Monday, August 13, 2012

Preseason: Players to Watch (AFC West)

Denver Broncos: QB Peyton Manning: Quite possibly the most dominant quarterback of the 21st century is no longer a member of the Indianapolis Colts, but instead a Denver Bronco. It will be odd to see Manning wearing orange and blue on Sundays, after 14 years of playing under the Lucas Oil lights. Peyton missed all of 2011 due to a neck injury, and though he feels 100%, we will not be sure until Manning plays in a few preseason games. Nearly 41,000 fans showed up to watch Manning scrimmage, so clearly he is on every one's mind in Denver. It will be interesting to see how Manning plays in the final three competitions.

Peyton Manning (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) 
San Diego Chargers: LB Melvin Ingram: The 18th overall pick is in my top 5 for the most talented defensive players coming out of the 2012 draft, and the San Diego Chargers are lucky to have him on their roster. San Diego was smart in moving him to the linebacker position over defensive end, for he has size identical to Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis. At DE, Ingram's height and weight would put him at a disadvantage when squaring off against a 6'5", 300 pound offensive lineman. Ingram set the school record for the most sacks in a single season while a Gamecock, and should improve San Diego's struggling pass rush. I have high hopes for Ingram in 2012, and I recommend keeping an eye out for this future star.

Kansas City Chiefs: NT Dontari Poe: Many, including myself, were skeptical about nose tackle Dontari Poe. Out of Memphis, Poe was not expected to be taken ahead of the third round, let alone the first 32 picks. However, after a monster draft combine, he got scouts everywhere in a tizzy. Kansas City were the buyers of Poe's draft day stock, and were later disappointed by his mediocre play. Head coach Romoeo Crennel said about Poe, "He needs to work on technique, he needs to work on understanding the system, he needs to get the calls correct all the time. He's got a ways to go." Dontari Poe isn't even a starter entering the regular season, unless he is able to change that in the preseason games.

Oakland Raiders: RB Darren McFadden: The raiders running back has had extreme difficulty staying healthy throughout the duration of a season. McFadden averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2011, on track to get 1,403 rushing yards and 9 rushing TDs, both career highs. At age 24, McFadden has the potential to be one of the league’s best backs. All four of his season’s spent in the NFL were incomplete due to injury, and the preseason will show if he has enough in the tank to play all 16 games.

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