Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney showed everyone that he's fully
recovered from his 2007 foot surgery. After Freeney landed on the injured
reserve list last season with a Lisfranc injury, many people had to be wondering
whether the Colts' star pass rusher would be able to regain his speed and
mobility. Against the Bears last Sunday night, the 6-foot-1, 268-pound lineman
registered his first sack of the season, and he was also credited with four
You have to admire the work of running backs Earnest Graham of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ryan Grant of the Green Bay Packers during their season openers.
Both athletes averaged 6.2 yards per carry after first contact by a defender.
While nearly all the other running backs around the league averaged two to three
yards after first contact, Graham rolled up 62 of his 91 yards after being hit
while Grant posted 74 of his 92 yards after contact. By comparison, Falcons
running back Michael Turner, who posted a league-best 220 yards last Sunday,
finished third with 4.9 yards per carry after contact.
Kickers don't get enough recognition for consistently hitting kickoffs
70-plus yards. When a kicker boots a ball that deep, it means the returner
is catching the ball in his end zone, forcing him to decide whether or not to
bring the ball out at all. Last week, Carolina's Rhys Lloyd, who's NFL career
had previously included just three games last season for the Ravens and the
Panthers, boomed a league-best six kickoffs into the San Diego Chargers' end
zone, including a league-best four for touchbacks. Green Bay's Mason Crosby
kicked all five of his kickoffs into the Viking's end zone during their matchup,
with two resulting in touchbacks.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith catches a touchdown pass against the Rams.
AP Photo/Tom Mihalek
Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith was targeted six times in the red
zone by quarterback Donovan McNabb during the team's stomping of the Rams. Smith
caught four of the passes, including one for a touchdown. No other player was
targeted more than three times in the red zone during Week 1 action. Out of
those eight players who had three chances, the Steelers' Hines Ward and the Colts'
Reggie Wayne made the most of their chances. Ward caught all three passes,
including two scores, while Wayne grabbed two passes, including one for a
Eight starting quarterbacks completed at least 75 percent of their passes
on first down last week. Falcons rookie Matt Ryan hit all
five of his attempts on first down while Matt Schaub of the Texans completed
fourteen of fifteen attempts for an impressive 93.3 percent. The other hot
quarterbacks on first down included the Packers' Aaron Rodgers (81.8), the
49ers' J.T. O'Sullivan (80.0), the Lions' Jon Kitna (78.6), the Bills' Trent Edwards (77.8), the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger (75.0) and the Saints' Drew Brees (75.0).
Heading into the second weekend of NFL action, the offensive lines of the
Ravens, Cowboys, Broncos, Packers and Eagles are the only ones that haven't
surrendered a sack. At the other end of the spectrum, the Jaguars allowed seven
sacks during their opening day loss against Tennesee while the Texans and
Seahawks each allowed five sacks.
When their teams were faced with a third-and-long situation, six players
were targeted at least three times last week. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked to Joey Galloway five times in Week 1 when they needed at least eight yards on third
down to move the
chains. He caught three of the passes, but only succeeded in getting the first
down once. The Redskins' Santana Moss got four opportunities, catching three
passes, but he also only reached the first-down marker one time. The Titans'
Justin Gage, Rams RB Steven Jackson, Seahawks TE Jeb Putzier and the Broncos'
Brandon Stokley each got three chances to help their teams. Putzier didn't catch
any of the passes, while Jackson grabbed two, but didn't get a new
set of downs for his team after either catch.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
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