Who's poised for comeback season?

Updated: June 11, 2004, 9:57 AM ET
By Steve Muench | Scouts, Inc.
Expectations for Cincinnati QB Jon Kitna were fairly low heading into the 2003 season. The Bengals finished 2002 with a 2-14 record, and many felt Carson Palmer, the No. 1 overall draft pick, would replace him by midway through the year, if not sooner.

However, first-year head coach Marvin Lewis gave Kitna an opportunity, keeping Palmer on the sidelines even after the team lost four of its first five games. Kitna responded with his best professional season, tying for third in the league with 36 touchdown passes. The Associated Press rewarded Kitna by naming him the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.

There are a number of franchise-type quarterbacks who have struggled recently and are looking to bounce back from disappointing years -- Kurt Warner with the Giants; Jeff Garcia in Cleveland; Kerry Collins vying for time with Rich Gannon in Oakland; Drew Bledsoe trying to regain form in Buffalo.

A quarterback has won the comeback award each of last two years -- Pittsburgh's Tommy Maddox and Kitna, and Warner, Garcia, Collins or Bledsoe could be next. However, we've compiled a list of candidates who may not be as obvious. These are players who are coming off down years who appear poised to have strong seasons.

Some were injured. Some are in new schemes. Some have different personnel surrounding them. There are reasons to believe each could be a candidate for the award, but there also are reasons to believe they won't.

Steve Muench played four years of Division I-AA football before joining Scouts Inc. in 2002. He has evaluated both NFL and college players for Scouts Inc., but his current focus is on the NFL draft.