ESPN.com NFL Insider Field Yates picked five veterans poised for big bounce-back seasons.
Two of them are from the AFC South.
Both of them are running backs.
Yates on Maurice Jones-Drew: “[H]e's an exceptional blend of vision, power, contact strength, elusiveness and pass-catching ability from the backfield. Jones-Drew has never been a blazer, but he's fully capable of handling a massive workload and enters a contract year looking for a big payday this offseason. There are quarterback concerns in Jacksonville, all the more reason for the team to rely heavily on MJD early. While his foot injury must be considered, Jones-Drew has a resurgent season well within reach, something that will make his fantasy owners very happy.”
My thoughts: I hope for his sake, and the team’s, that he quickly returns to form. But Lisfranc repair is serious business, and there is some cause to wonder if he will be able to be the same.
Yates on Chris Johnson: “The Titans fortified the interior of their offensive line by signing the best available free-agent guard (Andy Levitre), drafting a mauler out of Alabama (Chance Warmack) and taking a fourth-round center (Brian Schwenke). An area of weakness has quickly turned to a potential strength, and that bodes well for Johnson. Johnson succeeded in 2012 when making his cuts early and before the play fully developed, preventing upfield penetration from defenders to take him down. While others have questions about whether Johnson has the power to ever be a consistent back again, I'm optimistic that the new-look line will be enough to set the wheels in motion for a nearly 1,500-yard season. As always, expect a few long runs sprinkled in.”
My thoughts: Yates points out that CJ’s 2012 was actually somewhat of a bounce-back from his 2011. What he doesn’t address is that the running back will have carries taken away by a free-agent addition who should be a much better short-yardage/ goal-line runner in Shonn Greene. Less might be more in some ways for CJ. But Johnson’s not the sort to be excited about sharing more work.