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IDP Notes
Week 2

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)
  • No byes Week Two
  • ATL MLB Hartwell already out for Week Two
  • CAR MLB Morgan concussed…again, Seward replaces him
  • ATL DE Abraham dominates, dinged; LBs shuffled by injury
  • JAX DE Hayward ruptures Achilles' tendon
  • NE LB Bruschi misses opener, SS Harrison back
  • BUF LB Spikes returns with a bang, leaves with whimper
  • AZ LB Dansby continues to battle troublesome toe
  • PHI CB Sheppard reinjures bad ankle
  • KC SS Knight sits in second half
  • LB situations in CLE and NO settled
  • TEN seventh round pick impresses
  • BAL D turns back the clock
  • PHI rotates DLine like a hockey lines each series
  • Martz-less STL born again hard defensive team
Week 2 Injury Report (available Wednesday PM)

IDP Depth Chart

WLB Karlos Dansby was inactive due to a toe injury. This continues to be a noteworthy situation as a couple weeks ago he stated (per the Arizona Republic) that Cardinals’ officials told him it could be “career-ending”. He is listed as questionable so far this week, and HC Denny Green said even if he is healthy enough to play, he may not start. So Dansby is a very risky play this week even if he clears medically. Orlando Huff started in his place and posted 5 tackles (4 solo), a pass defended, and forced a fumble. Gerald Hayes had a nice start in the middle. He had 5 solo tackles, a sack, and recovered the fumble forced by Huff to set up a TD. Calvin Pace had 3 solo tackles and forced a fumble in his debut at SLB. He twisted his ankle in the game and had to leave. He had a walking boot on after the game and is questionable for Week Two.

CB Antrel Rolle led the team with 8 tackles (7 solo) and broke up 2 passes, including the final Hail Mary to end the game and seal the victory. Across from him, David Macklin was benched early in the game in favor of Eric Green. Green was decent as a rookie last year when forced in to a starting role as Rolle missed most of the season with a knee injury.

DE Bert Berry didn’t register a tackle, but he did apply good pressure and just missed a sack late in the game.

DE John Abraham was a one-man gang in his first game as a Falcon. He posted 2 sacks among his 5 tackles (4 solo), forcing a fumble on both sacks, one of which was a turnover. He also knocked a pass down and although he criticized as a run defender, had a nice TFL on DeShaun Foster. However, he also had a roughing the passer penalty that erased a DeAngelo Hall INT. Somehow I think the team will not ask him to tune down his enthusiasm for chasing the QB and live with those penalties. There was a bit of a scare near the end of the game, as he suffered a groin injury and left the game limping with less than two minutes to go. Keep an eye out for updates, but Abraham said the injury wasn’t serious after the game. He underwent a battery of tests on Monday, but the team did not comment on the severity of the injury. A similar injury to the same side sidelined him for most of the season three years ago. Opposite Abraham, Patrick Kerney was dinged up too. He left after the team’s first defensive series with a right triceps injury. He was replaced by Chauncey Davis, who recovered one of the fumbles forced by Abraham. Kerney returned in the second half and says he’ll play this week. DT Rod Coleman had a sack and was in the offensive backfield regularly pressuring the QB. This defensive line is among the best in the league, with a collection of Pro Bowlers and quality depth.

With MLB Edgerton Hartwell out for the opener, Keith Brooking moved over to the middle and displaced former starter Demorrio Williams was back with the first team at WLB in Brooking’s place. Hartwell has already been declared out for this week, so expect the same rotation. Williams led the team with 8 tackles (5 solo) and will be one of the most valuable non-starting LBs for fantasy purposes. Michael Boley, who beat out Williams for a starting spot, did not post a stat despite no apparent injury. Boley is pulled when the team features nickel and dime packages, so he doesn’t appear to have a high fantasy ceiling.

After not winning on the road in 2005, the Ravens D looked like it took a trip further back in time to their Super Bowl team as it completely destroyed Tampa Bay at home. They limited the Bucs to just 142 yards from scrimmage and forced TB QB Chris Simms to throw 3 interceptions.

CB Chris McAlister got the pick party started when he grabbed one on the first play of the second quarter and raced 60 yards down the sidelines for a TD. 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ed Reed started his comeback campaign from an injury-prone 2005, during which he had only 1 INT, with a pick early in the fourth quarter. In between, first round pick DT Haloti Ngata had a ball redirected by WLB Bart Scott fall in his arms and the 340 pound behemoth lumbered 60 yards before running out of gas at the TB 9-yard line. While the marquee names like McAlister, Reed, and MLB Ray Lewis all had big days, Scott was wreaking havoc too. In addition to his contribution on Ngata’s INT, he broke up another pass and had 2 sacks among his 5 solo tackles. Lewis and SLB Adalius Thomas led the team with 7 tackles, Lewis also had a sack.

Rookie fifth round pick Dawan Landry started as strong safety and had 3 solo tackles.

The only injury reported was DE Trevor Pryce, who suffered a mild concussion in the third quarter, but returned later in the game. He is expected to start this week. After waiting a year to recover from a sprained ACL that put him on the IR for his first season, LB/DE Dan Cody will have to wait longer for his first taste of real NFL action. Cody was a healthy scratch who the team must feel isn’t ready to add value.

Takeo Spikes and the Bills defense got off to a great start when Spikes sacks NE QB Tom Brady on the first play from scrimmage, forcing a fumble that was recovered by MLB London Fletcher for a TD. However, it would be the only stats Spikes, returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon last year, would put up on the day. He left in the first half with a hamstring strain and did not return, but said it was mild and he’d be fine for next week. Fletcher and CB Terrence McGee led the team with 10 tackles (9 solo) each. Rookie Keith Ellison replaced Spikes and had 9 tackles (3 solo). Spikes is expected back this week, but Ellison becomes a guy to watch if Spikes suffers a setback.

FS Troy Vincent also left the game in the first half after aggravating a hamstring injury. He is questionable so far for this week. Rookie Ko Simpson replaced him and had 7 tackles (4 solo). SS Matt Bowen appeared to have won the starting SS job, but he was inactive Sunday with a leg injury. Still, first round pick Donte Whitner didn’t start, as Coy Wire ran out there first. However, Whitner ended up seeing most of the work at SS and may keep Bowen as a reserve when he returns. Whitner provided an immediate impact with 8 tackles (4 solo) and his first career pick.

After a career-high 12 sacks in 2005, DE Aaron Schobel had a sack among his two tackles (1 solo) and knocked down two passes. Opposite him, Chris Kelsay won the starting job, but appears to be in a rotation with Ryan Denney. Kelsay had a sack and forced fumble with 4 solo tackles, while Denney had 7 tackles (4 solo).

After dominating the Falcons in 2005, the Panthers defense was literally run over by Atlanta. The 252 yards rushing they surrendered was the second-most in team history. There was only 1 sack, but DT Damione Lewis, and forced no turnovers.

Lightly regarded in this column last week was a preseason concussion to fragile MLB Dan Morgan. However, the problem became more serious when he had to leave in the second quarter of the season opener with another concussion. Adam Seward replaced him and had 6 tackles (5 solo). Seward now becomes the closest thing there is on the IDP side to a “handcuff” for the oft-injured Morgan. The team has been alarmingly quiet about Morgan’s condition so far this week. Seward could have value through Week Two, at least.

DE Julius Peppers didn’t have a sack, but had 3 solo tackles, a pass defensed that should have been an interception, and blocked a FG. Peppers owners should make note to have that added as a defensive stat in your league next year, if it is not already. It was the fourth kick he has blocked in his career.

OLB Na’il Diggs was inactive due to a knee injury that occurred in the final preseason game. Chris Draft got the start at WLB in his place and had 6 tackles (4 solo). Former first round pick and new SLB Thomas Davis had 5 tackles (4 solo) and forced a fumble, but the offense recovered. He also was effective at putting pressure on the QB, although he didn’t get a sack.

In shutting out the Packers for the first time since 1991, the Bears defense had a perfect effort as a team, but no huge individual statistical performances. An eight minute time of possession advantage limited their opportunities. Depending on your scoring system, OLB Lance Briggs or CB Charles Tillman led the way. Both players, who are expected to among the top fantasy performers at their positions, got off to a solid start. Briggs got a gift sack when Favre tripped over one of his own linemen and posted 8 other solo tackles. Tillman had 5 solo and a pick, as well as another pass defended. MLB Brian Urlacher had just 7 tackles (4 solo) as he wore a bulls-eye on his jersey for FB Vonta Leach on any running play.

DE Alex Brown played despite a shoulder separation in the preseason. He applied frequent pressure, getting a sack and knocking down a pass. The early lead allowed his snaps to be limited because, despite reserve DE Israel Idonije being inactive with an ankle sprain, rookie fifth round pick Mark Anderson had an impressive debut. Anderson was on the brink of being cut after missing most of camp and the preseason with a pulled hamstring. On his first NFL series, replacing Brown in the second quarter, he made Brett Favre his first NFL sack and then stopped Ahman Green for no gain on the following play. He also had an assist on another tackle. His performance gives hope a front four that lacks depth, especially at end, has another budding playmaker that can help keep Brown and Adewale Ogunleye fresh.

In this column last week we talked about rookie Danieal Manning running with the first team sooner rather than later. Sooner won out when FS Chris Harris left with an ankle injury in the third quarter. The injury looks minor and he is expected back this week. Manning grabbed his first career pick to end a Packer scoring threat in the fourth quarter. He also broke up another pass and assisted on 2 tackles, as well as was first on the scene to slow the returner for a hit by RB Adrian Peterson that forced a fumble on a GB kick return. Special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo, who recovered the fumble on the aforementioned kick-off, saw work with the first defense, as well. Ayanbadejo stepped in when OLB Hunter Hillenmeyer was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the second quarter. However, Ayanbadejo had only 1 solo tackle on defense, to go with 3 on special teams, as the defense spent most of the second half without a third LB in nickel or dime packages. Hillenmeyer is day-to-day, but said he expects to be back this week. The biggest injury to watch was DT Tommie Harris, who suffered an “undisclosed right leg injury” from a cheap shot by GB T Mark Tauscher. Harris returned to the game, but was limping in the locker room after.

Return specialist Devin Hester immediately demonstrated the explosiveness and big play ability that made him a second round pick despite not having a true position. He returned a punt 84 yards for a score, for a total of 104 yards on 5 returns. He also saw some work in garbage time as a corner, proving he does have a position, and posted a tackle. In leagues that count return yards, Hester is an option. The Bears defense looks like they should be forcing a lot of punts and he obviously is among the rare group of returners that can take one to the house. However, don’t expect him in the regular corner rotation any time soon. Ricky Manning is the third corner and Dante Wesley is next on the depth chart.

The Bengals haven’t had a player with double-digit sacks since Alfred Williams in 1992. DE Justin Smith was expected to be that threat when he was selected third overall in 2001. However, after setting a Bengal rookie-record with 8.5 sacks his first year, he hasn’t developed in to an elite pass rusher. He got almost a third of the way there on Sunday with 3 of the 7 sacks, all by the DLine, for the team. Smith also had 2 other solo tackles and forced a fumble that he recovered. The difference this year may be the addition of Sam Adams, the type of space-eater who can collapse the pocket and free up his defensive teammates. Adams played that role for HC Marvin Lewis previously on the Ravens when they won it in 2000 and for DC Chuck Bresnahan on the AFC champion Raiders in 2002. Smith wasn’t the only one who benefit, DE Robert Geathers had his first two-sack game. Geathers looked like a sleeper last year when he earned the starting RDE role opposite Smith, but he didn’t succeed as an every-down player and was replaced as a starter by Bryan Robinson this year. However, he’ll now have another chance to thrive as a pass rush specialist.

As expected, Brian Simmons started at MLB in place of Odell Thurman, who is suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Simmons led the team with 8 tackles (7 solo). Simmons left the game briefly with a leg injury, but returned and showed no limitations. Landon Johnson replaced Simmons at WLB and posted 5 solo tackles and a pass defensed. The biggest surprise to the unit was the start at SLB of rookie Rashad Jeanty. Jeanty, who spent three years in the CFL on the Edmonton Eskimos, was a long shot to even make the roster. However he did, and when a hamstring limited David Pollack, he found himself running out with the first team on opening day. He finished with 2 solo tackles. LB Ahmad Brooks, drafted in the third round of the supplemental draft this summer, was active, but DNP. He has been battling a neck injury.

Another rookie found himself in the starting lineup, as first round pick Johnathan Joseph replaced Deltha O’Neal, who was limited by a knee injury. Joseph had 3 solo tackles. The most important news was the return of versatile FS Madieu Williams. After an impressive rookie campaign in 2004, he missed 12 games due to a shoulder injury last season. He made an immediate impact last Sunday with the only pick of the day for the Bengals, as well as 5 solo tackles, including 2 on special teams.

Rookie D’Qwell Jackson started at weakside ILB over Chaun Thompson and posted 10 tackles (7 solo). After seeming to still be in the running for a starting role to the end, and expecting to at least share time at LB, Thompson was limited to special teams work in the opener. No injury was reported, but Thompson appears in danger of having no value this season, barring injury. Next to Jackson, veteran Andra Davis led the team in tackles with 11 (8 solo). On the outside, Matt Stewart and Willie McGinest started, with Kamerion Wimbley rotating regularly with Stewart. Wimbley was impressive, posting 4 tackles (2 solo), including dropping Reggie Bush for a seven-yard loss in the fourth quarter. However, the revamped front seven failed to put significant pressure on the QB, not registering a sack in the game.

Brian Russell started at FS after being listed as doubtful with an elbow injury. He had 6 tackles (5 solo) and forced a fumble from NO RB Deuce McAllister that SS Sean Jones recovered. Jones beat out Brodney Pool for the spot and finished the game with 3 solo tackles and a pick, in addition to the fumble recovery. Pool saw limited work as a backup and after a solid performance by Russell, appears slated to be a reserve for the near future. CB Gary Baxter started after missing most of the preseason. He had 5 tackles (4 solo) and a pass defended. CB Daylon McCutcheon is expected back in practice this week for the first time since he had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in the beginning of August.

Despite appearing to finally have all the players to fit Parcells’ defensive scheme, the Week One results were unimpressive. The offense didn’t do them any favors, throwing three picks and losing the time of possession battle significantly, but the lack of big plays and inability to swing the momentum was a problem. They put little pressure on the QB, forced just one turnover, and gave up 24 points after the team got off to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

The one turnover was a pick by SS Roy Williams, who broke up another pass and had 3 tackles (2 solo). Williams appeared to have twisted an ankle late in the game, so watch for updates of any problems this week. The only sack for the team was by backup DE Jay Ratliff. CB Anthony Henry led the team with 8 tackles. ILB Bradie James, hampered by a groin injury from the last preseason game, had 6 tackles (5 solo).

As expected, rookie fifth-round pick Pat Watkins started at FS. He had 5 solo tackles and with three more solid games, should hold off veteran Marcus Coleman, who was suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Keith Davis, a special teams ace, will remain in a reserve role.

First round pick Bobby Carpenter, who appear to not be impressing Parcells early, was a healthy scratch. After initially being expected to play outside and compete to start, he was moved inside during the preseason when Greg Ellis finally took to the position change from DE. The rookie needs to earn his way on special teams and until he can add value there, may continue to be inactive. However, he still has nice dynasty value, so keep an eye out in those leagues for owners who drop him out of frustration. On the other hand, former second round pick Kevin Burnett, who was similarly buried as a rookie, appears to be exiting Parcells’ doghouse with his special teams play and could have some value this year.

CB Champ Bailey led the team with 9 solo tackles.

DE Courtney Brown was inactive Week One with a knee. He had it cleaned up on Aug. 9, and was expected to be ready for the season opener. However, HC Mike Shanahan decided against playing Brown on the artificial surface in St. Louis. Kenard Lang started in Brown’s place and had a sack, as did fellow DE Ebenezer Ebukan.

The Lions had not lost a season opener at home since 1990, a span of five straight wins. Despite drawing the defending NFC champions, the streak appeared to have a chance to remain intact, thanks to a new attitude and aggressive approach on defense brought in by new HC Rod Marinelli. The defense held the Seahawks, who led the NFL in scoring last season, to just 9 points on 3 field goals, but needed to score themselves, as the offense provided no help.

It was the line that led the defensive revival in Detroit, and the unit was coached by Marinelli himself on game day. Marinelli, who coached the DLine in TB the last 10 years, stepped in when Joe Cullen took a leave after it was revealed he was arrested twice recently for driving violations alleging intoxication and nudity. It was Two-time Pro Bowl DT Shaun Rogers who was the catalyst. Despite being hampered by a shoulder separation in the preseason, Rogers was a dominant force. He recorded 5 solo tackles, including 2 sacks, and blocked a FG, the eight of his career. DE James Hall looks like he’s rebounded from a sub-par 2005 after a breakout 2004, as well. Hall posted two sacks, but was applying pressure all day, and he blocked another FG attempt. DE Cory Redding recovered a fumble and DE3 Kalimba Edwards had 4 tackles (2 solo).

An unsettled LB unit played well off the DLine. First round pick Ernie Sims made an immediate impact, as expected, tying for the team-lead with 10 tackles (7 solo) and hitting with authority. Journeyman Paris Lenon got the nod at MIKE, but posted just an assist and is unlikely to remain in the middle next week. Boss Bailey was expected to be the team’s new MLB after Teddy Lehman was placed on the PUP, but didn’t start this week because Bailey was still learning and didn’t get enough reps yet. Bailey still saw some work at both spots and finished with 4 assists. Expect Bailey in the middle soon and while it was supposed to be Lenon who replaced Bailey at SLB, Alex Lewis looked great there in the opener getting the start due to the other shifts. Lewis forced the fumble Redding recovered and had 8 tackles (5 solo). Sims, Bailey, and Lewis are likely to be the three starters soon, if not next week.

The aggressiveness in the Tampa-2 version Marinelli and DC Donnie Henderson brought in extended to the defensive backfield and could help their fantasy performance. FS Terrence Holt shared the team lead with Sims in tackles with 10 (7 solo). CB Fernando Bryant had 8 solo tackles and broke up 2 passes. CB Dre’ Bly and SS Kennoy Kennedy each had 6 tackles (5 solo). Bly also forced a fumble and just missed a pick when he couldn’t keep his feet in-bounds. This group could still be a liability in coverage in real football terms, but their fantasy ceiling is higher in this defense that sets them up to contribute in run defense and go for turnovers.

Green Bay
It will take at least another week of patience for those disappointed that WLB A.J. Hawk has yet to show translate his collegiate game-changing ability to the next level. Hawk played well, but had a quiet fantasy line with just 5 tackles (3 solo). MLB Nick Barnett led the team with 9 tackles (4 solo) and had the only GB turnover, a pick of an ill-advised pass by CHI QB Rex Grossman in to triple coverage in the end zone. At SLB, Brady Poppinga did indeed beat out FA Ben Taylor. Fantasy-wise Poppinga was solid, with 8 tackles (7 solo), but his job is not safe after being beaten several times in coverage trying to keep up with CHI TE Desmond Clark.

DE Aaron Kampman was off to a good start showing his career year last season was not a fluke. He was the only Packer applying consistent pressure and had their only sack among his 7 tackles (4 solo).

CB Al Harris thrives on physical play, but more than met his match in CHI WR Mushin Muhammad, who caught everything thrown his way on his best day as a Bear. CB Charles Woodson did not better when he was on Moose. Neither broke up a pass, all they could do was tackle him and both posted 5 tackles. Harris also was involved on the game-breaking 49-yard TD on the first series to speedy CHI WR Bernard Berrian. There appeared to be a miscommunication between Harris and SS Marquand Manuel, with Manuel getting beaten badly in a foot race toward the end zone. Manuel also had 5 tackles on the day. Woodson showed he can still do things as a return man. He averaged 14.7 yard on three punt returns, including breaking one for 28 yards. His value gets a bump if your league includes return yardage.

Overall first pick DE Mario Williams had a quiet debut, posting 3 tackles (2 solo) in a loss. The exciting start for Reggie Bush won’t make things any easier for Williams. The comparison is unfair, even if he is playing well he’ll never be able to match the highlight reel impact Bush can make as an offensive players, but he does have to show the ability to put more pressure on the QB and contribute to opening things up for teammates. He was never really a threat to McNabb the whole game, as he was moved up and down the line in an attempt to find a weakness or create a mismatch for him to make an impact. Williams did draw some double teams, but the team managed just one sack, by DE Anthony Weaver. On the other, the debut of second round pick DeMeco Ryans had a more visible impact. As the new MLB, he led the team with 13 tackles (12 solo). Snap him up if he’s somehow available in redraft or dynasty leagues.

Former Oakland first round pick Phillip Buchanon continues to be bust as a Texan. He lost his starting CB role last year after being injury prone and unimpressive. He was never able to regain it prior to this season, despite Demarcus Faggins, who replaced him last year, being out with a broken foot. Lewis Sanders started opposite Dunta Robinson. Buchanon was slated to still be the punt returner. However, injury problems struck again as he sprained his right ankle. His status is in question for this week. Reserve CB Roc Alexander tore his ACL and is done for the season.

FS Bo Sanders tied for the team lead with 8 tackles (7 solo). Rookie Antoine Bethea started at SS as Michael Doss is struggling with a lingering calf injury. Bethea had 6 tackles (4 solo) and broke up a pass. Jason David got the starting nod over Marlin Jackson at CB next to Nick Harper, but Jackson saw plenty of work as the nickel corner. He posted 8 tackles (7 solo, including 1 on special teams). Harper had the only INT.

DE Robert Mathis has moved in to the lineup as an every-down end. While he didn’t have a sack, he posted 2 solo tackles and recovered a fumble. DT Corey Simon was out with a knee injury. He is questionable this week.

DE Reggie Hayward ruptured his left Achilles’ tendon in the third quarter and will miss the rest of the season. LB Jorge Cordova was his immediate replacement, while Marcellus Wiley also worked in. Cordova is converted college DE who was on the IR his first two seasons, both from a torn ACL in his first camp in 2004. He has worked primarily at MLB and SLB, looking at a pass rush specialist role heading in to the season. At barely over 6’ and under 250, Cordova doesn’t likely have the size to be an every-down end. The first impression of HC Jack Del Rio is to move DT Rob Meier, who led DTs in sacks in 2005, to LDE. Meier started at DE in 2004 after Paul Spicer broke his leg. The inconsistent Bobby McCray, the backup to Paul Spicer, should also see more work. He was a healthy inactive in Week One. Montavious Stanley was signed to add depth at DT with Meier moving.

MLB Mike Peterson and DT Marcus Stroud played through injuries that had their status uncertain for Week One. Despite a right knee sprain, Peterson tied CB Rashean Mathis for the team lead with 6 tackles and had a game-clinching INT with less than a minute to go in the game. Stroud, who was reported as out by John Clayton before the game after spending the week on crutches for an ankle sprain, made his 65th consecutive start. However, he wasn’t at 100% and rotated frequently with super-sub Meier, as well as Tony McDaniel seeing some extra work. Meier picked up where he left off last season, tallying a sack among his two tackles, but also had just replaced Stroud on the play Julius Jones ran up the middle for a 23-yard TD in the first quarter. Peterson and Stroud are both expected to play this week.

After a tumultuous week in which he was arrested for a DUI, new CB Brian Williams made an impression with 5 solo tackles and a pass defended. He appeared to have a game-ending pick late in the fourth quarter, but the play was reversed. MLB Mike Peterson would get it two plays later. Another new Jag, LB Nick Greisen, had a pick as well, but no tackles. Greisen won the starting SAM job, but will need to do a bit more to hang on to it.

Kansas City
OLB Derrick Johnson led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo) and recovered a fumble forced by DE Jared Allen. Allen had 7 solo tackles and the only sack of the game. Opposite him, first round pick Tamba Hali got the start and finished with 7 tackles (3 solo). Hali suffered a thigh injury in the game, but expects to play this week.

LB Kendrell Bell, who failed to impress in his first season as a Chief last year, had just 2 solo tackles. Keyaron Fox, who led the team in tackles in the preseason, may yet get an opportunity to replace him, but didn’t get the chance last Sunday.

SS Sammy Knight was pushed by rookie second round pick Bernard Pollard in the preseason, but appeared to have won the job. However, after some struggles in coverage, rookie Jarrad Page replaced for most of the second half. Page, who had been working at FS, is a seventh round pick out of UCLA.

In football terms, the Dolphin front four is a group of senior citizens. None of the starters are under 30 and this could be a problem as the season grows long. However, the group had young legs against the Steelers in the first game of the NFL season last Thursday. DT Vonnie Holliday had 8 tackles (6 solo), while DT Keith Traylor, DE Kevin Carter, and DE Jason Taylor each had a sack. However, it wasn’t enough to stop the running game or unusually efficient passing of backup PIT QB Charlie Batch.

The surprising success of Batch revealed the real problem of this defense, a shaky secondary. The team waited too long to mix youth in to a veteran secondary. Then they were hit hard quickly the last two years by the departures of Sammy Knight, Patrick Surtain, and Sam Madison. Now they have a group of mid-tier free agents they assembled who are struggling with communication having never played together and in a new system. This was the first regular season game any of the starters in the secondary had played together. Second year CB Travis Daniels, coming off a promising rookie season, missed the first game with an ankle injury (and is questionable for this week). Daniels is a veteran of the system, having played in it with Saban at LSU, and despite being a rookie last year, was helpful in translating things on the field. Lacking depth, Detroit cast-off Andre Goodman was forced to start in place of Daniels. In addition to having questionable coverage skills, Goodman had a big pass interference penalty that set up a TD for the Steelers. Will Allen, who comes from the Giants, is the other starter at corner and recovered a fumble. The team also let Lance Schulters go, who quickly captured the system and made the calls for the secondary last season. Journeyman Renaldo Hill beat out first round pick Jason Allen to replace Schulters at FS, and while Hill brings more speed and athleticism, he doesn’t appear to be the field leader Schulters was. Allen played only on special teams in Week One and still needs to learn the defense and improve his reads before he’ll see significant action. SS Travares Tillman has been unable to hold a starting job elsewhere or capture one in Miami last year, but he is now with the first team perhaps a bit by default, being one of the only other secondary players back from last year. Tillman was the most productive from a fantasy perspective, posting 8 tackles (5 solo). Not only were there no picks, the starters didn’t even break up a single pass. This group will eventually mesh, and there are likely to be one or two surprise fantasy performers from the group, but the secondary will cause them more problems this season.

MLB Zach Thomas led the team, as usual, with 12 tackles (8 solo) and broke up a pass.

With last year’s “Love Boat” scandal not yet far enough in the team’s rearview mirror, it appears they unofficially suspended SS Dwight Smith after a police citation last month brought the spotlight back on the off-field issues with the behavior of Viking players. Smith, who joined the Vikings in the preseason after the Saints went with a youth movement at safety, was inactive and comments indicate he seemed to accept the situation. While he implied it was punishment, he stopped short of calling it that, hence likely initiating a union grievance, and indicated he partook in the decision. He should start at SS next week. Rookie Greg Blue got the start in his place and had 3 solo tackles. FS Darren Sharper also had 3 solo tackles and a forced fumble, as well as a huge pass defensed when he broke up a potential TD pass to WAS WR Santana Moss at the end of the first half.

The front seven put little pressure on the QB, but rookie reserve DE Ray Edwards almost had a pick when just missed tipping a screen pass to himself in the fourth quarter.

CB Antoine Winfield (7 solo) and WLB E.J. Henderson (6 solo) led the team with 7 tackles.

New England
After a suffering the devastating “terrible triad” knee injury last September, SS Rodney Harrison missed most of camp and the preseason, but looked fully recovered in Week One. He led the team with 9 tackles (4 solo). I was more confident than most in my preseason projections for him, but didn’t expect him to be back to form this quick. Peruse the waiver wire for owners who forgot about him or gave up on him.

ILB Tedy Bruschi was inactive as expected, continuing to recover from a broken wrist that kept him out of the preseason. Early reports are he is doubtful for this week. Mike Vrabel moved inside to replace him and OLB Tully Banta-Cain who got his first career start. Vrabel had 8 tackles (4 solo), next to Junior Seau, who also had 8 tackles (5 solo) in his debut as a Patriot. Banta-Cain had 3 tackles (2 solo) and although he didn’t get a sack, he showed his rush skills pressuring Losman a couple of times. On the other side, OLB Rosey Colvin did get to the QB, registering the team’s first sack of the season in the second quarter among his 3 tackles (2 solo). He batted down a pass on the next play and spent a lot of time in the offensive backfield. After leading the team with 7 sacks last year, Colvin appears all the way back from his career-threatening hip injury. Once again a top pass rush threat and still just 29 years old, he is likely to return to his double-digit sack form of his last two years in Chicago.

DE Richard Seymour also looked great after an injury-plagued 2005. He 5 tackles (4 solo), including a sack, and was pressuring the QB frequently. Opposite him, Ty Warren had the game-winning play with a sack for a safety in the fourth quarter.

FS Eugene Wilson injured his right triceps in the game, but played through it and is expected to play this week.

New Orleans
The LB situation was cleared up, at least temporarily, in the opener. Mark Simoneau, acquired from the Eagles in the package for WR Donte Stallworth, started at MLB. Danny Clark, who was picked up after Oakland cut him, primarily saw work on special teams, same for Alfred Fincher. Simoneau finished with 5 tackles (2 solo) and applied pressure as a pass rusher a couple times. Scott Shanle, acquired in a trade with the Cowboys, appears set at WLB. He had 6 tackles (4 solo) and has some value in deep leagues as a guy who was completely off the radar before this season. The versatile Clark could push for either spot if Simoneau or Shanle struggle. Scott Fujita probably has the most job security at SLB. He had 6 tackles (4 solo) and an INT. In case you missed it, the starters from the beginning of summer camp are all gone. Tommy Polley was put on the IR, Anthony Simmons has retired, and Colby Bockwoldt was cut. Jay Foreman, who was brought in during the preseason, was cut, as well.

With the departure of Darren Howard, Will Smith is now the starter from Week One at RDE and wasted no time getting to the QB. He posted 5 tackles (3 solo) and a sack. Now a full time player, Smith is on the short list to be the top producing DE this season. Opposite Smith, Charles Grant looks to rebound from a disappointing and injury-plagued 2005. He posted 3 tackles (2 solo). DT Brian Young looked like he had potential to be an interior pass rush threat in his second season when he had 6.5 sacks as a reserve with the Rams in 2001. However, it became an anomaly as he hasn’t had more than 2.5 in a season since, including none last year. Last Sunday he had a career game, posting 3 sacks among 5 tackles and recovering a fumble. While you shouldn’t expect another game like that from Young, he’s almost halfway to a career year playing on a talented DLine on an apparently rejuvenated defense, so he’s clearly worth consideration if your league starts both DE and DT. A name to watch for the future in deep dynasty leagues is rookie fifth round pick Rob Ninkovich. He showed some pass rush ability and provided some exciting moments in the preseason. He was in the rotation last Sunday and had a solo tackle. Also, former first round pick DE Michael Haynes, released by the Bears in their final cuts, was picked up off waivers by the Saints. He was inactive in Week One as he learns the defense.

The young safety tandem had a couple critical plays late in the game. Second round pick SS Roman Harper had his first career sack and FS Josh Bullocks had a pick. Harper had 5 solo tackles and Bullocks tied for the team lead with 6 tackles (5 solo), as well. S Bryan Scott and CB Dejuan Groce, two former starters on other teams, where both inactive with hamstring injuries and will be reserves when they return.

New York Giants
DE Osi Umenyiora fought leg cramps during the game, reportedly requiring IV treatment. He was forced to leave in the third quarter. That should be an isolated incident and he should be fine to play this week. First round pick Mathias Kiwanuka had an assist in his first action and backup DE Justin Tuck didn’t post a stat, but did have a QB hurry.

DT Fred Robbins strained a quad during the game and had to limp off the field. However, he returned, was able to finish the game, and is expected to play this week. He had the only sack of the game for the Giants.

MLB Antonio Pierce led the team with 11 tackles (7 solo) and broke up a pass. After an injury-plagued preseason, Carlos Emmons was the starting WLB. He had 8 tackles (4 solo). LaVar Arrington had a quiet debut, posting 4 tackles (3 solo).

New York Jets
While the conventional wisdom is HC Eric Mangini has installed a 3-4, but there seems to be little difference. The key swing player, Bryan Thomas, seemed to line up as a DE as much as an OLB. The results were similar to last year, as well. MLB Jonathan Vilma led the team with 12 tackles (7 solo). Whatever they want to call it, former first round pick Thomas did well in it. The DE/LB had 4 tackles (3 solo), including a sack. OLB Victor Hobson had the only other sack.

CB Andre Dyson had two picks and SS Kerry Rhodes had one. Rhodes appeared to have twisted his ankle during the game, but says he is fine for this week. Justin Miller lined up as the starter across from Dyson and had 5 tackles (3 solo) and 2 passes defensed. In leagues that count kick return stats, Miller’s value takes a bump now that he is a starter on defense.

Not much to say about the Raiders defense on Monday night. They didn’t get to the QB the rare times he passed, forced no turnovers, and let the Chargers run over them. MLB Kirk Morrison (6 solo) and rookie WLB Thomas Howard (8 solo, including 1 on special teams) led the team with 9 tackles.

CB Nnamdi Asomugha sprained his foot during the game and is questionable for this week.

The Texans tried to address problems with their OLine this off-season, but the initial returns weren’t positive as a revamped Philly DLine exploited them. They helped the team total 5 sacks and limit Houston to 70 yards rushing, more than a third by QB David Carr as he ran from the pressure. DE Trent Cole picked up where he left off last season and led the way with 2 sacks (although one was a gift, Carr tripped over one of this linemen). He looks once again to be one of the most valuable DE3’s from a fantasy perspective. Reserve DE Juqua Thomas, who had 4.5 sacks in the preseason, also got his first sack as an Eagle. Jevon Kearse got off to a better start this season, getting a sack and a pass defensed. He went three games before getting his first last year. Despite a holdout that stunted his development, first round pick Brodrick Bunkley had an instant impact as the third DT. He posted 3 solo tackles and almost got a sack. The team has a lot of confidence in this group top to bottom. All eight active DLinemen rotated regularly throughout the game. They were basically set up like hockey lines, playing together each time, with Kearse, Darren Howard, Mike Patterson, and Darwin Walker playing as the first line. Cole, Thomas, Bunkley, and LaJuan Ramsey were the second line. They had the ability to keep this up against a team like the Texans, with the game well in hand early. They likely will need to rely more on their key starters and role play as needed against better competition, although they will apparently try not to. DC Jim Johnson said he’ll continue to employ this tactic, changing it up in the fourth quarter if the game is on the line. While this will help keep them all fresh and more productive when they are in, it doesn’t bode well for expecting any one of them to put up huge stats this year. If injuries surface, the team has DT Sam Rayburn and DE Jerome McDougle left to step in. Both were inactive Sunday.

Matt McCoy had a nice debut as the new WLB in his first career start. He had 9 tackles (8 solo, including 1 on special teams) and forced a fumble. His best hit didn’t even record a stat, as he blasted Carr right after a hand-off on the first series. Although Carr was slow to get up, McCoy didn’t rattle his cage too bad, Carr threw a TD on the next play. McCoy was tied with MLB Jeremiah Trotter with a team-high 9 tackles (6 solo for Trotter). Trotter rolled his ankle late in the game, but expects to play this week.

CB Lito Sheppard missed the final six games of last season on the IR with a high left ankle sprain. That injury required surgery and required extensive rehab. While he was still struggling with pain in the preseason, he declared himself ready for the season. However, on the third play from scrimmage, he was beat for a long catch by TE Jeb Putzier and left the game. The x-rays on the ankle came back negative, but as he aggravated the same bothersome ankle, this could be a problem for the rest of the season. Early reports are he’ll at least miss this week’s game with a “pretty significant sprain”, according to HC Andy Reid, and could miss several weeks. Roderick Hood, who stepped up when Sheppard went down last season, replaced him again and RB Brian Westbrook took over punt return duties for Sheppard. Hood had 3 tackles (2 solo) and broke up a pass. Joselio Hanson replaced Hood as the nickel corner and reserve RB Bruce Perry would have been the emergency fourth corner. However, Perry does not appear to be considered a long-term option. The team resigned CB Dexter Wynn, who was among the Eagles final preseason cuts.

Volatile OLB Joey Porter apparently had no problem finding motivation for this season after the outstanding individual and team success of 2005. He started the year with a phenomenal performance, getting 2 sacks with frequent pressure on MIA QB Dante Culpepper and then returning an INT for a TD to seal the victory late in the fourth quarter. Porter’s pick came a series after SS Troy Polamalu abruptly ended another Dolphin drive with an INT that followed a questionable go-ahead TD for Pit. Polamalu also forced a fumble and led the team in tackles with 10 (4 solo).

SS Troy Polamalu injured his shoulder and is listed as questionable, but is expected to play.

St. Louis
Last year’s 30th ranked defense went through a major overhaul this off-season and the early results were very positive. MLB Will Witherspoon led the team with 9 solo tackles, as well as tipped a pass that was picked and forced a fumble recovered by FS Oshiomogho Atogwe in his first career start. Atogwe also had 7 tackles (6 solo). SS Corey Chavous and CB Fakir Brown had their first INTs as a Ram and rookie first round CB Tye Hill had his first INT ever. DT La’Roi Glover had 5 tackles (3 solo).

Two key returning pieces of the defense, ends Leonard Little and Tony Hargrove, each started off well. Little looked as dominant as ever on his way to 5 solo tackles, including 2 sacks and a forced fumble, as well as 3 other QB hurries. On the opposite end, the light finally seemed to go on for Hargrove at the end of last year. After his production as a pass rusher never meeting the high expectations of his physical skills, he finished 2005 with 4.5 sacks in 3 games. Beginning the year with a sack is a great way for him to build on that. Rookie fourth round pick Victor Adeyanju appears to be locked in at third DE on the depth chart. Brandon Green, who appeared to be challenging Hargrove for a starting spot for a while last season, was a healthy inactive.

Another of the few returning starters, former first round pick DT Jimmy Kennedy, showed a toughness that wasn’t always there. He broke his hand on the second play of the game, but returned to finish the game in a cast. He had surgery to insert a pin on Monday, but is expected to play this week.

San Diego
The Charges defense set up camp in the Raiders offensive backfield on Monday night, posting nine sacks. 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year OLB Shawne Merriman led the way with 3 sacks and came close 3 other times. He had 3 other solo tackles to lead the team with 6. DE Luis Castillo and OLB Shaun Phillips shared a sack and each had a solo sack of their own. Phillips got the start in place of Steve Foley, who is out the rest of the season after being shot in the preseason.

Trade rumors continue to swirl around ILB Donnie Edwards, but he was in the starting lineup and productive, as usual. He had 3 solo tackles, including a sack, and broke up a pass.

San Francisco
ILB Derek Smith led the team with 9 tackles (8 solo). The revamped 3-4 saw Smith and Jeff Ulbrich inside as expected, with rookie Manny Lawson at ROLB. Lawson had a solid debut with 6 solo tackles. At ROLB, rookie sixth round pick Melvin Oliver got the start. More DE than LB, Oliver was the anchor on running downs. Brandon Moore saw work there in passing situations and posted a sack. Rookie Parys Haralson, also expected to work there, was inactive due to a lingering foot sprain.

CB Shawntae Spencer played through a hamstring to put up 6 tackles (5 solo) and break up a pass. Across from him, journeyman Walt Harris posted the same tackle numbers, but also broke up 2 passes and had a sack on which he forced and recovered a fumble. Ageless DE Bryant Young also opened the season with a sack.

The biggest story was the return from life-threatening injuries, after a fight outside a nightclub last year, by FS Ken Hamlin. He wasted no time showing he was all the way back, physically and mentally, when he fearlessly laid a huge hit on Lion WR Mike Furrey in the second quarter, who somehow managed to hang on to the ball. Hamlin, whose importance to teammates was seen when he was nominated as a captain for the season, finished with 6 tackles (4 solo).

OLB Julian Peterson made an immediate impact, posting 7 tackles (4 solo), including his first sack as a Seahawk. He also made a huge stop on first-and-ten inside Seattle territory on what would be the Lions final drive late in the game. He stood up DET RB Kevin Jones for no gain and forced a fumble that the Lions recovered, but the play was erased when a holding call against the Lions pushed them back further. Peterson had another tackle on the drive that eventually ended with a failed fourth down conversion attempt and allowed the offense to drive for the winning FG on the subsequent possession.

DE Bryce Fisher also had a sack and recovered a fumble forced by DT Rocky Bernard. OLB Leroy Hill, who broke out as a rookie in 2005, was unable to play through a shoulder stinger suffered in the final preseason practice last week and a late decision to be kept inactive. D.D. Lewis got the start and posted a sack among his 4 solo tackles. Hill is still questionable for this week.

CB Kelly Herndon led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo) and first round pick Kelly Jennings worked as the nickel corner, posting 3 solo tackles. Second round pick Darryl Tapp worked as the third DE and had 2 tackles (1 solo), as well as an assist on special teams.

Tampa Bay
After seeming to have bested a groin injury, MLB Shelton Quarles was a surprise late scratch, giving former second round pick Barrett Ruud his first career start. Ruud was solid, posting 8 tackles (3 solo), but couldn’t catch RB Jamal Lewis who shrugged him off on the first TD of the game. Quarles is listed as questionable, but expects to return to practice on Wednesday and play this week. CB Rhonde Barber (10 solo) and OLB Derrick Brooks (9 solo) tied for a game-high 11 tackles.

The front four was able to put some pressure on BAL QB Steve McNair, but couldn’t close the deal, as the team had just 1 sack, by reserve DL Dewayne White, and no picks.

Not much appeared different from last year in the first game. OLB Keith Bulluck and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch were, as usual, far and away the IDP stars. Bulluck led the team with 14 tackles (10 solo) and forced a fumble. I felt last year was a career year for Vanden Bosch and was more conservative about projecting him this year, however he showed no signs of slowing down in Week One. He finished with 8 tackles (6 solo) and a sack.

Opposite VB, Travis LaBoy started and depth is a problem. The team released Bo Schobel in the final round of cuts and Antwan Odom continues to battle a knee problem that had him inactive Week One and declared out again this week.

Reserve CB Cortland Finnegan saw extensive work and made an immediate impact. The seventh round pick finished with 5 tackles (4 solo) and his first career sack in the fourth quarter, on which he stripped Chad Pennington and led to a game-tying TD on the next play. Finnegan looks to have passed former first round pick Andre Woolfolk for the nickel corner role. CB Pacman Jones muffed a punt, but recovered it.

DT Robaire Smith returns to Tennessee after being released in a cost cutting move by Houston. He was right back in the starting lineup Week One, but suffered a hamstring injury when he jumped offside in the first quarter and left the game. Randy Starks replaced him and posted 4 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. Smith is questionable for Week Two. Next to Smith, DT Albert Haynesworth suffered a sprained ankle in the game and is also questionable this week.

MLB Lemar Marshall led the team with 13 tackles (9 solo). Warrick Holdman started at WLB and had 6 tackles (4 solo).

FS Sean Taylor had 5 solo tackles, but the stat that had the biggest impact with his two personal fouls in the fourth quarter, including a face mask on third-and-nine that kept alive the eventual game-winning drive.

CB Shawn Springs continues to recover from abdominal surgery in mid-August. He was inactive Week One and is expected to miss at least this week as well.