Tag:Earl Thomas
Posted on: December 18, 2011 1:26 pm
Edited on: December 18, 2011 6:17 pm
 

Knox carted off field; has movement, Lovie says

By Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED: Coach Lovie Smith said Johnny Knox has movement in his extremities.

"Johnny has total movement throughout his body, has total use of all his extremities," Smith told reporters.

Obviously, that's exceptional news.

----------

Already down a receiver after the Bears waived Sam Hurd on Friday, Johnny Knox appeared to be hurt seriously early in the first quarter of the Chicago-Seattle game.

After catching a pass from Caleb Hanie in the flat, Kam Chancellor caused Knox to fumble, and as Knox tried to recover the ball, he was blasted by Anthony Hargrove. The upper half of Knox’s body bent backward as his momentum tried to continue forward.

Knox

Earl Thomas ultimately recovered the ball for the Seahawks, but Knox remained on the turf for several minutes afterward. He was strapped to a body-board and taken off the field on a cart. Knox, whose helmet was removed, was moving his hands and arms as he was led off the field. He then gave a brief thumbs-up to the crowd.

He has a back injury and won't return to the game.

(H/T to Bubba Prog for the GIF)

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Posted on: December 1, 2011 11:22 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Second-year players

Gronkowski

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s too easy to talk about the best rookies of the season (Von Miller, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, blah, blah, blah) -- hell  you could find that list just about anywhere online. But the Top Ten with a Twist list strives to take you a little deeper than the surface. So, we talk about the best players who are in their SECOND year of playing in the NFL.

Like last year when we touted players like Clay Matthews, Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy, as well as players like (sigh) Johnny Knox, Knowshon Moreno and Mark Sanchez, we’re giving it another shot to discuss the best players from the 2010 draft. But this year, we guarantee the players on this top-10 list will be Hall of Fame bound one day.

Because if there’s one thing we know for certain, by the time NFLers are in their second year of playing pro football, they’ve got it all figured out. Or maybe not.

10. Earl Thomas: As a rookie safety last year, he recorded 76 tackles and five interceptions. While he’s only got one pick this season, he’s already at 71 tackles. Some observers before this season compared him to Troy Polamalu, and while Thomas clearly hasn’t reached that level yet, Thomas has plenty of talent to justify his first-round selection.

9. Jason Pierre-Paul: He didn’t get much notice last season, but the injuries to Osi Umenyiora and a slew of other Giants have gotten him more playing time. He’s taken advantage, recording 10.5 sacks and 50 tackles on the season. And he’s still only 22 years old. That’s scary.

8. Pat Angerer: If you don’t know much about Angerer, that makes sense. He plays in the black hole known as Indianapolis. But he’s quietly put together one of the best seasons by a linebacker this year. He leads the league with 112 tackles. He’s made at least seven tackles in every game this season, and four times, he’s entered into double digits (including 21 in Week 3 vs. the Steelers, the most for the Colts since Bob Sanders in 2005). Just think how much you would know about him if he played for a team that could win a game.

7. Dez Bryant: He’s shown immense talent the past two seasons, but he’s also shown erratic behavior on the field (ranting and raving on the sideline) and off the field (lawsuits for alleged unpaid jewelry services, charges of sagging his pants at a mall). He should be -- and could be -- one of the best receivers in the game at some point in the near future, but if you’re in the Cowboys organization, how much can you really trust the guy?

Tebow6. Joe Haden: He’s a little more invisible than many others because he’s playing for a franchise that struggles, and he doesn’t have the stats of a top-notch cornerback (he’s recorded exactly zero interceptions this season vs. six during his rookie year). But he certainly has big-time play-making ability (opposing offenses have tended to avoid throwing his way), and though he can be a little inconsistent, he’s got the talent to move into that elite level of defensive back.

5. Tim Tebow: He has to be on this list, right? And I’m not even kidding.

4. Eric Decker: Hmm, maybe Josh McDaniels’ 2010 draft wasn’t all that terrible after all. Decker has become the team’s best receiver, and when Tebow gets rolling in the last few minutes of every game, Decker is usually the one making amazing catches to help the cause. Just think what he could do if he had a quarterback who could actually make NFL throws.

3. Ndamukong Suh: As we’ve been saying since the beginning of forever ago, Suh needs to get a better handle on his intensity if he wants to keep the NFL out of his wallet, because it’s pretty clear that he’s one of the dirtiest players out there. And now that he’s been suspended two games, it’s hurting his team. He hasn’t been as good this year as he was last season -- facing more double-teams and all -- but still, he’s one of the most feared defenders in the league.

2. Jimmy Graham: If Rob Gronkowski is the best all-around tight end in the game (see below), Graham is close on his heels. Graham didn’t begin making an impact in New Orleans until midway through his rookie season, but he’s a hot commodity now, leading all tight ends with 67 catches for 957 yards. He has quickly become Drew Brees’ favorite target, and for any pass-catcher in the NFL, that’s a very good thing.

1.Rob Gronkowski: In his second season, he’s already become the most complete tight end in the game. He can block, he can catch, he can score touchdowns and he can spike the hell out of the ball when the play is finished. Plus, the guy hangs out with porn stars. He’s living the life right now. He’s got 60 catches for a 14.4 yards average and 11 scores (more than anybody not named Calvin Johnson), and simply put, he has been a pleasure to watch this season.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:50 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 10's finer analysis

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Jets vs. Patriots

The recipe for stopping New England’s offense has been discovered: press-man coverage. The Cowboys pressed the Patriots receivers off-and-on back in Week 6. The Steelers did it all game in Week 8. So did the Giants in Week 9. New England scored 16, 17 and 20 in those three games.

Think the Jets might be ale to execute press-man coverage? (Ask the Bills receivers whose white uniforms had practically turned light green by the end of last week’s game.) When these teams met back in Week 5, Darrelle Revis shadowed Wes Welker, though not the entire game. Welker caught a few balls during the breathers away from Revis, including a 73-yarder that gave him a misleading five-catch, 124-yard stat line.

After that game teams may have realized that with Welker bottled up, the Patriots are just another methodical east-west passing team. New England’s offense has no downfield weapon to preoccupy defenses about getting burned over the top. Deion Branch is quick but not fast. Aaron Hernandez, if he regains his pre-Week 3 knee injury form, is fleet for a tight end but not someone who can blaze 40 yards outside the numbers. Ditto for Rob Gronkowski.

There is that Chad Ochocinco guy. He and Brady have not been on the same page all season (Brady actually missed an open Ocho for a would-be touchdown last week; Ocho couldn’t get mad because he owed Brady for other mistakes). The disappointing but charismatic ex-Bengal may actually be the deciding piece in this game. Someone has to step up and be a downfield threat. The last person aslow underneath offense wants to face is Rex Ryan; he knows how to use his safeties as blitzers.



Cowboys vs. Bills
The Cowboys can forget about the fragile Felix Jones becoming their next franchise running back. When Jones returns from his ankle injury (hopefully sometime before his next scheduled injury in December), he’ll be backing up DeMarco Murray. The third-round rookie from Oklahoma State is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and looks like the real deal. It was difficult to assess him after his 253-yard outbreak against St. Louis because, as Murray himself will admit, a truck could have driven through the holes Dallas’ offensive line opened up that game.


But last week Murray registered 139 yards against a quietly impressive Seattle run defense that’s allowing just 3.4 yards per carry (tied for second best in the NFL). He has a unique ability to generate downhill momentum immediately upon hitting his accelerator.

Because of this, Murray can explode to holes before linebackers can identify them or, more often, he can increase his tempo upon reaching those linebackers, which makes him extremely hard to tackle.

For the Bills (and all defenses), the key to stopping Murray will be penetration. Murray has the ability to go left and right, but he has to stop and restart in order to do so. You can’t let him go north and south.

It hurts that Buffalo’s best defensive lineman, Kyle Williams, just went on injured reserve. He was a penetration extraordinaire who would have changed the complexion of this matchup. Marcell Dareus has been impressive since relocating to nose tackle, but the Bills are now thin on the edges and may start waffling again between 3-4 and 4-3 concepts if forced to make another personnel adjustment.

Seahawks vs. Ravens
It’s a classic trap game for the Ravens. Coming off a big primetime win against their archrival, they must fly across the country for an unceremonious bout with a 2-6 team from another conference. And it’s not an awful 2-6 team, either. OK, maybe the offense is awful. Or at least as uninspiring as an Andy Reid press conference. But the defense isn’t bad.

Last week’s stumble at Dallas aside, Seattle’s defense can stop the run. The defensive line has a strong rotation of high-energy players who have the strength to win in a phone booth (end Red Bryant has been the most impressive in this sense). Middle linebacker David Hawthorne reads and pursues well enough, and outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Leroy Hill can both play with physicality on the edge.

On the back end, young safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are still learning to play with consistency (both mentally and physically). Both, however, offer some playmaking prowess versus in the box or downhill. Cornerback Brandon Browner is a bit stiff but has rare 6’3”, 221-pound-size that he’s just starting to learn to apply at the line of scrimmage. Richard Sherman has, for the most part, been able to back up his bizarre cockiness ever since injuries propelled him into the starting lineup.

Lastly, Seattle has a clear-cut Pro Bowler (their only Pro Bowler, in fact) in end Chris Clemons. He’s fast off the edge (like any quality pass-rusher) and also has a strong suppleness that makes him viable in all facets against the run.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 10 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 5:07 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 8:31 pm
 

Bears vs. Seahawks: 7-Point Divisional Preview

Posted by Andy Benoit



CBSSports.com's patented and award-winning 7-point preview gets you ready for each and every playoff game. As an added bonus, check out our playoff podcast preview:



1. Seattle Seahawks (No. 4, NFC, 8-9) @ Chicago Bears (No. 2, NFC, 11-5)

Arguably the most unlikely second-round playoff team in NFL history goes on the road (like it should have had to do in the wild card round) to face a storied franchise that filled up the bottom half of everybody’s NFC North preseason rankings.

No taking potshots at the Seahawks this week (aside from that little “going on the road” one…which not even the most fiery Seattleites can, deep down, disagree with); Pete Carroll’s men played too well against the Saints to be mocked.

Besides, Seattle beat Chicago at Soldier Field back in Week 6. It was Marshawn Lynch’s Seahawk debut, and his club became, at the time, just the second team to rush for more than 85 yards against Chicago’s reinvigorated defense. (Lynch wound up with 44 of Seattle’s 111 rushing yards; his former Cal teammate, Justin Forsett, had 67). Regardless of what happens from here on out, Lynch will forever be remembered for his earth-rumbling 67-yard run against the Saints.

He’ll need similar tenacity Sunday. The Bears held opponents to an NFC-best 90.1 yards rushing per game during the regular season. Forsett’s quickness won’t be as viable on the sloppy Soldier Field surface; the Seahawks will need to call upon their new hero.

2. PLAYOFFS?! Watchability Ranking



The Seahawks bring a David factor to this equation, but it’s not like the 11-win Bears are a big bad Goliath.

3. Key Matchup to Watch: Earl Thomas/Lofa Tatupu vs. Bears Passing Offense

After tearing him apart in the regular season, the Saints were eager to pick on rookie safety Earl Thomas Saturday. But the first-round pick from Texas responded admirably, finishing second on the team with eight tackles. Thomas showcased blazing speed on many of those tackles – including one where he crossed the field to hunt down Reggie Bush.

That speed will be crucial against Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, Chicago’s two playmaking receivers. Though a slapdash offensive line has compelled Mike Martz to call fewer seven-step-drop passes in 2010, you can bet the Bears will still look to stretch the field a time or two. The Seahawks gave up an NFC-high 60 passes of 20 yards or more during the regular season. They also allowed 11 passes of 40-plus yards (tied for fourth most in football). Some of those passes were due to Thomas’ misreads.

Thomas is obviously more experienced than when the Bears last saw him, but given how vulnerable Seattle’s corners are to downfield patterns (knee injuries have cost Marcus Trufant a half-step; No. 2 corner Kelly Jennings struggles with his outside change-of-direction technique at times) Martz and Jay Cutler will be tempted to showcase their big-play prowess on a high-stakes stage.

As far as Tatupu goes, his speed and instincts are key to Seattle’s short-area pass defense. The Bears completed 51 passes to running back Matt Forte this season (tied with Knox for the team lead). Seattle may want to consider shadowing Forte with their veteran Pro Bowl middle linebacker.

4. Potentially Relevant Video

Pete Carroll should make his special teams unit watch this video 10 times a day the rest of this week.



5. The Seahawks will win if ...

They get another spectacular performance from Matt Hasselbeck and take advantage of Chicago’s issues with recognizing pass blocking assignments (that is if the Bears haven’t corrected these issues over the past two weeks).

6. The Bears will win if ...

They simply break even with Seattle in the “mistakes” category and can take advantage of the favorable mismatches for their defensive line.

7. Prediction: Bears 24, Seahawks 17

Posted on: November 2, 2010 3:29 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: New Faces

L. Tomlinson has been one of the most impressive players in the NFL this season (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Some arrived via free agency. Some were left on the garbage pile and only had one or two teams show interest. Some didn’t have much of a choice if they wanted to continue playing NFL football. And some were highly-touted rookies who commanded humongous signing bonuses and who have lived up to their end of the bargain.

Today, we spotlight the top-10 players who are performing brilliantly in their first year with a new team. We’re talking about rookies, we’re talking about free agents, we’re talking about those whose careers were left for dead.

All of the following have impacted their new teams in many ways and all have made the front offices who signed them seem clairvoyant in the process (though, in the case of a couple players, the decision to add them wasn’t exactly brain surgery). So, here’s to those who have found a new lease on life (or a new burgeoning career) with their new team.

10. Jason Babin, DE, Titans: The career-high sack total for Babin, a seven-year veteran, was five coming into this season – set in 2006 while in Houston. This year, through eight games, he’s got seven. So, what happened this season, especially after recording just 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks last year with the Eagles? According to Babin, it’s just been a matter of getting more playing time. OK, if you say so.

9. Colt McCoy, QB, Browns: Aside from any rookie QB not named Sam Bradford, McCoy has done pretty darn well as a first-year signal-caller. He’s only played the past two games for Cleveland, but he’s hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for a touchdown, two picks and a QB rating of 76.5. OK, he’s not great, but he’s been light years ahead of Jimmy Clausen and Max Hall. Plus, he’s coming off a win against the Saints.

8. Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals: You still have to take the good with the bad when it comes to Owens. He’s the kind of player who, often times, doesn’t put out special effort to knock down a bad pass so the opponent doesn’t pick it (this happened at least twice last week), but he’s also still the kind of player who can rack up a team-leading 45 catches for 629 yards and five touchdowns. Ultimately, it was probably the right move for Cincinnati to sign him. In three weeks, though, that might not be the case.

7. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers: Pittsburgh’s first-round pick beat out Justin Hartwig at the beginning of the season for the starting center role, and Pouncey has performed well thus far. He’s really helped glue together a Steelers offensive line that had major questions raised about it coming into the season.N. Suh has begun to dominate the opponent's offensive line for Detroit (Getty).

6. Dez Bryant, WR/PR, Cowboys: One of the bright spots in Dallas this year. We knew Bryant was going to be a good one, and he has not disappointed, catching 29 passes for 349 yards for three touchdowns (Roy Williams, by the way, is 22 for 327 and five, respectively). But he’s been downright electric while fielding kicks, returning two punts for touchdowns and averaging 16.5 yards per punt, second in the NFL for those who have at least 10 returns.

5. Thomas Jones/Ryan Torain/Peyton Hillis, RBs, Chiefs/Redskins/Browns: Yes, I’m cheating a bit here, listing three players in one spot, but that doesn’t take away from how well these guys have played – and how unexpected their production has been. The Jets figured they didn’t need Jones any more, but he’s rushed for 538 yards through seven games with the Chiefs. Torain has replaced Clinton Portis pretty well, and Hillis (460 yards, five touchdowns) has been the biggest surprise at all (he certainly has surprised Denver coach Josh McDaniels, who let go of Hillis after last season).

4. Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins: Marshall has typical diva receiver tendencies, but he’s been one of the best players in the league so far this season. After Marshall was traded away from Denver (ahem, McDaniels), he’s done nothing but produce in Miami, ranking fourth in the league with 47 catches for 588 yards. The one disappointing stat: he’s only recorded one touchdown.

3. Earl Thomas (Seahawks)/T.J. Ward/Ndamukong Suh, S/S/DT, Seahawks/Browns/Lion: Sigh, again I’m cheating. But considering all these first-year players are vying for defensive rookie of the year honors, it makes sense to lump them all together. Thomas has proven that he’s one of the most instinctual players in the league with four interceptions, tied for third-best in the NFL. Ward took some heat for the nasty hit he put on Cincinnati’s Jordan Shipley, but his big-hit ability has helped lead him to 60 tackles (fourth-most among safeties). And Suh is living up to his lofty billing, blowing up interior offensive linemen and recording 6.5 sacks. He’s going to be a monster for as long as he steps on the field.

2. Sam Bradford, QB, Rams: I’m not sure most of us could have expected Bradford, the No. 1 pick from last year’s Draft, to play so well a mere eight games into this pro career. He’s completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,674 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The numbers don’t look fantastic, but you have to take into account his poise and his savvy and the fact he doesn’t have a big-name receiver upon whom he can lean. Plus, he’s got the Rams, one of the worst NFL teams coming into the season, at the 4-4 mark. He has been pretty outstanding. Not bad considering he missed most of last year at Oklahoma with the shoulder injury.

1. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets: Somehow, Tomlinson has found the fountain of youth. It wasn’t in San Diego apparently. Perhaps it was in New Jersey the whole time. On the season, Tomlinson has gained 544 yards and five touchdowns and has taken Shonn Greene’s job away from him. He has been perhaps the most surprising player in the league this year. He’s definitely been the No. 1 new face.

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Posted on: June 30, 2010 4:11 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 4:34 pm
 

Where will Carroll lead Seattle?

Seattle has been the supposed landing places of a few high-end free agents this offseason. And why not? Head coach Pete Carroll hasn’t been shy about adding new players and subtracting the ones he hasn’t wanted (even if they played for him at USC). First, Bills RB Marshawn Lynch was heading to the northwest. That didn’t happen. Now, the Seahawks apparently are interested in obtaining the services of San Diego WR Vincent Jackson.

Even if Seattle doesn’t pull in another top-notch free agent before the season starts, never fear. Carroll seems to know exactly what he’s doing. Or, at the very least, what he wants.

As we discussed here , Carroll’s roster hasn’t been a safe haven for anybody in the Seattle locker room. Since he took the job in January, he’s acquired 60 players, and of the 80 players heading to training camp, 44 of them weren’t on the roster pre-Carroll. I’m always wary of a team which gives its coach the absolute final say over the personnel that plays for him, but apparently, Seattle thinks it’s a good idea. And Carroll hasn't been shy about using his power.

But just because there’s been significant turnover, that doesn’t mean this year's Seattle squad will make anyone forget about its 2009 debacle (the 5-11 record, the firing of then-coach Jim Mora after only one season). Aging veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck struggled, the top running back Julius Jones was unimpressive, and the offense never found an effective No. 1 receiver (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the team leader in receptions, is not meant to be a No. 1 guy).
Pete Carroll, right, jogging with L. Tatupu (Associated Press)
The defense was abysmal as well, allowing 24.4 points and 356.4 yards per game. The Seahawks couldn’t stop the pass, probably because they couldn’t figure out a way to rush the opposing quarterback.

Seattle isn’t that far removed from playoff runs from 2003-2007 and a Super Bowl appearance at the end of the 2005 season. But it feels like forever ago, doesn’t it?

So, what will change? Obviously, Carroll, who was slightly better than a .500 coach in his previous dalliances in the NFL but who’s coming off so much success at USC, feels like the roster needed to be remade. But you have to question some of his moves.

He brought in former USC RB LenDale White briefly before the team released him, and I don’t understand the love – and the big contract – for career backup QB Charlie Whitehurst. I don’t like the fact WR Nate Burleson and the top-three pass rushers from last year are gone. In fact, I thought it was unfair Mora got the boot after one season.

That said, I liked the Seahawks 2010 draft class. Carroll found a starting LT in Russell Okung who can replace Walter Jones, a FS in Earl Thomas that has good speed and cover skills, and a quick threat in WR Golden Tate,

Sure, a huge roster turnover doesn’t usually mean a team is poised for a breakthrough season, and people around the league don’t seem to have high hopes for this year’s squad. Also consider the offensive system, which will rely on making formation shifts to confuse the defense, is going through a wholesale change. But get the new guys some seasoning, maybe get Whitehurst some playing time, maybe have second-day draft picks like TE Anthony McCoy and CB Walter Thurmond surprise some people, and maybe, the Seahawks can be a threat in the next few years. Maybe Carroll can replicate his success from USC in Seattle. Maybe.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.





 
 
 
 
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