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RG3 among those likely to disappoint in 2013

The SportsXchange

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012. He is on the Buckle List in 2013.

Not to be confused with a Bucket List, this one is made up of those NFL players who figure to have a high disappointment factor in 2013, meaning their ability to meet or exceed expectations will be very difficult.

The chances are high they will buckle.

For some players this is not about their ability, but rather how high the bar has been set. For others it involves both.

RG3 is electrifying, explosive and admirably tough, but he's being set up to disappoint in his second season in the league.

Griffin might approach or even match some of his award-worthy rookie totals. However, making a recovery on par with Adrian Peterson's 2,000-yard season with a bionic knee is implausible.

Consider Griffin is not yet eight months into what is typically a nine-month recovery from his second knee reconstruction. The thigh to mid-calf black metal and neoprene knee brace on Griffin's right knee should serve as a stop sign, cautioning coach Mike Shanahan to tap the brakes on the return of Griffin.

His moxie, style of play and competitiveness are ingredients for future injury in an offense that breeds chances for reckless collisions. His health, tomorrow and in 2014, is the single-most important factor to determining the franchise's future.

As a read-option quarterback, Griffin is dangled in front of salivating defenders ready to test his mettle and flatline his fortitude. Shanahan can drill Griffin to slide, throw the ball away, avoid the type of downfield wrecks that caused his past ails, but it's not in RG3's DNA -- yet -- to give up on a play.

Because expectations for Griffin approach that of The Second Coming (of rookie RG3, of course), he is one of 10 players listed by The Sports Xchange who is likely to disappoint, if not buckle under pressure. Here now, the 2013 NFL Buckle List:

10. RG3. (see previous).

9. Wide receiver Greg Jennings, Vikings -- Paying a 30-year-old, injury-prone receiver $47.5 million over five years prompts visions of touchdowns and catches by the dozen. But the Vikings know that's not likely unless Jennings stays healthy and unproven starter Christian Ponder produces a career year. Jennings missed eight of the Packers' first 11 games last season, had abdominal surgery and returned at something less than full speed to an overcrowded wide receiver corps in Green Bay. Now the lead dog with the Vikings, he'll carry the burden of trying to replace Percy Harvin and keeping safeties from crashing the line to stop Adrian Peterson.

8. Running back Arian Foster, Texans -- We know how Foster's coach feels about the Pro Bowl running back's workload. Gary Kubiak said at the outset of training camp that Foster could handle 400-plus carries. And he should know since, counting two playoff games last year, Foster did just that in 2012. A calf injury sidelined Foster this summer, but the greater concern is having nicks, bruises and miles pile up as the season progresses only to have Foster fall flat in the postseason.

7. Cornerback Darrelle Revis, Buccaneers -- The advantage Adrian Peterson had in 2012 over Revis in 2013 wasn't medicine, superior surgeons or climate. When Peterson returned from a torn ACL on Christmas Eve to collect 26 runs of 20-plus yards and a fistful of 200-yard games last season, Peterson had this advantage -- he knew which direction he needed to go. Excessive expectations are not new to Revis. Returning from torn ligaments to shadow Pro Bowl receivers in the NFC South -- Steve Smith in Carolina, Atlanta's Roddy White and Julio Jones and Marques Colston in New Orleans -- will include speed bumps.

6. Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, Packers -- There has to be a fall guy if Green Bay's golden arm goes down, and Bulaga is a prime candidate. He's shifting from right tackle to left tackle, and while Aaron Rodgers said Bulaga looks comfortable early in training camp, will that prove true in September? Rodgers was sacked 51 times, including the postseason, last season. Bulaga's very first test out of the shoot is against All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith and the San Francisco 49ers.

5. Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, Dolphins -- It was, to some degree, a vote of confidence from coach Joe Philbin when Miami passed on Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson and drafted outside linebacker Dion Jordan with the third overall pick in the 2013 draft. Martin, a second-round pick in 2012, isn't a physical or overwhelming presence on the edge. If he can't sharpen his finesse play against bullying defensive linemen of the Patriots, Jets and Bills, the transition year expected from rebuilding last season to contending in 2013 isn't likely.

4. Wide receiver Tavon Austin, Rams -- He's a more talented receiver and game-changing weapon than Ted Ginn Jr., the ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft and one of the Miami Dolphins' biggest draft busts. But Austin hits St. Louis with demigod status, and even an average season by rookie wide receiver standards would come up shy of fan and some national media expectations. The Rams couldn't keep running back Steven Jackson or top wide receiver Danny Amendola, foisting Austin, a 5-8, 175-pound pogo stick, and free agent tight end Jared Cook into leading roles neither is ready to fill.

3. Quarterback Tony Romo, Cowboys -- What does a $108 million contract extension buy in the NFL? Romo, 33, guided Dallas to an 8-8 season in 2012, with losses in the final two regular-season games to miss the playoffs yet again. When he has been in the postseason, Romo's resume is dank. He's 1-3, with the sole victory in 2010. Now Romo has the security of a Cowboy-for-life contract without many non-statistical achievements to show for it. A capable running game and improved offensive line would be great crutches, but at some point in his career, Romo's expectations must be detached from qualifiers. At some point, if Romo is the franchise quarterback Jerry Jones suggests, the quarterback will be the one responsible for the success of those around him.

2. Wide receiver Mike Wallace, Dolphins -- The bar is pretty high for Wallace thanks to a $60 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. He had the luxury of breaking in alongside a 33-year-old Hines Ward with the Pittsburgh Steelers and blowing by single coverage with pure speed. He had 235 receptions for 4,042 yards and 32 touchdowns in four seasons in Pittsburgh, but the closer he came to No. 1 wide receiver status, the more opponents schemed for him. The 26-year-old does have 27 career catches of more than 40 yards. He said he's a leader now in Miami, though the lack of a reliable running game and change in offensive scheme bring fresh challenges. Wallace isn't known as a disciplined route-runner, and in the West Coast offense, he'll have to do a lot of the work after the catch.

1. New York Jets quarterback. Whether it is veteran Mark Sanchez or rookie Geno Smith, this is a position doomed to disappoint. The Jets don't have the star-caliber skill position help needed to allow Sanchez to revert to a game manager role. No. 1 wide receiver Santonio Holmes is on the sideline and may stay there. There are troubles at so many places on this team, no quarterback should be expected to bail them out, including Brady, Manning or Montana.
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