Comeback Player of the Year is an award usually given to a guy who suffered a serious injury and had a strong bounce back season. In 2016, that guy was Jordy Nelson, a receiver who tore his ACL in the preseason and returned the following year to catch 97 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The year before that it was Eric Berry, a guy who missed time due to his battle with cancer. He beat it and came back to play a full 16-game season — one in which he finished with 61 total tackles, two interceptions, and 10 pass breakups. Though it’s a similar narrative year in and year out, it doesn’t make the stories any less inspiring. Check out this list of potential candidates I think might be next.
Adrian Peterson was the Comeback Player of the Year in 2012 after he bounced back from a torn ACL and MCL in just eight months. AP was named league MVP as well that season thanks to a career year that nearly saw him break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing yards record. Peterson got injured again in 2016, tearing his meniscus in Week 2. He’s not the same dominant force he was in 2012, but if there’s anyone who can come back strong, it’s Adrian Peterson.
Coming into training camp, there were many concerns that Giovani Bernard wasn’t going to be ready for the beginning of the regular season. Gio, who tore his knee in November, actually saw preseason action in his usual third down role. There’s still the issue of the Bengal backfield being overly crowded. I still think Gio will get his compliment of third-down and passing play touches regardless of who emerges in the early down role.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year is a favorite to win both awards this season. Watt underwent season-ending back surgery to repair a herniated disk. It’s certainly an injury that is hard to come back from, however, Watt is arguably one of the greatest defensive players of all-time. Now that fellow edge rusher Jadaveon Clowney has shown how dangerous he can be, offensive lines won’t be able to key in on Watt, giving him plenty of room to do what he does best — get after the quarterback.
I think that if Teddy Bridgewater starts a game this season, he’s almost guaranteed to win the award. Bridgewater shredded his knee in training camp on a non-contact play a year ago — an injury people thought he would never recover from. Bridgewater was seen taking part in throwing drills and appears to be well on his way to recovery. He won’t be ready to start the season, and some even believe the Vikings might hold him out entirely. But a November return is possible.