The Comeback Player of the Year award was scooped up by Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen last year after he posted a career year following an ACL injury, suffered in week 1 of 2016.
For 2018, I’m backing another Charger coming back from knee troubles to keep the Comeback award in Los Angeles for the second straight year; cornerback, Jason Verrett.
In his career, Jason Verrett has finished a season on injured-reserve three times in his four-year career. On two of those three occasions, his season was over before the end of October. His most recent injury trouble stems from when he partially tore his left ACL in week 5 of the 2016 season and has only seen the field in one game since – week 1 of last season. He didn’t finish his comeback game, complaining that his left knee didn’t feel right.
It’s been a rollercoaster career so far for Verrett with high level play and a Pro Bowl appearance, punctuated by frequently missing time due to injuries and seasons cut short on IR. There’s no doubting the former TCU standout in terms of ability, although fans such as myself have been left frustrated by what might have been had he stayed healthy. To put this in perspective, as well as ending three years on injured reserve, Verrett has appeared on the Chargers Injury report 17 times. That’s more than a full season. He’s only 27-years old. The very definition of banged up.
However, out of mini camp, Verrett reported that his knee is now, “night and day different” and that he is out of the brace he wore for the entirety of his time out last year and can, “make cuts and get in and out of breaks”.
The news on Jason Verrett and his injury all sounds very positive and he sounds like he’s getting back to his best on the field.
Chargers Defensive Co-Ordinator, Gus Bradley backed this up by telling reporters;
“…his skill set that he has, his speed, his athleticism, his change of direction, it is elite”
adding, “the way he’s working out and the way he’s practicing, he is in a really good place right now”.
All sounds very positive, doesn’t it? Bradley also noted that despite being injured last year, Verrett was in all of the defensive meetings and is “a student of the game”. So, it sounds like Bradley Doesn’t expect the 5th year coverman to miss a beat and nor do I.
Verrett is preparing for the season well and is getting back to being fully healthy, can we expect to see him back playing at a high level in 2018?
My answer to this would be that there’s no reason not to expect that. Talent has never been in question for Verrett and now Los Angeles has an elite DC in Bradley, who will maximize each and every one of his starters and always puts them in a position to succeed and to make big plays. It’s now just a case of looking after his body and staying healthy. Obviously the NFL is a tough league to play in but I feel like given the frequency of past injuries, that with each one, a player gains more understanding on how to look after their bodies.
Looking at the wider picture, the whole Chargers defence looks pretty stacked too, especially in the secondary. This could present the problem of Verrett actually taking the field, especially given the excellent form of Trevor Williams last year. However, I believe Bradley will have the flexibility to use his corners to nullify the opposition how he sees fit, rather than having two defined outside corners with a definite slot and dime corner. So no matter what, Verrett should see plenty of action. On the front end, the pass rush that the Chargers possess feeds the corners with the pressure they apply to opposing quarterbacks. Verrett has had a nose for the ball in the past so could be a beneficiary of the havoc wreaked by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. I’m sure number 22 will be looking for picks and then to use his speed to potentially take it back for 6.
So with all this in mind, if Verrett can stay healthy for the vast majority of, if not all the season, if he can be a part of a successful Chargers team and defense. If he can accumulate a good amount of splash plays, I think Jason Verrett could be the NFL Comeback Player of the Year 2018.
– Lee Wakefield is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @Wakefield90