Other than the anomaly of three picks, ILB Gerald Hayes has quietly
been on pace to exceed all his other career-high numbers set last
year. It has been quiet because he hasn’t had many big games,
although he has had a few recently. He had his biggest game of the
year on Sunday, leading the team with a season-high 12 solo tackles,
including his third sack. It was just his second double-digit tackle
game of the year. However, he has had 8 or more tackles in three
of his last four games and over those four games, has 31 tackles
and 2 sacks. It was another solid day for their other two top LBs,
as well. ILB Karlos Dansby (4 solo) and OLB Calvin Pace (5 solo)
both had 7 tackles. Dansby, playing through a sore shoulder, had
a sack and broke up a pass, as well.
SS Adrian Wilson missed his second game with right calf and heel
problems. He is seeing a specialist this week for another opinion.
Oliver Celestin continued to replace him and had 6 tackles (5
solo). DE Joe Tafoya had 4 tackles (3 solo) and his first sack
since 2005 as he continues to replace Bert Berry (IR) as a starting
DE. CB Eric Green, already battling ankle problem, suffered a
groin strain in the first half and did not return. He was placed
on the IR with a torn groin. Former first-round pick Antrel Rolle
should return to the starting lineup. Rolle didn’t have
much of an encore to his career game the previous week, finishing
with 3 solo tackles and a pass defensed. The NFL admitted a foul
called on Rolle’s third pick last week that erased a 71-yard
TD return was a mistake. It would have been an NFL-record third
interception return for a TD in the game for him.
In his third year in the league, SLB Michael Boley had three career
sacks and no multi-sack games. He added to his breakout season
with 3 sacks in the first half against IND on Thanksgiving, including
back-to-back plays late in the second quarter to keep their deficit
at just eight points at halftime. He forced a fumble on his last
sack, but IND recovered it. However, he went down writhing in
pain after a tackle in the third quarter. Boley left the game
with a hyperextended left elbow. He returned with it wrapped in
the fourth quarter and finished the game leading the team in tackles
with 10 tackles (9 solo), including one on special teams. WLB
Demorrio Williams had 6 solo tackles and was not rotating with
rookie Stephen Nicholas. The aggressiveness that got the Falcons
out to an early lead also swung the momentum in the second quarter.
Boley and Williams went after a punt on fourth-and-one with the
kicked landing on both of them in the process. The running into
the kicker penalty gave IND a first down. They scored a TD and
took the lead for the first time in the game, a lead they wouldn’t
lose the rest of the game. MLB Keith Brooking also had a solid
game, posting 6 tackles (5 solo), including his second sack of
Rookie CB Chris
Houston was picked on throughout the game by IND QB Peyton
Manning. He broke up 2 passes and had 4 solo tackles, but a lot
of passes were completed in his direction. One of the few passes
thrown at CB DeAngelo
Hall was picked for his team-leading fourth interception.
Hall also had 5 solo tackles.
The mystery illness plaguing CB Samari
Rolle this year was revealed last week as epilepsy. He has
had three major seizures this year which, along with the aftereffects,
have kept him out of six games. Neither Rolle nor the team would
comment on any restrictions in games, but Rolle indicated the
condition was “under control” and he intends to keep playing,
which experts seem to agree he can do. He started on Sunday and
had 5 tackles (4 solo). However, the team was without CB Chris
McAllister, who continues to battle a sore knee. Corey
Ivy started in his place. FS Ed
Reed continues to battle back and neck problems, as well as
having suffered a minor concussion, after absorbing a few big
hits against PIT in Week Nine. He was beaten by SD TE Antonio
Gates on his first of two TDs. MLB Ray
Lewis was beaten on the other. Lewis led the team 8 tackles
(5 solo) and broke up a pass.
DE Trevor Pryce was placed on the IR with a torn pec suffered
in Week Eleven. Dwan Edwards should start in his place the rest
of the season. OLB Jarrett Johnson suffered a mild concussion
and fractured thumb in the game and the team is hopeful he can
play this week, but it seems he is likely to miss some time. Rookie
Antwan Barnes could be in line for his first significant playing
time if Johnson is out. The team had no sacks and forced no turnovers
in the loss.
Another round of injuries plagued the Bills on Sunday, starting
up front. DE Chris Kelsay left the game in the second quarter
with a left ankle injury. It sounds like it will at least keep
him out of this week’s game. Ryan Denney saw significant
action in place of Kelsay and it may have been too much for his
left foot. He left near the end of the game with pain in the foot.
Denney missed the first half of the season with a broken left
foot and has a screw in it. X-rays were negative, but Denney will
be watched closely this week and obviously isn’t up to a
full compliment of snaps if Kelsay misses any time. DE Tony Hargrove
is next line.
The defense forced no turnovers and nickel CB Ashton Youboty had
the only sack, the first of his career, when he chased JAX QB
David Garrard out of bounds behind the line after pressure flushed
him out. Youboty, as well as reserve safeties Jim Leonhard and
Bryan Scott, saw more work with the depth a problem in the secondary.
Kiwaukee Thomas went on the IR last week, Jerametrius Butler was
out with a calf injury, and LB/S Coy Wire left the game in the
third quarter with a neck stinger. The team signed CB Dustin Fox
off the practice squad last week and he suited up, but did not
play. LB Leon Joe was released to make room for Fox. Wire and
Butler are both questionable for this week.
SLB Angelo Crowell played through foot problems and led the team
with 10 tackles (7 solo). He is third in the league in tackles
on the season. SS Donte Whitner started despite a recent concussion
and had 4 solo tackles. CB Terrence McGee started the game with
a sore ankle, then hurt his leg on his first kick return and was
out briefly. He returned to the game to post 9 tackles (8 solo)
and handle his normal kick return duties.
With a 3-0 lead, DE Julius Peppers tipped a pass to himself late
in the first quarter for his first pick since 2004. However, the
offense went three-and-out, then the Saints scored a TD on their
next possession and never looked back. It was the only turnover
forced by the defense, and they had no sacks.
CB Chris Gamble was inactive after having surgery on his dislocated
right thumb last week. Richard Marshall replaced Gamble in the
starting lineup and led the team with 13 tackles (3 solo), as
well as broke up a pass. Gamble could return with a cast on the
thumb this week. Patrick Dendy moved up to the nickel CB in place
of Marshall. Despite HC John Fox indicating he was impressed with
rookie UDFA Quinton Teal the last few weeks, he saw some work
particularly in Week Ten when FS Deke Cooper was dinged up, Teal
was back to just special teams work on Sunday.
SLB Thomas Davis played through a foot injury after being listed
late last week as doubtful. He had 6 tackles (5 solo). MLB Jon
Beason had 10 tackles (7 solo) and had double-digit tackles in
three of his last four games.
Chicago Devin Hester and, for once, the offense, bailed out another shaky
effort by the defense. However, DE Adewale Ogunleye resumed being
one of the hottest ends in the league. He posted 7 tackles (6
solo) including 2 sacks. He forced a fumble on his first sack
and although DEN recovered it, it was on third down forcing a
punt. The offense converted it to a FG for the first points of
the game. In the second quarter, he recovered a fumble forced
by WLB Lance Briggs that led to another FG. It came after an interception
for FS Danieal Manning was erased by a penalty. Three of his non-sack
stops were for a yard or less, including two straight on a third
quarter drive that forced the punt Hester returned for a TD. His
second sack came on third down to stop a DEN drive late in the
fourth quarter. On the subsequent drive, the Bears tied the game
to force OT. He didn’t do much the previous game, but over
the last four games, O-Gun has 20 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles,
and a fumble recovery. He leads the team with 9 sacks on the season.
CB Charles Tillman grabbed his first pick of the season, but his
biggest play was a blocked punt midway through the fourth quarter
that CHI converted to a TD to cut the deficit to seven and allow
them to eventually tie the game to force OT. CB Nathan Vasher
remained inactive with a partially torn groin. Rookie Trumaine
McBride, who had been starting in place of Vasher recently, was
battling a hip problem of his own, so he was limited to special
teams work. Nickel CB Ricky Manning Jr. got the start and showed
why despite being an asset as a playmaking nickel in a Cover Two,
he can’t play on an island like Vasher can. After DEN scored
late in the third to go up by seven, Hester returned the kickoff
for a TD to tie the game back up at 20. However, on the first
play from scrimmage by DEN on the next drive, Manning was burnt
off the line in man coverage for a 68 yard TD, capping three TDs
in 27 seconds in what was a surprisingly exciting game.
Darwin Walker and Anthony Adams started at DT, with Tommie Harris
continues to be limited by knee and groin problems. Harris missed
a few snaps when he aggravated his groin on Sunday, but returned
to the game. He will continue to be limited in practice to be
as fresh as possible for games, but could be shut down for the
season if the Bears are eliminated from playoff contention.
SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer led the team with 10 tackles (8 solo) and
MLB Brian Urlacher had 8 tackles (6 solo). Urlacher also broke
up two passes, including a nice tip on an athletic leap to redirect
a potential TD pass in the first quarter. Briggs broke up the
next pass, limiting DEN to a FG after they had a first-and-goal
from the three-yard line.
Cincinnati Landon Johnson remained the man in the middle and Dhani Jones
continues to thrive at WLB. He led the team with 9 tackles (6
solo), including his first solo sack since 2003. He forced a fumble
on the sack that SLB Rashad Jeanty recovered. It was the only
sack for the Bengals. Johnson, who is already battling a sore
back, left the game briefly in the first half with a cut on his
arm. He returned and finished with 3 tackles (1 solo). Anthony
Schlegel only saw work while Johnson was out. Schlegel also had
a bad back, but it looks like Johnson will remain the starting
MLB for now.
Rookie CB Leon Hall, who replaced Deltha O’Neal in the starting
lineup the previous game, continues to start and played through
a shoulder injury. He had 2 tackles (1 solo). CB Johnathan Joseph
had his second pick of the season and broke up 2 other passes.
He also had 5 tackles (4 solo). Rookie Chinedum Ndukwe continues
to take snaps away from SS Dexter Jackson, who was reportedly
impaired by hand and wrist problems.
ILB D’Qwell Jackson returned to the starting lineup, but
it was Leon Williams, not Andra Davis, who moved back to a reserve.
Jackson led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo). He also got his
first career pick when Davis tipped a low that Jackson made a
nice diving grab on. Davis also had 2 tackles (1 solo). Williams
had 2 solo tackles and while his strength is in pass coverage,
he brought some good pressure as a pass rusher. Davis and Williams
sharing a role again limits the value of both, while Jackson appears
over his sprained ankle and ready to return to being a tackle
machine. OLB Kamerion Wimbley also brought good pressure and although
he didn’t have a sack, he broke up a pass and had 3 solo
tackles, including forcing a fumble on one that CB Leigh Bodden
recovered. Pass rush specialist OLB Antwan Peek had a sack against
his old team, giving him 3.5 on the season.
With rookie CB Eric Wright sidelined with a sprained left knee,
joined Bodden as the starting corners. However, it was another
rookie corner, Brandon
McDonald, who stepped in to the spotlight as the nickel corner.
McDonald spent a lot of time on HOU WR Andre
Johnson, holding him to under 40 yards and no TDs. McDonald
broke up 4 passes, including grabbing his first career pick in
HOU territory in the fourth quarter that led to a TD putting the
game out of reach for the Texans. McDonald had a solo tackle on
defense and two more on special teams. Wright is expected to miss
up to three more weeks.
NT Ethan Kelley was out with a knee injury, so Shaun Smith, who
was battling his own knee injury, slid in from end and started
at NT. Smith had his second sack of the season, both in the last
three games. Kelley remains questionable for this week. Orpheus
Roye remained a starter at end with Robaire Smith.
After a couple scores by the defense, the rout was on when CB
Terence Newman jumped a route and returned his third pick of the
season 50-yards for a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. SS Roy
Williams didn’t start a game for the first time in his career.
The defense opened in their nickel package, which now features
reserve S Pat Watkins in place of Williams, and played nickel
a lot throughout the game. HC Wade Phillips dismissed it as a
result of the scheme and said he had no idea of the streak, but
reinforced Williams is a “starter” and pointed out
he played his normal snaps, which is most of the game and on some
special teams. ILB Akin Ayodele was also bumped as an official
starter by Kevin Burnett because of this. Burnett is playing well
and may have encroached more on Ayodele’s time than just
because of playing more pass prevention schemes. Newman and Anthony
Henry started together for the first time this season because
of the scheme and Henry had his snaps increased significantly.
Newman missed some time early with plantar fasciitis and Henry
has not started the previous two games, despite being active,
as he returned from an ankle injury. Jacques Reeves, who had started
every game until Thanksgiving in place of Newman or Henry, was
temporarily knocked out of the game when he colliding with FS
Ken Hamlin to break up a pass in the end zone.
The rebirth of Greg Ellis as an OLB at age 32 continues. He had
2 sacks among his 4 solo tackles giving him 8.5 sacks on the season,
half a sack short of his best season. Ellis has done this despite
missing the first three games of the season recovering from a
torn Achilles’ tendon just over a year ago. He doesn’t
get many tackles, but has only been held without a sack in two
of the eight games he played this year and has three multi-sack
games. With double-digit sacks, Ellis hits a significant salary
incentive target. His play has made rookie Anthony Spencer worthless
in redraft leagues.
Dumervil finished with just 3 solo tackles, but he was a force.
He drew holding calls on both CHI tackles on the same drive, one
of them negating a TD pass for the Bears. On the next play after
erasing seven points, he blew up the middle with DT Kenny
Peterson to get to CHI QB Rex Grossman. It appeared shared
to me, but Peterson got credit for the sack. Dumervil was mostly
frustrating CHI RT Fred Miller from the left side, drawing a face
mask on Miller in addition to one of those holds. Peterson, who
recently was brought back after being cut earlier this season,
was a force in the game. He did not start, but rotated in regularly
on both running and passing downs, getting four other solo tackles
in addition to his sack, and batting down a pass. Rookie Tim
Crowder also continues to do well as a situational pass rusher.
He got his fourth sack of the season and all of them have come
in the last three games.
SS Hamza Abdullah stopped a huge momentum swing by CHI in the
third quarter. After a punt return for a TD by the Bears that
tied the game, the DEN offense threw a pick on the next play from
scrimmage that left CHI deep in DEN territory. On third down,
Grossman escaped the pocket before Abdullah hit him and caused
a fumble. The ball squirted away and after Abdullah popped up,
he picked it up. He very likely could have returned it for a TD,
but whistles had blown originally saying the ground caused the
fumble and it was still CHI ball. That was reversed after being
challenged and although a TD the other way may have been erased,
at least DEN had the ball back. Abdullah had 7 solo tackles in
the game and is locked in as the starter at SS now. CB Dre’
Bly had a sack and played a lot of good coverage, but a very questionable
illegal contact call on him on fourth down kept the drive alive
that eventually tied the game for the Bears and forced OT.
The Thanksgiving game started off good when GB QB Brett Favre
tripped on the first play from scrimmage and lost the ball, which
DeVries recovered. However, they had little answer for the
GB O after the first quarter, getting no other turnovers and no
sacks in the game. DE Dewayne
White returned after missing two games with a left triceps
injury. He was back in the starting lineup, but moved over to
right end in place of Kalimba
Edwards. DeVries, who has played well in replacing both White
and Edwards due to injuries this year, is now the starting LDE
and pushes Edwards to the third DE and, once again, mostly a situational
SS Kennoy Kennedy forced a fumble with his usual vicious hitting,
but it went out of bounds before DET could recover it. He led
the team with 10 tackles (5 solo). CB Travis Fisher and CB Fernando
Bryant started and played through some dings from the last few
games, but both played poorly regardless of Favre being on fire.
DT Shaun Cody was a healthy scratch, with journeyman Langston
Moore active over him for depth on the DLine. The former second-round
pick has fallen a long way since he earned a starting role to
begin 2006 before a toe injury ended his season early.
The offense sputtered out of the gate, but despite DET getting
deep in GB territory twice, the defense held them to six points
in the first quarter. DE Aaron Kampman was a big part of it, getting
both of his sacks on third downs in the first quarter. Kampman
brought good pressure the whole night, as DET was down to their
third string RT quickly. DET starter George Foster was inactive
and his back-up, Jonathan Scott, went out in the first quarter.
Kampman got his second sack on the next play. He takes over the
league lead in sacks with 11 this season. MLB Nick Barnett led
the team with 8 tackles (4 solo) and continues to lead the team
on the season.
The momentum swung to the Packers on the first play of the second
quarter. Rookie FS Aaron Rouse stepped in front of DET rookie
WR Calvin Johnson near mid-field to get his second career interception
and returned in deep inside DET territory. The Packers would score
a TD on that and their next drive to take control of the game
heading in to halftime. It was the only turnover the defense forced
in the game and gives Rouse a pick in back-to-back games in his
third career start. He also had 6 tackles (4 solo). However, he
had to leave the game in the second half after straining his knee.
Charlie Peprah finished the game at FS. Adding a bit of a concern
regarding how bad Rouse’s knee is hurt is the fact the team
has brought back S Marviel Underwood this week. Underwood was
a fourth-round pick in 2005 who was released in the preseason
when he wasn’t ready to return from an ACL injury last year.
Rouse remains questionable, although Nick Collins likely returns
this week. More on that later.
DT Johnny Jolly was inactive with a shoulder sprain, so Corey
Williams started in his place next to Ryan Pickett. Williams had
a sack to tie a career high with seven on the season. Williams
has five sacks in his last four games. Jolly is expected to miss
a few more weeks and the injury problems mounted for the defense
in the game. DT Colin Cole, who saw more work with Jolly out,
broke his left forearm in the game and is done for the season.
Pickett also left the game briefly after aggravating a previously
strained knee in the first quarter, but returned the next series
and is expected to play this week. Pass rush specialist Kabeer
Gbaja-Biamila rolled his ankle on a sack in the second quarter
and did not return. It gave KGB 9.5 on the season, tied for fourth
in the league and the most since his last double-digit sack season
in 2004. Mike Montgomery saw more work with KGB out. KGB thinks
he is fine, but he also strained his knee in addition to spraining
his ankle. He already missed practice Monday and is questionable
this week, making him a risky play even if he is active. The biggest
concern might be CB Charles Woodson. He hurt his right big toe
on a punt return in the first quarter and did not return. There
was significant swelling the next day, but it was not broken.
Woodson has battled hip and foot problems all season, so he has
been regularly held out of practice and it will be hard to gauge
what it means when he misses practice this week, as he already
did on Monday, although he went through a limited workout on Tuesday.
It’s also important to note he has a history of problems
with turf toe. Tramon Williams, who was a star in their previous
game when he returned a pooch punt for a TD, replaced Woodson.
Williams had another big play on special teams, making a TD-saving
tackle on a kick return in the second quarter. Williams or Jarrett
Bush would start in place of Woodson if he is out, and depth a
corner would be a problem because Will Blackmon is still out with
a broken foot, though he could return this week. I’d bet
Woodson plays this week, but would be leery of starting him. CB
Al Harris has been battling back problems most of the season,
so they need to worry about him aggravating that problem, as well.
FS Nick Collins, who should return this week from a knee injury,
was still out on Thanksgiving, but his absence had been less of
a concern due to the play of Rouse. Collins is expected to return
to the starting lineup regardless of the condition of Rouse. At
DT, the team has first-round pick Justin Harrell ready to return
from an ankle sprain to replace Cole in the rotation, but will
miss Jolly this week. Despite playing on Thanksgiving, the team
doesn’t get the benefit of more time to rest this week because
they are up again this Thursday night in a battle with DAL that
will have a huge impact on determining home field advantage through
the NFC playoffs.
DE Mario Williams remained hot with 4 solo tackles, including
the only sack for the Texans on which he forced a fumble. He had
sacks in back-to-back games and leads the team with 6 on the season.
MLB DeMeco Ryans led the team with 11 tackles (9 solo).
CB Jamar Fletcher returned to practice from an appendicitis last
week, but remained inactive. CB Von Hutchins had 10 solo tackles
and started opposite rookie Fred Bennett, who had his second career
pick and 6 tackles (5 solo).
After struggling through the first quarter against the Falcons
on Thanksgiving, the team finally took a 14-13 lead late in the
third quarter. On the subsequent drive, FS Antoine
Bethea lit up ATL rookie WR Laurent Robinson just after he
caught a pass, knocking it free and right in to the hands of CB
for his second interception of the season. Hayden lost a few yards
trying to escape a tackle, then tried to lateral the ball to FS
as he was being tackles, but it hit the ground and was considered
a fumble. Sanders picked it up and returned it 34 yards, but that
was all erased by a hold by Bethea when brought ATL QB Joey Harrington
down with a wrestling move from a headlock. The offense would
convert that in to seven more points for a bigger cushion heading
in to the half. Sanders also had 6 solo tackles in the game.
The defense would seal the victory late in the third quarter with
their only other forced turnover in the game. SLB Rocky Boiman
got his second pick of the season deep in ATL territory and Colts
cruised from there. Boiman remained a starter with Tyjuan Hagler
still inactive. Boiman broke up another pass and had 2 solo tackles.
WLB Freddie Keiaho had 5 solo tackles and MLB Gary Brackett led
the team with 13 tackles (11 solo).
DT Raheem Brock continues to step up to help the pass rush with
DE Dwight Freeney done for the season. Brock had his second sack
in as many games and has 2.5 on the season. Brock had 6.5 for
two consecutive seasons when he used to platoon with Robert Mathis
at end. He fell to three sacks last year as a full-time DT, but
has some upside now in leagues that segregate interior linemen.
The team’s other sack came from the man the team hopes can
help directly fill the void at DE in Freeney’s absence.
After failing to be the savior to the pass rush in Denver, Simeon
Rice got his 122nd career sack, and first of the season, in the
second quarter. Despite this, it apparently took the Colts just
two games to decide Rice doesn’t have it anymore. He was
cut this week and the team added FB/special teamer Luke Lawton
back on the roster. A role player who really stepped up on the
line Sunday was rookie DT Quinn Pitcock. He made a play on just
about every snap he was in, totaling 4 solo tackles.
After beginning the month with an arrest for being passed out
in his car with an open container of alcohol and resisting arrest,
second-round pick Justin Durant turned it all around in the last
game of the month. With MLB Mike Peterson sidelined with a broken
hand, Darryl Smith moved to the middle and rookie Justin Durant
got his third career start at OLB. Durant led the team with 9
solo tackles, including one on special teams, and grabbed his
first career pick in the fourth quarter. Smith had 8 solo tackles.
Peterson is expected to be out until at least late December.
CB Rashean Mathis (strained groin) missed a game for the first
time in his career, snapping a string of 74 starts going back
to the first game of his 2003 rookie season. He is expected to
return this week. Veteran Aaron Glenn started in his place. Although
reserve DB Jamaal Fudge has been seeing time in some pass packages
over SS Sammy Knight, Knight got his team-leading fourth pick
of the season on a first down in the second quarter. Fudge just
missed a sack and forced a fumble that he recovered on one of
his 3 solo tackles.
DE Paul Spicer had the only sack for the Jaguars. He leads the
team with six for the season. DT Rob Meier continues to start
in place of Marcus Stroud, who is suspended for one more game.
DE Jared Allen was held without a sack in back-to-back games for
the first time this year. His 9.5 on the season still leads the
team, but drops him to a tie for fourth in the league. DE Tamba
Hali had his fifth sack of the season and OLB Donnie Edwards had
his second. All three LBs had 7 tackles in the game and Edwards
also forced a fumble on a tackle with CB Benny Sapp that Sapp
recovered for the only turnover the defense forced. Sapp replaced
Patrick Surtain as a starter at corner when Surtain left in the
first quarter with what was reported as a shoulder injury, but
Surtain has said he suffered a head and neck injury. Rookie UDFA
Tyron Brackenridge took over Sapp’s nickel role when Sapp
moved over to Surtain’s spot. Surtain is expected to play
Bernard Pollard assumed his starting role at SS again. Greg Wesley
was given a start last week as Pollard has struggled at times
with his increased responsibilities this year as a starter and
full-time player. However, Wesley left the previous game early
with a lingering knee problem. He was active this week, but back
in the third safety role.
MLB Zach Thomas missed his sixth game with HC Cam Cameron indicating
“nothing has changed” regarding his status. Thomas
missed two games earlier this season with a concussion and has
now been inactive four straight games since reportedly suffering
whiplash in a car accident after their 10/21 game. The migraines
were first reported as a problem two weeks after that, at which
time Thomas also said he wasn’t considering giving up on
the season. He did not practice last week. My gut feeling is if
the Dolphins win a game, Thomas will hang it up for the season.
Unless there are some personal career statistical goals he is
chasing, there is really no reason for him to rush a return. However,
if they remain winless, I think he will wait out trying to be
cleared to try and help the team avoid such a record. Either way,
I imagine he doesn’t want to call it a career after such
a brutal year, but he’ll be 35 at the beginning of next
season and nature of his problems (head) make it a greater concern
this could be it the longer he remains not cleared to play. The
team had more problems at LB when Derrick Pope, who has been starting
at WLB while Thomas is out, was admitted to the ER at a Miami
hospital on Saturday. He was released in the afternoon and the
only information being shared was that it was not related to a
football injury. Pope’s agent was quick to also rule out
it was not drug-related in any way.
Pope did not start on Monday night, but was active and played.
Donnie Spragan got the start at WLB, splitting time with Pope.
Channing Crowder continued to start in the middle in place of
Thomas and led the team with 12 tackles (7 solo) and shared a
sack with Rodrique Wright. Wright started with DE Matt Roth still
active due to a groin strain. SLB Joey Porter was expectedly hyper
about facing his former team, and did his part. Porter had a pick
in the end zone, broke up another pass, and had 8 tackles (6 solo).
After trading punches on the first two drives, MIN swung the momentum
late in the first quarter. SS Darren
Sharper grabbed a pass rushed by NYG QB Eli Manning and after
stumbling out of the gate, returned it 20 yards for the tenth
TD of his career, moving him in to a tie for third in career defensive
TDs and fifth in INT returns for a TD. It was the first of four
picks Manning would throw, a Viking-record three of them returned
for a TD. The next one in the second quarter FS Dwight
Smith almost returned for a score, as well, getting to the
NYG eight-yard line. The offense would convert that one to a TD.
With NYG trying to mount a comeback early in the fourth quarter,
Leber came on a blitz off the edge deep in MIN territory.
It was a quick slant, but Leber managed to get a hand on the ball
with an athletic leap. The deflected ball landed right in Smith’s
hands and he returned his second pick in the game 93 yards for
a TD. It was Smith’s first TD since he returned a record two picks
for TDs in Super Bowl XXXVII. On the second play from scrimmage
for the Giants on the next drive, WLB Chad
Greenway stepped in front of a pass intended for NYG TE Jeremy
Shockey and returned it 37 yards for his first career TD. Smith
leads the team with four picks and Sharper had three on the season.
Leber also had a sack in the game and continues to come up with
big plays for the defense.
Despite HC Brad Childress saying CB Antoine Winfield could have
returned last week when he sat out the second half after aggravating
a pulled hamstring, Winfield missed practice all last week and
was inactive on Sunday. He had missed the two games prior to that
with the injury. Rookie CB Marcus McCauley started in his place,
posting 5 solo tackles and breaking up a pass. Winfield did not
practice on Monday and is still very questionable for this week.
CB Cedric Griffin missed out on the pick party after one he appeared
to have was challenged and ruled an incomplete after review. MLB
E.J Henderson (5 solo) and DT Pat Williams (4 solo) led the team
with 6 tackles. Tank Williams left the game with a knee injury on special teams
in the first quarter and did not return. It has been called an
MCL strain and he is very questionable for this week. A former
starter in Tennessee, he is the top reserve at safety. Reserve
DT Fred Evans had his first sack of the season. His celebration
of it this week was cut short when he was suspended two games
for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Evans
had a couple of arrests in the offseason.
In what turned out to be a surprisingly challenging outing for
the Pats, CB Asante
Samuel got them on the board first when he intercepted the
third play from scrimmage and returned it 40 yards for a TD. Then
he sealed the victory with a pick in the end zone after the Eagles
were driving in NE territory late in the game. Samuel moved in
to a tie for the league lead in picks with his sixth of the season.
Sanders got his first pick of the season in a fruitless toss
with seconds left. SS Rodney
Harrison led the team with 9 tackles (7 solo, including one
on special teams). Nickel CB Randall
Gay left the game with what was reported as a back injury
and didn’t return. He says he’ll play this week. Interestingly,
the Pats, who notoriously abuse the injury report at times, had
only one player on it last week – Tom Brady. Brady, who hasn’t
missed a game since becoming a starter early in 2001, has appeared
on the injury report every week since the start of the 2005 season.
The defense suffered a big loss when OLB Rosey Colvin left the
game in the third quarter. It is being reported as a foot injury,
but it appeared they were looking at his arm on the sidelines.
He registered his fourth sack of the season earlier in the game.
Colvin was placed on the IR this week and is done for the season,
with the usual lack of information available from the player or
team, including exactly what the injury was. Everywhere else in
the media it is being called a foot injury. The team signed veteran
LB Chad Brown to fill his roster spot. Brown played mostly special
teams earlier this season with the Pats before being released.
The loss of Colvin shakes up what had been a solid rotation among
the LBs. Conventional wisdom says Adailus Thomas moves outside,
where he produced 2.5 sacks in the previous game after spending
more time there, and Junior Seau moves in to the starting lineup.
Beyond just adding the 36-year old Brown, their depth at LB has
little experience. ILB Eric Alexander and OLB Pierre Woods are
the top back-ups, but almost exclusively special teamers. Alexander
has the only career start between them, albeit a big one, when
he started the AFC Championship game last year after the team
had already lost Seau for the season. Special teams captain Larry
Izzo had 12 years of experience and plays in some goalline packages,
but no career starts.
SS Roman Harper led the defense in their best effort of the season.
Harper led the team with 7 solo tackles (including 2 on kickoff
coverage), forced a fumble that DE Will Smith recovered in the
third quarter, and had his first pick of the season in the fourth
quarter. FS Josh Bullucks had his second pick of the season and
5 solo tackles.
DE Charles Grant returned from a left ankle sprain and started.
DT Brian Young (knee) remains inactive with Antwan Lake starting
in his place and battling through an elbow problem. Lake had his
first sack of the season, the only one in the game. Young is expected
back this week.
New York Giants
The defense brought some good pressure, but gave up some big plays
and couldn’t overcome four picks by QB Eli Manning, especially
when they forced no turnovers. DE Osi Umenyiora looked good in
posting 6 tackles (5 solo), including 2 sacks. He also forced
a fumble on his first sack. Umenyiora now leads the team with
10 sacks on the season and is third in the league. DT Fred Robbins
also had a big game, leading the team with 8 solo tackles. He
also had a solo sack and shared one with pass rush specialist
DE Justin Tuck. Tuck also had a solo sack, and has 8.5 on the
As expected, Reggie Torbor replaced Mathias Kiwanuka (on IR with
broken leg) as the starting SLB. He had 4 solo tackles, with Tuck
and Robbins seeing more work in pass rush packages, as well. FS
Gibril Wilson played through a sore knee and had 7 solo tackles.
CB Aaron Ross battled a sore hamstring throughout the game and
was moved to the nickel and dime packages with normal nickel CB
Kevin Dockery working outside. Dockery also briefly left the game
in the third quarter after getting the wind knocked out of him,
but returned. Ross has still been limited by the hamstring in
practice this week, so he is questionable. Of most concern is
MLB Antonio Pierce leaving the game in the fourth quarter with
an ankle injury. He sprained the ankle, but according to him,
it is not the dreaded high variety. He has been limited, but has
practiced this week.
New York Jets
Rookie ILB David
Harris didn’t have double-digit tackles for the first time
as a starter with Matt
Chatham seeing more work specifically for pass coverage against
DAL TE Jason Witten. It didn’t help much when Chatham was fooled
on a 25-yard TD pass to Witten. Harris had 6 solo tackles and
still leads the team on the season. It also looked like he was
robbed of a forced fumble and perhaps half a sack that was completely
credited to DT C.J.
Rhodes had his team-leading third pick of the season and second
in as many games, but just one assisted tackle. FS Abram
Elam led the team with 9 tackles (8 solo, including 2 on special
teams) and broke up 2 passes. CB Darrelle
Revis eventually gave up a TD to DAL WR Terrell Owens and
dropped a sure pick, but played Owens very well. In addition to
the pass defensed on the dropped pick, he had 5 solo tackles.
Revis is playing through a sore knee, but expected to play this
Despite battling knee problems most of the season, DT Dewayne
Robertson is putting up career numbers. He had a sack on Thanksgiving,
giving him 3.5 in his last two games and a career-best four on
Burgess continues to return to form and terrorize QBs with
pass rush specialist Chris
Clemons. Burgess had 2 sacks, giving him five on the season,
all in the last five games. Clemons got his team-leading sixth
sack of the season. MLB Kirk
Morrison led the team with 11 tackles (10 solo). KC successfully
ran on OAK most of the game, but Morrison and WLB Thomas
Howard combined to stop KC RB Kolby Smith for a loss on a
fourth-and-one in OAK territory late in the fourth quarter to
help secure the victory.
After leaving their previous game with a hip injury, FS Stuart
Schweigert was inactive due to a calf injury suffered in practice.
Hiram Eugene replaced him as a starter, with reserve CB Chris
Carr seeing some additional work, as well. Depth at safety became
a bigger problem when special team ace S Jarrod Cooper injured
his right knee on kick coverage in the first quarter and had to
be carted off the field. He has a torn ACL and is done for the
season. Carr also saw more work as CB Nnamdi Ashomugha was limited
as he is recently off a knee injury and suffered a mild concussion
in the previous game. Schweigert is expected to return this week.
The Eagles hung tough with the Patriots in all three phases of
the game, but losing the turnover battle ultimately can be pointed
to as the difference in the close game. The Pats forced three
turnovers and converted them in to seven points, while the Eagles
failed to force any.
Juqua Thomas remained the starter at LDE opposite Trent Cole and
had another big game. He had a season-high 8 tackles (4 solo),
including his fifth sack of the season. His strong play, particularly
as a pass rusher, could help Cole get out of a rut as he has become
the focus of opposing defenses in pass protection. Cole has gone
four weeks without a sack, after getting 9 in the first 7 games,
as the team has struggled to generate pressure anywhere else on
the edges. Although it only resulted in three sacks, DC Jim Johnson
was able to frustrate the NE passing game at times by frequently
bringing the blitz. SLB Chris Gocong got the first sack of the
season for a Philly LB, albeit it came with him lined up as an
end. Gocong spent a lot of time as a rush end as the team frequently
used nickel looks, with Gocong coming off the edge, to combat
the spread offense. Even DE Darren Howard can be removed from
milk cartoons after getting his first sack of the season working
from the inside. DT Brodrick Bunkley suffered a sprained MCL in
his left knee and strained hamstring during the game. He’ll
be evaluated later this week, but seems very questionable for
this week. DE Jevon Kearse was active, but saw limited work.
Injury problems continue to plague the PHI secondary. After moving
to SS to replace Sean
Considine, who went on the IR, in the starting lineup last
Mikell was ruled out on Saturday due to a sprained MCL. J.R.
Reed at SS in place of Mikell and played surprisingly well
for a guy who had been pigeon-holed as simply a return specialist.
Reed had 6 tackles (5 solo), including a couple impressive shots.
He broke up 2 passes, including just missing a pick. He should
remain the starter at least another week, as Mikell is probably
going to miss another game. CB Lito Sheppard appeared to be over
his knee injury from earlier this season as he blanketed NE WR
Randy Moss all night. Sheppard had 6 solo tackles. MLB Omar
Gaither led the team with 12 tackles (8 solo).
Polamalu was inactive with a knee sprain, but could return
this week. Tyrone
Carter started in his place and led the team with 12 tackles
(11 solo). ILB James
Farrior had 11 tackles (7 solo), including sharing a sack
with ILB Larry
Foote and the hit that ended MIA RB Ricky Williams’ return
to the NFL not long after it started. Farrior forced a fumble
on the play that rookie LB Lawrence
Timmons recovered. Timmons saw his first significant action
of the season with fellow rookie LaMarr
Woodley inactive with a hamstring injury. OLB James
Harrison continues to be “Mr. Monday Night” as he got a sack
and forced a fumble that DE Aaron
Smith recovered to end the best drive of the night by MIA
that got all the way to the PIT 25-yard line early in the fourth
Last week I discussed MLB Will Witherspoon being used more as
a pass rusher and this week he had two more among his 5 solo tackles.
He also broke up 2 passes. Witherspoon now leads the team with
six sacks on the season, getting at least one in four straight
games. SLB Brandon Chillar also had 2 sacks. He is playing on
a tender ankle, but is expected to play this week. The team played
a lot of nickel against the spread sets SEA runs, so nickel CB
Ronald Bartell saw plenty of work. Bartell led the team with 8
solo tackles, including one on special teams, and broke up a pass.
Tinoisamoa also left the game in the third quarter with a sprained
left knee and was replaced by Chris Draft. Tinoisamoa tore his
MCL in the knee and is likely done for the season. Draft moves
in to the starting lineup and becomes a nice waiver wire addition
if you need help at LB.
DE James Hall was active and started, but limited when he aggravated
his sprained left ankle. Hall is expected to miss this week, killing
the team’s already razor-thin depth at ends. The team was
already considering sliding first-round pick Adam Carriker outside
to get some work at DE, so it would make sense he replaces Hall
this week and Trevor Johnson starts at the DT slot vacated by
Carriker. FS O.J. Atogwe had a pick for the second straight game
and leads the team with four, a new career best, on the season.
OLB Shawne Merriman had his first sack since Week Six among many
big plays he had in the game. He stopped BAL RB Willis McGahee
for a loss twice, although both were erased by penalties. Merriman
led the team 7 tackles (5 solo) and forced a fumble on his sack
that was recovered by OLB Marques Harris. OLB Shaun Phillips had
6 tackles (4 solo) and shared a sack with DT Ryon Bingham. Merriman
leads the team with 6.5 sacks and Phillips is second with 6 sacks.
NT Jamal Williams played through lingering knee problems and had
6 tackles (4 solo). DE Luis Castillo remained inactive and is
expected to be out until at least Christmas Eve after surgery
on a right ankle tendon.
After struggling a bit recently with a cast on his broken right
hand, rookie ILB Patrick Willis was all over the field on Sunday.
He led the team with a season-high 18 tackles (17 solo), including
sharing a sack with OLB Parys Haralson. None were bigger than
when he caught AZ WR Sean Morey from behind after a 62-yard gain
in overtime. As opposed to a win, AZ had to settle for a FG. It
appeared they made it, but were flagged for delay of game. After
moving back five yards, AZ K Neil Rackers missed. After the 49ers
failed to advance on the subsequent possession, they pinned AZ
deep in their own territory. On their first play from scrimmage,
AZ QB Kurt Warner dropped back in the end zone and DT Ronnie Fields
knocked the ball loose on his first career sack. OLB Tully Banta-Cain
fell on it for the victory. Willis broke 100 tackles for the season
and took over the league lead.
Lewis had his best statistical game since joining the 49ers.
He posted 12 tackles (11 solo), forcing a fumble on one and getting
a sack on another. CB Nate
Clements had 10 tackles (8 solo) and forced a fumble FS Mark
Roman recovered deep in AZ territory that led to a second
quarter TD. Clements had a tough day in coverage on AZ WR Larry
Fitzgerald, who made several nice catches with Clements on him
most of the day. After AZ WR Bryant Johnson made a nice 30-yard
catch over CB Donald
Strickland to get the 49ers to the one-yard line at the end
of regulation, Strickland made an outstanding play to break up
a potential game-winning catch by Johnson on the next play. With
just two seconds left after that, AZ had to go for a FG and settle
for OT, instead of the victory. Strickland saw more work, and
Roman even had to play a little corner, when Marcus
Hudson and Shawtae Spencer went down. Spencer left with a
strained left quad in the second half and Hudson left with a knee
injury during the second of two first quarter interceptions by
Harris. Harris now leads the team with three picks on the
season. They were his first since Week One, after Harris had a
career-high eight interceptions in 2006. Hudson had a torn left
PCL and is expected to miss a couple weeks, while Spencer is questionable
for this week.
ILB Jeff Ulbrich was limited again by an ankle injury suffered
in their previous game. DT Aubrayo Franklin was out with a calf
injury suffered in the previous game and is expected to miss three
more game. Isaac Sopoaga started at NT in his place. OLB Roderick
Green had a sack for the second straight game, in just his third
game with the team. The team has struggled to find more pass rush
help from the edges after losing Manny Lawson for the season and
brought back Green, who was cut in the preseason, in Week Ten.
He had 4.5 sacks as a reserve with SF last year. Green, a converted
DE with small-school pass rush prodigy pedigree, was originally
drafted by the Ravens in the fifth round in 2004.
DE Patrick Kerney had 7 solo tackles, including 3 sacks for the
second straight week, and his first interception since 2004. Kerney
grabbed the pick in the first quarter and on the next series got
his first sack and forced a fumble on it that STL recovered. His
second sack came on a third down in the fourth quarter and ensured
STL was out of FG range. The offense scored the eventual game-winning
TD on the subsequent drive. Kerney now leads the team with 10.5
sacks on the season, 7 in his last three games, and has his first
double-digit sack total since 2004. He has risen to second in
the league in sacks. OLB Leroy Hill had a sack for the second
consecutive game, third on the season, and forced a fumble on
it. He also had 7 tackles (6 solo). DE Darryl Tapp missed a sack,
but sealed the victory on the last play from scrimmage by the
Rams with SEA up by five. On a fourth-and-goal to decide the game,
STL QB Gus Frerotte pulled out from under center too early and
mishandled the snap. Frerotte picked it up off the bounce, but
Tapp was on him to end the threat. Tapp had 4 solo tackles and
forced a fumble. STL recovered the fumble, but then Frerotte threw
a pick to CB Marcus Trufant on the next play. Trufant leads the
team with four interceptions this season.
DT Rocky Bernard (groin, concussion) returned to practice late
last week and played on Sunday. MLB Lofa Tatupu hurt an oblique
muscle in the first quarter and struggled through the game in
pain. Niko Koutouvides replaced him in the nickel and in most
packages late in the game, but Tatupu came back for the final
four plays at the goalline. He had x-rays that were negative,
so he doesn’t have broken ribs. It is reported he is expected
to play this week, but keep an eye on if he practices Friday.
He led the team with 9 solo tackles and broke up a pass.
Rookie CB Josh
Wilson returned a first quarter kickoff 89 yards for his first
career TD. Wilson is the fourth corner, but splits kick returns
with WR Nate Burleson. Wilson is averaging an excellent 30.0 yard
per kick return. He has some nice upside in dynasty leagues that
count return yards.
The defense would force turnovers on the first two possessions
by the Redskins, setting the tone for a game which they hang on
to win in spite of the offense in the second half. FS Tanard Jackson
recovered fumbles forced by CB Phillip Buchanon and DE Greg White
on those drives. The Redskins would then lose fumbles on the first
two drives on the second quarter. White would forced a fumble
on a sack and then recover a fumble forced by SS Jermaine Phillips
on the next drive. DE Kevin Carter recovered the fumble forced
by White on the sack, and had a sack of his own later in the game.
Despite starting just two games, White leads the team with 5.5
sacks. He has 4.5 of those sacks in the last five games. If you
are wondering where White came from, he is a 28-year old rookie
who played his last college game six years ago, but played in
his first NFL game this year. Between then and finally breaking
in the league, he had been to camp and on the practice squad of
six NFL teams, as well as playing in just about every other professional
league out there, and worked a variety of other jobs in between.
He finally rose to prominence in the Arena Football League on
the Orlando Predators, under HC Jay Gruden. After losing Dewayne
White to free agency and parting ways with Simeon Rice, the team
had a hole at DE. With a good word from his brother, White got
another opportunity (he was in camp with TB in 2002) in the NFL
under HC John Gruden and it has worked out pretty well for both
While the offense struggled in the second half, the last two turnovers
forced by the defense protected a six-point lead in the fourth
quarter. CB Rhonde Barber and Brian Kelly each got their first
pick of the season, with Kelly getting his in the end zone with
less than a minute to play. Barber is heating up in the big play
department after returning a fumble for a TD last week.
DE Greg Spires (torn left calf) remained out, as expected, and
shouldn’t be ready to play this week, either. Rookie Gaines
Adams got the start in his place and had 3 solo tackles, but it
was White, as discussed above, who continues to make big plays.
With the play of White and the opportunity to develop being pushed
on Adams, pass rush specialist Patrick Chukwurah’s role
has been limited since returning from injury.
SLB Cato June started despite his DUI arrest after the previous
game. He had 5 tackles (3 solo). WLB Derrick Brooks led the team
with 12 tackles (9 solo). After low production the last couple
of games, MLB Barrett Rudd returned to double-digit tackle numbers
in posting 10 (5 solo) for the game.
WLB Keith Bulluck finally had the game his owners have waited
all season for, but probably long after most have stopped considering
him a “must-start” player. Bulluck led the team in
tackles with 14 (11 solo), his first double-digit tackle day of
the season. He was helped by the Bengals dominating the time of
possession, holding the ball over 38 minutes and rushing 36 times.
DT Albert Haynesworth (hamstring) remained inactive and continues
to be replaced by Randy Starks. DE Travis LaBoy (concussion) was
also inactive. Both remain questionable this week. DE Kyle Vanden
Bosch had the only sack in the game for TEN, his team-leading
sixth of the season. He forced a fumble on the sack that CIN recovered.
Vanden Bosch was dinged in the ribs during the game, but stayed
in and is expected to play this week.
SS Chris Hope left in the second quarter with a concussion. He
did not return and was replaced by Calvin Lowry, who posted 7
tackles (6 solo) and grabbed his first career pick. Hope will
be checked later this week and sounds very questionable. CB Nick
Harper returned after missing the previous game with a concussion
and was back in the starting lineup.
In a horrible tragedy, FS Sean Taylor was shot in his home early
Monday morning and died the next day after losing a significant
amount of blood. Taylor, the fifth-overall pick in the 2004 draft,
was 24 years old.
Despite holding the Buccaneers in the second half to 16 yards
and no first downs, they couldn’t overcome the hole the
offense dug with six turnovers. FS Reed Doughty led the team with
8 tackles (4 solo). Doughty replaced Taylor in the starting lineup,
as Taylor missed his second game recovering from an MCL sprain.
PFW reported the team has gone with Doughty, a sixth-round pick
in 2006, over journeyman Pierson Prioleau the last two games because
Doughty has been practicing at FS all season as Taylor’s
primary back-up. Prioleau has roles in the nickel package and
other pass schemes. Doughty should remain the starter for now.
SLB Marcus Washington (OLB, S) returned after missing two more games with
a lingering hamstring injury. He had his fourth sack of the season,
and first since Week Five, among his 4 tackles (3 solo). DE Andre
Carter had his team-leading eighth sack of the season. MLB London
Fletcher played through rib pain and had 4 solo tackles. DT Cornelius
Griffin aggravated an ankle injury during the game.