We’re officially a quarter of the way through the NFL season, which means all the bad asses serving four-game suspensions for various violations and offenses will be returning to the field this coming Sunday.
Just what the doctor ordered for many teams. Here are a few of the key players who will be seeing their first minutes of the season this week:
Greg Hardy & Rolando McClain—Yeah, two of the Dallas Cowboys best defensive players were serving suspensions while their two best offensive players were recovering from injury. Hardy and McClain couldn’t have picked a better time either. Half of the Cowboys roster seems to be recuperating from something, and Sean Lee has a concussion, so the return of one of the top pass rushers in the league and a commanding linebacker should be just what the Cowboys need to…well, not lose to teams like the New Orleans Saints.
Sheldon Richardson—Richardson is still dealing with that whole resisting arrest and child endangerment thing, but unless the NFL says otherwise he is eligible to take the field this week. Saying that Richardson is an immediate improvement to a New York Jets defense which has already been relatively scary is an understatement. Tom Brady better get ready.
Martavis Bryant—Y’all didn’t forget about Antonio Brown’s little brother, did you? The Pittsburgh Steelers speedster couldn’t have picked a better time to come back (well, unless not getting suspended counts as an option…) with Michael Vick taking the reins at quarterback for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Bryant was on the verge of becoming a top-tier receiver last season, so hopefully he can help Vick rather than be hindered by him.
Antonio Gates—Somewhere Philip Rivers is crying with joy at the thought of having his old buddy back on the field with him. Stevie Johnson is having hamstring issues and Malcolm Floyd has a concussion from this past Sunday, so Gates is another player that couldn’t have had better timing. Rivers desperately needs his go-to tight end back on the field, and assuming Gates still has it in him, it isn’t too late for the Chargers to bounce back from a sloppy 2-2 start.