Posted January 3rd, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

The NFL is now littered with former Texas players from the [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] era. It seems like every game involves a Longhorn in the starting lineup. The biggest impacts appear to be on both lines and in the secondary while linebacker is without a doubt the weakest position. Injuries affected a few of the players 2008 season, but the program should be proud of what these guys are accomplishing.

[tag]Justin Blalock[/tag] – The Atlanta Falcon’s made the playoffs behind a great running game and solid quarterback play. The unsung unit on the team was the offensive line. Blalock has cemented himself as a starter on an upcoming team by starting all 16 games after playing in 14 last season. At Texas, Blalock played tackle, but in the NFL he has been able to slide back to his natural position of tackle. Blalock was even able to score a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

[tag]Tarell Brown[/tag] – The forgotten member of the 2005 secondary has become a solid nickel corner in the NFL for the 49ers. Brown played in 15 games and started in one. He recorded 30 tackles and two interceptions.

[tag]Cedric Benson[/tag] – The beginning of the season didn’t appear good for Benson. After being cut by the Bears it appeared no one would request his services. The Cincinnati Bengals fell apart and came calling four games into the season. Benson started 10 games, gained over 700 yards, and scored two touchdowns on the ground. He also added 20 receptions. “EL Ced” finished with two huge games; making the chance he is offered a longer deal by the Bengals a real possibility.

[tag]Tim Crowder[/tag] – Crowder struggled with injuries and the depth chart all season. He played in six games, starting zero, and recording one tackle on the whole year.

[tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag] – Charles had a rookie season that has to be seen as a success. Charles sits behind Larry Johnson on the depth chart, but made plays when given the opportunity. The speedster averaged 5.3 yards per carry and added 27 receptions. His only touchdown of the season came on a reception. If Johnson isn’t retained by the Chiefs, Charles may get a look as an every down back.

[tag]Leonard Davis[/tag] – The offensive line for the Cowboys underachieved this season. Davis will go to another Pro Bowl but o-line selections are based on reputation more times than not. It was not all Davis’ fault but he did not perform at the level he did the previous year.

[tag]Phil Dawson[/tag] – Dawson was once again a lone bright spot for the Cleveland Browns franchise. He went 30/36 with a long of 56. He was perfect on extra point, but the 18 attempts magnify the struggles of the Browns offense.

[tag]Derrick Dockery[/tag] – Dockery is one of the higher paid linemen in the league, but is never as dominant as his salary would warrant.

[tag]Jermichael Finley[/tag] – Finley had a hard time getting started this season. He ended up playing in 14 games while starting one of them. The rookie finished with 6 receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown on the season.

[tag]Cedric Griffin[/tag] – Griffin has turned into a solid starting cornerback for the Vikings. He gets a lot of action playing opposite of Pro-Bowler Antoine Winfield but holds his own pretty well. Griffin plays with excellent enthusiasm and competitiveness which makes him an eager corner in run support. He played in all 16 games for the second straight season and recorded 91 tackles and a pick.

[tag]Mike Griffin[/tag] – Michael Griffin had the type of year that have made many hail him as the best defensive back to come out of the 2005 group. Griffin is a Pro-Bowl alternate after recording seven interceptions and a sack on the year. He is quickly becoming one of the best safeties in the league. His play has allowed the Titan defense to become one of the best in the league. Griffin also returns kicks for the #1 seeded Titans.

[tag]Ahmard Hall[/tag] – The former Marine has established himself as one of the last true fullbacks in the game. The Tennessee running game is one of the best in the league behind the duo of Chris Johnson and Lendale White. The two split carries with mirrored success, and the one constant is the presence of Hall. He has also become a weapon in the flat out of the backfield, recording two touchdown receptions this year.

[tag]Casey Hampton[/tag] – Hampton had a tough season as he struggled to get on the field with health and conditioning problems. When Hampton can play he remains the best 3-4 nose tackle in the game. He recorded one sack in 13 games that he was rarely able to make it all the way through.

[tag]Michael Huff[/tag] – The Thorpe award winner hasn’t lived up to his draft status so far in his career, but it is still early. Huff lost his starting job and didn’t record a sack, interception, or forced fumble on the year.

[tag]Quentin Jammer[/tag] – Jammer had another great year in San Diego. He is one of the most physical corners in the league and continually gets matched up with the opposing team’s biggest and best receiver. Jammer recorded 88 tackles, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles for the playoff bound Chargers. It has been amazing to watch the turnaround of Jammer’s play after struggling for the first few years in the NFL. The pressure of being a high pick has subsided and Jammer’s play has risen.

[tag]Derrick Johnson[/tag] – DJ has moved inside and performed well for the Chiefs. The knock on the former Texas star coming out was his unwillingness to take on blocks, and after a few years as a pro the criticism still exist. When playing in space he excels, but at the point of attack he has remained a liability. Johnson has been up and down, but has shown flashes of potential. He ended the year with 85 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception, and four forced fumbles. If/when the light turns on for DJ the sky is the limit.

[tag]Frank Okam[/tag] – Okam may have earned himself a roster spot for next year with his play down the stretch. He lacks the motor and intensity most coaches want out of an interior defensive lineman, but he has the tools to become a solid player in the league if he ever turns it on.

[tag]Cory Redding[/tag] – I feel bad for Cory Redding. I feel bad for any player, coach, trainer, and journalist (except Rob Parker) in Detroit. Redding was the heart and soul of their defense (if that is possible), and if he ever gets out of Detroit he may have a chance to make some noise. Until then, he’ll be rich in Detroit. He got three sacks on the year.

[tag]Brian Robison[/tag] – Robison plays behind Jerod Allen so his snaps are limited. When he is on the field he shows up and makes plays. He managed 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 15 games.

[tag]Shaun Rogers[/tag] – Shaun Rogers is the most disruptive interior lineman in football today. The guy is just huge and unstoppable when his motor is turned on. He took over games at points this season in spite of double and triple teams. Rogers will be in the Pro-Bowl again after turning in 76 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He has Hall of Fame type talent when it is all clicking for Rogers.

[tag]Aaron Ross[/tag] – He may not be the best athlete in his marriage, but the Thorpe award winner has become a better than average cornerback in a tough place to play. Ross started in every game he played, 15, and grabbed 3 interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown. Ross has the ability to be a shutdown corner as his technique and confidence continue to grow.

[tag]Bo Scaife[/tag] – Scaife has emerged as a very productive tight end even in the face of losing his quarterback and his team bringing in a big name free agent in Alge Crumpler. There were a few games where Kerry Collins completely forgot about Scaife, but he finished with 58 receptions and two touchdowns. Scaife has also become better as a blocker which allows him to stay on the field in all situations.

[tag]Lyle Sendlein[/tag] – People tend to forget about Sendlein when discussing the better offensive lineman Mack Brown has put into the NFL. Sendein has started every game of the season for a playoff team. Not too bad.

[tag]Chris Simms[/tag] – Simms is the number three quarterback on Tennessee’s roster.

[tag]Kasey Studdard[/tag] – Studdard remains a reserve lineman for the Houston Texans. He hasn’t been able to crack the starting lineup.

[tag]Limas Sweed[/tag] – Sweed is listed as the 4th receiver on the Steeler roster. One would think Sweed will contribute more after a full off season.

[tag]David Thomas[/tag] – The Patriots use a lot of tight ends in their offense, so none of them have numbers that are going to blow you away. Despite that Thomas has been able to get on the field a lot so far in his career. He pulled in nine receptions for 93 yards, but was never able to reach the end zone.

[tag]Nathan Vasher[/tag] – Injuries rendered the 2008 season a wasted one for Vasher. He played in eight games, recording one interception, before being placed on injured reserve.

[tag]Ricky Williams[/tag] – The former Heisman trophy winner and league pariah has made his comeback has a productive back in the Miami system. He was one of the many bright spots on a team full of them this year. Williams is able to make plays without being relied on to carry the full load because of the presence of Ronnie Brown. Ricky scored four touchdowns on 659 yards rushing. He may have made his biggest impact as a receiver out of the backfield where he averaged over seven yards a catch on 29 receptions.

[tag]Roy Williams[/tag] – The losing ways of the Lions followed Williams from Detroit to Dallas. Roy was never able to make an impact for the Cowboys for reasons that still remain unclear. He has proven to have the ability which leaves work ethic and injury as the two other reasons for his lack of production. Williams has unfortunately been criticized for both a lack of work ethic and inability to stay healthy in his career. He will need to have a huge year next year to justify the trade and contract Jerry Jones awarded him.

[tag]Selvin Young[/tag] – Young was another Longhorn that struggled with injury. Denver is notorious for alternating backs, and with the addition of injuries Young was never able to stay on the field. When he was healthy he produced so it will be interesting to see what the new coach in Denver decides to do with Selvin.

[tag]Vince Young[/tag] – 2008 was not a good year for VY. The greatest player in Longhorn history lost his job after one game and a knee injury, and never was even given the chance to win it back. It now appears Jeff Fisher made the right choice as Tennessee earned the #1 seed in the AFC. While they did it with defense and running the ball, Collins has done a good job in a Trent Dilfer type role. This season may end up being the best thing that has ever happened to Vince as a professional if he uses the experience in the right way.

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Posted October 22nd, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Roy Williams saw limited action in his Cowboy debut

Roy Williams saw limited action in his Cowboy debut

[tag]Tarell Brown[/tag] – Tarell had a decent day at nickel back for the San Francisco 49ers. He ended the day with four tackles and no pass breakups.

[tag]Cedric Benson[/tag] – Benson got his first start since he left the Chicago Bears. He had a solid day, carrying the ball 14 times for 52 yards. Benson recorded his first reception of the year but has failed to reach the end zone. The highlight of the day came when he blew up Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

[tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag] – With starting running back Larry Johnson “suspended” by his team Jamaal received more playing time but the rookie running back and his team failed to get anything going against the Titans. Charles finished with three carries for 17 yards and four receptions for 26. He may be the starter next week.

[tag]Tim Crowder[/tag] – Crowder provided pressure that forced an interception by Matt Cassell on Monday Night Football, but his team got crushed on national TV. Crowder has yet to record any stats but continues to get snaps in a backup role.

[tag]Leonard Davis[/tag] – The Cowboys are hitting rock bottom and the offensive line has had a lot to do with it. Tony Romo is out because of a pinkie injury he suffered because pressure had gotten to him. New quarterback Brad Johnson had little time to do anything in the loss to the Rams.

[tag]Phil Dawson[/tag] – Dawson made one of the two field goals he attempted in the loss to the Redskins. He is nine for 11 on the season.

[tag]Derrick Dockery[/tag] – Buffalo has become one of the better teams in the league because of a strong running game. Dockery is earning his huge contract with big play up front.

[tag]Cedric Griffin[/tag] – It was a tough day for the Vikings defense. The group gave up 48 points in a loss to the Bears. Opposing teams continue to attack Griffin in order to avoid Antoine Winfield’s side of the field. Griffin had nine tackles and a pass breakup in the game.

[tag]Michael Griffin[/tag] – Michael Griffin recorded seven tackles in his team’s destruction of the Chiefs. Griffin is becoming one of the better players on arguably the best defense in the league. It is only a matter of time before he is a Pro-Bowl type player.

[tag]Ahmard Hall[/tag] – The Titans are one of the only teams left that use a true fullback and it is because of how well Hall has played. The tailbacks he leads the way for combined for over 300 yards in the game on Sunday. The Titans gave him a carry towards the end of the game which he got six yards on.

[tag]Michael Huff[/tag] – Huff had two tackles and two pass breakups in the overtime win over the Jets. The Raiders defense played much better this week than they did last week against the Saints.

[tag]Quentin Jammer[/tag] – The Bills avoided Jammer’s side of the field for most of the day. Lee Evans did make an incredible catch over Jammer for a touchdown. After a rough start to his career, Jammer is becoming one of the better corners in the league.

[tag]Derrick Johnson[/tag] – It was a bad day for D.J. and his defense. The Chiefs gave up over 300 yards rushing to the Titans. Johnson continues to struggle taking on blocks in the run game. He is great in space, but gets manhandled too often in the trenches. He finished the game with six tackles.

[tag]Cory Redding[/tag] – Redding has been banged up all year, but is without question the leader for the Lion defensive front. That may not be a good thing. He recorded five tackles and a sack in the loss to the Texans.

[tag]Shaun Rogers[/tag] – When Rogers is healthy and into the game there may not be a better player at defensive tackle. The big man had seven tackles and a sack in a defensively dominated game.

[tag]Bo Scaife[/tag] – Scaife is still putting up numbers with Vince Young on the sideline as the backup. The Titans did not have to pass much in the blow out win but Scaife finished with three catches for 48 yards.

[tag]David Thomas[/tag] – Thomas didn’t record any receptions but continues to get playing time as the second or third tight end and on special teams for the Patriots.

[tag]Nathan Vasher[/tag] – Vasher missed another game with an injury.

[tag]Ricky Williams[/tag] – The Heisman Trophy winner had his least productive day of the year. He only carried the ball four times for 16 yards with no receptions. The Ravens did a great job stopping the run and it forced the Dolphins out of their game plan. Ronnie Brown is the clear number one in Miami.

[tag]Roy Williams[/tag] – Roy Williams thought he was making a huge step up by being traded from the Lions to the Cowboys. Not so fast. The Cowboys played horrible and Roy never got involved in the game recording no catches.

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Posted October 14th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Ricky Williams had his first TD of 2008

Ricky Williams had his first TD of 2008

Slow week for former Longhorns in the NFL with many players on byes and several injuries as well. San Diego cornerback [tag]Quentin Jammer[/tag] and Miami running back [tag]Ricky Williams[/tag] had the best games of the weekend. Find out how the rest of the former Horns active this week performed below:

[tag]Tarell Brown[/tag] – The forgotten member of the 2005 championship secondary has found a place as the nickel back in San Francisco. Tarell had two tackles and a pass breakup this weekend versus Philadelphia.

[tag]Cedric Benson[/tag] – Benson had a slow game in his second game back in the league, only carrying the ball four times for six yards. He appears to be the most talented back in the Bengals backfield, but until he learns the playbook the snaps will be limited.

[tag]Justin Blalock[/tag] – His Falcons continue to win, this time on a late second field goal against the Chicago Bears. Blalock and his fellow lineman have protected rookie Matt Ryan and opened holes for Michael Turner consistently this year. The combination of Blalock and rookie left tackle Sam Baker makes the Falcons left side of the line one of the better young groups in the league.

[tag]Tim Crowder[/tag] – Crowder recorded no stats against Jacksonville.

[tag]Leonard Davis[/tag] – The Cowboys and their running game continue to struggle. Davis had a personal foul penalty at the end of the loss against the Cardinals. The offensive line must play better for the Cowboys to win and Davis is a huge part of that.

[tag]Phil Dawson[/tag] – Dawson went two for three on field goals with a long of 28 and three for three on extra points in the Cleveland win Monday night.

[tag]Jermichael Finley[/tag] – Did not play this week for Packers.

[tag]Cedric Griffin[/tag] – The corner recorded seven tackles in the ugly win against Detroit. The Vikings secondary played well, not allowing the Lions to record a touchdown.

[tag]Michael Huff[/tag] – Huff’s Oakland secondary was torched by Drew Brees this weekend. The former Thorpe Award winner had three tackles on a day he’d like to forget.

[tag]Quentin Jammer[/tag] – Jammer had a huge day in the Charger win over the Patriots. He recoded three tackles, an interception, and five pass defended while matched up most of the night against Randy Moss. Jammer has come on in the past few years becoming one of the more physical corners in the league.

[tag]Brian Robison[/tag] – Robison didn’t record any stats in the Viking win over the Lions but he did get on the field on a good number of snaps.

[tag]Shaun Rogers[/tag] – Rogers had his best game of his young Browns career on Monday night. He only recorded two tackles but clogged up the middle and applied pressure on Eli Manning all night.

[tag]Lyle Sendlein[/tag] – Sendlein has found himself starting at center this year for the Arizona Cardinals. He had a decent day matched up against Cowboy nose tackle Jay Ratliff. His Cardinals pulled the upset in overtime on a blocked punt.

[tag]David Thomas[/tag] – Thomas caught his first ball since week three. The catch went for 13 yards.

[tag]Nathan Vasher[/tag] – Vasher missed another game with an injury.

[tag]Ricky Williams[/tag] – Ricky Williams found the end zone for the first time this year on Sunday against the Texans. Ronnie Brown has taken over the number one running back spot, but Ricky has found a niche in the offense and should continue to get 10 plus carries a game. He finished the game with 11 carries for 46 yards and two receptions.

[tag]Roy Williams[/tag] – Roy Williams and the Lions had a horrid offensive game against the Vikings. Williams had two receptions for only 23 yards. This has been a very disappointing season for Roy and the recent talk may have him being traded before the season is over.

[tag]Selvin Young[/tag] – Selvin didn’t play this week for the Broncos. It is hard to know if it was actually for injury or due to play on the field.

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With the 24th pick of the second round the Denver Broncos drafted Texas defensive end [tag]Tim Crowder[/tag]. Crowder will be a solid, every down defender for the Broncos who can not only rush the passer, but is a good run stopper as well. The Gators took pass rushing end Jarvis Moss (a fellow Texan) in the first round and Crowder should be able to team with him to really get after NFC West quarterbacks.

With Crowder, the Broncos have a chance to have an incredibly good and young defensive line.

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ESPN NFL Draft expert Todd McShay doesn’t just predict the first round, or even the second round, he’s got a full seven-round mock draft up and available for ESPN Insiders. McShay has a lot of love for former Longhorns, with cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Mike Griffin going in the first round. Guard Justin Blalock and defensive end Tim Crowder then go in the early second round in his prediction.

Those aren’t the only Horns he’s high on, here’s how all the Longhorns faired in McShay’s draft:

Round 1

24. New England – [tag]Aaron Ross[/tag]
The Patriots never act as if they’re handcuffed by needs during draft weekend, but the Asante Samuel situation should increase their interest in this year’s cornerback crop. Ross lacks ideal man-to-man cover skills, but he has the size, instincts and playmaking ability to emerge as a difference-maker in the type of zone-heavy defensive scheme the Patriots run. Ross also can help in the return game, which adds to his value.

26. Philadelphia – [tag]Michael Griffin[/tag]
Although the Eagles certainly could use depth at several different positions, it’s hard to find a glaring weakness at any starting spot on their depth chart. One thing is certain: Philly will not be handcuffed by positions of need in this year’s draft. With that in mind, Griffin is a good value because he brings experience and versatility to the table after notching 250 tackles in his last two seasons at Texas.

Round 2

39. Atlanta – [tag]Justin Blalock[/tag]
42. San Francisco – [tag]Tim Crowder[/tag]

Round 3

92. Buffalo – [tag]Tarell Brown[/tag]

Round 4

106. Minnesota – [tag]Brian Robison[/tag]

Round 7

251. Jacksonville – [tag]Ramonce Taylor[/tag]

Update: Todd McShay’s 2008 mock draft is available here.
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Former Horns impress scouts at the Texas pro day. Longhorns could have four guys taken in first two rounds.

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Posted February 27th, 2007 by Brian
Filed under: Draft, Football, Quick Hits

Brian Robison put up incredible numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine yesterday. Good showing from Tim Crowder too.

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Posted September 18th, 2006 by Brian
Filed under: Football

The final score against [tag]Rice[/tag] wasn’t close and the game was over by halftime, but picking guys as players of the game was surprisingly difficult. There were solid performances from multiple guys on both sides of the ball and most of the big guys only played about a half. As for the play of the game, with several big gainers in a game that got out of hand quickly I chose a play that could end up being a signal of what the offense is capable of.

Players of the Game

Offense – [tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag] even with only eight carries put up the biggest game Saturday, 110 yards with an average of a whopping 13.6 yards per carry and a TD is a hell of a day. He even ripped off the team’s longest run of the year with a carry of 46 yards. The team had three runs of over 35 yards, hopefully the big plays continue against some stiffer competition.

Defense – [tag]Tim Crowder[/tag] edges out a surprising Scott Derry. Crowder finished with seven solo tackles (eight total), seven tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and he recovered a fumble for his first career touchdown. You can’t ask for a much better day out of defensive lineman. He was in the Rice backfield on seemingly every play and was a big reason the Owls finished the game with -12 yards rushing. He’s been a consistent force all season.

Play of the Game

The most important play against Rice wasn’t the most explosive play of the day and didn’t result in points, but does tells us a lot about the future of this offense this season. Here’s this week’s play of the game:

On the play [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] hits freshman tight end [tag]Jermichael Finley[/tag] for a 22-yard completion on the first pass attempt of the game. McCoy makes a good read and throw to Finley who is running a 15-yard out. McCoy drops the pass in nicely and Finley makes a leaping grab on a ball a little behind him. It was the first completion to a tight end of the season and something I hope to see a lot more of. It’s important that the young quarterbacks have solid tight ends to rely on. Hopefully this isn’t the last time this season we see these two hook up.

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Jamaal Charles, Tim Crowder, Mike Griffin, and Frank Okam honored.

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