By: Joe Cardoso
As we all take peek at the calendar and see the NFL season is fast approaching. Emails for our favorite fantasy leagues are coming and if you are like me you are already researching players to help win the league this year. But this isn’t a fantasy football article this is about players who I see as under the pressure to perform this year. Some are coming off an injury, bad years, and new roles on their teams. In no particular order, I have 10 players under the gun. Pressure bust pipes so here are my 10 players who need to make sure leaks don’t happen.
- Carson Palmer-Arizona Cardinals:
YES, Carson is still in the league and the Cardinals have at least for one more year hitched their wagon to the former USC standout. With him turning 38 in December father time is sitting in the back seat of his careers car. They were the dark horse Super Bowl favorite for many last year and a 7-8-1 record was NOT what we all saw coming. Palmer must improve on the road and stay ON the field. With a healthy David Johnson and improved O-Line on paper, it’s set up for a bounce back. He also must stop the turnovers with 11 of his 14 interceptions on the road.
- Blake Bortles-Jacksonville Jaguars:
Well let’s begin with the record as a starter 11-34. It is TIME Balke it really is. Young weapons on the outside and a stud rookie running back, it’s safe to say Bortles has no excuses to get the job done. Mark Burnell ain’t walking through that door Jags fans so time for the kid to earn his money.
- Jameis Winston-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I LOVE Jameis on the field as a leader, I’ve gone as far as calling him the “black Brett Farve” But even Brett took that next step and led his team to the playoffs and championships. His game has been super inconsistent, but when he is on, man is he fun to watch. He needs to improve his play under pressure and also know when to give up and live to see another down.
- Laquon Treadwell-Minnesota Vikings:
Speaking as the college football fanatic I am Treadwell was a beast at Ole Miss and came back from a nasty injury to once again be a terror in the SEC. But what happened last year in the NFL? He was NEVER healthy last year and it led to his ONE catch rookie year. He will have the chance to run with the 1’s and show why he was the 23rd pick in last year’s draft. It is his time to own the moment.
- Cam Newton-Carolina Panthers: What in the world happened last season? No dab, no MVP numbers, no joy. Someone turn up the James Brown “The Big Payback” Did anyone in the NFL last year, have their image crushed like Cam? It wasn’t all his fault but things got UGLY in Carolina and the QB was the target of disappointment and anger from fans. The Panther had a joke of an O-line. Now armed with young, fast weapons who will need to get into the system quickly he is set for a good year. You wish Kalvin Benjamin leaves the drive-thru alone and Greg Olsen continues to beat father time off with a stick. I would call this a season at a crossroads for him.
- Keenan Allen: Los Angles Chargers: What a brutal last two years lacerated kidney, and torn ACL. YIKES! The Chargers drafted Mike Williams out of Clemson so the clock is ticking on Allen but when on the field he is a playmaker for Phillip Rivers 67 receptions in 8 games back in 2015 and he is young. Add in Melvin Gordon who looked like the same man that tore it up as a Badger and the offense isn’t that bad. Time to show and prove Mr. Allen.
- Rob Gronkowski: New England Patriots: Oh everyone just loves ole Gronk. He is so crazy with his beer chugging and dancing and not wearing a shirt. I can tell you who doesn’t care about any of that TOM BRADY! Not enough space left in the article to go down his list of injuries, but him on the field makes the Pat’s a VERY dangerous team. He is 28 but has the body it seems of a 35-year-old. Last time he played a full season was 2011. We need less side show Gronk and more big playmaker Gronk.
- Adrian Peterson: New Orleans Saints:
Not too many things more satisfying them showing an ex what they could have had. And that is the boat AP finds himself in. Fresh off a break-up with the Vikings he gets a new start in the big easy. With 1,000-yard rusher Mark Ingram as his running mate he won’t be called on to shoulder all the load, and that guy Brees is still pretty darn good as well. Yes, he was hurt but even before the injury, he was off to a really bad start by AP standards. How much is left in the tank?
- Andrew Luck-Indianapolis Colts: As my buddy, Marcus Washington would say, why does Luck get a pass from media and fans? I have 3 questions for Luck heading into the season
- Can he avoid the BIG hits?
- Can he stay healthy?
- Is he a leader?
- Todd Gurley- Los Angles Rams:
The kid is only 22 years old, and his rookie year he came on the scene with a bang and was the suppose to be the lone bright spot for the move to L.A. Now YES he had a horrible supporting cast but Jeff Goff is entering year 2 so that excuse won’t fly anymore. This is the NFL we live in now, year 3 and it feels like it si a make or break year for Gurley.
Who did I miss? Do you agree? Let the conversation continue to follow our blog @NutsAndBoltsSportsSP or me @JoeCardoso21