In my last column, I wrote about players on the AFC East and North teams that are worth rooting for.
For various reasons, these players are some of my favorites to cheer for.
For Teddy Bridgewater of the New York Jets, it is because I want him to get back to being a starter after his injury prior to the start of the 2016 season.
For Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner, it is because he beat cancer.
While there are reasons to hate every team that is not your favorite, there are players across the league worth rooting for. This list will have a player from the AFC South and West teams with the NFC to follow in future columns.
Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson. The Texans are another team with some good options to root for.
Obviously, J.J. Watt is one of the best faces of the league. Tyron Mathieu’s chance to rejuvenate his career is also a good one, and D’Onta Foreman’s death of his infant son during his final season with the Texas Longhorns made the player someone to root for, but Deshaun Watson is such a good story in a lot of ways.
His family was donated a home in 2006 from then Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn.
He donated his first game check to three cafeteria employees at the Texans’ stadium, and then there is him getting emotional at the NFL Draft when he read the note from his mom.
Watson looked like another new face for the NFL during his rookie season before an injury cut it short.
He still finished the year with 19 touchdowns, tied with Eli Manning, Jay Cutler and Jameis Winston, but Watson only played in seven games.
Indianapolis Colts: Brad Kaaya. The former Miami Hurricanes quarterback will probably bounce around most of his career as a backup, but he comes from a family with ties to the silver screen.
His mom, Angela Means Kaaya, is a former actress.
She is best known as Felisha from the cult classic “Friday.”
Yes, she was the Felisha that spawned the “Bye Felisha” saying.
His dad used to be a screenwriter for the film “O” and the TV shows “Cousin Skeeter,” “Damon” and “MADtv.”
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey. The Jaguars finally lived up to their potential in 2017. Their defense was a big part and Jalen Ramsey was a huge reason why.
The cornerback is already one of the best in the league and he is still only 23.
He may not have a Twitter account dedicated to facts about him like quarterback Blake Bortles, but Ramsey is the face of the franchise that has a bright future.
His trash talking may annoy you, but like other trash talking greats like former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, Ramsey backs it up on the field.
Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan. There are some great players to root for on the Titans.
Delanie Walker, Will Compton and Luke Falk all deserve love, but Taylor Lewan is just so great.
He is one of the best left tackles in the game today and will do anything he can to protect his quarterback.
Last season, Richard Sherman, then of the Seattle Seahawks, hit Marcus Mariota late as he went out of bounds.
Lewan instantly went and got in Sherman’s face as a scuffle was close to breaking out.
The man will do whatever it takes to protect his guy and that is respectable.
Denver Broncos: Jake Butt. Butt was a fifth-round pick by the Broncos in 2017. Butt probably would have been drafted higher, but an ACL injury in the 2016 Orange Bowl, the last game of his college career, cost the Michigan Wolverine his rookie season.
If Butt can recover, this will turn into a steal for Denver.
He was a top-tier tight end in college.
Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Berry. The man beat cancer.
He has been a top player at safety his whole career.
He is just awesome.
Los Angeles Chargers: Ben Johnson. The undrafted tight end from Kansas has a pretty good shot to contribute to the Chargers after Hunter Henry tore his ACL in May.
The Basehor-Linwood alum joins one of the NFL’s more intriguing rosters as top talent is across the board, but the team has not lived up to potential in recent years despite stellar play from Phillip Rivers and Joey Bosa.
Oakland Raiders: Derek Carr. Prior to his injury in 2016, Derek Carr looked like an NFL MVP.
His play helped the Raiders return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
AFC West fans might find it hard to root for the rival quarterback, but Carr has been a pleasure to watch on and off the field.
He is a humble and passionate player that learned from the mistakes of his older brother, David Carr, to become a bright star in the league.
With Jon Gruden now coaching him, Carr could cement himself near the top of the league.
Luke Peterson is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org