“Bust” is a pretty nasty label, but it is one the NFL media have started handing out to underachievers rather early on. Instead of allowing a player a few seasons to establish himself, a highly hyped veteran or early round draft pick has very little time to prove valuable before being cast off into this heap.
This is the nature of the business now, fair or not. Players must play up to expectations and do it immediately or disapproval will haunt them.
Here are 32 players, one for each team, that have potential “bust” written all over them in 2013.
The idea behind the Arizona Cardinals acquiring quarterback Carson Palmer is that they’ve needed, for some time now, someone to throw the ball to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald downfield. But you know what else is important for the Cardinals in terms of an offensive attack? Another capable receiver, a dependable running game and a quarterback who isn’t going to be at risk for an interception each time he takes the field.
Wide receiver Andre Roberts could be the guy who helps out Palmer and Fitzgerald. Roberts had 759 yards and five touchdowns, whereas Fitzgerald was limited to 798 yards and four touchdowns in 2012. Michael Floyd could also show improvement after a rookie season in which he had 562 receiving yards.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall, coming off of his worst season in Pittsburgh with the Steelers, will need to elevate his game back to where it once was.
Palmer threw 14 interceptions in 2012 and only went without one in four of the 15 games he played in. If that trend continues, he won’t be the quarterback Arizona expects him to be.
The Atlanta Falcons have been waiting for right guard Garrett Reynolds to break out of his shell and become a top-notch starting NFL offensive guard. Unfortunately for both the Falcons and Reynolds, he’s been unable to do that in each of the past two seasons.
In 2011 and 2012, Reynolds lost his starting spot during the regular season. In 2011, Joe Hawley had to step in for Reynolds after he underperformed at right guard.
In 2012, Reynolds was placed on season-ending injured reserve due to a back injury. However, the Falcons looked improved with Peter Konz at right guard instead of Reynolds.
With Konz at his natural center position this season, Reynolds is slated to start once again at right guard. He’ll need to have improved specifically against the pass rush. Reynolds ranked No. 74 in the NFL last season according to Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking efficiency stat and No. 72 in 2011 (subscription required). If he doesn't improve, he could once again be Atlanta’s biggest bust in 2013.
The Baltimore Ravens, fresh off a Super Bowl win, need wide receiver Torrey Smith to elevate his game to that of a No. 1 receiver if they want to recreate the success they had in the 2012 postseason.
Problem is, Smith hasn’t shown the kind of consistency to be a No. 1 receiver in his first two NFL seasons. He’s been a fine complementary piece to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. But in the 2012 regular season, he only caught 49 of the 110 targets thrown his way. Sure, he had 855 yards, but he often saw single coverage with Boldin drawing extra attention.
On top of that, Smith has shown a tough time tracking quarterback Joe Flacco’s deep ball.
In the postseason, Flacco and Smith were able to hook up for two touchdowns with a long of 59 yards.
But with Boldin gone, Smith will command the extra attention in the receiving group. Baltimore, with a much better defense in 2013, could look to let the running game carry it, with Smith and Jacoby Jones getting fewer looks than expected.
Though it’s unlikely, there’s still a chance EJ Manuel beats out Kevin Kolb for the starting quarterback job in Buffalo for the Bills. If that’s the case, then that will tell you all you need to know about Kolb as a quarterback.
Since entering the NFL in 2007, Kolb has yet to prove he’s worthy of being a starter. Yet, for some odd reason, Buffalo targeted Kolb for that position, despite the fact he completed less than 60 percent of his passes the past two seasons in 15 total games played with Arizona, and that was with Larry Fitzgerald as his top wide receiver.
The good news is that no matter who starts, the offense will likely move through running back C.J. Spiller. Kolb or Manuel won’t have as much pressure as they would in a pass-happy offense.
However, Kolb has that tendency to force throws and trust his arm strength over what the coverage dictates. Kolb is in line to bust in Buffalo, unless he comes out of camp the backup.
Once again, the Carolina Panthers are going with a Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams tandem in the backfield. What makes the Panthers think that the same scenario of both backs underachieving won’t happen again?
Neither running back has run for 1,000 individual yards since 2009, when they accumulated a combined total of 2,250 on the ground. Both have battled injuries since then and have never been able to get back to that kind of production.
Quarterback Cam Newton, arguably the best runner on the roster, needs more weapons at receiver. Carolina didn’t do him any favors bringing in Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon, limited receivers in their own right.
Instead, the Panthers are placing their bets that Stewart and Williams will regain their magic from 2009 and allow Newton to stretch defenses down the field. This philosophy very well could backfire, with head coach Ron Rivera looking for work in 2014.
A season ago, Alshon Jeffery was a trendy pick among rookie receivers as one who would produce big. It never happened, as injuries slumped Jeffery into finishing with just 367 yards and three touchdowns.
Now that quarterback guru Marc Trestman is Chicago’s head coach, the buzz around Jeffery has returned, with the thinking that he’s now ready for a big sophomore campaign. NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks has bought in.
This doesn’t even account for the fact that Jeffery is typically quarterback Jay Cutler’s fourth option on the Bears roster, behind wide receiver Brandon Marshall, running back Matt Forte and wide receiver Earl Bennett (and that doesn’t account for tight end Martellus Bennett’s arrival).
Sure, Jeffery received a ton of offseason tutelage from Marshall, per Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. But it remains to be seen whether Jeffery can remain healthy for 16 games and if Cutler trusts him.
Jeffery was drafted with a lot of upside and value in the second round of the 2012 draft. It appears Trestman wants Jeffery to be a starter, based on his 6’3”, 216-pound frame and his ability to go up and get the deep ball. It’s now on Jeffery to live up to the expectations.
It was a quite a shock that Giovani Bernard became the first running back off the board during the 2013 draft.
Bernard, a relative unknown compared to Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball, was likely selected due to his change-of-pace style and quickness on the edge. Bernard does possess some power too, which gives the Bengals optimism that he’ll one day be an all-around back for their offense.
But Bernard is injury-prone and not built to take the beating he can expect to endure in the rugged AFC North. Defenses in this division are quick enough on the edges to contain backs like Bernard.
Bernard is known to fight for extra yardage, and he did play through discomfort in his knee in 2012. But if discomfort is still lingering in the ACL he tore in 2010, then he better hope he gets the necessary rehab to shore that up before his first NFL season kicks off.
The Cleveland Browns will already be without 2012 surprise Josh Gordon for the first two games of the 2013 NFL season, as Gordon violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy, according to ESPN. In addition, reports surfaced that Gordon, due to his newfound fame, was running with a bad crowd during the offseason.
This has a sophomore slump written all over it.
Browns fans may not want to hear it, but this has become typical within their organization. When something good comes along, something bad tends to follow. In 2012, Gordon caught 50 passes for 805 yards and five touchdowns. Even under new coach Rob Chudzinski, the opposition won’t be caught by surprise with Gordon.
Gordon is a deep threat at any moment, but his production did slow down near the end of the season. In his last three games of the 2012 season, Gordon only caught a total of eight passes for 73 yards. Over the final nine games, Gordon only caught one touchdown pass.
DeMarco Murray has the talent and athletic ability to be one of the better running backs in the NFL.
The only problem is Murray can never stay healthy. Foot, ankle and wrist injuries have forced Murray to miss time on the field. Murray also had a long injury history in college at Oklahoma, which caused his slide to the third round of the 2011 NFL draft.
With all the time Murray has missed, there is some wonder whether he can put in a full 16-game season at this level. If so, the Dallas Cowboys could find themselves in the playoffs, considering the receiving weapons on the outside and at tight end. If Murray is relegated to the sideline once again, then the Cowboys become more of a one-dimensional team, considering the primary backup is now rookie Joseph Randle.
The Cowboys need Murray if they want to compete for an NFC East title. Murray needs to stay healthy for this to happen. Given his past, that’s unlikely.
The Denver Broncos signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a two-year, $10 million deal this past offseason. After two down years in Philadelphia, it can be argued that Rodgers-Cromartie did not deserve this kind of contract.
No, it’s not a deal that will break Denver’s bank, but he’s also not worth that kind of money at this point in his career.
In two seasons with the Eagles, Rodgers-Cromartie only managed three interceptions and was a part of one of the NFL’s worst secondaries in 2012. However, his three solid years in Arizona clearly were enough for Denver to take a flier on him during the offseason.
Denver will mostly be fine, as it is stacked on both sides of the football. And on top of that, there’s a decent chance Chris Harris beats out Rodgers-Cromartie during the upcoming training camp.
Running back Reggie Bush has managed just one 1,000-yard rushing season since he came out of USC, though he came close to another this past year with the Miami Dolphins. With the Lions needing a running back, it was puzzling that they would go with Bush, who isn’t exactly an imposing back at this level.
He still possesses the quickness, agility and speed that made him dangerous in college, but Bush can’t take the kind of beating most NFL backs are subjected to in this league. Bush joins what will be a crowded backfield with Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell on the roster. This could wind up being a throwback to his Saints days, when Sean Payton tossed a random running back into the game and it didn’t matter.
If Lions fans are thinking Bush will be the difference in resurrecting from a 4-12 season, they may want to think twice. Bush has never been able to successfully carry a team at the NFL level. He’ll most likely wind up being just a complementary piece, at best, when it’s all said and done.
The Green Bay Packers took a cue from the NBA when taking defensive end Datone Jones in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. The NBA is all about drafting on potential. In the NFL, that’s not necessarily a good thing to do, especially in the first round.
Drafting Jones could backfire in a big way, considering he’s not a complete rush defensive end at this stage of his career.
Jones possesses the size and strength to be a good rush end. The problem is his skill set didn’t translate to the field at times at UCLA. He’s not that fast off the edge and lacks proper instincts. He has a reputation for taking plays off and can get driven off the ball when his mind isn’t in the game.
The Packers needed a rush end, which is why Jones was taken. But it was definitely a risk at the place he was taken. NFL GMs and scouts were high on his talent, which is why Green Bay decided to spend a first-round pick on him. But there’s definitely some risk here, with Jones having the chance to become this year’s Dontari Poe.
Ed Reed has had an incredible career and will go down as one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game. His career stats are evidence of that—608 tackles, six sacks, 109 pass deflections, 61 interceptions and nine defensive touchdowns.
However, Reed is aging, and with age comes a body that begins to break down. Reed has dealt with a nerve impingement and a torn labrum in recent years, both of which have affected his tackling ability at the safety position. Midway through the 2012 season, Reed’s tackling became a liability.
He’s also shown a tendency to gamble in coverage, which will occasionally lead to touchdowns.
For Reed to jump into an unfamiliar system and succeed is easier said than done. The Ravens defense barely changed from 2002-12, even though defensive coordinators were coming in and out. And let's not forget the hip injury he’s currently dealing with, caused reportedly by New England quarterback Tom Brady, according to ProFootballTalk.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is the ultimate low-risk, high-reward player. And the good news for the Indianapolis Colts is Heyward-Bey is the only risk for potential bust on the roster for the 2013 season.
Heyward-Bey was selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, mainly because late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis was infatuated with Heyward-Bey’s 4.3-second 40-yard dash time, according to Seth Wickersham of ESPN. Heyward-Bey hasn’t lived up to the hype a seventh overall selection would merit, but that is often excused due to the fact he played in Oakland for his first four seasons.
However, in Oakland, Heyward-Bey was primarily a deep threat, which is what Indianapolis will want him be. The problem is that Heyward-Bey doesn’t have much more to his arsenal than running deep. He’s also prone to dropping passes on occasion.
But if the Colts are able to stretch the defense with Heyward-Bey, they become that much more dangerous. With Andrew Luck at quarterback, Heyward-Bey could easily complement receivers Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Then again, what did Heyward-Bey do in Oakland that makes people think he’ll be any different in Indianapolis?
It doesn’t really matter which quarterback the Jacksonville Jaguars trot out there at this point. Either way, neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne has proven he can lead this team contention in the AFC South.
Gabbert has been a disappointment since he was drafted two years ago. He’s failed to reach a 60 percent completion rate in either season, with 2012 marred by injuries and poor play.
Henne stepped in to start for the injured Gabbert a season ago and had some bright flashes. He also displayed plenty of what made him a dud in Miami.
It will take a lot to make a winner out of either quarterback, though it appears Henne would have the edge at this stage of his career. After all, with Gus Bradley as Jacksonville’s head coach, perhaps these quarterbacks’ careers could turn around. Then again, they very well may continue to be the same quarterbacks the NFL knows them as.
Dontari Poe was a popular bust pick of the rookie class of 2012. Not surprisingly, Poe is on this list as a second-year nose tackle after having a horrible rookie season on a team that put in one of its worst seasons in franchise history.
Poe offered very little on defense as a rookie and was often beat in one-on-one coverage. Nose tackles need to gain a push off the snap or split double-teams in passing situations. Poe wasn’t able to do either and was manhandled at times.
That’s not to say Poe’s career is a bust, however. There’s still time for him to develop into a better nose tackle. As far as the 2013 season goes, Poe’s the biggest risk to become a bust. Sure, Poe is 350 pounds, works his tail off and can showcase strength in weight room drills. But his presence on the field was lackluster in 2012, and nothing has shown that he’s poised to break out in 2013 either.
It was a shock the Miami Dolphins elected to take Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan with the third overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Jordan was a projected top-10 pick, sure. But third overall? And to a team with a major need at left tackle?
Jordan wasn’t exactly a top-flight, every-down defensive end that most NFL teams coveted in college. He’s a raw prospect, with plenty of speed and quickness off the edge. His 6’6” frame makes him look the part of an athletic, speedy defensive end.
But at Oregon, in a not-so-strong Pac-12, he only managed five sacks during his senior season. At only 250 pounds, it’s going to be hard for Jordan to win one-on-one battles with opposing NFL tackles, who are every much as fast as they are strong.
Jordan will need to bulk his frame up without losing speed. Otherwise he’s at risk of becoming the second coming of Jamal Anderson, the 6'6" defensive end Atlanta selected eighth overall in 2007. Anderson was taken for the same reason Jordan was. Cincinnati announced the release of Anderson on Wednesday. Miami took that kind of risk selecting Jordan with the third overall pick.
The Minnesota Vikings were able to secure wide receiver Greg Jennings on offense, but they have little else to work with in the passing game. That was one of the reasons they decided to draft wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round—to give quarterback Christian Ponder an electric receiving option.
With Patterson expected to start, the Vikings faithful are going to want production as soon as possible, and it’s unclear if Patterson will be able to give that to them.
Patterson was a raw collegiate product who needed to go the JUCO route at first. The adjustment to the NFL could take some time, which could take away from what the Vikings want to do in the passing game.
Then again, with Adrian Peterson, the passing game will always be complementary.
Just a month ago, wide receiver Michael Jenkins figured to be a fourth option in the passing game. Now he might be No. 2, depending on if tight end Rob Gronkowski can be back by the start of the regular season.
Jenkins was a former first-round pick in Atlanta but never lived up to the billing. He’s had a decent career as a No. 2 or 3 receiver, though he’s never been someone to rely upon as a top option.
With Wes Welker in Denver, Aaron Hernandez in jail and Gronkowski banged up, quarterback Tom Brady’s top two options to open the year could wind up being wide receivers Danny Amendola and Jenkins. And that doesn’t take into account Amendola’s injury history.
If Jenkins winds up a key figure in this offense, then Bill Belichick will need to adjust his game plan to feature Stevan Ridley and the running game predominantly, much like the Patriots did early in Brady’s career.
Based on size alone, John Jenkins is a prototypical nose tackle in the NFL. But size doesn’t always indicate success, and the Saints could be in for a rude awakening with Jenkins.
Jenkins possesses unbelievable potential at this level. He’s incredibly strong and couldn’t be moved off of the line of scrimmage by most interior offensive linemen in the SEC. He’s quick off the snap and a great run defender.
All that stated, he noticeably disappears during games, especially against tougher competition. At Georgia, he wasn’t much of a threat to rush the passer. In addition, his stamina is suspect, and he has never been one to put himself in great shape.
There’s a good chance that Jenkins opens the season as New Orleans’ nose tackle in Rob Ryan’s new 3-4 scheme. If that’s the case, be ready for some growing pains.
Losing Martellus Bennett wasn’t seen as that big of a deal for the New York Giants, mostly because they were able to get tight end Brandon Myers, a free agent who broke out a bit with the Oakland Raiders during the 2012 season.
On closer examination, it would appear Myers’ numbers were a bit inflated due to all the times Oakland was routed a season ago.
Myers finished the year with 806 yards and four touchdowns, but did most of his damage in the second half with games already over. He also has a reputation of being a subpar blocker on the line of scrimmage, which can only hurt the running game.
Anyone thinking Myers is an upgrade over Bennett is sorely mistaken. If Myers is unable to be a complete tight end in New York, head coach Tom Coughlin may go to more three- and four-wide receiver sets without Myers on the field.
The New York Jets might be wondering why they spent the No. 43 overall pick in the 2012 draft on wide receiver Stephen Hill at this point.
Coming out of triple-option-heavy Georgia Tech, Hill had one route in his repertoire—a 9-route straight down the field. Hill has yet to add much more to his skill set that would cause uneasiness among defensive backs or defensive coordinators.
As it is right now, Hill is still the third best receiver on the Jets, behind Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley. Even so, the Jets have to continue to work with Hill with hopes that he can become a threat at some point.
At 6’5” with a sub-4.4 40-yard dash, Hill possesses ideal size and speed to be successful. He just has to work on being more than a receiver that blocks and runs one route.
Quarterback Matt Flynn was able to earn a sizable contract with the Seattle Seahawks after throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns in the 2011 season finale with the Green Bay Packers. After that wild outing, Flynn hasn’t played a meaningful snap in the NFL.
With Seattle, rookie Russell Wilson, a third-rounder, beat him out for the starting job. Not needing Flynn, the Seahawks traded him to perennial loser Oakland, where Flynn will somehow try to establish a career for himself.
Flynn’s arm strength has often been questioned, and still is according to ProFootballTalk, as well as his decision-making. Making matters worse, Flynn’s only reliable target on offense is Denarius Moore, as Darrius Heyward-Bey is in Indianapolis and Brandon Myers is with the Giants.
This could be a long, long season for Flynn, though he’s likely happy for the opportunity to finally be an NFL starter.
Just because quarterback Michael Vick possesses uncanny speed does not mean he will succeed in Chip Kelly’s offense, whatever it may look like when the season kicks off in September.
Vick has never had experience with the read-option before, though Kelly has hinted Philadelphia doesn’t have to use that wrinkle as much as he did at Oregon. Regardless, Vick was a pro-style quarterback at Virginia Tech and has been used primarily in the pocket in the NFL, with the freedom to scramble for yards when plays break down.
With the read-option trickling into the NFL, Kelly may try to get Vick involved in that aspect. It’s not necessarily a hard concept, but it is hard to execute if you don’t have any experience with it.
For Vick, this would mean starting over with a brand new football concept, not to mention the additional hits he would subject himself to. This is essentially a make-or-break season for Vick. He could be unseated early if he can’t grasp the new offense.
Offensive tackle Mike Adams had a rookie season he’d like to forget.
Though Adams was above-average in run blocking, he was beat time and time again against defenses with solid pass rushes. Former Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger, now with the Browns, beat Adams for two sacks and eight quarterback hits when the two rivals met in Week 11.
Adams was routinely beat on the edge at right tackle and drew a ton of ire from Steelers fans through the season. Now with veteran left tackle Max Starks no longer with the Steelers, there’s a definite chance Adams may be forced to move to the left side of the offensive line, a spot he manned in college, as Adams told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. After struggling in pass protection on the right side in year one, a death sentence for Ben Roethlisberger could be in order if Adams winds up starting at left tackle in 2013.
There’s still plenty of time for that position battle to play out, but one thing’s for certain: This season’s Steelers offensive line’s success depends on how Adams adjusts to the NFL game in year two.
Running back Daryl Richardson has some big shoes to fill with Stephen Jackson now in Atlanta.
The Rams appear to be optimistic enough in handing Richardson, a seventh-round pick in 2012, the role of the team’s starter. Richardson showed some quickness as Jackson’s primary backup a year ago, though he didn’t impress wholeheartedly.
There’s still a contingency that believes Isaiah Pead, drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft, will eventually unseat him, even after the one-game suspension he has to serve to open the 2013 season.
Richardson ran for 4.8 yards per carry in 2012, though his numbers dwindled at the end of the season. In his last five games, Richardson didn’t even reach a double-digit yardage total. He didn’t score a touchdown in any of the 16 games he participated in either.
For whatever reason, running back Ryan Mathews has been a trendy pick for a big season in the preseason of all three of his campaigns with the San Diego Chargers. A lot of that excitement likely stems from being the No. 12 overall pick in the 2010 draft.
However, Mathews has either battled injuries or just played poorly since becoming a Charger. A lot of blame was placed on former Chargers coach Norv Turner for misusing Mathews, which has merit since Turner couldn’t use LaDainian Tomlinson properly when the former Pro Bowl running back was nearing the end of his prime.
Mathews’ best season was in 2011, when he ran for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. He failed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2010 or 2012, and he's seen his stock trend downward this offseason.
With that, the Chargers brought in Danny Woodhead to share carries. Mathews is anything but a feature back at this point and could see his way out of town if he puts in another substandard season.
With lists such as these, you occasionally run into teams that don’t have any players who make logical sense to be busts. This is true with the San Francisco 49ers, as their roster, at least for the preseason, is well-built and has almost no faults.
And that’s the only reason running back Frank Gore makes this list.
He’s 30 years old and has an injury history, even though he hasn’t had anything major in recent years. In 2012, Gore ran for 1,214 yards and eight touchdowns, and he very well could run for more than 1,000 yards again.
However, his body can only withstand so many hits.
The 49ers also have running backs Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James waiting behind him and want to get them involved as well. This could be the season Gore sees his touches decrease down to the 200 level. Then again, it’s Gore. Every time it’s predicted he’ll have a down year, he puts in a solid campaign.
The decision to place Seattle Seahawks tight end Zach Miller on this list isn’t necessarily indicative of the organization. Miller would have likely been the No. 2 tight end behind Anthony McCoy if McCoy hadn't tore his Achilles in May.
Now Miller is the top tight end, and that means less excitement at the position.
Miller is a prototypical blocking tight end with the ability to run short-yardage routes. He’s not going to present matchup problems in this offense, as Seattle rarely used him in the passing game a season ago. He only caught 38 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns.
There’s not much of a chance for Miller to be able to provide the tight end matchup McCoy could have, but it may seem unfair to some to list him as Seattle’s potential biggest bust. If you’re a Seattle fan, that bodes well considering the offense should be explosive regardless of Miller's performance.
Offensive tackle Gabe Carimi entered the NFL with tremendous expectations, considering the Chicago Bears took him in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. After two subpar seasons, the new Bears coaching staff decided to cut ties with Carimi.
The disappointment from the 2011 campaign stemmed from bad luck; Carimi sustained a season-ending knee injury in Week 2. The 2012 season was pitiful, however, with Carimi providing no consistency along the offensive line. Skipping offseason workouts also bugged Marc Trestman and his staff, which led to the organization trading Carimi to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to Chicagoist, for a sixth-round pick.
Sometimes a player needs a change of scenery. Then again, Carimi was only in Chicago for two years. If he can’t get along with one coaching staff that early in his career, how will he get along with Greg Schiano’s, considering Schiano is known for not being the most player-friendly?
For now, Carimi is the front-runner for the starting right tackle spot in Tampa Bay. The Bucs clearly saw some potential in the 2010 Outland Trophy winner by trading for him. Sure, it may be a low-risk move, but Trestman’s Bears have seemingly deemed Carimi a lower-tier player.
It’s not out of line to say that safety Bernard Pollard’s bark is bigger than his bite at this stage of his career.
The one aspect of Pollard’s game that makes him feared is his ability to hit. But with his coverage skills lacking, Pollard has to rely on scaring receivers with late hits and hits to the head. It’s an effective method, to a degree, since it only draws a flag and keeps him in the game.
But for those Tennessee fans who think Pollard adds strength to the secondary, be warned. Pollard is strictly a box safety to play the run and hit receivers when the ball is near. His coverage ability, or lack thereof, is the main reason Baltimore let him go in the first place.
Without a back end, quarterbacks in a pass-happy NFL will test you deep all day. Titans fans need to hold back their excitement with Pollard for this reason.
The Washington Redskins were counting on safety Brandon Meriweather to become the glue needed in the secondary a season ago. But in his first game with Washington on Nov. 18, 2012, Meriweather tore his ACL and missed the rest of the regular-season games and the playoffs.
Redskins fans were hoping Meriweather could add some cohesiveness to a unit that hasn’t been strong in recent seasons. What’s puzzling is that the Patriots, known to keep players with character concerns around, released Meriweather before the 2011 season, even though he’d given them four solid seasons.
The Redskins were particularly weak at the safety position a year ago and need a veteran like Meriweather to help bring the defensive backfield together. However, will his injury situation and reputation for sulking when things don’t go his way catch up to him in 2013?
Meriweather could be in for a season that decides whether he still has an NFL future.