Four players who have a lot to prove and could have big performances in NFL week 8.
Chris Cooley – TE – Washington Redksins
Tight end Chris Cooley was drafted by the Washington Redksins in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft, after coming back from a season ending injury in 2011 he was released by the Redskins in the 2012 preseason. After Fred Davis’ was ruled out for the rest of the season with an Achilles tear, Cooley was resigned by Washington. In his eight seasons at the Redskins, Cooley has been to two Pro Bowls and holds the Washington Redskins All-Time Leader in Receptions at Tight End. In his last full season Cooley had 77 receptions for 849 yards and three touchdowns. Having learned the new Reskins’ system in preseason, Cooley should be able to slot straight back in as a starter and if his knee is fully healed should see some good production.
Ryan Broyles – WR – Detroit Lions
With Nate Burleson breaking his leg against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, rookie wide reciever Ryan Broyles will need to step up if the Lions are the to find their rythim in the passing game. Taken in the second round of the draft out of the University of Oklahoma, Broyles had only been on the field for 30 snaps and one target previous to the Bears game but once Burleson was injured his production instantly stepped up. He ended the game with three catches from four targets for 51 yards and a touchdown. Broyles had 45 touchdown catches in his four years at Oklahoma with 4,586 recieving yards on 349 catches. The Lions also picked up former Browns receiver Brian Robiskie and will expect Titus Young Sr to live up to their expectations of him. With three players fighting to fill Burleson’s role it will be tough for Broyles but he has the ability to cement himself as the number 3 reciever in Detroit.
Luke Kuechly – LB – Carolina Packers
With Jon Beason’s second season in a row ending early with Beason being placed on Injured Reserve, Luke Kuechly will move to the middle linebacker position to replace the three time Pro Bowler. Rookie Kuechly was drafted out of Boston College as the ninth overall pick of this years draft, so a lot is expected of him. So far it’s been a mixed bag for Kuechly, he’s done well with 36 tackles so far this season but has no sacks or forced fumbles and will be expected to step up that element of his game in the absense of Beason. With Kuechly at the middle linebacker position he will be expected to manage the defense on the field, if he can handle that element of the game and get to the quarterback a bit more he could be one of the best linebackers in the league.
Rashad Jennings – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week 2011 rushing leader Maurice Jones Drew left the game with a foot injury that could keep him out for an extended period. In the absense of MJD, fourth year running back Jennings should have the elements around him to excel. Jennings is currently in a contract year and this is the opportunity he needs to either show the Jaguars or the rest of the league that he has what it takes to be a starting running back in the NFL. Jennings started the season top of the depth chart after MJD’s early holdout, Jennings had only eight rushing attempts while starter, picking up 31 yards for an average of 3.9 yards per carry. He took 21 carries last week against Oakland after Jones Drew’s early injury, but could only manage 44 yards and a touchdown, hopefully we’ll see more produciton out of him this week against a weak Packers run defense.