Tag:Troy Smith
Posted on: November 29, 2010 8:59 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 10:24 pm
 

Frank Gore out Monday with hip injury

Posted by Will Brinson

Frank Gore was -- surprise, surprise -- the focal point of the 49ers offense on their first drive in Arizona (make sure to follow the game live here), but after Shane Andrus missed a field goal wide right, the Cardinals took the field and Gore was seen jogging to the locker room.

He has some sort of hip injury and his return is questionable -- the best guess is that it occurred on a missed pass when he bobbled a ball and Paris Lenon tattooed him.

Gore's clearly the staple of San Francisco's offense, and he had 43 yards on just four carries during the first drive, but the Niners appeared not to need him (at least immediately anyway), because after Derek Anderson and Beanie Wells fumbled a handoff, Troy Smith hooked up with Michael Crabtree for a quick touchdown.

Update (9:07): Gore's already back in the game -- he missed just one Cardinals possession, and he picked up 10 yards on his first play back, so it would seem like there's nothing too seriously wrong with him. Although it'd be shocking to see the Niners pull him in this must-win, Brian Westbrook was in the backfield on the first down after Gore's run.

Update (9:12): Apparently Gore IS hurt, because according to Michelle Tafoya, Gore came to the sidelines shaking his head as if he wasn't able to keep playing, and now Brian Westbrook is getting the red zone carries.

Update (10:00): It sure does appear as if Gore's done for the evening -- it's halftime and he hasn't returned to the game. Meanwhile, Westbrook's getting all the carries and the Niners hold a 15-point lead, so it seems logical that San Francisco would keep him out if he's really hurting.

Update (10:20): One three-and-out into the second half by the Cardinals and Frank Gore has been declared officially out. Too bad -- it looked like there might be some drama (albeit fantasy-related) to this game.

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Posted on: November 22, 2010 6:24 pm
 

Hot Routes 11.22.10: Week 11 boxscore tidbits

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Did you notice the Giants only had 208 yards of total offense against the Eagles Sunday night?

Justin Tuck had three sacks and was phenomenal in containment outside and against the run.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis racked up 96 yards on 21 carries against the Colts.

Donald Brown had 68 yards on 17 carries, but 36 of those yards came on one good run. Brown was his usual ineffective self for most of the night. J. Mayo (US Presswire)

Jerod Mayo led the Patriots with 15 tackles, though fellow inside linebacker Gary Guyton stood out more. Guyton had nine tackles.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 21/34, 316 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Fred Jackson and Cedric Benson both rushed for over 115 yards.

For the second week in a row, the Bills won and Lee Evans caught just two passes. (Not trying to suggest there’s a correlation between the two.) Steve Johnson has become Buffalo’s No. 1 wideout. He had eight catches for 137 yards and three scores against the Bengals.

For the second straight week, Felix Jones gave the Cowboys 51 yards on the ground. That is his second highest rushing output of the season.

Jahvid Best, who is battling a bad foot, had just two yards on three carries. Or maybe it was three yards on two carries. Anyway, he was a non-factor.

Dez Bryant averaged minus-two yards per catch on all of his non-touchdown receptions Sunday.

Very rarely does a DT lead his team in tackles. That’s what Ndamukong Suh did for the Lions (eight stops).

Before leaving with a re-aggravated groin injury, Clinton Portis looked fresh on five carries (32 yards).

Pilloried all week for poor route running, Redskins wideout Joey Galloway caught three passes for 32 yards. That was three more than Randy Moss caught, by the way.

Titans rookie Marc Mariani recorded his second touchdown return of the season (87 yards on a punt).

It came predominantly in garbage time, but Derek Anderson was 25/46 for 295 yards and a touchdown. And Matt Cassel, who raised the bar for garbage time excellence last week, was a sturdy 15/24 for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

Dwayne Bowe caught two touchdowns, giving him a Chiefs record six-straight games with a touchdown. Bowe is on pace for 1,100 yards and 18 TD’s.

Adrian Wilson led the Cardinals with seven tackles after struggling a week ago.

Thanks to the big deficit, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson got only 14 carries Sunday (72 yards). That was only two more carries than the Packers gave Dimitri Nance (37 yards).

Sidney Rice’s debut: three catches, 56 yards.

Clay Matthews added another sack to his records (league-high 11.5 on the season). He also had two tackles for a loss and two hits on the quarterback.

LaDainian Tomlinson still looks fresh. He only managed 36 yards on 12 carries, but he turned in 71 yards on seven receptions.

Joel Dreessen could wind up keeping the starting tight end job even once Owen Daniels is healthy. Dreessen, who is a slightly better blocker than Daniels, caught four passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.

With RT Damien Woody out, the Texans got three sacks (two from Mario Williams) and seven hits on Mark Sanchez.

Pittsburgh held Oakland to 61 yards rushing, which is par for the course for the Steelers this season.

Jason Campbell was 7/19 for 70 yards and a pick before getting benched in the second half. Bruce Gradkowski finished 13/24 for 98 yards and a pick.

Rashard Mendenhall’s 59 yards rushing were just four more yards than Ben Roethlisberger had on the ground.

James Harrison had two sacks, two tackles for a loss and two hits on the quarterback (one of which drew a ridiculous roughing the passer flag)…and those numbers still don’t describe the depth of his impact Sunday.

Joe Flacco had his first 300-yard passing game of the season against the Panthers.

Ray Lewis got his 30th career interception (and took it to the house).

The Jaguars won despite six turnovers (four from David Garrard).

Peyton Hillis was held to 48 yards on 21 carries, though he produced 95 yards on six receptions.

The Jaguars sacked Colt McCoy six times. Six sacks used to be a half-season for Jacksonville.

Interesting: Michael Turner got 28 carries for Atlanta (131 yards) and Jason Snelling got just one.

Who needs Pierre Thomas? Chris Ivory turned in99 yards on 23 carries for the Saints.

Brandon Stokley, Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu all had at least five catches and 75 yards for the Seahawks.

The 49ers generated only 71 yards on the ground against Tampa Bay’s bottom-feeder run defense. Forty five of those yards came from Troy Smith scrambles.

Mike Williams, barely 48 hours removed from a DUI arrest, caught all three passes thrown his way. Williams finished with 54 yards and a touchdown.

Patrick Willis stamped his ticket to Hawaii: two sacks, two tackles for a loss, two QB hits and a team-high 13 tackles.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: November 16, 2010 1:20 am
 

F&R NFL Approval Matrix, Week 10

Posted by Will Brinson

Our affinity for graphs and charts and purty pictures knows no bounds, so (with a nod to the smartypants at NY Mag), we present the NFL Approval Matrix. Suggestions, complaints and intellecutual property lawsuits may be directed to us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).

Click to embiggen.


Posted on: November 15, 2010 5:10 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2010 5:11 pm
 

Alex Smith healthy enough ... to be a back up

Posted by Will Brinson

Mike Singletary's 49ers -- winners of, gasp, two games in a row! -- will stick with what's worked this week against the Buccaneers, as a healthy Alex Smith will return to serve as Troy Smith's backup.

Singletary announced the news at his Monday press conference, via our 49ers Rapid Reporter Michael Erier.

"We’re going week to week," Singletary said.

So, yeah, he's not entirely confident in Troy, even though the former Ohio State product lit up the Rams en route to a potentially season-changing win for San Fran. And sure, he's undefeated this season and has more wins than Alex, but there's no reason to think keeping him as the starter is actually smart.

This does fall in line with Singletary's tactics, however -- steadfast denial of a situation and the belief that withholding job security might serve as motivation is his MO.

Troy should be fine come this Sunday, too, since picking up a "W" is probably going to fall more on the defense. After all, if Mike Goodson and the Panthers can run for 100 yards against Tampa, there's no reason to think Frank Gore can't pile up a monster game too.

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Posted on: November 15, 2010 1:41 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 1:04 pm
 

10 stories that deserve your attention Week 10

Posted by Will Brinson & Josh Katzowitz

1. Garrett does Dallas

Perhaps the weirdest thing about a really weird Week 10 in the NFL was the Dallas Cowboys' not just winning, but flat-out dominating the New York Giants en route to a 33-20 thrashing of the team everyone thought was the NFC's best just a week ago.

But what could have possibly changed in just one week to take the Cowboys from the definitive punchline of the 2010 season and turn them into a dangerous spoiler machine?

"The difference is the freakish disasters that have defined our season didn't happen tonight for us," Jon Kitna said afterwards.

Well, yes, there's that. But where's the Jason Garrett love?!?!? After all, if he can do this in just one week, imagine what he could do in a whole year with a gigantic contract! (At least that's the argument he's likely pushing to Jerry Jones for the rest of this week.)

Garrett clearly makes the Cowboys a better team right now than Wade Phillips did -- simply based on effort alone -- but whether or not he's the long-term answer as a coach for Jones' organization is going to require more than just four quarters of impressive play from the Cowboys.

But Cowboys fans probably shouldn't bask in the glow of a dominating win against a division opponent -- continued success in a lost season will make Garrett all but a lock for the full-time job in 2011, and that would be a shame, particularly with so many excellent coaching candidates out there after the season.

One thing's for sure, though: whoever coaches Dallas next year and beyond is going to have a very special talent in Dez Bryant. The rookie wideout, whose play this year has to make Jones feel less horrible for passing on Randy Moss so many years ago, continued to light up the stat sheet against the Giants. (WB)

2. Dolphins QBs get tossed into the blender

Entering Sunday’s game, the Dolphins knew exactly where they wanted to go with their quarterbacks. Coaches had determined they needed to replace starter Chad Henne with backup Chad Pennington, and though this couldn’t have been easy for Henne, he took his demotion with class and professionalism.

That lasted all of two plays before Pennington dislocated his shoulder and left the game with a ton of money in hand (not the same hand that’s connected to the shoulder he just dislocated. The other hand, obviously). That’s because he got a $3.25 million bonus to play those two snaps (it was an escalator in his contract that had to do with him playing as the starting quarterback), so hey, good for him.

Next up was Henne, who soon left with a knee injury.

That leaves the Dolphins with one healthy quarterback, Tyler Thigpen. All we’ve heard since he was elevated to starter is how unorthodox of a signal-caller he is but, at the same time, how effective he can be. Apparently, he burns the Dolphins first team defense in practice all the time while running the scout team. Apparently, he’s innovative and, if he can limit his mistakes, he could be a real force. That said, 24 hours ago, he was nothing better than a third-string quarterback.

And to be fair, for all of Thigpen’s attributes, he’s 1-10 all time as an NFL starter.

Miami now will have to shop for at least one other quarterback to back up Thigpen, and the Dolphins probably will add two this week. JaMarcus Russell is apparently one option, as is Sean Canfield, Tom Brandsteter, Todd Bouman, Jeff George, Vinny Testaverde, and hell, I don’t know, Randall Cunningham (only Russell, Canfield, Brandsteter and Bouman are legit, by the way). (JK)

3. Do NOT make the Patriots angry



The debate surrounding the Patriots over the past week was "trap game v. crumbling dynasty." Could the Patriots really be looking that far past a former assistant on Bill Belichick's staff in Eric Mangini? Could Randy Moss have been more important than we thought to Tom Brady's success?

Yes and no are the answers to those questions -- and we can all justifiably hop back on the Pats bandwagon after they dismantled the Steelers on Sunday night behind a monster Brady performance that saw him throw for 350 yards, three touchdowns and rush for another. (Interestingly, all three were to rookie Rob Gronkowski and this was Brady's first game over 300 yards this season.)

Belichick may plan well (22-2 after a bye) and New England may never lose back-to-back games (23-3 following a loss), but not many people saw this coming, even if it was in Pittsburgh, where Brady's consistently ripped owned the Steelers franchise and stomped on the collective heart of the fanbase every time he gets a chance (6-1 against them for his career).

This isn't to say that there shouldn't be any hesitation to crown the Pats the best team in the NFL, because there should be. Their defense is still really young (though it's maturing), and there absolutely questions about the offense, but, really, what you should worry about is not playing them when they're angry. "

And if you saw Brady screaming at his offensive lineman, crunching forward for three yards, slamming the ball once he got in the end zone or referring to the game as "emotional" at least 30 times afterwards, you know the Pats played and practiced angry this week. (WB)

4. What else can go wrong in Minnesota?

Wait, wait, don’t answer that. If there is an answer to that, we don’t want to know the answer.

And we’re not even talking about Percy Harvin’s migraines and Sidney Rice’s hip and Bernard Berrian’s groin and John Sullivan’s calf and Adrian Peterson’s ineffectiveness Sunday and … so on and so on.

We’re talking about how Brett Favre somehow came up with another injury he can fight through (he told ESPN that he’s been having shoulder pains that might be related to biceps surgery he had in 2008) and how he threw three interceptions Sunday to go with a fumble and a QB passer rating of 44.5. Not coincidentally, Minnesota lost 27-13 to Chicago to fall to 3-6 on the season.

But obviously, Favre still thinks his squad can make the playoffs. Right, Brett?

"If I had to gauge today I would say no," he said. "I'm not writing us off. But guys are in that locker room as we did right after the game [saying], 'We've got to find a way to turn it around' – all the cliches that go with it, as you would expect. 'We've got to pick it up. We've got to find a way to win.' And I say yes to all of those.

"Can this team make the playoffs? Yes, I'll say yes to that. Will we make the playoffs? I have no idea. No idea. And for anyone in our locker room to think beyond next week, or really beyond today ... we will be watching the playoffs. That's probably a better guess than us making the playoffs. And that's just being honest."

The truth does, in fact, hurt. Whether Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was being completely honest about coach Brad Childress’ continued employment – he told ESPN that he wasn’t considering getting rid of Childress – we’ll just have to wait and see. But you can’t like the sour attitude that continues to waft through Childress’ locker room. Honest or not. (JK)

5. The AFC West just got wilder

The Oakland Raiders cruised into their bye with a three-game winning streak, but it was reasonable to think the Kansas City Chiefs could put some distance in the AFC West standings thanks to a matchup against the defensively incompetent Broncos.

Then a funny thing happened -- Denver watched how the Raiders beat KC the week before, stacked the box early against Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, and blew out Todd Haley's squad early and often. Late too, for that matter; Josh McDaniels' decision to keep his starters in the whole game didn't exactly sit well with Haley, who refused to shake hands after the game.

What was the long-term outcome of this game? Well, for starters, the AFC West is wide open now. Oakland and KC are both 5-4 and in first, but looming LARGE are the San Diego Chargers at 4-5 and just one game back.

The Bolts are even more terrifying for that division because by the time the second set of divisional games get underway, they'll be in possession of a fully-loaded weapon, as Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson and Legandu Naanee all (should) return sooner than later. 

What might be most weird about this is, given that all eight divisions are completely up in the air at this point, the Chargers might once again represent the team most likely to run away with their division. If they can win their remaining four games against AFC West foes (home-and-home against Denver, home game against Kansas City, home against Oakland), there's a pretty good chance they close the season 6-1 and cruise to another title.  (WB)

6. What else can we say about Palmer?

He’s not just average at this point in his career. He’s worse than average. Carson Palmer showed that again in the Bengals 23-17 loss to the Colts. His stats actually don’t look too bad (31 of 42 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions). But Palmer, as he’s been the past two seasons, is sometimes so inaccurate, it actually feels like a joke. Surely, he can’t be that off. He must be joshing us.

Yet, he threw another pick-6 Sunday, and against a Colts defense missing most of its key players, he simply wasn’t good enough. He’s also not getting enough help from his teammates, particularly Terrell Owens, who seems to quit on a route at least once a game. Too far out of his reach – which, to be fair, happens quite a bit with Palmer – and Owens doesn’t bother going after it or knocking it away from the defender who’s usually ready to make the interception.

Palmer apparently had a pain-killing injection put into his shoulder before the game – the same shoulder that caused him to miss practice Wednesday and Thursday – and it seems clear Palmer isn’t healthy. Perhaps, he hasn’t been healthy in quite a while. Those are the whispers that follow him around, and though he’s always quick to deny that he has long-lasting pain, that could explain why he’s fallen so far from being an elite quarterback to being one that has dropped below the average line. (JK)

7. When playing not to win works



Pretty sure I'll feel like a jerk suggesting this, but the Browns should have played for the tie on Sunday. And yeah, maybe Herm Edwards won't agree, but when Cleveland dialed up a pass on first down with 1:35 remaining in overtime, and Colt McCoy missed Ben Watson, it ended up costing the Browns the game (and, no joke, a chance to at least get back near the playoff race) because they left the Jets 24 seconds on the clock after a punt to their own 37-yard line.

Now, McCoy had already led an amazing drive to close out regulation, so it's fine putting the game in his hands. But in that situation, you really can't play "just to win," because the risk-reward of having to march 60 yards just to have a shot at a game-winning field goal doesn't pan out. Run the ball with Peyton Hillis twice, and maybe play action on third down. Otherwise you end up losing just like the Browns did. (WB)

8. There's a new Smith in town

When we talked to 49ers LB Takeo Spikes recently about his team, he brought up, with no prompting, how quickly the team had taken a liking to QB Troy Smith.

"Just with Troy’s presence," Spikes said. "He’s a guy who’s not only confident in his abilities but he makes everybody feel confident about themselves and what he’s about to do when we step on the field."

You could really see that against the Rams. Smith threw for 356 yards and a TD on just 17 completions, and as the game entered the second half, he looked completely in control and command. This is not how he looked when he was in Baltimore. Maybe it’s something in that San Francisco air. Or maybe it’s the Rice-A-Roni. (JK)

9. Bills get off the schneid

The Bills have been so close on so many different occasions.

They kept New England in sight before falling 38-30 in Week 3. And after taking their bye in Week 6, the heartbreaks really began to pile up.

In Week 7, the Bills gained 505 yards and scored four touchdowns – and took a 24-10 lead against Baltimore, no less – but the game turned for good in overtime when Ravens LB Ray Lewis lifted up Buffalo Te Shane Nelson (not unlike Patrick Swayze hoisting Jennifer Grey into the air) and stripped the ball away. Four plays later, Baltimore kicked the game-winning field goal.

In Week 8, Buffalo forced overtime AGAIN, and AGAIN, the opponent crushed the Bills souls in the final period. Early in overtime, Bills K Rian Lindell actually kicked the 53-yarder that would have given the Bills the win, but Chiefs coach Todd Haley had called timeout just before the snap. On the retry, Lindell hit the upright and it was no good.

And last week, not even a trip to Toronto could change the Bills fortunes. Despite Buffalo leading 19-14 in the fourth quarter, the Bills allowed (of all people) Bears QB Jay Cutler to throw the go-ahead TD pass with 6:41 to go. The Bears could not respond and fell 22-19.

But Sunday … ah, Sunday. A blessed, glorious victory.

So, Buffalo, how did it feel beating the Lions 14-12? This Associated Press lede should tell you the story:

Elated and relieved, guard Eric Wood could not contain himself as he skipped toward the Buffalo Bills’ locker room door.

“Holy cow! We won a game!” Wood yelled, his voice echoing in the tunnel at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

So, yeah, it felt pretty good. Buffalo can thank RB Fred Jackson, who rushed for a season-high 133 yards and scored both touchdowns. And despite the fact Lions QB Shaun Hill led a furious comeback in the final minutes, the Bills defense cracked down during the two-point conversion and Hill was forced to throw it out of the back of the end zone.

Here’s hoping the Bills enjoy this victory. Lords knows they’ve earned it. (JK)

10. Quick Hitters:

****We had two overtime games this week. In an unbelievable upset, CBS’ Gus Johnson wasn’t calling either game. His game actually was decided on a last-second Hail Mary, which allowed him to be at his best while not having to put any extra (unpaid) time into his shift.

****As a result of the Bills winning, the Panthers look like they're in prime position for the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. It'll be the first time in franchise history Carolina selects first overall -- the closest they came was No. 2 in 2003, which netted them Julius Peppers instead of David Carr. That worked out okay.

****The Lions are 8-1 this season! Against the spread. Which is actually pretty impressive and probably indicative that they're better than their record indicates. So, that's something, right?

****Amazingly, the 49ers had three of their touchdowns called back because of penalties. And they were impressive touchdowns, too. Unfortunately, they’ve gone to that almost-touchdown heaven in the sky, never to be seen or heard from again.

****Speaking of San Francisco, the team was 0-for-11 on third-down conversions until Rams S O.J. Atogwe was called for pass interference in overtime. Two plays later, the 49ers kicked the game-winning field goal. Who said you have to convert third downs to win?

****Shonn Greene was expected to get more carries this week and he did, making the most out of the 20 times he toted the rock (his second-highest total of the season) and giving a good indication that the's prepping to turn into more of a workhorse for the Jets.

****Know what's weird? People just refuse to talk about the Atlanta Falcons as the best team in the NFL. Even though they have a record to match. That is all.

****Mario Manningham and Ramses Barden looked sharp in the loss to the Cowboys, just proving how deep and talented that WR corps of the Giants is -- if Steve Smith misses significant time, it's obviously problematic, but New York can still score.

****Randy Moss said he had a "bad" day/game in his debut for the Titans. And he's correct, but it was odd that he didn't try and blame someone else, merely pointing out he'd do what was necessary in order to help the team win. But that's usually what he does after his first week in a new location. If this keeps up and the Titans aren't winning, things could change. Quickly.

****Pete Carroll's playcalling is so freaking bizarre. It's one thing that the Seahawks simply can't run the ball without Russell Okung healthy (they can't), but it's another to be chunking the ball left and right across the field with little-to-no time remaining. Oh, and his decision to QB sneak in the red zone resulted in a broken bone for Matt Hasselbeck. It's really going criminally underrated because they're having some success this year. 

****Brandon Marshall's temper flared up again Sunday, as he got upset after making a catch and threw the ball into the stands, drawing a penalty. Given that he might be catching passes from JaMarcus Russell soon (no, no seriously), there's a pretty good chance we could be seeing an epic meltdown at some point. 
Posted on: November 13, 2010 11:40 am
 

Week 10 injury news and analysis, part I

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Chiefs at Broncos

Right now, it’s unclear what will happen with Denver LB D.J. Williams, who was charged early Friday morning with a DUI – his second alcohol-related charge since 2005. He didn’t practice Friday, and coach Josh McDaniels expressed disappointment with Williams – who’s been one of the best defenders on the squad this season.

He could play this Sunday, but he’s looking at discipline from the NFL at some point and probably from the Broncos as well. That said, he very well could be out there this weekend. You’ll remember that when Braylon Edwards was charged with DWI in September, he played the very next week.

Kansas City rookie WR Dexter McCluster – who’s missed the past two games with a high ankle sprain – is listed as questionable and will be a gametime decision. He was limited at practice all week, and if he could play Sunday, he’d be a big boon to the Chiefs. Aside from McCluster, OG Brian Waters, S Kendrick Lewis and S Jon McGraw are questionable.

Cowboys at Giants

The big blow for the Giants will be that WR Steve Smith won’t play because of a partially torn pectoral muscle he suffered in Thursday’s practice (luckily for him and his team, it doesn’t appear to be a season-ending injury). His team will miss his production, and Hakeem Nicks will miss Smith’s ability to take some of the opposing secondary’s attention off him. Mario Manningham should get more playing time in place of Smith.

We also could see the return of T Will Beatty, who’s been out since mid-September with a broken foot. This week, he started doing agility and footwork drills for the first time since his surgery, and he’s listed as questionable on the injury report. RB Brandon Jacobs, who missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness, is probable.

For Dallas, CB Terence Newman hasn’t been himself since he hurt his ribs three weeks ago, and he’s been burned for big gains and big touchdowns because he’s having a tough time accelerating. Considering the Cowboys are thin in the secondary, Newman likely will continue to play. He had full participation in practice all week and is probable.

Seahawks at Cardinals

Arizona RB Beanie Wells just cannot seem to get healthy. Once again, he’s listed as questionable this week after missing practices Wednesday and Thursday (he was limited Friday) with continued swelling in his knee. It’s not just the fact he’s hurt. He’s also missing valuable practice time, and that combination does not bode well for him. He played last week, but carried just once for minus-two yards. Until he’s healthy, Tim Hightower will get the bulk of the carries.

DL Darnell Dockett, one of the Cardinals most important defenders, suffered a shoulder stinger in last week’s loss to Minnesota, and he’s questionable. He practiced all week (albeit in a limited fashion), but he seems likely to play. LB Paris Lenon, who aggravated an ankle injury last week, also is questionable to play. But he progressed well this week, and he very well could play as well.

Seattle, once again, could miss first-round pick LT Russell Okung, who’s been battling injuries all season. Now, he’s dealing with an ankle injury, and the Seahawks listed him as questionable to play. Without him, the Seahawks likely will start G Chester Pitts in his place.

Rams at 49ers

Obviously, the big absence for San Francisco is starting QB Alex Smith, who is out with a left shoulder injury. Troy Smith will get the start in his place. Considering he helped lead San Francisco to a big win against the Broncos two weeks ago in London, Troy Smith deserves another shot this week against San Francisco. Plus, as LB Takeo Spikes told me recently in Five Questions (or More), Smith’s presence in the pocket was a comfort to the team.

Of the 11 Rams who are on this week’s injury report, two (WR Danario Alexander and S James Butler) are out, one (TE Fendi Onobun) is doubtful and everybody else is probable.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: November 12, 2010 11:37 am
 

Five Questions (or More) with Takeo Spikes

T. Spikes has had an outstanding career, but his teams haven't fared so well (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Takeo Spikes, the 49ers veteran LB, has been hugely effective in this league for more than a decade, mostly playing on teams that couldn’t break the .500 mark. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler, but he’s never been to the playoffs.

Though the 49ers are coming off their bye week with a 2-6 record, there’s reason for hope in San Francisco. The team is coming off a big win against the Broncos in London two weeks ago, and Spikes still feels like the team has a chance to compete in the NFC West.

We caught up with Spikes, and we discussed his worldliness, the team’s quarterback situation and how he continues to motivate himself.

Previous Five Questions (or More):

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 22: Bengals WR coach Mike Sheppard

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Oct. 1: Kent Babb of the KC Star

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington


1. CBSSports.com:
So, you got back from London before the bye week. Aside from the big win, how was the UK?

Takeo Spikes:
London was cool. I like it because it breaks up the monotony of the season. I’ve never been to Europe before. I’ve been to other places, but not to Europe. To go over there and see a different culture was cool. I’m a people person. I went to different restaurants and to see the different sights that you learn about in school when you’re in social studies. It was a great experience.

CBS:
I’ve been to your hometown of Sandersville, Ga., and I know it’s a small town. When you were growing up there, did you ever think about exploring the world? Did you think the NFL could help you do that?

Spikes: I always knew that I wanted to go places. But I never knew I’d go as many places as I’ve been. Football has allowed me to experience much more than I could have even fathomed.

2. CBS: Let’s talk about the win against Denver. How big was that?

Spikes: It was a great win for us. Knowing what we’ve been through during the entire eight games. Just looking back at the last couple weeks, we’ve noticed a lot of improvement. We’ve gone out the last three games, and if you look at the film, we’ve gotten better. We got a much-needed spark with Troy (Smith at QB) coming in. To be able to display what we displayed in London in Wembley Stadium, it was great. The fans were unbelievable. A lot of guys figured it was like playing in college again because there were 85,000 people there.

CBS: You guys went straight from Carolina to London, while Denver spent a couple extra days at home. Do you think it helped that the 49ers flew out early to let your bodies adjust?

Spikes:
I think it helped. To be honest, we got there Monday morning, and we didn’t recover until that Thursday. That’s when everybody’s bodies were back on schedule. I can’t even imagine doing what Denver wanted to do and expect them to feel well-rested and alert. I know for us, even on Wednesday, I still couldn’t go to sleep on time.

CBS:
Could you tell during game that Denver wasn’t as well-rested?

Spikes:
That, I don’t know. I had good intention to ask those guys. I talked to them when they got off the plane on Thursday, and they said they felt fine. But damn, it must have been tough.

3. CBS: What did Troy Smith give you? I know quarterback has been a problem area. You could really see it in that Monday Night game against the Saints when the crowd started chanting for David Carr. But now you go with Troy Smith, and suddenly, it clicks. Why?

Spik
es: Just with Troy’s presence. He’s a guy who’s not only confident in his abilities but he makes everybody feel confident about themselves and what he’s about to do when we step on the field. I know it’s only one game. But if he’s going to continue to be the quarterback, I liked his performance. He made plays down the line when we needed plays to be made. That’s big for us, because as a defensive unit, we know you can only hold up for so long.

CBS:
I think it was surprising because Smith had never shown that before when he was in Baltimore.

Spikes:
It’s about timing and opportunity. When you get the timing and the opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.

4. CBS: You know, your career is fascinating to me. You’ve played at such a high level for so long, but you’ve only been on one team that’s finished with a winning record. After 12 years in the league …

Spikes:
Thirteen years.

CBS: After 13 years, how do you still get excited about football, even when the teams you’ve played on haven’t been so good?

Spikes:
I walk on faith. I think that’s the bottom line. Back in the day, early in my career, you don’t know anything about how a team is supposed to feel, and not understanding the reasons why we’re paying quarterbacks $10-12 million per year. If you have a good quarterback, you’re able to go out and compete no matter how bad your defense is. That’s a fact. Earlier in my career, I didn’t understand that. I thought the defense could do it all. But you still need help. Now, how do I keep myself going? I’m surrounded by a great group of guys, and it’s an even push. They push me all the time. I know what we can be. I see us working toward that as a defense.

5. CBS:
You guys must feel the NFC West is still ripe for the taking. 

Spikes: No doubt about it. This division is still ripe for the taking. We finished the first hard part of our schedule. All the time in this league if you start the season off good, you’re going to go through adversity at some point. The true test is how you come out of it. We have a shot, and it’s no pressure on us. Nobody is expecting anything from us anyway.

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Posted on: November 9, 2010 6:43 pm
 

Singletary struggling between Smiths decision

Posted by Will Brinson

Troy Smith did enough in his cup o' coffee for the 49ers last week to warrant some consideration towards keeping him as the starter over Alex Smith for San Francisco's Week 10 home matchup against the Rams. Yes, "enough" in this case is "winning one game," but that's the 2010 49ers, folks.

And as such, we've got a little controversy on our hands!

"Alex knows exactly where I stand with him on leadership," Singletary said. "He knows exactly how I feel about him at quarterback. He knows that at the end of the day, who's going to be the quarterback? The guy who gives us the best chance to win. And that's as simple as that."

So who's the answer? Well, statistics, paycheck and draft slot (it still counts when you pay that much to a No. 1 overall) say Alex. Win/loss record and -- apparently -- leadership say Troy.

Maybe, I suppose -- Alex defended himself on Monday to reporters by pointing out that leading as a quarterback (versus leading as a middle linebacker like Singletary) is a "very different mindset."

Singletary claimed Tuesday that his comments were "misconstrued" and that he wasn't taking a pot shot at Alex's leadership.

"Alex Smith is a guy who comes in, he's going to lead by example," Singletary said. "That's his idea of leadership. He's not going to be a guy that tells someone to do something, asks someone to do something. He's going to watch film, he's going to invite the receivers, the linemen, he's going to invite everybody, he's going to do that so who wouldn't want that in a quarterback? The guy is courageous, he's fearless, he competes. But his style of leadership, he leads by example. That's who Alex Smith is."

If Singletary were smart, he'd just pick one person, roll with them (in this case that person should be Troy, who's taking the starters snaps and not, you know, injured), and stop trying to play games in the media about whoever isn't starting.

You can do stuff like that when you're 6-2; people will just say you're a "wily motivator." When you're 2-6? You're "losing control of the team." As if that weren't apparent already.

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