OTA Update: Who is Impressing and Who is Already Making Their GM Sweat?

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2010

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Cornerback Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets warms up on the field prior to the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

In an offseason period full of controversy and criticism, it comes as no surprise to hear numerous stories in regard to NFL organized team activities.

So far, most teams have managed to group together their players successfully and prepare themselves for the 2010 preseason kicking off in August. 

However, like every sport, there has been a troublemaker or two that have made that big red vein in their general manager's forehead bulge like Donald Trump's wallet. 

For the most part, this issue will die down.  We go through this period of time every offseason, and sooner or later the seemingly juvenile delinquents arrive at one time or another.

But what about the good guys—the ones that are out there everyday working their tails off to get somewhere in this league? 

Well, some are more recognized than others, and although each and every player works extremely hard in the offseason, there is simply no doubt that some stand out more than others.

So without further ado, here is a look at some current players who are impressing their coaches and general managers, and some who are making their coaching staff sweat bullets heading toward August.


The Impressive Players


Wes Welker—New England Patriots

Heading into the offseason Wes Welker was a question.  His knee injury was still a concern for the New England Patriots, and no one was certain just when Welker would be returning.

Now, though, his knee is healthy.  The most surprising point to be made here is Welker's speedy return to football, as it appeared he may miss some opening games. Some concern still lingers, but Welker himself states that the knee feels solid, which is great news for all Patriot fans.


Tony Romo—Dallas Cowboys

Yes, Tony Romo has finally impressed people.  For those that still criticize Romo, there is no denying that he has put on a new game face and has more importantly authorized a 110 percent work ethic demeanor this offseason.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com states that Romo, along with the entire Dallas Cowboys team, has looked impressive this offseason.  They have all been on the same page, and are communicating well.  As for Romo, his mechanics have been on display for all Cowboys fans who have shown up to Cowboy OTAs. 

He may not be the greatest quarterback in the league, but his fundamentals and athletic ability are beginning to shine through.  Not only is this pivotal for Romo himself, it is also pivotal for the Cowboys, as they are a definite possibility for the Super Bowl this season.


Michael Turner—Atlanta Falcons

Last season, Michael Turner went down with a devastating knee injury.  It cost him a handful of games in 2009, and more importantly cost the Atlanta Falcons their winning running game.

In the past few weeks, Turner has seemingly healed back to a 90 percent state.  Like Welker, the injury is still a concern, however, the Falcons now feel that Turner is ready and able to start this season.

It isn't so much as what Turner has done at OTAs that makes him impressive, it is simply his healing ability that has made him a standout.  Coming back from a knee injury is no easy task, and I'm sure that head coach Mike Smith will be smiling knowing that his running game is finally back to an almost perfect state.

Take it easy Turner, the Falcons need you.  But it is great for all fans to know that this top running back is now almost fresh and ready to go.


David Garrard—Jacksonville Jaguars

In case you've been living under a rock recently, a ton of pressure has been mounted on David Garrard's shoulders.  Jacksonville is struggling, head coach Jack Del Rio is on a hot seat, and following a disappointing draft campaign, things could easily go from bad to worse in Jaguar Nation.

However, in the midst of this troublesome time, Garrard has stepped up to the plate.  He has been working with the Jaguars young wide receiver core, and recognizes how much of a "make or break" season this truly is.

During team activities, Garrard has quickly taken on the leader role.  He realizes that this franchise is in dire strait mode, and has taken on the role of "hero" to try and turn fate around.

He isn't the most consistent passer, and God knows he has his struggles, but cut Garrard some slack.  Even if this is his last season, no one can say he hasn't worked extremely hard.


Mark Sanchez—New York Jets

Yes, another quarterback hits this list, and once again it is the second-year starter Mark Sanchez that has impressed Rex Ryan

Like the other numerous injured players this offseason, Sanchez's knee injury was a cause for concern.  For a rookie to already require surgery this early in his career had the Jets questioning his future, and whether or not he is indeed as stable as some people had thought.

Now, though, all negative thoughts about this issue have been erased.  After watching Sanchez in a recent NFL.com video, he states that his injured knee feels good and strong. 

But the good news doesn't stop there.  Sanchez also stated that he feels comfortable with his new look offense featuring newly appointed LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes, and does feel that he can be a better passer in 2010.

It's good news all around for Sanchez, and the entire Jets fan base—including general manager Mike Tannenbaum—has to be happy with this.


Brandon Marshall—Miami Dolphins

You knew he was coming sooner or later, funnily enough though, Brandon Marshall would have been featured in the "sweaters" about two weeks ago.

However, since then times have changed.  Marshall has let the Dolphins know about his hip surgery, and has showed up to team activities.  Originally, Marshall seemed to have reverted back to his controversial ways.

Now, though, he is a fully dedicated member of the Miami Dolphins, which has shown immensely on the practice field.  Although, Brandon's skills aren't what has earned him an impressive role.

No, it isn't Brandon's skill set that has made him a standout, it is his devotion. 

In his time with Denver, Marshall never seemed fully committed to the team.  Sure, he always showed 100 percent effort, however, he did lack some confidence and motivation at times.

With the Dolphins, this story has changed.  He seems dedicated to turning over a new leaf, and almost seems happy as he pedals away on his exercise bike. 

I guess it is a fresh relief, but the Miami Dolphins shouldn't be counting the money they lost signing Marshall, they should be counting the catches he will rack up this season.


Darrius Heyward-Bey—Oakland Raiders

Darrius Heyward-Bey is only a newcomer in the NFL, but so far this offseason he has made a name for himself.

One the biggest issues for the Oakland Raiders right now is lack of wide receivers.  Jason Campbell is new, and without the proper targets, could easily fail this season.  Therefore, it is vital that someone step up and help a brother out.

Luckily, Heyward-Bey has taken on that role.  On the practice field last week, he said, "I am becoming accustomed to Jason Campbell and developing my skills accordingly."

Is this good news for Raider Nation? 

You bet your life it is, as this type of attitude has been missing in recent years. 

I won't go as far to say that Heyward-Bey is Oakland's savior, however, his positive outlook and willingness to mould his game should please just about every fan.


Taylor Mays—San Francisco 49ers

It's about time a rookie cracked this list, isn't it?

I never thought I would be saying this, but Taylor Mays has been impressive.  Recently during San Francisco's organized activities, he has been adapting to the safety role and learning what not to do in the NFL.

In his time with USC, he was criticized for his lack of picks and bad decision-making.  Now, he has taken on a new persona to try and change that, and funnily enough, it has taken former 49er Rod Woodson to teach him that.

Rod stated, "Taylor Mays looks like a man willing to learn, and could be a star in years to come." 

It's a big statement, I know, but one that has the potential to come true in coming years. 


The Players That Are Making Us Sweat


Darrelle Revis—New York Jets

It isn't like Darrelle Revis to be a picky player.  However, recently he has chosen to attend organized activities, but sit out on certain drills.

Why, I hear you ask? 

Well, no one really knows for sure, but perhaps some kind of contract issues are at hand here. 

Whatever the issue is, Revis is becoming a real pain in the butt.  He's a great player with a ton of potential, so why pull a "Terrell Owens" and sulk on the sidelines?

It's questionable, and I'm sure he has his reasoning, but right now Rex Ryan should be upset about Revis' latest actions.  It has been big enough to make NFL headlines, and could do some damage to Revis' sure-to-be-impressive 2010 campaign.


Chris Johnson—Tennessee Titans

How do you solve a problem like Chris Johnson? 

Well, it seems he has his own solution, don't show up at minicamp—or any activities.

For some reason, Johnson has hit the quiet button.  He won't discuss his return to the Titans, and he seems to be very stubborn when it comes to participating in Tennessee's offseason activities.

As a team, this affects Tennessee a lot.  Not only are they short of the greatest runner in the game today, they are also short of a puzzle piece that is required to make the postseason.

Johnson only adds to the headache in Tennessee right now, and his rambunctious ways only further contribute to Tennessee's controversial start to the year.


Marshawn Lynch—Buffalo Bills

Marshawn Lynch has gone and gotten his nose out of joint due to C.J. Spiller's arrival in Buffalo.  I guess you can't blame him really, he must certainly feel a little cheated out of all the graceful years he has put into the Bills as a franchise.

Unfortunately for Lynch, though, his play has let him down.  His 450 yards and two touchdowns last season were decent stats for a guy that was sharing the ball with Fred Jackson, but in comparison to his career rushing yards, they are quite dismal.

Right now, the Bills are a team in turmoil.  No starting quarterback has been named, and realistically the whole team could be listed as "GM sweaters" right now.  However, Lynch may be making a fuss for nothing.

He should see some playing time, but may have to share a little with Jackson and Spiller.  If he chooses to leave, it will be on his own terms, but for now Lynch isn't a happy camper, and neither are the Bills staff.


Gerald McCoy—Tampa Bay Buccaneers

When Tampa Bay drafted Gerald McCoy, I think they expected to get the very best.  What they didn't expect to gain was a great player who would go down with a potentially serious leg injury three months prior to August.

Is this a massive concern for the Bucs? 

Yes, quite possibly. 

But right now it is only to be taken lightly. 

The leg injury is a concern, however, if we compare this injury to Dwight Freeney's ankle injury before the Super Bowl, big guys can normally get over it quite quickly.

For now, this is causing a little pain for the Bucs coaching staff, although they can be assured that McCoy is good for the future.


Phil Dawson—Cleveland Browns

Browns fans haven't been quiet when it comes to criticizing Phil Dawson.  His latest offseason stunts are a mere déjà vu from last offseason, and his unhappy contract ways haven't sat well with many fans.

Fortunately, Dawson has shown up to mandatory minicamp.  The storm seems to be over, but it may be a matter of time before this story is blown up again.

Expect Eric Mangini and Mike Holmgren to be nursing this situation, and at the same time, preparing for the future.  If Dawson is unhappy, it is either time to meet his needs or be prepared for the worst.

As a kicker, Dawson isn't quite as controversial as other players.  However, this story is beginning to grow a little long in the tooth.


Vince Young—Tennessee Titans

Vince Young has apologized for his actions, but hasn't won everybody over just yet.

Perhaps the most important figure Vince needs to recognize right now is commissioner Roger Goodell, who hasn't been too lenient in dishing out suspensions lately.

Should Young be worried about a possible suspension? 

Yes and no.  If anyone should be worried, though, it is the entire Titans team, as they may be missing their starter for a short amount of time depending on the outcome.

On Young's part, this was a stupid move.  It doesn't help the Titans situation at all, and with the Chris Johnson situation still unclear, this only makes matters worse for general manager Mike Reinfeldt.



I think you'll agree it's been a whirlwind offseason, and we haven't even gotten to the Brett Favre saga yet.

However, these impressive and concerning players have either done wonders for their teams or caused them some serious stress.

For some general managers, a therapist may be needed at the end of it all.  While others can celebrate and take their team out for pizza due to a hard-working offseason. 

Whatever the case is, this offseason has packed a punch like no other, especially when it comes to on and off the field behavior.


Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report . He is also an NFL writer for Real Sports Net , and Green Bay Packer writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters .  Don't forget to follow him on Twitter .



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