NFL Offseason Call Out: Which Players Are Facing a Crucial 2010 Season?
It's been hard to find time to call NFL players out this offseason, what with the NFL Draft taking up most of peoples precious time, and the constant headline grabbing news of Ben Roethlisberger occupying the media.
But now we arrive in a rather dry spot in the NFL offseason, and with news at an all time low, now is the perfect time to call out a few names, and judge just what they are in store for this upcoming season.
2009 is now irrelevant, and as we edge closer to the beloved month of September a few questions arise for many players.
It's not something I enjoy doing, but here is a look at a few players who are "under the gun" this season.
Darren Sproles - San Diego Chargers
Will the real Darren Sproles please stand up? Well, this season we should see just that.
Now that LaDainian Tomlinson is out of the way in San Diego, we finally get to see Darren Sproles true colors emerge.
Most Charger fans feel that Darren Sproles is more than capable of getting the job done at the running back position, and quite frankly I tend to agree.
However, San Diego are a team used to benefiting from a strong running game.
Sure, Tomlinson began to fall off the radar a little toward the end of his Charger days, but for the most part he delivered time and time again for the Chargers, and was always a highly reliable running back.
In 2009, Darren Sproles did play all 16 games, but struggled to see much of the playing field. Only 343 yards and 3 touchdowns were achieved overall, so a few concerns do arise as to whether full trust can be placed in Sproles just yet.
Whatever your opinion is of Darren Sproles, it doesn't matter. San Diego are still a stand out team, but without a solid running back their offense may struggle a little, particularly if Phillip Rivers doesn't have that "bail out" type option with Sproles, like he once had with Tomlinson.
The pressure is on for Sproles, but I assure you the now experienced running back has been working hard.
Steve Breaston - Arizona Cardinals
Hmm, how to describe Steve Breaston? I know, underrated.
Steve Breaston is a standout receiver, he does nearly everything right, and for a young guy to show so much potential must really have head coach Ken Whisenhunt smiling ear to ear.
Like Darren Sproles, Steve Breaston has the unfortunate job of replacing a true star player in Anquan Boldin. Unlike Darren Sproles though, Steve has seen the field on several occasions, and has shown up big in several games.
To me, Steve Breaston is like a young Greg Jennings. He is underrated, rarely noticed and people will probably never give him the credit he deserves as long as Larry Fitzgerald is in Arizona.
But before we go to far, maybe this factor plays into Breaston's hands a little bit, after all he did 712 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.
The issue with Steve Breston is, of course, pressure. Can he handle being the No. 1 wide receiver? Or will he become a hot and cold type wideout that is only shows up on the odd occasion?
No one knows for sure really, but Matt Leinart would be glad to have Steve Breaston at his side. A young yet talented wide receiver, Steve Breaston is set for bigger and better things this season.
LaDainian Tomlinson - New York Jets
Some may find it odd that LaDainain Tomlinson is on this list, but the truth is he really needs to establish himself as an elite runner this season.
Gone are the days of the fearful L.T and we arrive in the new era of questioning in regards to whether or not Tomlinson is really capable of wreaking havoc like he did so many years ago.
For those out there expecting to see Tomlinson handle every snap in Week 1, think again. Shonn Greene is still an established runner with the Jets, and knowing Rex Ryan the likelihood of a New Orleans Saints mix and match style running game is in the making.
For L.T, this doesn't exactly play into his hands but it does take some of the pressure off. We all know what LaDainian Tomlinson is capable of, but we are just yet to see him fully take off once again.
Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson have stolen LT's title, so it's about time he gained it back this season.
Marshawn Lynch - Buffalo Bills
From one established running back to another, we arrive at Marshawn Lynch. Since Buffalo's highly successful Draft day, the Bills have made it clear that Marshawn Lynch will not be placed on the trading block, and is to remain in blue and red this season.
This comes as good news to fans, but perhaps bad news to Marshawn. Now that C.J Spiller is with Buffalo, the pressure it going to be applied immensely, as an old school shootout is sure to take place this season.
In case you aren't the biggest College Football fan, let me bring you up to date. C.J Spiller isn't just an ordinary Draft pick, he is an elite running back that is perhaps the most favored guy to excel in the NFL.
Sound scary? It should, because Marshawn can't afford to slack off at all this season.
Fortunately for Marshawn, though, he does have the experience factor in his favor, and newly appointed head coach Chan Gailey may take the safe option in keeping Marshawn as starter, rather than going all or nothing and risking it with C.J Spiller.
We should see either of these men as the starter this time next year, but if Marshawn has another 450-yard season, he may be saying goodbye to the starting role, and hello to the wooden bench.
Donovan McNabb - Washington Redskins
The pressure is on even more than before now that Jason Campbell is out of town. Since Donovan McNabb signed with the Washington Redskins, people seem to think that McNabb will ultimately fail over in Washington.
Part of me can see what makes people say this, but personally I don't see how a well established quarterback with a steady head and a great throwing arm will collapse with his former NFC East division rival entirely.
I guess some concern could arise out of Washington not having a great wide receiver core, and the fact that McNabb does have no one to fall back on. However the major issue for Donovan McNabb is hatred, as it is a factor that seems to follow him around like a bad smell.
Most Redskins fans like Donovan McNabb now that he is in Washington, but there will of course be a strong group of people that target McNabb, and try to make his Redskins existence a living hell.
All Donovan McNabb needs to do is perform. Forget about the worries, and just focus on the game. Sure McNabb no longer has trusty DeSean Jackson to rely upon, but he does have a great young team that bears a lot of potential.
For the love of god, Donovan, just have your head on straight.
David Garrard - Jacksonville Jaguars
Some may say it was pure luck that David Garrard made the Pro Bowl, but there is some talent hidden underneath this quiet and sometimes questionable quarterback.
In 2009, David threw for 3,597 yards along with 15 touchdowns, decent stats for a quarterback that was starting for a noticeably struggling Jaguars team. Following a disappointing Draft campaign, it has recently been noted that David Garrard has been working extremely hard to correct his constant mistakes this offseason, and has been found practicing nearly every day this offseason.
Jaguars fans will be pleased to hear this, but whether or not this adds up to a winning season is still in doubt. Unfortunately for David Garrard, he is on a team that is potentially collapsing.
Jack Del Rio is the most scrutinized coach since Jim Zorn, and the problems continue to add up for the Jaguars this offseason.
Hopefully David's work ethic can get him to the Pro Bowl once again this season, but there is a lot to overcome.
This is a crucial year not only for Jacksonville but David Garrard as well. The pressure is on, but I wouldn't count David Garrard out just yet.
Tavaris Jackson - Minnesota Vikings
It's anybody's guess on what Brett Favre's thoughts are right now about playing again in the NFL, but the bigger issue may be whether or not Minnesota are prepared at the quarterback position.
Although fans are totally wrapped in what Favre has done for this team, realistically all of this time wasting doesn't do wonders for the backups or the entire team in general.
Tavaris Jackson is the man feeling the pressure right now, as he is still sitting in the waiting room wondering just when his name will be called.
We saw a brief stint of Tavaris Jackson in 2008, and it's safe to say he didn't look his best. Therefore, if Favre does retire, will Tavaris be ready to play as the starter?
All signs point to no right now, but Tavaris will be working hard just in case Favre does make the unlikely call and pull the plug.
Vikings fans shouldn't feel to concerned just yet, but a "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it" type attitude from the Vikings isn't going to play in Jackson's favor.
Matt Hasselbeck - Seattle Seahawks
The confidence in Matt Hasselbeck still remains for Seattle faithfuls. Hasselbeck, who is fresh off one of the most disappointing seasons in his career, now focuses on bigger and better things with Seattle following their impressive Draft campaign.
The issue with Matt Hasselbeck is accuracy, as he threw 17 interceptions last season. One of the most memorable flaws last year for Matt came against the Green Bay Packers, as he blatantly threw an interception to A.J Hawk.
The question could be asked as to whether or not this same type of play will happen again in 2010, and whether or not Matt will actually turn his poor playing ways around.
Luckily, Golden Tate is now with the Seahawks, and he should give Matt that last minute option to throw to a highly talented wide receiver to get the team out of a jam.
The Seahawks are also in a tough division, so Pete Carroll will have to have the Seahawks in tip top shape from the very get go. Matt Hasselbeck on the other hand just needs to find his arm again.
The rib injury quite possibly still haunted Matt last season, and although he looks 100 percent right now, Matt is entering a crucial season in his career. I'm not saying this is the last we will see of Matt, but it's time for him to find his old form.
Jason Campbell - Oakland Raiders
It's fair to say that Jason Campbell must feel a little nervous heading toward the season, as the Oakland Raiders do have a tendency to chew up and spit out talented athletes.
When I first saw this move come over the wire, like the rest of the world, I was stunned. Now the shock has set in, and Jason Campbell actually looks pretty promising in a Raiders uniform.
I never thought I would be saying this, but Oakland had a successful Draft. Rolando McClain was a great pickup, and when we thought that we would still be seeing JaMarcus Russell about town, Al Davis finally made a smart decision.
Now it's Jason Campbell's turn to switch this team into a contender. Let's be honest, it isn't going to happen overnight, but it is something the former Washington Redskin will have an important part in.
So is the pressure on for Jason? Of course. Especially since Jason's skills are still questioned, and no one knows for sure if he has what it takes to be a leader for such a struggling team.
It's a huge task that many have tried to handle and fail. Personally, I do see Jason having his work cut out for him, but I remain confident in his ability. It is now Jason's time to shine.