Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preseason: Players to Watch (NFC North)

Green Bay Packers: RB Cedric Benson: Yesterday, running back Cedric Benson became a Green Bay Packer. Because Benson is past his prime, and also due to several legal issues in the past, Cincinnati did not want to re-sign this free agent. Obviously Green Bay was willing to take the chance with Cedric, otherwise their lack of a running game would hurt their Super Bowl chances once again. At age 29, Benson's best years are behind him, or so we think. The rusher says he feels great, so if Benson dominates in his upcoming preseason game, then the Green Bay Packers can be even more lethal in 2012.

Brandon Marshall (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Minnesota Vikings: QB Christian Ponder: The Minnesota Vikings did a complete 180 since Brett Favre's playoff run. Last year, the Vikings went 3-13, the third worst record of 2011. This organization has decided to start quarterback Christian Ponder, who will have 4th overall draft pick Matt Kalil protecting him. Ponder is forced to compete in one of the league's most competitive divisions, where three teams are all serious contenders for a playoff spot. Last year, Ponder thew just as many picks as he did touchdowns (13), so he will need to work on his consistency when throwing the ball. This preseason will show the progress made by Christian Ponder, and if he is capable of resurrecting a franchise.

Chicago Bears: WR Brandon Marshall: Brandon Marshall, once a Denver Bronco, struggled while playing for the Miami Dolphins, where he did not reach 100 receptions in either season. In 2009, Marshall had one of the league's best chemistry's with quarterback Jay Cutler. After Cutler moved to Chicago, Marshall soon joined him in the Windy City just two years later. The Bears went from the number two seed in the playoffs in 2010, to missing the playoffs entirely in 2011. If the magic is still there, than this quarterback-wide receiver duo will be unstoppable in 2012.

Detroit Lions: OT Riley Reiff: The Detroit Lions relied heavily on their passing game last season, led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson. In order to keep Stafford healthy, as well as give him more time in the pocket, the Lions drafted offensive lineman Riley Reiff. Reiff stands at 6'6", 313 pounds and showed he can overpower college stars while playing for Iowa. But can he overpower NFL defenders with more experience and in some cases, more skill? We will see this preseason, for if he is not capable of blocking a defensive lineman, Matthew Stafford may not be able to play all 16 games like he did in 2011. 

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