Tag:Kurt Warner
Posted on: December 16, 2010 1:05 pm
 

Tampa WR Benn, Arizona LB Washington top rookies

This week's two Rookies of the Week entered the game overshadowed by other first year players. Strong performances, however, certainly caught my attention and helped their clubs gain victories.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman has relied on rookie wide receiver Mike Williams all year long, but it was the "other" rookie wideout who was the big playmaker for the Bucs this past weekend.

Arrelious Benn , a second round pick out of Illinois, enjoyed the best game of his career, catching four passes for 122 yards and also contributing an end-around run for another 17 yards. Benn was held out of the end zone, but just barely as he was tackled at the one yard line by Washington safety Kareem Moore after a 43-yard reception in the 4th quarter put the Bucs in position to take the lead.

Benn made an even bigger play in the second quarter, when he beat Washington's best corner, DeAngelo Hall, deep for 64 yards, putting the Bucs in position to score their first points (a Connor Barth field goal) of the game.

The Bucs beat the Redskins 17-16 in large part due to Benn, whose 122 receiving yards led all receivers.

The Arizona Cardinals' Daryl Washington was selected only eight spots later on draft day and, like Benn, he played a key role in his team's victory Sunday.

While the loss of quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Anquan Boldin has appropriately received plenty of attention, many league insiders felt that Arizona might have a tougher time replacing versatile linebacker Karlos Dansby who signed with Miami as a free agent.

The athletic Washington has a ways to go before one can say he's "replaced" Dansby, but his versatility was on display in the Cardinals surprisingly easy 43-13 victory over Denver.

Washington's speed and agility were on display throughout this game. He helped contain Knowshon Moreno, one of the NFL's hottest backs in recent weeks and was just as effective in coverage. His interception and return 40 yards for a touchdown of Kyle Orton in the closing minutes of the game, in fact, put an emphatic stamp on the game.

For all of the talk about Arizona's new find at quarterback (rookie John Skelton), Washington was the rookie whose play was most instrumental in the Cardinals getting their 4th victory of the season.
Posted on: October 12, 2010 6:06 pm
 

Pair of 4th rounders earn Rookies of the Week

The first step in earning Rookie of the Week honors is, of course, to see the field. Because of their perceived greater talent and their signficantly greater salary, high round picks almost always get the better opportunities to start.

Being fourth round picks, however, certainly hasn't slowed down the progress of Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wideout Mike Williams or Tennessee Titans' cornerback Alterraun Verner .

I've highlighted Williams on numerous occasions, including back in training camp (August 1) when he was already turning heads .

I've long been a fan of Verner, one of the feistier defenders in the draft. I listed him among five players heading up the board as the draft approached (April 7) and was surprised, frankly, that he lasted until the early fourth round.

Unless you're living under a rock somewhere you likely already know that Williams has developed an early rapport with Bucs' young quarterback Josh Freeman. The 3-1 Bucs have featured Williams throughout the season and he entered the matchup against a tough Bengals' secondary leading the team in receptions (12), receiving yardage (139) and receiving touchdowns (2) over the team's first three games. An obvious focus of the Bengals defense, Williams was slowed early in the contest, but stepped up big late, leaping over veteran Johnathan Joseph to catch the tying touchdown with only 56 seconds left. Williams finished with seven grabs for 99 yards and the score.

Like Williams, Verner's solid play contributed to an upset victory. Matched up against a variety of talented receivers and facing Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo didn't seem to faze Verner, as he registered eight tackles and stepped in front of a pass intended for tight end Martellus Bennett and tipped at the line of scrimmage by Dave Ball to make the first interception of his NFL career. Verner returned the ball to the one-yard line, where superstar Chris Johnson quickly gave the Titans a touchdown. Playing opposite an established talent like Cortland Finnegan, Verner's tenacious play has earned raves from coaches and scouts throughout the league.

It is interesting to note how closely Williams and Verner went in the fourth round. Williams was the third pick of the round and 101st pick, overall. Verner was selected only three picks later.

** One final note... I considered listing Arizona quarterback Max Hall as my Offensive Rookie of the Week. He certainly made some gutsy plays in the win over the defending Super Bowl champs, but had the Cardinals defense not saved the day by scoring nearly as many points (14) as they allowed to the Saints (20), the interception and two fumbles lost by Hall would be getting more attention than they currently are. Hall was good enough to win -- and that, in itself, is verrry impressive, but all of the comparison between he and Kurt Warner is hyperbole, in my opinion. 
 
 
 
 
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