Rookie Martavis Bryant jumped onto the scene late last year for Pittsburgh, and the speedy outside threat racked up eight touchdowns in only 10 games of action. Considering Megatron caught eight touchdowns last year as well, that’s pretty good production for a guy that played 306 snaps (Johnson played 705).
Likewise, Matthews’ production for Philly was a huge factor last year, and the rookie out of Vanderbilt scored eight touchdowns for himself while catching 67 passes for 872 yards. Both Bryant and Matthews feel destined for stardom, but at the moment, both are more of role players for their respective offenses.
The fourth-year pro splits reps with fellow tight end Coby Fleener (he played 633 snaps to Fleener’s 812) and is more of an in-line player than his counterpart, but has shed about 13 pounds this offseason to help him become more explosive. In the target-happy environment that is Indianapolis’ offense, Allen is just one cog in the machine, but he’s a versatile player that should continue to play an important role.
Player you’ll be buzzing about: RB Carlos Hyde — The 49ers let Frank Gore walk during free agency and Hyde, who looked solid as a rookie, will take over as the feature back in what should be a run-first offense.
What to watch: Despite serious issues at the quarterback position and the fact that everyone doubted them, the Cardinals have been excellent these past two seasons. Now that Carson Palmer is healthy, everything the Cardinals do will be focused on making sure it stays that way. They had one of the worst offensive lines in the league not so long ago, but now it’s looking much improved with new addition Mike Iupati and a competition at the right tackle spot.
Most important position battle: Right tackle — As mentioned above, the Cardinals need to keep Palmer healthy, and that starts with keeping him upright in the games. Bobby Massie and first-round pick D.J. Humphries will likely battle for the spot.