It’s been an offseason of twists, turns, retirements and comebacks, but the NFL 2017 season is almost here.
New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs
September 8, 2017, 12:30am
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To kick off the campaign in style, Sky Sports is showing six live games, with NFL RedZone returning on Sky Sports Mix, so you’ll never miss a touchdown.
While the players get ready for the curtain raiser on Thursday night, Sky Sports look at five players who have a little bit more to prove than most in the league…
Jay Cutler, QB, Miami Dolphins
Earlier this offseason, reportedly without a deal on the table, the former Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears quarterback retired and began planning the next stage of his career in the commentary box.
Cutler joined FOX as part of a new look line-up, but that relationship didn’t even make it to the preseason as the 34-year-old veteran was lured back to the league by his former offensive coordinator Adam Gase, at Miami, as well as a $10M pay cheque.
Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a torn ACL during a non-contact training session, ending his season and forcing second-year head coach Gase to call on his former protégé.
Since his return, Cutler has been relaxed with media and in training, but will still want to show that he can perform at the top level, and even fight for a play-off spot in the AFC East. Having only made the play-offs once before, and with a career win-loss tally of 68-71, this year marks a great opportunity for Cutler to set the record straight.
Adrian Peterson, RB, New Orleans Saints
After 10 eventful years with the Minnesota Vikings, the NFL’s three-time rushing champion has found a new home in New Orleans, and the 32-year-old plans to blow away any cobwebs of last year’s lost season.
In Week Two of 2016, Peterson tore the meniscus in his right knee, ruling him out for the majority of the year and eventually leading to the Vikings release of the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.
Peterson is a veteran that offers Saints quarterback Drew Brees another offensive weapon, fitting into a versatile attack that already includes Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. The seven-time Pro Bowler will be hoping to lead his new team on a road that ends back in the familiar surroundings of Minnesota, AP’s former home playing host to Super Bowl LII.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders
In the end, it was the homecoming that proved too much for ‘Beast Mode’ to resist. Following his retirement after the 2015 season, Lynch struggled to stay away from the action, appearing at games as well as an odd moment in Scotland.
Having announced that the Raiders will move from Oakland to Las Vegas, the pressure is on for a team that have all the pieces to win now. Quarterback Derek Carr has led the transformation of a franchise that, before last year, hadn’t had a winning season since 2002.
Lynch embodies the Raiders’ opportunity to give their Oakland fans one last shot at the big game. Will it be a fairy tale return? Only time will tell, but it could mean Lynch is more motivated than we’ve ever seen him. If he is back to his Super Bowl-winning best, he’ll serve as a great asset.
Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks
His combative, unapologetic style has earned Sherman as many detractors as it has admirers, and it looked as though the cornerback’s time in Seattle may have been coming to an end.
Rumours circulated that the 29-year-old was a trade candidate, but nothing emerged and a key member remains with Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ for another Super Bowl campaign.
Last month, Sherman accepted a challenge from NBA legend Kobe Bryant to break the single-season interception record of 14, set by Dick Lane in 1952. Having reached eight in multiple seasons, Sherman will have to raise his game to an MVP level in order to achieve that record-breaking feat.
J.J. Watt, LB, Houston Texans
If a three-time Defensive Player of the Year player still has something to prove, then almost everyone in the NFL should be on this list, with maybe Tom Brady being the one exception.
But Watt plays every game with something to prove, and by his own admission has not yet achieved all he can in the game. Last year, he underwent back surgery twice and missed the majority of the season as the Texans lost their Divisional Round play-off tie against Brady’s New England Patriots.
With the recent damage of Hurricane Harvey acting as additional motivation, Watt is not only determined to raise money to help Houston but see the city celebrate by leading his teammates to their third consecutive post-season. His fitness is the only question that needs to be answered, but if he can stay healthy, the Texans have one of the most intimidating defences in the league.