The Player Each NFL Team Could Least Afford to Lose – NFC East & North

Mike McGinnis / Getty Images North America
Mike McGinnis / Getty Images North America

With training camps in full swing, fans are not only hoping to see impressive performances but fear injuries to their teams’ key player. As the third part of a four-episode series, here are the players whom NFC East and NFC North teams could least afford to lose due to injury.

Dallas Cowboys

DeMarco Murray, RB

Although, the Cowboys’ defense is a mess; their offense can be one of the best in the NFL. If they can establish the running game.

Photo: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Photo: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Dallas has one of the best offensive lines in the game, an aging, but solid tight end, an elite wide receiver and a decent quarterback. However, despite how good Romo is; the Cowboys cannot ask too much of him. This is what happened when they asked him to play behind a shaky line for years. Romo needs the running game to complement him.

This is why the Cowboys need Murray, who might be the best running back in Dallas since one Emmitt Smith, to stay on the field. Due to him not generating any news off the field, Murray’s performance went under the radar, as he broke a total of 53 tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. No surprise Murray made SI’s Doug Farrar’s All-Underrated Offense along with fellow NFC East RB Alfred Morris. Continue reading

The Player Each NFL Team Could Least Afford to Lose – AFC South & West

Scott Halleran / Getty Images
Scott Halleran / Getty Images

With training camps in full swing, fans are not only hoping to see impressive performances but fear injuries to their teams’ key player. As the second part of a four-episode series, here are the players whom AFC South and AFC West teams could least afford to lose due to injury.

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck, QB

Despite being with the team only for 2 years, Luck has become the face of the franchise and even made fans forget about a certain former quarterback in Indianapolis.

Photo: Elsa / Getty Images

Photo: Elsa / Getty Images

Although, the Colts lost 43-22 against the Patriots in the Divisional Playoffs in January; Luck’s performance received many praises. That game highlighted the former Stanford Cardinal’s enormous upside for the upcoming years.

Besides the tangibles, Luck has all the intangibles needed in a leader as well. It has already been said that he is carrying his team without a lot of help from either the defense or his offensive line.

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The Player Each NFL Team Could Least Afford to Lose – AFC East & North

Jim Rogash / Getty Images
Jim Rogash / Getty Images

With training camps in full swing, fans are not only hoping to see impressive performances but fear injuries to their teams’ key player. As the first part of a four-episode series, here are the players whom AFC East and AFC North teams could least afford to lose due to injury.

Buffalo Bills

Kiko Alonso, LB

The Bills having already lost the player they can least afford to miss from their lineup is obviously a tough break for them. The rookie Alonso quickly became a leader of the Buffalo defense in 2013, as he registered, by far, the most snaps of that unit with 1,176.

Photo: Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images

Photo: Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images

In terms of pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, he did not only lead his team, but the entire league. Despite the fact that Alonso registered the sixth most snaps in pass coverage, he allowed the least yards among linebackers who played at least 50 percent of their teams’ snaps. Continue reading

The Addition of Stevie Johnson Can Be the Key for the San Francisco 49ers

Jared Wickerham / Getty Images North America
Jared Wickerham / Getty Images North America

“When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that’s the result you’re going to get” – we all remember Richard Sherman’s rant after the NFC Championship Game in January. It seems like San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke was not only listening to Sherman, but acted upon his comments in the offseason. The acquisition of Stevie Johnson from the Buffalo Bills can be just the right move to help the 49ers over the hump.

The addition of Johnson is one of the most overlooked transactions of the offseason. Even when discussing the 49ers’ summer activity, people would rather point to Colin Kaepernick’s contract extension when selecting the most notable move of the franchise. Although, the quarterback’s extension is significant; it keeps the status quo, while bringing over Johnson to the West Coast can represent an upgrade to an offense that already has great potential.

After selecting Sammy Watkins in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bills were ready to dispose Johnson. Baalke jumped at the chance and traded a conditional 2015 fourth-round pick, which could become a third, to bring the San Francisco native Johnson home.

Johnson showed his potential in Buffalo (Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Johnson showed his potential in Buffalo (Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Johnson will join an already above average group of pass catchers that included Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Together, the four players have 20 seasons of at least 700 receiving yards, including nine 1,000-yard seasons.

Johnson had a tough year with the Bills in 2013, as he had just 52 catches for 597 yards and scored only three touchdowns. He also missed four games – two due to injuries and two due to the passing of his late mother.

However, between 2010 and 2012 Johnson reached the 1,000-yard mark in all three seasons, while averaging 79 receptions and nearly eight touchdowns per season.

One of Johnson’s best games came against the 49ers’ divisional foes, the Seattle Seahawks, in Week 15 of the 2012 season. He caught eight passes for 115 yards – both were season-highs – while also scoring one touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, with that game the Kentucky alum became one of only four players in the last two seasons who caught at least three passes, while being covered  by Richard Sherman – the others being Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Titus Young.

Let’s have a look at Johnson’s receptions from that game in Toronto. I apologize for the quality of the footage, seems like Toronto didn’t receive the memo on the quality requirements of the All-22 tape.

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This Could Be the Season Danny Amendola Lives Up to the Hype for the New England Patriots

Al Bello / Getty Images North America
Al Bello / Getty Images North America

The media and fans have been claiming Danny Amendola to be injury prone for his entire career. 2014 can finally be the season when the wide receiver makes the headlines rather with his performance than his injuries.

The Texas Tech alum arrived in Foxborough in 2013 to fill the shoes of a Denver-bound Wes Welker; however, he couldn’t meet these expectations in his first season, as he caught only 57 passes for 710 yards and scored two touchdowns, while playing in just 14 of New England’s 18 games due to injuries.

If Amendola can stay healthy – and that obviously is a big if – with one year in the Patriots system under his belt he could have a breakout season. Combining his talent level and the fact that the Patriots offense is staying intact can result in a season with 90+ receptions and 1,000+ yards for the first time in Amendola’s career. Continue reading

Justin Blackmon: What Does the Future Hold for the Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receiver?

AP Photo
AP Photo

Of the 32 players selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, 31 report this week for training camps – 28 to the team that drafted them. The lone exception, Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon is currently indefinitely suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. The troubled Blackmon will probably get only one more shot; does he have what it takes to turn it around?

Blackmon’s first two seasons at Stillwater went by without any noticeable off the field problem. After being redshirted in 2008, he caught 20 passes and scored two touchdowns for the Oklahoma State Cowboys in his sophomore season.

The mugshot of Blackmon after his first arrest

The mugshot of Blackmon after his first arrest

Blackmon first ran into trouble when he was arrested on 26 October 2010 for a DUI after being clocked doing 92 mph in a 60 mph zone, while driving home with friends from a Dallas Cowboys game.

“That was the first time he had a run-in with the law” told Gunter Brewer, Blackmon’s WR coach at Oklahoma State, in a phone interview with Inside Handoff. Continue reading

Johnathan Franklin: Is the Former Green Bay Packer the Future Mayor of Los Angeles?

Jeff Gross / Getty Images
Jeff Gross / Getty Images

419 days. That’s how long UCLA’s leading rusher’s NFL career lasted. Johnathan Franklin announced on 19 June that he will not play in the 2014 season and will probably not return to the NFL. Well, at least not to the field, but they should expect him at Los Angeles City Hall sometime soon.

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