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With the NFL not being guaranteed, we all know that taking advantage of your opportunity is priceless. Whether they’re star players or not, it’s important that you play every down like your career depended on it. Then there are sometimes where they are given golden chances due to someone elses unfortunate injury or mishaps. There use to be a unwritten rule where you can’t lose your job due to an injury. Lately, that rule has been broken a few times.
What changed you might ask. What might have kicked it off was when a certain quarterback name Drew Bledsoe was injured in the early part of the 2001 season and a skinny young kid who no one cared about name Tom Brady replaced him and never relinquished that starting role since. There are a few times where players had a chance and played well but the coach felt that he wanted to stay with the starting quarterback, running back and even left or right tackle. We do see these opportunities present themselves every now and then. This year has already created some situations that has not only given someone a chance to takeover for an injured player but through injuries, it has given players second or third chances to redeem themeless as an NFL player or jumpstart their career.
During the second week of the NFL season, a rookie wide receiver name Corey Coleman who plays for the Cleveland Browns had a spectacular game with five catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns. As the kid was just about to break out, he unfortunately broke his hand in practice that following Wednesday. Their best wide receiver, Josh Gordon, wasn’t coming back till week 5 from a suspension but now has put his return on hold for a rehab assignment. Terrelle Pryor, the once Oakland Raiders’ quarterback, was next in line now playing wide receiver. Pryor didn’t only step in and fill a void but dominated the game by catching eight passes for 144 yards, throwing for 35 yards and also had a rushing touchdown. It has been know that he is athletic but to be a effective player at wide receiver and show his versatility on the field gives Cleveland another option and a valuable player and possible starter. The most important factor is Pryor now has revived his career and can build from that awesome performance. With his experience playing quarterback in college and NFL, Pryor has a great advantage at the wide out position due to him knowing what the quarterback is thinking and expecting. Now since Gordon’s stint with the Browns is in danger, look for Pryor to take over as the No. 1 option in Cleveland.
The Dallas Cowboys came into the 2016 season very optimistic. They were bringing back a healthy Dez Bryant and Tony Romo from a dismal injury plague 2015 season. The second week of the preseason provided disappointment for Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Romo, trying to escape pressure in the pocket, scrambled only to get hit from behind and injured his back. For some reason, The Cowboys’ organization didn’t panic because the backup to Romo is Dak Prescott. Prescott displayed his ability to handle the NFL pressure the week before after posting a perfect quarterback rating starting the first preseason game. Although Prescott lost the first game of the regular season to the New York Giants, his poise was very much noticeable. After winning the next two games including a come-from behind win on the road against the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys have finally found a capable backup and their future quarterback. What Prescott brings to the table is his patience and composure. His ability to let nothing phase or rattle him is his best attribute even with all of the talent he has. One aspect of his game that gets unnoticed is he’s gifted to run the ball being listed at 6-2 226 pounds but you don’t see him taking off as much because he doesn’t panic and he’s always surveying down the field. Expect Prescott to take over as the sole starting quarterback sooner than later.
2016 was suppose to be the year the Minnesota Vikings took the next step and join the elite. Teddy Bridgewater was finally going to be released from the shackles and be able to have free range as a quarterback. Going into the second week of the preseason, Bridgewater experienced a freak accident in practice tearing his ACL without being contacted. This prompted the Vikings to make one of the bizarre trades in NFL history by going after veteran Sam Bradford for a first round pick in 2016 and 4th round pick in 2017 that can become a third round pick under certain conditions during last week of preseason. Although most thought it was a bad trade, Bradford silenced many doubters the first game he started which was against the Green Bay Packers in the second game of the season. The former overall No. 1 pick played as if he had been with the Vikings for three years or more. Bradford was stellar going 22-31 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn’t just the accuracy, but the way he commanded the huddle and stood in the pocket with defenders in his face launching the perfect passes. He continued the great play by going up to Carolina the next week and beating the Panthers convincingly. His professionalism balanced with his competitiveness makes him a hot commodity next year. The game has seemed to slow down for him and now he’s able to read defenses better than ever. Maybe with this being his last shot to show he’s a legit starting quarterback, he has taken advantage of it and now will undoubtedly be starting for another team next year when Bridgewater gets back.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles seemed to have gotten the best of the Sam Bradford trade but that’s not all they’ve gained from the trade. The second pick overall Carson Wentz was expected to be the third string quarterback at the start of the season. Because of the trade, coach Doug Pederson decided to go ahead and start the rookie to see what he could do. Wentz’s first game as a pro not only shocked his opponents but his team and fan base. His calmness and accuracy led him to go 22-37 for 278 yards and two touchdowns. The next week on a national stage, he showed why Pederson chose to go with him as the starter leading the Eagles to a win against the Chicago Bears in Chicago on the big stage of Monday Night Football. America finally got to see the hype or truth about this young phoneme. The amazing part about all of this is you can see it on Wentz’s face that he is having fun while playing. It definitely showed when he faced a very good team in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wentz went 22-31 for 301 yards and two touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception all year. He has a knack to make quick decisions and be on target with his throws. He sees the field well and is also mobile. What’s most impressive is when the pocket breaks down, he continuing to look down the field while moving away from defenders instead of running for yards when he has pressure in his face. He should see plenty of Pro Bowls if not this year.