NFL Preseason Predictions: 5 Offensive Players Ready to Bust Out
It seems like every year there are a handful of young players that take a leap past their previous season performances. For some, it takes longer than others—take Darren McFadden for example.
In his first two seasons in the NFL he had quickly fallen below pre-draft expectations and was generally perceived as being a little too soft and brittle to become a star. Yet, something finally clicked, and he exploded onto the scene, gaining more than 1,600 yards from scrimmage and averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Sometimes a player just needs a little time and opportunity to get the ball rolling. The hard part is predicting who's finally ready to bust out. Our only indicator is what's seen in preseason action and what's heard out of training camp.
With two weeks of preseason down, here are the guys that look primed for a big year.
RB Mark Ingram
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Ingram may be a rookie and be a part of a three-back committee, with the newly acquired Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas, but he does figure to be the main ball-toter.
Through the New Orleans Saints first two preseason games, Thomas hasn't had a whiff of action once the team gets inside the 20-yard line. Once the team makes it into the red zone, Ingram moseys his way onto the field as the clear goal line back.
Being the goal line back for a team with an offense as high powered as New Orleans', could and should easily result in 10-plus touchdowns.
WR Dez Bryant
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Bryant had a solid rookie season, finishing with 45 receptions for 561 yards and six touchdowns. He still appears a bit raw as a route runner but his natural ability, along with having the very dangerous Miles Austin and Jason Witten to draw defensive attention away from him, will give him all he needs for a step forward.
With those two Pro Bowlers on the field with him, Bryant will often face opposing teams' second cornerback and single coverage. A 60-70 catch, 1,000-yard season is fully within reach.
TE Ed Dickson
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Following the departure of Todd Heap, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta have been in a position battle to take over. Dickson has been the front-runner through three weeks of preseason action and has a real opportunity to make things happen in his second season.
Early in his career, Joe Flacco leaned heavily on a slowed down Heap. With Dickson being more of a field stretcher, he could easily outperform Heap's numbers from the past two seasons. A more acclimated Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans will also help to open things up across the middle for the sophomore tight end.
WR Kenny Britt
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Kenny Britt proved last season that he is capable of being an elite receiver when given the opportunity to start. It didn't matter if Vince Young or Kerry Collins was throwing the ball to him, Britt was a yardage and touchdown monster in the seven games that he started, finishing the season with 775 yards and nine touchdowns.
After meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Britt is awaiting word on whether he will receive a suspension for his three arrests during the lockout. As long he can stay out of trouble off-the-field and avoid a major suspension for his prior transgressions, Britt is a sure-fire elite receiving option with Matt Hasselbeck now under center.
RB Felix Jones
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Marion Barber is gone and Jones has finally been handed lead running back duties. With Tashard Choice and rookie DeMarco Murray both being hamstrung all offseason, Jones hasn't simply bore the extra load, he has shined.
New head coach Jason Garrett has confirmed that Jones will be the feature back. "I think he’s proven that he’s able to do that, over the last half of last year into the start of this training camp," Garrett said. "He’s playing awfully well, and we’ll see how the other guys do."
Heck, even owner Jerry Jones has jumped in on the praise, saying that the back is having "probably the best camp of any player." Expect big, big things from Jones this year. He offers the versatility to rip off huge chunks in the running and passing games.