NFL players looking to bounce back in 2021

The new NFL season presents an opportunity to rebound for many players who had disappointing 2020 seasons. These players are at the top of the list, as they look to bounce back in the new season.


Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants

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Barkley became a superstar in his first two NFL seasons, but he played only two games last year due to a torn ACL. The Giants are hoping he’s fully recovered to start 2021.


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Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns

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After playing only his second 16-game season in six years in 2019, Beckham played only seven games last year due to a knee injury. His stats were down significantly when he did play, with only 23 catches in seven games. Still only 28, Beckham still has the upside to be an elite wideout if he’s healthy.


Nick Bosa, DE, 49ers

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Bosa had injury issues in college at Ohio State, and they returned last year after winning Defensive Rookie of the Year for San Francisco in 2019. San Francisco is hoping he can stay healthy after playing only two games last year.


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Landon Collins, S, Washington

Landon Collins, S, Washington

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Collins was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Giants, but his play has been deteriorating since signing with Washington in 2019. He played only seven games last year due to injury but could provide a spark to an already strong defense if he’s healthy.


Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

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The Cowboys’ offense was stagnant after Dak Prescott was injured last year, but Elliott struggled before that time. He had a career-low 4.0 yards per career and 65.3 rushing yards per game, failing to reach 1,000 rushing yards. Elliott lost weight in the offseason as he tries to rebound at age 26.


Jared Goff, QB, Lions

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Goff apparently had a falling out with the Rams last year, and his play was mediocre for the second consecutive year. LA shipped him to the Lions for Matthew Stafford in the offseason, where he will be the centerpiece of a bad roster. It won’t be an easy situation for Goff to navigate, but a change of scenery could be a positive.


A.J. Green, WR, Cardinals

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After consecutive injury-plagued seasons in Cincinnati, Green struggled last year with only 523 yards in 16 games. He still found a lucrative contract with Arizona but will have to prove he has something left at age 33.


Anthony Harris, S, Eagles

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Harris was a breakout player for Minnesota in 2019, leading the league with six interceptions in his first year as a full-time starter. His production plummeted last year, and he had a quiet free-agent market before signing with Philly. The Eagles hope Harris can find himself with his new team.


T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

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Nagging injuries and quarterback changes have taken a toll on Hilton during recent seasons, but he still re-signed with the Colts. He hopes to rebound with Carson Wentz under center after gaining only 762 yards in 15 games last year.


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Danielle Hunter, DE, Vikings

Danielle Hunter, DE, Vikings

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Hunter has been Minnesota’s top pass rusher since 2015, and make back-to-back Pro Bowls before missing last year due to injury. The Vikings’ defense suffered without him, and they are counting on Hunter in 2021.


Derwin James, S, Chargers

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James has been a game-changer when he’s been on the field since 2018, but he played only five games in 2019 and failed to take the field last season due to injury. The Chargers’ defense should get an instant jolt if James is healthy this season.


DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys

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The high-priced Lawrence didn’t prove deserving of a huge contract for the second consecutive year, providing only 6.5 sacks in 16 games in 2020. The Cowboys’ defense was one of the worst in the league, and need Lawrence to get back to the Pro Bowl level he showed in 2017 and 2018.


Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers

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McCaffrey proved to be one of the most dynamic running games the NFL has seen before last year’s injury-plagued campaign. He played only three games after leading the league in touches, yards from scrimmage, and touchdowns in 2019. New quarterback Sam Darnold could use McCaffrey’s help this year.


Von Miller, OLB, Broncos

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Miller disappointed in 2019 with only eight sacks in 15 games, and he missed all of last year with an ankle injury. After whispers that the team would move on in the offseason, Denver opted to bring Miller back for one more go.


Cam Newton, QB, Patriots

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Newton missed most of 2019 in Carolina due to injury and had his first season in New England disrupted to COVID-19. His play in 15 games was sub-par, but he hopes to beat out first-round rookie Mac Jones for the starting job.


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Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

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Prescott posted huge numbers early last season before suffering a horrible season-ending ankle injury. The Cowboys need Prescott to pick up where he left off given how poorly the defense has played recently.


Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

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Big Ben’s play deteriorated last season after major elbow surgery in 2019, and there were questions early in the offseason about whether the Steelers would go in a different direction. Pittsburgh drafted running back Najee Harris to help, but Roethlisberger will need to rebound for the team to reach their goals.


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Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

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Thomas had a forgettable 2020 season after leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yards the previous year. He was plagued by an ankle injury, playing only seven games, and could miss the start of the season following surgery. The loss of Drew Brees could also make things more difficult for Thomas.


Sammy Watkins, WR, Ravens

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Watkins was a playoff hero for the Chiefs in 2019, but the veteran receiver’s long history of injuries came back to bit him again last year. He only played in 10 games, and will now be fighting for a role with the run-heavy Ravens.


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J.J. Watt, DE, Cardinals

J.J. Watt, DE, Cardinals

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Watt managed to get fully healthy last year after playing only eight games in 2019, but he recorded just five saves in a terrible year for Houston. He will get a chance to bounce back with what’s likely to be a more competitive Cardinals squad.


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Carson Wentz, QB, Colts

Carson Wentz, QB, Colts

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Wentz was nearly run out of Philadelphia with sub-par play in 2020 behind a bad supporting cast. The Colts have much more talent to help, but Wentz will also need to prove that he can stay healthy more consistently. A foot injury that will keep him out for multiple months is not a good start.


Damien Williams, RB, Bears

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Williams was a Super Bowl hero for the Chiefs a little over one year ago, and some would say he was deserving of the Super Bowl MVP. He opted out of the 2020 season to care for his ailing mother and now finds himself as depth in a deep running back room for the Bears. He still has a chance to carve out a role for what could be a ground-and-pound offense.

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