Tag:Justin Smith
Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:54 am
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Film Room: 49ers vs. Giants preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


The NFC’s top team from the East will travel some 3,000 miles to face the top team from the West in a game that could ultimately decide the No. 2 playoff seed. Here’s a five-point look at this matchup between two overachieving clubs.



1. Old School offenses
If not for HD quality picture and the first-down line, you could fool yourself into thinking the year is 1990 when watching these two offenses line up on Sunday. Both are built around traditional rushing attacks, operating predominantly out of classic 12, 21 or 22 personnel (12 personnel = 1 back, two tight ends; 21 personnel = two backs, one tight end; you can guess what 22 personnel equals).

The difference is that the Niners this season have successfully run the ball, while the Giants have not (San Francisco ranks sixth in the NFL with 137.6 yards rushing per game; New York ranks 29th with 88.8).

Jim Harbaugh has good horses in Frank Gore and the more dynamic but less experienced Kendall Hunter, but it’s not a glistening backfield like those found in Philadelphia, Houston or Oakland. To compensate, Harbaugh has done a masterful job manufacturing rushing yards through formation variations, motion and subtle subterfuge. The Niners show opponents a lot of different looks with their running back and tight end alignments. And with mobile guards like Mike Iupati and, to an extent, Adam Snyder, they can frequently change up their movement-oriented run-blocking techniques. They have the most variegated ground game in the NFL.
 
The Giants would like to mimic this, but Ahmad Bradshaw hasn’t been healthy and Brandon Jacobs hasn’t been impactful. More encumbering has been the shakiness of the offensive line. The center position has been particularly problematic. David Baas has battled injuries and struggled with gap-shooting defensive tackles against Miami two weeks ago; when Baas has been out, Kevin Boothe has looked how you’d expect a career backup tackle to look at center. Most telling is that recently, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has been almost exclusively aerial in his late-game play-calls.

2. The Quarterbacks
The Giants have managed six wins despite a sputtering ground game. The reason? Eli Manning has played the best football of his career. Herein lays the difference between New York and San Francisco. Both teams have former No. 1 overall drafted quarterbacks, but only one can put the game on its quarterback’s shoulders.

Manning is seeing the field clearer than ever (fortunately for him, New York’s front line struggles have not been in pass protection). His command of the offense and sound decision-making have propagated the eruptions of tight end Jake Ballard and slot receiver Victor Cruz. Ballard is an enhanced version of Kevin Boss; Cruz, with his unique body control and sticky hands, is a more explosive – though less stable – version of Steve Smith.

Something that’s not talked about often enough is Manning’s arm strength. He’s among the small handful of quarterbacks who truly can make all the throws; and he doesn’t need to be on balance or in perfect pocket conditions to do it.

Alex Smith, on the other hand, does need perfect pocket conditions. Smith is not functional with bodies around him. When he does have room, the throw usually has to target his first or second read, as he’s never had the poise to work deep in his progressions. This is one reason the Niners have spent so much time in 12 or 21 or 22 formations. When there are only three receivers running routes, defenses are more inclined to bring an eighth defender in the box, thus allowing for more one-on-one coverage concepts outside. This makes things simpler for the quarterback.

The Giants, on the other hand, are able to split into three, and sometimes four, receiver formations for long stretches and let Manning run the show.

3. Pass-rushes
These are two of the best pure pass-rushing defenses in the NFL. Pure meaning both are willing but not compelled to blitz. When they do blitz, it’s often primarily in an effort to command isolated matchups for rushers on the edge. For these defenses, those matchups will almost always be favorable.
 
For the Giants, Osi Umenyiora augments his incredible speed by being the league’s best snap-count anticipators in obvious passing situations. Opposite him, a healthy Justin Tuck is a versatile, fundamentally sharp force, and a rising Jason Pierre-Paul has willowy power and speed that make him a potentially more explosive version of Tuck. And don’t forget that linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka is a former first-round defensive end who can turn the corner.

You already know all this, though. What you may not know is that San Francisco’s pass-rushers are not too many rungs behind New York’s. Sixth-year pro Ahmad Brooks has finally learned how to apply his startling speed and fluidity on an everydown basis (even against the run, which close observers two years ago would not have predicted).

Rookie Aldon Smith plays with Manny Pacquiao-like hand-quickness to go with natural leverage that punctuates his first-round athleticism. What’s more, most 3-4 defenses don’t bank on getting pressure from their ends. But they don’t have a weapon like Justin Smith. He wears opponents out and makes three or four splash plays a week. Opposite Smith, Ray McDonald, when healthy (he injured his hamstring in Week 8) has been equally dynamic this season.

Both defenses have the versatility to create pass-rushing mismatches through position relocation and group concepts. All of the men mentioned above are outside players who can align inside, stand up as de facto blitzing linebackers or properly set up and execute crashes and stunts with teammates.

4. The Coverage Effect
These difficult-to-block four-man pass-rushes force quarterbacks to throw under duress into seven-man coverages. As they showed at New England last week, the Giants linebackers and safeties are getting more comfortable recognizing and attacking passing lanes. It helps that their cornerbacks, though inconsistent early in the season, can play press-man coverage outside.

Corey Webster has been particularly impressive in recent weeks, often shadowing the opposing team’s top receiver. He’s well equipped to defend the lithe but inexplosive Michael Crabtree.

The Niners love to play two-man out of their nickel defense. This puts cornerbacks Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver man-to-man on the wideouts and allows the two safeties, Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson, to roam free over the top. Rogers, who starts outside but plays the slot in nickel, is having a career-year. Brown blends into the scheme in a good way. Culliver, a precocious third-round rookie, always plays with a great sense for his surroundings.

Even if Hakeem Nicks, discreetly a top-10 NFL receiver, returns from his hamstring injury this week, the Giants are going to have a tough time consistently getting wideouts open against this Niners secondary.

5. The inside linebackers
We saved the best for last: San Francisco’s inside linebackers (and just San Francisco’s – New York’s entire linebacking corps is very mediocre).

Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman form the best inside linebacking duo in football. The past few years, Willis has rightfully been regarded as the best in the business. This season, he may be the second best on his own team, as Bowman, a 2010 third-round pick, leads San Fran in tackles.

Setting these two apart is the fact that they both play all three downs. That’s incredible in this day and age of spread offenses. In nickel and dime defense, Willis and Bowman perform coverage assignments normally reserved for defensive backs. They have the speed, change-of-direction prowess and awareness to do it. Both are quick-closing tacklers, instinctive run-defenders and innate playmakers.

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: October 31, 2011 9:14 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Halloween edition

Todd Haley's beard is scaring small children (AP).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Halloween is all about the scary and the freaky and the things that make you shiver in fear in the dead of the night*. The NFL will celebrate the holiday by giving us a Monday Night Football matchup of San Diego and Kansas City, certainly not as scary as last week’s Baltimore-Jacksonville game, and in return, we’re providing a special version of Top Ten with a Twist.

*It’s also about candy corn, but that’s neither here nor there.

In it, we celebrate those coaches, players and accessories that force us to scream in horror and hide underneath the covers. The NFL is filled with large, athletic men that could force you to quicken your pace if you met them in a dark alley. But even those players get frightened. Here are some of the men (and objects) that scare you as fans and scare them as players.

And with that, we wish you a Happy Halloween. Hope everyone survives the scariest night of the year.

10. Jason Babin’s tattoos: It’s more than the tattoos. It’s what the arms that hold the tattoos do to opposing quarterbacks. Namely, they sack them, nine so far this season. The tattoos don’t have a great backstory -- he sketched in a notebook during college, and he liked the tribal design so much that he got them inked on both arms, over his shoulders and across his back -- but they make look him look scary and badass. Reminds me of: Seth Gecko in From Dust Till Dawn.

9. Hank Williams Jr.: He obviously scared the crap out of ESPN executives who immediately excused him from his Monday Night Football services after he compared President Obama and the Speaker of the House playing golf to Hitler yukking it up with Benjamin Netanyahu on the links. Williams, a staunch conservative, even freaked out the Fox News’ morning show crew by his analogy. I’m sure his fans love him even more for his controversial take, but his actions forced ESPN to turn him away from its door without any candy. Reminds me of: The Wolfman.

8. Javon Ringer: This applies only to Chris Johnson, who seemingly has lost his No. 1 role as the Titans running back and is splitting carries with Ringer -- who’s actually out-classing the former 2,000-yard runner. If this keeps up, Ringer will take over Johnson’s starting spot, presenting a scary situation for Tennessee -- having to pay their backup running back $55 million (with $30 million guaranteed). Reminds me of: The Ringer.

7. Roughing the passer: Hardly anybody understands what should be called and what shouldn’t be. If a pass-rusher grazes the helmet of a quarterback, is that a blow to the head? What constitutes unnecessary roughness? I mean, you can still tackle the quarterback, right? And nobody is more skittish about the rules and their implications than the officials who have to make the calls and throw the flags. Since it seems like they don’t know what they should be calling, every time a quarterback is sacked, it’s a roll of the dice. I love the line from Bengals coach Marvin Lewis a few years ago when Justin Smith was called for a penalty against Tampa Bay’s Bruce Gradkowski, "I guess you have to cuddle them to the ground." Except the penalties are anything but cuddly. Reminds me of: Blair Witch Project (fear of the unknown).

Babin6. Ndamukong Suh: We don’t really need to explain why. Suh is a monster come to life whose primary mission (and what seems to sustain his soul) is to destroy quarterbacks. Like here with Andy Dalton. Or here with Jake Delhomme. Suh has spent much of his time lately telling people he’s not a dirty player. But he’s also meeting with Roger Goodell this week to figure out how he can get fined less. Hopefully, he doesn’t scare Goodell the way he scares opposing quarterbacks. Reminds me of: The Hulk.

5. Roger Goodell’s accounting books: Goodell decides the disciplinary fines and then collects tens of thousands of dollars a week for various infractions (from helmet-to-helmet hits to uniform malfunctions). The reason he’s so frightening: it’s all so random. Dunta Robinson should have been six figures for his hit on Jeremy Maclin, but instead, it was in the $40,000 range. Troy Polamalu shouldn’t have been fined for calling his wife from the bench to let her know he was OK after suffering a concussion, but instead, Goodell lifted $10,000 from him. Mess with a player’s money, and for the most part, you’ll have earned their fear. Reminds me of: Ebenezer Scrooge.

4. Peyton Manning’s shadow: This looms high over the city of Indianapolis, and it blots out the sun whenever the Colts are playing. It’s not that he’s trying to be such a scary dude -- he seems to be the consummate teammate even while he’s recovering from his neck surgery -- but his shadow has become a black hole for any chance of the team winning in his absence. It’s quite frightening to think that, all this time, the only thing saving the Colts from long-term irrelevance was Manning’s health. Reminds me of: The Blob.

3. HGH testing: Obviously, this is the biggest bogeyman of all, because the union is in no hurry to allow the NFL to draw blood and test for human growth hormone. The NFL says the tests are safe and reliable. The union says the tests are invasive and unproven. Who do we believe? Just like much of the lockout fodder that emerged from both sides, we have no idea. But it seems pretty clear that the NFLPA is worried about agreeing to the testing. As if there’s a man with a needle waiting inside the union’s closest, ready to spring out after lights out. Reminds me of: the scary dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.

2. Tim Tebow’s throwing motion: After his performance vs. the Lions on Sunday (not to mention the first 55 minutes of the Miami game), it must be clear to anybody who can recognize NFL talent that Tebow doesn’t have what it takes to be a starting quarterback. We make fun of the guy, and I feel bad, because he seems like an absolutely great dude. But his motion is terrible, and his mechanics are flawed. Simply put, it makes us want to cry and go hide in the closet until it goes away. Reminds me of: John Moxon from Varsity Blues (true, not a horror movie, but still a scary portrayal of a Texas prep football player).

1.Todd Haley’s homeless look: Haley is sporting a winning beard, meaning he won’t shave again until the Chiefs lose, and it’ll be on display for Halloween. He looks like a combination of Artie Lang’s younger, skinnier (and more sober) brother and the crazed son of Kevin McAllister’s body-burying neighbor in Home Alone. And it’s beginning to scare small children. If the Chargers beat the Chiefs tonight, I think they’d be doing us -- and our kids -- a huge favor by forcing Haley to razor that thing off his face. Reminds me of: this guy from Hellraiser.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 20, 2011 9:19 pm
 

Jason Campbell knocked out of Raiders game

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Starting Raiders QB Jason Campbell has been knocked out of the team’s preseason game against the 49ers.

As the pocket collapsed around him in the second quarter, Campbell ran to his left, fumbled the ball (without anyone touching him), and took the sack from 49ers DE Justin Smith (LB Ahmad Brooks then smacked him across the left shoulder or the head when Campbell was on his way to the turf).

Campbell walked off the field with the Raiders trainers by his side, and he’s been replaced by Trent Edwards. No word yet on Campbell’s condition.

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

Posted on: April 24, 2011 9:27 pm
 

Bengals early 1st round picks have not gone well

J. Smith has played very well the past two years, but it's been for San Francisco (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Nobody makes more top-five selections in the NFL draft than do the Bengals. As the Cincinnati Enquirer points out, next week will the eighth time in the Mike Brown era (since 1991) that Cincinnati has had a first-round pick that high – and it’s the most in the NFL.

And although Brown apparently feels the club’s draft strategy is sound (unbelievably, he said a few months back, “I don’t apologize for our scouting. It’s an easy target. But if you look at the real facts, you’ll see it different.”), those early first-round picks have produced many more losers than winners.

Here is the good:

Carson Palmer – No. 1 in 2003: Palmer, at one point, was a top-10 quarterback (maybe even a top-five for a short time). The past couple seasons have been brutal for him, and he’s said he’d rather retire than play another game for the Bengals. But still, I think this was a good pick.

And here is the bad:

John Copeland – No. 5 in 1993: He wasn’t a bad defensive lineman, and in 1995, he recorded nine sacks. But you expect more from a No. 5 pick than he could give.

Dan Wilkinson – No. 1 in 1994: With Wilkinson and Copeland in the lineup, the Bengals could have expected their defensive line to be a strength for the next several seasons. And if Wilkinson hadn’t gone No. 1, he would have had  what we consider to be a pretty good career in Cincinnati. But he’s also a good reminder that it’s not usually a great idea to pick a defensive player No. 1 overall.

Ki-jana Carter – No. 1 in 1995: Ugh, his name is not remembered fondly in Cincinnati after tearing his ACL in the third snap of his first preseason game.

Akili Smith – No. 3 in 1999: You know what really made this pick suck for the Bengals? The Saints, in a crazy effort to select Ricky Williams, offered Cincinnati nine (!) draft picks in order to take the Bengals spot in the draft. The Bengals refused. Brutal.

Peter Warrick – No. 4 in 2000: You know what Warrick is doing these days after a non-productive NFL career? Last I heard, he was playing for the Cincinnati Commandoes indoor team.

Justin Smith – No. 4 in 2001: Smith is coming off the two best seasons of his career. Unfortunately for the Bengals, he plays for the 49ers now.

Next Thursday, the Bengals hold the No. 4 pick, and optimism (or is that trepidation?), like every year, runs rampant in Cincinnati. History, though, indicates they probably won’t make the right selection. Another Carson Palmer? Not likely.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: April 15, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: San Francisco 49ers

Posted by Will Brinson



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



The 49ers were doomed almost from the very start of last season. After all, check out their schedule for the first five games – the Seahawks, the Saints, the Chiefs, the Falcons and the Eagles (all made the playoffs and combined for a 51-29 record while knocking off the 49ers) – but two weeks after running through that gauntlet, San Francisco fell to the Panthers also. So, that’s not too good.

Neither, for that matter, was coach Mike Singletary, who was fired after Week 16, and neither was much of anybody else. The offense ranked 24th in the league – almost a miracle considering Alex Smith and Troy Smith traded off starting QB spots and RB Frank Gore missed the last five games because of a fractured hip – and though the defense was actually slightly better than average, San Francisco just couldn’t put it together under Singletary’s leadership.




Quarterback Issues

When Singletary named Troy Smith as his starting QB midway through the season, you knew neither of them were long for their respective jobs. When Singletary replaced andinjured Alex Smith with Troy Smith in Week 10 and then switched back to Alex the next week (and then continued to switch the two throughout the rest of the year), there was almost no chance San Francisco would win consistently.

Actually, the trouble began earlier in the season during that infamous Sundayy Night Football game when the San Francisco fans booed Alex Smith and demanding to see the backup QB, and Singletary thought hard about replacing him with David Carr. Smith then led a near comeback attempt vs. the Eagles. Still, not a great sequence for San Francisco.


1. Patient History
We gave the patient history of this position in the section above, so now, let’s figure out what the 49ers will do about it. They actually could keep Alex Smith – they’ve already offered him a one-year contract – but it’s unclear whether Smith will sign it. But yeah, it might make sense for San Francisco to look for quarterbacks in the draft. And remember, Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb are still out there as well.

2. Jim Harbaugh
He’s got zero NFL head coaching experience, but 49ers fans have to be excited about the possibilities (considering his success at Stanford and because his brother, John, has done such a bang-up job with the Ravens), and considering he’s getting paid $25 million over five years, he’d BETTER have more success than Singletary. And don’t forget: San Francisco also hired Trent Baalke as GM in the offseason. So, the 49ers are kind of starting over.

3. Cornerback
Nate Clements is fine at one CB spot, but Shawntae Spencer didn’t have a great year last season. Which is why it makes sense for San Francisco to grab either LSU’s Patrick Peterson or Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara with the No. 7 pick in the draft.




The defense is good enough to compete. The 49ers LB corps with Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes (and maybe Manny Lawson) is pretty darn good, and the defensive line, led by Justin Smith, does a nice job as well. The problem here is offense, and not just at QB either.

Gore is coming off a bad injury, and WR Michael Crabtree still hasn’t broken out in a big way. Assuming Harbaugh can get the respect of his team right away – something Singletary struggled with last season – San Francisco could get back to 8-8. Which means the 49ers could contend for the NFC West crown.

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Posted on: December 16, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 9:42 pm
 

Officials eject 49ers Justin Smith

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The 49ers defense took a big loss in the second quarter of the Chargers game tonight when San Francisco DE Justin Smith was ejected for pushing an official.

As Smith tussled with one of San Diego’s players following a first down, umpire Garth DeFelice pushed Smith away to break up the fight. It didn’t appear that Smith was looking at the umpire – so he probably didn’t know who he was touching – but he gave him a light push.

The official immediately threw the flag, giving the 49ers a 15-yard penalty and sending Smith to the bench (and eventually, the locker room) for the game.

For the record, Smith leads the 49ers with 5.5 sacks.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: November 26, 2010 8:40 am
 

Hot Routes 11.26.10: Josh Freeman No. 1 overall?

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Raheem Morris told Baltimore writers this week that regardless of what pick the Bucs had in the 2009 NFL Draft, they would have taken Josh Freman. Now, typically, that's either a statement entirely fueled by the hindsight of a Joe Montana-like steal or a really, really crappy draft. It's a little bit of both in this case, as there have been some good selections that developed out of those top picks (Pro Bowlers Brian Orakpo, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews in addition to Mark Sanchez, Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin and Hakeem Nicks) but Freeman's also a special talent that people are falling in love with. That being said, this is similar to the "We're the best team in the NFC" bit -- if Tampa had the first pick, they COULDN'T take Freeman first overall, because his inherent awesomeness would be suppressed because of his monster contract. Instead, they'd trade down and pick him up later in addition to something else. But I get what Raheem's saying.
  • Keith Null is "braced for action" when it comes to playing with the Panthers. What I wanna know is why the Panthers haven't called my cuz Riley Skinner (from Wake Forest, currently living in Charlotte) yet. Null came to Carolina when Brian St. Pierre turned them down the first time by the way.
  • I'm a little biased towards Andre Brown (NCSU guy), but I agree with him, and the Redskins coaching staff, in an optimistic view that he could succeed with Mike Shanahan and the Redskins. It's a much better fit than his first 25 teams.
  • Pete Carroll's got "mad respect*" (that's what the kids are saying after all) for Matt Cassell's tenacity in refusing to give up, always playing as hard as he can on the practice squad and eventually getting an incredible injury opening that led to a monster contract. Or something. *No, he didn't actually say that.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 6:40 pm
 

Hot Routes 11.1.10 box score tidbits

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

We read through all the box scores so that you wouldn't have to. Here's what was pulled out.

Neither quarterback was very good in the Bengals-Dolphins game. Carson Palmer struggled with distance-based accuracy, completing just 17/38 passes. Chad Henne was 24/37 with no touchdowns and an awful interception to Morgan Trent.

M. Stafford returned to Detroit and helped lead his squad to a victory against Washington (Getty). For the seventh time in seven games this season, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were both held to 80 yards or less on the ground.

Davone Bess, who started ahead of Brian Hartline for the first time this season, caught seven balls for Miami. The shifty slot receiver is on pace for 89 receptions and nearly 1,000 yards in 2010.

Maurice Jones-Drew had his best game of the season against the Cowboys, rushing for 135 yards on 27 carries.

In his first game since injuring his shoulder in Week 1, Matthew Stafford was 26/45 for 212 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. (DeAngelo Hall, who was outplayed by Calvin Johnson for most of the afternoon, snagged the interception on a brilliant first quarter play.)

The box score shows Washington gaining 80 yards on the ground, but 45 of those yards came on four Donovan McNabb runs. The Redskins never came close to sustaining a true rushing attack on Sunday.

Ndamukong Suh is running away with the Defensive Player of the Year award. The behemoth DT recorded two more sacks Sunday, bringing his total to 6.5 on the season. Suh also had five tackles and a game-sealing touchdown off a fumble return.

Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril also recorded a pair of sacks for the Lions.

Only 42,339 people paid to see the Lions defeat the Redskins.

The Bills became the fourth team in NFL history to lose back-to-back overtime games on the road. (Of course, that kind of heartbreak is nothing for a franchise that once lost back-to-back Super Bowls back-to-back times.) The last team to lose two straight road overtime games was the ’09 Steelers (remember them?).

For what it’s worth, Kansas City’s Thomas Jones became the first player in NFL history to rush for 500 yards for a fifth different team. Jones had 77 of the Chiefs’ 274 yards rushing. (Jamaal Charles led the way with 177; he also led the Chiefs with 61 yards receiving.)

C.J. Spiller seemed to spend as much time at wide receiver as running back. And not at slot receiver – split out WIDE, as in outside the numbers. Spiller finished with four catches for 28 yards and six carries for 17 yards. (It’s apparent that the first-round rookie is still doing too much reading and not enough reacting.)

Paul Posluszny led the Bills with 18 tackles. He has extra chances to tackle because none of Buffalo’s defensive linemen can get off blocks.

Steven Jackson played with a broken finger against the Panthers. He came out in passing situations (one catch, four yards), but rushed for 59 yards on 23 carries (his performance looked better than the numbers suggest).

You can call off the search party for Carolina’s running game – not because the run game was found but because it’s safe to declare it dead. Jonathan Stewart managed just 30 yards on 14 carries against the Rams. DeAngelo Williams stayed home with a foot injury.

James Laurinaitis is putting together a Pro Bowl season. On Sunday the second-year linebacker had eight tackles, a sack, three tackles for a loss and an interception (which came on a horrendous decision and throw by Matt Moore).

The Packers told Aaron Rodgers all week not to worry about his completion percentage – just make sure he didn’t turn the ball over. Rodgers listened. He was 15/34 passing with zero interceptions and fumbles.

Mark Sanchez was equally inaccurate, going 16/38 but with two picks (one of which was Charles Woodson plain ripping the ball away from Dustin Keller.)

LaDainian Tomlinson is clearly the No. 1 back for the Jets. He got 16 carries against Green Bay; Shonn Greene got six. Neither player was particularly effective (LT got tripped up on several shoestring tackles).

After catching a pass in 133 straight games, Donald Drive was held without a catch for a second straight game. He was still hampered by a quad injury.

Troy Smith was an efficient 12/19 for 196 yards and a touchdown in his 49ers starting debut. Looks like Mike Singletary may have a new starting Smith to threaten with a benching.

Brandon Lloyd hauled in seven passes for 169 yards. Lloyd has had triple-digit receiving yards in five games this season.

Justin Smith led the Niners with two sacks and two tackles for a loss.

The trio of Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles combined for 145 yards rushing for San Diego.

Some guy named Seyi Ajirotutu (save some vowels for the rest of us, pal) had three catches for 48 yards for the Chargers. Ajirotutu is an undrafted rookie from Fresno State.

The Seahawks were 1/16 on third down against the Raiders.

How’s this for consistency: Adrian Peterson carried the ball 25 times for 92 yards Sunday, with his longest run going for just nine yards.

Danny Woodhead turned in five catches for 45 yards against the Vikings.

LeGarrette Blount had 22 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s win at Arizona. (Cadillac Williams had just four carries for 10 yards.)

In his first game since Week 3, Steve Breaston caught eight passes for 147 yards.

No one for the Steelers had more than 43 yards receiving at New Orleans Sunday night.

Robert Meachem and Marques Colston both had six catches and at least 75 yards receiving for the Saints.

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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