Tag:Stephon Heyer
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 14's finer points

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Broncos vs. Bears
Perhaps after this Sunday’s game, Tim Tebow can help Bears right tackle Lance Louis pray for quicker feet. After seemingly stabilizing Chicago’s nightmarish right tackle situation over the past month, Louis, a converted guard, completely fell apart in the loss to Kansas City. He was culpable for most of Kansas City’s seven sacks and also had a holding penalty just outside his own goal-line. It was a performance that would have made even Winston Justice circa 2007 cringe.


It’s not like the Chiefs did anything complex against Louis, either. They didn’t stunt defenders near him or feign blitzes in his gaps. They simply lined players up mano-a-mano and won (Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and even lowly Tyson Jackson all got through; by the fourth quarter, Romeo Crennel was putting players on waiting list for reps at left defensive end/outside linebacker).

Things won’t get much easier for Louis this week. His Bears travel to Mile High, where they’ll meet rookie Von Miller, the AFC’s answer to Clay Matthews (assuming Miller returns from the thumb injury that sidelined him against Minnesota). Miller, in fact, has an even better burst than Matthews.

If Miller is unavailable, the matchup in the trenches will be more even but still tilted in Denver’s favor. The Broncos have gotten great play out of their defensive line in recent weeks, particularly inside with active tackles Broderick Bunkley, Marcus Thomas and, on passing downs, Ryan McBean. These three cause congestion that allows the speed of Miller, D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers to flourish.

Even with adequate pass-rushing resources, the Broncos are willing to manufacture pressure through design. They blitz Brian Dawkins a few times each game and, on some occasions, have surprised offenses by bringing Miller from the inside. At times, execution and assignment identification have been problematic for the Bears O-line. The Broncos will be eager to exploit that.

Packers vs. Raiders
The Raiders traded a bounty for Carson Palmer so that they could get away from the elementary, run-only offensive gameplans they used early in the year with Jason Campbell. Aside from a putrid outing at Miami last week, where Palmer played jittery in the pocket because of a justified lack of trust in his protection, the ex-Bengal has been much better than his numbers suggest.

That said, the Raiders need to return to a ground-only approach when they travel to Green Bay this Sunday. Their only chance to win the game is to shorten it. For the last two weeks, we’ve focused on how a quality four-man pass-rush in front of good, aggressive coverage could give a defense a chance to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Well, the last two weeks, Rodgers & Co. have had no trouble against the Lions and Giants, owners of arguably the two best four-man pass-rushes in football. It’s wishful to think that the Raiders’ front line, which is remarkably powerful but deprived of genuine edge speed, can dictate the action this Sunday.

It might be wishful to think the same thing about Oakland’s offensive line. That unit, even with frequently used sixth blocker Stephon Heyer, was unable to move Miami’s three-man front last Sunday. But ground-in-pound is Oakland’s best bet against the Pack. And last week was likely an aberration. The Raiders are athletic on the left side up front with tackle Jared Veldheer capable of exploding at the second level and guard Stefan Wisniewski possessing intriguing short-area mobility.

And they have a workhorse in Michael Bush. He was methodical and effective three weeks ago against the stingy Vikings, rushing for 109 yards on 30 carries. The week before, he toted the rock 30 times for 157 yards at San Diego.

The Packers front line is hard to move; B.J. Raji is a beast, and Ryan Pickett and backup Howard Green have nose tackle size at the end positions. But if you CAN move them, you’ll also move the clock. That, along with great special teams (which the Raiders have) might – MIGHT – be enough to sorta maybe kinda have some form of an outside shot at possibly coming close to beating the seemingly unbeatable Packers offense.

Ravens vs. Colts
For many fans, filling out the offensive line section of the Pro Bowl ballot can be challenging. Often it involves just clicking on whatever linemen hail from the best teams. If the running back is good, his offensive linemen must be good as well (so the thinking goes).

This is the kind of misguided logic that sends underachievers like Bryant McKinnie to Hawaii. (McKinnie made the Pro Bowl in 2009, even though he was benched at times down the stretch.)

McKinnie’s first season as a Raven has actually been much better than his last several seasons as a Viking. At 6’7”, 350-something pounds (give or take), the 10th-year veteran would not seem to be a great fit for Baltimore’s movement-oriented zone-blocking scheme. However, as it turns out, the zone-blocking scheme capitalizes on McKinnie’s natural size and also masks his timidity.

McKinnie’s built like a monster but plays like a milquetoast. He’s never exerted the explosive power or vicious hand-punch of an elite lineman. That’s been detrimental to his run-blocking. But in a system that has him move before making contact in the run game, McKinnie can get away with playing soft because his momentum, working with his sheer size, generates natural power. It’s physics.

Don’t vote McKinnie to this season’s Pro Bowl, though. DO, however, vote his teammate, Marshal Yanda. The 27-year-old right guard has drastically elevated his already-impressive game since signing a five-year, $32 million contract in July. In fact, lately, Yanda has been the best guard in all of football. He has great footwork and the rare ability to land multiple well-angled blocks on a single play.

As this week goes, he’s perfectly suited to dominate against a fast but undersized defense like Indy’s.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 10:33 pm
 

Week 10 injury news and analysis, part IV

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Panthers at Buccaneers

Tampa Bay center Jeff Faine, who’s missed the past four games, badly wants to get back into action after dealing with a quadriceps injury, while T Jeremy Trueblood (out the past two contests with a knee) looks to return as well. Both are questionable and game-time decisions.

Faine had full participation in all three practices this week, while Trueblood was full-go for two of them, but Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris wants to see how they look in pregame warmups before giving them the go-ahead.

For Carolina, RBs Jonathan Stewart (concussion) and DeAngelo Williams (foot) are out and won’t play. So that’s, you know, not a great sign for the Panthers. LB Nic Harris, meanwhile, is probable.

Lions at Bills

It looks like QB Shaun Hill will get the chance to replace the injured Matthew Stafford for the second time this season. Hill, who broke his forearm the first time he took over the Detroit offense this year, is probable to make his return to the game. Among the questionables for the Lions: DE Cliff Avril, S C.C. Brown, CB Chris Houston and CB Alphonso Smith.

Also, K Jason Hanson is out, and in response this week, Detroit signed Dave Rayner. Which is unfortunate, because I think all of us would have liked to see Ndamukong Suh take another crack at kicking point after attempts and field goals.

Three players Buffalo really could use this week are out, including LB Andra Davis, LB Shawne Merriman, and WR Roscoe Parrish.

Eagles at Redskins

There are seven Washington players on the injury report. All of them are questionable. They include OT Stephon Heyer, S LaRon Landry  QB Donovan McNabb, LB Brian Orakpo, WR Brandon Banks, RB Clinton Portis, and RB Ryan Torain.

Of those seven, Portis won’t play but Torain will, along with McNabb. A decision about Banks will be made gametime. The Redskins would like to have him back, because he’s been so good as a return specialist.

Eagles G Max Jean-Gilles, who’s been feeling the effects of a concussion, was cleared to play today. He remains questionable, though, on the injury report. Meanwhile, G Nick Cole is probable, and coach Andy Reid hasn’t determined who will start between the two of them.

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Posted on: October 30, 2010 5:38 pm
 

Week 8 injury report analysis Part II

Posted by Andy Benoit

Bills @ Chiefs

Right tackle Cornell Green (knee) remains the only Bill who has battled a significant injury this season. That’s noteworthy considering this team has led the league in IR players two of the last three years. Buffalo defensive backs Terrence McGee (back) and Jairus Byrd (thigh) are both questionable, though both were full participants in practice this week.

Kansas City’s only injury of note is Dexter McCluster’s high ankle sprain. The budding multifaceted rookie is listed as questionable, though word is he’ll likely be out multiple weeks.

Redskins @ Lions

Of the 12 Redskins listed as questionable this week, only five had less than full participation in practice: offensive tackles Jammal Brown (hip) and Stephon Heyer (ankle), safeties LaRon Landry (Achilles) and Kareem Moore (knee) and fullback Mike Sellers (foot). The Skins are growing more and more concerned about Brown’s ailing right hip – the same hip that kept him out all of last season. If he can’t play, and if Heyer can’t play (well, it’s clear Heyer CAN’T play, but in this case, we mean if he can’t play because of his ankle) then guard Artis Hicks will slide over to tackle.

The Lions will get quarterback Matthew Stafford back from the shoulder injury he suffered on Opening Day. In fact, Stafford isn’t even listed on the injury report. Rookie RB Jahvid Best is. He’s probable with a toe (and he admits it has hindered him as of late). MLB DeAndre Levy is questionable with an ankle injury that has kept him out all but one game.

Panthers @ Rams

Don’t expect Carolina’s suddenly-stagnant running game to finally get rolling this week. The team is still without RT Jeff Otah (knee) and now, RB DeAngelo Williams is out (foot). St. Louis’ own star RB underwent finger surgery this week, though Steven Jackson vows he’s going to play.

Danario Alexander is the latest Rams wide receiver to hurt his knee. At least he’s only out a few weeks, though (cartilage). Defensive tackles Fred Robbins (toe) and Darell Scott (ankle) were both limited in practice. RT Jason Smith showed concussion-like symptoms after dinging his head in practice; he’ll be replaced Sunday by Renardo Foster. It’s worth noting that Smith missed the second half of last season with a concussion.

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Posted on: October 28, 2010 6:38 pm
 

Jammal Brown's hip a major concern

Posted by Andy Benoit

Redskins right tackle Jammal Brown is still battling problems in his right hip, according to TBD.com. Brown missed all of last season with the Saints after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in that hip.

Brown has started all seven games this season, though the Redskins planned to rotate him last week with Stephon Heyer against the Bears. That plan was derailed by Heyer’s sprained ankle. Both players were limited in practice on Thursday. It sounds like Heyer will be fine, but there is less optimism with Brown.J. Brown (US Presswire)

“I’m not confident , but hopefully it’s better,” Mike Shanahan said of Brown’s hip. “There is some improvement, but not as much as we’d like. I still think it’s a bit sore. It’s a mobility issue, and hopefully improves.

“I was expecting him to be a little bit further ahead than he is,” Shanahan said. “But you never know for sure. He’s been working extremely hard. He’s a worker, and I don’t think a lot of people would be playing or practicing with the pain that he’s had. But he’s working through it, and hopefully it gets better over the bye week.”

The Redskins knew Brown’s hip was an issue when they traded for him back in June. But given that he passed the team’s physical, it’s doubtful they thought he’d still be walking with a limp and having to fight through basic motions this late in October.

If Brown and Heyer are both unavailable against the Lions this Sunday, right guard Artis Hicks would slide over to tackle (a position he played in Minnesota), and backup Will Montgomery would step in off the bench.

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