Tag:Keith Brooking
Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 11:58 am
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Top Ten with a Twist: Most underrated

D. McFadden is one of the league's most underrated players (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You know all the big-name players, even if they’re past their prime. Guys who once were great and impactful and who were rated exactly as their athleticism required. Now, though, some of those players have begun their descent into the final phases of their career, but fans, remembering their past exploits, still think of them as high-end performers on the field.

Now, they’re making way for players you’ve probably heard of but can’t place. Players who you’ve seen but can’t remember on which team they reside.Players who are overshadowed and under the radar. The players who won’t be considered underrated for much longer.

In this week’s Top Ten with a Twist, we feature the best players who are not as well known as they should be. You can call them underrated and call them under the radar, but their teams and their teammates know how important they are. They are, in fact, some of the best players in the league who aren’t necessarily considered the best players in the league.

10. Sean Lee: He won’t be a name only hardcore fans recognize for much longer. He was just named NFC defensive player of the month after a sensational start to the season (31 tackles, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries). Lee had knocked long-time starting linebacker Keith Brooking out of the lineup, and with the way he’s playing, you can certainly see why. He has been scary this year.

9. Hakeem Nicks: Considering wide receiver is one of the most glamorous positions in the sport, it’s tough to find a guy who you could call underrated -- conversely, there’s no shortage of players we could consider overrated at this position. But Nicks is one of those guys who doesn’t get the national attention (even though he plays in New York!) of a Calvin Johnson, an Andre Johnson or a DeSean Jackson. And while Nicks might not quite be on the same level as those receivers, he’s close. His 79 catches, 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 is a testament to that.

8. Ryan Kalil: You might have been shocked when the Panthers gave him a six-year, $49 million ($28 million guaranteed) deal before this season to make him the highest-paid center in the game, but those around the league know his value. He’s versatile in pass protection and run-blocking, and he doesn’t get called for holding penalties. Is he the best center in the league? Probably not as long as Nick Mangold is playing, but Kalil is still one of the top guys out there.

7. Vince Wilfork: He gets plenty of attention -- especially when he’s picking off passes and strolling his way back up the field -- but when compared to defensive tackles like Haloti Ngata, Ndamukong Suh or (gasp!) Albert Haynesworth, Wilfork doesn’t get the admiration he deserves. Despite his size -- he very well could be playing in the 400-pound range -- he’s one of the most athletic big men you’ll see. He’s one of the best run-stoppers around, and he’s the anchor of the Patriots defense. You know him, but he still hasn’t made his way to superstar status.



6. Darren Sproles: It was thought that the new kickoff rules would hinder Sproles, and that was probably one of the reasons the Chargers didn’t re-sign him in the offseason. But Sproles has continued to prove his wealth, settling into the Saints backfield, where he’s shown he can still rush (7.4 yards per carry), catch the ball (21 receptions, second-best among running backs) and score (he’s recorded a touchdown in all three games). He’s like a Reggie Bush who actually is effective for the Saints. Oh, and he can still return kicks (sixth in the league among those who have at least five chances) and return punts (second in the league).

5. Tramon Williams: Although he helped the Packers to a Super Bowl, Williams isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the Eagles cornerback trio (Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) or the Jets duo (Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie). Plus, he plays in the shadow of Charles Woodson, who is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league after 14 seasons. But Williams has shown why he’s a top-10 cornerback. He’s not avoided by other team’s quarterbacks quite as much as Asomugha and Revis -- that’s a byproduct of playing with Woodson -- but he’s shown that when his receiver is targeted, Williams is one of the better cover corners in the league.

4. Rob Gronkowski: Who are the best tight ends in the league? Antonio Gates? That’s true if he’s healthy. Tony Gonzalez? That’s true if this was five years ago. Jason Witten? Yes, he probably is the top tight end out there. But you know who’s really close to him? That’s Gronkowski -- who, in his second season in the league, is one big reason the Patriots offense has been so dominant this season. He was decent as a rookie last season, but he’s exploded for five touchdowns already this year, and with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the lineup in New England, that is a tough, tough matchup for the opposing teams’ linebackers.

3. Brandon Pettigrew: Last Sunday was the perfect example of why Pettigrew can make a Lions fan’s mouth water. He played through a shoulder injury, yet he managed to catch 11 passes for 112 yards in Detroit’s huge comeback victory against the Vikings. He’s probably not on the same level as Witten or Gronkowski, and yes, he drops the easy passes way too much (even if he also makes the spectacular catches). But in his third season in the league, he shows real potential to be a top-five tight end.

2. Trent Cole: He’s always good for between 55-80 tackles a year. He’s always good for between eight and 13 sacks. He’s almost always assured to be making life difficult for whichever offensive tackle who is charged with slowing his momentum. Cole might be the best player many NFL fans don’t know anything about. But this year, he’s off to a hot start in Philadelphia with three sacks. He’s a monster, and even if you haven’t heard his name very much, you can be sure the league’s offensive linemen have.

1. Darren McFadden: Along with Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, McFadden might be a top-three running back in this league. But since he plays in the black hole of Oakland, he wasn’t discussed as much as those who have lesser talent. That’s changing this year with the Raiders off to a 2-1 start and McFadden performing like the best back in the league. In 2010, McFadden gained 1,664 yards from scrimmage, and through three games this season, he’s rushed for 393 yards and three touchdowns while catching 11 passes for 84 yards and another score. If he keeps playing like that, he won’t belong on this list next year. Because everybody is going to know about him.

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Posted on: April 24, 2011 5:42 pm
 

Teammates reach out to Dez Bryant

D. Bryant met with some teammates, who hope to set him on the right path (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant has been tough to figure out since he came into the NFL for his rookie year at the beginning of last season. He’s obviously quite talented, but he’s proven himself to be immature and, in quite a few cases, awfully irresponsible.

Some of his teammates are trying to change that behavior.

He’s made some unfortunate news this offseason – such as allegedly refusing to pull up his pants at a Dallas-area mall and not paying up for $246,000 worth of jewelry – and the unfortunate reality of the lockout is that nobody from the Cowboys organization can reach out to him during his troubled times.

But his teammates can, and that’s exactly what they did Saturday when, according to the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys QB Tony Romo, C Andre Gurode and LB Keith Brooking met him for lunch.

On his Twitter account, Bryant wrote that he had a good time. But his teammates must hope he got more out of the lunch than just a pleasant afternoon. They must hope he’s beginning to figure out how grown-ups act in the real world.

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Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Dallas Cowboys

Posted by Andy Benoit



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups.



In terms of disappointment, the 2010 Dallas Cowboys more than lived up to the “Everything’s big in Texas” phrase. The year that was supposed to end with Jerry Jones’ team being the first to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium instead ended in effect before Thanksgiving.

Wade Phillips was no longer the coach at that point and Tony Romo had been sidelined for the past month with what would turn out to be a season-ending fractured clavicle. Can’t blame the face-plant on Romo’s injury, though.

After all, the Cowboys were 1-5 in games their star quarterback started.



Brooking quickly established himself as the defense’s emotional leader when he arrived in 2009. Because he’s been in his 30s since the Bush Administration, everyone has assumed he’s on the cusp of washing up.

That simply hasn’t been true…until now. Last season Brooking showed hints of decline in struggling to get off blocks. He is still a dominant player when pursuing the ball untouched, but in a 3-4, inside linebackers can’t count on regularly being untouched.

Lee, a second-round pick out of Penn Stage last year, overtook Bradie James in nickel packages. Lee has good natural change of direction ability and, in a limited sampling, has shown adequate instincts. As great organizations like the Eagles and Patriots have illustrated over the years, it’s better to replace someone a year too early rather than risk keeping him a year too long.




1. Safety
The game is evolving to where safeties are becoming vital for creating deception and disguise in a defensive scheme. The only experienced safety on Dallas’ roster is Alan Ball, and he just converted from cornerback last year.

2. Offensive Linemen
Right tackle Marc Colombo’s lack of athleticism finally caught up to him last season. Right guard Leonard Davis may have remained benched if backup Montrae Holland had been more reliable. Davis really struggled with lateral movement in pass protection last season. Left guard Kyle Kosier is an unrestricted free agent.

3. Cornerback
It may be time to start grooming Terence Newman’s replacement. Newman will be 33 when (if) this season opens up. He’s no longer quick enough to play man coverage with the cushy buffer zone he prefers. Orlando Scandrick is not the guy to replace Newman long-term. The third-year pro is better equipped to defend the slot and must first bounce back from a difficult sophomore campaign.




It’s “America’s Team”, so there’s always talk of a Lombardi Trophy. But how about having no expectations and just shutting up for a change?

It’s well known the Cowboys have as much talent as any team. What needs changing is the way they manage that talent.

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Posted on: October 14, 2010 7:06 pm
 

Pat Williams calls Brooking "a little baby"

K. Brooking said last year he thought Minnesota was classless. This year, he gets another shot at trying to beat that team (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I’ve never looked at a picture of Cowboys LB Keith Brooking and thought to myself, “Well, that just looks like a little baby to me.” Apparently, Vikings DE Pat Williams doesn’t share that opinion.

When Dallas and Minnesota meet this week for the first time since the Vikings smashed the Cowboys in last year’s playoff matchup, the Cowboys will have some bulletin-board material.

Last year, following the 34-3 loss, Brooking said the fact Minnesota scored a TD with 1:55 to play to increase the lead to 31 points was a classless move. He also said the Cowboys would remember that beatdown when the two teams faced each other in the regular season.

Color Williams unimpressed.

"We don't care what Brooking says," Williams was quoted as saying in the Dallas Morning News via the Minneapolis Star Tribune . "If he's still talking about last year that's his bad because last year is last year and we ain't worried about. If he wants to cry like a little baby, he'll cry like a little baby but we aren't worried about what he's saying."

Williams had more to say.

“This is the NFL, it ain't Pop Warner, it ain't high school," Williams said. "This is the pros. I figure if they were so good they would have stopped us from scoring but they didn't."

Brooking hasn’t commented this season about the game, but somebody asked Dallas coach Wade Phillips about the incident from last season.

"People can do what they want," Phillips said. "That's what they chose to do. It's not something I would've done."

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Posted on: September 6, 2010 10:34 am
Edited on: September 6, 2010 11:15 am
 

Hot Routes 9.6.10: Shaking off the Revis hangover

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I hope you were awake late last night to catch the Darrelle Revis saga unfold. I was heading to bed about 12:45 a.m. when I happened to check Twitter one last time. And then all hell broke less. Just because you probably were asleep, here’s what Clark Judge wrote about why the Jets organization was at fault here and here’s what I tapped out about how the organization now truly is a Super Bowl contender.

- This video might get lost in the shuffle today, but credit former Cowboys star and Hall of Famer Dan Hampton for creating some kick-ass analogies. Unfortunately, they’re entirely inappropriate. In doing analysis for Pro Football Weekly’s TV show, he said the Cowboys “think they’re Clint Eastwood. They’re more the Brokeback variety, if you know what I’m talking about.” Then, he said the Vikings “need to go down and hit (New Orleans) harder than Katrina.” All you can say is “Wow.” And “ugh.”

- Buccaneers starting QB Josh Freeman’s sprained thumb has progressed to the point where he can take snaps from center Jeff Faine. He reported no pain while taking the full-speed snap. That’s obviously great news for the Bucs.

- Vikings coach Brad Childress is a little tired of talking about the Vikings backup QB situation. He referred to the constant questioning as discussing, in great detail, Twins catcher Joe Mauer’s backup. It’s not at all the same thing, but whatever.

- Vikings receiver (and migraine sufferer) Percy Harvin declared Sunday that he’s ready to play some football. He also expressed confidence in the plan he’s on that will help him deal with those debilitating migraines.

- The Dallas Morning News asks if 13-year veteran Keith Brooking still has it. Apparently, he does. Said Brooking: "I still have it. Sometimes it takes a little more effort to bring it to the surface, but I feel really good."

- Tramaine Brock entered 49ers camp as a safety after earning a signing bonus of $250. Until one day he looked at the Internet and - discovered San Francisco had him listed as cornerback. The rookie free agent longshot made the 53-man squad this weekend (as a cornerback, of course) – not bad for a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Bellhaven (Bellhaven?!?) standout.

- One last one: Pro Football Talk writes FB Tony Richardson, cut by the Jets on Sunday, could be back with the team as early as today.

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Posted on: August 26, 2010 4:10 pm
 

Jerry Jones' mouth not helping the Cowboys

Posted by Andy Benoit

Wade Phillips would never in a million years say this, so we’ll say it for him: he hates it when Jerry Jones talks about players’ injuries. How do we know? Because every coach hates talking about injuries. Imagine how a coach must feel when someone else is talking about injuries for him.
J. Jones (US Presswire)
Plus, it’s the way Jones talks about injuries. He has a tendency to put undue pressure on guys. (Remember when Jones questioned Marion Barber’s toe injury two years ago?)

Jones was running his mouth again Wednesday, touching on the health of four starters. The first victim was right tackle Marc Colombo, who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. "He's very pleased that they cleaned out and found what they found," Jones said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "It makes him very optimistic, and me too, about his future — not just this year, but years to come. Really, really I think (having had the surgery) is a good thing."

Next, veteran linebacker Keith Brooking. "I like the idea of Brooking getting a little time off and a break away from what he will be asked to do during the season," Jones said.

Okay, so far so good. Nothing too bad here. After all, it’s been expected that Colombo and Brooking will both be ready for the opener.
But then there was what Jones said regarding Kyle Kosier. The left guard was expected to miss up to three regular season games with a sprained knee. But the owner thinks the recovery time can be quicker – much quicker, in fact.

"We'll get him back — hopefully, hopefully — for the first game," Jones said. "I'm planning on it. ... We'll see how he progresses."
Perhaps Kosier is ahead of schedule and will be ready for Week 1. It still does him – and the rest of the team – a disservice to make that information public. What if Kosier ends up missing the first three games, as expected? Now he looks bad, and the Cowboys training staff thinks they look bad.

Jones also touched on the health of wide receiver Dez Bryant, though he put noticeably less pressure on the prized first-round rookie: "Certainly Dez is improving, just (chomping) at the bit, can't understand why he can't get out here and participate," Jones said. "But he's got to have blind faith in his coaches and trainers that we're doing what's best."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com