Peyton Hillis – New York Giants
There is a legitimate chance that Peyon Hillis makes this Giants roster, but something tells me he won’t. With Rashad Jennings occupying both the bruiser and the every-down back role, Hillis won’t be utilized much. He could be a solid second stringer, if speedster and coach favorite Andre Williams wasn’t on the roster. Williams has the potential to be a takeover back and is loaded with potential, which is something Giants coaching staff are not willing to risk losing due to lack of playing time. Williams has solidified himself as the Giants feature back.
The former Madden cover may not be given that third string role. Barring an injury to either of the listed backs, Hillis and his goal line specialty may get the short stick here. Not to say there is not a need for his services elsewhere, though.
Chance at making final roster: 25%
Benjarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals
That is what Green-Ellis is up against. No longer a split carry system between Bernard and BJGE, Cincinnati will have a tough decision to make this preseason. Do they keep them both and let Green-Ellis waste away on the bench and occasionally get a snap or two, or do they turn the reigns over to sophomore Giovanni Bernard, a guy loaded with Adrian Peterson-like potential.
You see, it really is not that tough. Bernard’s potential compounded with the addition of rookie bruiser Jeremy Hill (who looks very,very good this preseason/training camp) make the decision to cut ties with BJGE and his contract quite simple.
Green-Ellis has enjoyed some great success with Cincy, even being a 1,000+ yard back in just 15 games in 2012, but it may be time to look for a younger, more explosive option.
Chance at making final roster: 40%
Christian Ponder – Minnesota Vikings
Ponder has had a wild NFL career, but his days of contending for the starting spot may be over.
Ponder led the Vikings (led is used lightly here, they had AP) to the playoffs in just his second season in the league, but it all went downhill from there. An abysmal 2013 where he saw playing time in just 9 games and tossed just 7 touchdowns the whole year make him the weakest link in the Vikings three pronged quarterback dilemma.
Rookie Teddy Bridgewater and veteran Matt Cassel are in a shootout for the starting job, but it looks like the rookie will win as it stands. That makes Cassel the backup, something he is all too accustomed to. With a former starter and playoff QB at backup, there is no need for Ponder’s services in Minny.
Ponder would fit well as a backup elsewhere, such as Chicago, Dallas, or Arizona, but he is as close as it gets to being a lock for a pink slip this preseason.
Chance at making final roster: 15%
Steven Jackson – Atlanta Falcons
Perhaps my boldest pick of all in this article, Steven Jackson has been nothing but disappointment since joining the then-contender Falcons. Jackson hadn’t had a single sub-1000 yard season (excluding his rookie year) since joining the Falcons last season. The guy was hurt for four of the games, so his 543 yard total is a bit skewed, but still, even with those four games he wouldn’t have come close to 1k. He didn’t rush for more than 84 yards in a single game last year.
This Atlanta offense needs to get younger, and the retiring of Tony Gonzalez kick starts the youth movement. Speaking of youth, how about Devonta Freeman, who is coming off of 1016 yards and 14 touchdowns from the champion Florida State university. This ‘5’8 back is a darling of Atlanta coaching staff, and he may well come in and steal lots of touches anyway.
Also, Jacquizz Rodgers is still on the roster. While many find him too small and say that the “experiment has failed”, this speedster has been pretty productive for the Falcons, rushing for 332 yards and receiving 441 yards last season. While those aren’t starting back numbers, they could be in more touches. He had just 96 rushes last year, but picked up 19 first downs.
Overall, Freeman and Rodgers give the backfield a lot more explosive and provide Matt Ryan with a lot more pass catchers. Jackson’s time may not be done in the NFL, but Atlanta may no longer be his team after this preseason.
Chance at making final roster: 45%
Brandon LaFell – New England Patriots
LaFell came to New England knowing there would be competition for his job, as Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Aaron Dobson all hold close ties to Tom Brady as his primary pass catchers. All of those guys are experienced receivers who had great season last year.
LaFell and his injury woes may be at risk of missing out on the team’s final 53 man roster. The Pats may look to go for younger upside and speed than the veteran size of LaFell. I imagined LaFell to be a lock before preseason started, but after seeing Carolina cut WR Tiquan Underwood today, I don’t think any newly signed wideouts are safe right now.
Chance at making final roster: 30%