5 players to light it up in 2024 after coming off a long-term injury

The 2023 season has come to an end with the Kansas City Chiefs going back to back and cementing their place in history. 

The 2023 season had it all. We saw breakout performances, new stars announcing themselves to the league, reigniting their careers, falling at the same hurdles, changing the narratives and so much more. It was also a season that saw many of the game’s best players sidelined with season ending injuries. Some injuries changed the course of the season for certain teams and although each injury was tough to watch and see.

These same injuries will present an opportunity for each player to re announce themselves back into the limelight in 2024. So let’s take a look at some players that I think will do exactly that. Each player I have chosen, I can see not only getting back onto the field, but making some serious noise around the league.

1. Anthony Richardson

The first round draft pick and quarterback of the future for the Colts showed signs that he is a special talent before he was ruled out in October. 

Backup Gardner Minshew did a great job in carrying the team forward and the Colts well and truly outplayed their odds throughout the season. With Richardson coming back, the AFC South sees another potential star quarterback enter the fold. Richardson is only 21 and he is ahead of schedule in his recovery.

This guy could be anything and if the team takes a step forward, we could be in line for watching something great in 2024. A humble superstar who has physical attributes that many can only dream of, Richardson will make a big impact early on in the season. You will also see a stronger and more physical version of him this season.

2. Telanoa Hufanga

The 49ers safety suffered a season ending knee injury in November and his loss was a massive one for the eventual Super Bowl runners up. Hufanga is one of the leaders of the defense and his style of play is relentless. He plays fast, aggressive defensive football, but he is also one of the smartest defensive players you can watch.

His ability to anticipate and be a step ahead of the offense he is facing is second to none. He is a player that I really enjoy watching and he is one I certainly missed watching for the second half of the season. If the 49ers are to mount another big challenge in 2024, he will be at the heart of that push. The 49ers have some big names on defense, Hufanga could be their top defensive player next season.

3. Trevon Diggs

The Dallas Cowboys know how to find a star Cornerback and Trevon Diggs is just that. He is a ball hawk and like his replacement Bland, he knows how to locate the ball and get it. He was an early season loss having suffered his season ending injury in September.

So there has been plenty of time for rehabbing and  seeing what Bland has done in his place – it must make him so motivated to get back and remind people just what he can do. Keep in mind he had 11 interceptions in 2021 which isn’t all too long ago and although it will be hard to reach that level again, Diggs knows he can because he has done it before. 2024 could be, and I think will be, a big comeback season for Diggs. 

4. Matt Milano

The Bills linebacker suffered a season ending leg break in October. He started off his season in fine fashion before his injury which happened in London. He is a key part of the defense in Buffalo,  a reserved character but you see a different animal once he is on the field. He is so impactful and he disrupts the flow for opposing offenses, that then allows the Bills to get Josh Allen on the field.

Milano was a presence off the field making sure that his teammates were prepared for each game, which shows the type of leader he is, but even better than him game-planning for his team, is to have him on the field. This general of the defense will have a point to prove when the season rolls around. He started 2023 off in a disruptive fashion, I wouldn’t expect anything less from him in 2024.

5. Kirk Cousins

Yet another Achilles injury this year and this time it was Kirk Cousins who was dealt the blow. Cousins is 35 now and there is certainly some doubt as to where he will play his football this season. By all accounts the Vikings aren’t wanting to put up the guaranteed money, but you have Justin Jefferson who is making it clear to the Vikings that he wants Cousins to throw him the ball.

So that situation has some twists and turns to it still one feels. Either way Cousins will get a good payday, but more than that, I believe he will be back and better than ever. He isn’t your Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson on his feet, but the guy has a great arm, he puts up great numbers, he is experienced and he is exceptionally intelligent.

Sometimes I feel he can be overlooked because he is such a nice guy, but make no mistake about it, he is a competitor and he wants to win. He knows his playing career has less time left than he has already played, so with that comes a new sense of urgency to get to the heights he wants to reach. If the Vikings get him back he will have a great season.

If he moves elsewhere, I wonder if the Steelers or Falcons might say, you know what let’s get him in the door because we are only a quarterback away from being contenders. Big season incoming for Cousins.