#1 Trindon Holliday - This is by far the biggest "agree to disagree" player that I wrote about. That's because I said that I didn't want to see him playing in the Pre-Season. I said that the risk of injury to him is just too costly until the games mean something. Ask Baltimore about how badly injuries to prominent players hurt. With that in our rear view mirror, I'm still claiming that I don't want to put him in harm's way until the games count. Unfortunately for this article, this player receives an N/A because we haven't played a game yet. One note of concern for me is that he still has ball security issues. Any thoughts of him being an actual WR should be put to rest right this instant. He can't catch the ball consistently enough to be even considered a viable offensive option. Also, out of all the return men, he is the only one who grunts as he catches it, almost as if someone just punched him in the gut. He does this every single time he catches a punt/kick. I wonder if that's why he has ball security issues? If he's grunting like the ball is hurting him upon impact, he might have mental jitters when it comes to the desire to actually catch the ball... kinda like hesitation because he knows he's about to feel a twinge of pain. That's all speculation, but that's what my eyes (and more importantly, ears) tell me.
#2 Montee Ball - I said that I wanted Ball to be a beast and take the starting job by the horns and never look back. I set a very high bar for him by saying that I wanted him to have Terrell Davis type rookie production. I did say that I fully expect Knowshon Moreno to start the season, but for Ball to take over after a few weeks. Well, is he proving to be a Training Camp stud? Yes and No. He's been amazing and caught national attention for being a draft steal, but once the pads came on, he's been having a harder time breaking free. Is he getting 3-4 yards per carry in pads? Yes, but to be the stud I want him to be, he needs to be doing better than that, or start breaking off longer 10+ runs. While it's way too soon to really form an opinion on him, so far, he's behind my projections. The bright light at the end of that tunnel is that Ball is getting more and more opportunities as camp goes on, AND, the OL is still very much a fluid situation (meaning that we shouldn't expect much even if he is a stud because nobody can be a stud until the OL situation simmers down).
#3 Robert Ayers - I wanted to see Ayers step up and replace Dumervil player for player so that we wouldn't miss him at all. So far, so good.... sorta. Ayers is by far better than Dumervil ever was and ever could be in the running game. That is no surprise as he always has been. It's the pass rushing aspect that I really wanted to see him shine in. From what I can see, Ayers isn't quite at Dumervil's level, but he isn't exactly a slouch either. Ayers lacks that explosive 1st step at the snap. Because of that, he's slow to get out of his stance so by the time he makes contact, cracks in the coverage that Dumervil would have squeaked through are closed up. When Ayers gets 1 on 1 blocking, he's really good. But we all know that Ayers won't always draw 1 on 1 blocking. He needs to work on that 1st step of his. If he can fix that, he'll be a direct replacement for Dumervil.
#4 Steven Johnson - I wanted Johnson to step up and push Nate Irving out of the starting Middle Linebacker job. I hedged my bet by saying that I thought Irving would keep his starting job, but get concussed and Johnson would replace him and never look back. I pretty much dismissed Bradley Stewart during all of this because I honestly believed that the coaches wanted it to be Irving #1, Johnson #2. So what has happened so far? Well, to put it quite simply, Irving is the best MLB that we have. He is better than Johnson and Stewart like we all assumed. I still expect Irving to start, but Johnson backing him up is in doubt. Stewart is getting more reps with the 1st and 2nd team than Johnson, but just barely. Johnson is picking up the mental aspects of the game, and I still expect him to eventually be our starting MLB, but it might not be this year. Middle Linebacker is quite the competition as all 3 are very capable. However, Irving is just a bit better than Stewart and Johnson. I'm still hopeful though. We shall see how the games shake out.
#5 John Fox - Still far too early to tell as is the case with Holliday. I want to see some pre season games first, however, Fox does seem to want to go up by multiple touchdowns in the first quarter, so that's definitely a step in the right direction. The thing with Fox though is that he can talk a great game; It's him walking the walk that is always his Achilles Heal. Lets all wait for the pre season games to start shaking out before we start grading him.