The focus of this article isn't to analyze how each team would be affected statistically, but to see what the impact tactically would be for each players' team and also for the opponents in this week's
Roy Williams, WR - Lions
The fourth-year pro will miss at least the next few weeks with a PCL sprain.
Veteran WR Shaun McDonald will replace Williams in the lineup. What's
interesting here is McDonald goes from being No. 4 on the depth chart to
essentially the top spot. McDonald got the benefit of not only single coverage
in his previous role, he often got matched up with the opponent's dime back. Now
he'll draw matchups with much better cover players, so Sunday's matchup with
Dallas will be a big challenge for McDonald. And McDonald has played mostly out
of the slot this season, so he'll be moving outside in Williams' spot.
Troy Polamalu, SS - Steelers
Troy Polamalu hits Packers quarterback Brett Favre during preseason action.
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In the marquee matchup of the week, the Steelers won't have their marquee
defensive player and movable chess piece. Polamalu has the unique ability handle
just about any running back or receiver in coverage. But where he'll also be
missed is against the run. Polamalu is seen as one of the best in-the-box
players at his position in the league. And with New England having the league's
best passing game, journeyman safety Tyrone Carter will have a major challenge
on hands. He will be replacing Polamalu for the third straight game.
Gibril Wilson, FS - Giants
The fourth-year player will miss his second
straight game due to a knee issue. Replacing him again is rookie safety Michael Johnson. Philadelphia poses a problem as they have a pass-first mentality and
because the Giants have a high blitz percentage (they blitzed over 20 times last
week vs. Chicago). This will put pressure on the rookie not to make
mistakes. Tight end L.J. Smith, who finally seems to be healthy, could be a big
factor in this game — especially down the middle when New York brings pressure
with their linebackers. Smith is too big and strong for the Giants' defensive
Brandon Jones, WR - Titans
The third-year pro began the season as a starter
but lost the job to fellow third-year WR Roydell Williams after Week Three. In
this matchup, Jones will be missed since teams like to spread the inconsistent
San Diego secondary out. The Chargers have replaced CB Drayton Florence with
second-year CB Antonio Cromartie and rookie S Eric Weddle is taking snaps away
from FS Marlon McCree.
With Jones on the sidelines on Sunday, fading WR Eric Moulds will handle the No.
3 role. The player to watch at the receiver position for Tennessee is fifth-year
pro Justin Gage who has already set career highs in receptions and yards. The
former Chicago Bear was an underachiever for his tenure there but is starting to
realize his potential. The tall wideout runs quite well and has become QB Vince Young’s top target in the passing game of late and it has become quite obvious
offensive coordinator Norm Chow has confidence in Gage to beat coverages.
Adam Caplan is the Senior NFL Reporter for Scout.com. His breaking
news and analysis, reports from Senior Bowl week, NFL Combine, and free agency
have been featured for the past three years.