Archive for September, 2006

News Roundup…Barlow, Moore, Miree and Goings

September 27, 2006

Lots of little news around the web dealing with Panther Alumns today, but not much that really needs its own full post. So here’s a quick roundup of what’s happening:

Kevan Barlow may be losing his short-lived grip on the starting running back position in New York:

HOT SEAT: RB Kevan Barlow. He’s losing ground quickly to rookie Leon Washington.

It’s just a quick blurb at the end of a story, but I think Washington’s catch and run ability is what’s causing the problems for Kevan. What got Kevan the lock on teh starter’s job originally was his experience but mostly his ability to pass block as well as pound the ball. If Washington improves his pass blocking, I think it’s probably only a matter of time.

Dave Moore is using the bye week in Tampa to heal his injured ribs, and Coach Gruden seems optimistic he will be back when the Buccaneers face the Saints in two weeks:

“Dave Moore has a chance to return for the New Orleans game”

Brandon Miree has been signed from the Packers practice squad and is now their second string fullback. His familiarity with the Packers style of blocking seems to have gotten him to Green Bay in the first place and now onto the active roster:

Brandon Miree was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man active roster on Tuesday, giving the Packers a true backup to starting fullback William Henderson for the first time since Vonta Leach was cut on Sept. 12. The Packers had been using their tight ends as backup fullbacks the last two weeks.

The 6-foot, 236-pound Miree was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 4. He was a seventh-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2004, and spent his rookie season on injured reserve due to a broken thumb. Last season, he was on the Broncos’ practice squad, and was released at the end of training camp this summer.

In Miree, the Packers have another player experienced in the zone-blocking scheme being employed by first-year coach Mike McCarthy. The Broncos were one of the first teams to use zone blocking.

Nick Goings looks like he will be back for the Panthers this Sunday as they face New Orleans in a virtual must-win game:

Running back Nick Goings (thigh), cornerback Ken Lucas (neck) and wide receiver Steve Smith (hamstring) all practiced and are listed as probable.

Nick has been sidlined with his thigh injury since week 2.

Poteat A Patriot Again

September 27, 2006

Hank Poteat

The Boston Herald is reporting the New England Patriots have re-signed corner Hank Poteat, who they released before the end of the preseason. Poteat spent a few days with the Jets and has been waiting for another chance with a team since:

For the third season in a row, the New England Patriots are calling in cornerback Hank Poteat to help shore up an ailing secondary.

The Patriots re-signed Poteat on Wednesday and placed cornerback Randall Gay on the injured reserve list with a a hamstring injury.

They also give a nice little rundown of Poteat’s career, which has been a right-place right-time thing. He’s certainly not as big a name as Dorsett or Marino as Pitt alumni go, but Hank has a Super Bowl Ring:

Poteat, 28, first joined the Patriots in January 2005 and, despite having not played at all that season, appeared in three playoff games, including the Super Bowl victory over Philadelphia.
The 5-foot-10-inch, 192-pound cornerback is in his sixth NFL season and has played in 52 career regular-season games and seven playoff games, including with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ruben Brown, In His Own Words

September 26, 2006

Ruben Brown

ChicagoSports.com has a feature on Pro-Bowl Guard and Panther alumn Ruben Brown today and it’s a pretty interesting read.

I believe this is supposed to be a “Q&A” type article…but someone forgot to put in the questions. So all we’re reading is the answers, which makes it somewhat confusing but still some good stuff in there. I’ll try to fill in what I think the general questions were.

I usually only take a few lines from an article and then give my observations, but in this case I’m just trying to make the article readable.

Read Ruben’s words after the jump…

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Larry Fitzgerald is a superstar

September 25, 2006

Larry

At least if you have an Alltell phone he is. I wanted to post this last month when I first heard about it but could never find an actual link to it. Each Wednesday there will be a podcast from Larry that you can get a code to access with your Alltell phone. Here are the instructions I could find:

Watch his weekly podcast @ www.alltelcircle.com/11. The podcast launches every Wednesday and is available only to Alltel customers until it’s released to the public on Friday thru RSS feeds.

These further instructions are from the above website:

You need a passcode to enter Larry Fitzgerald’s “Circle Only” web site. To unlock this site and get exclusive access to Larry’s weekly podcast, dial #Larry11 from your Alltel Wireless phone. The call is free and automatically enters you to win great prizes including Cardinals tickets, autographed memorabilia and VIP treatment for you and your circle of 10 friends. Plus, Larry will call one lucky fan each week. Don’t forget to call back every Wednesday for the weekly passcode.

So, if you have an Alltell phone, it might be worth checking out. If you don’t, you can still have Larry pitch products to you. According to Brandweek, EAS,  maker of sports supplements, recently started a campaign including Larry:

Abbott Labs’ EAS, Golden, Colo., whose nutrition and dietary supplements have NFL approval, will feature players in a season-long print campaign, via The Brainstorm Group, Denver, in such pubs as ESPN, The Sporting News and Men’s Fitness. Team EAS includes NFLers Matt Hasselback, Carlos Rogers, Larry Fitzgerald, Ronnie Brown and Vernon Davis. Tag: “Join the team. Use what the pros use.”

I thought I had seen Larry in a magazine ad for EAS a year or so ago, but I honestly can’t remember.  If you’re in a “pub” during the football season, which I’d think most of us are pretty regularly, look for Mr. Fitzgerald on the wall. On a side note, I don’t see how advertising sports supplements to drunk guys with beer bellies will go over, but whatever floats your boat.

Barlow gets his first start as a Jet

September 25, 2006

Kevan Barlow

As reported briefly last night in the Sunday NFL Roundup, Kevan Barlow got his first start for the Jets. This article from New York Daily News refers to it as a “shake-up”…so not sure what that means for it becoming a permanent switch. Most indiciations I got before reading that article was that this was at least a semi-permanent move:

Derrick Blaylock was benched, Kevan Barlow was elevated, rookie Leon Washington was unveiled and Cedric Houston was pulled out of mothballs.

Eric Mangini tried to shake things up, starting Barlow and deactivating Blaylock, who had started the first two games. Houston, who didn’t dress the first two weeks, was in uniform, but he didn’t get a chance until late in the fourth quarter. When Barlow limped off with an apparent leg injury, Mangini went to Houston, who scored on a 5-yard run.

The Jets’ only offensive play after the Houston touchdown was a Pennington kneel down, so Barlow didn’t have a chance to return after limping off. Doesn’t seem serious though from comments after the game. A bigger problem for Barlow’s starting future than the limping off was the limping performance during the game:

In the end, the result looked eerily familiar to the first two games: The Jets struggled on the ground, managing only 74 yards on 24 attempts – a 3.1 average. In three games, their total is 216 yards.

Barlow himself got 31 yards on 12 carries. That’s hardly a full day of work for most NFL backs, but when you’re trying to break out of a running back by committee situation you need to make the most of the carries you get. The Jets O-Line definitely isn’t helping out any though, as it doesn’t seem to matter which guy is behind them, there is little room for any running back.

What helps Barlow out the most is his pass-blocking abilities, which are pretty far ahead of the other younger backs.

Sunday NFL Roundup

September 24, 2006

The Sunday night game doesn’t involve any former Panthers, so that gives me a chance to wrap up Sunday before the evening is over. Let’s get to the other six games that involved Pitt alumni this afternoon:

Carolina 26
Tampa Bay 24

Torrie Cox had a quiet day compared to last week, with just one pass defensed and no tackles. He also got an illegal block on a punt return in the second quarter. He was the only Panther active, more on the inactives at the end of this article.

New York Jets 28
Buffalo 20

Kevan Barlow got his first start as a New York Jet Sunday but didn’t have the big day you would expect against the Bills’ defense. Kevan did get in the end zone though, finishing with 12 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown. No receptions for Barlow but he did lead the team in carries. He is sharing the load with two others in a running back by committee in New York.

Chicago 19
Minnesota 16

Rueben Brown was in his usual spot at left guard. A quiet day, a good thing for an offensive lineman…one holding call that was declined. The Bears only managed three yards per carry out of Thomas Jones and Rex Grossman was sacked once. Not bad on the sacks but Chicago definitely wants to get more than three yards per carry.

Philadelphia 37
San Francisco 24

Antonio Bryant had his quietest day as a 49er, with only four catches for 36 yards. More later on whether he punched out QB Alex Smith after the game.
Shawntae Spencer actually led the 49ers in tackles Sunday with 7…apparently not much tackling going on when you’re busy giving up 37 points. Spencer also fell on a fumble in the second quarter that led to San Fran’s first points, a field goal that made it 14-3 Philly.
Andy Lee had almost 300 yards in punts Sunday, finishing with seven punts for 298 yards with two ending inside the 20. Doesn’t sound like he had many chances to pin the Eagles back as the niners weren’t really moving the ball out of their own end much.

St Louis 16
Arizona 14

Larry Fitzgerald was another former Panther Biletnikoff winner with a relatively quiet day. Larry put up six catches for 65 yards but did get into the end zone. Seems with him and Boldin one of them always gets a lot of yards but doesn’t get the TD and the other one has a lot less yards and a TD. That was the case again as Boldin finished with 10 catches for 129 yards, but didn’t get in the paint.
Gerald Hayes led his Cardinals in tackles on the day with 10 and recovered a fumble that could have been the biggest play of the game had the Cards been able to drive for the win. Late in the 4th quarter with Arizona trailing 16-14, Hayes fell on a fumble on the Cardinals’ own 23 yard line. The Rams were on their way to scoring and putting hte game out of reach before that play. The O couldn’t muster a drive though, and actually failed to convert a 4th down after a sack from the same 23 yard line.

Inactives
Other than Panthers with byes (Lousaka Polite and Kris Wilson), three sat out with various injuries Sunday:
Dave Moore missed his second straight week with a rib injury for Tampa Bay. This was expected, he was listed as out on the weekly injury report.
Nick Goings sat out for his second week with a thigh injury for Carolina. He was listed as questionable coming in.
Darnell Dinkins also missed his second week in a row with a pulled hamstring for the Browns. He was listed as doubtful for the week.

Charles Spencer Breaks Leg, Out for Season

September 21, 2006

Charles Spencer
As I mentioned yesterday in the belated NFL Roundup, Charles Spencer broke his left leg in the third quarter. The break was in the tibia, the lower bone in the leg. Really a sad break for Charles who had worked very hard to become the starting left tackle in his first NFL game. Lots of stories around the web on this, NFL.com is reporting that Spencer has already had surgery and the break might not have been a clean one, which could put his timetable for return in doubt:

Houston Texans left tackle Charles Spencer had surgery to repair a broken leg after injuring it the previous day against Indianapolis and will miss the rest of the season.

Coach Gary Kubiak said the surgery went well, but a timetable for his return won’t be known for some time because of the severity of the injury to his tibia.

“I don’t think we’ll probably know a whole lot about his recovery for another couple of months,” Kubiak said. “They’ll probably go in and do some more scopes and stuff on it. It’s a very, very severe injury. We just hope things work out well.”

Spencer, a 6-foot-4, 352-pound third-round draft pick, was injured while blocking midway through the third quarter of Houston’s 43-24 loss to the Colts. The University of Pittsburgh standout nabbed the starting job over veteran Seth Wand.

Hopefully the healing process goes well and things aren’t as serious as they sound right now. The fact that after surgery they can’t even come up with a timetable for him to return for NEXT year sounds bad. Hopefully we get some more updates in the coming week.

Shawntae Spencer signs 6 year, $12 million deal

September 21, 2006

Shawntae Spencer

The 49ers have locked up former Panther Shawntae Spencer until 2012 with a contract that was leaked overnight. Spencer has been one of the best young players on a team full of young players and full of Panthers:

Cornerback Shawntae Spencer agreed to a six-year contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday night, a team source said.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because Spencer wanted to keep the deal quiet, said the third-year pro signed an extension keeping him with the club through 2012.

The deal is worth more than $12 million in total salary, but the amount of his signing bonus wasn’t immediately available.

Despite being a leader on the field for the young defense and having career highs last year, Spencer seems to be staying grounded. Great to see a Pitt product doing things the right way and being so successful:

Spencer, a second-round pick in 2004, has been the best player in the 49ers’ much-maligned defensive secondary over the last three seasons. He started 26 games in his first two years, immediately earning a key role for a club that won just six games in that period.

The former Pitt star had career highs of four interceptions, 76 tackles and 14 passes defensed last season, also scoring his first touchdown on a 61-yard interception return against Tennessee. He has been solid again this season despite a hamstring injury that kept him out of three exhibition games.

But the low-key cornerback prefers to stay out of the spotlight. Perhaps that’s why Spencer never mentioned the deal while speaking with reporters earlier Wednesday.

“It takes time when you get a new scheme. We’re not going to learn it overnight,” Spencer said of the 49ers’ new approach on defense. “The longer you’re in a scheme, the more you’re comfortable with it. … All around as a team, we’re better. We’ve progressed a lot from last year. We’ve got a lot better understanding, and we can play faster.”

Sunday NFL Roundup

September 20, 2006

On Wednesday…had some problems getting to a working computer the last few days, but better late than never I guess. Without any byes, the NFL still has a full slate and lots of Panthers in action:

Houston 24
Indianapolis 43

Charles Spencer had a tough assignment in his second NFL start. Not only was he in one of the loudest buildings in all of football, he was lining up against Dwight Freeney. Things seemed to be going pretty well for Spencer though. The Texans were averaging over 4 yards per carry on the day, Freeney had only one tackle and no sacks…and then the Texans got the ball for their first drive in the 3rd quarter. Spencer went down and his return was “questionable”. Turned out he had broken his leg and was done for quite a while. I’ll have more on this in a story later this morning.

Tampa Bay 3
Atlanta 14

Torrie Cox had an up and down day for the Bucs Sunday. He ended up with four total tackles, one on special teams, and was in on a play that led to a fumble that gave Tampa the ball in good field position although he wasn’t credited with the forced fumble. After playing pretty well in pass coverage most of the day he was flagged for illegal contact that kept an Atlanta drive alive, but they ended up missing a field goal so no real harm was done.
Dave Moore did not play because of his rib injury.

Arizona 10
Seattle 21

Larry Fitzgerald had a rare game with under 100 yards receiving Sunday, finishing with only four receptions for 52 yards. Seattle’s defense did a great job of covering down the field with their zone defenses. Running back Edgerrin James was the Cards‘ leading receiver.
Gerald Hayes had a much better day, finishing with only four tackles but he also intercepted a Matt Hasselback pass when the Seahwaks were driving to score again before the half. Unfortunately Neil Rackers missed the field goal before the half that would have given Arizona more momentum going into the half.

St Louis 13
San Francisco 20

Antonio Bryant had the game winning score on a 72 yard touchdown pass that I should have video of posted soon. That capped a four catch, 131 yard day for Bryant, who had been frustrated again in the first quarter with his lack of catches. More on that later today as well.
Shawntae Spencer started in his usual spot at left corner and his hamstring seems to be completely healed. He ended with four tackles and one pass defensed.
Andy Lee‘s job as the 49er punter isn’t as busy this year as it was last year, but he still had four punts Sunday, putting two inside the 20 yard line. The other two were from inside his own 30, and went 54 and 46 yards. He also held on all San Fran field goal and extra point attempts as usual.

New England 24
New York Jets 17

Kevan Barlow did not start as we thought he might on Sunday, but he did get more than twice the carries of starter Derrick Blaylock. Barlow finished with 14 carries for 42 yards and one catch for four yards. I should have some video of Kevan up tomorrow.
Washington 10
Dallas 27

Lou Polite had a quiet day, as most days are for fullbacks in Bill Parcell’s offenses. Bledsoe threw incomplete to Polite twice, and the rest of the day was all blocking for Lou and they don’t put that in the papers.

Kansas City 6
Denver 9

Kris Wilson got in the game but had no passes thrown his way again in a defensive game.

Inactives:
Rob Pettiti was inactive for the Saints.
Nick Goings was inactive for the Panthers.
Darnell Dinkins was out with a hamstring for the Browns.

VIDEO: Michigan State @ Pitt Highlights

September 20, 2006

After some computer/time troubles, we’re back and should be blogging as usual again. These highlights have been waiting since Sunday to go up, so let’s get to it.

Again please remember these are PITT highlights, and in a game like this those were few and far between (like the 1st quarter and the last play of the game). If there are any plays that aren’t here that you want to see just leave a comment and I’ll have it up within a day. I keep the recordings of the games until the next game is played.

Pitt started off fast on their first drive after stopping MSU. The highlight of that first drive was probably this diving reception by Derek Kinder:

More highlights after the jump:

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