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6 NFL players with a lot to prove in 2014

Ranking The NFC East

By Sam Spiegelman

Certain players seem to always have an obstacle in their way before people give them credit. For instance, how many quality seasons did Alex Smith have to go through in San Francisco and then Kansas City before being donned a legitimate NFL starter?

Well, that still remains a touchy topic.

Aside from Smith, there are a bunch of other players critics remain skeptical of - whether they're actually deserving of being called an NFL star.

Here are six players with a lot to prove in terms of their reputation in 2014:

1. Nick Foles

Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and two interceptions in his first season as a starter in 2013, leading the Eagles to a NFC East title and a playoff appearance. Even though Michael Vick is no longer his back up, there is still reason to believe Foles cannot replicate his 2013 numbers.

Sure, the interception total is bound to increase with a full 16-game slate, but his touchdown total should also grow in Chip Kelly's high-octane passing attack. A similar TD:INT ratio should do the trick for Foles.

2. Eddie Lacy

The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year was outstanding in his first season with the Packers, but sophomore slumps have become an annual trend in the league.

Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard were all backs that regressed in their second seasons. As did DeMarco Murray back in 2012. The question is whether Lacy falls into that trap with lofty expectations in 2014.

3. DeSean Jackson

Coming off a career year in 2013, Jackson has switched uniforms and switched offenses, and there's a major question mark as to whether he can be as productive in another system with a different quarterback playing a different type of role.

Jackson has made a living being a deep threat, but he needs to run different routes and contribute in other ways with the Redskins. Otherwise, we'll know he was simply a product of Kelly's offense last year.

4. Robert Griffin III

Sticking with the Redskins, Jackson's quarterback, RGIII, is entering a prove-it sort of year in Year 3.

RGIII played through an injury in 2013, which plagued his production and made us question whether he was on track to be the elite quarterback many assumed he would develop into.

Now Griffin is learning a new offense but has a wealth of talent around him, but must show signs of improvement as a passer.

5. Josh McCown

McCown's incredible stint with the Bears last season made a lot of us forget that Jay Cutler was actually the team's starting quarterback. His season led to a contract with the Buccaneers, where he's also entrenched as the starter.

However, second-year player Mike Glennon is waiting in wings should McCown slip up and regress in another system. The pressure is on McCown to continue his late-career production.

6. Trent Richardson

This is a make-or-break kind of year for Richardson, the former No. 3 overall pick who the Colts sent a first-round pick to Cleveland to acquire.

Richardson had a spectacular rookie season and has showed glimpses of being an NFL workhorse, but has struggled mightily since donning a Colts uniform.

Richardson has had a full year to get comfortable with the Colts playbook and develop chemistry with Andrew Luck and his teammates. If he can't succeed in this quality offense this year, he may be destined for the "bust" label.


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Join the discussion

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Denny August 02 2014 at 9:38 AM

Ray Rice should be banned from football for life.....The NFL is saying we support women with breast cancer but it is OK to beat the hell out of them

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3 replies
cjc9985 August 02 2014 at 11:52 AM

As an American man, I'm done with the NFL. The game is simply too slow and drags out too long, all about betting and odds (like horse racing )I don't admire the athletes either with their arrests, drugs, and prostitution setting a bad example for our youth. They are not committed enough to their sport. I prefer NHL Hockey. Much more exciting to watch and athletes with actual talent our youth can look up to as role models. They actually carry themselves like true professionals acting respectful even when away from the rink.

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3 replies
allendniles August 02 2014 at 2:27 PM

RG can't seem to find receivers. Make or bust this year.

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2 replies
rstultz allendniles August 02 2014 at 4:37 PM

As a Lifelong Redskins Fan, I am hoping that RGIII will mature, become a Team Player and quit drawing attention to himself when he is on the Practice Field. I have absolutely no problem with RGIII expressing himself off of the field, but I think that his recent a[[arel on the practice field is disrespectful to the Coaches and other Team Players on this Team. I agree with the article... this is a sort of prove it type of year. Watching the NFL Hall of Famers speak right now....each and everyone has spoken about team unity and earning the right to be where they are today. May RGIII mature and do the same.

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1 reply
chrscal28 rstultz August 03 2014 at 11:26 AM

I can't stand the Redskins but you did stay with the topic.You get an "A" buddy.

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wnagle53 allendniles August 03 2014 at 6:47 AM

will AOL still publish a comment if you say Redskins?

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savannahswithgod August 02 2014 at 8:51 AM

Doubt I will watch the NFL this year. Got too sissified. Can't touch the QB and get in the receivers way. NFL looking for NBA scores. Maybe a highlight or two, AP running for a TD carrying a few guys with him.

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1 reply
chrscal28 savannahswithgod August 03 2014 at 11:27 AM

Sounds like a plan I might follow.

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tmccull52 August 02 2014 at 9:23 AM

How does Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions NOT make this list? He has more meaningless stats, with less to show for them, than practically any other player at any position in the NFL. After five seasons as the Lions' starting QB, he still makes terrible decisions, his mechanics are arguably questionable, and he hasn't even won a single post season game.

The ONLY reason that he has accumulated the passing yards starts that he has is because he has Calvin Johnson to throw to. A one legged grandmother with a glass eye and a hook for a hand could hit Megatron for 1,500 yards a season. Matthew Stafford is THE most overrated player in the NFL, bar none.

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Jim August 02 2014 at 10:51 PM

there is no way Joe Flucco should not be listed. What has he done? And don't say he won a Super Bowl because he didn't win squat the Ravens defense won that and Flucco did nothing. If it was not for the bronco DB misplaying the hail Mary pass by Flucco the Ravens go home.

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2 replies
chrscal28 Jim August 03 2014 at 11:28 AM

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Huh????????

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Nick Jim August 03 2014 at 2:11 PM

its obvious you didnt watch the ravens during the playoff run or the superbowl, and they way your talking you either hate joe or didnt even watch the highlights on espn of his playoff run because he put on a clinic and played lights out durning that playoff run so learn your football before talking so silly

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gdmn2find August 02 2014 at 9:32 PM

The only one I can speak to is RGIII. The local media built him up so much and so did the team that he was expected to walk on the field and magical things were going to happen. Kinda like the expectations many voters had about the Messiah. Unfortunately in both cases, the realization is that both are men for the most part like anyone else. One at least has some talent that needs to mature a bit more so he can contribute to the team. The other is having credibility issues from day one which he will never overcome and is destined to be a failure. Even some of his previous supporters have buyers remorse for voting for him.

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Charles August 02 2014 at 11:08 PM

If Eli does not make a comeback, he will get kicked out of the family.

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jms9221 August 03 2014 at 2:04 AM

what about sam bradford

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janka51 August 03 2014 at 10:19 AM

I can't believe anyone still watches sports , they ruined them all

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