Washington Redskins: QB Kirk Cousins
Is it just me, or do the Washington Redskins look better with Cousins at the helm? Cousins is far from perfect as a young quarterback, but he gets the ball out of his hands and looks to have a grasp of the playbook, and huddle. Things are always different as the backup quarterback. This time around with some starting experience under his belt, the game tape will be there for defenses to study, but he may be better prepared with offensive guru Jay Gruden. Robert Griffin was the higher pick in 2012, but in limited time including the preseason, I haven’t seen him actually win the job or take leadership of the offense. I don’t think this is a playoff team, but I don’t expect a controversy because I think he holds off Griffin. Then, it will be a countdown until Griffin gets shipped to another team. Both could be good, both could not be, I just see Cousins as the future of this particular franchise. No doubt about it, the next four games are tough so it might not show in the team’s win column necessarily.
Indianapolis Colts: RB Ahmad Bradshaw
It seems like this guy has been around forever. The dependable tailback has only had one issue, staying healthy. A neck problem is a constant concern for coaches, but the player can’t worry about that when he hits the field. Bradshaw has always been good when he lines up. Returning from last season’s neck injury, he looks like the best back on the Colts roster. Better than former first round pick, Trent Richardson. He started as a third down back on the Giants, where he also returned kicks and punts, before getting the torch from Tiki Barber. At 28 years old, Bradshaw looks like he has a lot of juice in his legs, and I’m not just talking beginning of the season juice. Known as an excellent pass protector and passing down back, it should only be a matter of time before he regains a starting role to continue his rebirth in the NFL. Indianapolis is more balanced and explosive with him on the field.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Bobby Rainey
Now this is a nice player that rises to every playing opportunity. Last season he balled out after both, Doug Martin and Mike James went down to injuries. Last week he got the rock and went bonkers, 174 yards and he’s still probably running through the minds of Rams defenders. Martin is already back and practicing, but I’m thinking about new coach Lovie Smith with this situation. Early word was that third round pick, Charles Sims, was going to play on passing downs and third downs to start the year. Well, he had ankle surgery and isn’t expected back until the double-digit weeks, in the ladder part of the season. Rainey may have earned a role for himself after a good six quarters of production. If Martin can’t get things going like he did when he came into the league, it’s unfortunate that he got injured but Rainey could press the coaches to anoint a starting running back down the road.
Baltimore Ravens: RB Justin Forsett
Not to discredit Bernard Pierce because he came through in a big win against the rival Steelers, but there’s always something setting him back. He has so-so performances with a tendency to get banged up. I don’t see him taking full advantage of the Ray Rice void. Insert backup Justin Forsett, who outplayed Pierce in week 1 and looked great in defeat. Week 2 was a different story for the Ravens, as they controlled the game from start to finish, and Pierce was a large part of that. The thing is, Pierce is getting force fed into the role, as he has been since last season. Baltimore couldn’t run the ball last year. Gary Kubiak comes in and installs a zone scheme, reuniting with Forsett. They were only together for one season in Houston, but you can see how comfortable and decisive Forsett looks coming out of the backfield. With Rice out of the picture, I’m assuming Pierce is either ineffective or gets nicked up again, opening the door for Forsett to literally run through.
Kansas City Chiefs: Knile Davis
The Chiefs have been down this road before. It’s not ideal to play without Jamaal Charles, but the do-it-all back will miss a few weeks with a high ankle sprain. Those are tough and tricky to come back from, as far as a time table is concerned. Davis has shown the ability to fill in well, but he’s also underwhelmed in other relief opportunities. He stepped up in week 2’s loss to Denver, and head coach Andy Reid stated that they won’t change too much. Keep in mind, KC hasn’t been lighting up the scoreboard. Alex Smith doesn’t look deep, the receivers struggle to gain separation, and the O-line isn’t very good. They’re definitely going to continue to keep the ball grounded in an effort to keep games close, while relying on their good defense. Nonetheless, Davis gets another showcase as the feature back. If he does well, considering how many touches Charles got last season, a timeshare could come to fruition.
New York Giants: WR Corey Washington
The undrafted rookie got noticed over summer. He made the roster but started out the season as the #4 receiver. Washington was believed to drop down to #5 upon the debut of fellow rookie, first rounder Odell Beckham. Jerrel Jernigan was #3, but he just got sent to injured reserve after spraining his foot in week 2. The struggling Giants have seen Victor Cruz drop a handful of passes, and Reuben Randle isn’t a proven commodity. With a couple weeks before Beckham is expected to suit up, the 6’4 Washington has 4.5 speed 10 balls for 155 yards in preseason action. At this point, second year tight end Larry Donnell, leads an iffy corps with 12 grabs, 137 yards, and a touchdown. Knowing that the G-Men are adjusting to a new offense, similar to the Packers, Tom Coughlin would likely grasp onto any playmakers to right the ship and get him off his annual hot seat.