Oft-injured San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon received some high praise from teammate Kyle Juszczyk on Tuesday when the fullback said the 28-year-old "has looked phenomenal" in camp. McKinnon has missed the past two seasons with knee injuries -- an ACL tear cost him the 2018 season and a setback to the injury kept him sidelined for the entire 2019 campaign. He hasn't seen game action since he played in the NFC title bout as a member of the Minnesota Vikings in early 2018.
It's been a long road to recovery for McKinnon, but he's not the only player looking to bounce back after a long layoff. So, as the start of the 2020 campaign nears, we ask this question:
Which player returning from injury do you most want to succeed this season?
NATE BURLESON: There was a time when you couldn't have a conversation about the best wide receiver in the league without mentioning A.J. Green. However, he's been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons. Green missed seven games in 2018 with a toe ailment and the entire 2019 season with an ankle injury suffered on the first day of training camp. Assuming that the extensive time away from the field has allowed Green's body to completely heal, I know the seven-time Pro Bowler can recapture the magic. This will significantly help Joe Burrow, who faces high expectations in Year 1, transition to the NFL.
JOE THOMAS: I would most want Cam Newton to succeed because I am really excited to see what Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels can do with Newton's skills. Given Cam's running and passing abilities, I imagine New England's coaching staff is very excited to develop an offense similar to the Lamar Jackson-led attack that shredded Belichick's No. 1-ranked defense in Week 9 last season. The combination of Belichick and a healthy Newton would make for must-see TV every week this fall.
DAVID CARR: It's hard not to pick Alex Smith. It's miraculous that he's close to hitting the football field again after seeing what he went through since suffering a catastrophic leg injury in 2018. He's still on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to get healthy, but Ron Rivera reiterated earlier this week that if Smith is healthy and activated, he will be in the QB competition with Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen. It will continue to be a difficult road for Smith, but what a story it would be if he ended up as the QB1 at some point this year.
BRIAN BALDINGER: Bradley Chubb was a terror for the Denver Broncos in his rookie season, racking up 12 sacks opposite Von Miller. He looked like a complete player. The promise stalled in Year 2 when he tore his ACL just four games into the season. As he nears getting back to 100 percent for the start of the season, Chubb should return to his rookie form, at the very least. I think he can get a lot better, especially with defensive mastermind Vic Fangio as his head coach.
MAURICE JONES-DREW: SuperCam! I guess it's been a while since Cam Newton has been SuperCam, hasn't it? The veteran quarterback has been through a lot this offseason -- he was released by the Panthers in March and didn't find a new team until July -- and over the last two seasons with injuries. Now, he's headed to a weakened Patriots squad on a one-year deal to prove that he still is the SuperCam who won the MVP award and took Carolina to the Super Bowl. I can't not root for him.