Training camps are just around the corner, and after that comes the 2022 NFL season. It'll be a pivotal year for all the teams who spent big this offseason to upgrade premium positions like quarterback and wide receiver. But what about the teams dependent on overlooked or rehabilitating big names? Everyone loves a good comeback story, and we've got a few in mind for 2022.
Here are 10 players especially poised for bounce-back seasons:
Colts QB Matt Ryan
He hasn't led a winning team in five years, and his numbers were perfectly mediocre for a rebuilding Falcons team in 2021. Now, even if his arm doesn't find new life at 37, he should be rejuvenated by the fresh scenery. With Jonathan Taylor behind him and a solid defense on his side, he should be able to settle in as the point guard for a playoff contender.
Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence
The former No. 1 overall pick is still bound for growing pains, but everything around him is better in 2022. The line is improved with Brandon Scherff now on the interior, the skill groups are at least deeper, and best of all, his head coach is now an ally. It'll be hard for Lawrence not to take a step forward under Doug Pederson after a listless rookie year.
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Titans RB Derrick Henry
King Henry still hit 937 rushing yards in 2021 despite missing eight games, but as a former 2,000-yard back, he's capable of so much more. And he should be back to a heavy workload as the focal point of their offense, especially with QB Ryan Tannehill navigating a remodeled passing offense and under pressure to deliver on a playoff run.
Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins
After missing the entire 2021 season with an ACL tear, the former Ohio State back should be the featured option in an always-busy Ravens backfield. He was remarkably efficient as a rookie (805 yards, 6.0 yards per carry, nine touchdowns) in part because he shared touches, but Baltimore appears to be doubling down on its run-first approach.
Jaguars RB Travis Etienne
After losing his entire rookie season to injury, the Clemson product is angling to be a Deebo Samuel-type hybrid in Jacksonville, and with RB1 James Robinson recovering from his own injury, the opportunity should be there. That's doubly the case under new coach Doug Pederson, who likes to deploy multiple backs as QB safety valves.
Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
One of the bargain additions of free agency, JuJu proved more steady than spectacular even before a shoulder injury sidelined him for 12 games in his Steelers sendoff. But steadiness is just fine for Kansas City, where he should quickly emerge as a high-volume target for Patrick Mahomes now that Tyreek Hill is out of the picture. He's due to really escalate his market.
Saints WR Michael Thomas
If this guy can just get on the field, he's got a clear path back to big numbers. The former all-star possession wideout has played all of seven games the last two years, but if he's still got the route-running juice, he should be the No. 1 outlet for Jameis Winston. The additions of Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry out wide only stand to create opportunities.
Titans WR Robert Woods
Maybe one of the most severely underrated acquisitions of the year, Woods for more than four years was arguably the Rams' steadiest pass catcher. He doesn't match the explosiveness of A.J. Brown, since departed, but his savviness off the line should make him an early and frequent favorite of Ryan Tannehill, especially if Treylon Burks doesn't emerge immediately.
Rams WR Allen Robinson
They're certainly paying him handsomely to rebound, but it makes sense. While A-Rob isn't necessarily an elite No. 1 at this stage of his career, it's safe to assume the Bears' woes were largely to blame for his stark regression in 2021. This is a guy who had back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons prior to that, and now he'll have Matthew Stafford targeting him opposite Cooper Kupp.
Vikings OLB Danielle Hunter
Six sacks in seven games is good stuff, but Hunter didn't play after suffering a pectoral injury in 2021, marking the second straight year he finished a season on injured reserve. Switching to the 3-4 could come with lumps, but with Za'Darius Smith now part of the rotation and Harrison Phillips also plugged in up front, he should be freed up to get after QBs yet again.