Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor ran all over the Texans on Sunday, finishing with 215 yards on just 18 carries. Taylor, a game-time decision with a sore groin, had 90 yards (including a 76-yarder), but Jones-Drew was even better. MJD finished with 125 yards on just 12 carries, two of them touchdowns, and he also caught four passes for 59 yards. This shouldn’t be a surprise to the Jaguars, as he showed last year what he could do if given the opportunity. With the Jacksonville offense clicking, and Taylor at less than 100 percent, expect Jones-Drew to get more and more carries.
At the last minute Sunday, New England decided to deactivate Laurence Maroney for his third consecutive game. Unfortunately, Sammy Morris had his worst game of the season (10 carries for 14 yards) before leaving the game with a bruised chest. Kevin Faulk had 50 yards on the ground and 24 in the air in relief of Morris, so there wasn’t too much drop-off. Maroney should be ready to go this week.
Adrian Peterson is really good. With three long touchdown runs and a career-high 224 yards on 20 carries last week, it may be time to anoint Peterson the starting job once and for all. Chester Taylor actually carried the ball 22 times for a respectable 83 yards as the Vikings tore through the once-vaunted Chicago defense. The Vikings seem committed to splitting the carries evenly, but if Sunday is any indication, Peterson is on the verge of superstardom.
LenDale White had 25 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers. More important, Chris Brown rushed just five times before leaving the game with a sprained ankle. With White getting the majority of carries both in and out of the red zone, it’s clear which player Tennessee wants to be its feature back, so Brown can’t afford to be out long.
The Tampa Bay rushing offense struggled again Sunday, and it’s clear that Earnest Graham is not the answer. Graham finished with just 29 yards on 13 carries, but he was the only running back to even carry the ball. Don’t be surprised to see the Bucs trade for a running back this week, moving Graham back to a reserve role.
DeAngelo Williams finally had the game everyone was waiting for last week, finishing with 121 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. DeShaun Foster continues to start, but with only 43 yards on 17 carries, it is time for Carolina to give Williams a shot.
Jamal Lewis missed last week’s game with a foot injury, but was ably replaced by Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison. While Wright was the starter, and finished with 98 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, he averaged fewer than three yards per carry. Harrison caught a 15-yard pass and rushed for 57 yards on eight carries.
Rudi Johnson returned to action against the Chiefs last week, but Kenny Watson started and outgained him by 60 yards. Johnson only carried four times for eight yards, as Cincinnati eased him back into the lineup. Our sympathies to those of you who made Johnson your top running back this season, but the good news is he should be back in the starting lineup next week. Watson owners shouldn’t cut bait just yet, but be prepared for diminished production soon.
Although Detroit had a bye last week, some intrigue was added to its running back situation. Rumors had Tatum Bell getting dealt, which would be good news for both Kevin Jones and Bell. Tampa Bay looked like a good fit -- until the Buccaneers traded for Michael Bennett on Monday. If Bell is traded, it would be a vote of confidence that Jones is 100 percent healthy and ready to take over full-time duties.
Joseph Addai, who missed the Oct. 7 game with a bruised chest, should be OK to go this week against Jacksonville. Kenton Keith, thanks to a strong performance against Tampa Bay, could steal a few carries here and there, but he’s not going to be taking Addai’s job any time soon.
Brian Leonard earned just 18 yards on 12 carries Sunday, but is probably in line to start as long as Steven Jackson is out. Travis Minor, Leonard’s backup, was one of the few bright spots in the St. Louis offense, gaining 40 yards on seven carries.
Ahman Green returned and carried 16 times last week, but the Jaguars held him to just 44 rushing yards. Samkon Gado backed him up, and Ron Dayne was inactive, but Dayne is still the Texan to own when – not if – Green gets hurt again.
Brandon Jackson was healthy enough to play last week, but he was inactive because the Green Bay coaching staff did not include him in the game plan. DeShawn Wynn got another start, rushing for 37 yards and a touchdown, but the Packers running game struggled once again. Green Bay has a bye this week, but when it returns in Week 8, it will have to find a way to split carries between Jackson, Wynn and Vernand Morency that will keep everyone happy.
Kurt Warner was replaced by Tim Rattay when Warner sprained his non-throwing elbow attempting to recover a fumble in the first quarter Sunday. Warner will miss at least one game, and the Cardinals will scale back the Week 7 game plan to suit Rattay’s strengths.
Vince Young left Sunday’s game with a strained right quad, giving way to Kerry Collins. Young’s status is in doubt for next week’s battle with Houston, but Collins is one of the more experienced backup quarterbacks in the league.
Chad Pennington picked a bad time to have his worst game of the season, finishing with just 128 yards and an interception. He wasn’t yanked for Kellen Clemens as some speculated, but the calls for Clemens to replace him permanently will be even louder than usual this week.
J.P. Losman returned to practice last week, but with the Bills off, coach Dick Jauron did not have to rush a decision on whom to start the next game. Buffalo plays Baltimore this week, and rookie Trent Edwards has been at the helm since Losman was knocked out of the Sept. 23 game.
Jake Delhomme’s season-ending elbow surgery and David Carr’s balky back led the Panthers to sign 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde last week. In a game-time decision, Carolina decided to go with Testaverde against the Cardinals, and he responded with 205 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers are off next week, and Carr should return to the starting lineup in Week 8.
Steve McNair missed the Rams game last week with a stiff back. Kyle Boller was nothing special in his stead, but the Baltimore offense – not to mention McNair’s frequent injuries – is starting to become a major concern. No matter who is officially the starting quarterback for the Ravens (and it looks like it will be Boller again this week), it would be wise to stay away from this situation.
Despite suffering a grade 3 separated shoulder just two weeks ago, Alex Smith has been practicing and expects to return for the Giants game this week. Trent Dilfer and the 49ers offense have looked out of sync in Smith’s absence, so expect the 49ers to welcome Smith back with open arms.
Mark Bulger was out again last week, but this time Gus Frerotte did not acquit himself well. Frerotte threw five interceptions in a 22-3 loss to Baltimore, and left the game in the last series, replaced not by Bulger but by the third string wide receiver. Right now, no St. Louis offensive players are worth playing, even if Bulger returns this week.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Kevin Walter exploded for 12 catches for 160 yards Sunday, and Andre Davis, Owen Daniels and David Anderson chipped in with a combined 11 receptions for 142 yards. The Texans appear to have finally found a receiver rotation that works in Andre Johnson’s absence, which may make Jacoby Jones the odd man out. Jones did not have the ball thrown to him once Sunday, and though he was slated to return punts, Jacksonville never punted. Jones was a popular sleeper two months ago, but with Johnson due to return this week, it’s time to drop Jones if you’re still holding onto him.
Although Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson and Ben Obomanu all had good numbers Sunday, D.J. Hackett’s return this week should cut into their playing time, and Deion Branch is expected to return soon thereafter. Obomanu seems to have the most to lose when Hackett comes back, and Burleson, despite having a few good games over the last month, should also lose playing time when the Seahawks are at full strength.
Devery Henderson lost his starting job to Lance Moore, as coach Sean Payton’s strategy of a wide receiver “rotation” led to New Orleans’ first victory of the year. Moore caught three passes for 35 yards and scored on an end around. David Patten was even better, gathering eight receptions for 113 yards. With Henderson shut out and possibly falling all the way to fourth on the depth chart, it looks like the rotation is favoring Moore and Patten.
Brandon Jones had arthroscopic knee surgery Monday and will miss 2-3 weeks. Eric Moulds, Roydell Williams and Justin Gage should see a few more opportunities, but with Vince Young day-to-day with a strained quad and Tennessee not exactly a pass-first offense, you don’t need to rush to get any of them into your lineup.
Although both were a bit banged up, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El played against the Packers last week. That’s the good news. The bad news is they combined for just two receptions, and Moss left the game early after aggravating his groin injury. The Redskins have a host of mediocre options at wide receiver if Moss can’t play, but there’s no need to rush to pick up Keenan McCardell, Brandon Lloyd or Reche Caldwell off the waiver wire.
Last week Isaac Bruce missed the game with a sore hamstring, Drew Bennett left the game with a sore hamstring and Marques Hagans, who began the day as the third wide receiver, finished the game as the quarterback. Hagans did lead the Rams with five catches for 74 yards, and Torry Holt, who has injury problems of his own, gutted it out for four catches for 33 yards, but it’s clear that the Rams are a mess.
Article first appeared 10/16/07