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Tag:Andre Johnson
Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 11:58 am
 

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: September 16, 2011 12:13 am
 

Andre Johnson says Megatron is the best

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If you asked 100 NFL fans to choose between Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Houston’s Andre Johnson for who the league’s top receiver is, there’s a pretty good chance you’d get a split vote. Maybe 50-50, maybe 55-45, maybe 60-40 at worst. And if you asked Andre Johnson that same question, he’d think there was an easy answer.

"I’m not the best," he said on WAXY-AM (via NFL.com) "… There’s a lot of great guys out there, man. I’m a fan of the game. You look at … I’m a big fan of Calvin. Calvin Johnson. Right now, I would probably say he is the best."

Well, let’s compare.

During his eight-year career (prior to 2011), Andre Johnson has averaged 84.1 catches for 1,145.5 yards and 6.3 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson -- who’ s entering his fifth season -- has averaged 67.5 catches for 1,047.75 and 8.25 scores.

Me? I might lean toward Andre Johnson, but who am I to argue with Andre Johnson when he says it’s Calvin Johnson? I’ll take his word for it.

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 2:50 pm
 

Texans manhandling the Colts

K. Collins stares at the scoreboard that says Houston is dominating Indianapolis (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If you thought that Peyton Manning not playing today following neck surgery wouldn’t be THAT big a deal and if you thought the Texans making Arian Foster inactive would hurt their offense, let me point you in the direction of this boxscore.

Yes, that would be Houston 34, Indianapolis 0 after two quarters of play -- the worst halftime deficit in Colts history.

Now, obviously, Manning would have no impact on the Colts atrocious defense (Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is 12 of 16 for 162 yards, a touchdown and an interception; Andre Johnson has six catches for 89 yards and a score; and running backs Ben Tate and Derrick Ward have combined for 100 yards on 21 carries).

But with Kerry Collins in charge of the offense, the Colts have gained 88 yards of total offense. You can almost be assured that Manning would perform better than that, even against Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 defense.

To make matters worse, Collins injured his finger in the first half, but after getting it popped back into place, he stayed on the field. But even if he remained on the sideline for the second half, it’s not like Curtis Painter could do much worse.

As for the Colts defense, wow … that’s a big problem. And if Manning is out for the season with his neck problem, this first half could be a sign of bad, bad things to come for a franchise that has been so good since drafting Manning.

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 11:19 am
 

White understands why college athletes take money

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The University of Miami football program was on the receiving end of a swift kick to the groin Tuesday when Yahoo! Sports reported that a former booster admitted to providing "thousands of impermissible benefits" to at least 72 Hurricanes athletes over an eight-year period.

Some of those named in the story currently play in the NFL. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (who attended the "U" but wasn't cited for wrongdoing in Yahoo! Sports' investigation) on Wednesday spoke publicly about the allegations, as did his Texans teammate and "U" alum, Eric Winston.

Commentary wasn't reserved to just former Hurricanes, though. Whether universities making handsome profits off its athletic programs should pay its athletes has long been debated. And Wednesday night, Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, who attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham, took to Twitter to go on record on the matter:

"How can u expect a kid to turn down a 30,000 dollar check when they momma starving u can't be serious I'm taking it every time cause family comes first."

And that's the crux of the argument from those who feel college athletes deserve more than a scholarship for their contributions to a university. But White was just getting warmed up. Here are his other tweets on the subject (all sic'd):
  • "They got to change the 3 year rule the nfl has cause its killing the kids." 
     
  • "Found out today ohio state made 2 million for selling terrell pryor jersey last year amazing and he gets kicked out of the university so he doesn't even get to finish his education for free thanks NCAA." 
     
  • "So the biggest crocks in football thinking about giving miami the death penalty ridiculous how about the NCAA fix the rules." 
We consulted the Google Tubes and couldn't find any mention of Ohio State making $2 million on Pryor jerseys, but we did come across this Forbes.com slideshow that said the Buckeyes football program made $36 million in profits in 2009. Certainly some of that came from jersey sales.

Exact dollar amounts aside, White makes a fair point. CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel, who wrote that the NCAA shouldn't give Miami the death penalty, later tweeted his own proposal for paying college athletes: "How about this: Pay athletes ... but make them pay their own way. They can't have it both ways. Not to me."

Works for us, and we're guessing players would be in favor of it, too (assuming the cost of paying their own way isn't greater than or equal to the payments they would get from the school).

While this makes for a swell debating topic, the real issue is if the NCAA will ever change the rules. As it stands, we wouldn't bet Nevin Shapiro's $930 million Ponzi scheme winnings on it.

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 9:00 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 10:38 pm
 

VIDEO: Winston, Johnson talk about Miami scandal

Posted by Will Brinson

You may have heard of this little scandal currently rocking the University of Miami. Something or another about prostitutes, cash-for-play and various other terrible things that have become par for the course in college athletics these days.

Our own Gregg Doyel believes that Miami should get the old death penalty from the NCAA, but that's unlikely to happen. Also unlikely to happen? The NFL punishing players for crimes they committed in college.

While you ponder that, take a peek at some video of former Hurricanes and current Texans Andre Johnson and Eric Winston discussing the latest South Beach disaster. For what it's worth, Winston wasn't mentioned in the report, and Johnson was only mentioned once, in relation to Nevin Shapiro's discussions of drinks being purchased at a club.

"I wasn't in clubs too much when I was in college," Johnson responded. "He knows and I know what really happened. It's over and done with."



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Posted on: August 8, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Finnegan admits missing camp because of contract

C. Finnegan admitted that he missed practice because he is unhappy with his contract (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Cortland Finnegan seems like a tough guy to figure out. The Titans DB doesn’t have the best reputation among players (he’s considered one of the dirtiest guys out there, and he fought with the usually-calm Andre Johnson last year), but he’s vowed to change his ways and he befriended a high school volleyball player stricken with a rare type of cancer.

But on Monday, he readily showed that, once again, he still has some growing up to do, admitting to reporters, including Rapid Reporter Matt Rybaltowski, that his absence from practice Saturday was because of a contract dispute.

As CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson explained Sunday, Finnegan left Titans camp Saturday, apparently upset at a contract that will pay him $3.7 million this year.

But on Sunday, Finnegan wrote on his Twitter page that, despite coach Mike Munchak saying he didn’t know why Finnegan had left, his absence had nothing to do with a holdout. Instead, it was “a personal matter that Titan officials were aware of … I am grateful for being a Titan … I am also thankful for my current contract and direction of team. It's obvious media had no idea of why my absence took place. … I have spoken with coaches and teammates and will resume all things asked. Sad to see media made this out to be about money when I'm happy."

Also: “Media gets paid to report never knowing but one side of a story. My personal issues needed attention and I will be out there playing ball."

Naturally, all of that was a lie.

“I let the emotions get the best of me,” Finnegan said today after apologizing to his teammates, team management and the media. “I had to take a step back personally, talk to my wife and see what the next step was for me.”

Finnegan also said he wants to retire a member of the Tennessee organization, and he hopes that his short absence doesn’t destroy his chances of landing a long-term contract (Munchak has said it won’t).

So, was it just bad advice from Finnegan’s agent, then?

“Ultimately a player is responsible for his actions and what he decides to do,” Munchak said. “I think it’s hard for us to know.”

Finnegan just doesn’t make it easy for anybody to know what’s going on in his head.

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2011 7:13 pm
 

Andre Johnson dislocates finger, leaves practice

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE via the AP (6:15 p.m.): Houston Texans All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson will miss "a day or two" of practice after dislocating his left index finger in a morning workout, according to coach Gary Kubiak.

Johnson wore a bandage on his finger as he watched the Tuesday afternoon walk-through from the sideline. Kubiak said Johnson went to the hospital, but "is going to be OK."

Things have been going pretty, pretty, pre-tah well for the Houston Texans. They grabbed Wade Phillips to revamp their defense in the offseason and then shored up their secondary with free agents Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning. They look poised to make the leap into the playoffs. Perhaps things were going too well.

Fortunately, we have the solution: an Andre Johnson dislocated finger!

Per our own Pete Prisco (currently at Texans training camp), Johnson left the field on a cart -- Steph Stradley of the Houston Chronicle also points out that Johnson wasn't "carted off" per se, in as much that it means "suffered a devastating injury" -- and the Texans have since informed folks that Johnson dislocated his finger.

"He dislocated his finger in a one-on-one drill this morning and we’re getting it looked at, so hopefully he’s back here this afternoon," head coach Gary Kubiak said at the post-practice press conference. "We’ll have to wait and see.  I wasn’t at the drill so I just got the information. 

"I have a big lump in my throat like everybody else, but hopefully he’ll be fine."

Said finger has also been popped back in, which not only inspires "ew" but also a Googling of a classic "Lethal Weapon" scene.

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Posted on: July 17, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 3:07 pm
 

Texans' Foster won rushing title with bum knee

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Texans running back Arian Foster won the NFL rushing title last season, his 1,616 yards 149 yards clear of the next best player, Jamaal Charles. And Foster probably would have added to the total if he had two healthy knees.

The former undrafted running back out of Tennessee told Sporting News that he played the 2010 season with a torn meniscus in his knee and didn't tell anyone because he feared losing his job.

For an idea of just how impressive that is, in addition to winning the rushing title, Foster was also second in the league in total value and value per play among all RBs, according to Football Outsiders (behind just Charles).

The knee has since been fixed, which should mean the Texans' running game will be even more formidable in 2011. Last year's second-round pick, Ben Tate, is healthy after missing the 2010 season with a leg injury, and he and Derrick Ward will share the backup duties behind Foster.

But in today's NFL, there aren't clear delineations between starting running backs and backups. It's a backs-by-committee approach that not only keeps players fresher as the season wears on, but also reduces injuries. And whatever your thoughts on the Curse of 370, there's every reason to believe that Foster's workload should be lightened after he carried the ball 327 times in 2010, all on a bum leg.

But offense hasn't been much of a problem for the Texans in recent seasons. Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Foster have made sure of that. It's the defense that has been their Achilles' heel, and that's where new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips comes in. It's easy to laugh at that sentiment, but that's because Phillips looked perpetually out of sorts in his last job as the Cowboys coach (The Costanza-styled puffy coat certainly didn't help).

Phillips was defensive coordinator for the Chargers from 2004-2006, and that unit finished 12th, 16th, and 17th in team defense, according to Football Outsiders.

That's not Dick LeBeau impressive, but it's average or slightly better, which would have been enough to put the Texans in the playoffs at some point in the last four seasons. By comparison, since 2008, Houston's defense has finished 29th, 19th, and 31st. That's unacceptable.

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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