Looking Ahead to 2013: Players and Issues to Get on the Radar

Jan 04, 2013
Looking Ahead to 2013: Players and Issues to Get on the Radar

During Thursday night's (3 Jan.) broadcast of the FootballDiehards on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, co-host Mike Dempsey and I were joined by beat reporters covering the four teams appearing in Saturday's Wildcard Playoff games. Yes, we discussed the matchups at hand. But we also got a chance to dig a little deeper and look ahead to the 2013 season.

Here are some key nuggets from the show:

In talking to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, the discussion turned to the team's plans going forward at wide receiver. Clearly A.J. Green is locked in as the clear-cut No. 1 for the foreseeable future. So what's the plan for the complementary spots? According to Hobson, Marvin Jones will open next season as the starter opposite Green with Mohamed Sanu working out of the slot.

Pressed as to Sanu's strong (albeit brief run) as the starter before he was hurt, Hobson indicated that coaches feel the former Syracuse standout's versatility is best utilized in the slot (and as a multi-position threat who's capable of running out of the backfield and throwing the ball -- as evidenced by his surprise touchdown pass against the Redskins in Week 3 this season).

Indeed, Sanu scored at least a touchdown a week (and two in one week) during a three-game run as the starter before a fractured foot ended his season.

As for Jones, Hobson told us the speedy youngster was the star of training camp and was developing as expected when a knee injury slowed that progress. That jibes with other local reporting at the time indicating that coaches were planning to expand his role in the offense for the Week 7 game against Pittsburgh. But when the offense got the ball for first time that night, Jones wasn’t on the field. He had been blocking on a kickoff return when another player ran into his right knee and almost bent it to the ground.

Jones returned for the Nov. 25 game against the Raiders and has started the rest of the season. While the early results were mixed, Jones flashed his potential over the last two games, pulling in 10 of 12 passes thrown his way for 110 yards and a touchdown.

With a solid trio of Green, Jones and Sanu at wideout, a talented but as yet underutilized Jermaine Gresham at tight end and a solid (if unspectacular) BenJarvus Green-Ellis providing a serviceable rushing attack, look for Andy Dalton to continue progressing -- to the point he's more "Red Rifle" than "Red-Headed Step Child."

PackerReport.com's Bill Huber also joined us and when the discussion turned to Greg Jennings' future with the club, Huber noted that paying top dollar at a position already loaded with talent isn't the general manager Ted Thompson's modus operandi.

Remember: Jennings, who becomes an unrestricted free agent, will turn 30-years-old in September and his next deal will likely be his last lucrative, long-term contract. He recently told reporters that he would consider the Franchise tag as a "slap in the face."

With younger, less-proven players at the position reeling in $8-10 million annually, it's safe to say Jennings will be looking for more. I think it's equally safe to say the Packers won't be the ones cutting that check.


The Dolphins could have as much as $46.8 million in salary-cap space at their disposal in the coming months and owner Stephen Ross has made it clear that landing a high-end wideout is a priority (again) for his club.

Whatever the case, look for Jennings to be plying his trade elsewhere next season. ...

Adam Wexler from SportsTalk790 in Houston joined us for Texans talk and when the subject turned to players on the rise, the first name he tossed out was DeVier Posey.

Posey, a third-round pick, had three catches for 46 yards in the 29-17 victory over Indianapolis in Week 15. Coaches were hoping that was a breakout game for Posey, who left Ohio State after a junior year in which he was suspended for 10 games.

But he responded with only one catch for six yards in the 23-6 loss to Minnesota and also came up small in the regular-season closer against Indy.

Still, with Kevin Walter known more for his downfield blocking than his play-making ability, the Texans need somebody to step up. Even with Lestar Jean flashing more potential in that regard this season, Wexler believes Posey will be the man to watch this summer. ...

And finally, 1500ESPN.com's Tom Pelissero stopped by to talk about Vikings WR Percy Harvin, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Dec. 5 because of a complete ligament tear in his left ankle, remains in Florida while his team prepares for its first-round playoff game. The fact Harvin has elected to rehab the injury away from Minnesota seems to be just fine with head coach Leslie Frazier.

"It's purely up to him," Frazier said Wednesday. "If he wanted to be around, he can be around. It doesn't concern us."

Frazier said the team's head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman is monitoring Harvin's rehab from the injury suffered on Nov. 4 in a loss at Seattle. Frazier added that he has not talked to Harvin of late. "Not lately, not lately," Frazier said.

Those detecting an unusual lack of interest from the coach might not be far off the mark.

In case you missed it, in the same game Harvin was injured, television cameras caught the volatile receiver waving his arms and screaming at Frazier on the sideline over his frustration with the Vikings' struggling offense.

Tom explained during his visit with us, that Harvin and Frazier had another heated exchange weeks later in front of some players and staff members. Pelissero went on to stress that Frazier is not a man who likes airing issues in public (nor is his apparent lack of general intensity something that carries over into his private dealings with his team).

According to Pelissero, that last incident was sufficiently impassioned some inside and outside the building believed that, and not the ankle, was the driving force behind Harvin's trip to IR.

Harvin's ongoing issues date back to the Brad Childress era, when he and then-head coach Childress went at it on multiple occasions (including one that took place in the team's weight room and in which Harvin threw a weight at Childress).

You'll recall that Harvin also demanded -- pretty much out of the clear blue -- a trade during the Vikings' mini-camp in June. Harvin admitted in early October he had issues with the offense.

Harvin will be entering the last season of his rookie contract next year and is due to make $1.55 million, plus a workout bonus of $27,500. Harvin almost certainly will be looking for a long-term extension this offseason and there is no guarantee the Vikings will want to reward him with one.

Nobody is arguing Harvin's value to the offense. Despite playing in only nine games, Harvin still leads the Vikings with 62 receptions -- nine more than tight end Kyle Rudolph and 22 more than Michael Jenkins, who ranks second among the team's wide receivers with 40 -- for 677 yards and three touchdowns (in addition to a rushing touchdown and a kickoff returned for another score).

Despite all that, Pelissero considers Harvin 50-50 to return to Minnesota this season. His future with the club will clearly be one of the offseason's biggest stories.


You can catch the Bob Harris on FootballDiehards on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio every Saturday night throughout the offseason on Sirius Channel 210 and XM Channel 87. Check listings for times.

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