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THESE FIVE VETERAN PLAYERS ARE UNDER SERIOUS PRESSURE TO PRODUCE RESULTS IN 2011—OR ELSE
VERNON GHOLSTON, DE, Bears
The Jets tried everything to help the former top 10 pick, even moving him to LB and offering $9 million bonuses for sacks and INTs. But the fourth-year pro made only 16 tackles in 45 games. Chicago is hoping that a switch in systems—from a 3--4 to a 4--3—will transform him into a force.
BOB SANDERS, S, Chargers
His lengthy injury history and high price tag compelled the Colts to cut ties with the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year in February. He signed a one-year pact with the Chargers in March and now has a chance to redeem himself playing for a defense that was the NFL's best in 2010.
SHAWNE MERRIMAN, LB, Bills Leg injuries have diminished the seventh-year pro, who played in three games in '10. The Chargers waived him last November, and desperate Buffalo gave him a two-year, $10 million pact. Merriman is easily the most accomplished member of an underwhelming unit.
TED GINN JR., WR, 49ers Acquired in a trade with the Dolphins last year to be a playmaker in San Francisco, Ginn was O.K. as a punt returner, but he set career lows in catches (12) and yards (163). If he can't thrive in new coach Jim Harbaugh's pass-happy system, his double-duty days could be numbered.
CHAD HENNE, QB, Dolphins
Coming off another lackluster season (15 TDs, 19 INTs), Dolphins fans chanted, "We want Orton!" during an early training camp practice. But Henne's beating back a challenge from free-agent pickup Matt Moore, and he doesn't have to worry about Kyle Orton since the Broncos all but named him No. 1.