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IDP Notes
Week 6
10/13/04

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)

- Week Six Bye: Arizona, Baltimore, Indianapolis, New York Giants
- Rookie LB Report
- SF LB Julian Peterson done for year with torn Achilles
- NO DE Charles Grant moves into tie for NFL lead in sacks
- TB DE Simeon Rice suddenly completely horrible
- NYG rookie Gibril Wilson continues to impress
- BAL S Ed Reed shines in prime time
- AZ, DET, & NO D-Line stepping up
- CAR, GB, & MIA D-Line falling down

Week Six Injury Report (available Wednesday PM)

Rookie LB Report
Here's the Top Ten Rookie LBs, statistically, based on average weekly scores (Ironman scoring):
  1. Courtney Watson (NO - 7.625 ppg)
  2. Dontarrious Thomas (Min - 7.0)
  3. D.J. Williams (Den - 6.4)
  4. Teddy Lehman (Det - 6.38)
  5. Alex Lewis (Det - 6.38)
  6. Jason Babin (Hou - 5.5)
  7. Jonathan Vilma (NYJ - 4.88)
  8. Daryl Smith (Jax - 4.70)
  9. Karlos Dansby (AZ - 4.30)
  10. Landon Johnson (Cin - 3.00)

Courtney Watson has definitely been the biggest surprise so far this season. He won a three-way battle for the starting LB job that went right down to the wire, and has been a Defensive ROY candidate since. Beware the health issues he has battled, including dehydration, thigh problems, and a knee injury that left him inactive last week, but if he stays healthy, he should continue to produce. Other than Watson, you have D.J. Williams, Teddy Lehman, Jason Babin, and Daryl Smith locked into starting jobs they've had since the season started, so their production has been, and should remain consistent. Babin, a converted DE expected to provide pressure on the edge, has his value primarily tied to sacks, so his production will be sporadic, but is likely to have bigger games here and there as he develops. Lehman and Smith don't provide many big plays and are on the strongside, so their upside this year seems limited. Likewise, Karlos Dansby, who is just now settling into a starting role, could be limited this year on the strongside.

Alex Lewis and Landon Johnson are back-ups whose averages are skewed by one big game. However, both players are later draft picks who have impressed on teams with injury problems, so keep an eye on them for opportunity. While Dontarrious Thomas also has his numbers skewed by one big game, his upside is more promising, but his situation is more complex. After earning the starting weakside job out of camp, coaches were frustrated with his inconsistency. He lost his starting job heading into Week Three. Then, when MLB E.J. Henderson had to leave the game early with an injury, Thomas was thrown in the mix and had a dominant game. He continues to hold the MLB role while Henderson is out, so where he goes next is uncertain. However, his talent should ensure he continues to see the field a lot this year, if he can stay out of the coach's doghouse.

Jonathan Vilma earned his starting role when standout MLB Sam Cowart went down with a knee injury. He has lived up to the hype with two starts now under his belt, but Cowart returns soon and the situation will need resolution. Vilma is too talented to keep off the field. Eric Barton has been disappointing on the weakside, and one of Vilma or Cowart could move there.

Some rookie LBs out of the Top 10 worth mentioning: Converted DE, Shaun Phillips (SD) has found a role as a situational pass rusher, and already has two sacks. Caleb Miller (Cin) has taken over in the middle for the Bengals by default after injuries, but his upside seems limited. With the injuries mounting, Richard Seigler (SF) may have an increased role. Niko Koutouvides (Sea) was in the running for the starting MLB job down to the wire. With injuries and Orlando Huff not locking the job up, he could see more work soon. Brandon Chillar (StL) was briefly a starter, but Tommy Polley quickly regained his job and Chillar's role has faded. Demorrio Williams (Atl) is undersized, but is fast, strong, and relentless to the QB.

Arizona

Several players on defense that were expected to be key contributors had done little to date. Most of those emerged Sunday. Maybe it is a turning point in their season, or maybe it was facing the lowly 49ers. The eulogy on MLB Ronald McKinnon's starting career won't be delivered yet. After being MIA for most of the season, he led the team with 12 tackles (6 solo). After former 1st round pick Calvin Pace failed to help the edge pass rush last year, Bert Berry was made a big money FA addition in the off-season. At San Francisco, both were among the reasons the outlook of the Cardinals DLine has quickly improved. Pace posted 2 sacks and now leads the team with 4, after totaling 1 in 2003. He could regain a starting role, at Peppi Zellner's expense, any week now. Meanwhile, Berry had the breakout game Denny Green was waiting for. In addition to his 2 sacks, he had 5 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Rookie DT Darnell Dockett, who has been solid all year, had his first career sack. Former 1st round pick DT Wendall Bryant was activated after being suspended 4 games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and immediately worked into the rotation, posting a solo tackle. LB Ray Thompson played in his second game after missing the start of the season with knee troubles, and finished with 11 tackles (7 solo).

With CB Duane Starks out a month or so with a dislocated shoulder, Renaldo Hill has moved into the starting lineup.

Atlanta

Detroit found away to contain DE Patrick Kerney, not allowing him a sack and stopping a string of three consecutive multi-sack games. He finished with 2 solo tackles. However, DE Brady Smith and DT Rod Coleman each notched their fourth sack of the season. Smith left the game early with a leg injury.

LB Keith Brooking continued his solid, but unspectacular, play. He led the team with 7 tackles (6 solo) and leads them for the season. However, he has yet to turn in a big play, having no sacks or turnovers, when the move to WLB was supposed to free him up to produce such. While he's on pace for right around 100 tackles, he's been a bit of a fantasy disappointment.

Standout SS Bryan Scott left the game late in the third quarter after a vicious blow to the head. He did not return to the game and probably had a concussion. Kevin McCadam replaced him.

Baltimore

FS Ed Reed's playmaking skills were on display Sunday night, as he single-handedly turned the tide of the game in a 3 minute period in the 3rd quarter with the Ravens down 10-0. First he pulled off the IDP Grand Slam, sacking Mark Brunell, knocking the ball loose, picking it up, and returning it for a TD. On a 3rd and 1 the next series, he perfectly timed the snap to rush in from the secondary and stop Clinton Portis cold for a loss. On the punt the next play, he contributed as a blocker for a 78-yard TD punt return by B.J. Sams to give Baltimore the lead they never relinquished.

LB Terrell Suggs had his second multi-sack game, posting 2 last week to lead the team on the season with 5.

Nickel CB Deion Sanders showed he still hasn't lost his ball skills with a perfectly timed leap and nice grab for an INT in the Ravens own end zone. It was his first INT in four years.

Buffalo

MLB London Fletcher had an incredible 21 tackles (15 solo) on Sunday, pushing him among the top five in the NFL for the season.

CB Troy Vincent is off crutches, but still expected to miss this week's game. Terrence McGee posted 10 solo tackles in Vincent's place, but still needs to improve in coverage. SS Lawyer Milloy is expected to start practicing this week.

The Bills DLine took some baby steps this week. Starting DE's Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay each notched a sack, the first ones for Buffalo DLinemen this year, and in the process pushed the teams total on the season to 6, one more than Jacksonville, making them only the second most inept pass rush in the league.

Carolina

MLB Dan Morgan, SS Mike Minter, and LB Will Witherspoon were the top three, respectively, in tackles through Week Four. The team leader board didn't get shaken up Sunday, as those three, in that order, were the leaders in the loss at Denver. While he doesn't register many big plays, Witherspoon is on pace to once again be around the 100 tackle mark for the season. Of concern is that notoriously injury-prone Dan Morgan was in and out of the game. Beware of him possibly returning to the injury report.

The team continues to disappoint in the inexplicable inability to get to the QB, despite the DLine expected to once again be a strength. DT Brenston Buckner was inactive with a knee injury and DT Kris Jenkins struggles to play through shoulder problems, so perhaps their absence/ineffectiveness is hurting the ends. DE Mike Rucker, who didn't even appear in the box score, much less get his first sack of the season. Back-up DT Omari Jordan had the only sack on the day, just the seventh for the team overall this year. DE Julius Peppers did have a huge INT, in one of the more exciting and bizarre plays of the weekend. Four yards deep in his own end zone, Peppers is back in coverage on a 4th down blitz. He picks a desperation Jake Plummer heave into the end zone and races up the sideline 101 yards, before Rod Smith catches him from behind, just shy of the Broncos end zone. On the way down, the ball comes loose and Smith recovers for Denver! The play is challenged, and it's ruled that the ground caused the fumble. Carolina has the ball at Denver's 3 yard-line and Peppers has the longest INT return without a TD, 101 yards, in NFL history. It was the only turnover for the Panthers last week.

Chicago

The Bears D gets some reinforcements coming off their bye, with Pro Bowlers Brian Urlacher and Jerry Azumah expected to return. Hunter Hillenmeyer will remain in the starting lineup, moving to SLB to replace Joe Odom.

Cincinnati

SS Rogers Beckett will miss 2-4 weeks after suffering his second concussion of the year. FS Kim Herring (foot) and back-up S Kevin Kaesviharn (back) are hampered by injuries, as well. Herring is expected back this week. Rookie Madieu Williams has filled in everywhere, but he can only play one position at a time. Rookie CB Keiwan Ratliff was forced into duty at S in their last game. To add depth, FA Anthony Mitchell was signed last week.

No word on what punishment, if any DE Justin Smith will face after an arrest for a DUI. Smith has pleaded not guilty. The team refused comment until the matter is settled in court.

Cleveland

LB Chaun Thompson continues to start at SLB, posting 2 solo tackles, but LB Kevin Bentley keeps making a case that he should be in the starting lineup, leading the team with 8 tackles (6 solo) as a reserve.

Reserve CB Chris Crocker returned an INT for a TD, which was the Browns only turnover of the game. They also had no sacks.

DT Gerard Warren missed his second straight game with a pectoral injury. He had been listed as Questionable.

Dallas

Teams playing Dallas might want to remember to overload blockers left of center most of the game. The right side, with Greg Ellis and La'Roi Glover, has 7 sacks and over 30 tackles. The left side, with by Marcellus Wiley and Lenardo Carson, has no sacks and 15 tackles. Last Sunday, Ellis had 7 solo tackles and 2 sacks, giving him a team-high 5, while Glover had 4 solos, a sack, and a forced fumble. Wiley and Carson each had 2 solo tackles.

With CB Pete Hunter done for the year, rookie Jacque Reeves, a 7th round pick, got his first career start. He finished with 5 tackles (4 solo) and a fumble recovery. A thin secondary got thinner as reserve CB Bruce Thornton, making his NFL debut, blew his knee and is done for the season. Nathan Jones, another 7th round pick, moves up the depth chart more.

Denver

1st round pick D.J. Williams led the team with 9 tackles (7 solo), retaining the team lead for solo tackles and assuming the lead for total tackles.

In 2003, DT Ellis Johnson had another great season of providing pressure in the middle (8 sacks in 2003) for Atlanta. However, he again spent the off-season spent moaning about wanting more money from the Falcons and waffling on retirement. After holding out, he was traded to Denver, whose interior line was in need of help after they cut bait on big money FA bust Daryl Gardener before the season. Johnson began paying the dividends they were looking for last Sunday, in his second game as a Bronco. He had his first sack, along with another solo tackle, in a reserve role.

The offensive involvement of CB Champ Bailey that looked potentially promising to his fantasy production in the season-opener appears to have just been for show. At some point, HC Mike Shanahan will probably toss it back in a key game to shake things up, but it apparently won't be something done regularly and most likely will be diversionary, when inserted. Bailey hasn't been a target since Week 2 and his only reception of the year remains the 11-yard pass he caught Week 1.

Nickel CB Willie Middlebrooks will miss about a month with a partial tear in his hamstring. The timing wasn't bad for the Broncos secondary because former starter Lenny Walls has just returned after missing the first four games with a shoulder separation. He'll step into the third DB role and could eventually regain his starting spot from Kelly Herndon. Walls was developing nicely last year, with great size (6'4") he has the potential to be a shutdown corner on the bigger WRs in the league, when he refines his ball skills.

Detroit

The DLine has been crucial in this defense, and team, exceeding expectations. With a sack last Sunday, DE James Hall leads the team with 4.5 sacks this season, tying a career-high. Hall also forced a fumble and recovered another. He has been one of the breakout players on the DLine this year. DT Shaun Rogers is the poster boy for the disruptive force in the interior of the line teams seek to build a defense around. He continues to evolve into one of the premier interior line players in the league. Statistically he's headed for a career year, with 2 sacks (and 2 other solo tackles) last Sunday giving him 3 on the season, half a sack short of his career-high. Injury-prone back-up DE Kalimba Edwards had his best game since his impressive rookie year, finishing with 3 solo tackles, including chasing down Mike Vick for a sack and forcing a fumble, which was recovered by Atlanta, but forced a punt. The team has been waiting for his emergence, and if he can remain healthy, he could have a breakout year as a third down specialist.

CB Dre' Bly was listed as Questionable last week, and was active, but did not play. He is returning from a knee injury and the team again hopes he can return this week. LB Boss Bailey is still a few weeks away from returning from his knee injury.

Rookie Teddy Lehman led the team with 7 solo tackles, but another rookie, back-up LB Alex Lewis, had a huge day. In addition to 5 solo tackles, he had his first career sack and INT.

Green Bay

The Packers home woes continue, as the defense again was unable to stop the run. Green Bay found themselves in a hole quickly Monday night, thanks to two long TD runs by Chris Brown, and the defense ended up allowing the most points ever scored against the Packers in Lambeau (48).

LBs Na'il Diggs and Nick Barnett had strong games, each posting double-digit tackles, but most of them had to come in pursuit or were downfield, as the GB front four were unable to slow done the Titans running game. LB Hannibal Naives was a scratch, giving Paris Lenon a start at OLB. Torrance Marshall saw time there, as well.

In addition to doing little to stop the running game, the DLine reverted back to failing to add pressure to help in the passing game, posting no sacks. Handicapped by that, the secondary added their own failures. Michael Hawthorne and rookie 1st round pick Ahmad Carroll had a few missed tackles allowing the long runs and, although they didn't see much action with the success of the running game, allowed some key long pass completions. CB Mike McKenzie looks like he'll be missed more than expected.

Houston

1st round pick LB Jason Babin registered his second sack of the season, albeit it was earned by beating TE Rich Owens. LB Kaliee Wong has benefited from moving to ROLB and coming from the QBs blindside. He had a sack, to go with 5 tackles, giving him 3.5 sacks for the year, up already from the 3 he had last year. Meanwhile, inside, LB's Jay Foreman and Jamie Sharper are tackle machines. They finished tied for the lead in tackles and are one and two on the team for the season.

The Texans must have seen something they thought they could expose with a corner blitz, as they sent 1st round pick Dunta Robinson several times, but he failed to net a sack. He did have 4 tackles and 4 passes defensed, however. Eric Brown was inactive for the third straight game with a sprained knee, and with rookie Glenn Earl out with a hip problem, as well, Jason Simmons started at SS, posting a career-high 12 tackles (9 solo).

Indianapolis

A week after questions buzzing around Cato June and his play at weakside LB, he led the team with 10 tackles (8 solo) and grabbed his first career INT. However, reserve LB Jim Nelson continues to produce, finishing second on the team with 7 tackles (6 solo) last week. Rookie reserve DB Jason David also had is first career INT, returning it 34-yards for a TD, in his first career start, necessitated by all the injuries to the Colts secondary. CB Nick Harper had his third pick of the season, but it took an instant replay to overturn an incomplete call and award it to him. After a breakout 2003, Harper had a lot of skeptics, but, at least fantasy-wise, he's proving to be no fluke. In addition to leading the team in interceptions, he's once again posting good tackle numbers.

Cory Bird continues to fill in for injured starter Mike Doss at SS, but Idrees Bashir returned to the starting lineup. The secondary should get some help after the bye, as Doss, Joseph Jefferson, and rookie Bob Sanders are all expected to be active.

DE Dwight Freeney posted his third-straight useless game, netting just 1 pass defended for the day. The rest of the DLine picked up the slack in the pass rush department, however. Reserve DE Robert Mathis had 2 sacks and leads the team with 4. Another reserve DE, Brad Scioli, a former starter, had a sack too, his second of the season. Finally, DT Montae Reagor had his first sack of the season.

Jacksonville

Impotence at DE led HC Jack Del Rio to have standout DT Marcus Stroud spend some time at end. It didn't help, as Stroud finished with 3 tackles (2 solo) and the Jags went without a sack for the second straight game. They are last in the NFL with 5 sacks this year. They also failed to create a turnover and allowed 100 yards rushing to not Ladanian Tomlinson, which is excusable, but his back-up, Jesse Chatman.

LB Mike Peterson led the team with 13 tackles (7 solo), and LB Akin Ayodele added 9 (8 solo). They are first and second on the team for the season in tackles, as well.

Kansas City

DT Ryan Sims sounds unlikely to play at Jacksonville this week due to hamstring problems. DE Vonnie Holliday, who returned as a reserve after missing 2 games due to groin problems, would return to the starting lineup at RDE and John Browning, who impressed in Holliday's absence, will slide back to DT.

OLB Scott Fujita (ankle) is also on the bubble. Reserve Fred Jones practiced in his place Monday, but it could be Kawika Mitchell who enters the lineup. Mitchell would start at MLB pushing the more versatile Monty Beisel, who beat out Mitchell to earn the starting MLB job in camp, to OLB.

Miami

DT Tim Bowens remains out with back problems, and the Dolphins DLine remains a sieve for the opposition running game. The team is hopeful Tim can play next week, as he began limited practice last week. The platoon at DE of David Bowens and Jay Williams has resulted in nearly identical stats and strips either of much individual fantasy value.

LB Junior Seau seems to have found the fountain of youth. He is on track to break well into triple-digit tackles and have his best statistical season in a while. Check the FA wire for Junior, as plenty of people have forgotten his name after sliding the last few years. Heading the other way is SS Sammy Knight. After averaging almost 5 INTs a year as a Saint, he had 3 last year and hasn't had one this year, as well as not registering a sack yet as a Dolphin. Not only is no longer turning in big plays, but he is on pace for a career-low in tackles in 2004.

Minnesota

Rookie Dontarrious Thomas started at MLB in place of E.J. Henderson and posted 6 solo tackles. Thomas, who was previously demoted from starting WLB, should continue to start in place of Henderson, who is recovering from a knee sprain. Chris Claiborne, who moved from starter at SLB to WLB to replace Thomas, also missed the game with a calf injury. Raonall Smith started in his place and finished with 5 tackles (2 solo). Keith Newman was particularly ineffective, so Thomas may remain in the starting lineup when Claiborne and Henderson are healthy. Claiborne is expected back this week and the team is hopeful Henderson will be, as well, but wants to be cautious.

The Vikings, who were second in the league in interceptions last year, have yet to pick one this year. Big free agent addition Antoine Winfield, who has just 6 career INTs, won't help much there, but he remains a tremendous tackler. He led the team with 8 (6 solo) and leads them in total tackles for the season.

New England

1st round pick Vince Wilfork had a breakout game. In addition to registering his second sack, he had 7 tackles (5 solo), an amazing number for a NT. DE Richard Seymour had his second sack of the year, as well.

His personal fouls are getting more press, but SS Rodney Harrison is off to another huge season. After a quiet first half, he forced a fumble on the Dolphins first drive that New England recovered and offense turned into a TD, putting the game out of reach at 24-7 and squashing any comeback hopes Miami had. Already leading the team in tackles for the season, he finished with a game-high 12 tackles (8 solo) and had a sack, in addition to his FF.

New Orleans

With standout ends Charles Grant and Darren Howard already in place, someone forgot to tell 1st round pick Will Smith his ETA was not until 2005, at the earliest. Smith recorded his second sack and second forced fumble of the season Sunday and is making a very Terrell Suggs-like Rookie of the Year run as a reserve. Meanwhile, Howard quietly had his third sack and Grant is merely ascending into elite status. He turned in his second multi-sack game (he had 2), to tie Patrick Kerney for the NFL lead. He also had 6 tackles (4 solo) and a forced fumble. With Simeon Rice and Jason Taylor struggling, Grant is leading the next generation of multi-talented DEs in the league.

With standout rookie Courtney Watson inactive, Orlando Ruff, who narrowly lost the MLB competition to Watson in camp, led the team with 8 tackles (7 solo). An MRI revealed no structural damage to Watson's knee, but he's still expected to be Questionable this week.

New CB Mike McKenzie was a scratch with a hamstring. While the hammy is still not 100%, he is expected to play, and possibly start, this week.

New York Giants

Rookie Gibril Wilson continues to be the story. An INT in his first two games was followed by leading the team in tackles the prior week, so his new first last week was getting his first career sack. He also had 5 solo tackles.

Drafted to be the CB tandem of the future 4 years ago, the two Will's are big pieces of the early success of the Giants. Peterson had his second pick last week, tying a career high, and while Allen doesn't have one, he does lead the team in tackles.

New York Jets

1st round pick Jonathan Vilma got his first career sack in his second career start, and had 7 tackles (6 solo). Sam Cowart is expected to miss his third game this week with a knee injury.

DE John Abraham built on last week's great game, posting 3 sacks and 3 other solo tackles. He now has 5 sacks in his last two games.

If you haven't already, it's time to downgrade and look to replace DE Shaun Ellis and LB Eric Barton in your starting lineup. Both have been tremendous underachievers this year.

Oakland

Napolean Harris was back in the starting lineup, but it was outside, as leading-tackler Danny Clark stayed at MLB. Travian Smith rotated in frequently, leaving Harris to finish with only 2 tackles (1 solo). Clark and Smith led the team with 8 tackles (7 solo) each. They are the top two on the team for the season. Smith has more upside, the former college DE has demonstrated some aptitude as a pass rusher, but that facet hasn't been as impressive as he was when he worked his way into the starting lineup last year, before a MCL knee injury ended his year. He has yet to tally a sack this year.

CB Phillip Buchanon had his team-high third INT, as well as 3 solo tackles. He continues to post good fantasy numbers because he continues to get picked on, as teams avoid Woodson. An early completion inside the Raiders 5 yard line to Reggie Wayne, who easily out leaped the smaller Buchanon, is a good example why. Meanwhile, Charles Woodson blanketed Marvin Harrison, limiting him to 3 receptions for 44 yards.

Philadelphia

CB Sheldon Brown and SS Michael Lewis lead the team in tackles.

Pittsburgh

Kendrell Bell remained inactive and Larry Foote continues to start in his place. Coming off a career performance the prior week, Foote had only 2 solo tackles. LB Joey Porter had 5 solo tackles and LB Clark Haggans, who hasn't done much since Week One, had 3 tackles (2 solo) and a fumble recovery. LB James Farrior led the team with 7 tackles (5 solo).

St. Louis

With 2 solo tackles, a forced fumble, and a sack, DE Leonard Little now has sacks in three straight games. Little's sack came in a key situation, as well. With Seattle up by 3 late in the game, he sacked Matt Hasselbeck on a 3rd and 5, forcing a fumble. Seattle recovered, but lost 12 yards in the process. They were forced to punt the next play, and with the resulting improved field position, was able to drive for a tying FG and eventual win in OT. Tyoka Jackson left the game earlier with a strained hamstring, giving rookie DE Tony Hargrove his first opportunity for significant playing time. Hargrove finished with 2 solo tackles.

Adam Archuleta, nagging leg and back problems, again did not start and was limited to nickel and dime packages. He still managed 6 solo tackles, so unless your options are better, you may want to ride this out. Rich Coady continues to start in his place at SS, finishing with 6 tackles (5 solo). Musical chairs also continued at CB. CB DeJuan Groce was inactive last week with a sprained knee, but started this week, as Kevin Garrett was inactive and Travis Fisher is still out with a broken arm. Groce had 6 solo tackles. FS Aeneas Williams left the game in the first half with a pinched nerve in his neck. Kwamie Lassiter finished the game at FS and should start in his place, if Williams is forced to miss any time.

LB Tommy Polley led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo).

DT Jimmy Kennedy is recovering quicker than expected from a broken foot in August and may be back before the end of the month. His presence could help bolster a run defense that is one of the worst in the league, giving up 137.3 ypg on the ground.

San Diego

LB Donnie Edwards led the team with a game-high 15 tackles (12 solo). LB Steve Foley shows no signs of slowing down from a breakout year. He had another sack, to go with 5 solo tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Time to quit passing him by on the waiver wire for a more familiar, less productive, name. After a few down years, Randall Godfrey has been steady in the 3-4 for SD. He doesn't turn in big plays anymore, but he's averaging 6 tackles per game.

DT Jamal Williams had 2 sacks to give him a new career-high 3, which leads the team this season.

San Francisco

Despite the win, the 49ers season went from bad to worse when their top playmaker on defense, the versatile LB Julian Peterson, went down with a torn Achilles tendon. On the bright side, the 49ers front office saved money by switching to Geico (and by having Peterson reject their lucrative long-term deal with the $15 million bonus to settle for the one-year tender). Jamie Winborn should be the primary beneficiary, as his spot as a starter is now locked even when Derek Smith returns. With Smith out 2-4 week's with torn ligaments in his ankle, Jeff Ulbrich slid inside, a position that's a better match to his skills. He led the team with 10 tackles (9 solo) and added half a sack. Brandon Moore is Peterson's back-up, and will likely start until Smith returns, but Saleem Rasheed and Richard Seigler should have more opportunities the next few weeks, as well.

Seattle

A week after ending with the number one rating in the NFL, the Seahawks defense gave up 441 yards to the Rams and was responsible for their first loss. CBs Marcus Trufant and Ken Lucas were able to post some nice stats due to the offensive explosion by St. Louis. Trufant led the team with 8 solo tackles, intercepted a pass, and defended 2 others. Lucas had 2 INTs and 5 solo tackles.

DE Chike Okeafor had 2 sacks and 4 tackles (3 solo).

Tampa Bay

MLB Shelton Quarles left the game in the first quarter with a leg injury and did not return. Jeff Gooch replaced him and led the team with 9 solo tackles.

Early front runner for most disappointing performance on defense is Simeon Rice. His one solo tackle last week gives him 7 on the year, only 1 sack this season, and no forced fumbles. That's a long fall from a player who has been in the running for Defensive Player of the Year the last 2 years, with back-to-back seasons of 50 tackles, 15 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles.

Tiki wasn't the only Barber celebrating a TD on Sunday. Rhonde had his eighth career TD (including post-season) and second fumble return for a TD this season, in the second quarter, giving the Bucs a lead they never relinquished.

Tennessee

Jumping out to an early lead had Brett Favre forcing the ball, leading to 3 interceptions. Lamont Thompson, starting at FS in place of the injured Lance Shulters, had 2 INTs, as well as led the team in tackles with 7 (6 solo) and forcing a fumble. He looks like a nice pick-up while Shulters is out for possibly two months. SS Tank Williams also had an INT, along with 3 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. CB Samari Rolle rolled off his man to make a tremendous play on a ball, leaping over an unsuspecting Javon Walker, for what appeared to be another INT in the Titans end zone, but the play was overturned in review by a controversial reversal after being challenged.

The LB corps remained thin, as neither of the Rocky's played LB again last week. Calmus remains a scratch with back and leg problems and Boiman again suited up, but DNP, hand and knee problems. Brad Kassell filled in for Calmus at MLB and with rookie Robert Reynolds inactive, as well, Justin Ena had a rare start.

The offensive explosion masked the continuing weakness of in pass rush, particularly the inability to get pressure from the edges. The team had no sacks Sunday, and DEs Juqua Thomas (inactive with a high ankle sprain), Antwan Odom, and Carlos Hall have combined for just 1.5 sacks this season.

Washington

MLB Mike Barrow might return next week from tendonitis in his knee. He has yet to play this year, but he hasn't been missed much as Antonio Pierce has thrived in his absence. Pierce led the team with 9 tackles (8 solo) and added a sack. Barrow is Doubtful and expected to miss another week. Primarily a back-up his four years in the league, Pierce has made a case to be a starter somewhere, if not Washington, next year. Lavar Arrington was expected to return, but missed his third game after a minor knee procedure. He'll be Questionable again this week. Lemar Marshall continues to start in his absence. DE Phillip Daniels has also missed three games with a groin injury and the team is hopeful he'll return this week, as well.

SS Matt Bowen tore his ACL in the game and is out for the year. Ryan Clark replaced him, but Andre Lott, who missed the last two games with a hamstring, is likely to be the new starter



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