Thursday, July 15, 2010
Five players seeking revenge
By James Walker
In sports, revenge is one of the strongest forms of motivation.
In the era of free agency when players rarely stay with one place, there are several interesting games annually when key players go head-to-head against their former team. Here are five intriguing matchups in 2010 involving AFC North teams:
1. Shayne Graham, K, Baltimore Ravens
Date/former team: Sept. 19 and Jan. 2 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: Why does a kicker make this list? Because Graham has been through the highs and lows in seven years with Cincinnati. Graham is one of the NFL's most accurate kickers. But he's also developed a reputation for not being clutch and costing the Bengals big games. His two missed kicks in Cincinnati's playoff loss to the New York Jets were the latest example and virtually sealed his fate with the Bengals. Now Graham gets to kick twice against his former team -- and for a division rival -- which could be a dream scenario. Can he make the big kick that beats the Bengals this year? Stay tuned.
Revenge-o-meter (scale of 1-10): 9.5
2. Kellen Winslow Jr., TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Date/former team: Sept. 12 vs. Cleveland Browns
Analysis: Winslow's time with the Browns is well-documented. There was a Pro Bowl and back-to-back 80-catch seasons. But there were also injuries, subsequent staph infections and an eventual trade. Now Winslow is happy in Tampa and probably would be ecstatic to stick it to his former team on opening day. The Mike Holmgren era in Cleveland will attempt to get off to a good start on Sept. 12. But expect the talented and competitive Winslow to be prepared to thwart those plans.
3. Braylon Edwards, WR, New York Jets
Date/former team: Nov. 14 vs. Browns
Analysis: As luck would have it, the Browns get to face two of their former first-round picks this year. Edwards comes to Cleveland for the first time since his trade last season. The Jets' No. 1 receiver is already chirping about this matchup. He wasn't very well-liked in a Browns uniform and would love to have a big game in front of Cleveland fans.
4. Jake Delhomme, QB, Browns
Date/former team: Nov. 28 vs. Carolina Panthers
Analysis: Delhomme has had nothing but good things to say about his time in Carolina since joining Cleveland. The quarterback said he simply suffered through one tough year with the Panthers. But there has to be something deep inside Delhomme that wants to perform well and beat his former team on Nov. 28. Many are wondering if Delhomme still has it, and showing he can still play against the team that benched and released him could be a nice highlight in Delhomme's season.
5. Antonio Bryant, WR, Bengals
Date/former team: Oct. 10 vs. Buccaneers
Analysis: The Buccaneers thought enough of Bryant to franchise him two years ago but not to give him a long-term extension. After suffering through knee injuries in 2009, they let Bryant go to free agency, where he landed in Cincinnati. Expect Bryant to want to show his former team what it's missing when the Bengals host Tampa Bay on Oct. 10. Bryant is expected to re-energize a Bengals passing game that mostly fizzled last year.