansas City Chiefs, Quarterback

As mentioned above, Cassell took over for Brady last season and found success. During this off-season, the Denver Broncos inquired about signing Cassell. That started a chain effect that lead to the Broncos losing their Pro Bowl quarterback, Jay Cutler. The idea that a GM was willing to risk his franchise to acquire Cassell alone puts a lot of pressure, but then when you add in that the Chiefs are looking for him to help rebuild the franchise. Well, that is enough pressure to succeed in my book. 

2. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, Quarterback

The Dallas Cowboys made a surprising move this off-season by releasing Terrell Owens. The move was supposed to free up Roy Williams and Jason Witten to become the focal points of the offense, but the biggest reason was to allow Romo to take over his team. The Cowboys are great at making excuses for losing, but now T.O. is gone, so the Cowboys can no longer blame him. Thus, Romo will now take the brunt of all judgements. Pressure?  Yes, there is pressure. 

1. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, Quarterback

In 2008, not one person thought Matt Ryan would perform as well as he did. In 2009, however, everyone is expecting big things from the reigning Rookie of the Year. The Falcons have put an amazing amount of talent around Ryan. The offense has no weakness, truly it is complete, and if Ryan does not play up-to-par this season, then all of the efforts are for nothing. The Falcons franchise leans fully on Ryan, no matter what anyone else says; it fully comes down to Ryan. 

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