K Dan Bailey (Dallas): The only thing missing from a three-year resume is a long overdue trip to the Pro Bowl. The Southwest Covenant product has converted a remarkable 90.8 percent of his field-goal attempts (89 of 98). Bailey was close-to-perfect (28-of-30) last season and also nailed four field goals 50 yards or longer.
WR Justin Blackmon (Jacksonville): The two-time Biletnikoff award winner, the fifth pick of the 2012 draft, is serving an indefinite suspension after his third violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy and is on the team’s reserve/suspended by commissioner list. He showed promise when he caught 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns two years ago, but Blackmon must prove he can stay clean just to get another opportunity.
WR Dez Bryant (Dallas): A highlight-reel playmaker and one of the top receivers in the NFL, Bryant the past two seasons has hauled in 92 and 93 receptions (185 total catches) for 2,615 yards and 25 touchdowns. He’s made some occasional poor off-the-field decisions and has a lightning-rod personality, but Bryant is on the verge of a monster contract.
CB Perrish Cox (San Francisco): Cox once again is in the 49ers’ plans as a slot cornerback and punt returner. Last year was a whirlwind for Cox, who began the season with the Seahawks and was later cut. Late in the season, Cox signed with the 49ers, the team that originally drafted him. Over three seasons, Cox has compiled 83 tackles in 40 games.
CB Justin Gilbert (Cleveland): The Browns traded up to nab Gilbert with the No. 8 overall pick. Gilbert signed a four-year $12.8 million deal and is expected to start immediately. How the rookie cornerback from OSU fares against veteran NFL receivers will be one of Cleveland’s top story lines as the rebuilding project continues.
OT Parker Graham (Baltimore): An undrafted free agent, Graham started 31 games at OSU. He was listed at the bottom of the depth chart during camp, but the fact that he started the preseason finale is a sign he could figure into the Ravens’ future plans.
OT Corey Hilliard (Detroit): In the past seven years he’s appeared in 46 games, primarily as a reserve, but Hilliard has started 12 games, including seven last year with Detroit.
OT Charlie Johnson (Minnesota): A player who arrived at OSU as a tight end has carved out a nice career. Johnson is in his ninth NFL season, his fourth with the Vikings. In the past eight years Johnson has played in 120 games, including 101 starts. Johnson remains the Lions’ starting left guard after starting 15 games last season.
OT Russell Okung (Seattle): When he’s been on the field, he’s been very good. The sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Okung has missed 19 games due to injuries in his first four seasons, including eight last year. But when he’s healthy, Okung is a Pro Bowl caliber beast in the Seahawks’ pounding offense.
CB Tyler Patmon (Dallas): An undrafted free agent, Patmon made a strong impression with two interceptions in one preseason game and a forced fumble in another. His chances of making the roster improved when second-year safety Jakar Hamilton was suspended the first four games, but Patmon has shown he could be a free-agent steal.
TE Brandon Pettigrew (Detroit): The Lions selected a tight end (Eric Ebron) in the first round, which clouds his future in Detroit, but Pettigrew remains the starting tight end. A solid two-way player who is a plus in the running game, Pettigrew had compiled 284 career receptions for 2,828 yards and 16 touchdowns, although his 41 catches last year was his lowest total since his rookie season.
RB Joseph Randle (Dallas): Randle fought off competition to earn a backup role behind DeMarco Murray. In his rookie season, Randle, a fifth-round draft pick, rushed for 164 yards and also snared eight receptions. He’s listed as the No. 3 back but remains an option if Murray is injured.
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