The NFL is already seven weeks in, but there have already been a multitude of devastating injuries to franchise players. With elite-caliber talents attempting to make their return in 2018, who will be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year? Here are four noteworthy candidates:
Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers, Broken Collarbone)
Rodgers at one point in time was projected to become an MVP candidate this season, but instead, he ultimately landed himself on the IR after suffering a monstrous hit from Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.
Being forced to play against the AFC East next season, Rodgers has the opportunity to capitalize against defenses that have struggled so far in 2017. With the Packers entire offensive core under contract heading into 2018 as well, Rodgers may even possibly emerge as an unlikely MVP candidate once again.
Although it’s unlikely that Green Bay fans will witness Rodgers back on the field in 2017, it may be for the best. The collarbone injury is on Rodgers’ throwing arm, and by putting him in the ring of fire too early, permanent damage is always an unfortunate possibility.
J.J. Watt (DE, Houston Texans, Tibial Plateau Fracture)
Known as one of the most dominant defensive forces in the history of the NFL, J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture back on October 8th against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans have managed to stay afloat during the absence period of Watt, but without his presence, there is an obvious void within Houston’s defense.
Watt is now scheduled to miss 24 of his last 32 regular season games, as 2016 required him to miss thirteen regular season games with ongoing back procedures. Even with Watt becoming injury prone to an extent, he should manage to find himself within the Comeback Player of the Year discussion.
Odell Beckham Jr (WR, New York Giants, Fractured Ankle)
Beckham Jr. has often been dubbed the most elite receiver in the game, but after suffering a fractured ankle against the Los Angeles Chargers, could he return to his previous form?
I wouldn’t argue that Beckham Jr. was ever the “best” receiver in the NFL, and coming back in 2018 from this form of an injury, it’s going to be tough to regain his abnormally-quick footwork. With the Giants looking somewhat lost without Beckham Jr. on the field, I’m sure Eli Manning will be more than happy to give him the targets he desires in 2018. After 498 targets in 44 career games, Beckham Jr. should definitely be placed within the debate of who will reel in this award.
Julian Edelman (WR, New England Patriots, Torn ACL)
The injury to Julian Edelman may have occurred within the preseason, but his absence will affect the Patriots throughout the 2017 season. With 90+ receptions in three of his last four seasons, the offense for New England has encountered difficult barriers with their offense in terms of execution within the first seven weeks of the current campaign.
The name value of Edelman may not be on the same level of the aforementioned candidates, but he could be poised for a very successful 2018 comeback. Known as one of the most reliable slot receivers in the NFL, another 90-reception season should come easy to the 31-year old.
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