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5 NFL stars Who must recover What they Lost-----Cromartie


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Five NFL stars who must recover what they lost

Cutler, Haynesworth, Palmer, Jacobs among those who stunk in 2009

090913_BearsPackers2_AP_v.widec.jpg Jim Prisching / AP

Jay Cutler is one of five NFL stars who need a strong 2010 season, writes Clifton Brown.

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OPINION

By Clifton Brown

<A href="http://www.sportingnews.com/">sporting-news2.standard.gif</A itxtvisited="1"> updated 5:39 p.m. ET, Sun., June 6, 2010

When the Redskins spent big money on Albert Haynesworth, they expected big things. Instead, Haynesworth has been a huge disappointment.

He was nowhere close to being a dominant defensive tackle last season, and the Redskins finished 4-12. Now Haynesworth has miffed management, coaches and teammates by staying away from offseason workouts and refusing to embrace the Redskins' switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense.

"I don't think Albert understands, or cares to understand, the role he could play in the Redskins' scheme," former Redskins quarterback and longtime TV analyst Joe Theismann said. "He gets a ton of money to play football. I don't know where in his contract it says, 'I will only play in a 4-3 defense.' I think everybody is questioning his commitment to the football team, and rightfully so."

With a mandatory minicamp (June 16-18) approaching, it's unclear whether Haynesworth will buy in or try to force his way out of Washington. But as offseason workouts continue, here's a look at Haynesworth and four other players who need to play more like stars than they did in 2009:

Albert Haynesworth, DT, Redksins

No matter where Haynesworth lines up in the 3-4, the Redskins would be foolish not to give him freedom to use his rare combination of power and agility. That is another reason Haynesworth should have attended minicamps. If he had, he may have found a comfort zone in the new defense by now.

"I think you should buy in and see how it works before you reject something," ESPN analyst and former NFL defensive end Marcellus Wiley said. "That's why you have OTAs and offseason workouts—to get a feel for changes. I think that's why you're hearing comments from some of his teammates, wishing he was working out with them. They just want him to give it a shot."

Haynesworth has the talent to play well in any system, but he must also have the right mindset. Re-establishing himself as a dominant defensive player is the best way for Haynesworth to silence critics questioning his desire.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets

In 2007 with the Chargers, Cromartie had 10 interceptions and was one of the league's top corners. But his play hasn't approached that level since, and he can't hide in New York playing opposite Jets star Darrelle Revis.

Nobody picks on Revis, so Cromartie could be busier than a Manhattan traffic cop this season. If he is still an elite corner, Cromartie will have plenty of opportunities to make plays. If he isn't, he will be picked on.

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears

In 2008 with the Broncos, he led the AFC in passing yards. In 2009 with the Bears, Cutler led the NFL in interceptions. Much of the Bears' immediate future hinges on Cutler playing like a franchise quarterback.

"If there's one guy that I'm curious about, he's the guy," Theismann said. "Of all the 32 starting quarterbacks, this is the year Jay Cutler needs to move into an elite category, a consistent level of play, not the erratic level that we've seen."

Cutler has become the project of new Bears coordinator Mike Martz. Though I remain skeptical about the Martz-Cutler marriage, Theismann believes it will work.

Brandon Jacobs might be on the downside of his career after years of punishing running.

"I expect him (Cutler) to have a terrific year," Theismann said. "Mike Martz is very demanding, but he's also a dynamic play-caller. I think the Bears will be a team that can challenge for the division title."

ALSO ON THIS STORY

Pompei: Haynesworth now and unwanted man

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants

After averaging 5 yards per carry in '07 and '08, Jacobs fell to just 3.7 yards per carry and 835 yards in 2009. Jacobs underwent offseason knee surgery and has vowed to be a 1,000-yard back again. The Giants need him to be. After leading the league in rushing in 2008, when they won the NFC East, they fell to 17th last season and failed to make the playoffs.

Because Jacobs turns 28 in July and has absorbed and delivered a lot of punishing hits, it's fair to wonder if his best days are already past. The Giants had myriad problems on both sides of the ball in 2009, but a return to star form by Jacobs would improve their chances of returning to the playoffs.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals

From 2005 through 2007, Palmer was one of the league's most prolific quarterbacks, completing at least 320 passes and throwing for at least 3,800 yards and 26 touchdowns each season.

Palmer may never reach those numbers again because the Bengals are no longer a pass-happy team. But they need Palmer to play better than he did during last season's playoff loss to the Jets, when he missed open receivers several times.

Not that Palmer was solely at fault. With Revis all but making Chad Ochocinco disappear, the Jets made it painfully clear that the Bengals needed more weapons.

"If you're going to throw the football—and you have to at this level—you need receivers," Theismann said. "Have they done enough to help Carson Palmer? I don't know. When you're a quarterback who feels he has to make up for inadequacies, you force yourself to do things that create problems."

The Bengals drafted tight end Jermaine Gresham and acquired veteran wide receiver Antonio Bryant, hoping they can take some defensive attention away from Ochocinco. We know Palmer is good. But for the Bengals to win the AFC North again and advance in the playoffs, Palmer will have to be special.

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I love it when these writers unfamiliar with the Jets say that teams don't pick on Revis. Rex made them pick on him. He had over 100 targets in 2009.

That stuck out for me as well. When Rex moves him to wherever the #1 WR is, opponents had little choice. Most likely, people who don't actually watch the team assume that he shut down so many top WR's because he wasn't challenged.

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I love it when these writers unfamiliar with the Jets say that teams don't pick on Revis. Rex made them pick on him. He had over 100 targets in 2009.

+1

For some reason Im really worried about Jacobs. I really like this guy, brutal hitter and hard to tackle. But if they keep bouncing him to the outside when he runs he'll never avg. over 4yds per carry again. He needs to blast up the middle much more.

I'm not a big Jacobs fan (other than the number) but the Giants had some injuries on the O line in '09. They also are getting old. There has been some talk about moving Diehl back to G and sitting Seubert down with Beatty at LT. Diehl has been a liability over there. That may help the interior running game you were worried about.

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Bears need to sign Owens to a one year deal like a month ago. He's not done. He had 829 yards and 5 tds last season with awful QB's throwing to him and an inept coaching staff calling the plays. He'd be ideal for Cutler - at least for 1 season.

That's just what Lovie needs to save his job. TWO divas on offense. On second thought, hell, why not.

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That stuck out for me as well. When Rex moves him to wherever the #1 WR is, opponents had little choice. Most likely, people who don't actually watch the team assume that he shut down so many top WR's because he wasn't challenged.

Me too, For a guy that should have been the defensive player of the year, that only occurs because the guy makes plays. In order to make plays you have to be thrown at...

Come on Man......

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