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IDP Notes
Week 8
10/24/07

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)
  • Week Eight byes: AZ, ATL, BAL, DAL, KC, SEA
  • What happened to TEN LB Keith Bulluck's numbers?
  • TB MLB Rudd has rare poor performance
  • KC DE Allen ties NYG DE Umenyiora for NFL sack lead
  • MIA DE Taylor breaks TD record
  • IND DE Freeney heats up
  • SEA DE Tapp explodes for four sacks, breaks hand
  • NYJ HC Mangini shakes up lineup, creates controversy with Vilma
  • WAS FS Sean Taylor takes over NFL INT lead
  • With AZ WLB Dansby out, SLB Pace steps up
  • SF shakes up LB corps, rookie Willis continues to star
  • STL DE Little has big toe issue
  • NYG has another sack parade, led by DE Strahan
  • DET DE White explodes against former team
  • NE S Sanders continues to phase out S Wilson
  • MIA secondary loses pride and S Hill for season, sign Schulters
  • ATL cuts DT Jackson
Week 8 Injury Report (available Friday PM)

IDP Depth Chart
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN | CLE
DAL
| DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC
MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | OAK | PHI
PIT | STL | SD | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WAS


Arizona
The defense was put in a hole early by two turnovers by the offense that resulted in scores. They played well, although getting just one sack and turnover forced, but the offense and kicking game couldn’t pull out the victory. SLB Calvin Pace had the best game of his career, helping fill the gap left by the loss of Karlos Dansby by leading the team with 10 tackles (9 solo, including one on special teams), including his second sack of the season. Pace also had the first pick of his career that led to the first score of the game for the Cardinals, a TD right before halftime. The former first-round pick will always be compared to BAL DE/OLB Terrell Suggs, the local hero the team passed on to trade down, then taking Pace and WR Bryant Johnson in the first round of the 2003 draft. While Pace doesn’t have the same ability as a pass rusher, he is having a solid season after converting to an LB. Still not fantasy starting lineup material in most leagues, but worth keeping an eye on as he progresses. Monty Beisel replaced Dansby as the WLB and had 5 tackles (3 solo). Dansby is expected to miss up to a month with a left knee sprain, but with a bye this week, watch for updates next week.

SS Adrian Wilson was active as he continues to battle a hamstring strain. He had 2 solo tackles. Wilson hasn’t missed a game since 2002. With a bye this week, he should be able to keep the streak alive come Week Nine.

Atlanta
Rookie CB Chris Houston got his first career start, moving ahead of Lewis Sanders. Houston had 4 solo tackles and a pass defensed, while Sanders was unable to bring down NO RB Reggie Bush on third down as he bulled his way in the end zone on the decisive TD. CB DeAngelo Hall had an interception late in the second quarter erased by an offsides by DT Rod Coleman. Later in the drive, the Falcons prevented a NO score when WLB Demorrio Williams picked it and got it to Hall on a lateral, who only added a few more yards. Williams also had 7 tackles (4 solo) as he saw most of the snaps with rookie LB Stephen Nicholas remained sidelined with a high ankle sprain. With a bye this week, the team is hopeful Nicholas returns. You can probably drop Demorrio Williams if you are on the fence and need/want to pick someone else up. Hall had 6 tackles (5 solo).

MLB Keith Brooking led the team with 10 tackles (8 solo), while SLB Michael Boley continues his career year with 9 tackles (7 solo).

DT Grady Jackson has outgrown his usefulness in the ATL like he has outgrown his pants. The team cut ties with him this week and will reportedly go with rookie Trey Lewis next to Rod Coleman, with Jonathan Babineaux sure to see more work, as well.

Baltimore
MLB Ray Lewis led the team with 13 tackles (8 solo) and broke up a pass. It was his second straight game with double-digit tackles and third of the season. He is fifth in the NFL in tackles. While not the Ray Lewis of old, especially in terms of turning in big scoring plays, he is still a solid starter. On the other hand, WLB Bart Scott is not. He had 7 tackles (5 solo), but has just one sack this season and no picks after his career-year last season. OLB/DE Terrell Suggs had his second sack of the season and now has one in back-to-back games after not getting one the first five games. DE Trevor Pryce (broken wrist) remained inactive. Justin Bannan got the start this week and split time with Dwan Edwards, who had started all the other games Pryce missed. Bannan (2 solo) and Edwards (3 solo) both had 5 tackles, with Edwards also getting his first sack of the season among them.

CB Chris McAllister was inactive after suffering a right knee injury in Week Six. There were conflicting reports leading up to the game and the team has been quiet about the severity. There were rumors he has told teammates he could miss a month with a ligament tear. With a bye this week, it could be some time before we learn more about McAllister’s status. Samari Rolle returned to a starting with McAllister out and grabbed his first pick of the season. It appeared he returned it 14 yards for a score, but was reversed on replay challenge and he was ruled down with no gain. Corey Ivy remains a starter, and a productive one, with his continuing opportunity. He had 7 solo tackles.

Buffalo
SLB Angelo Crowell led the team with 9 tackles (6 solo) and was credit with a forced fumble when he crashed in to BAL TE Quinn Sypniewski who lost control of the ball as he went down deep in BUF territory in the second quarter. MLB John DiGiorgio gathered it just before it went out of bounds. DiGiorgio also had 5 tackles (4 solo), including sharing the only sack in the game for the Bills with third DE Tony Hargrove. Hargrove saw some additional work as DE Chris Kelsay battled an ankle injury. Kelsay hurt the ankle in the second quarter, but returned to the game after getting x-rays. He had 3 solo tackles, as did DE Aaron Schobel. Despite the team hoped he’d be ready coming off their bye, DE Ryan Denney remained inactive as he recovers from a broken foot.

The Ravens helped the Bills seal the victory when after having second-and-one near midfield at the two-minute warning, BAL made the curious decision to pass on three plays. DT Larry Tripplett deflected a pass on third down and BAL QB Kyle Boeller thew an incomplete off his back foot on fourth down as Hargrove and Schobel brought good pressure on the play.

FS Jim Leonhard (calf) remained inactive, giving George Wilson another start. Leonhard sounds questionable again for this week. Wilson had 3 tackles (1 solo) and was unable to stop a long TD run by BAL RB Willis McGahee when McGahee threw him down with stiff arm.

The team cut former third-round pick DT Tim Anderson. The emergence of former first-round pick John McCargo, after missing most of his rookie year with a broken foot, allowed the move. McCargo leveled BAL RB Willis McGahee for a five-yard loss during the game.

Carolina
Coming off their bye week, MLB Dan Morgan will have his Achilles’ tendon tested this week. Rookie Jon Beason was a team player last week in saying he expects to move back to the weakside when Morgan is healthy. Regardless of how the situation plays out, Beason will continue to have value this season and Morgan is a high risk addition.

Chicago
After getting upset with the local media questioning if he had an injury, inferring it may explain his recent decline in performance, MLB Brian Urlacher went out and silenced critics. In real football terms, it was his best game of the year, and he put up good tackle numbers too. He led the team with a season-high 12 tackles (8 solo) and broke up a pass. The team must have added some new looks last week, because WLB Lance Briggs looked lost a few times. He had just 5 tackles (3 solo).

CB Nathan Vasher (groin) missed his fourth consecutive game and, at this point, with a bye coming up in Week Nine, it seems unlikely Vasher plays this week. Danieal Manning remained back at FS with rookie Trumaine Bride getting another start at corner. McBride played well, not letting anything get behind him and tackling well. He had 8 tackles (5 solo) and broke up a pass. Brandon McGowan has played his way out of the starting lineup with his pass coverage deficiencies and now adds to the team’s injury problems after spraining his right elbow in the game. SS Adam Archuleta still had a cast, but played better, getting a sack among his 7 tackles (5 solo).

DT Tommie Harris had his second two-sack game of the season, giving him a new career high with six sacks. The team hoped DT Darwin Walker would be back, but he missed another game recovering from a knee sprain.

Cincinnati
MLB Ahmad Brooks (groin) missed his fourth straight game and LB Caleb Miller (back) missed his third straight game. On Monday, HC Marvin Lewis said Brooks remained the “farthest” possibility of returning this week, but Miller could. Rashad Jeanty played for the first time this season, but was limited to special teams, where he posted a tackle and an assist. Converted DE Robert Geathers got the start at SLB, rotating with Dhani Jones. Anthony Schlegel got his third start at MLB for Brooks. All of them had four tackles or less. WLB Landon Johnson had 5 tackles (3 solo). DE Justin Smith led the team with 8 tackles (2 solo).

CB Johnathan Joseph returned from his one-game suspension with a game-breaking interception returned 42 yards for a TD. SS Dexter Jackson left the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be an ankle injury, but Lewis indicated it was a hip injury and that he expects he’ll play this week. Rookie Chinedum Ndukwe saw some time again and a sack for his second straight game.

Cleveland
CB Gary Baxter was unable to come back from is knee problems and was placed on the IR over the bye week.

Dallas
The defense contained the NFL’s leading rusher entering the game, MIN rookie RB Adrian Peterson, after his huge performance in Week Six. They were helped by the offense dominating the time of possession, but were assisted by MIN HC Brad Childress continuing to split carries with RB Chester Taylor. Taylor was productive with his ten carries (4.7), but he is not the same big play threat when he touches the ball that Peterson is. ILB Bradie James had his best game of the season, leading the team in tackles with 9 (6 solo), including his second sack of the season. James leads the team in tackles on the season. He also recovered a fumble forced by Jason Hatcher, who punched the ball out of Peterson’s arm in the fourth quarter, and Peterson didn’t get another touch the rest of the game. It was the second straight game with a big play for their third DE, as Hatcher returned a fumble for a TD in Week Six. He wasn’t the only DE with a big play, as Chris Canty blocked a FG that led to a decisive TD in the third quarter. Reserve S Pat Watkins wrestled away the jump ball after Canty blocked the kick and returned it 68 yards for a TD.

OLB Greg Ellis returned to the starting lineup, pushing rookie Anthony Spencer to the bench after he started the first six games. Ellis rewarded HC Wade Phillips with two sacks. Ellis has been back for four games and has 4.5 sacks in them.

CB Anthony Henry remained inactive, still battling a high ankle sprain. Jacques Reeves continues to start at corner opposite Terence Newman with Henry out. The team is hopeful Henry will return after the bye this week. The league ruled not to reduce the eight-game suspension of DT Tank Johnson, but he has been allowed to resume practicing with the team.

Denver
DE Simeon Rice was inactive for the second straight game, but changed his tune and says his left shoulder is now “100 percent”, while HC Mike Shanahan disagrees. He says Rice is improving, but needs to show more in practice. The win on Sunday night temporarily buries the team’s struggles so far this season, but the seeds of discontent appear sown in Rice. He aborted toeing the company line with some comments to the media last week, so this situation could turn ugly soon. Back in the game, most of the other DEs had a good week. RDE Elvis had his third two-sack game of the year, giving him a team-leading six on the season. On his first in the second quarter, Dumervil forced a fumble that rookie DE Tim Crowder recovered and raced 50 yards for his first career TD. Dumervil prevented the Steelers from responding on the subsequent drive with his second, which helped wrap up the half. LDE John Engelberger had his first sack of the season. The team ran more blitzes than usual to try to compensate for the absence of CB Champ Bailey.

Bailey (left hamstring) wasn’t ready coming off the bye and sat out. It was just the third game he’s missed in his nine year career. There is cautious optimism he’ll be back this week. Domonique Foxworth started in his place and led the team with 10 tackles (7 solo) and broke up a pass. CB Dre’ Bly grabbed his second pick of the season in the first quarter, but suffered a slight shoulder separation on it. He remained in the game and is expected to play this week.

MLB D.J. Williams had a very good game, posting 9 tackles (7 solo) and breaking up two passes, including grabbing one for his first pick since his rookie season in 2004.

Detroit
On a day when the offense didn’t air it out as usual, the defense took advantage when opportunities for key plays occurred. After a sack and forced fumble by MLB Paris Lenon was erased and ruled an incomplete pass on replay, DE Dewayne White got his first of three sacks on the next play in a career day against his former team. That forced a punt blocked by reserve DE Corey Smith, another former Buc. This led to a DET FG for the first score of the game. After a 1.5 sacks in his first two games, White had not gotten to the QB the last three games, until his outburst on Sunday. The three sacks were among 8 tackles (7 solo) on the day for White. He leads the team with 4.5 on the season. On the next TB drive, DT Shaun Rogers came bursting through the middle as TB QB Jeff Garcia muffed a handoff. The ball bounced right to the big boy, who looked like he took the handoff himself in the other direction. Rogers lost the handle, but the big boy fell on it for the first of two unforced fumble recoveries by him on the day. The team would cash in on a final critical miscue by TB. With the Lions up by nine early in the fourth quarter, TB had a first-and-goal at the DET one yard-line. Garcia would abort a snap this time and reserve DE Jared Devries, who continues to be in the right place at the right time this year, would recover it. DET would drive for the eventual game-winning TD off that turnover. The ability of the defense to take advantage of their opportunities has been rare, but crucial to their success this year. They did it against the Bears and again on Sunday, but need to do it more often to continue winning. The Lions lead the league by far in forced fumbles with 21, but have recovered just 7 (which includes unforced errors, like the three they recovered on Sunday).

WLB Ernie Sims let TB know what it used to be like to face Derrick Brooks, as he was all over the field, leading the team with 13 tackles (8 solo). As TB dominated the time of possession, the Lions were worn down in the fourth quarter. Sims, Rogers, Fisher, Lenon, FS Gerald Alexander, and DE Kalimba Edwards were all were shaken up during the final frame. Only Edwards left the game and none have been reported as injuries of concern so far this week. Reserve S Idrees Bashir hurt his ribs in the first half and did not return.

Despite coming off the bye, the secondary remains banged up. CB Stanley Wilson was inactive as he continues to battle a groin injury. Travis Fisher started in his place opposite Fragile Fernando Bryant. CB Keith Smith was active, but has a lingering ankle injury and was limited. Former Titan Tony Beckham, signed at the beginning of the month, was the nickel corner. With depth a problem at CB, former Viking Dovante Edwards was signed late last week. However, he was inactive due to not being ready in time for the game. The also released rookie S Eric Frampton, a fifth-round pick by the Raiders, to make room for 2007 Mr. Irrelevant CB Ramzee Robinson, who was called up from the practice squad. He had 2 tackles on special teams. His stay wasn’t long, as the team waived him on Monday.

Green Bay
First round pick Justin Harrell was hurt in practice on Tuesday and reserve CB Frank Walker is not expected to play this week, while reserve DT Mike Montgomery finally is.

Houston
Those who have been disappointed with MLB DeMeco Ryans not on pace for the same type of numbers he put up last year were rewarded on Sunday if they stuck with him. On a blitz up the middle in the first quarter, Ryans destroyed TEN QB Kerry Collins, forcing a fumble on the sack. Ryans popped up, recovered the fumble, and returned it 26 yards for a TD. Ryans also had his second double-digit tackle game of the season, posting 11 (9 solo) and recovered another fumble. Despite being off his totals last year, Ryans is still leads the league in solo tackles and is tied for third overall. WLB Morlon Greenwood led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo) on Sunday.

Indianapolis
After another slow start to the season facing double- and triple-teams, DE Dwight Freeney had his best game of the season on Monday night. He had two sacks, including a safety, forcing a fumble on one sack and another on one of his two other solo tackles. Freeney has all of his 3.5 sacks in the last three games. Rookie DT Ed Johnson got his first sack of the season.

S Bob Sanders returned off the bye got his first pick of the season and had 5 tackles (4 solo). WLB Freddie Keiaho was back, as well, posting 7 tackles (5 solo). CB Kelvin Hayden broke up four passes, including grabbing his first pick of the season in the fourth quarter to snuff a scoring threat. Hayden now leads the team in solo tackles, while CB Marlin Jackson and MLB Gary Brackett led in overall tackles.

Jacksonville
MLB Mike Peterson had his first double-digit tackle game of the season, leading the team with 10 (9 solo). DE Paul Spicer had his first double-digit sack game of the season. He leads the team with five on the season.

Kansas City
DE Jared Allen continues his torrid pace after missing the first two games of the season due to a suspension. He led the team in tackles with 9 (8 solo) and had the ninth multi-sack game of his career. His two sacks bring his season total to eight, moving him in to a tie for the league-lead with NYG DE Osi Umenyiora, who had one sack on Sunday. The Chiefs had just one turnover, but it was a big one. As the Raiders tried to move in for a game-winning FG late in the fourth quarter, FS Jarrad Page grabbed his team-leading second pick of the season to secure the victory. They had no other turnovers on defense, but reserve S Jon McGraw recovered a muffed punt when SS Bernard Pollard caused a collision with OAK CB Nnamdi Asomugha and returner Chris Carr. KC turned that in to a FG.

One key in the strong start by their defense this season (they’ve held all their opponents to 20 points or less) has been the health of their starters. They need to rely on particularly at LB, where injuries have depleted their depth. Keyaron Fix missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring injury and Johnny Baldwin suffered a knee sprain on Sunday. With a bye this week, it sounds like they expect Fox to be ready by Week Nine, but not as optimistic on Baldwin.

Miami
Cameron Worrell replaced the recently cut Donovin Darius at safety and was posterized twice by NE WR Randy Moss on long TD catches. Worrell lost the jump ball twice, once with CB Will Allen and another time with fellow S Renaldo Hill. Injury was added to insult for Hill, when he came down awkwardly on his right knee and tore his ACL. He is done for the season, which is a hit to a secondary that is banged up, but even worse because he was their best DB. Worrell had 7 tackles (6 solo) and the team has little choice but to leave him as a starter. Former first round pick Jason Allen will replace Hill and now get another chance to shake the bust label as he gets another starting job by default. With a struggling front seven, the safety starters in MIA aren’t bad plays because of the tackle opportunities. Worrell and Hill are second and third on the team in tackles. One of the two could be bumped by Travares Tillman when he returns. Tillman missed his fourth game after an arthroscopic knee procedure and remains out indefinitely, but was originally expected to not miss more than a month. Rookie reserve S Courtney Bryan was also hurt in the game and left with a quad injury. He is expected to play this week. Already having burned through veterans Donovin Darius and Lamont Thompson, the Dolphins will now give Lance Schulters a try. The team signed him this week and he will head to London with them. Schulters was a standout for the Titans, started for Miami in 2005, was last seen in Atlanta, and hasn’t played this year. DT Vonnie Holliday missed another game with the slight fracture in his right ankle. The team signed former Oakland fourth-round pick Quentin Moses, who has already burned through AZ, as well.

MLB Zach Thomas led the team with 8 tackles (7 solo) and his bad day didn’t end at the office. He was rear-ended on the way home, as well. Thomas was in a car accident after the game, but there were no injuries. There was a Joey Porter sighting. He finally got his first sack as a Dolphin among his 4 solo tackles. DE Jason Taylor provided the sole highlight for the defense. With the game appearing in hand in the fourth quarter, NE turned the reigns over to back-up QB Matt Cassel. Cassel locked in on his receiver and never saw Taylor crossing the field after dropping back in coverage. Taylor cut in front of the passes and took it 36 yards for a pick six. It was the eighth career TD by Taylor, breaking a record for defensive linemen he had shared with former NYG George Martin.

The Dolphins are 0-7 for the first time in their history and headed to London to meet the Giants this week. Trying to remain an optimist, Jason Taylor summed it up after the game as, “We can’t win in America, maybe we can win overseas”.

Minnesota
MLB E.J. Henderson led the team with 11 tackles (8 solo) and has put together double-digit tackles in back-to-back games. On pace to eclipse last year’s career-best tackle and sack numbers, Henderson continues to prove it was no fluke and he wasn’t used well by former HC Mike Tice. WLB Chad Greenway had 8 tackles (5 solo) and SLB Ben Leber had 6 (4 solo), as well as a fumble recovery that was the defensive highlight of the day for MIN. CB Antoine Winfield lit up DAL WR Patrick Clayton after a catch, jarring the ball loose. The ball bounced to Leber who began to take it up field. As DAL WR Terrell Owens was dragging him down, Leber pitched it to CB Cedric Griffin. Griffin took it down the sideline, but lost his handle on the ball nine yards in to the run. A fortuitous bounce got the ball back to Griffin in stride. He finished it for a 28-yard TD. The fumble was a benefit to his fantasy owners for not only the extra addition of a fumble recovery for him, but made the play officially a fumble return and therefore avoided problems in any leagues with ambiguity on ruling for types of TD returns. Griffin also had 5 tackles (3 solo) and Winfield’s hit to force the fumble was one of his 8 tackles (6 solo). Rookie nickel CB Marcus McCauley has been putting up some decent numbers, mostly because every team is targeting him. He was benched in the third quarter for Charles Gordon, but after Gordon gave up a long pass, McCauley returned to the nickel package.

On the series before Griffin’s TD, the Vikings had another fumble return for a TD erased by penalty. After a sack by DE Kenechi Udeze deep in MIN territory, DT Kevin Williams returned it 84 yards for an apparent TD, but the return was erased on a holding call against DE Ray Edwards after the recovery. Williams returned a fumble 54 yards for a TD earlier this year. The sack was the third of the year for Udeze. While not necessarily living up to his first round status, or that of a fantasy starter in most leagues, a healthy Udeze is playing well and on track for a career year. Williams also had a sack in the game, his second of the season. Rookie DE Brian Robison saw his lowest number of snaps this season the previous game during Week Six, due to the return of Erasmus James. Robison had been working at both left and right DE, but was focused at left DE when James came back. With James out again, Robison’s snaps were back up on Sunday at a homecoming for the former University of Texas star. He notched his team-leading fourth sack of the season.

The return of DE Erasmus James didn’t last long. After being active for the first time in Week Six, he was inactive again due to a shoulder injury that came out of his fight with RB Chester Taylor before their Week Six game. FS Dwight Smith was inactive with a lingering hamstring injury. Tank Williams got his first start as a Viking in Smith’s place. Williams had 5 tackles (3 solo).

New England
Thanks to quick strikes by the offense and good running by the Dolphins, the defense had plenty of tackle opportunities. After a slow start to the season, ILB Tedy Bruschi, has picked it up. He led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo). Over the last three games he has 25 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. It is still a risk starting him any week, but you can’t deny his recent production. ILB Adalius Thomas had 7 solo tackles and third ILB Junior Seau continues to produce. Seau had 5 tackles (4 solo), including his first sack of the season.

SS Rodney Harrison had 8 tackles (7 solo), including a sack for the second straight game. He is the first member of a new 30/30 Club, the first player in NFL history with 30 sacks (currently 30.5) and 30 interceptions (currently 32) in his career. James Sanders started again in the jumbo safety package for the Pats. He saw the majority of the snaps and appears to be phasing out Eugene Wilson. Wilson, a converted corner, is the superior pass defender, so he will still see work, but has no fantasy value.

CB Asante Samuel injured his right arm or shoulder late in the first quarter and missed a few plays. He returned and finished the game with a solo tackle and 3 passes defensed, including a nice break-up of a deep pass to MIA WR Marty Booker in the second quarter. CB Willie Andrews doesn’t see much time on defense, but the second-year player showed his value on special teams. The up-man on the kick return team, he took a short kick after Miami’s first score and returned it 77 yards for his first career TD. Later in the game he downed a punt at the MIA one-yard line. CB Ellis Hobbs, the primary kick returner, brought one back for a TD earlier this year. Hobbs struggles a bit in coverage, but posted 5 solo tackles. Nickel CB Randall Gay got his second pick of the season.

DE Richard Seymour did not practice last week and is not yet activated. The team has two more weeks before they must activate him or put him on the IR.

New Orleans
For the second straight week, the pressure in the front four was excellent, and this week it net them three sacks. DE Charles Grant had his second sack in as many weeks, forcing a fumble on it. Grant had 4 other solo tackles. DE Will Smith came up short a few times, including forcing a long incompletion by ATL QB Byron Leftwich in the third quarter. He hit Leftwich right after he released the ball and knocked him out of the game with a right leg injury on the play. It is a little disappointing Smith couldn’t actually get to the QB, considering he was already facing a second-string OT in Renardo Foster and then their third-string OT Quinn Ojinnaka on the final drive in the fourth quarter when Foster left with an injury.

SS Roman Harper led the team with 6 solo tackles. MLB Mark Simoneau (5 solo) and WLB Scott Shale (3 solo) also had 6 tackles. Harper and SLB Scott Fujita are tied for the overall team lead for the season.

CB Jason David, coming back from a broken left forearm, returned to limited participation in practice last week. He was still inactive, giving Jason Craft another start.

New York Giants
Blitz-happy DC Steve Spagnuolo kept the pressure on again Sunday as the team added to their NFL-leading total with six more sacks. DE Michael Strahan led the way with 2 solo and another sack shared with DL Justin Tuck, who also had another solo. Tuck is putting up great numbers despite not starting, a la IND DE Robert Mathias before he moved in to the starting lineup a few years ago. Strahan was assisted by SF QB Trent Dilfer tripping over himself and falling down on one of them. It had been almost a year since Strahan had his last multi-sack game and the most he’s had in one game since 2003. It was the fourth of the season for Strahan and seventh for Tuck, who is tied with a crowd for third in the league. SLB Mathias Kiwanuka just missed a sack on an inside blitz when Dilfer ducked away from him and scrambled for a first down. Kiwanuka did have 7 tackles (4 solo) and broke up a pass. DE Osi Umenyiora had another huge game. He recovered a handoff muffed by SF RB Frank Gore and then crushed Dilfer from the blindside, forcing a fumble he picked up and returned 75 yards for a TD. Umenyiora maintained a share of the NFL lead in sacks with eight, as KC DE Jared Allen had two to move in to a tie on Sunday.

SS James Butler suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and did not return. Michael Johnson replaced him, with Corey Webster seeing more work than usual, as well. Rookie CB Aaron Ross continues to play well. He led the team in tackles with 8 (6 solo), including his first solo sack. The way the NYG defense and Ross are playing right now, he is a must-start in leagues that segregate DBs.

The Giants are off to London to meet the Dolphins this week.

New York Jets
HC Eric Mangini decided to make some changes on defense, but the results weren’t good. CB Hank Poteat waited nine years to get his first career interception and then had one for his second consecutive game. Poteat got the start opposite rookie CB Darrelle Revis, sending David Barrett to the nickel role and Andre Dyson was a healthy scratch after giving up big play the last two game. Revis had two pass interference penalties on third downs that extended drives resulting in TDs. The changes went further in the secondary, with both normal starting FS Erik Coleman and formerly second-string Eric Smith benched in favor of giving second-year player Abram Elam his first career start. Elam was off to a great start, he led the team in the tackles with 8 (7 solo). However, in the fourth quarter with the team down by one, his game took a horribly bad turn that will probably prevent him from getting another start soon. After trying to strip CIN RB Kenny Watson as he was being tackled, Elam through a punch at Watson in frustration. He was flagged for a personal foul and immediately pulled from the game by Mangini in favor of Coleman.

While his numbers have been disappointing this year, it was a surprised to see ILB Jonathan Vilma on the bench to start the second half. Eric Barton and rookie David Harris rotated with Vilma the rest of the game. After the game, Mangini indicated Vilma had “some injury issues…that dramatically affected his play”. The injuries weren’t disclosed and Vilma refuted Mangini’s comments on the radio Tuesday, saying it “definitely” wasn’t because he was injured. This is definitely a situation to keep an eye on that is a bit worrisome to Vilma owners. Of course by now he is probably not starting in most fantasy lineups that have a remotely better option anyway.
SS Kerry Rhodes and OLB Bryan Thomas are two other defenders producing disappointing fantasy numbers this season. Rhodes got hot recently, but had just 6 tackles (3 solo) on Sunday. Thomas had his first solo sack of the season, giving him just 1.5 almost halfway through the season after posting a career-best 8.5 last year.

Oakland
They briefly led the division after four games, but the Raiders are sinking again as they lost their NFL-record 17th consecutive divisional game to the Chiefs. CB Nnamdi Asomugha was a big reason why. With OAK up 7-6 in the fourth quarter, he was beaten on a 58-yard pass that led to the eventual game-winning TD for KC. DT Warren Sapp just missed a sack when his first contact with KC QB Damon Huard was on the facemask, so he let him go and Huard eluded the pressure to complete the pass right before MLB Kirk Morrison got to him. On the previous play, Morrison appeared to have an interception, but couldn’t hang on to the ball. Sapp got his first sack of the season earlier in the game. The other miscue wasn’t as much Asomugha’s fault, as earlier in the game he was forced in to a collision with returner Chris Carr, resulting in a muffed punt that KC recovered. At the other corner, Standord Routt had a better day, grabbing his third pick of the season.

DE Derrick Burgess (right calf) saw more snaps this week, and posted 5 tackles (4 solo), but is still searching for his first sack of the season. DT Gerard Warren missed his second game with a thigh injury. Rookie Jay Richardson started and worked mostly at DE, while Tommy Kelly and Terdell Sands continued to replace Warren on the interior.

WLB Thomas Howard broke up a pass, but didn’t get a pick, ending a string of four straight games with one. He did lead the team in tackles with 8 (6 solo). SLB Sam Williams (shoulder) missed his second game and Robert Thomas started in place of him again. LB tweener Chris Clemons got his second sack of the season in an increased role, as well.

Philadelphia
The prevent defense prevented them from winning, but DE Trent Cole remains on a role. He had 7 solo tackles, including his seventh sack of the season, putting him a tie for third in the league. Rookie DE Victor Abiamiri was active for the first time this year and had a solo tackle.

The reports keep coming that he is improving and will play again this season, but FS Brian Dawkins missed his fourth game.

Pittsburgh
SS Troy Polamalu (ribs) and NT Casey Hampton (hamstring) both returned to the starting lineup off the bye, but the team left the game with a couple new casualties. DE Aaron Smith left in the first quarter with a sprained MCL and appears doubtful for this week. FS Ryan Clark didn’t leave Denver with team as he was hospitalized for an inflamed spleen due to the high altitude and dehydration. He is expected to play this week, as is nickel CB Bryant McFadden, who missed his second game with a high ankle sprain.

OLB James Harrison led the team with 9 solo tackles, including his third sack, tying a career high. Harrison leads the team in tackles and has been extremely productive in his first season as a full-time starter. ILB Larry Foote had 6 tackles (5 solo), forcing a fumble and grabbing his first pick of the season. Rookie pass rush specialist LaMarr Woodley got his third sack of the season.

St. Louis
Considering their offense turned the ball over five times and one TD was scored on special teams, the defense didn’t play too bad. They allowed a sustained TD drive early, but held the Seahawks to a FG or less after many turnovers, before giving up another TD in the fourth quarter after a turnover deep in their own territory. MLB Will Witherspoon led the team with 13 tackles (12 solo) and leads the team by a significant margin for the season. They forced only one turnover, the first pick of the season by nickel CB Ronald Bartell. The offense quickly squandered that opportunity losing 17 yards on sacks and going three-and-out.

SS Corey Chavous returned from a strained left pec and CB Tye Hill was back in the starting lineup, making this the first week the Rams had all of their expected starting secondary starting for the first time this season. CB Fahkir Brown was suspended the first four games and Hill missed a month with lower back fractures before coming off the bench last week. Now the biggest injury concern is the left big toe of DE Leonard Little. In Week Six, Little aggravated what had been indicated as a lingering sprained toe after getting his first sack of the season. He started on Sunday, but saw limited time, posting just one solo tackle. Victor Adeyanju was solid in place of Little, finishing with 5 tackles (4 solo), including two for a lose. However, Adeyanju lacks anything remotely close to Little’s ability as a pass rusher when healthy. More information came out this week indicating the injury is now a torn ligament (perhaps of the Lisfranc variety?) and Little will eventually need surgery. Except in the deepest or keeper/dynasty leagues, you can probably give up on Little for the season. The injury is impacting his pass rush ability, which drives his value. Even if he plays out the season, it appears unlikely he’ll consistently produce starter-quality fantasy numbers. Adeyanju was solid, but unspectacular, in nine starts last year. He has some value if Little opts for surgery, but he isn’t much of a pass rusher. DT LaRoi Glover had his first sack of the season, the only one in the game for the Rams.

San Diego
The biggest news of the week over the bye is the wildfires burning in southern California. The Chargers are scheduled at home this week, but Qualcomm is currently a refuge center.

San Francisco
The team shook up their LB corps coming off the bye. They waived OLB Hannibal Naives, who was battling a knee injury, because they needed depth at FB. Naives had joined the starting lineup just a couple weeks ago when OLB Manny Lawson was lost for the season. Brandon Moore returned to the starting lineup in place of Naives and had 6 tackles (4 solo), including the only sack of the game for the 49ers. However, he also struggled in pass coverage and after a third-down stop in the fourth quarter, drew a roughing the passer call that extended the drive and resulted in a TD. Parys Haralson started at SOLB with Tully Banta-Cain limited by an ankle injury. Haralson had 5 tackles (3 solo), including a solo and assist on special teams. Banta-Cain had 2 tackles (1 solo). Derek Smith and rookie Patrick Willis remained the stalwarts inside. Smith had 7 tackles (4 solo) and grabbed his first pick since 2005, only the fourth of his eleven-year career. It was the only turnover the defense forced. Willis continues to be a tackle-machine. He led the team with 13 (11 solo) and has at least 12 tackles in his last three games to move in to second in the league. His only other fantasy stats this year are a couple of pass defensed and one forced fumble, but keep starting him for the tackles and the big plays will come. He is the real deal. The team worked out LB Colby Bockwoldt, briefly a starter with the Saints previously, last week. However, they brought back Naives on Monday, creating a LBBC mess at OLB with three players they are all unsatisfied to some degree with.

Seattle
After getting three sacks in the first half, DE Darryl Tapp tied a team record with his fourth with a giant club cast on his right hand after breaking it in the second quarter. These didn’t come in garbage time, either. With just a seven-point lead in the second quarter, the Seahawks had their only turnover of the game. On the subsequent drive by STL, Tapp had two of his sacks to force a three-and-out. He also forced a fumble on one and had another solo tackle. Tapp now leads the team with 5.5 sacks for the season. I expected double-digit sacks from Tapp, who appeared to have the potential to be a poor man’s Dwight Freeney, when he moved in to the starting lineup before the season. However, he had just 1.5 through the first six games before breaking out on Sunday. The rush to pick him up may be tempered by the team’s bye this week and the fact he broke his hand. However, the initial reports are even if needs surgery, he could be back after the bye with a smaller cast.

DE Patrick Kerney (3.5 on season), OLB Leroy Hill (first), and OLB Julian Peterson (team-leading 7 for year) each had a sack, as well. Lost in frenzy over Tapp’s big game is Peterson continuing his huge year. In addition to his sack, he had three other solo tackles and his first pick of the year. SS Deon Grant had his second interception and CB Marcus Trufant had his team-leading third, as well.

Tampa Bay
DT Jovan Haye continues his breakout season with his team-leading fourth sack among his 4 tackles (2 solo). He is worth starting over many DEs in leagues that don’t differentiate and a must-start in leagues that require DTs. WLB Derrick Brooks led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo). MLB Barrett Ruud didn’t produce double-digit tackles for just the second time this season. He had 4 (2 solo), but still leads the league in total tackles. While TB did dominate the time of possession, leaving less opportunities for plays, Ruud appears to still be battling a knee problem. His angles on pursuit were poor a few times, indicating he may not be compensating for a loss of speed and explosion. Definitely no need to panic, as Ruud produce just fine in the previous game while the knee was dinged. He remains a must-start in all leagues, but if he strings together a few more poor performances, it might be more worrisome.

Rookie FS Tanard Jackson was denied his first career TD after apparently returning a fumble 79 yards on the first drive by DET. The play was ruled an incompletion after challenge. Jackson had 2 solo tackles in the game.

Rookie DE Gaines Adams was active, but limited by a chest injury suffered in practice last week. Pass specialist Patrick Chukwurah (left shoulder) and CB Brian Kelly (groin) were both inactive. Phillip Buchanon continues to start in place of Kelly, who has missed four games, including the last two. Chukwurah and Kelly both sound likely to miss this week, as well.

Tennessee
Although they let the Texans back in the game, the defense forced six turnovers to contribute to the victory. CB Nick Harper led the way, doing a lot of everything. He led the team with 8 solo tackles, picked off each HOU QB once for his first two picks as a Titan, and recovered 2 fumbles. One fumble picked up his teammate, WLB Keith Bulluck, who fumbled after he grabbed his team-leading fourth pick. Bulluck also had 4 solo tackles and recovered a fumble, as well, on an aborted snap. SLB David Thornton forced the fumble Harper recovered on one of his 5 tackles (4 solo). Harper leads the team in solo tackles and Thornton does overall.

Bulluck’s tackle production hasn’t been up to expectations of his fantasy owners, as he was rated among the top IDPs overall once again heading in to this season. A player usually among the league leaders each year is on pace to have less than 100 for the first time since becoming a starter. At just age 30, such a precipitous decline is unreasonable to explain happening so quickly. If there is an injury involved, it hasn’t been disclosed. Bulluck hasn’t been on an injury report this season. The reason Bulluck offered in The Tennessean last week was he is not counted on, nor does he have to, make all the tackles he did in other years because of the improvement of the defense up front in stopping the run from getting to the second level. This explanation has a lot of flaws. Other than DT Albert Haynesworth, no DLineman is really putting up numbers on pace for significant career highs. Also, Bulluck has been on some very good defenses in the past and still put up great numbers. You do have SLB David Thornton on pace for a career year in tackles, so that emergence is definitely a contributing factor. With some young players in the secondary, he may be being asked to do more in pass coverage, this would explain why he doesn’t have a sack (although that decline started last year) and why he has a career-best four picks (although three of those came in one game). Assuming no injury is involved, I think the primary reason to look at (giving those other factors relative weight in the equation) is the team is dominating time of possession against their opponents, leaving fewer opportunities on defense. They are second with over 34 minutes per game and second from last in the league in tackles as a team.

CB Cortland Finnegan had his first sack of the season and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch got his team-leading third.

Washington
The team got two earlier picks off banged up AZ QB Kurt Warner, converting both for TDs, to jump out to a 14-0 lead, then came up with a other huge plays to hold off the Cardinals. FS Sean Taylor started it off with a pick in WAS territory in the first quarter that led to a TD run by RB Clinton Portis. It was the fifth pick this year for Taylor, all in the last four games, to take over the NFL lead. In the second quarter, MLB London Fletcher cut in front of a Warner pass for his second pick of the year and took in 27 yards for a TD. Fletcher jumped over a convoy destroying Warner at the goalline for the score. It was Fletcher’s best game of the season, as he was all over the field. He broke up another pass and led the team in tackles with 13 (10 solo). After a turnover by the offense led to a TD for AZ late in the first half, DT Keith Golston had blocked the XP, which would figure prominently in the victory. The team had just one sack, but it was a huge one. Up by eight in the fourth quarter, AZ had driven to the WAS five-yard line. After a delay of game on the offense, DE Andre Carter got to Warner and forced a fumble on the sack recovered by DE Phillip Daniels. Carter leads the team with five sacks this season. After another late push by AZ, they scored a TD to make it 21-19. The blocked XP by Golston now figured in huge, as the Cardinals had to go for a two-point conversion. Forced to unconventional methods by Warner’s injury, AZ ran a direct snap to WR Antuan Boldin, who rolled right. His loft in to the end zone was snagged by SS LaRon Landry to save the lead. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, officially, that counts as neither a pick nor even a pass defensed. However, Landry did contribute 9 tackles (6 solo) in the game.

CB Shawn Springs returned to the team Saturday morning after spending the most of the week in a Dallas hospital with his father, who is in a coma, and family. As he was behind on learning the AZ offense, DC Gregg Williams planned to limit Springs to nickel and dime packages. Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers started, but Springs was quickly pressed back to full duty when Smoot left in the first half with a hamstring strain. Springs finished with 7 solo tackles and a pass defensed. Rogers also suffered an injury, a mild knee sprain, during the game. The early word is neither injury is serious. Both Smoot and Rogers are expected to play this week. Rogers also drew the ire of AZ K Neil Rackers when Rogers threw an unnecessary block after an XP was Rackers was blocked before halftime. They wrestled each other down by the face mask, drawing offsetting penalties.

WLB Rocky McIntosh had 9 tackles (8 solo). He leads the team in solo tackles, while Fletcher has one more than him overall. SLB Marcus Washington missed his second game with a left hamstring injury. Randall Godfrey got another start, posting 4 tackles (3 solo) and forcing a fumble.