Monday, November 28, 2011

Bears Bring Holiday Cheer to Cancer Patients at Comer Children’s Hospital

Phil Zielke (left), Bears tight end Matt Spaeth (center) and defensive tackle Anthony Adams (right) visit with Jatorie Finleypowers at Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago.

November 27, 2011

Volunteers from Phil’s Friends and members of the Chicago Bears spread a little holiday cheer to cancer patients and their families at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital on Monday.

Offensive tight end Matt Spaeth and defensive tackle Anthony Adams delivered care packages to the children in the hospital with the help of Phil Zielke, founder of the Phil's Friends charity.

“It’s such a joy to receive a care package during a time when you’re battling a disease that takes so much from you not only physically, but also emotionally,” said Zielke. “We are blessed to have the Chicago Bears take time to help us bring hope and happiness to the brave children battling cancer.”

Zielke was diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkin’s lymphoma and began aggressive chemotherapy at the University of Chicago Medical Center in 2004. He thought he had beat cancer five months later, and began teaching fourth grade. Zielke relapsed after six months and faced even harsher treatment, including a stem cell transplant. In November 2005, he was cancer-free and launched Phil’s Friends.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to work with Phil and the Phil’s Friends organization to put smiles on the faces of courageous patients and loved ones this holiday season,” said Ray McElroy, chaplain of the Chicago Bears.

Sharon O'Keefe, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center, helped escort Zielke and his large guests through the hospital. She is an avid Bears fan and discusses her NFL picks every weekend with the Medical Center staff.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Marshal Yanda named to Pro Football Focus Mid Season All Pro Team

November 9th, 2011

By Khaled Elsayed

You’ve seen the rest, now it’s time to see the best. Yes if there’s one thing we back ourselves on it’s our player performance evaluation – if we didn’t then why would any one of us be bothering to show up for work?

So we’ve given others a day or two to get out their mid season All Pro teams, and now they’ve whet your appetite it’s time for the main course. The Official Pro Football Focus Mid Season All Pro Team.

While others have their favorites, and some just follow conventional wisdom, we’re not following our gut, but rather working on what we’ve analyzed by watching every play of the 2011 season in excruciatingly joyful detail.

We endorse these guys, and you should to.

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (GB)
A controversial selection? Not so far this year. Rodgers has been head and shoulders above the competition with as close to flawless a display you’re likely to see from a quarterback. Put it this way, if you exclude spikes, throwaways and dropped passes Rodgers is completing 81.3% of his passes. Surreal.
Second Team: Tom Brady (NE)

Running Backs: Fred Jackson (Buf)
Jackson was a unanimous choice which is hardly surprising since he’s the most elusive back in the league. The second team choice was rather harder, with Adrian Peterson narrowly beating out both Matt Forte and Lesean McCoy. They can both feel hard done by given the levels of their performance.
Second Team: Adrian Peterson (Min)

Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson (Det), Steve Smith (Car), and Wes Welker (NE)
How could you not pick Calvin Johnson? He’s so good nobody seems to have noticed how ‘meh’ Matthew Stafford has been. He truly is a quarterbacks best friend, although Wes Welker runs him close. Nobody knows how to get open like that man, and while he would narrowly beat out the resurgent Steve Smith in a two receiver set, we’ve gone all new age and decided to run a three receiver base look.
Second Team: Mike Wallace (Pit), Greg Jennings (GB) and Dwayne Bowe (KC)

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski (NE)
Gronkowski garnered three first team votes, with my arguments being that Jimmy Graham is so dominant as a receiver he has to be first team ignored. I can understand why given Gronkowski is a big time red zone threat and one heck of a blocker.
Second Team: Jimmy Graham (NO)

Offensive Tackles: Michael Roos (Ten) and Eric Winston (Hou)
Are the days of dominant tackle play behind us? Far too early to tell I’m told but with eight games gone it is consistency that is key with both Roos and Winston extremely reliable players. Winston however, better watch out for Bryan Bulaga. His sophomore year is balancing out his horrid rookie year with some superb run blocking.
Second Team: Joe Thomas (Cle) and Bryan Bulaga (GB)

Offensive Guards: Andy Levitre (Buf) and Marshal Yanda (Bal)
The biggest threat to Levitre’s status as 2011’s top guard may be Buffalo being forced to use him at left tackle. The less time he spends there, the more time the competition have to catch up on him. Yanda and Sitton are just that bit better than a strong group of right guards, led by Brian Waters and Jahri Evans.
Second Team: Evan Mathis (Phi) and Josh Sitton (GB)

Center: Chris Myers (Hou)
If you take one thing from this All Pro team it should be that Chris Myers is currently the best center in all of football. Maybe a healthy Mangold can catch him, but Myers has been so dominant this one may already be in the bag.
Second Team: Scott Wells (GB)

Colts tight end Dallas Clark accompanies IPS students to class

November 15, 2011

Indianapolis - It was anything but a normal day at a downtown elementary school Tuesday. A Super Bowl hero visited as the guest of 11-year-old Aiden McMichael.

Aiden knows a little something about football.

"I don't play it, but I watch it all the time."

"Things like that don't normally happen," said Matt McMichael, Aiden's father
Earlier this year, Matt entered the Verizon Wireless NFL show-and-tell contest on Facebook and won.

"I think I'm maybe more nervous than the kids. I'm looking forward to it."

"Well it might be a little uncomfortable because I'm not used to being in a limo," said Delaney McMichael, Aiden's sister.

Aiden and his 9-year-old sister were in front of their house wearing their Colts gear when the limo pulled up and Dallas Clark got out.

"I'm Dallas Clark, nice to meet you."

After a few pictures everyone piled into the limo, making room among the boxes filled with gifts for their classmates, for the short ride to the IPS Center for Inquiry.

The rest of the students were already in the gym, waiting for the guests of honor to arrive. Once Dallas walked in, cheers filled the school.

For a few minutes, the tight end talked to the students about eating healthy and being active. He even answered a few questions.

"How much milk did you drink as a kid?"

"I drank two cartons of milk every day," said Dallas.

He couldn't get around some questions, though.

"Why y'all losing so much?"

"That's to the point. We're just not scoring as many points as the other team. That's usually how they keep score," Dallas said.

Dallas then went to Aiden's science class where he passed out signed football helmets to each student.

"It's great to come out and see these kids reiterate the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, eating right, working hard, drinking milk and just seeing their smiling faces. This is a great environment, great school," Dallas said.

Aiden and his sister said it's an experience they'll always remember.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seahawks settle for Hauschka’s record-tying five FGs

Steven Hauschka made five field goals for the Seahawks on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ted Warren)

By Christian Caple

November 14, 2011

Steven Hauschka would prefer they’d been extra points instead of field goals.

But the fact remains that the Seahawks kicker was essential to their 22-17 win over Baltimore on Sunday, tying a single-game franchise record with five made field goals.

Hauschka now shares the record with Norm Johnson, who did it twice, once in 1987 and again in 1988; Olindo Mare, who also did it twice, both against Arizona last season; and Todd Peterson, who did it in 1999.

“I guess it’s a fun day for a kicker to be part of the game like that,” Hauschka said. “It would have been nice to get a couple scores on offense … we did a great job today as a team.”

Indeed, Hauschka’s appearances on Sunday were more disappointing than they were exciting. That’s usually how it goes with kickers. But the Seahawks’ failure to score touchdowns was especially frustrating in this game because of the chances they were presented following Baltimore turnovers.

Hauschka’s first make, a 22-yarder, came after the Ravens David Reed fumbled a kickoff return following the Seahawks lone touchdown in the first quarter. That set Seattle up with the ball at Baltimore’s 19-yard line.

The Seahawks moved to the Ravens’ 4-yard line before settling for three points.

Reed fumbled again on a kickoff late in the first half, after Hauschka had made his third field goal to put Seattle ahead 16-7. The Seahawks took over at Baltimore’s 18-yard line, but gained only one yard in three plays and again had to settle for a Hauschka kick, this time from 35 yards to go ahead 19-7 heading into halftime.

And when David Hawthorne intercepted Joe Flacco and returned the ball to the Ravens’ 4-yard line in the third quarter? Three plays saw the Seahawks head backward eight yards, and Hauschka again trotted out to boot a 30-yarder for the Seahawks’ final points of the game.

Hey, at least he made all of them. The same couldn’t be said for Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff, who missed tries from 50 (short) and 52 (wide right) yards. He also made a 35-yarder in the third quarter.

Cundiff isn’t the first kicker to struggle in the Qwest/CenturyLink era. Arizona’s Jay Feely missed two field goals in a loss at CenturyLink earlier this season.

“I think I’ve done a good job,” Hauschka said. “You notice a lot of kickers come in here, there’s been missed kicks. There also haven’t been many touchbacks. It’s a tough place to kick I think. It’s a lot easier to kick inside or in warm weather. We don’t really get above 60 degrees here much for home games, so those touchbacks are hard to get.”

Maybe not quite as hard as touchdowns were for the Seahawks, though.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NC Sports Clients Marshal Yanda, Phil Dawson named to Midseason All-Division Team

By Jamison Hensley/

We're at the halfway point of the season, so here's the Midseason All-Division team for the AFC North. Of course, tell me who I left off, who should have been on and any other opinions in the comments section below.


Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers. He's on pace for 4,679 yards passing and 27 touchdowns. Roethlisberger isn't just the best quarterback of the division. He's the best quarterback in the AFC right now.

Running back: Ray Rice, Ravens. He's been held under 100 total yards the past three games, but he's the best playmaker at this position in the division. Rice still ranks sixth in the NFL in total yards per game (118.5).

Fullback: Vonta Leach, Ravens. His big hits as Rice's lead blocker has justified the investment and has led to more scoring. Rice has scored six rushing touchdowns, which has already surpassed last year's total.

Wide receiver: Mike Wallace, Steelers. He's the most dangerous wide receiver in the division. It's not even close. Wallace ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards (96.4) and first in receptions over 40 yards (six).

Wide receiver: A.J. Green, Bengals. This was a tough decision because Anquan Boldin has one more catch and 28 more receiving yards. But Green has been more explosive, scoring five touchdowns and producing the third-most catches over 40 yards (four) in the league.

Tight end: Jermaine Gresham, Bengals. This was a close call over the Steelers' Heath Miller. Gresham had the key catch in the winning drive against Buffalo and led the team with three touchdowns after five games. A hamstring injury has limited his production recently.

Left tackle: Joe Thomas, Browns. The Bengals' Andrew Whitworth is really, really good but Thomas is the most complete tackle in the game.

Left guard: Ben Grubbs, Ravens. Yes, he's only played two games. But it just happens to be the best two games that the Ravens offensive line has played this season, and it's not a coincidence. Who else deserves it? The Browns' Eric Steinbach is out for the season, and the Steelers' Chris Kemoeatu has been hurt, too.

Center: Alex Mack, Browns. He gets this on toughness alone. Mack played with appendicitis and started the next game after having surgery during the bye week. The Steelers' Maurkice Pouncey is a little overrated after making the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

Right guard: Marshal Yanda, Ravens. The team's best lineman moved back to his natural guard position and has become one of the NFL's best.

Right tackle: Andre Smith, Bengals. He's no longer a first-round bust, showing astonishing power at times this season.


Defensie tackle: Haloti Ngata, Ravens. He's living up to his new contract as one of the most dominant interior linemen in the game. Ngata has three sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries (scoring a touchdown off of one).

Nose tackle: Domata Peko, Bengals. The most underrated player in the division, Peko is the reason why teams are averaging a league-low 3.3 yards per carry against the Bengals. When Peko isn't penetrating, he's clogging up the middle of the line.

Defensive end: Brett Keisel, Steelers. He's more than just a beard. Keisel shows up at critical times, whether it's stripping the ball from Tom Brady at the end of games or knocking down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

Outside linebacker: LaMarr Woodley, Steelers. Only a hamstring injury has slowed him from getting to the quarterback lately. He leads the AFC with nine sacks and didn't even play last week.

Inside linebacker: Ray Lewis, Ravens. The leading tackler for the NFL's second-ranked defense, Lewis has always been a dominate run stopper. But he's had one of his best seasons against the pass, breaking up six throws this season.

Inside linebacker: D'Qwell Jackson, Browns. He's making a strong case to become the NFL's comeback player of the year. After missing the previous 26 games prior to 2011 due to injury, Jackson has been a force once again, ranking sixth in the NFL in tackles with 74.

Outside linebacker: Terrell Suggs, Ravens. He's on track to make the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his career. Suggs leads the Ravens with six sacks and has two interceptions as well as two forced fumbles.

Cornerback: Ike Taylor, Steelers. He usually draws the assignment of shutting down the other team's top receiver. The result: less than a third of the attempts in his direction are completed.

Cornerback: Joe Haden, Browns. He's the top defensive back on the NFL's top pass defense. He broke up five passes in the season opener and has since quieted the likes of Reggie Wayne and Brandon Marshall.

Strong safety: Troy Polamalu, Steelers. The second-leading tackler on the NFL's third-ranked defense, Polamalu remains a difference maker with his ability to be around the ball. Teams are always aware of where the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year lines up.

Free safety: Ed Reed, Ravens. His interceptions are down (two) but numbers don't always reflect Reed's impact. Quarterbacks just don't throw deep when Reed is on the field. He affects game plans like no other defensive back.


Kicker: Phil Dawson, Browns. Arguably the MVP for the Browns this season, he's made six field goals of 50 yards or more this season, which is tied for third all-time in a single season. Dawson has an entire second half of the season to surpass the NFL record of eight.

Punter: Sam Koch, Ravens. To be honest, no punter in the division has really distinguished himself. Koch isn't having his best season, but he leads the AFC North with a 46.7-yard average and has placed 11 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Returner: Antonio Brown, Steelers. This might have been the toughest call yet. The Browns' Josh Cribbs might be more feared, but Brown has better averages on punt and kickoff returns.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Phil Dawson having career year

November 7, 2011

By Mary Kay Cabot

Dawson more 50s: Kicker Phil Dawson kicked two more field goals of 50 or more yards (50 and 51). He now has six field goals of 50 yards or more this season, tied for third all-time in a single season. He's made five field goals of 50 or more yards in the last three games.

Sunday was Dawson's third consecutive game with at least one field goal of 50 yards or longer, which ties career-best stretch set in 2008 when he connected on field goals from 54, 52, and 56 yards in consecutive contests in games 8-10.

Maybe Dawson was showing off for former President George H.W. Bush, who was an honorary captain met with Dawson before the game.


Scribbles in my notebook after the Browns’ 30-12 loss at Houston.

Something else positive: Phil Dawson is the MVP of the first half with 12-of-12 on field goals not blocked. He is a career best 6-of-6 from at least 50 yards.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Phil Dawson having record-setting season

• The Browns and Texans have split six all-time meetings with each team holding a 2-1 edge at home. The Browns have held the Texans under 20 points in all six meetings.

• Cleveland lost to San Francisco, 20-10, in its last game. The Browns have scored only three first-quarter points and six third- quarter points -- both are the lowest for any team in each respective quarter this season.

• Houston is coming off a 24-14 win over Jacksonville and will be looking for its first single-season three-game winning streak since ending the 2009 season winning four in a row. A win on Sunday would also put the Texans three games over .500 for the first time in franchise history.

• The Texans have scored 31 points on their first offensive possessions this season -- tied with Pittsburgh and New England for most in the league. The Browns are the only team in the NFL yet to score any points on their first offensive possession of a game.

Phil Dawson made four field goals of 50+ yards in October, making him just the fourth kicker in league history to make at least four field goals of 50+ yards in any calendar month.

• Arian Foster rushed for 112 yards against the Jaguars, his 11th 100-yard rushing game of the past two seasons, tied with Michael Turner for the most in the NFL. It was also Foster's 12th career 100-yard rushing game, breaking the Texans' franchise record he had held with Domanick Williams.

Wrap-up: Texans 30, Browns 12

November, 6, 2011

By Jamison Hensley

Thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 30-12 loss at the Houston Texans:

What it means: The Browns cemented their position as the worst team in the AFC North with another painful first quarter (trailed 14-0 eight minutes into the game). Cleveland lost for the fourth time in five games to fall to 3-5. The Browns' average margin of defeat over that span has been 13.3 points.

Thumbs up: Kicker Phil Dawson. He provided all of the Browns' scoring for the first three quarters with field goals of 50 and 51 yards. This has become status quo for Dawson, who has six kicks of 50 yards or longer this season.

Thumbs down: Browns run defense. The NFL's 26th-ranked run defense looked worse, giving up 261 yards (Cleveland had given up 127.3 yards on the ground entering this game). Arian Foster (124 yards) and Ben Tate (115) outgained the entire Browns offense 239-172.

Running on empty: No one expected much out of the Cleveland running game with Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty sidelined. Chris Ogbonnaya fumbled on his first carry in his first start (which led to Houston's second touchdown of the first quarter) and finished with 28 yards on 13 carries (2.2 yard average).

What's next: The Browns return home to play the St. Louis Rams for their third game against an NFC West team in four weeks.

Cardinals' Dave Zastudil makes big contribution to week 9 win

By Elyssa Gutbrod

November 7, 2011

Arizona Cardinals: 6 Players That Made the Biggest Contributions in Week 9 Win

Led by backup quarterback John Skelton, the Arizona Cardinals managed to eke out a win against the resurgent St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

In a game where the Cardinals surrendered not one, but two safeties to the Rams and where points were nearly impossible to come by, a victory seemed almost too good to be true.

However, with the win, the Cardinals snap their six-game losing streak and move to 2-6 for the season.

In the interest of rewarding good behavior, over the next six slides we’ll give some kudos to the Cardinals players who made Sunday’s victory possible.

Dave Zastudil

How often do NFL punters get acknowledged for their contributions to a team’s success? After all, they only come on the field when a team’s offense has failed to perform.

On Sunday, Dave Zastudil took the field on six different occasions against the Rams. On three of those punts, he managed to pin them inside their own 20-yard line. He averaged 42 yards per punt.

In addition to his contributions at the end of drives, he was called upon twice to deliver the ball to the Rams after safeties. Both times, he sent the ball sailing deep into Rams territory.

In all, Zastudil played a crucial role for the Cardinals defense by helping to keep the field long and forcing the Rams to earn their scores.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Super Bowl champion Don Davis calls for students to "achieve greatness"

November 2, 2011

By Olivia Witherite/Liberty University News Service

Two-time Super Bowl champion Don Davis spoke to a packed crowd at Liberty University’s Williams Stadium tower Tuesday, where he talked about his football career and learning to live a Christian life largely from his role model, head coach Tony Dungy.

Davis spent 11 years in the NFL playing for the St. Louis Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New England Patriots. It was in New England where he won Super Bowl rings in 2003 and 2004. He later served as a strength coach and chaplain for the Patriots.

Don Davis spoke to a packed crowd of students in Liberty's Williams Stadium tower on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Davis spoke on perseverance to Liberty students and community members, many donning Patriots jerseys and caps. He said after a strong career at the University of Kansas, multiple NFL teams cut him before he was picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was there where he met Dungy, became a Christian and began to regularly read the Bible.

He said Dungy led by example.

“He never preached to me once,” Davis said. Instead, Davis learned by watching Dungy as a coach, husband and father. “His life was preaching to me in my life.”

Currently, Davis is a self-described “life coach” for the NFL Players Association. He works for all NFL teams and helps build relationships with players to assist them with their benefits and finances.

Weaved into Davis’ story was his advice to follow “four Cs” for success – Commitment, Confidence, Consistency and Character – and the three flaws necessary to overcome to reach it: not trading away future blessings for temporary pleasures; not putting passion ahead of principles; and if you find something you love, it doesn’t matter how much you get paid.

“I hope that a lot of the students will just kind of realize my story, realizing … there are characteristics you need to achieve greatness,” Davis said.

After his speech, he turned the microphone over to the audience for a question-and-answer session mediated by Psychology Department Chairman Dr. Dan Logan. Questions ranged from specific games he had played to details of his testimony. He also signed autographs, posed for pictures and talked with students.

“I thought that he was amazing. He was hilarious, and the way that he used his lifestyle as a ministry is fantastic,” said freshman communications student Amanda Bess.

This was Davis’ first time at Liberty, and he said he hopes to return soon.

“This is a beautiful facility,” he said. “I am very impressed with this athletic center. I’m impressed with the buildings that are coming up and all the building that you guys are doing. … I am very, very impressed with Liberty University.”

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Titans' Karl Klug making an impact

Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Karl Klug (97) sacks Indianapolis Colts quarterback Curtis Painter during the second quarter at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. (JAE S. LEE / THE TENNESSEAN)

AFC South Stock Watch
November, 1, 2011

By Paul Kuharsky


1. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback: It’s baby steps for the rookie quarterback, who isn’t the root cause of the team's losing but isn’t doing nearly enough for the team to win with any regularity. I don’t like to read too much into body language, but it’s hard for a guy who’s not productive to give a team much moxie. And more than moxie, the team needs a couple touchdown passes from its quarterback. In the same game. No, he doesn’t have great weapons or protection, but we need to see him elevate his game, at least at times. It may not be fair to measure him against Andy Dalton, Cam Newton andChristian Ponder, but he's not off to the same caliber of start to his career.

2. Confidence in the Titans’ ability to solve problems: Never mind a debate about Chris Johnson versus Javon Ringer. Johnson’s going to start, but Ringer will continue to get work if he’s the hotter hand when he gets his chances. We’re seven games into the season, and two Hall of Fame offensive linemen -- Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews -- clearly don’t have the horses to get effective run-blocking consistently. That’s a big problem for a team that’s supposed to have a run-based offense. The head coach and his offensive line coach wanted these guys, now they are on the hook for fixing things with what they have.

3. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts coach: A second consecutive appearance! Congrats. Bill Polian keeps talking about the great job Caldwell’s doing, and he has done well to keep things from fracturing. But there is only so much value in that when there are no wins. Caldwell and his staff don’t have enough talent to work with, but they also haven't adjusted their plan and approach enough to reflect what they are working with. It shouldn’t be a surprise that they can’t block up a great return. Points are tough to get so they have to be more aggressive at chances to get them. Caldwell looks like things are wearing on him.


1. Joel Dreessen, Houston Texans tight end: He’s got a touchdown catch in two consecutive games and three in the last four. Even without Andre Johnson playing, defenses don’t put a priority on covering the Texans’ second tight end. Owen Daniels, Arian Foster,Jacoby Jones, Kevin Walter and even a healthy James Casey all probably qualify as more threatening. But Dreessen’s got the confidence of Matt Schaub and has a knack for taking advantage of what a defense allows him to do. Gary Kubiak said Monday you can be sure Dreessen’s not undervalued in Texans headquarters.

2. Karl Klug, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle: The high-motor rookie’s been an impact guy for the Titans so far and put together a very nice game against the Colts. He had a sack of Curtis Painter, a tackle for a loss and a deflected pass. He’s a key guy in Tennessee’s defensive line rotation and looks to be a real find as a fifth-round draft pick out of Iowa. The team made a push to get bigger on the defensive front. Klug is the tallest tackle at 6-foot-3, but the lightest at 275 pounds. Light is just fine if he produces like this.

3. Optimism in Houston: It’s always a bit dangerous to get excited about the Texans because they’ve been so consistent at suffering letdowns right when it appears they are ready to make a big step. But they’ve found their balance in a lot of ways over the past two weeks. The division is bad. The schedule is favorable. It’s there for the taking and it’s understandable if, no matter how careful history suggests we need to be, big expectations are building.

PFF With More Love For Titans Rookie DTs Karl Klug and Jurrell Casey

By Jimmy

November 1, 2011

It seems like each week in the re-focused post over at Pro Football Focus they have good things to say about the Titans rookie defensive tackles. This week is no exception:

Poor Seth Olsen (-3.5). The Colts RG only lasted 25 snaps before his coaches decided he’d had enough, but they really had no choice once it became clear that he was absolutely no match for Karl Klug (+4.9), who went to work on him, picking up a sack, hit and pressure. His sack at 10:22 in the second was particularly brutal to watch with Klug treating Olsen with utter contempt as he swept pass him. In fairness to Olsen, he wasn’t alone in getting the Klug treatment, with Jamey Richard getting beat instantly by the DT with 3:32 to go in the game as the 5th round pick finished the day with a sack, hit, three pressures and a batted pass.
That would normally make you the star DT on your team, but he’ll be sharing those honors with Jurrell Casey (+3.2) with both men trying to work their way into my race for rookie of the year. Casey had four defensive stops, going to work on Quinn Ojinnaka and Mike Tepper and not losing a one on one battle at the point of attack all game.

It seems like the Titans have a lot of holes on defense, but defensive tackle is not one of them.

Now if they could only get the defensive ends to play like expected before the year started they would be in business. Through seven games the Jason Jones move to end looks like a failure. He only has two sacks.

Derrick Morgan has also been a disappointment. He only has two sacks as well.

Those guys are going to have to step up and get some pressure on quarterbacks or it is going to be a long season.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Marshal Yanda named to National Football Post Midseason All-Pro Team

October 29, 2011

By Dan Pompei

My Sunday Best: Midseason All Pro Offense

Quarterback—Aaron Rodgers, Packers. There have been some outstanding quarterback performances so far this season by the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Eli Manning. None of them is leading an undefeated team, however. Rodgers is averaging 9.92 yards per pass attempt—nearly one first down every time he drops back.

Running back—Matt Forte, Bears. First in the NFL in scrimmage yards, first in touches, second in runs of 10 or more yards, second in yards after the catch, third in rushing yards and third in average per carry. Any more questions?

Wide receiver—Calvin Johnson, Lions. He has become the most difficult receiver in football to defend. His league-leading 10 touchdown passes is four more than the next closest receiver.

Wide receiver—Steve Smith, Panthers. The old man still has it. His 21 yards per reception is best in the NFL among starters.

Wide receiver—(this is a one back, three receiver personnel group) Wes Welker, Patriots. He is averaging a ridiculous 130.8 yards per game and benefiting from great chemistry with Brady.

Tight end—Jimmy Graham, Saints. He has been far and away the most productive tight end in the game. He is a tight end who moves like a wide receiver. Or maybe a gazelle. If you want more of a blocker, Rob Gronkowski of New England is a fine choice.

Offensive tackle--Andrew Whitworth, Bengals. See my item above in Things I Didn’t Used to Know.

Guard—Marshal Yanda, Ravens. The Baltimore line has struggled at times, but Yanda has been the rock in the unit.

Center—Scott Wells, Packers. He has been the best offensive lineman for the best offense on the best team. That counts for something.

Guard—Andy Levitre, Bills. He really has come on strong this year, and even has done some fill in work at left tackle.

Offensive tackle—Joe Thomas, Browns. He is very consistent game to game, year to year.

Kicker—Josh Scobee, Jaguars. He has yet to miss a kick and is 9-of-9 on field goal attempts of 40 yards or longer. What’s more, 61.5 percent of his kickoffs have been touchbacks.

Returner—Devin Hester, Bears. No returner puts fear in opponents quite like Hester.

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