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Tag:Tyler Thigpen
Posted on: September 14, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: September 14, 2011 10:43 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

M. Stafford, if he stays healthy, could be a candidate for comeback player of the year (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Some had disappointing seasons last year only to find themselves in a brand-new setting this year. Some had worn out their welcome in one city and were rewarded with a new home in a new part of the country. Some were injured, and some just flat-out stunk.

But this is a new season, and it’s never too early to make predictions about the 2011 comeback player of the year, especially since two-time winner Chad Pennington is out for the season and won’t be eligible for his third award until 2012.

You won’t find Albert Haynesworth on this list, because a man who duped one organization out of tens of millions dollars only to find himself holding a golden parachute to the league’s most respected franchise doesn’t need another reward if he potentially plays well (or, unlike in Washington, plays at all). But pretty much everybody else is eligible for a spot on our latest Top Ten with a Twist: Potential Comeback Players of the Year.

10. Kevin Kolb: I originally wasn’t going to put him on this list, because simply put, I’m not entirely sure he’s going to live up to his $63 million ($20 million guaranteed) contract in Arizona. But after his 18 of 27, 309-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Cardinals win against the Panthers (all while getting sucked into the “Cam Newton is awesome” maelstrom), it’s at least a possibility Kolb will play like Arizona believes he can. Kolb supporters point to an impressive two-game stretch he had in 2009 for why he’s worth all that money. I’m more interested in his 130 quarterback rating from Sunday and where he can go from there.

9. Chris Johnson: You might not know this, but last year, Johnson had a disastrous season. When you compare him to 2009, his performance declined by more than 600 yards and he scored three less rushing touchdowns. If that’s not the sign of a guy who has already become much less effective … wait, what’s that? Johnson still rushed for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns last season? Oh, never mind. But here’s the thing with Johnson. He keeps proclaiming that he’s going to rush for 2,000 yards, and while he did it in 2009, he fell woefully short last year. And yes, he won’t make it 2,000 in 2011 either. But he’ll also be better than last year, particularly since he now should be completely happy with the money he’s making.

8. Bob Sanders: We all know Bob Sanders can’t stay healthy. Not after missing 64 of 112 career games with the Colts. And because we’ve barely seen the guy (only nine times in the past three seasons) we always seem to lose sight of the fact that Sanders was once a premier safety threat  mentioned in the same breathe as Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. One good sign for Sanders’ return to respectability: he didn’t have to spend this offseason rehabbing an old injury. But Sanders also is 30 now, where the aches and pains increase rather than diminish. In his first game with San Diego, he accumulated six tackles. But at least he didn’t leave the game with an injury. Which, with Sanders, is pretty good news.

7. Tim Hightower: You’ll recall that Hightower had a bit of a fumbling problem as the No. 2 running back behind Beanie Wells in Arizona -- he had eight lost fumbles combined in the past two seasons -- and though Hightower had good production in place of the injured Wells, the Cardinals decided they’d rather have Wells than Hightower. The Redskins, who were saying goodbye to Clinton Portis, went after him, and their interest was rewarded this week when Hightower looked solid, rushing 25 times for 72 yards and a score. Just as important, though, is his pass protection and his versatility (he’s a pretty good receiver as well). Just as long as he doesn’t fumble, he could be a really good addition for Washington.

6. Steve Smith (Eagles version): We still don’t know how healthy Smith is, but the fact that he was active for the first game -- much to the chagrin of the Giants, I imagine -- is awfully impressive, considering he was coming off microfracture surgery on his knee. He wasn’t targeted by Michael Vick, and he didn’t play all that much. But the fact he was out there at all was pretty ridiculous. Smith probably won’t be healthy enough to produce the stats that would give him a legit shot at the comeback player of the year, but he’s already gone to extraordinary lengths to return this soon, so why not?

Henne5. Steve Smith (Panthers version): Aside from all those Panthers fans who now have hope, receiver Steve Smith has to be one of the biggest Cam Newton fans around. For a guy who wanted out of Carolina as soon as possible (and as receiver, why would he want to try to field passes from Jimmy Clausen?), the infusion of Newton into this offense was the main reason Smith exploded for eight catches, 178 yards and two touchdowns. Considering he only accumulated 46 catches for 554 yards and two (!) scores in 2010, a little Newton in his life apparently has gone a long way.

4. Chad Henne: Despite Miami fans chanting that they wanted Kyle Orton (who now has to hear the chants of “We want Tebow” in Denver) in the preseason, the popular storyline out of south Florida is that Henne finally will turn himself into a legit starting quarterback. Henne was a major storyline in the offseason -- coach Tony Sparano said “we’ll see” about Henne’s chances of starting and receiver Brandon Marshall laid out in detail why Tyler Thigpen was a better player until Henne began to make believers out of his teammates, who voted him offensive captain. It’ll continue to be a storyline as long as Henne plays the way he did against the Patriots (30 of 49 for 416 yards, two touchdowns and a garbage-time interception) in one of the best performances of his pro career.

3. Rex Grossman: Based on the way he played against the Giants on Sunday, I thought about putting Grossman higher on the list. But I just don’t see him as a top-15 quarterback -- this season or any other. Maybe if he got to play against the Giants shell of a defense every week. But until that happens, I don’t see him taking home the hardware. That said, Grossman surprised many people this week -- including, I imagine, John Beck -- and didn’t look like the same quarterback who was Donovan McNabb’s two-minute offense replacement. At least, he played like a legitimate starting quarterback.

2. Bryant McKinnie: Surely, McKinnie would be the first comeback player of the year award winner to have weighed 400 pounds (allegedly) and gotten released from his old team for it (not to mention earning $75,000 for getting down to a trim 372). But McKinnie, as the new left tackle for the Ravens, helped set the tone last Sunday when, on the first play of the first Ravens drive, he dispatched Steelers linebackers James Farrior and James Harrison, allowing Baltimore running back Ray Rice a 36-yard gain. Baltimore ended up beating Pittsburgh by four touchdowns, and don’t think McKinnie wasn’t a big reason for that. If he keeps it up, perhaps McKinnie can make history as the first offensive line ever to win the award.

1. Matthew Stafford: The Lions quarterback scared the daylights out of just about everybody when he hobbled to the sideline with an apparent injury in Detroit’s season-opening win against the Buccaneers. For a guy who’s missed 19 games the past two years with various ailments, that was not a moment for the weak at the heart. But it was only cramps, and during Detroit’s victory, Stafford showed that he still has the talent to be a top-five quarterback. And considering most of the comeback players of the year happen to be quarterbacks, that doesn’t hurt his chances either.

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Posted on: September 10, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Chad Henne, Brandon Marshall are BFFs -- for now

HennePosted by Josh Katzowitz

You might recall that the relationship between Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne and Miami receiver Brandon Marshall hasn’t always been so rosy.

For instance, in January, Marshall said this: “Tyler [Thigpen] gets it a little more. He had an opportunity to play with Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City and they made some plays out there so I guess he understands [about] throwing the ball to a big receiver a little more than Chad Henne.”

Ouch, right? Well, apparently the two are getting along swimmingly so far this year. And Marshall is bored of the line of questioning that asks, “So, how are you and the ol’ QB getting along these days?”

"I’m so tired of that question," Marshall said, via the Miami Herald. “… How long are we going to go over that question? Maybe if I answer it differently for you guys this time, man.

"Caught a couple of nice long balls in the preseason ... targeted a bunch of times ... what more can I ask for? He’s spinning it well. We’re communicating great ... I don’t know, is that good enough for you?"

Henne was a little more forthcoming in the advancement of their relationship.

“It’s going great," Henne said. "I really think Brandon has come a long way; I’ve come a long way.  And I think it’s just a new attitude this year.  A lot of frustrating points last year which kind of created that mis-relationship that everybody saw.  But I believe this year is a new person in Brandon; a new person in me. We’re just excited to get back on the field on Monday."

Henne-Marshall Love-Fest
Much of the conflict, er … mis-relationship, came because of the way the two individuals approach the game. Henne is more exact, and he wants routes run the right way and at the right distance. Marshall is more of a freelancer, and he’s more apt to say, “Just throw the ball up in the air, and I’ll come down with it.”

For whatever reason, both seem to be on the same page for now, though obviously this all could change once the games begin.

But not all believe in Henne. Remember when Dolphins fans chanted for Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton? That wasn’t very nice. And, probably more hurtful to Henne, remember when former teammate Channing Crowder had this rant about him last month after Crowder retired?

“He hasn’t really proven anything to me while I played with him and now being on the other side, looking down as a fan, he’s not impressing me, either,” Crowder said. “So he can get on, he has all the tangibles, I want to say, the arm strength, his footwork’s funny, but [with the] arm strength he has, you know he can make some good throws. But the intangibles, the winning the game, the wanting to have everything on his shoulders, like the Brady’s and like the Manning’s, and wanting to have, be down by five with a minute left on the 20 yard line, let’s see what happens, he doesn’t have that in his heart yet. I think it will be hard for him to win. But like I said the proof’s in the pudding, so if he comes out this year and (goes) crazy, you know, I’ll have to put my foot in my mouth. But, if I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on him going crazy.”

Even so, Henne, as voted by his teammates, has been named the team captain. While it’s certainly not unusual for a non-rookie quarterback to be named a team’s offensive captain – it’d be more unusual if somebody of Henne’s stature continuously wasn’t the captain – it also speaks to what the team thinks of Henne. And what the Dolphins believe how Henne is capable of performing.

"I've been saying all along, he's a leader on our offense," tackle Jake Long said, via the Palm Beach Post. "He deserves it."

Even Marshall wouldn’t disagree with that. Not at this very moment anyway.

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:29 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:33 pm
 

McNabb trade to Vikings nearly done

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The trade for Donovan McNabb draws ever closer.

The Miami Herald’s Omar Kelly reported that the trade of McNabb from the Redskins to the Vikings was a done deal, as long as Minnesota can successfully renegotiate a new contract with McNabb.

Foxsports.com’s Jay Glazer, meanwhile, writes that the Vikings have agreed to send a sixth-round draft pick in 2012 and 2013 to the Redskins in exchange for McNabb.

Writes Glazer: “Vikes were hoping for Tyler Thigpen and looking at (Bruce) Gradkowski and in the end McNabb at that low price, picks and salary, not much to lose.”

I imagine we’ll hear about the end of this deal very soon, because McNabb is sure to agree to a paycut. At this point, what other choice does he have?

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 9:03 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 9:59 pm
 

Henne wants to start, has talked to Marshall

Posted by Ryan Wilson

When asked last month if Chad Henne would be the Dolphins starting quarterback next season, coach Tony Sparano only offered up a "we'll see." (Not a ringing endorsement cut certainly better than the fate that awaits, say, Donovan McNabb in Washington.)

Henne, as you might expect, feels differently, telling the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Andrew Carter, “Well that’s up to the coaching staff but I sure as heck want to be the starting quarterback for Miami Dolphins and lead them to the playoffs and the Super Bowl and I’m going to do the best I can to compete out there and earn that spot.”

It's July, but a lot can happen between now and the start of the regular season. Assuming the lockout ends in the coming days, there will be free agency. And the Dolphins haven't hidden the fact that they will probably be in the market for a veteran quarterback (Marc Bulger and Vince Young have been mentioned as possible options).

In June, Sparano talked about what Henne has accomplished in the league and what he needs to do to get better. “The one thing we’ve had time to do is a lot of homework and study,” he said. “And I would tell you when you put Chad’s numbers up against some of the better quarterbacks in our league, his numbers are pretty impressive. They hold up. Now what has to happen? We have to cut down the impulse throws, the interceptions that happen late in the fourth quarter.”

And when asked how he can improve, Henne echoed many of those sentiments. “It’s definitely the turnover ratio, I think. The biggest thing is not turning the ball over in critical situations, finishing the game in the right way in the fourth quarter and just not over-thinking things, just play the game.”

So for now it's Henne's job to lose. Of course, whether he keeps it is a function of his performance, which is in part dependent on the play of his wide receivers. The Dolphins have one of the NFL's best in Brandon Marshall who is in the news as much for his on-field performances as his off-field issues. In his first season with the Dolphins, Marshall caught 86 passes for 1,014 yards but just three touchdowns. And by January he was frustrated enough with the offense -- and Henne specifically -- to take his feelings public.

“Tyler [Thigpen] gets it a little more,” Marshall said during an appearance on Michael Irvin’s radio show. “He had an opportunity to play with Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City and they made some plays out there so I guess he understands [about] throwing the ball to a big receiver a little more than Chad Henne,” he said.

Last season, Thigpen and Marshall went off script during a game against the Patriots, and the decision wasn't well received by quarterbacks coach David Lee. “They expect me to run an in-route, but me as a player, when we get singled with no safety over the top I want to take a shot and just converted it to a go,” Marshall said at the time, according to the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly. “Seemed like an easier throw, easier play was the go route.”

PFT reported that Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline agreed with Marshall, saying that the Dolphins seldom deviated from the game plan and the offense sometimes needs to “make … plays off schedule.”

Henne was frank when asked recently about his relationship with Marshall. “Yeah, I mean we had our ups and downs last year," he said. "And some not-so friendly exchanged words but we’ve talked in the off-season. I’ve been sending him some of the playbooks so he can pick up on that because he’s been bouncing around with some of the things that have gone on in the past. But he’s still a good guy, he just speaks up sometimes when you don’t want him to. But he’s a great player and you definitely want him on your side.”

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Posted on: April 6, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Miami Dolphins

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



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



Entering their Monday Night Football matchup against the Patriots in Week 4, the Dolphins had to be feeling confident in their chances of beating New England in Miami. The Dolphins defense had looked good in knocking off the Bills and Vikings (which, at the time, was considered a pretty good win), and then Miami played the Jets to a close loss before the Patriots came to town.

A 41-14 disaster later, Miami fired special teams coach John Bonamego and never got more than a game above .500 for the rest of the season (and, in fact, finished the year at 7-9).



Coach on the hot seat, quarterback

Although Tony Sparano took a 1-15 team and turned it into an 11-5 division title winner a year later (beating out the Patriots for the honor), he’s gone 7-9 in back-to-back seasons. Apparently, owner Stephen Ross listened to Bill Parcells’ recommendation and decided to bring back Sparano for another season (though Ross DID disgustingly go out of his way to woo Jim Harbaugh for the job). But the specter of Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher still are out there and until Sparano is off the hot seat, fans will wonder about their availability.

Sparano would get a great deal of help if QB Chad Henne could put together a consistent season. WR Brandon Marshall blasted his QB at the end of last season and said he actually works better with QB Tyler Thigpen (a major ZING, by the way). It’s too early to give up on Henne, especially now that Chad Pennington will miss all of 2011 because of a torn ACL, but it’s getting to the point where Henne needs to show somebody something.




1. Running back
On paper, the duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams would seem a surefire way for the Dolphins to rack up rushing yards and plenty of touchdowns. Yet, the Dolphins managed to finish 21st in running last season. There’s a good chance that neither back will return to Miami next year, leaving Patrick Cobbs and Lex Hilliard on the roster at RB. Which means the Dolphins will need some big-time help at that spot and which is why Alabama’s Mark Ingram might be a good draft pick (though the Dolphins might want to trade down instead).

2. Offensive line
You know what doesn’t help your third-string quarterback perform better? A terribly inconsistent offensive line. That’s what Tyler Thigpen faced in Miami’s 16-0 loss to the Bears in Week 11 – a line missing starters Jake Long and Joe Berger who then watched backup Cory Procter get injured on the second offensive series, meaning Richie Incognito had to move from guard to center. Miami could make a play for a solid center in the draft.

3. Keep improving the defense
n 2009, the Dolphins ranked 25th in the league in defense, but last year, they improved that number to No. 13. Most of the starting front seven is solid, but Miami’s DBs had a tough time hanging onto interceptions last season. It also would help if they got more playmakers in the secondary.




After Ross stopped emasculating Sparano for Harbaugh and then gave him a two-year extension, Ross made it clear he wanted a more aggressive, more exciting offense. Sparano, though, said he plans to keep running the ball more often than not. Could we see both? I suppose, though I kind of doubt it.

I also don’t see a playoff run with Miami, considering the Patriots and Jets still will be battling for AFC East supremacy. All of which means the meddling Ross probably will fire Sparano, and then, everybody can just start over again in Miami. Which means we might not see good pro football in Miami for a while.

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Posted on: November 27, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2010 7:55 pm
 

Week 12 injury news and analysis, part III

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Panthers at Browns

Both sides have big quarterback questions this week. The Panthers have three of their signal-callers on the injury report – including Tony Pike, probable with a right shoulder, and Brian St. Pierre, probable with a right shoulder – but Jimmy Clausen, who has shaken off the effects of a concussion, is the one who will get the starting nod.

You might think the probable status of RB Jonathan Williams would be good news for Carolina, but you’d be wrong (I’m not saying it’s bad news, but it’s kind of meh news). He’s been extremely ineffective this year, and in his absence, Mike Goodson has been very impressive.

Meanwhile, Cleveland QB Colt McCoy is doubtful with an ankle injury, meaning Jake Delhomme, who hasn’t started a game since the season-opener, will face off against his old team. WR Joshua Cribbs, who broke four of his toes two weeks ago, is questionable. He might be on the active roster, but don’t look for him to get too involved with the offense.

Chiefs at Seahawks


Kansas City would feel much better about its prospects to beat Seattle on the road if WR Dexter McCluster and TE Tony Moeaki – both of whom are questionable – can play. McCluster has missed the past four games with a high ankle sprain, but it seems likely he’ll return this week. Moeaki, coming off a concussion two weeks ago, also should play.

The big question for the Seahawks is whether WR Mike Williams (questionable, foot) will play. All week, Seattle has prepared like he wouldn’t play, and as of Friday, he was still in a walking boot. But he’ll also be a gametime decision, so if Williams can look OK in pregame warmups, there’s a chance he might be out there when the game starts.

Dolphins at Raiders


No matter who’s quarterbacking Miami – and indications are pointing toward Chad Henne – the Dolphins will suffer without standout WR Brandon Marshall, who was downgraded today from doubtful to out with a hamstring. Henne, thought to be lost for the season two short weeks ago, likely will get the start in place of former third-stringer Tyler Thigpen.

For Oakland, TE Zach Miller is questionable but probably will play. As will CB Nnamdi Asomugha, G Robert Gallery and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey – all of whom are listed as probable.

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Posted on: November 19, 2010 10:31 pm
 

Dolphins O-line should get some help

J. Berger should be ready to return by Miami's next game vs. Oakland (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You probably saw Thursday night (or, considering how many people don’t have the NFL Network, you might have read it somewhere) how bad the Dolphins offensive line performed.

QB Tyler Thigpen, who took six sacks (three from Julius Peppers alone), was molested throughout the game by the Bears defense, and partially as a result, Miami racked up 226 offensive yards and exactly zero points.

When your quarterback is taking a pounding and your top-two running backs (Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams) are combining for 11 yards on six carries, you know you might need to call for reinforcements – especially with LT Jake Long’s shoulder badly hurting him.

The Dolphins will get some help in time for their Nov. 28 meeting with the Raiders.

According to the Miami Herald, starter Joe Berger, who missed Thursday’s game with a knee problem and a “personal issue,” should be ready to play.

Without him Thursday, backup Cory Proctor got the start, but in the second offensive series of the game, he suffered a knee injury. That meant Richie Incognito – whose day job is to play guard – moved to the center spot.

Yes, the Dolphins have many, many problems on offense, but assuming Berger returns for the team’s next game, at least they can focus on improving their third-string-turned-starting QB and from keeping their star WR from throwing the ball wherever he wants after a play is complete.

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 11:47 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2010 12:27 am
 

The Chicago Bears: Confounding contenders

Posted by Will Brinson



At 7-3, the Bears are confusing enough that it's impossible to bust out the old Denny Green "they are who we thought they are" line, because, well, how are they winning? (Although, congratulations on becoming the first franchise ever to win 700 games. Double congrats to the NFL Network for not having giant blue and orange fireworks explode on my screen.)

Their rushing attack is weak as can be (although it looked better in the second half), Jay Cutler continues to make poor decisions and play mediocre at the quarterback position (he hasn't had a QB rating above 100 since Week 2) and yet, here we are, 11 weeks into the season and they're on top of the division and currently locked into the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

"We're 7-3," Cutler said following the win. "We're looking good in the north division and we just have to keep getting better and better. This is the time of year when you want to play your best ball, and as long as we keep winning games and getting better and better we're gonna give ourselves a chance."

Cutler also threw props to the offensive line and the defense, as he should -- the offensive line allowed three sacks, but one was in relative garbage time and if that's all you cough up in a Cameron Wake - Frank Omiyale matchup, well, you've done yeoman's work.

As for the defense, they had a pretty easy gig going against a Miami offense that looked completely out of sorts: Tyler Thigpen couldn't do what he needed to do in order to succeed because the offensive line lost Cory Procter early and was forced to adjust on the fly.

And frankly, there's no real way to compete without your top center, your top two quarterbacks and your No. 1 wide receiver -- in a short week, no less -- against a top-five NFL defense, which the Bears are.

"We thought they'd try and run it, you know, and they didn't," Urlacher said. "And we kind of got after them a little bit and they started throwing it around."

Urlacher's spot on -- Tyler Thigpen was the top rusher for the Dolphins, picking up 27 yards on six carries. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams? 11 yards on six carries.

Part of that is on the Bears' defense, part of that is on a torn-up offensive line, and part of that is on a poor gameplan. Not that it matters -- the Dolphins are donecakes when it comes to the 2010 season, given what they have to work with on offense from here on out, and given how far behind the rest of the AFC contenders they are (mathematically, of course, they're still in it, but I mean, come on).

But maybe the Bears are a contender. It just seems odd to think that way considering how porous the offensive line was to begin the season, and how lucky they looked picking up some wins early.

But Chicago scrapes by on offense, dominates on defense and utilizes Devin Hester's special talents to give themselves just enough of an edge and win games, even if it's not in a pretty fashion.

So, yeah, they're the Chicago Bears. Maybe we do know.

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