Quick Hits (Details in individual
Week 2 Injury Report (available
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.