The CJ's are rolling on and the nominees for Comeback Player of the Year are up next. Players can fall under a number of circumstances to be eligible for this award, the most common being injury. Still, there's also the possibility of a player not playing well the prior year and redeeming himself a la Jon Kitna when he won the NFL's version of the award after the 2003 season.
So, on to the nominees.
Josh Kirkendall: Since I'm not one that tries to be different by choosing someone other than the most deserved, it's hard not to pick Leon Hall. He tears his Achilles in early November, follows through an intense rehabilitation regiment to achieve one goal, participating in the team's first training camp practice. Though a little rusty early, Hall generated multiple game-changing interceptions late in the season, a handful of touchdowns and opposing quarterback rating of 80.6. You could have made an argument for defensive player of the year if not for Geno Atkins' monstrous season.
Anthony Cosenza: I, too, have to go with Leon Hall. I had to go with him not only because of his solid season, but because of the severity of the injury he sustained in 2011. Throw in how quickly he came back from the ruptured Achilles and the fact that he even played a huge amount of snaps in the preseason and it all points to Hall. I do want to give a tip of the cap to Pat Sims from coming back from his respective terrible injury, but Hall playing effectively all season won the day for me.
Nick Crago: Leon Hall is the best choice. As Josh said, the Achilles injury had a lot of fans worried going into 2012. He could have missed the first six weeks of the season but he rehabbed well and had a great season. He made game changing plays and did a solid job covering slot receivers.
Mojokong: I'm going with Pat Sims even though the answer cheats the question. Pat missed the first half of the season and even when he did come back, he really only saw action on running downs, but his presence alone seemed to complete the puzzle for the Zim Clan and they became their brutish selves upon his return. I've been calling him the Stop-The-Run-Foundation because that's how he helps the most. Limiting the opposing ground game allowed the slowish corners more cushion which suited their skill set and elevated their play. So while Leon Hall had a better individual season, I think Pat became the most valuable comeback player of the year.
Dave Wellman: Can I nominate Nate Livings? Says ProFootballFocus: "Stud: Never let us say we can’t be wrong. Nate Livings (+11.3) had his most consistent year as a pro in Dallas, making a mark with his run blocking." Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to go kick Paul Alexander's dog.
Who gets your vote for The CJ for the Bengals' 2012 Comeback Player of the Year?