RotoWire Partners

Depth Chart Watch: He's No Backup Yet

Kenn Ruby

Kenn has been writing and editing for RotoWire since 2003. Though he attended Northwestern with the co-founders of RotoWire, he is not considered a made member of the RotoWire Northwestern mafia, as he can't trace back all of his ancestors to Dan Okrent.

BEARS QB: The Bears really struggled to contain the Giantsí pass rush on Sunday, and the result was two quarterbacks getting knocked out of the game. Jay Cutler suffered a concussion, while backup Todd Collins also left the game with a stinger in the fourth quarter. Caleb Hanie replaced Collins for one final drive, but he was unable to get the Bears any closer. Cutlerís status for Week 5 is uncertain at this point, but Collins believes he will be able to play Ė and start if necessary.

CARDINALS QB: Some said over the summer that Derek Anderson didnít win the starting job so much as Matt Leinart lost it. Well, on Sunday, it looks like Anderson lost it as well. Anderson got off to a terrible start this year, and as a result, he was replaced by Max Hall in the second quarter. Although Hall was sacked six times, there has been talk recently that the Cardinals may want to give him the starting gig. Donít be surprised to see Hall behind center against the Saints this week.

CARDINALS WR: Steve Breaston, the man who was expected to pick up the slack created by Anquan Boldinís departure, suffered a torn meniscus last week and will be out until at least Week 7. He was replaced by Stephen Williams, who was targeted eight times and caught three passes for 32 yards Sunday. With the QB problems the Cardinals now face, Williams wonít be worth much, even in the short-term.

CHARGERS RB: Ryan Mathews returned from a one-game absence and had nine carries for 55 yards and a touchdown, but the Chargers used him curiously. Mike Tolbert saw more work earlier in the game, while Mathews played mostly in the second half when the Chargers already had a big lead. The team treated Tolbert as if he were the key back to protect during garbage time, while Mathews, who potentially could have aggravated his ankle injury with the game all but over, went out there with the second team. Mathews is still the better prospect long-term, but it appears Tolbert isnít going away.

EAGLES QB: Admit it, you finally played Vick this week, realizing that he was for real and was going to lead you to fantasy glory. If so, we feel for you. Vick left Sundayís game in the first half with an injury to his ribs and will have an MRI Monday. Kevin Kolb returned to the starting role but was unable to produce the same magic as Vick. Itís too early to tell if Vick will play in Week 5, so monitor this situation closely.

JAGUARS WR: Weíre only a quarter of the way through the season, but Iím going to say it: Mike Sims-Walker is a bust. After getting shut out for the second time this season, last yearís darling now has two or fewer catches in seven of his last nine games. Mike Thomas was targeted seven times Sunday (Sims-Walker was targeted just once) and looks like the No. 1 receiver in the Jagsí offense for now.

JETS RB: Wow. Rumors of LaDainian Tomlinsonís demise were greatly exaggerated. Even before L.T. rushed for 133 yards and two TDs it looked like he had wrestled away the starting job from Shonn Greene. Greene was officially listed as the starter Sunday, though Tomlinson carried the ball on the first play from scrimmage. Greene had 117 yards of his own and had 22 carries to Tomlinsonís 19, but a lot of those came in the second half of a big blowout. Sure, it was against the porous Buffalo defense, but the Jets have a nice problem here.

PANTHERS WR: The Panthers lost the top weapon in their passing game Sunday when Steve Smith left with a high ankle sprain. Assuming he misses this weekís game, there is no shortage of candidates to replace him in the lineup. The problem is that none of the candidates is very good. David Gettis was targeted six times Sunday and appears to be in the best position to assume Smithís mantle of top dog, but he only caught two passes. Still, thatís more than starter Brandon LaFell (one) or Dwayne Jarrett (zero). Jarrett in particular appears to be in the doghouse, so he may not get much of a chance even if Smith misses some time.

RAIDERS RB: Darren McFadden looked like he was going to silence his critics and distance himself from backup Michael Bush after getting off to a good start this season. Unfortunately, another productive day (47 rushing yards, 82 receiving yards) was cut short due to a hamstring injury. Bush had just two carries before McFadden was hurt in the fourth quarter, but one was a touchdown. Bush finished the day with seven carries for 40 yards and would start next week if McFadden is unable to go.

RAVENS RB: With Ray Rice hobbled slowed by a knee injury, Willis McGahee got the lionís share of the carries on Sunday, running 14 times for 39 yards against the Steelers. Rice still got eight carries, but six came after McGahee left the game himself with a head injury early in the third quarter. Rice is still the Ravens running back to own, but for one day at least, was forced to take a back seat.

REDSKINS RB: Ryan Torain ran for a team-high 70 yards on 18 carries Sunday and scored a TD, while Clinton Portis ran for a respectable 55 yards on 11 attempts. Portis remains the starter, but keep in mind his hold on the job was considered ďtenuous,Ē even before Sundayís effort. He suffered a groin injury and will need X-rays, but so far the injury is not considered serious. It might be time to buy a little Torain stock right now however, especially after the Redskins parted ways with fellow backup Keiland Williams on Saturday.

SAINTS RB: Pierre Thomas sat out Sundayís game with an ankle injury, and with Reggie Bush already out, the New Orleans offense struggled to put away the Panthers with the likes of Chris Ivory and Ladell Betts at runnin gback. Ivory got the start and wasnít bad (12 carries for 67 yards), but he lost a fumble. Betts had 13 carries for 47 yards and was more involved with the passing game, catching four passes for 23 yards. Thomas should be back next week, but if misses another game, the Saints can do worse than their unheralded backup duo.

SAINTS K: Although Garrett Hartley is still on the team, he has been replaced as a placekicker by veteran John Carney. Hartley was inactive Sunday, and itís unknown if heíll get another chance, especially since Carney made three field goals in a 16-14 win.

SEAHAWKS WR: Seattle picked up Brandon Stokley last week, and although he didnít crack the starting lineup, he proved to be a quick study, catching four passes for 62 yards. He was surprisingly targeted a team-high eight times, and it would not be a shock to see him shoot up a depth chart that features the likes of Deion Branch, Deon Butler, Mike Williams, and Golden Tate.

TEXANS WR: Life without Andre Johnson is okay if youíre facing the Raiders. Fortunately for the Texans, they were able to run through the Oakland defense for 249 yards, so Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones didnít have to step up their games in the absence of Johnson, who missed the game with high ankle sprain. Jones got the start in Johnsonís place, but he left with a calf injury. Johnson should return this week against the Giants.