5 candidates for NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2012
The NFL Comeback Player of the Year honor has been awarded since 1972. It recognizes a player who has returned to form after dealing with adversity, be it injury or sub par performance. In 2011, Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford won the honor. After only playing in three games in 2010, Stafford came back in 2011 and had a tremendous season throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns while leading the Lions to the playoffs. It was an honor well deserved. Now, with the 2012 NFL season quickly approaching, here are five likely candidates to win the honor this year.
1. Peyton Manning: After missing the entire 2011 NFL season following a series of neck procedures, Manning finds himself in Denver Broncos blue and orange. Given his age and the seriousness of his injury, the odds are against Manning ever returning to full form but 75 percent of Manning is still better than the majority of starting quarterbacks in the league. Because of his popularity and hall of fame numbers if Manning can last the entire season with at least moderate success for he and the Broncos, he should be a shoe-in for this award.
2. Mario Williams: Williams was off to a tremendous start to the 2011 season with five sacks in five games before getting injured. In 2012 Williams finds himself on the Buffalo Bills in hopes of returning to his all-pro form. Williams is a long shot for this award as only four defensive ends have ever won it but if he has a great season and significantly helps Buffalo improve on the defensive side of the football then he’ll definitely deserve consideration.
3. Adrian Peterson: AP played in 12 games last season before suffering a season ending ACL tear. That’s a significant injury for any player to come back from but especially for a running back that relies on his knee to plant, cut, pivot and accelerate; all the things that makes Peterson so great. Not to mention the fact that he is a hard physical runner whose body has already taken a pounding during his six-year NFL career. If AP can return to form in 2012, he’ll make a strong case for this award.
4. Josh Freeman: After looking unstoppable in 2010, Freeman’s performance declined significantly last season as he threw only 16 touchdowns compared to his 22 interceptions as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 4-12. With the addition of big name free agents on offense such as WR Vincent Jackson and TE Dallas Clark to go along with WR Mike Williams, RB LeGarrette Blount and rookie runner Doug Martin, the Bucs have made some significant upgrades in their offensive weaponry. This should give Freeman everything he needs to succeed and if he can get Tampa Bay back to the playoffs while doing so he would have an outside chance at winning comeback player of the year.
5. Randy Moss: Moss spent all of the 2011 season retired after appearing on three different rosters in 2010 when he seemingly shut it down on the second two. Moss is now a 49er and will have every chance to succeed under head coach Jim Harbaugh. It’s debatable as to whether or not Moss will get the deep ball opportunities that he has become known for throughout his career with Alex Smith throwing to him. But if the 49ers can find a way to use his skill set and Moss puts up solid numbers he would be an excellent candidate for the comeback player of the year award.
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