2. Jameis Winston – Quarterback
Jameis Winston set out to make a new name for himself with a new team in 2021. After signing with the Saints in 2020 and sitting a year behind Drew Brees, Winston was ready to lead his team.
After going through an unnecessary quarterback battle between himself and fellow teammate Taysom Hill, Winston was ready to take control for the rest of his professional football career.
Winston led the Saints to a record of 5-2, recording 14 touchdowns to three interceptions, 1,170 passing yards, and an overall quarterback rating of 102.8%, all before his injury in Week 8 against Tampa Bay last season.
During the second quarter, Winston was brought down by an illegal horse-collar tackle from Devin White. The result was a torn ACL as well as damage to his MCL and Winston missed the rest of the season.
Following successful surgery, Winston decided to sign back with the Saints during this past off-season on a two-year contract worth $28M per Spotrac.com
He has been aggressively rehabbing and recently was spotted throwing passes and working out without his brace. Winston has been excelling in training camp this past week. Being known for his stats in Tampa Bay as well as going out on injury against his old team is enough reason for Winston to want the most success and clear his name in 2022.
1. Michael Thomas – Wide Receiver
Michael Thomas had a historic 2019 season. Between the stat numbers and being selected as the winner of the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award, everyone thought his 2020 season would mirror his 2019 season, if not go above it. Unfortunately, Thomas’ 2020 season was slowed down by injury.
During the 2020 season home opener, Thomas was injured late in the fourth quarter with two minutes left on the clock. Thomas, who was blocking for Latavius Murray, ended up getting his left ankle rolled on by Murray and Antoine Winfield Jr.
What essentially was deemed as a high ankle sprain ended up being much more and Thomas missed a total of 10 games during the 2020 season. After two surgeries, one failed and one successful, Thomas has been aggressively rehabbing and preparing to get back on the field.
Thomas’ 2019 stats are still in the receiver history book, as he put up 149 receptions, 1,725 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. Thomas never had a season under 1,000 receiving yards until his 2020 injury, which was the first major injury of his career.
Most thought he wouldn’t ever play for New Orleans again due to the way things happened between him and former head coach Sean Payton, but newly named head coach Dennis Allen made a vow to reach out to Thomas and ensure things were mended. Thomas has been present at off-season workouts as well as rehabbing in the Saints facilities. He was cleared to participate in non-contact practice during the team’s first day of training camp this past week.
Thomas has to come in playing with a chip on his shoulder. After all, he has that mentality instilled in him. It’s a given trait for Thomas to want to be the best at what he does. Now that people have been sleeping on him, it’s up to him to be their alarm and wake them up.
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