Linebacker coach Bill Davis appears to have made another successful
transition of a DE to the Cardinals “Predator” OLB tweener
job. Travis LaBoy earned the starting job and posted four tackles
(three solo), including two sacks. The first sack was a gift, but
the second came late in the game with classic grab-and-swat to force
a fumble, which he also recovered, to seal the victory. LaBoy has
a lot more value if your stat provider and league rules still allow
him to be recognized as a DL. Bert Berry, who LaBoy beat for the
starting role, came off the bench to get a sack, as well. ILB Gerald
Hayes also had a sack among his six tackles (four solo) and WLB
Karlos Dansby led the team with seven tackles (five solo) and recovered
a fumble. Chike Okeafor replaced the departed Calvin Pace as the
SLB. In the “Predator” role, LaBoy plays with both his
hand off the ground in 3-4 looks, moving Dansby inside, and as an
end in 4-3 looks.
DE Darnell Dockett picked up where his dominating 2007 season
left off, posting five solo tackles and forcing a fumble. SS Adrian
Wilson got off to a good start after his injury-plagued 2007 season
with four tackles (three solo) and an interception.
While it was the new youth on the offense that stole the headlines,
it was some cagey vets on defense that ensured victory on opening
day. After falling behind 21-0 early, the Lions appeared to have
weathered the storm and turned the momentum when they went in
to halftime down just seven. Detroit came out in the second half
and were marching in Atlanta territory before SS Lawyer Milloy
picked off a pass, the only turnover of the game. The offense
would kick a FG on the subsequent drive, the eventual difference
in the final score. DE John Abraham had three sacks among his
four solo tackles, including two sacks on Detroit’s last
possession. While mostly playing his normal RDE position, one
sack came from the left side in a pass package with normal LDE
Jamaal Anderson inside and Chauncey Davis working the right end.
Another sack might result in a scoring change, as it looked like
Abraham and Anderson both got there at the same time. I was surprised
to see they weren’t both credited with a half-sack each
in the Game Book after. Anderson is still looking for his first
career sacks, after getting none as a rookie last year.
Boley led the team with seven tackles (six solo) and broke
up a pass. Rookie MLB Curtis
Lofton didn’t put much in the box score, just four tackles
(two solo), but had a solid debut. He stood up fellow rookie DET
RB Kevin Smith and stopped a first down on a second-and-one when
it looked like Smith had it. Lofton’s work was limited as Detroit
was mostly behind throughout the game and passing, frequently
with three- and four-receiver looks. Lofton isn’t in the Falcon’s
nickel and dime packages.
Despite being among the top corners in real NFL terms, Chris
McAlister usually isn’t among the top fantasy performers because
he doesn’t produce big peripheral numbers and teams avoid targeting
him (and he’s only played 16 games once in the last six years).
On Sunday, he had turnovers literally falling in to his hands.
With the Bengals threatening on their second series, a pass to
CIN WR Chad Ocho Cinco inside the red zone was deflected and McAlister
grabbed it. The offense had a TD on the subsequent drive for the
first score of the game. In the second quarter, a fumbled by CIN
RB Chris Perry bounced five yards and to McAlister who scooped
it up. A FG on the resulting final drive of the quarter gave the
Ravens a 16-0 lead heading in to half time. MLB Ray
Lewis knocked the ball loose, but wasn’t credited with the
forced fumble in the Game Book. McAlister also had four tackles
(three solo). Nickel CB Corey
Ivy suffered a right ankle injury in the fourth quarter and
left the game. There is concern the injury is serious. The Ravens
depth at corner improves this week as Derrick Martin and Fabian
Washington return from one-game suspensions by the league.
OLB Jarret Johnson led the team with six tackles (five solo),
including a sack. NT Kelly Gregg was inactive after getting a
knee cleaned up last month. He was expected to be ready for the
season opener, so should return soon. Justin Bannan started in
place of Gregg and had a sack. Gregg is expected to try to practice
this week and could return for Week Two. FS Ed Reed, who has been
limited by a “nerve impingement” in his neck and left
shoulder, was questionable, but started and reported feeling well
during the game. He tipped the pass that McAlister picked.
Third DE Ryan Denney got it done on both sides of the ball on
Sunday. He had one of the team’s five sacks, but also caught
a 19-yard TD pass on a fake FG when Seattle left him completely
uncovered on the left sideline. RDE Aaron Schobel had a sack,
getting off to a good start after underperforming as a pass rusher
in 2007. DT Kyle Williams had 1.5 sacks in his first two seasons
before adding another sack and a half on Sunday alone, despite
being bumped out of the starting lineup by the addition of Marcus
Stroud in the offseason. Stroud shared a sack with Williams among
his six tackles (three solo). Stroud also batted down two passes.
The Bills’ DLine is looking intimidating and deep this year.
Kawika Mitchell was a solid, but unspectacular and anonymous MLB
for four years in KC. As a free agent last year, the best he got
was a one-year deal with the Giants and with the chance to compete
for a starting job. He won the WLB job and became an important
piece of a World Champion defense. Finally a commodity, he got
a nice deal from the Bills this year and wasted no time paying
dividends as their WLB. Mitchell had four tackles (three solo),
including a sack and another TFL.
The defense suffered a devastating blow out of nowhere when SLB
Angelo Crowell was placed on the IR just before the season started.
He opted to have surgery on his left knee for a problem that goes
back to last year and for which the swelling hampered him again
this camp. The nature of the injury wasn’t disclosed, but
it was originally reported he was just having the knee scoped,
typically a clean-up procedure that requires no more than a few
weeks to return from. The undersized Keith Ellison now takes over
at SLB. Ellison had a nice debut as a rookie in 2006 when he filled
in for Crowell and former Bill Takeo Spikes at various times.
After earning the starting WLB job heading in to 2007, he struggled
after an early ankle injury that cost him the first four games.
After last season, it was clear the team viewed Ellison as a reserve
when they brought in Mitchell to start opposite Crowell. The defense
started in a nickel package, so Ellison didn’t officially
get a start, but he filled in, as expected, in the base defense
for Crowell. MLB Paul Posluszny had six tackles (three solo) and
broke up two passes.
Harris had a strong start as an encore to his breakout 2007
season. Harris led the team with ten tackles (nine solo) and forced
a fumble that CB Chris
Gamble returned for a TD. De Julius
Peppers had a slow start as an encore to his disappointing
2007 season. Peppers had one assist. New LDE Tyler
Brayton had three solo tackles, while reserve DE Charles
Johnson didn’t appear in the box score. Na’il Diggs held on
to the starting SLB job over Landon
Johnson and had the only sack for the Panthers among his eight
tackles (6 solo). MLB Jon
Beason had 7 solo tackles.
After battling injuries last year, the Bears were an elite defense
again on Sunday night. Not surprisingly, MLB Brian
Urlacher (eight solo) and WLB Lance
Briggs (five solo) led the way. Briggs also knocked IND RB
Joseph Addai out of the game with a vicious hit and returned a
fumble forced by CB Charles
Tillman for a TD. The key was the improved play of the DLine.
Their signature on the game was late in the second quarter when
a penalty on a kick return stuck the Colts at their own 12-yard
line. On first down, rookie DT Marcus
Harrison burst through the middle to sack IND QB Peyton Manning
for a 10-yard loss. On the next play, LDE Adewale
Ogunleye stopped Addai from getting out of the end zone for
the safety. Ogunleye had two other TFL among his six (five solo).
On the other side, Alex
Brown returned to his starting RDE role and had a sack as
well as batting down a pass early in the game on a series deep
in Chicago territory that contributed to holding the Colts to
First-round pick WLB Keith
Rivers made an immediate impact, he led the team with nine
solo tackles and with MLB Dhani
Jones (six solo), also led the team with ten total. However,
Rivers also blew contain on BAL rookie QB Joe Flacco’s improbably
38-yard TD run. Jones also had a snafu, somehow allowing himself
to get blocked out of the play not once, but twice, by Flacco
on BAL WR Mark Clayton’s 42-yard TD on a double-reverse. Rashad
Jeanty, who narrowly won a hotly contested SLB battle, had six
tackles (four solo), including catching BAL RB Ray Rice for a
loss and forcing a fumble early in the fourth quarter. CB Johnathan
Joseph scooped it up and returned it 65 yards for the Bengals’
first TD of the game.
DE Antwan Odom was active, coming off a foot sprain, but saw limited
action, finishing with one solo tackle. Frostee Rucker started
at RDE and had six tackles (four solo), including two TFL in his
first career start. He also forced a fumble on the first drive
of the game that LDE Robert Geathers recovered. Rucker was reportedly
on crutches after the game, but I’ve seen no report of an
injury. Chinedum Ndukwe was inactive with a knee injury, so Dexter
Jackson started at SS.
Wright had one of the few highlights for Cleveland in their
disappointing performance. He cut in front of DAL WR Terrell Owens
for a nice pick in the end zone, the only turnover of the game.
ILB D’Qwell Jackson led the team with 11 tackles (eight solo).
ILB Andra’ Davis worked more snaps that Leon
Williams, posting seven tackles (five solo) to Williams’ two
solo tackles. However, Davis also let a sure pick slip through
his hands. FS Brodney
Pool was inactive with a concussion so Mike Adams got the
start in his place and posted eight solo tackles.
CB Terence Newman was inactive due to a groin injury, so CB Adam
Jones got the start in his first game as a Cowboy. Newman expects
to return this week. As Dallas dominated time of possession, Jones
didn’t have much of a chance to make an impact. He had a
solo tackle and a pass defensed, as well as serving as the punt
returner. Also in his Dallas debut, ILB Zach Thomas had five tackles
(four solo). OLB Demarcus Ware and FS Ken Hamlin each had five
solo tackles each. Ware also had a sack on which he forced a fumble.
Denver Nate Webster strengthened his hold on the starting MLB job with
a solid start on MNF. He led the team with 11 tackles (seven solo).
WLB D.J. Williams showed no decline in production in his new role,
posting seven tackles (five solo), including a sack. Former first-round
pick DE Jarvis Moss was a healthy scratch and has to be considered
a bust at this point.
DE Dewayne White had the only sack for the team. That ends the
highlights from an embarrassing opening day loss at Atlanta. The
team had no turnovers. SS Dwight Smith led the team with eight
tackles (six solo), as most of the front seven offered little
resistance. WLB Ernie Sims was the exception, but he was carted
off the field with a right ankle injury late in the second quarter.
He did return and finished with six tackles (five solo), including
one TFL, so he should be OK for this week. MLB Paris Lenon battled
a rib injury in the first half and left in the fourth quarter
with a knee injury, so it was hard to evaluate how much of the
rotation with second-round pick Jordon Dizon was planned and how
much was necessitated. Lenon finished with three solo tackles
and dropped a sure pick for a TD deep in Atlanta territory late
in the first half that could have tied the score. Dizon debuted
with six tackles (four solo, including one on special teams).
Lenon said he is “fine”, but regardless of his health,
Dizon remains in the picture.
This was supposed to be a breakout season for DE Ikaika Alama-Francis
as a pass rush threat in his second year. However, he was a healthy
scratch in favor of rookie third-round pick Cliff Avril because
Avril plays special teams and Alama-Francis doesn’t. Jared
DeVries gets a bump while this situation continues because Alama-Francis
is a threat to his playing time.
Concerns about a minor decline in his second year and a sprained
pec in the preseason were alleviated as WLB A.J. Hawk led the
team with ten tackles (seven solo) on MNF. MLB Nick Barnett had
eight solo tackles. DE Aaron Kampman had a sack and SS Atari Bigby
had a pick to end the Vikings’ final threat with less than
a minute in the game, although he made the kind of dumb decision
that could eventually cost him a job when he ran around the field
with the ball instead of just going down. FS Nick Collins had
to crawl off the field at one point in the game, conveniently
right in front of a MNF camera, and appeared writhing in pain.
However, somewhat to the dismay of back-up S Aaron Rouse in a
way he’d never admit, Collins just had the wind knocked
out of him and soon returned to the game.
DE Mario Williams finished 2007 with ten sacks in his last seven
games and began 2008 with two sacks among his six solo tackles.
His first sack was huge, forcing a fumble that MLB DeMeco Ryans
recovered and it came on the play following a Houston turnover
with the team already down 21-0. It led to a field goal and temporarily
stemmed Pittsburgh’s tsunami tide. Ryans also had 12 tackles
(eight solo). The performances of Williams and Ryans can be expected,
the surprise was the work of second-year SLB Zach Diles. He won
the job with a strong performance in the preseason, but his game-high
13 tackles (11 solo) were unexpected. On the other hand, WLB Morlon
Greenwood was MIA, finishing with just one solo tackle.
Rookie LB Xavier Adibi was inactive with a lingering Achilles’
injury and could push Greenwood later this year, but was unimpressive
in pads in the preseason before getting hurt. Reserve DE Stanley
McClover suffered a meniscus tear on his left knee. He is expected
to have surgery and likely done for the year.
Freeney was a surprise start, although he still rotated with
and showed some explosiveness for the first time in while as he
returned from a Lisfranc injury. Freeney looked explosive for
the first time in a while. He had his first sack in over 11 months
and brought some good pressure. If your league gave up on Freeney
and he’s sitting on the waiver wire, he is worth taking a chance
on. On the other side, DE Robert
Mathis also had a sack. FS Bob
Sanders also returned from shoulder injury and was flying
around the field totaling nine tackles (five solo), including
a brutal hit on CHI rookie RB Matt Forte’ that briefly knocked
Forte’ out of the game. However, Sanders couldn’t fly fast enough
to catch Forte’ from behind, as the rookie raced by Sanders on
a 50-yard TD run in the first quarter. WLB Freddie Keiaho led
the team with ten tackles (eight solo).
Williams opened in his new role by tying for the team lead
with eight tackles (six solo). DT John
Henderson also had eight (five solo). First-round pick DE
Harvey made an impact despite his extended holdout and limited
snaps. Harvey snagged an attempt by TEN QB Vince Young to flip
a ball over him to the flat for his first career interception.
Pat Thomas got just his second career start and posted seven tackles
(five solo) in an unimpressive debut as the KC MLB. Napoleon
Harris was inactive with continuing soreness in his knee.
Thomas did nothing to lock up job security, but the team is clearly
disenfranchised with Harris and his current injury situation sounds
like it is his call when he will be ready. Donnie
Edwards and Demorrio
Williams shared time at one OLB, cannibalizing each other’s
value as both finished with just two solo tackles. It was interesting
that Williams didn’t seem to be in the nickel or dime packages
as a pass rusher, where he should be an asset as a pass rusher.
It’s hard to read the situation for either Edwards or Williams
at this point because both players are dinged up. Thomas joined
Johnson in the nickel, which was played frequently to match
up with New England’s packages. Johnson had four tackles (three
solo), including a sack.
SS Bernard Pollard will now be known for knocking out Brady, but
he looked very good, although he posted just five tackles (four
ILB Channing Crowder and SS Yeremiah Bell led the team in tackles
with ten (seven solo) each. Bell also forced a fumble. OLB Joey
Porter had six tackles (two solo), including a sack and another
TFL. No surprises there. The marginal surprise was converted DE
Matt Roth transitioning nicely to playing with his hand off the
ground in the base 3-4. Roth built on a solid preseason with a
noteworthy performance in the season opener. He had five solo
tackles, including forcing a fumble on a sack that ILB Akin Ayodele
recovered to end a scoring threat. However, Roth also had a personal
foul for a late hit that erased a fumble forced and recovered
DE Jared Allen was supposed to be the missing link of adding an
elite pass rush to a strong defense. In his first game, he was
one pass deflection away from a goose egg across the box score
as he was dominated by GB LT Chad Clifton. In early returns, Chad
Greenway appears unfazed, in fantasy terms, by his move to SLB.
He led the team with eight tackles (six solo), including one for
a loss. As expected, second-round pick Tyrell Johnson got the
start at FS for Madieu Williams. Williams is expected to be out
until October with a neck injury. Nickel CB Marcus McCauley was
inactive with a knee injury.
Harrison led the team with 14 tackles (7 solo) and also brought
some pressure. ILB Tedy
Bruschi had 12 tackles, but only two were solo. I wouldn’t
raise expectations for Bruschi too much based on that game. The
KC passing game with dinking and dunking, helping pad tackle stats.
First-round pick ILB Jerod Mayo had six solo tackles in his debut,
and he’ll start to get there first more often as he learns the
defense. OLB Mike Vrabel picked up where he left off after a career-high
12.5 sacks last season. Vrabel had two sacks among his six tackles
(four solo) and was frequently applying pressure. Adailus Thomas
also slid comfortably back to a predominantly OLB role. Thomas
also had a sack among his four solo tackles, the one that knocked
KC Brodie Croyle out of the game. Thomas didn’t have his first
solo sack until Week 11 last year, as he worked mostly inside
much of the year. Expect him to get back to double-digit sacks
With the departure of Asante
Samuel, CB Ellis
Hobbs will now be counted on as a leader in the secondary
and led by example of playing like a top corner on Sunday. Although
he was beaten on the Chiefs only TD, he started the fourth quarter
with a 51-yard KO return on the subsequent kick, then added an
interception and sack, on which he forced a fumble, in later drives
to help protect the lead. CB Deltha O’Neal had a solid performance,
chasing down KC WR Devard Darling after a big gain to prevent
a game-tying TD late in the fourth quarter. On the same drive
on fourth-and-five at the NE five-yard line, O’Neal preserved
the victory getting between KC WR Dwayne Bowe and the pass. O’Neal
finished with three solo tackles and saw extensive, and critical,
work despite signing with the team six days earlier. He also saw
work returning punts. O’Neal has talent, but inconsistency and
attitude wore out his welcome in previous stops at Cincinnati
and Denver, who made him a first-round pick in 2000. He is likely
to fall in line with the Pats, at least for this year, and now
that we know he’ll have opportunity, makes for nice consideration
as a bye week filler or acquisition now in deep leagues.
MLB Jonathan Vilma (seven solo) and SLB Scott Fujita (eight solo,
including one on special teams) led the team with nine tackles.
Fujita also had a pick on the Bucs’ final play of the game
to preserve the victory. Vilma was used frequently in blitzes,
and although he never closed the deal on Sunday, he could be looking
at some nice additional fantasy value this year from that role.
LDE Charles Grant and third DE Bobby McCray each had a sack.
New York Giants
The new starting DE tandem of Justin
Tuck and Mathias
Kiwanuka got off to a great start on the opening night of
the NFL season. Tuck, who replaces Michael
Strahan on the left side, set the tone with a sack on the
first play from scrimmage by the Redskins, setting up a three-and-out.
It was the only sack of the day for the Giants, who led the league
with 53 last season, but they brought solid pressure on an ineffective
WAS QB Jason Campbell all night. Tuck totaled six tackles (four
solo), including two TFL. Kiwanuka made a seamless transition
from SLB to the injured Osi
Umenyiora’s starting RDE spot. Kiwanuka finished with six
tackles (four solo), including a TFL and gave the team a scare
on the last play of the game. As the Washington line tried to
buy time for a desperate final pass, Kiwanuka was cut from behind
after beating WAS LT Chris Samuel. Samuel was visibly upset at
himself while Kiwanuka stayed on his knees and had to be helped
off with a ginger left ankle. Kiwanuka immediately had x-rays
after the game. They were negative and he declared himself fine
to the press in post-game interviews and appears set to play this
week, although he was still battling soreness and swelling on
CB Aaron Ross led the team with 8 tackles (7 solo) and also broke
up a pass. After a tight preseason competition, James Butler (SS)
and Michael Johnson (FS) came out the winners in the middle of
the secondary. First-round pick Kenny Phillips rotated in certain
packages and finished with four solo tackles (one on special teams).
Veteran Sammy Knight was non-factor, playing just on special teams.
It looks like Johnson and Phillips will cannibalize each other’s
value while splitting time while Butler has the best short-term
value. Another emerging job share was WLB, where Gerris Wilkinson
started as expected and posted three assists (and one solo on
special teams), but rookie Bryan Kehl also saw significant action
and posted five solo tackles. Phillips and Kehl will have sporadic
value this year while sharing time, but both have nice dynasty
potential. A couple other rookies won’t see the field soon.
CB Terrell Thomas (hamstring) and LB Jonathan Goff (back - fractured
transverse process) are out indefinitely, with Goff expected to
miss several weeks.
New York Jets
The team’s top pass rushers all got the job done against
their former QB in a win at Miami. OLB Bryan Thomas had two sacks
after disappointing with just 2.5 in 2007. It looks like he’ll
be holding off first-round pick Vernon Gholston a while longer,
although Gholston brought some pressure in limited opportunities.
Big FA addition OLB Calvin Pace had his first sack as a Jet. DE
Shaun Ellis had a sack among his four solo tackles and also brought
good pressure. A big help to the front seven seemed to be the
addition of DT Kris Jenkins, who demanded attention in the middle.
ILB Eric Barton led the team with six solo tackles.
CB Darrelle Revis sealed the victory with a pick in the end zone
with seconds left in the game. Rookie CB Dwight Lowery got the
start opposite Revis and had a strong debut, breaking up three
A secondary that is supposed to be one of the best in the league
was killed by a rookie (DEN WR Eddie Royal) and dissected by DEN
QB Jay Cutler. Royal undressed fellow VaTech alum CB DeAngelo
Hall and Hall behaved as usual when frustrated, getting stupid
penalties and blaming everyone else while arguing with coaches
on the sidelines. Did everyone else feel embarrassed for the Raiders
watching that game? No sacks and no turnovers by the defense.
New SS Gibril
Wilson led the team with 11 tackles (six solo), but showed
none of the trademark big play ability that made him an asset
on the Giants.
Philadelphia Stewart Bradley looked great in his debut at MLB. He led the team
with nine tackles (eight solo), including a sack, and broke up
a pass. The whole LB group appeared to work well together, so
with Bradley looking locked in at MLB, he has some great fantasy
potential and shouldn’t be sitting on the waiver wire. SS
Quintin Mikell, who took over the role when Sean Considine was
injured last year and never relinquished it, also played well.
Mikell had nine tackles (seven solo) and forced a fumble on a
sack. He is another player who might have fallen under the radar
and should be scooped up in most leagues.
After seeing little work at DE last year, DT Darren Howard was
born again now that he’s moved inside. He rotated in regularly
and shared a sack with DT Mike Patterson. Most importantly, he
looked motivated again. Howard could have some value in deeper
leagues that require a DT if he is listed as one. DE Victor Abiamiri
was inactive as he continues to recover from a broken wrist. When
healthy, he and Chris Clemons will rotate in, but RDE Trent Cole
and LDE Juqua Thomas are locked in as starters.
OLB James “Deebo” Harrison led the team with nine tackles (seven
solo, including one on special teams) and three sacks, forcing
a fumble on one. However, the story was on the other side where
Woodley took over as a starter and showed he’s the next plug-and-play
LB stud for the Steelers. Woodley brought good pressure and recorded
a sack, which is expected, but had a brilliant all-around game
with two other solo tackles, his first career pick (on a play
in which Harrison brought the pressure), and recovery of the fumble
Harrison forced. The OLB duo looks ready to join Kevin Greene
Lloyd or Joey Porter and Jason
Gildon as the next great pass rushing tandem in the Steelers
3-4. Both those pairs are tied with a team record of 24 sacks
in a season. Harrison and Woodley are off to a great start in
joining or surpassing their mark. Lawrence
Timmons, who is coming off a great preseason, saw some work
from the edge and shared time with ILB Larry
Foote. After failing to record a pick in an injury-plagued
season last year, SS Troy
Polamalu got his first of the season on the next possession
by the Texans after Woodley’s pick led to a TD. Polamalu also
had three solo tackles.
First-round pick RDE Chris Long had a disappointing debut on Sunday.
In addition to the Rams getting killed, Long was not an immediate
impact player, at least against veteran PHI LT Tra Thomas. Thomas,
a massive three-time Pro Bowler, had his way with the rookie most
of the game. Long finished with two solo tackles and a broken
right pinky, which he’ll continue to play through. It didn’t
help that LDE Leonard Little left that game four plays in. James
Hall replaced Little, who didn’t return after injuring his
hamstring. Little is expected to miss a couple weeks, so Hall
should get the starting nod. Hall finished leading the team with
10 tackles (eight solo), but he isn’t nearly the pass rush
threat that Little is and struggled in playing the left side.
Hall could move to his more comfortable right side and Long to
the left end while Little is out. The team had no sacks and the
front four mustered little pressure on their own.
FS O.J. Atogwe had eight solo tackles and forced a fumble that
the Eagles recovered. MLB Will Witherspoon was largely MIA, finishing
with just four tackles (one solo), which brings to question how
much a groin injury from the preseason is still lingering and
impacting his play. While Little is out, if Witherspoon is healthy,
we could see him blitzing more like last year to help generate
some pass rush.
OLB Shawne Merriman’s left knee made it through Week One,
but didn’t allow him to be the explosive playmaker he should
be, so he has decided to opt for surgery for his torn PCL and
LCL. He is expected to be ready for training camp next year. Jyles
Tucker, who we discussed last
week, will replace Merriman at OLB.
Olshansky had the only sack for the Chargers on Sunday. Veteran
new addition Derek
Smith started at ILB next to Matt
Wilhelm. Smith will start until Stephen
Cooper returns from a four game suspension. FS Eric
Weddle led the team with 11 tackles (7 solo). First-round
Cason won the nickel CB job with a strong preseason and showed
some nice aggressiveness when he lit up CAR WR D.J. Hackett to
force a fumble that OLB Shaun
Phillips recovered. Cason also had six tackles (5 solo) and
broke up a pass.
San Francisco Justin Smith
was the team’s big off-season free agent acquisition and they
looked to immediately get their money’s worth. Smith played every
snap on defense, up-and-down the front four and at OLB. Smith
(three solo) and SS Michael
Lewis (four solo) led the team with seven tackles. Smith also
shared a sack with LOLB Parys
Haralson. Haralson, who also had two solo sacks, was the team’s
big story of Week One. After two non-descript years in the league,
the converted DE from Tennessee doubled his career sack total
in one game. I wouldn’t overreact to one game, but he becomes
someone to keep an eye on.
LDE Patrick Kerney picked up where he left off in 2007, getting
a sack in the season opener. However, it was about the only highlight
in a rough loss in Buffalo. First-round pick Lawrence Jackson
started at RDE and rotated with Darryl Tapp. Jackson also works
inside, with Tapp at end, in some pass packages. The team had
no other sacks and forced no turnovers.
MLB Lofa Tatupu left the first half early and didn’t return
after halftime because of a right thumb injury. He eventually
returned in the third quarter with it padded and finished the
game with eight tackles (five solo) and a pass defensed.
Last year MLB Barrett
Ruud started hot and ended cold. He is repeating at least
the first part this year. Ruud led the team with 10 tackles (9
solo), including a TFL. Ruud also brought the pressure that forced
a turnover when he NO QB Drew Brees in the first quarter, redirecting
his pass to CB Phillip
Buchanon. Buchanon took it 26 yards for a TD to tie the game
early. He also had four solo tackles. A former first round pick
with Oakland, Buchanon is finally living up to his potential,
starting across from Rhonde Barber. Buchanon won’t be returning
punts this year as long as explosive rookie WR Dexter
Jackson doesn’t have fumbling problems. After a tough preseason,
2007 breakout Greg
White got off to a good start as the third DE. He had three
tackles (two solo), including the only sack for the Bucs. RDE
brought some pressure, but failed to close the deal or record
WLB Derrick Brooks took himself out of the game in the third quarter
when he couldn’t play through a right hamstring strain.
He tried to return, but was unable to finish. Adam Hayward was
first in line to replace him, but fell victim to cramps, so it
was Matt McCoy who finished the game. Brooks is questionable for
this week and could miss his first game ever. HC Jon Gruden mentioned
the team could move SLB Cato June to the weakside and start Quincy
Black at SLB if Brooks is out. I’m not sure why Hayward
and McCoy got the opportunity on Sunday before Black. Hayward
was a sixth-round pick last year who plays mostly special teams
and McCoy is a former second-round pick of the Eagles who failed
to hold on to a starting job for them when it was handed to him.
Black was a third-round pick last year who was expected to be
groomed as the eventual replacement for Brooks. The team could
be move June there as a short-term answer because of his experience,
or perhaps the long-term plan has changed to June move to the
weakside when Brooks retires.
The defense went after the JAX QB David Garrard and aided by two
injuries to the JAX OLine in the game, rang up seven sacks. The
DT tandem of Albert
Haynesworth and Tony Brown (DT,
led the way with two each. Haynesworth apparently played much
of the game with a concussion, sitting out much of the first half
before returning. He provided a frightening statement after the
game that he couldn’t remember much of it. He is expected to play
this week, but monitor his status. In his return to his original
team, DE Jevon
Kearse was one of the few members of the DLine, on down to
back-ups, who didn’t have at least half a sack. Another disappointing
2008 debut was WLB Keith
Bulluck. For those hoping for a return to form after a disappointing
2007, it didn’t happen for him in the season opener. Bulluck posted
just two tackles (one solo).
The CB tandem of Nick Harper and Cortland Finnegan was the most
fantasy-friendly in the league last year, and they are off to
a good start this season. Harper led the team with eight solo
tackles and Finnegan picked off two passes.
DE Jason Taylor made his debut opening night and kept his string
of 130 consecutive games alive. His first game as a Redskin was
in doubt due to a knee sprain suffered in the preseason. He finished
with just two solo tackles. Not surprisingly, MLB London Fletcher
led the team with 17 tackles (12 solo), including a TFL.
Springs was a surprise scratch due to a shin contusion after
getting kicked in the left leg during practice. X-rays were negative,
but the swelling prevented Springs from playing. Fred Smoot started
in his place and was picked on frequently before leaving in the
third quarter with a hip pointer. Smoot posted eight tackles (seven
solo) and picked off an errant pass as NYG QB Eli
Manning was being hit by DE Andre
Carter. Smoot also dropped a potential pick in the end zone.
He left the game after bouncing off NYG RB Brandon Jacobs as Smoot
tried to stop him, but the injury appeared to come from teammate
diving in to him to finish off Jacobs. Both Springs and Smoot
are expected to play this week. FS LaRon
Landry was absolutely flattened when he tried to tackle Jacobs
too high in the first quarter. He finished with five solo tackles
and shared a sack with Carter. Landry and CB Carlos
Rogers also dropped potential picks.
DE Chris Wilson had the only solo sack for the team, ending a
drive in the fourth quarter and keeping the team’s hope
briefly alive late in the game. Wilson is working as the third
DE. Undrafted out of DII Northwood (Mich.) University, he spent
two years in the CFL before getting a contract with the Redskins
last year. He flashed some good pass rush ability in his first
season in limited action. He had four sacks last year, including
two in a victory over the Cowboys in the season finale to clinch
a playoff spot. The undersized Wilson has probably hit his ceiling
as a pass rush specialist, but is worth tracking of as a bye week
waiver gamble in deep leagues that score sacks highly.