Some rookies come in and make an impact immediately. Others have expectations, but fail to live up. Charles Robinson wrote an article for Yahoo! Sports that featured a second year player on each NFC team who needed "a reboot."
Who is that guy for the Arizona Cardinals? It would be none other than the oft-injured tight end Troy Niklas.
Niklas was supposed to have the raw potential and size to come in and be an immediate factor on offense, but never got much of a chance. Instead, Niklas struggled with myriad injuries, including a hernia, broken hand and sprained ankles. By the time the season ended, the second-round pick played only 90 offensive snaps and caught just three passes for 38 yards. But John Carlson has retired, so the pressure will be on Niklas to stay on the field and shoulder a chunk of the passing offense. Head coach Bruce Arians certainly knows how to use his tight ends. If Niklas can't take hold in training camp, the Cardinals could consider some veteran options who are still floating around on the free-agent market.
Out of all the Cardinals rookies, he might have had the least impact. And, as Robinson mentioned, Niklas is again being counted on to contribute, but without John Carlson, it is essential he bounce back.
He should be healthy entering training camp and should be ready to make an impact. Will he, and is it a necessity for him?
If you ask me, it isn't necessarily Niklas who needs to show the most. He is almost certain to make the roster. The second year player who needs to show something more than he did in his rookie campaign is Kareem Martin. Even with the defensive line ravaged with injuries, he couldn't crack the rotation. Now he has been moved to outside linebacker and could get caught up in the numbers game. The team signed LaMarr Woodley and drafted both Markus Golden and Shaq Riddick at the position. It is a real possibility he doesn't even make the roster.
Yes, Niklas needs to make an impact, but Martin's situation might even be a bit more dire.