The Comeback Player of the Year award: a staple of resiliency, a reflection of one’s hard work and dedication to getting back to their former form, an exemplification of one’s character.
There have been several players in recent memory to overcome injuries or mediocre statistics and evolve into a much better athlete. This season is no different as some players are already starting to stand out.
In no particular order, here are some early candidates for Comeback Player of the Year:
QB- Ben Roethlisberger (PIT): 1,016 passing yards, 10 TDs, 1 INT
After sustaining a season-ending right elbow injury in the second game of the 2019 season, Big Ben is in the midst of a comeback for not only himself, but for the entire Pittsburgh team as well. It was up in the air what the true expectations were for Roethlisberger going into the season, but he has lived up to any and all standards.
The Steelers have a clean 4-0 record while leading a tough AFC North division. While it is too early to tell, Pittsburgh looks primed for a playoff appearance after just missing out the year before. He will have some tough matchups against the Ravens and Browns, but the 38-year-old looks ready for the challenge.
If the Steelers can pull off a division title, it will add to an already convincing case for Big Ben as CPOY.
RB- Alvin Kamara (NO): 281 yards (rushing), 4 TDs, 395 yards (receiving), 3 TDs
After putting up a pedestrian 800 rushing yards and 6 total touchdowns last season, Kamara is back to playing at a superstar level and proving why he is one of the best players in the game.
He has been a staple of this New Orleans offense, being forced to carry the offensive workload with the injury of star wide receiver Michael Thomas.
He is not only tearing it up on the ground, but in the receiving game as well with over 300 receiving yards. Kamara is currently on pace for 1,284 rushing yards and 12 TDs, a worthy enough performance for this award.
QB- Cam Newton (NE): 714 yards (passing), 2 TDs, 149 yards (rushing), 4 TDs
Newton is having a fantastic season in his first year with the Patriots. Signing with the team on a cheap one-year prove-it deal, he is putting the league on notice with his play and making front offices look very foolish.
Newton’s 2019 season with Carolina ended early when he was put on the IR with a nagging foot injury, but he is holding up just fine in 2020. Although he was not able to play in New England’s week four game in Kansas City due to testing positive for COVID-19, he should be back fairly soon.
The Patriots have not skipped a beat transitioning from Tom Brady to Newton, and they will look to make another postseason run with a new MVP at the helm. Overall, Cam has looked very good for the contract he is on and will be deserving of a bigger deal this offseason.
QB- Alex Smith (WAS)
This is not about the stats. This is not about the flashy plays. After suffering a gruesome injury that almost left his leg amputated in 2018, no one ever thought Alex Smith would play again.
Miraculously, Smith was cleared to practice in August and was named as backup after coach Ron Rivera benched starter Dwayne Haskins after week four. After 17 surgeries and countless hours of rehabilitation, Smith was able to get back out on the field in week five against the Los Angeles Rams.
He hung in there well and survived a few sacks along the way as it was a touching moment for himself and the rest of the league to get to see him back out there. Time will tell if Smith will take over starting duties for Washington or get a future starting job again in the NFL, but we probably have not seen the last of him.
This game alone puts Smith in contention for the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2020.