2015 Chiefs’ Comeback Player of the Year candidates
Following the 2014 season, there was some thought that the nine-year defensive end was on his way out of Kansas City. Fortunately for a run defense ranked 28th in the league last year, he was able to rework his contract to stay with the Chiefs. Last offseason, a focused DeVito was noticeably svelte when camp opened.
A player with that kind of dedication knocking at 30’s door is likely to have the same resolve to bounce back from a season-long injury last year. Jaye Howard proved himself a competent starter in spots last season. He can spell DeVito and help keep him fresher for the close games sure to accompany the NFL’s seventh-toughest schedule. A now 30-year old DeVito benefits greatly from a good defensive line rotation.
Deft use of doghouses in recent years has paid dividends in Kansas City. Former head coach Todd Haley wasn’t particularly fond of Derrick Johnson or Dwayne Bowe when he arrived in Kansas City. Both of them were targeted by Haley in the early stages of a culture change at Arrowhead Stadium. Consequently, Johnson and Bowe both had career-defining performances just one year late. The same could eventually be true of Donald Stephenson.
The third-year man out of Oklahoma returned from a four-game suspension in early October, but was a healthy scratch for the remainder of the season. All has been forgiven according to general manager John Dorsey. Stephenson may be the Chiefs’ most talented young offensive lineman and he appears to have the most incentive to turn things around. The 2015 season is a contract year for Stephenson and may be his last chance to prove he can cut it as a starter in the NFL.
What would this list be without a dark horse? The 2013 Mack Lee Hill Award is an all but forgotten member of the Kansas City Chiefs secondary. The moment he lost his starting job, he seemed to become an afterthought in the Kingdom. Cornerback might now be the deepest position group on the defensive side of the football. If anything can help inspire Cooper to return to late-2013 form, it’s competition.
Cooper had a sophomore slump last year, but still has the God-given tools to be an above-average cornerback in this league. He has a physical style of play not unlike draftees Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson. Cooper’s no stranger to adversity. In the fall of 2013, he was cut by the team that drafted him (the San Francisco 49ers). He weathered that storm, made the Chiefs’ 53-man roster, and became a starter by Week 4 of the 2013 season.
Honorable mentions: Mike Catapano, Jeff Allen, Sanders Commings
What Chiefs players do you expect to rebound in 2015? Do you agree or disagree with those cited above as potential COTY candidates? Is the comeback performance of the year more likely to come from a veteran or a young player? Use the comment section below to weigh in. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.
Until next time, Addicts!