One player figured to have a good season if he could remain healthy.
The other was thought to be done.
Both are having great years, and without Carson Palmer and Chris Johnson, the Arizona Cardinals would not be 6-2 and pacing the NFC West.
That’s why 12 of 18 NFL.com writers chose one or the other for their midseason Comeback Player of the Year.
The bulk of the votes went to Palmer, who has completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,386 yards and 20 touchdowns against just six interceptions. The 35-year-old, who is coming off his second career torn ACL, is fourth in the NFL in passing yards but tied for first in passing touchdowns. His QB rating of 110.2 ranks third in the league.
Seven of the 10 writers who chose Palmer presented their reasons:
Judy Battista: Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals. He might have to beat out his own teammate, Chris Johnson, for this award, but Palmer’s recovery from a knee injury and his stellar play have made the Cardinals serious Super Bowl contenders.
Willie McGinest: Palmer. He’s 35, but with the way he’s been playing and his accuracy, he looks a whole lot younger. He still has great arm strength and is making all the throws. He’s really playing at a high level.
Adam Schein: Palmer. He’s healthy and playing good, solid, consistent ball, while guiding one of the NFL’s best teams.
Charley Casserly: Palmer. He is having a career year after missing most of last season.
Bucky Brooks: Palmer. Veteran quarterbacks are not supposed to play their best football at the latter stages, yet Palmer is performing at an elite level as a 13th-year pro coming off his second ACL injury.
Elliot Harrison: Palmer. So many candidates here, yet Palmer gets the nod. He missed the lion’s share of 2014, but he has managed to come back and lead the NFC’s most high-powered offense.
Johnson was not left out, either, and a strong case can be made for the 30-year-old to claim the honor.
Signed in August after an offseason in which he suffered gunshot wound, the former Tennessee Titan and New York Jet has run for 676 yards and three touchdowns on 141 carries. The yardage total ranks second in the NFL, while his 4.8 yards-per-carry average represents the highest mark he’s posted since 2009.
Gil Brandt: Johnson. Johnson wasn’t signed until the week before the season started, but he’s currently second in the league in rushing yards (676, behind Devonta Freeman‘s 709). Johnson is one of the reasons the Cardinals are doing as well on offense as they are (third overall, second in scoring).
The only other two players to receive any votes were Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.