Potential Playing Time Casualties This Season

Players come, players go; doesn’t matter if you’re Peyton Manning or Ron Dayne, everyone loses playing time as they age. Training camp enables coaches to see which young guns they can look to the future with, and which veterans can lend a helping hand to their respective teams.

Tamba Hali

Hali started 2 games at the left outside linebacker spot in Bob Sutton’s 3-4 defensive scheme, as opposed to Dee Ford starting the other 14. Stats wise, Ford registered a career best 10 sacks whereas Hali only managed 3.5, his second lowest sack total in his career (2008 – 3.0). Even though Justin Houston’s season ended premature, Hali was not made a starter in lieu of Ford. As per Pro Football Focus, Hali was still the 21st ranked pass rusher in the league due to his 43 pressures, however due to his age it’s questionable whether he could have maintained that ranking if he was named starter over Ford.

The five-time Pro Bowler has had an excellent career in Kansas City, and with 89.5 sacks in his career, moving to a situational or backup role could still lead him to the 100-sack club by the end of his playing days. A mentor role to Ford would also be a smart move by Hali. Already past his best days,

Karlos Dansby

Karlos Dansby has been for the most part, a consistent middle linebacker throughout his 13-year career. Now turning 36 this season, it may be time to pass the torch onto first round pick Haason Reddick.

Dansby, now in his third stint with the Cardinals, only started 7 out of 16 games in Cleveland last season, marking the first time he started less than 10 games in a season in his career. Back with the Cardinals, Dansby is most likely a candidate to play a situational/mentor role to Reddick, Bucannon and the rest of Arizona’s linebacking corps.

Reddick, a former defensive tackle at Temple, has been converted to middle linebacker by defensive coordinator James Bettcher, in hopes he can find another player who can play in multiple defensive fronts; Deone Bucannon was the first when he made the switch from safety to inside linebacker in 2015 while Bettcher was in his first season as coordinator.

Julius Peppers

This man right here is a first ballot Hall of Famer no questions asked. The active leader in sacks currently sits 5th all-time and can pass Chris Doleman with 7.5 sacks this year, which is not out of reach for Julius Peppers however it won’t be as a 16-game starter. He played in all 16 games last year however started only 11 games, rotating at the 3-4 OLB spot with Clay Matthews when Matthews moved to the inside.

Now back with his hometown team, he should be able to make an impact on the highly touted Carolina defense. There is a chance he starts the season as the starting defensive end, however with Mario Addison posting 6 sacks or more the past 3 seasons in only 1 start, he may take over by the end of the year should Peppers begin to lose his stride.

Matt Forte

Matt Forte will be a part of the Jets’ offense this year, but because it seems like another down season in New York, coach Todd Bowles should look to the future and make backup Bilal Powell the starter at some point during the season.

Powell put up 1110 all-purpose yards to go with 5 total touchdowns as opposed to Forte’s 1076 with 8 touchdowns; Powell performed just as good as Forte while only starting 4 games. Forte could remain the goal line back, but Powell is starting RB material and a future starter, either with the Jets or with another club.

Cap space wise, both tailbacks are signed until the end of the 2018 season, however either back could be cut should either one have a down season; should they cut Forte the Jets save $3 million, whereas if Powell gets cut, the team saves $4 million. This should be an interesting year for the Jets, as GM Mike Maccagnan has his work cut out for him to fix the distraught Jets franchise.