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Tony Nowak | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

IDP Notes
Week 4

Defensive Line

  • Minnesota DE Jared Allen tried to single-handedly secure their first victory and prevent another second-half collapse, but his relentless pressure ultimately wasn't enough. Allen racked up 3 sacks, forcing a fumble on one, and another couple QB hits. After a slow start last season, he already has 4.5 sacks this year, tied for second in the league. Helped by the attention Allen drew and the return of DT Kevin Williams from suspension, DE Brian Robison also brought pressure on the other side and got a couple sacks. Williams played 61 of 70 snaps in his first game of the season, despite being plagued by plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and posted 2 solo tackles, including 1 TFL, and a QB hit. DT Letroy Guion returned to a reserve role. The defense flashed some 3-4 looks on third downs with Williams on the nose and DE Everson Griffen standing up. Griffen had just an assist and QB hit in the box score.

  • New York Giants RDE Jason Pierre-Paul is making it very hard to justify giving injured DE Osi Umenyiora his job back when he's healthy. Pierre-Paul had another dominating performance with 9 tackles (7 solo, including 2 TFL), 2 sacks and 2 QB pressures. After three games, his is tied for second in the league with 4.5 sacks on the season. With Pierre-Paul playing the way he is, it's not surprising Umenyiora was quoted as saying last week feels an "urgency" to get back out there. He remained inactive as his surgically-repaired right knee continues to mend. He ran with the team Monday and is hopeful he can return to practice this week, but remains questionable to play. His return might become more urgent as LDE Justin Tuck added a groin strain to go with a neck stinger he has been playing through. Tuck briefly left the game on Sunday after aggravating his neck and finished with just 1 solo tackle.

  • Another big fantasy week for the front four in Philadelphia, but they couldn't do enough early to prevent the team from falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter. RDE Trent Cole led the team with 5 tackles (4 solo, including 1 TFL) and got his third sack of the season, as well as another QB pressure. DT Cullen Jenkins and DE Jason Babin each got their fourth sack of the season. Depth on the edges was thin as DE3 Darryl Tapp remained inactive for the second straight game with a torn pec and reserve DE Juqua Parker joined him with a high-ankle sprain suffered in the previous game. Jenkins worked some at end while 2010 CFL sack leader reserve DE Philip Hunt also saw a handful of snaps with all the injuries, though nothing registered in the box score.

  • Carolina DE Charles Johnson registered his third sack in as many games. He now has a sack in ten consecutive games. He also had 2 TFL. On the other side, DE Greg Hardy continued the strong start with his second sack of the season for a safety on Jacksonville's first possession to go with 6 tackles (5 solo). Carolina faces Chicago this week, who have surrendered the most sacks last year and lead the way this year. Start your Panthers in sack-heavy leagues.

  • Detroit DE Kyle Vanden Bosch had a sack for the third straight game, DT Ndamukong Suh had a sack for second straight game, just missing a couple others as Minnesota QB Donovan McNabb still has some escapability, and DE Cliff Avril had his first sack of the season, forcing a fumble on it. Rookie DT Nick Fairley practiced for the first last week, on a limited basis, since suffering a stress fracture in his left foot in camp. I wouldn't expect him back this week, but it is a positive sign of progress.

  • Last week switching side helped the numbers of rookie LDE Jabaal Sheard. While Sheard still brought good pressure on Sunday, and helped contribute to the numbers of others, it was RDE Jayme Mitchell who benefitted in the box score while Sheard's production was quiet. Mitchell had a solo sack and shared another with MLB D'Qwell Jackson, forcing a fumble that Jackson recovered. Rookie DT Phil Taylor had his first career sack and racked up a bunch more tackles. He suffered what was initially labeled a MCL sprain in the second quarter, but would return after missing a play and looks like he may not miss any time, but watch his status this week. Taylor has 18 tackles (15 solo, including 3 TFL), a sack and two tipped passes through the first three games. Next to him, DT Ahtyba Rubin got it going too with 9 tackles (8 solo, including 1 TFL) and 1.5 sacks.

  • New Orleans RDE Will Smith returned from suspension and 6 tackles (4 solo, including 1 TFL) and a QB pressure in his first game of the season. The biggest impact by the return was to reserve DE Junior Galette, who had 2.5 sacks in the first two games. Now a notch lower in the pecking order, Galette had just 1 solo tackle on Sunday. Rookie Cameron Jordan remained the starter at LDE, while Turk McBride was demoted to the third DE and had the only sack for the DLine on Sunday.

  • Chicago DE Julius Peppers had a sack and fumble recovery. DT Henry Melton, who was slowed last week after a Week 1 breakout, had another strong showing with 3 TFL and a sack.

  • Indianapolis ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis energized a defense that played for pride Sunday night. They brought relentless pressure with Freeney registering 2 sacks, forcing a fumble on one, and 3 QB pressures. Freeney now has 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in the last two games. Mathis had a trifecta with the sack, forced fumble and recovery, as well as 2 QB pressures.

  • A Jarvis Moss sighting! The current back up Oakland DE, and former first round pick, racked up a pair of sacks, a TFL, 3 QB hits and a pass defensed. He finally saw a bit of work as DE Matt Shaughnessy battled a shoulder injury he suffered in the game throughout the contest. DT Richard Seymour and DT Tommy Kelly shared a sack.

  • Denver DE Elvis Dumervil was inactive for a second straight game with a left shoulder strain. Jason Hunter replaced him again in the starting lineup opposite DE Robert Ayers and Derrick Harvey was the third DE. Dumervil is expected to return this week.

  • With DE Aaron Kampman (knee) yet to play this season, Jacksonville was also without DE Matt Roth, who had a sack in each of the first two games. Roth injured his neck during practice last week and the team had no sacks without him in the lineup. Austen Lane started in place of Roth opposite Jeremy Mincey.

  • After Mr. Hyde showed up for Baltimore in Week 2, the same Dr. Jekyll that dominated Pittsburgh in the season opener returned in St. Louis. The Ravens harassed St. Louis QB Sam Bradford all day, getting 5 sacks and hitting him a number of other times. DE Cory Redding had a sack and 2 TFL and rookie DE3 Pernell McPhee had his first career sack. McPhee has had a good start and is earning his snaps in the rotation. After tipping a pass that was intercepted last week, DL Haloti Ngata returned a fumble 28-yards for his first career TD. NT Terrence Cody started after being forced out of the previous game with a concussion.

  • Injuries left New England thin up front on Sunday with DL Mike Wright inactive again after a concussion in Week 1, DL Albert Haynesworth inactive with a back injury and losing DT Myron Pryor to the IR with a season-ending shoulder injury. The team signed free agent DT Landon Cohen last week and along with DT Kyle Love he saw plenty of work with the team lacking big bodies on the interior line.

  • With DE Robert Geathers missing his second straight game with a sore shoulder, DE Jonathan Fanene again started in his place. He had a solo sack, shared another, and recovered a fumble. Reserve DE Frostee Rucker also had a sack, but pass rush specialist Carlos Dunlap is still looking for his first.

  • Tennessee continues to start Dave Ball and Jason Jones at end with Derrick Morgan as the DE3. DE William Hayes returned from a shoulder injury that left him inactive last week.

  • Seattle DE Chris Clemons had his second sack in as many games among his 7 tackles (including 3 solo TFL).

  • One of the few highlights for St. Louis on Sunday was DE Chris Long getting his third sack in as many games. His ability to get to the passer hasn't been one of his best attributes early in his career, I assumed the 8.5 he put up last year could be the high water mark of his career, but if Long develops in to a double-sack player this year, he joins the upper echelon of the position. First-round pick Robert Quinn, whose specialty it should be, had a pair of QB hits, but is still looking for his second career sack.

  • Atlanta DE Ray Edwards is still looking for his first sack as a Falcon. Slow starts are nothing new for the big-money free agent who was brought in to provide pressure opposite sack artist DE John Abraham. Last year in Minnesota, he didn't have a sack until Week 5 and finished with 8.5. In 2010, he 7 of his 8.5 sacks in the second half of the season. I wouldn't be starting him, but wouldn't give up on him in deep leagues and would be ready on the waiver wire in shallower leagues for once he gets going.

  • A thin San Diego front line took another hit on Sunday as DE Jacques Cesaire left the game in the third quarter with a sprained right knee. He is expected to miss a few weeks, which likely means he is out through the team's Week 6 bye. The Chargers are already without normal starters Luis Castillo, who is out with a broken leg suffered in the season opener, and rookie Corey Liuget, who was inactive with an ankle sprain and is very questionable this week, as well. Cesaire started opposite Vaughn Martin and was replaced by Ogemdi Nwagbuo.

  • Tampa Bay rookie DE Adrian Clayborn had his first career sack and forced a fumble on it. Injury-plagued sophomore DT Brian Price also had his first career sack and was a disruptive force.

  • Dallas DE Jason Hatcher left MNF in the second quarter with a calf injury and didn't return. Marcus Spears would return to the starting lineup in his place, if Hatcher can't go this week.

  • Green Bay DE Jarius Wynn continues to take advantage of his starting opportunity with DE Mike Neal being out indefinitely with a left knee problem. Wynn had 2 more sacks and has 3 on the season. Wynn continues to gain job security and is a good value as a 3-4 DE who can get to the QB.

  • Pittsburgh DE Brett Keisel was inactive with a mild PCL sprain in his left knee. Evander Hood got the start in his place. Keisel is expected back this week.

  • After a slow start, Arizona DE Calais Campbell broke out on Sunday with a team leading 10 tackles (5 solo, including 2 TFL), 2.5 sacks and 4 QB hits. DE Darnell Docket shared the half-sack with Campbell.

  • Waiver Wire Recommendations: If Greg Hardy is somehow still available in your league, with an extra appealing match up vs. the Bears OLine this week, he'd be my top add. Dwight Freeney and Chris Clemons have strung together a couple of good games and are targets for sack-heavy leagues. In deeper leagues, Brian Robison once again looks promising with the return of Kevin Williams and Jared Allen playing out of his mind creating more opportunities. Also this could be your last chance to grab Osi Umenyiora if he was dropped in shallow redrafts.


  • Carolina chose Jason Williams to replace Thomas Davis, who tore the same right ACL for the third time in 23 months in the previous game, to be the new WLB. A former third-round draft pick of Dallas, Williams was claimed off waivers late last season from the Cowboys and started two games in place of Davis the last time he tore his ACL, before Williams tore an ACL himself, ending his 2010 season. Williams had 8 tackles (7 solo, including 1 on special teams). SLB James Anderson led the team with 9 tackles (8 solo), including 2 TFL, and broke up a pass. MLB Dan Connor had 6 tackles (4 solo), including a TFL. Thomas Williams, a former fifth-round pick of Jacksonville who has bounced around four difference practice squads in his first four years in the league, seems to be favored over the more experienced Omar Gaither as the fourth LB. T.Williams had 3 solo tackles and broke up the final pass of the game to preserve the victory.

  • New Orleans MLB Jonathan Vilma was inactive with a left knee injury that reportedly occurred in the previous game. If you recall back to his days in New York, Vilma's knees are a touchy subject. After a mysterious knee injury contributed to the end of his promising tenure with the Jets. Then HC Eric Mangini only confirmed it was his right knee that had the problem and Vilma refused to quell the speculation, only offering the season-ending procedure was done with a personal physician, and not a Jets' doctor, because his doctor had previously done the procedure successfully on his other knee (which would be the left knee that is currently the problem). It was also reported he had a bone condition (osteochondritis dissecans), diagnosed in his youth, in his knee(s) that is a constant source of instability and cause bone chips. However, the connection between it to his problems as a pro were unclear. I wouldn't panic, at this point, but there is more reason for concern with anything involving the knees with Vilma compared to most players. Jo-Lonn Dunbar replaced Vilma in the middle and led the team with 10 tackles (6 solo) and broke up 2 passes. He showed a lot of fantasy appeal if Vilma misses any more time. Rookie Martez Wilson replaced Dunbar at SLB for his first career start, but it ended quickly as he left the game in first quarter after a shot to the head. Reserve LB Will Herring, who has plummeted down the depth chart since starting Week 1, also left with an undisclosed injury in the first quarter. Reserve LB Jonathan Castillas, battling a right foot injury entering the game, was unable to take advantage of the additional work, posting just an assist and pass defensed. He previously had sacks in each of the first two games of the season, flashing some excellent explosion and closing speed. WLB Scott Shale had 5 tackles (1 solo).

  • Indianapolis MLB Gary Brackett remained inactive with a left shoulder injury, so SLB Pat Angerer remained in the middle and had a career night. He led the team with 21 tackles (12 solo, including 1 on special teams). After his huge night, not surprisingly, he leads the league in tackles with 42. Reserve LB Ernie Sims remained inactive with a knee injury.

  • Cleveland MLB D'Qwell Jackson continues his triumphant return among the fantasy LB elite as he led the team with 11 tackles (6 solo), shared a sack and recovered a fumble. He is average 10 tackles per game and has 2.5 sacks.

  • Jacksonville MLB Paul Posluszny still isn't jumping out of the box score on his new team. He had 5 tackles (3 solo), including a TFL. He is still looking for his first big play and double-digit tackle game, while averaging just over 5 tackles per game through the first three games.

  • For San Francisco, ILB NaVorro Bowman continues to out produce ILB Patrick Willis in new DC Vic Fangio's defense. Bowman had his second straight double-digit tackle game, leading the team with 11 tackles (7 solo). He leads the team with 30 tackles on the season, while Willis is second with 24 and looking for his first double-digit tackle game. OLB Ahmad Brooks had his first sack of the season. After 2 sacks in the season opener, OLB Parys Haralson has all but disappeared from the box score. However, the duo is doing enough to limit the role of first-round pick Aldon Smith.

  • Chicago MLB Brian Urlacher had another athletic interception late in the game, his second of the season, and posted 7 tackles (6 solo, including 1 TFL). WLB Lance Briggs stacked up back-to-back double-digit tackle games as he led the team with 14 (10 solo, including 2 TFL) and forced a fumble.

  • Baltimore MLB Ray Lewis was the literal and figurative center of another big performance by the defense. He led the team with 10 solo tackles, got his first sack of the season, and forced a fumble that was returned for a TD by DL Haloti Ngata. Through three games, Lewis has 25 tackles (22 solo), 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 pick and 2 passes defensed. OLB Terrell Suggs had his fourth sack of the season, a pair of QB hits and a pair of TFL. ILB Jameel McClain also had a sack.

  • Cincinnati MLB Rey Maualuga had his best fantasy game this year, posting 8 tackles (4 solo) and forcing a fumble. SLB Manny Lawson was relatively quiet against his old team, totaling 4 tackles (1 solo). Rookie speedster Dontay Moch remained inactive w Dallas ILB Sean Lee continues to be one of the breakout IDP stars of the season. He led the team with 8 tackles (4 solo), broke up a pair of passes, grabbing one for his second pick of the season, and recovered a fumble. Lee is tied for second in the league with 31 tackles. OLB Demarcus Ware got his league-leading fifth sack of the season, while Anthony Spencer had a sack for the third straight game, forcing a fumble on it.

  • After fantasy disappointment in the season opener, Oakland MLB Rolando McClain now stacked back-to-back double-digit tackles games. He led the team with 12 tackles (7 solo). OLB Kamerion Wimbley got his first sack of the season.

  • Minnesota MLB E.J. Henderson had his first double-digit tackle game of the season, leading the team with 10 (7 solo). His brother, WLB Erin Henderson, continues to make his huge Week 1 performance look like a fluke. He has just 1 solo tackle in each game since.

  • With Tampa Bay SLB Quincy Black out with an ankle injury suffered in the previous game, rookie MLB Mason Foster continued to play a three-down role. He had 5 tackles (3 solo, including a TFL) and a sack for the second straight game. HC Raheem Morris has indicated Foster will remain in the nickel package and wear the helmet transmitter, even when Black returns. Dekota Watson replaced Black in the base package at SLB and had a strip sack. Upgrade Foster, downgrade Black.

  • Detroit MLB Stephen Tulloch led the team with 7 solo tackles, doubling his season production.

  • Miami inside LBs Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby were limited to just 2 solo tackles each as Cleveland dominated possession on Sunday. Dansby was also playing through a groin strain.

  • Houston OLB Mario Williams suffered a right knee injury by inadvertent contact late in the third quarter and struggled to get up. He eventually limped off the field and was in and out of the game in the fourth quarter, keeping loose on a stationary bike on the sidelines when he was out. His status was reported as "day-to-day" on Monday. Rookie Brooks Reed is his back up. ILB DeMeco Ryans had a good performance, though it only translated to 6 solo tackles, including 1 TFL, and a pass defensed in the box score. A good article linked here in the Houston Chronicle on the struggles by Ryans to return to form off a torn Achilles' tendon last year.

  • Denver WLB D.J. Williams remained inactive with a dislocated left elbow, but returned to practice last week and could be back this week. and is out again this week. Wesley Woodyard continued to replace him and again led the team in tackles, posting his second straight double-digit tackle game with 10 (7 solo, including 1 on special teams). Woodyard reverts back to a reserve role when Williams returns. Rookie SLB Von Miller got his second sack in as many games, forcing a fumble on it.

  • The only Buffalo LB worth owning in most leagues, ILB Nick Barnett posted double-digit tackles for the second straight game. OLB Shawne Merriman had 2 QB hurries, but remains a fantasy non-factor. He is still looking for his first sack of the season. It looks like OLB Danny Batten, a sixth-round pick last year from FCS South Dakota State who had 23 career sacks in college, could be in line for more work as Merriman's back up. As they faced mostly three-WR sets from New England, ILB Andra Davis didn't see much work on Sunday. Neither did rookie ILB Kelvin Sheppard, who was the top back up inside with Kirk Morrison inactive with a hamstring injury.

  • After a hot start to the season, where he looked to have explosion and anticipation, New York Jets ILB Bart Scott had a rough day. A goose egg in the box score, he was knocked out of the play on a 70-yard TD run by Oakland RB Darren McFadden and whiffed on a few tackles. ILB David Harris had 4 tackles (2 solo, including 1 TFL) and the team's only sack.

  • Atlanta WLB Sean Weatherspoon (10 solo, including 2 TFL) and MLB Curtis Lofton (7 solo, including 1 TFL) led the team with 11 tackles, the second straight week for the duo leading the team with double-digit tackles. SLB Stephen Nicholas was inactive with a calf injury, giving veteran Mike Peterson the start on Sunday.

  • The New York Giants piled up plenty of numbers on Sunday as Philadelphia dominated the time of possession. The biggest beneficiary of the Eagles chasing the Giants early was rookie OLB Jacquian Williams, who is beginning to emerge. Williams replaces MLB Greg Jones in the nickel package, so he saw plenty of work, and led the team with 10 solo tackles, including 1 on special teams and a TFL. Jones posted 1 solo tackle and continues to become less of a fantasy option. Williams should be too erratic to start regularly, but he has more upside then Jones, he just isn't a MIKE. The real boost to Williams' value would be the departure, or returned to the front four, of SLB Mathias Kiwanuka. WLB Michael Boley remains the only consistent option in their LB corps, as he remains in most packages. He posted 6 tackles (4 solo, including 1 TFL) and broke up a pass.

  • After being bothered by an ankle sprain last week, OLB Brian Orakpo played through a sore ankle and then was in and out of the game in the second half with cramps. OLB Rob Jackson saw more work when Orakpo was out and had his first career sack and forced fumble erased by a penalty on S Oshiomogho Atogwe. On the other side, first-round pick OLB Ryan Kerrigan continued to be a playmaker. After returning his first career pick for a TD in Week 1, Kerrigan had a sack for the second straight game and forced a fumble, to go with 4 solo tackles, including 1 TFL. ILB London Fletcher (4 solo) and ILB Rocky McIntosh (5 solo) led the team with 7 tackles.

  • Philadelphia rookie Casey Matthews is listed as the starting MLB in the NFL Game Book for Sunday's loss to the Giants, but he did work at WLB with Jamar Chaney sliding to the middle and Moise Fokou flipping to SLB. Matthews didn't find much success there, either, highlighted by biting badly on a fake handoff to NYG RB Brandon Jacobs that opened him up for an easy toss over Matthews, whose responsibility Jacobs became in coverage at WLB, and 40-yard TD. In his defense, all the LBs bit on that play, but Matthews is the man in the SportsCenter clip. The next stop for Matthews could be the bench, with undersized rookie Brian Rolle taking over WLB as his role continues to increase. Chaney, who remains in with Rolle on the nickel, didn't fare that much better in returning to the MIKE role he thrived in down the stretch and in to the playoffs last season. Chaney had 4 tackles (3 solo), but just looking at the numbers isn't too helpful because the Eagles dominated the time of possession.

  • New Tennessee MLB Barrett Ruud had another quiet game with just 4 tackles (1 solo). WLB Will Witherspoon had 4 solo tackles (3 solo, including 1 TFL), a sack and a pick.

  • After concerns about his back and conditioning in recovering from surgery, Pittsburgh OLB James Harrison looks like his old self. He had his second sack in as many games and forced a fumble on it that SS Troy Polamalu returned 16 yards for a TD. He led the team with 7 tackles (6 solo, including 2 TFL). It was the only sack for the team on the evening.

  • I didn't see the game, so I'm curious as to why St. Louis reserve LB Chris Chamberlain had 3 solo tackles and a sack. I didn't see any injuries reported on their starters, but I assume it was rotating with or replacing WLB Ben Leber, who is battling a groin strain, as Chamberlain replaced him in the previous game. MLB James Laurinaitis had only 4 solo tackles, which would seem low, but Baltimore did most of their damage through the air and only ran 26 times.

  • The pass rush from the edges continues to languish in San Diego. OLB3 Antwan Barnes had the only sack of the game for the Chargers. He leads the team with 2 sacks on the season. ILB Donald Butler led the team with 8 solo tackles. Rookie LB Jonas Mouton was placed on the IR with shoulder injury.

  • Kansas City OLB Tamba Hali had his second sack of the season. He's one of the few fantasy players of interest on either side of the ball for the Chiefs.

  • ILB Daryl Washington was active after a calf strain kept him out of the previous game, but Stewart Bradley got the start as Washington is eased back in. OLB Joey Porter had a sack.

  • Seattle has replaced former fourth-overall pick, Aaron Curry, with fourth-round pick K.J. Wright at WLB. Wright responded with a goose egg in the box score. If this is a motivational ploy, it may be backfiring, as Curry has taken to his twitter account to support trade suggestions. MLB David Hawthorne made fantasy owners a bit more happy this week with 9 tackles (6 solo) and a pass defensed.

  • was active for the first time after a knee kept him out of the season opener. His fantasy owners barely noticed he was back, as Hawthorne posted just 3 tackles (2 solo).

  • Waiver Wire Recommendations: The scramble in deep leagues will be for the young Williams, Jason and Jacquian, especially in dynasty leagues. Also K.J. Wright, although I'd rather buy low on Aaron Curry in a trade. I think a change of scenery will be good for him. I'm bearish on Brian Rolle, even in dynasty leagues. Also for shallow leagues, which are the only ones I'd suspect he's still available, Ryan Kerrigan keeps on showing he's one of those players with a nose for the big play. He's not as valuable in tackle-heavy leagues and he's not a sack artist either, but just fills up the box score.

Defensive Back

  • Washington SS LaRon Landry had a tremendous 2011 debut on MNF, from a stop for no gain on the first series, to running down Dallas WR Kevin Ogletree and knocking the ball free, to blowing up Dallas WR Laurent Robinson to break up a pass - Landry was all over the field and showed no limitations from the Achilles' tendon he ruptured less than a year ago to the hamstring that plagued him in the preseason. Of course, it only translated to 4 solo tackles and a forced fumble, but the important thing is the condition Landry displayed. I wasn't a believer he'd look this good coming back, and he has a big test in his next game already having to come off a short week, but he needs to be back in fantasy lineups and, if he can stay healthy, will return to being a productive playmaker. The move sent Reed Doughty back to the bench. CB Josh Wilson was limited in practice by a back injury, but started and had 4 solo tackles, broke up 4 passes and recovered a fumble.

  • New England was without playmaking SS Patrick Chung, who reportedly underwent surgery on a right thumb injury last week, and impressive rookie CB Ras-I Dowling, who was a game-time decision with a hip injury. Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown both started at safety with Chung out. The duo usually rotate at the other safety position. They had a tough day with a pass interference by Brown negating a pick by Barrett in the end zone and Barrett missing a tackle on a TD off a dump pass. I expect Chung back this week even if he has to play with a cast. CB Devin McCourty led the team with 11 tackles (8 solo), mostly because he continues to be successfully targeted. He got beat on an 11-yard TD by Buffalo WR Stevie Johnson. Leigh Bodden started in place of Dowling and nickel CB Kyle Arrington returned from a concussion to grab a pair of interceptions.

  • With CB Terrence McGee still inactive with a hamstring, CB Drayton Florence got another start. Florence returned a pick 27 yards for TD in the fourth quarter, deflected off the facemask of DE Marcel Dareus, that gave the Bills the lead for the first time in the game on the way to their comeback victory over New England. It was Florence's second interception of the season. Rookie CB Aaron Williams, playing the nickel with Florence starting, was carted off the field late in the third quarter after landing chest and face first on the turf at the end of a diving tackle attempt and having teammate CB Leodis McKelvin land on top of him. HC Chan Gailey would later say he doesn't think the injury to Williams it is too serious or a season-ending injury, but he will be out "a while" and the injury is near his collarbone, but didn't confirm it is broken. McKelvin also had a pick. If McGee remains out this week, rookie Justin Rogers will get bumped up to the third corner. And it looks like the team does expect to remain without McGee, as they signed Terrence Wheatley, a former second-round pick of New England, this week. With plenty of nickel against New England's frequent three-wide sets and a decimated secondary, S Bryan Scott saw a lot of work in his hybrid LB/DB role. He had 11 tackles (6 solo), including an assist on special teams, and a pick. SS George Wilson also had 11 tackles (7 solo, including 1 on special teams) and a pick. FS Jarius Byrd had double-digit tackles for the second straight game, leading the team with 12 tackles (8 solo). He also broke up a pair of passes.

  • Cincinnati FS Reggie Nelson quietly continues to produce. He led the team with 10 tackles (7 solo), including an assist on special teams. On the season, he leads the team with 23 tackles (17 solo), has a sack and forced a fumble.

  • Despite a DWI arrest last Tuesday morning, Minnesota still had Tyrell Johnson rotating, as usual, in at SS with starter Jamarca Sanford. CB Antoine Winfield missed out on a turkey of double-digit tackle games to start the year, but still had 7 (5 solo, including 1 TFL). Nickel CB Chris Cook played through a groin strain suffered in the previous game.

  • Carolina CB Chris Gamble, already playing on a sore ankle, left the game in the second quarter on Sunday with a reported concussion and did not return. HC Ron Rivera expects him to be cleared to play this week. Darius Butler replaced Gamble and would likely get the start if he can't play this week. The team was already without FS Charles Godfrey, who was inactive with a concussion. Sherrod Martin moved to FS and Jordan Pugh started at SS with Godfrey out. Martin had an interception and Pugh forced a fumble.

  • San Francisco FS Dashon Goldson was active for the first time this season, after a knee injury kept him sideline in the first two game, and he posted 8 tackles (5 solo). Despite returning to a reserve role, Madieu Williams, as well as Reggie Smith, continued to see work, at the expense of SS Donte Whitner. Smith sealed the victory with a pick late in the game. CB Carlos Rogers had his first pick as a 49er.

  • Oakland starting FS Michael Huff and CB Chris Johnson both left with injuries in the first quarter and didn't return. The team was already without back up S Mike Mitchell, who has been sidelined since camp with a knee injury, and rookie reserve CB DeMarcus Van Dyke with a knee laceration, so they somehow pulled out the win with an assortment of practice squad-level players in much of the secondary. Huff, already playing through a sore groin, left with a concussion and was replaced by Matt Giordano, with Jerome Boyd also seeing more work. Johnson left with a hamstring and was replaced by Joe Porter, with fourth-round pick Chimdi Chekwa seeing more work too. After seeing a potential pick turn in to a TD against Buffalo in the previous game, SS Tyvon Branch got his first pick of the season in the end zone to stop a scoring opportunity for the Jets. Branch also had 10 tackles (5 solo). Branch was also dinged up briefly, but quickly returned. CB Stanford Routt is starting to fill the role of shutdown corner after the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha. The Raiders switched up the defense against the Jets on Sunday, going with more zone, so he wasn't featured in a specific match up, and he had a bit of a rough day with three penalties in coverage, but he is becoming the corner opposing teams want to avoid.

  • A New York Giants ravaged with injuries made a statement in Philadelphia on Sunday to not count them out of the race in the NFC East. The controversy over late hits to QB Michael Vick ignited by his hand injury in the game aside, the defensive unit perhaps hit hardest by injuries responded with a huge game that made the difference. CB Aaron Ross, coming off a rough game on MNF in Week 2 where he was briefly benched, went from zero to hero with an early interception off QB Michael Vick in the red zone that helped the team get off to a lead and then helped protect the win with a late pick of replacement QB Mike Kafka. He also broke up another pass and had 5 tackles (4 solo). Ross also took over as the primary punt returner with the loss of WR Domenik Hixon for the season, so bump up his value in return leagues. He only saw one punt on Sunday and it was a fair catch. SS Kenny Phillips sealed the win with a pick to end Philadelphia's last offensive series. He also posted 9 tackles (7 solo), including stopping Vick from scrambling after an aborted snap on a third down and forcing a fumble by Vick on another run. Rookie CB Prince Amukamara has begun practicing and looks on target to return next month from a broke left foot.

  • Tennessee SS Chris Hope missed his second straight game with a dislocated shoulder. It sounds like he may be back this week. Once again Jordan Babineaux replaced him and he led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo, including 1 TFL). CB Jason McCourty continued to be a playmaker, grabbing a pick for the second straight game. He now has 15 tackles (14 solo), 2 interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble through three games.

  • Not many tackle opportunities for the Green Bay defense as the offense dominated possession in Chicago. SS Morgan Burnett led the team with 6 tackles (5 solo and an assist on special teams) and had a pair of picks. He has three picks in his last two games. Charlie Peprah took over as the starting FS in place of Nick Collins who is done for the season. Reserve S Jarrett Bush also saw more work and has a sack. CB Tramon Williams was eased back in from a shoulder injury that kept him out of Week 2.

  • New York Jets CB Antonio Cromartie had a brutal day. In addition to four holding or pass interference penalties, he muffed a kickoff that was recovered by Oakland. He then left the game halfway through the fourth quarter with a bruised lung. X-rays were negative on his chest and ribs. Although HC Rob Ryan is hopeful he can practice and play this week, he sounds questionable, so watch for updates. Nickel CB Kyle Wilson gets a bigger role if Cromartie can't go. Cromartie did reward fantasy owners with a team-high 9 tackles (6 solo, including 1 on special teams). S Eric Smith continues to be a solid producer, posting 8 tackles (7 solo, including 1 TFL). S Jim Leonhard played through a hamstring injury, giving reserve S Brodney Pool some more work.

  • After his embarrassing effort to tackle NYG WR Victor Cruz on a 74-yard TD, worsened by his collision with CB Nnamdi Asomugha further downfield completely blowing the play open, S Kurt Coleman was benched. Coleman has been a disappointment all season after flashing some potential last year. If Nate Allen , who replaced Coleman, wasn't continuing to battle with knee tendinitis, Coleman would have already lost his job. Rookie S Jaiquawn Jarrett has yet to dress for a game, and it isn't known to be injury related, so whatever landed him in HC Andy Reid's doghouse can't seem to be worse than what Coleman is giving them on the field. Expect Allen, Jarrett or a street free agent to replace Coleman this week.

  • The Baltimore secondary stepped up despite some lingering injuries. Rookie reserve CB Jimmy Smith remained inactive with a high ankle sprain and CB Domonique Foxworth joined him as he still struggles with discomfort in his surgically-repaired right knee. However, nickel CB Chris Carr returned from a hamstring, while starting corners Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams had a better week. The lone letdown was a mistimed leap by Williams on a 34-yard TD pass the prevented a shutout. Webb has his first pick of the season and plays with an aggressiveness and confidence that gets him burned at times, but helps his playmaking potential. Reserve S Haruki Nakamura will be sidelined for a few weeks with PCL injury in his knee. It could mean a bit more work for Bernard Pollard, but not enough to make him worth rostering again.

  • Miami CB Vontae Davis was inactive with a hamstring injury in the previous game. The team started Nolan Carroll in place of Davis and used recently-signed CB Will Allen at nickel in a patchwork corner situation. CB Sean Smith (4 solo) and SS Yeremiah Bell (3 solo) led the team with 6 tackles, as Cleveland dominated possession. Chris Clemons returned from a hamstring injury, after missing the previous game, but Reshad Jones continued to start over him at FS.

  • The job share at FS in Cleveland continues between Mike Adams and Usama Young, with Young posting more tackles, but Adams grabbing a pick. Young had one in the previous game. A situation to avoid, but Young has more upside and probably would have won the job outright in camp if he wasn't slowed by a hamstring. CB Sheldon Brown left the game early with a groin strain. Rookie CB Buster Skrine replaced him.

  • Jacksonville replaced Courtney Greene, who was struggling in coverage since converting to FS after the addition of SS Dawan Landry in the offseason, with Dwight Lowery, who has spent most of his career at corner. CB Derek Cox played through rib and chest injuries that sidelined him in the previous game, sending William Middleton back to the bench, while Drew Coleman remains at the nickel.

  • CB Tracy Porter missed another game with a calf injury and replaced by Patrick Robinson who started opposite Jabari Greer, who had his first pick of the season. Leigh Torrence worked as the nickel CB and had a sack.

  • Indianapolis started former UDFA David Caldwell in place of SS Melvin Bullitt, who was inactive with an undisclosed injury. The injury is thought to be with the shoulder that has been a chronic problem for him, he had a pin inserted in it in offseason surgery, after owner Jim Irsay tweeted an injury report that listed "shoulder" as the reason for Bullitt's absence. The team indicated they are concerned about it and acted as such when they signed free agent S Stevie Brown last week to add some depth.

  • Houston CB Johnathan Joseph played through a right ankle sprain from the previous game and grabbed his second pick in as many games.

  • Denver CB Champ Bailey missed his second game with a pulled left hamstring. Cassius Vaughn remained his replacement in the starting lineup opposite Andre Goodman with CB Jonathan Wilhite in the nickel role.

  • With SS Chris Harris inactive for the second straight game with a hamstring and Major Wright inactive with a concussion, the team went with Brandon Meriweather at FS and Craig Steltz at SS. Steltz struggled in coverage, as usual, and isn't long for this league. Meriweather is yet to make a significant contribution, but is a menacing presence. CB Tim Jennings remains a solid play in tackle-heavy leagues. With 7 more (6 solo) on Sunday, he has 24 (20 solo) through 3 games.

  • In the second quarter, Kansas City CB Brandon Flowers already had 8 tackles (6 solo) and made a pretty over-the-shoulder pick when he went down near the sideline on the return holding his knee. It turned out to be a high ankle sprain and his status is in doubt for this week. He was replaced by CB Travis Daniels, who was dinged shortly after replacing Flowers, but returned to the game. SS Jon McGraw, the veteran who replaced Eric Berry in the starting lineup, left the game early with a knee injury. It was Donald Washington who replaced him and posted 8 tackles (7 solo, including 1 on special teams) and forced a fumble. Reserve S Sabby Piscitelli kept his role in the nickel.

  • Tampa Bay FS Cody Grimm tore his right ACL on Sunday, ending his season on the IR for the second straight year. Corey Lynch replaced him on Sunday and the team also has Larry Asante on the roster, but coincidentally, they also have former starter Tanard Jackson eligible for reinstatement this week. He was suspended indefinitely last September for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

  • San Diego SS Bob Sanders made it two whole weeks, but was inactive Sunday with a knee injury. After an unspectacular start to the season, he's just too risky to roster in most leagues. Steve Gregory replaced him. CB Quentin Jammer left early in the third quarter with a hamstring and didn't return. He says he'll play this week.

  • St. Louis CB Justin King, who moved in to a starting role with Ronald Bartell lost for the season, was the goat of Sunday as Baltimore QB Joe Flacco repeatedly picked on him and rookie WR Torrey Smith had a career day at his expense. The upside for the rare fantasy owner who played King was all the action he saw helped him share the team lead with 6 solo tackles, broke up 2 passes and forced a fumble. He now has a huge bulls eye on his chest for future opponents, which translates to good fantasy opportunities. They signed free agent Roderick Hood for depth at corner. I'm surprised no one else brought Hood, an experienced veteran, in. He could have a role sooner than later in the CB corps. The team also replaced Craig Dahl with Darian Stewart at SS as a starter to begin the game. Stewart was supposed to bring the pass coverage Dahl lacks, but instead he contributed to a huge day for the Baltimore passing game. Dahl was worked back in and now this looks like a fantasy situation to avoid. FS Quintin Mikell recovered a fumble and shared the team lead in tackles with 6 solo.

  • In his first game of the season, returning from a preseason groin injury, Dallas CB Terence Newman almost made an tremendous athletic interception in the fourth quarter, but the ball was loose long enough as he rolled over to skim the ground and was ruled an incomplete. Newman left the game shortly after, was checked for a concussion, and did not return. No word yet on his status for this week, other than he is having further concussion tests. CB Mike Jenkins also left the game briefly in the second quarter with an apparent left shoulder injury, but returned and finished the game. FS Gerald Sensabaugh had 7 tackles (6 solo) and blocked a FG. SS Abram Elam also had 7 tackles (5 solo, including 1 on special teams). Nickel CB Orlando Scandrick remains out with an ankle sprain.

  • After being benched in favor of veteran James Sanders last week, Atlanta FS Thomas DeCoud was back in the starting lineup. While DC Brian VanGorder said it will be a weekly compettion, DeCoud dominated the snaps on Sunday and seemed to help his case with 9 tackles (7 solo) and a pick on Tampa Bay's first drive. SS William Moore also had a pick.

  • Pittsburgh nickel CB William Gay started in place of Bryant McFadden who was inactive again with a hamstring. SS Troy Polamalu returned a fumble 16 yards for a TD.

  • Arizona first-round pick Patrick Peterson had his first career pick.

  • Waiver Wire Recommendations: If you have the roster space in deeper redraft leagues, I'm using it to get ahead of the curve and pick Jaiquawn Jarrett off the scrap heap. Andy Reid needs to shake some things up in Philly and Jarrett is the one Wild Card in his Uno deck. Another flyer in deeper leagues, dynasty and redraft, would be betting on Tanard Jackson returning from suspension and getting his job back.