Monday, July 27, 2009

lt2, romo top list of players on the hot seat

Mike Florio weighs in for The Sporting News on ten players who should be feeling the heat this year. Double-edged sword for your fantasy team. These guys have something to prove, but if they fail - it could be the end of the line.
10-Pack: These players should feel the heat in '09
It's time for several veterans, including McNabb, Tomlinson and Bush, to put up or shut up

As camps begin to open, there's no shortage of articles focusing on specific issues facing NFL teams.

Let's take a look at specific players and the real pressure they're facing in 2009.

Pressure to perform. Pressure to validate their salaries. Pressure to stay in the cities where their careers unfolded. Pressure to craft their legacies.

Here are 10 of them (in no particular order):

1. Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Earlier this year, it appeared L.T. was going to get the Shaun Alexander treatment in San Diego. Somehow, the Chargers and the 2006 league MVP worked out a compromise that keeps him around at likely more money than he'd make anywhere else.

But it's by no means an arrangement that will allow Tomlinson to retire in San Diego. To force another year of big money from the Chargers, he must have another big season — and to find a way to stay healthy come January.

L.T. says turning 30 won't diminish his skills. If he's right, he'll be the exception to the rule.

If he's wrong, '09 likely will be his last season in San Diego, and possibly his last in the NFL.

2. Cowboys QB Tony Romo
The Cowboys have admitted they cut receiver Terrell Owens to clear out the primary impediment to Romo's genuine leadership.

If Romo were a genuine leader, he would have found a way to get Owens under control.

Romo, who was undrafted and who has achieved more than he or anyone else ever dreamed possible, seems content with his level of success.

He'd better find a way to raise his threshold for contentment in '09. With Owens gone, so are the excuses. Romo must take the team to the playoffs and must win at least one game when he gets there.

Otherwise, Romo could be done in Dallas. Sure, owner Jerry Jones will say he fully intends to keep Romo, no matter how bad it gets.

After all, that's what Jones said about T.O.

3. Bills QB Trent Edwards
In two short years, Edwards has displaced a first-round pick and has claimed the starting job in Buffalo. But toppling J.P. Losman was easy compared to what's coming.

You see, there's a new sheriff in Buffalo. And his name isn't Reggie Hammond.

It's Terrell Owens.

The fans adore T.O. In their eyes, the fact he has rescued the franchise from a decade of irrelevance excuses in advance any problems he might cause. Owens has plenty of influence over the fan base, which means Edwards had better keep T.O. happy.

4. Rams QB Marc Bulger
The veteran St. Louis quarterback hasn't done much the past two seasons to earn the huge contract he signed nearly two years ago.

With a general manager and a head coach who have both arrived since the money was paid to Bulger, he knows the time to make a difference is now.

With Michael Vick soon available, Bulger's window of opportunity might have shrunk from a year to a month. If the Rams sign Vick, Bulger would have to do enough during Vick's season-opening suspension to justify keeping Vick on the bench once he's cleared to play.

With or without Vick, if Bulger doesn't turn things around quickly he could find himself benched in favor of career underachiever Kyle Boller.

5. Bears QB Jay Cutler
Well, he got what he wanted: He forced a trade out of Denver, and he'll likely get a big, fat contract before too long.

Now, he has to deliver.

Cutler will have to overcome the reality that Chicago's receivers aren't as good as they were in Denver. Then again, maybe the quarterback had a lot to do with the quality of the wideouts? Either way, we'll find out soon the answer to this chicken-and-egg riddle.

For Cutler's sake, he'd better hope that great quarterbacks dramatically improve the output of otherwise mediocre pass catchers.
Click here for the other five...

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