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IDP Notes
Week 9

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)
  • Week Nine Byes: CHI, MIA, NYG, STL
  • CHI MLB Urlacher admits to lingering back problem
  • MIA MLB Thomas misses trip across the pond
  • TB MLB Ruud returns to double-digit tackle production
  • NYJ LB Vilma to IR, rookie LB Harris explodes in his place
  • Big day with 3 sacks and a TD catch for NE OLB Vrabel
  • PHI DE Cole leads NFL with 9 sacks
  • CLE LB Jackson hurts ankle
  • WAS LB McIntosh continues to fight pinched nerves
  • OAK DE Burgess finally gets first sack of season
  • STL DE Little inactive for extra time to rest toe heading to bye
  • TEN DLine gets boost from playing OAK
  • PIT D fine without DE Smith, FS Clark, and CB McFadden
  • Underrated OAK DL Kelly out for season
  • WAS CB Rogers blows knee, done for season
  • MIA S Allen solid in first career start
  • TEN rookie FS Griffin gets first career start
  • SD nickel CB Cromartie turns in one big play after another
Week 9 Injury Report (available Friday PM)

IDP Depth Chart
| DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC
PIT | STL | SD | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WAS

After resting over the bye week, LB Karlos Dansby (left knee sprain) still wasn’t able to practice early this week. The team is hopeful he will at some point, but he seems questionable to play this week. SS Adrian Wilson is also recovering from a lingering hamstring injury over the bye.

The divide between CB DeAngelo Hall and HC Bobby Petrino continued to be a story over the bye week. Hall was fined $100,000 by the team after engaging in a series of arguments on the sideline after a costly penalty during a loss at Carolina earlier this season. When DT Grady Jackson was released last, Hall was critical of the move. Petrino and Hall met over the bye, with Hall, unfortunately for us, declining to publicly comment. The team apparently was willing to half his fine if he toed the company line, but after his latest negative comments about the organization regarding Jackson, the word is the fine remains the same.

Rookie LB Stephen Nicholas had yet to practice early in the week, but did some running. He has been sidelined with an ankle sprain and it sounds like he may miss one more game. As soon as Nicholas returns, the value of WLB Demorrio Williams takes a hit, even if Williams remains the starter. The team signed DE Kevin Huntley to the practice squad over the bye. Huntley had a few nice games with OAK last year and seemed to be competing for a starting role in the preseason before he was a surprise cut. He’s likely to be activated and see some action if anyone is hurt on their DLine.

CB Chris McAllister (right knee) rested over the bye and still was not able to practice early this week. He did start running, but sounds very questionable this week. DE Trevor Pryce (broken wrist) has returned to practice and is expected to start this week. Dwan Edwards and Justin Bannan get downgraded.

They got just three sacks, but brought plenty of good pressure much of the game. DE Aaron Schobel had 3 QB pressures and one sack. He forced two fumbles on two of his other tackles, one recovered by DE Chris Kelsay, who played through a sore ankle. The team ran a lot of nickel package against the Jets three-wide sets and blitzed SLB Angelo Crowell out of it. Crowell got his first sack of the season among his 8 tackles (7 solo). WLB Keith Ellison saw less work because of the nickel package and finished with just an assist. Downgrade Ellison as he doesn’t get any work in pass packages. MLB John DiGiorgio led the team with 13 tackles (9 solo). DT Kyle Williams got his first career sack.

DE Ryan Denney (broken foot) remains inactive and is yet to play a game this year. He is doubtful for this week too. FS Jim Leonhard (calf) remained inactive, giving George Wilson his third start. Wilson had 6 tackles (5 solo) and his second pick of the season. Indications are Leonhard is probable for this week. CB Terrence McGee also had a pick and knocked NYJ WR Laveranues Cole out of the game with a solid hit from behind to break up a pass.

MLB Dan Morgan remained inactive, missing his fourth game with an Achilles’ tendon injury. Rookie Jon Beason remains in the middle and posted 5 tackles (2 solo), as well as broke up 2 passes. He also had a forced fumble reversed on replay as an incomplete pass. DE Mike Rucker, shockingly, led the team with 7 solo tackles. He almost doubled his tackle total for the season in the game. He still has no sacks this season and the team continues to struggle to get to the QB. WLB Na’il Diggs had a nice strip on IND TE Ben Utecht among his 4 tackles (3 solo). SS Chris Harris recovered the fumble and made a poor decision to try and lateral it. The ball came loose and Diggs fell on it, so he also got credit for a fumble recovery on the same play. Harris also had 6 solo tackles and a pass defensed.

CB Ken Lucas took a beating up and down the field from Reggie Wayne. Lucas finished with 5 solo tackles. Reserve CB Curtis Deloatch injured his knee on the final play of the third quarter and left the game for good after trying to return for the next series. He tore his ACL and is done for the season.

A week after getting angered at media questions about whether he had a lingering injury and then silencing critics with his best game of the year, MLB Brian Urlacher confirmed after their loss that he has “an arthritis type of thing”, dating back to training camp, going on with his back. Urlacher played the entire game, but had just 4 tackles (2 solo). I think too much will be made of this as most veterans of several seasons in the NFL are likely developing arthritis somewhere already. Unless some more definitive and detrimental information comes out, the bottom line is he seems to be battling more back pain this year than a guy colliding with people on every play would normally have and it will sporadically affect him the rest of the season. At 29 he should still have a few more seasons of peak production left, so he becomes a nice buy-low acquisition target in dynasty leagues if you find his current owner panicking over the combination of his sub-par game and this news.

The Bears got to the QB with four sacks, and while the offense failed to support them, they also failed to come up with a big play in several key situations. One time they did not was after a three-and-out by the offense deep in Chicago territory early in the fourth quarter which left the Lions with their best starting field position of the game. With a nine-point lead, DET looked to eat some clock with a run on the first play. As CB Charles Tillman forced the end run back inside, SS Adam Archuleta caught up to DET RB Kevin Jones from behind and popped the ball out. SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer recovered it. It was the first takeaway for the defense in the last three games, not good for a squad that thrives and prides itself on turnovers. Earlier in the game, Hillenmeyer deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage straight up in the air, but couldn’t come down with it for what likely would have been a long TD return. Tillman dropped an interception on the first play of the game and FS Danieal Manning also misjudged an overthrow he should have picked. Manning and Archuleta also combined for a brutal 47-yard pass interference on third-and-15 late in the first quarter that kept alive a drive that resulted in the first score for DET. Archuleta (6 solo) and Tillman (4 solo) had 6 tackles in the game. WLB Lance Briggs had 7 tackles (5 solo) and his second sack of the season.

DT Tommie Harris had his team-leading seventh sack of the season and played another all-around very good game. Third DE Alex Brown had his second sack of the year among his 3 solo tackles. The former starter is seeing more snaps as Mark Anderson, who replaced Brown on the first-string after his break-out rookie season, continues to get to have miscues on running plays. Anderson, who had just a solo tackle in the game, frequently over pursues down the line when unblocked, exposing the team on counters and reverses, and gets too deep with a pass rush-first mentality on running plays that opens his hole. After going three games without one, DE Adewale Ogunleye got his fourth sack of the season among his 4 solo tackles. DT Darwin Walker returned from a knee sprain, but did not start or play much.

CB Nathan Vasher (groin) missed his fifth-straight game. He practiced last week, but with the bye this week, he rested another game and is expected back in Week Ten. Rookie Trumaine McBride got another start and led the team with 8 solo tackles. Nickel CB Ricky Manning Jr. had 8 tackles (6 solo).

MLB Ahmad Brooks (groin) missed his fifth straight game and LB Caleb Miller (back) missed his fourth straight game. Neither practiced last week, despite Miller being expected to. Anthony Schlegel continued to under whelm with another start in the middle. He had 5 tackles (2 solo). Converted DE Robert Geathers continues to start at SLB and rotate with Dhani Jones. Rashad Jeanty saw some work on defense in his second game of the season, but it looks like he won’t regain his starting job. WLB Landon Johnson had 6 tackles (3 solo) and remains the only CIN LB with any fantasy value. He leads the team in tackles on the season.

CB Deltha O’Neal had 6 solo tackles and broke up 2 passes, including grabbing his first pick of the season. DE Justin Smith (DE, LB) led the team in tackles for the second-straight week. He had 10 tackles (8 solo). DT Domata Peko had the only sack in the game, his first of the season. Rookie reserve DB Chinedum “Nedu” Ndukwe remains the team leader in sacks with two. Pathetic.

They had to overcome 14 penalties for 102 yards (seven by the defense) and it took two big plays at the end of the game, but Browns literally held on by their fingertips to win in St. Louis. Coming out of the two minute warning with a fourth-and-one, SS Sean Jones held on to STL RB Brian Leonard to stop him for no gain. After a three-and-out by the offense, rookie CB Eric Wright kept hope alive for the Rams when he drew a 20-yard PI call on fourth down with less than a minute to play. An offsides by OLB Willie McGinest on the next play put STL five yards closer, but CB Leigh Bodden preserved the victory with a pick, the lone turnover the defense forced in the game. Bodden broke up another pass and led the defense with 8 solo tackles, but also had two penalties. He leads the team in interceptions with four, a new career high. Jones had 4 tackles (3 solo) and FS Brodney Pool had 4 solo tackles, but both continue to struggle in pass coverage. The team signed S Nick Sorensen to fill the roster spot opened when CB Gary Baxter went on the IR. However, Sorensen, a six-year vet cut by the Jaguars in preseason, has little upside and is primarily a special teams player.

ILB Leon Williams led the team with 9 solo tackles, including 2 on special teams, and broke up a pass. Back-up Andra Davis had 5 tackles (4 solo). He saw more work than usual, now that he’s backing up Williams, when ILB D’Qwell Jackson left in the first quarter with a left ankle injury. Davis is also battling an ankle injury. Jackson, the team’s leading tackler, had 3 solo tackles before leaving. It sounds like he is pretty questionable for this. Davis gets a temporary bump if he returns to the starting lineup. LB Kris Griffin, a special team standout who is also Jackson’s back-up, suffered an Achilles’ tendon injury and had to be helped off the field in the first quarter, as well.

NT Ethan Kelley had his first sack of the season. He continues to start with Ted Washington back as an inactive this week. Shaun Smith continues to start at DE in place of Orpheus Roye, who was active but still struggling to recover from knee surgery.

CB Anthony Henry is expected to return from a high ankle sprain following the bye.

CB Champ Bailey played through a strained left quad and CB Dre’ Bly played with a slight shoulder separation. Both were burned on long TDs. Bailey broke up 3 passes and shared the team lead in tackles with 8 (7 solo). MLB D.J. Williams also had 8 tackles (6 solo).

DE Simeon Rice was active, but did not start. He was the most productive lineman with 4 tackles (2 solo). The team had no individual sacks credited, just one team sack. Rookie DE Jarvis Moss was a healthy scratch.

FS John Lynch suffered a pinched nerve in his neck in the first quarter and did not return. The team started Domonique Foxworth as a deep SS against the GB three-wide set before he returned to nickel CB and Nick Ferguson resumed his SS job. Foxworth and Curome Cox saw more time with Lynch out.

The frequently criticized DET secondary came up with four picks, including three in the end zone, to secure a victory on Sunday. CB Keith Smith did a nice job keeping the ball from hitting the ground on his team-leading third interception of the season. Smith has made a season out of playing CHI QB Brian Griese. In their last meeting, Smith returned a pick for a TD. CB Fernando Bryant and rookie FS Gerald Alexander each had their second pick of the season in the end zone. Alexander’s fell in his hands in the back of the end zone after being tipped around. Bryant also had 6 solo tackles. SS Kennoy Kennedy got his first pick of the season in the end zone and made a poor decision to try and run it out, but was lucky to make it to the seven-yard line. CB Travis Fisher, who recently replaced Stanley Wilson in the starting lineup, left the game in the third quarter with a hip/lower back bruise.

MLB Paris Lenon led the team with 10 tackles (9 solo). Teddy Lehman continues to see a series or two calling the plays in the middle, as well. DT Shaun Rogers left the game during the first series with an injury. He got his right elbow wrapped on the sidelines, but appeared OK when he returned the next series and got his second sack of the season. DE Dewayne White followed up his three-sack game the previous week with another on Sunday. He leads the team with 5.5 on the season, four in his last two games. DE Kalimba Edwards (knee) was inactive, despite hoping to play as he already missed two games earlier this year with an ankle injury. He is day-to-day. Jared DeVries started in his place.

Green Bay
With second-and-goal from the Green Bay one-yard line on the first play of the second quarter, DEN QB Jay Cutler muffed the exchange. MLB Nick Barnett fell on it and shifted the momentum of the game back to GB. Barnett led the team in tackles with 9 (6 solo). DE Aaron Kampman brought good pressure all day, getting three sacks. He leads the team with 8 sacks, tied for second in the league leaders.

SS Atari Bigby had a rough game, drawing four penalties, including two to help Denver’s TD scoring drive in the first quarter.

DE Mario Williams had his fourth sack of the season, tying him with rookie DT Amobi Okoye for the team lead. MLB DeMeco Ryans had his two-game streak of double-digit tackle games snapped. He still led the team with 8 (7 solo). And that is really all there is to talk about this team for this week.

After overcoming a dislocated right elbow, WLB Freddie Keiaho suffered a concussion in Week Four against Denver. He sat out Week Five, then had a bye, before he was cleared to play, and did, in Week Seven. However, he is now dealing with post-concussion syndrome and missed the game on Sunday. Tyjuan Hagler, who took over the starting SLB last week, slid back to the weak-side in place of Keiaho and posted 10 tackles (8 solo). Rocky Boiman, who Hagler replaced last week, got another start at SLB and had 4 tackles (2 solo). With Keiaho out and the team disappointed in Boiman’s performance, they signed LB Brandon Archer from the practice squad last week. Archer saw significant action, posting 4 tackles (3 solo). MLB Gary Brackett led the team with 12 tackles (11 solo).

CB Marlin Jackson left the game in the third quarter after injuring his neck during a tackle. It didn’t sound serious as HC Tony Dungy indicated he was hopeful Jackson could play this week. Rookie Daymeion (who now apparently wants to go by his middle name, Dante) Hughes replaced Jackson. SS Bob Sanders had 6 tackles (4 solo) and recovered a fumble. With the team down by four early, FS Antoine Bethea grabbed his team-leading second pick of the season to prevent a bigger deficit.

DE Dwight Freeney was held without a sack for the first time in three games. The team had none in the game.

CB Brian Williams strained his hamstring in practice last week, giving cagey veteran Aaron Glenn his first start this season on Sunday. Glenn paid immediate dividends when he took the first interception thrown by TB QB Jeff Garcia back 28 yards for a score. It was the sixth pick-six of Glenn’s career and his first since 2002. In the third quarter, moments before he was destroyed by DT John Henderson, Garcia dumped a ball off that SS Sammy Knight grabbed for his second pick of the season. Knight also led the defense with 6 tackles (5 solo). FS Reggie Nelson sealed the victory with second remaining when CB Rashean Mathis deflected a pass straight up that Nelson grabbed. Glenn tackled Nelson who briefly appeared to unwisely consider trying to return the interception. Nelson also led the team with 8 solo tackles, including 3 on special teams.

DL Rob Meier had a solo sack and shared another with DT Marcus Stroud. MLB Mike Peterson had 5 solo tackles. The team signed DT Grady Jackson, who was released by ATL last week.

Kansas City
DE Jared Allen lost his league lead in sacks over the bye. Reserve LB Keyaron Fox (hamstring) returned to practice, but reserve LB Johnny Baldwin (knee) will still be out this week.

MLB Zach Thomas didn’t make the trip across the Atlantic as did end up injured in his car accident after their Week Seven game. The first concern was he suffered another concussion, but it looks like that was not the case. He reportedly has whiplash and that neck injury was the reason given for him being advised not to attend the trip and not active. Channing Crowder started in the middle in place of Thomas and led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo). Derrick Pope replaced Crowder on the weak-side and had 4 tackles (3 solo).

It was mostly a positive result in the first NFL start at FS for former first round pick Jason Allen. He had 5 solo tackles, and another erased by penalty, most as the much-needed last line of defense against NYG RB Brandon Jacobs, who ran all over the Dolphins. Still, Allen (and the brutal field) helped limit Jacobs to no run longer than 15 yards and forced him to fumble one. The fumble was a couple plays after Allen had his first career pick erased by a holding penalty by DE Jason Taylor. Allen also drew an unnecessary roughness personal foul. The much-maligned secondary held the Giants to just eight completions, but that had more to do with the London weather and field condition than a sudden vast improvement by MIA. DE Matt Roth had the only sack of the game among his 6 solo tackles. He forced a fumble on the sack that Taylor recovered, the only turnover the defense forced. After a 26-foot robot version of Taylor paraded through London as part of the hype leading to the game, he failed to amaze the crowd at Wembley with just a QB hurry to go with the fumble recovery as the only plays he put up on the day.

Cameron Worrell remained the starter at SS. Recently acquired S Lance Schulters was active for the game, but DNP. It appears he’ll just be depth as Travares Tillman missed his fifth-straight game after arthroscopic surgery on his knee that was only suppose to keep him out for a month. DT Vonnie Holliday missed another game with a slight fracture in his right ankle. He expects to return to practice after their bye this week. DE Quentin Moses, who was also signed last week for depth, was inactive.

CB Antoine Winfield had another busy day, he led the team 12 tackles (10 solo, including one on special teams) and broke up 3 passes. MLB E.J. Henderson had his third-straight game with double-digit tackles posting 10 (9 solo).

DE Kenechi Udeze had a sack for the second-consecutive game, taking over the team lead with four for the season. SLB Ben Leber had his second sack of the season. DE Erasmus James (shoulder) remained inactive.

FS Dwight Smith remained inactive with a lingering hamstring injury. Tank Williams got another start in his place. Smith is expected back this week. After a brief benching in the previous game, rookie nickel CB Marcus McCauley lost his nickel role to Charles Gordon. Gordon had 2 tackles (1 solo) and McCauley was limited to mostly special teams. Although Gordon didn’t give up any big plays, it didn’t help the defense much as PHI QB Donovan McNabb dissected them the whole game.

New England
The (at least) annual Mike Vrabel TD pass has joined death and taxes as the rare certainties in life. With a seven-point lead and second-and-goal from the two-yard line in the second quarter, Vrabel and ILB Junior Seau checked in as eligible. The Redskins totally ignored Vrabel releasing on the right side of the line and he caught his tenth career reception (8 regular season, 2 postseason). All have been for touchdowns. Vrabel pretty much had a career day on the defensive side of the ball, as well. He led the team with 13 tackles (11 solo) with 3 sacks, all of which he forced fumbles on. The first came on the WAS drive following his TD catch. Sandwiched by a WAS drive on which CB Asante Samuel grabbed a pick, Vrabel got another sack and forced fumble. Both those fumbles were recovered by DE Ty Warren. The second quarter mercifully ended for the Redskins, but Vrabel was right back at it in the third quarter. On his final sack, OLB Rosevelt Colvin picked up the fumble and trotted 11 yards for a TD. Vrabel now leads the team with 7.5 sacks. Samuel leads the team with four picks, tied with a crowd for second in the league.

DE Richard Seymour (knee) was activated from the PUP and saw limited action on Sunday. The team has no reason to rush Seymour, but he’ll impact the value of DE Jarvis Green, what little he currently has, at some point. After a fast start to the season with three sacks in the first four games, Green hasn’t done much from a fantasy perspective for weeks. FS Eugene Wilson (ankle) was inactive. Wilson was displaced as a starter recently by James Sanders anyway, so he currently has little value anyway.

New Orleans
DE Charles Grant sprained his left ankle in the first quarter, but returned and played most of the rest of the way, including sharing a sack with DE Will Smith at the end of the first half. DT Brian Young had a sack for the third consecutive game, he leads the team with three on the season. Young set a career high with 5.5 sacks last year and is continues to be a very solid interior pass-rushing lineman this year.

WLB Scott Shanle left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Troy Evans. SLB Scott Fujita led the defense with 6 solo tackles and SS Roman Harper led the team with 7 tackles (4 solo), including one on special teams.

CB Jason David returned from a broken left forearm and took back his starting job.

New York Giants
IDPs on both sides capitalized on unforced errors caused by the weather and short grass for a slicker pitch in London’s Wembley Stadium. DE Michael Strahan recovered a fumble when MIA QB Cleo Lemon dropped back for a pass and the ball popped out of his hands late in the second half. Strahan also had 4 solo tackles in the game. He had some hip pain and an ab strain during the second half, which caused him to miss some time, but neither injury appears to be a serious problem and he finished the game. On the other side, DE Osi Umenyiora was unable to have a big game in the city he was born, finishing with just 2 solo tackles. WLB Kawika Mitchell was robbed of a sack when Lemon muffed a snap, counting as a fumble, so when Mitchell tackled him for a loss while Lemon was dropping back to throw, it was only counted as 1 of his 4 solo tackles. Mitchell also forced a fumble and broke up a pass.

SS James Butler (hamstring) was inactive, giving rookie Michael Johnson his first career start. Johnson had 4 solo tackles. CB Corey Webster also saw some more work in pass packages because nickel CB Kevin Dockery missed the second half with a shoulder injury he suffered on kick coverage. CB Sam Madison led the team with 6 solo tackles and had a nice pass defense in the end zone.

New York Jets
We now know the ILB Jonathan Vilma was indeed hurting, as he was put on the IR. The team and Vilma have not commented on the nature or severity of the injury. His agent has said it isn’t career-threatening. The NY Daily News speculated he was favoring his right knee and say he entered the draft with osteochondritis dessicans, a bone condition that apparently causes instability in the knee, but must not be considered serious as they indicate the team knew about it when they drafted him. Again, this is all speculation, the team has not confirmed anything. Vilma was inherited by HC Eric Mangini and it is possible he’s not back next year as he has struggled to fit in the 3-4. If he goes somewhere else, assuming the knee is OK, he becomes a great value pick next year. On the other hand, rookie ILB David Harris looks like a great fit for Mangini’s defense after replacing Vilma. In his first career start, Harris led the team with 17 tackles (10 solo), including his first career sack, the only one in the game for the Jets. He immediately becomes the hottest IDP waiver wire pick this week and a big mid-season boost for deep and/or dynasty league owners who are already sitting on him. Fellow rookie CB Darrelle Revis also continues to put up good fantasy numbers. Revis had 6 tackles (5 solo) and leads the team on the season. He also had 3 QB hurries and 3 passes defensed, including one picked for his first career interception, the only turnover for the Jets in the game. He also missed his second career pick late in the fourth quarter. Revis seemed to be coming down with the ball over BUF WR Lee Evans when FS Abram Elam crashed in to Revis. Evans eluded the collision and took the pass 85 yards to put the game away. Elam’s stupid personal foul last week apparently wasn’t enough for him to lose the job. He had his second career start and posted 7 tackles (3 solo).

The Raiders killed themselves with 14 penalties for 100 yards, but these weren’t the overaggressive, borderline criminal Raider penalties of old on defense. In fact, the defense had just one, an innocent offsides for five yards. DE Derrick Burgess appears to have made significant progress with his right calf injury, finally getting his first sack of the season on a third down in the third quarter. He flustered TEN QB Vince Young with his post-sack pose, as Young threw the ball away and took a delay of game penalty for it. Young had a rough day in his first game back from a hamstring injury, but up until then, he kept his cool. DT Warren Sapp tried to break him, jawing all day and sacking Young once. It was his second sack of the season, and in as many games, for Sapp. DE Tommy Kelly stopped Young for no gain once, just missing getting a sack. Young managed just 11 yards on seven carries. Kelly had 5 tackles (4 solo) overall before leaving minutes in to the third quarter with a right knee injury. Kelly’s was sorely missed in their run defense. After the Raiders held the Titans to 61 yards rushing in the first half, TEN rushed for 131 yards in the second half. The Raiders had slightly more time of possession in the second half and four more minutes in the first half, so it shouldn’t have been because they were getting worn down. Jay Richardson replaced Kelly in the second half, with tweener Chris Clemons seeing some more work, as well. Kelly has a torn ACL and is done for the season. DT Gerard Warren (thigh) missed his third-straight game, giving Terdell Sands another start.

MLB Kirk Morrison led the team with 12 tackles (8 solo). SLB Sam Williams (shoulder) missed his third-straight game and Robert Thomas started in his place again. Former Ram Jon Alston even saw a few snaps on defense.

It is all about Trent Cole on the PHI D. The DE led the team with 8 tackles (7 solo), including 2 sacks for his second multi-sack game of the year. Cole takes over the league lead with 9 sacks, including 4 in his last 3 games. DE Jevon Kearse had a sack, giving him 3.5 for the season, and DE Juqua Thomas had his fourth sack of the season. After being active for the first time this year in the previous game, rookie DE Victor Abiamiri was a healthy scratch again Sunday.

FS Brian Dawkins missed his fifth game. The Eagles website reports he is expected to return this week, but split time with Quintin Mikell. Dawkins was already a risky play until something is confirmed, but the news he will be sharing work makes him even less appealing to rush back in your lineup. Nickel CB Will James has a plantar fasciitis strain, but is expected to play through the pain.

The team released LB Matt McCoy this week. A bad roughing the kicker penalty on a punt in Sunday’s game may have been the final straw for the former second-round pick who has been relegated to special teams work after being unable to hold on to a starting job last year.

Despite missing two starters and another key player, the defense helped keep QB Ben Rothlisberger undefeated (9-0) in his home state of Ohio. DE Aaron Smith (sprained left MCL), FS Ryan Clark (inflamed spleen), and nickel CB Bryant McFadden (high ankle sprain) were inactive, as expected. It was the first game since he was a rookie in 1999 that Smith has missed. He was replaced by Nick Eason, who had 3 tackles (1 solo). Clark, who problems came after dehydration and the high altitude in Denver the previous week, was replaced at FS by Anthony Smith. Smith led the team 10 tackles (9 solo, including 2 on special teams). Neither (Aaron) Smith nor Clark practiced last week and both remain questionable this week. Although he returned to some phases of practice last week, McFadden missed his third game. Reserve S Tyrone Carter saw most of the work in nickel packages, forcing a fumble on his only tackle.

OLB James Harrison continues to come up with big plays in his first season as a full-time starter. He had 5 tackles (3 solo), including catching CIN RB Kenny Watson from behind on a screen and ripping the ball out. Challenge on replay confirmed the fumble and recovery for Harrison, despite it appearing fairly questionable. Harrison leads the team in tackles for the season.

The team released 2004 second-round pick Ricardo Colclough and brought back DB Anthony Madison. Colclough was a small school prospect who had a good showing at the Combine, but never panned out as a punt returner or DB.

St. Louis
The offense was finally able to score a bit, but they couldn’t finish two drives in to CLE territory at the end of the game and defense forced no turnovers to help them. MLB Will Witherspoon did his part, leading the team in tackles with 9 (8 solo), including his second sack of the season as the team used some blitzes to try to compensate for the loss of DE Leonard Little and lack of pass rush in the front four even with Little in this season. Little was inactive with a torn ligament connecting his left big toe. He’ll see a specialist over the bye this week, so look for more information next week on his status for the rest of the season. Victor Adeyanju started in place of Little, but didn’t appear in the box score. DL Trevor Johnson saw more snaps with Little out, as well. Rookie DT Adam Carriker got his first career sack.

San Diego
Nickel CB Antonio Cromartie had a career game in second season he’s unlikely to ever duplicate or surpass. It started in the first quarter when the snap on a punt was launched in to the end zone and HOU P Matt Turk made the worst attempt to try to recover the ball in the history of football. Cromartie was first on the scene and got it easily for his first career TD. In the second quarter, he grabbed a pick and returned it 70 yards for another TD. On the next drive, he made a nice leap to get his second interception of the game and returned it 21 yards. He also broke up another pass and had 2 solo tackles. Cromartie is tied with FS Marlon McCree for the team lead in interception with three. On the second pick, CB Drayton Florence leveled HOU QB Matt Schaub, knocking him out of the game. Those weren’t the only DBs of note. SS Clinton Hart led the team with 10 tackles (5 solo). Rookie third S Eric Weddle had 4 tackles (3 solo) and his first career pick. CB Quentin Jammer strained his hamstring in the second half, giving Cletis Gordon some work in the last series or two. Jammer is expected to play this week.

WILB Matt Wilhelm had 8 tackles (6 solo) and SILB Stephen Cooper had 7 tackles (5 solo), as well as his first pick of the year, second of his career, and first since 2003. Wilhelm twisted his ankle during the game, but is expected to play this week. OLB Shawne Merriman had 7 tackles (6 solo), a QB hurry, and tipped two passes. OLB Shaun Phillips left the game in the second quarter with a groin injury and didn’t return. After the game he was confident he’d be back this week, but the HC Norv Turner is currently calling him a dreaded game-time decision. Marques Harris replaced Phillips and shared a sack with DE Luis Castillo.

NT Jamal Williams had minor surgery on both knees before the bye and was expected back this week, but apparently had a setback and was inactive on Sunday. He is expected to be back this week.

San Francisco
Parys Haralson started at OLB again. Tully Banta-Cain’s ankle is better, but he still saw limited duty because the 49ers ran a lot of nickel packages against NO’s three-wide sets. Brandon Moore was back to primarily special teams with Banta-Cain healthy. ILB Patrick Willis led the team with 10 tackles (6 solo). He remains second in the league in tackles.

CB Walt Harris left the game in the fourth quarter with a hyperextended knee. Shawte Spencer replaced him. CB Donald Strickland had bumped Spencer from the nickel job recently.

DE Darryl Tapp (broken finger) and DT Rocky Bernard (groin) are expected to play this week. Tapp, coming off a team-record four sacks against STL, had surgery over the bye week to insert six screws in his right ring finger.

Tampa Bay
MLB Barrett Ruud bounced back from disappointing production in the previous game to lead the team with 12 tackles (8 solo). WLB Derrick Brooks had 10 tackles (7 solo).

Rookie DE Gaines Adams shared a sack with DL Greg White. Adams has been frustrated at his lack of playing time, but HC Jon Gruden seemed to hint at more PT for Adams in the near future when he said Adams should be a “real big part” of the second half. DE Greg Spires left the game earlier with a calf injury.

Pass specialist Patrick Chukwurah (left shoulder) and CB Brian Kelly (groin) both remained inactive. Phillip Buchanon continues to start in place of Kelly, who has missed five games, including the last three. Kelly was limited in practice last week, but upgraded to questionable before missing another game. Nickel CB Torrie Cox left the game with a knee injury. It is reportedly a torn ACL and he will miss the season. His presence will mostly be missed on special teams.

The Titans had the top run defense in the league, and they kept the Raiders under 100 yards rushing. However, they weren’t generating much of a pass rush, until Sunday. Against OAK, they broke out with five sacks, all by the front four. Third DE Travis LaBoy had two and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch had one. Both forced fumbles on sacks, while LaBoy also recovered his. Both now have four sacks each to lead the team. DT Albert Haynesworth had his second sack of the season on the final drive by OAK, helping preserve the win. DE Antwan Odom had his third sack of the season, setting a new career best.

SS Chris Hope has frustrated fantasy owners after a career year in 2006, but he had his best game of the season on Sunday. He grabbed his first pick of the year late in the fourth quarter and had 6 tackles (5 solo). After the local media talking up rookie Michael Griffin being on the verge of getting more playing time, HC Jeff Fisher validated their prediction when Griffin got his first career start at FS. He finished with 4 tackles (2 solo). Both safeties now become second-half IDP sleepers if you are hurting at DB. Calvin Lowry, who Griffin replaced on the first unit, was sufficient as a starter, but lacks Griffin’s upside and first-round draft status.

SLB David Thornton led the team with 12 tackles (9 solo). He leads the team for the season. WLB Keith Bulluck disappointed fantasy owners again, for reasons we took a look at in last week’s column, posting 6 tackles (5 solo).

Not many highlights for a defense that was the latest, and worst, victims of the NE offense. MLB London Fletcher led the defense with 15 tackles (11 solo) and broke up a pass. Fletcher moved up to fourth in the league in tackles. Rookie SS LaRon Landry also had 15 tackles (11 solo, including one on special teams). FS Sean Taylor had 6 tackles (3 solo) and still leads the league in interceptions with five. The team had only one sack and one turnover on the day. DE Phillip Daniels got his first solo sack of the season, forcing a fumble that DE Andre Carter recovered.

SLB Marcus Washington returned after missing two games with a left hamstring injury. He worked solely as an edge rusher, as the team didn’t want to further injure the hamstring by asking him to work in pass coverage. WLB Rocky McIntosh had to leave the game several times as problems with pinched nerves in both his shoulders that bothered him earlier this year returned. He had 5 tackles (3 solo). Rookie H.B. Blades saw his first significant work of the season with both OLBs hurting, but Blades also hurt his knee in the game. He returned after coming out and finished with 4 tackles (3 solo). All three are expected to be OK for this week.

CB Fred Smoot missed another game as he battles a lingering hamstring injury. He will need to be better this week, because CB Carlos Rogers was lost for the season, tearing his MCL and ACL. Leigh Torrence replaced him and moves in to the starting lineup if Smoot can’t heal soon.