No Respect: Most-Targeted Defenders

CB Ike Taylor (N.Laham/Getty Images)

Scout.com's Ed Thompson takes a look at the three cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers that NFL quarterbacks have gone after with no mercy this season. And he points out which players at each position are struggling the most when called upon to defend the pass.

Cornerbacks

Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers: Quarterbacks have gone after the seventh-year corner a 90 times this season, more than any other defender in the NFL. Taylor has allowed a league-high 54 catches (60 percent) for 679 yards and two touchdowns. He's broken-up 11 attempts.

Bryant McFadden, Arizona Cardinals: 87 passes have been thrown McFadden's way, and he's allowed 45 completions (51.7 percent) for 648 yards and a score. He's knocked away 13 throws.

Derek Cox, Jacksonville Jaguars: The rookie out of William & Mary has been forced to defend 80 passes and has allowed 47 of them to be caught (58.8 percent) for 644 yards and five touchdowns. Cox has broken-up seven catchable passes.

Worst Burned Rate: The Carolina Panthers' Chris Gamble has allowed 74.0 percent of the passes attempted against him to be completed. That's the worst mark among all corners who have defended at least 33 passes this year (an average of three per game). The Titans' Nick Harper is second (72.5 percent) followed by the Seahawks' Josh Wilson (69 percent), the Colts' Tim Jennings (67.3 percent) and Dolphins rookie Vontae Davis and Texans veteran Dunta Robinson at 64.7 percent each.

Safeties

Michael Lewis, San Francisco 49ers: He's been burned on 60.4 percent of the throws fired his way with 32 of 53 attempts completed for 382 yards. But the good news is that he hasn't given up a touchdown yet this season.


Eagles safety Quintin Mikell
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Quintin Mikell, Philadelphia Eagles: The seventh-year pro has held up fairly well while defending 48 pass attempts so far this year. With just 23 catches allowed (47.9 percent) for 230 yards and 11 passes defensed, his numbers look strong--with the exception of the four touchdowns he's allowed.

Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers and Reggie Nelson, Jacksonville Jaguars: Both safeties have been forced to defend 45 throws. Goldson has allowed 30 catches (66.7 percent) for 496 yards and three scores. Nelson has allowed a slightly better catch rate of 71.1 percent (32 receptions), but kept the damage down to just 391 yards and one touchdown.

Worst Burned Rate: Out of the league's safeties who have been targeted at least 33 times, the Houston Texans' Bernard Pollard has been burned the most (72.2 percent). The Jaguars' Reggie Nelson is next (71.1 percent), followed by the Titans' Chris Hope (67.6 percent), the 49ers' Dashon Goldson (66.7 percent) and the Titans' Michael Griffin (66.7 percent).

Linebackers

Thomas Howard, Oakland Raiders: Howard's been called on to defend more passes (49) than most safeties in the league. He's allowed 29 catches (59.2 percent) for 399 yards, but none of them resulted in a touchdown.

Keith Bulluck, Tennessee Titans: The high-energy linebacker has been challenged 46 times this year and has allowed 30 catches (65.2 percent) for 296 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Lance Briggs, Chicago Bears: Briggs has defended against 44 attempts and has allowed 29 of those balls to be caught (65.9 percent). But he's only given up 221 yards and has yet to give up a touchdown.

Worst Burned Rate: Out of the linebackers who have been targeted at least 33 times, the Lions' Larry Foote has struggled the most with an 80.6 percent burned rate. The Jaguars' Daryl Smith is second at 75.7 percent, followed by the Bengals' Dhani Jones (74.7 percent), the Falcons' Curtis Lofton (73.5 percent) and the Bills' Keith Ellison (71.4 percent).

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You can follow Ed Thompson on Twitter. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com.

Statistics referenced in this article are provided by STATS, LLC. Copyright 2009 by STATS, LLC. Any use or distribution of such Licensed Materials without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

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