Now that NFL football is a go in 2011, we thought we’d focus Sunday’s Best on those ballers that look to be at their absolute best on Sundays this fall…the players to really watch this NFL season. To follow is the first of a four-part series on the 40 NFL players to watch in 2011…check it out:
Make no mistake about it…MICHAEL VICK is on the verge. In his first season back in football after being incarcerated for dog fighting, Vick had a near MVP season in 2010, leading the Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) to the NFC East title and the second round of the playoffs before bowing out to eventual SB champion Green Bay.
This season, Vick has some added weapons in his Eagles arsenal with wideout Steve Smith joining the fray…and with key Pro Bowl additions on defense, the Eagles are being touted as this season’s NFL dream team.
I don’t know about all that but Vick is certainly a changed man. Match his God-given talents with extreme focus, determination and drive, and you got a guy that one will most definitely want to watch this season.
I can’t understand why there are so many naysayers and doubters of the Carolina Panthers No. 1 pick, CAM NEWTON. All this guy does is win. As an NFL rookie prodigy at six-foot-five, 244 pounds, Newton is now the face of the Panthers…and expected to make them exciting to watch, if nothing else.
Newton made his Carolina debut Saturday night against the Giants and if first impressions mean anything, Cam is off to a good start. He led two field goal producing drives while completing 8 of 19 passes for 134 yards.
Whether you’re a Carolina Cam supporter or doubter, you’ll certainly be tuned in to see exactly what this dude will be cooking this year.
Unquestionably the premier running back in football, ADRIAN PETERSON will be looked upon to handle more offense and leadership roles for the Minnesota Vikings this year. The sixth leading rusher in the NFL last year (283 carries, 1,298yds, 4.6ypc, 12TDs), Peterson will be the focal point of the Vikings offense again this season, especially if Minny plans on keeping Donovan McNabb upright in the pocket.
With a nickname like “All-Day,” you can definitely understand why Peterson is one to watch on this list.
The premier shutdown corner in football, NNAMDI ASOMUGHA will look to make the Philadelphia Eagles impossible to score upon. The Eagles’ free agent crown jewel joins fellow Pro Bowlers Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel on a team that already features Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson.
If the Eagles won ten games last year without this guy, how many contests do you suppose they’ll win with him? This the reason we’ll be watching Asomugha…to find out!
DEZ BRYANT had an up-and-down 2010 rookie season for the Dallas Cowboys. Flashes of brilliance followed by a season-ending ankle fracture. Bryant is fully healed this year and focused on being the Cowboys’ primary go-to receiver. His explosive speed and quickness makes him a threat anytime he touches the football…which is why he returned punts and kick offs last year for Dallas.
Bryant sports that familiar Cowboys jersey No. 88 on Sundays…with all that winning tradition and pride attached to it. For that reason alone, Bryant will be one to watch this fall.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker JAMES HARRISON’s reputation as an NFL hitman nearly led him to retire in 2010 because he felt he couldn’t play the game of football the way it’s meant to be: Brutal, tough and smash mouth. Numerous fines by Commissioner Goodell for illegal hits on players had Harrison seriously considering leaving the game.
But Harrison is back for another terrorizing campaign on the Steelers defense. The 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Harrison recorded 100 tackles in 2010, with 70 solo tackles. He also had 10.5 sacks, 2 ints and 6 forced fumbles.
This Pittsburgh pitbull will be one to watch in 2011 simply to see if he can last an entire season without accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for decapitating players on the field!
As far as I’m concerned, DESEAN JACKSON won the NFC East for the Philadelphia Eagles last year while also destroying the New York Giants season with that impossible game-winning punt return TD in the Meadowlands.
Like Bryant for Dallas, Jackson is a threat to score every time he touches the football. That punt return versus New York is the first and only game-winning punt return on the final play from scrimmage in the history of the NFL.
DeSean has been in a contract squabble with the Eagles, but is in camp and plans to be on board for the season. And why not? With the weapons Philly is sporting this season, D-Jax would be a fool to not want in on this.
No doubt, the Eagles will be a team to watch and one huge reason is clearly the presence of Number 10.
Like CAM NEWTON, MARK INGRAM is expected to make an immediate impact in his rookie season in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints’ first round pick made Reggie Bush expendable in the Big Easy and will be looked upon to fortify the Saints offense while giving QB Drew Brees more go-to options.
The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner comes to Nawlins with solid, high profile credentials. That is reason enough for Ingram to be one to watch in 2011.
The Houston Texans’ ARIAN FOSTER could be on the verge of superstardom in the NFL…according to football prognosticators. Foster led the NFL in rushing in 2010, rambling for 1,873 yards on 381 carries with 19 TDs.
A first-time Pro Bowler, Foster gained about five yards every time he rushed the football last season, putting defenses on notice that he is a force to be reckoned with…and this season folks wanna know what Arian can do for an encore.
We’ll want to know as well. Which is why we’ll be watching.
CHAD OCHOCINCO finally escaped from
Alcatraz Cincinnati and is now a New England Patriot. That means Belichick, that means Brady, that means winning, that means Super Bowls. Chad has always expressed a strong desire to compete for a championship with a solid contender, now he has his shot.
Having thoroughly checked off various items on his “bucket list” this summer, Ochocinco now focuses on that elusive Super Bowl berth. Chad knows he’s going to play a key role in that possibly happening in Foxboro. That makes Mad Chad a key figure to watch in 2011.
NEXT WEEK: 10 MORE PLAYERS TO KEEP YOUR EYES ON THIS NFL SEASON.