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Tag:Ikaika Alama-Francis
Posted on: October 5, 2010 10:14 am
Edited on: October 5, 2010 6:41 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Curse of Wally Pipp

P. Hillis has taken over the Cleveland running game (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

We’re a quarter of the way into the season, and some players who were originally slated to be backups suddenly have emerged as starters. Maybe it was through an injury to the former starter. Maybe it was because the starter wasn’t as good as the team thought and the backup was better. Maybe it was because – and Wally Pipp could relate to this – somebody just needed an off-day.

In fairness to the old-time Yankees first baseman, who was replaced one day (permanently, it turned out) in 1925 by a guy named Lou Gehrig because Pipp had a headache, that story might not be true exactly. Instead, he might have been benched because manager Miller Huggins simply wanted to shake up the lineup. Either way, Gehrig played the next 2,130 games, and Pipp ended up in … Cincinnati (and apparently, he was also one of Sports Illustrated’s first writing hires, one of those cool but useless facts).

Anyway, there have been some impact players to emerge this season so far, simply because they, like Gehrig, were given that chance to shine. Some have won a starting position. Some are just holding it until the real starter returns. But they’re all making a (mostly good) impression. It sounds like the perfect Top Ten With a Twist list to me.

10. Lance Moore, WR/PR, Saints: The story of Moore’s career. A Saints starts gets injured. Moore steps in and makes plays. Remember in 2008 when Moore caught a team-high 79 passes for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns after Marques Colston was hurt? Obviously, when Reggie Bush returns from his broken leg, Moore will fade back into the background – maybe. But man, he looked electric against the Falcons (six catches, 149 yards, two touchdowns), and he’s become a big target for New Orleans when it’s in the red zone.

9. Max Hall, QB, Cardinals: Look, we all know Derek Anderson isn’t a very good quarterback. But I didn’t think he would have a chance to lose his job this early. Hall, meanwhile, was a 2010 undrafted free agent (seriously, how poor is Anderson to lose to an undrafted free agent?). Not that Hall was great when he replaced Anderson on Sunday, because he wasn’t, but he might be Arizona’s best option at this point. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, meanwhile, isn’t talking. “I think we're going to go without [a quarterback) this week,” he joked Monday. “I think we're going to go with all Wildcat."

8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: He averaged about eight carries per game his rookie year in 2008, but with Kevin Faulk lost for the season – and Fred Taylor unavailable for the Miami game Monday – Green-Ellis (47 carries this year for 215 yards) has already nearly doubled his attempts from last year. He had his breakout in Week 3 against Buffalo when he carried the ball 16 times for 98 yards and a score, and vs. the Dolphins, he was impressive with a 16-carry, 78-yard, one-touchdown performance.

7. Shaun Hill, QB, Lions:
The reason Hill is so low on this list is because there’s no way he’ll take the job from Matthew Stafford. But still, how impressive has Hill looked the past few weeks? After Stafford went out with the shoulder injury in Week 1, Hill was terrible. But the past three weeks, he’s completed 61.9 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and six interceptions (he’s also averaging 301 passing yards per game), and he really impressed me in Detroit’s two-point loss to Green Bay.

6. Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders: It didn’t take long for Raiders coach Tom Cable to figure out that, in order to save his job, he’d take his chances with Gradkowski instead of Jason Campbell. This is not to say Gradkowski is an elite quarterback, because that’s a laughable notion. But he played well at times when he was in Tampa Bay after Chris Simms ruptured his spleen in 2006 (Gradkowski failed to win the starting job in 2007). For now, though, Gradkowski is entrenched as Cable’s guy. As long as Cable is around.

5. Koa Misi, LB, Dolphins: Ikaika Alama-Francis was supposed to be the starter, but the night before the season opener, he caught some kind of illness and he’s been recovering ever since, losing 15-20 pounds in the process. Misi, the team’s second round Draft pick this year, has taken over his starting spot with consistent play and a smooth transition to the pro game. It was originally thought that Misi’s main objective would be as a situational pass-rusher – he was, after all, a defensive end in college – but he’s proven his worth as an every-down back with two sacks and a fumble recovery TD. In the meantime, he’s also Wally Pipp’d Alama-Francis.

4. Taylor Mays, S, 49ers: Mays so Wally Pipp’d former starter Michael Lewis that San Francisco released Lewis Monday, the day after Mays’ huge game against Atlanta. Mays had taken Lewis’ starting job already, and it sounds like Lewis asked for his release, but still, that’s pretty impressive for a rookie. Mays, in case you didn’t see it, had a phenomenal touchdown (both feet down!) after a punt block to give San Francisco a 14-0 lead. He also made 11 tackles.



3. John Carney, K, Saints: Carney, who will turn 65 later this year (I’m kidding, he’s 46), has returned once again to the NFL, and after making three kicks this past week, you have to wonder how much longer Garrett Hartley will stay on the roster – or why he’s on the roster at all at this point. Obviously, Carney isn’t the future kicker in this organization, and maybe the Saints are keeping Hartley around, because they’re hoping he can overcome what’s been a terrible start to the season for him. Otherwise, he’d already have been Pipp’d.

2. Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins:
Torain and Clinton Portis have split carries, but it seems that if this was the 100-meter dash at the Olympics, Torain would be Usain Bolt and Portis would be the other seven guys. Meaning Torain is pulling away and eventually will take Portis’ starting role. It could happen this week actually as Portis hurt his groin Sunday. Let me also briefly mention San Diego’s Mike Tolbert, who replaced first-round pick Ryan Mathews when he was injured and rushed for 255 combined yards the past three games (including a 100-yard performance Sunday when Mathews was in the game). But coach Norv Turner says he’s committed to keeping Mathews as the starter, so Tolbert doesn’t fit on this list all that well.

1. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: It was supposed to be Montario Hardesty and Jerome Harrison running the ball in Cleveland. Hillis – who was traded from Denver in the Brady Quinn deal this past offseason – was supposed to be just an afterthought. Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs had never heard of the guy until he ripped off 180 total yards (144 on the ground, the most Baltimore has allowed in five years) against the Ravens. With Hardesty out with a season-ending injury and with Harrison failing to make an impression on the Cleveland coaching staff, Hillis has taken advantage, tying the league high with four touchdowns and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Like Gehrig, it appears that Hillis has no future plans to give up his starting spot.

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Posted on: September 29, 2010 9:53 am
 

Hot Routes 09.29.10: Questionable injury lists

B. Wells gains extra yards against Oakland (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

-Although coach Ken Whisenhunt completely misled everybody not in the Arizona Cardinals locker room regarding the health of running back Beanie Wells’ knee – he said it was a bone bruise when, in actuality, Wells had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus – Whisenhunt said he didn’t use the weekly injury report to his advantage. In the first two games Wells missed, he was listed as questionable.

-At least one 49ers player was excited by the ascension of Mike Johnson to the offensive coordinator position to replace the fired Jimmy Raye. And by excited I mean pumped. That’d be tight end Vernon Davis.

-Suddenly, Bears coach Lovie Smith is holding accountable – in very public ways – some of his team’s top players. If they’re not good enough to play – a la Tommie Harristhey’re simply not going to be on the field. With a 3-0 record, who’s to say Smith is wrong about this?

-The Green Bay Press-Gazette writes that tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are starting to look a little old. After watching Monday night’s game vs. the Bears, I was surprised with some of the mistakes made by Clifton (I didn’t notice Tauscher as much, though he had his fair share), especially with the penalties.

-Apparently nobody seems bothered by Ravens RB Ray Rice’s injured knee. It was not mentioned by anybody – not by coach John Harbaugh, not by radio host Gerry Sandusky, not by any callers – during Harbaugh’s weekly radio show.

-After watching the Dolphins lose 18 yards on eight attempts using the Wildcat formation, Sun Sentinel columnist Ethan Skolnick says Miami might want to dial it down a little. Skolnick calls the Dolphins victims of their own success and says the Wildcat has become rather predictable.

-The Jaguars re-signed S Gerald Alexander a few weeks after cutting him, and Alexander is happy to be employed once again. He said he wasn’t surprised by Jacksonville releasing him. In fact, he said he didn’t deserve to make the team, and he’s surprised he’s been re-signed.

-You might be wondering what’s up with Dolphins LB Ikaika Alama-Francis and why he hasn’t played this year (and subsequently allowed Koa Misi to have a big impact at that position). The answer is that Alama-Francis has been ill and has lost 15-20 pounds.

-Giants S Michael Johnson has been placed on IR with a herniated disc in his back.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: September 19, 2010 11:35 am
Edited on: September 19, 2010 12:05 pm
 

AFC Inactives: Week 2

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Names of people who are ACTIVE include Todd Heap and Lardarius Webb.

Keith Rivers, LB, Bengals: He's been bothered by a bad foot, and that's bad news for the Bengals defense. Rivers might be the best LB on the roster, and Cincinnati's run defense will suffer from his absence. Brandon Johnson will take his place.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Browns:
This is no surprise. He was doubtful coming into the weekend with an ankle injury, and now, it's official. Seneca Wallace, who doesn't have the throwing potential of Delhomme but has good scrambling ability, will get the start.

Jon McGraw, FS, Chiefs:
He was expected to start - especially after being in the lineup in Week 1 - but instead, Kansas City's coaches are going with the youth movement. The Chiefs will start fifth-round pick Kendrick Lewis, who's exceeded expectations in his first season, and together with Eric Berry, that's a very young safeties corps.

William Hayes, DL, Titans: After missing the season-opener last week, it was thought Hayes possibly could play today. Hayes, in fact, said this week that if he was needed, he definitely could go against Pittsburgh. Ultimately, a lack of conditioning might have been the reason he's not playing.

Casey Hampton, NT, Steelers: With Titans RB Chris Johnson coming to town, this isn't great news for Pittsburgh, even though everybody knew this was going to happen. Chris Hoke likely will take his place.

Jared Gaither, OT, Ravens: The right side of Baltimore's offensive line still remains in limbo, because Gaither still hasn't recovered from his back injury. He says he's doing well and recovering, but that hasn't translated into anything on the field. Marshal Yanda gets the start in his place.

Ikaika Alama-Francis, LB, Dolphins:
He missed last week with an illness, and he was scratched about 90 minutes before Miami's win at Buffalo. Apparently, he's still sick, and apparently, Koa Misi, who had a good game last week, has passed him on the depth chart.

Paul Posluszny , LB, Bills: We knew this already. Posluszny is out a couple weeks with a knee injury. But it's worth noting that perhaps the happiest player about this news is Green Bay TE Jermichael Finley. He might be in for a big day.

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