These 12 NFL Starters Need To Have Breakout Seasons If They Want To Keep Their Jobs In 2012

Tim Tebow Mark Sanchez New York Jets

Photo: AP Images

We’re still weeks away from NFL teams opening up training camps, but the pressure is already on for a number of starters.Whether it’s poor play, over the top expectations never being met or coaches bringing in a high profile backup who can take over at any moment, these guys will have very short leashes in 2012.

What’s worse, a growing feeling among fans and media that they need to be dropped on the depth chart means even having solid years might not keep them at the top much longer.

Concussion problems have kept Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best from playing like a first round pick. He needs to show he can take pressure off Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson

Blaine Gabbert did not have a very good rookie season in 2011. Jacksonville already looked at bringing in Tebow this offseason, which doesn't bode well for the former top 10 pick

Cornerback Alphonso Smith is supposed to be the leader of the Detroit Lions' secondary. The problem? Detroit got burned last year by opposing passing games

The Oakland Raiders took a big gamble in bringing in a prematurely-retired Carson Palmer. He didn't deliver as expected and will have to step up to keep the starting gig through 2012

In his two seasons, Tennessee Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan has been a complete flop. The former first round pick only had 2.5 sacks last year. He won't keep his job if that continues

Shonn Greene has shown flashes of star power in his three years with the Jets. With greater emphasis being put on the run game, Greene has no margin for error as New York tries to return to the playoffs

Matt Cassel battled injuries and regressed significantly last year. Chiefs brass legitimately believes they have a playoff team and much of the blame will fall squarely on Cassel if the Chiefs fall short

Jason Smith hasn't lived up to his second overall pick billing. The St. Louis Rams chose not to upgrade at his tackle position and instead restructured his deal, perhaps to lower the pressure. Either way, this 2009 draftee needs to step things up soon

Despite his strong playoff performances, Mark Sanchez will need to perform well early on next season to keep Tim Tebow behind him on the depth chart

New England was very excited after Devin McCourty's 7-interception rookie season in 2010. The defensive back regressed significantly a year later and won't be a Patriot for long if he doesn't help their terrible pass defence improve

Offensive tackle Levi Brown anchored the left side of a woeful Arizona Cardinals line that gave up 54 sacks in 2011. The team already cut him, only to re-sign him later anyway while expecting he still be the starter

Football isn't until the fall, but the Olympics are coming up...

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