Some remarkable performances from young players, coupled with injuries to key veterans, have placed the following athletes squarely in our ‘Wire sights.
Chad Henne: Workmanlike. That’s an apt description of the second-year quarterback’s 115/1 game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday. With Chad Pennington being prepared for a third reconstructive surgery on his throwing arm, it’s a safe assumption that Pennington’s days as a starter are at an end. Heck, although you’d be hard-pressed to find a football player who handles himself with more professionalism, football remains a business and his days with the ‘Phins are almost certainly at an end. Thus, where one door closes another opens. The former Michigan slinger may not possess Pennington’s subtle touch, but his arm strength is impressive and his poise surprising. Chad Henne managed the play clock, went through his progressions and made his check-downs. Miami is assuredly a run-first, run-second offense, but WRs Davone Bess and Ted Ginn have shown promise.
Derek Anderson: Head Coach Eric Mangini is in an unenviable position. Again. When he was pacing the Jet sidelines, venerable QB Brett Favre was thrust upon him and made to be his starter. Now in Cleveland, the coach formerly known as Man-Genius has inherited QBs Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn. Anderson has been distinctly erratic since his ‘07 Pro-Bowl season (when he replaced the injured Tom Brady), while Brady Quinn looks absolutely nothing like an NFL-caliber signal caller. So far, Quinn looks like a CFL backup. With Mangini deciding (and wisely so) that Anderson gives him his best shot at winning, he’s anointed Anderson as Cleveland’s starter moving forward; Anderson rewarded his coach’s confidence by throwing for 269/1/1 and added another score with his legs. With the Bills missing three members of their secondary and on the Browns’ schedule next, Braylon Edwards is positioned for a break-out performance, rookie pass-catcher Mohamed Massaquoi could see his coming-out party turn into a two-week extravaganza, and RB Jerome Harrison’s speed, power and versatility must be respected. Cleveland’s “DA” is a sneaky-good grab.
Shaun Hill: Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis play alongside a quarterback who will never be compared to his San Fr’Ancestors, Joe Montana and Steve Young. Nevertheless, it is difficult to debate the club’s results with Hill at the helm. Through Week 4, Shaun Hill has recorded 700 passing yards and 5 TDs to just 1 pick, and he’s completing over 62% of his passes and currently brags and a PR of 93.3. With stud RB Frank Gore’s knee injury sidelining him to Week 7 at the earliest and rookie backup RB Glen Coffee not quite ready to assume feature back responsibilities, coach Mike Singletary will be forced to lean heavily upon Hill to carry the offense. But from what we saw Sunday, that’s not such a bad thing. TE Vernon Davis put on a pass catching clinic and is finally showing signs of developing into the elite playmaker he was touted to be upon entering the league (10/139/3 over the last 2 games), while WR Josh Morgan found the end zone for the first time this season. Let’s not mistake Hill for being a low-end #1 signal caller, but in leagues that start 2 QBs, he’s certainly serviceable.
Jerome Harrison: The second Brown I am profiling this week and still not the last, Harrison banked 29 carries for 121 yards and added 5 receptions for another 31 yards this past week. For those of you who were not math-majors in school, Cleveland’s de facto leadback recorded 156 combined yards on a whopping 34 touches Sunday. Playing Buffalo next week, Harrison should be in line for yet another RB2 type performance.
Rashard Mendenhall: I listed the Steeler backup last week and, naturally, his explosive 25/169/2 Sunday assures that he’s already been pinched in deeper leagues. But on the off-chance that he remains unclaimed in six-team leagues, and with Fast Willie P. hobbled by turf-toe, I’d be remiss in not mentioning him. Rashard Mendenhall will be given every opportunity to continue to build a case for the feature back role.
Mewelde Moore: Not as explosive as his Pitt backfield mate but more likely to be ‘Wire-bound, the one-time Viking is a solid receiver coming out of the backfield and is athletic enough to be used in a variety of roles. Moore was a key cog in Sunday night’s big win over the Bolts, making 3 grabs for 31 yards and a TD and throwing a 6-yard TD pass to TE Heath Miller. Moore’s value doesn’t hold a candle to that of Mendenhall’s value, but with Willie Parker currently nursing a nagging turf-toe and Rashard Mendenhall’s durability a question mark, Moore belongs on the bench in deeper leagues.
Mohamed Massaquoi: Notched 8/148 Sunday against Cincinnati with the decimated Bill secondary next on the Browny’s slate. Buffalo’s unit will be focusing upon Braylon Edwards, providing Massaquoi with the opportunity to build upon his breakout game, and Derek Anderson has the arm to air it out to the speedy young wideout. If the story and facts surrounding Braylon Edwards’s physical altercation with a friend of Cleveland Cavalier star LeBron James (that Edwards hit him) turns out to be entirely factual and unprovoked, this could be the final straw. A trade or suspension will force Massaquoi into an even more prominent role.
Hakeem Nicks: A first-round pick and a playmaker with rare skills just back from injury, Nicks’ modest 1/54/1 performance was understandably eclipsed by WR Steve Smith’s eye-popping 11/134/2 Week 4. WRs Mario Manningham, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and TE Kevin Boss are all targets to be respected, and few defensive coordinators have the assets needed to cover the embarrassment of pass catching riches at Eli’s disposal. As cornerbacks are forced to pay increased attention to both Manningham and Smith, Nicks will be covered by linebackers … a flat-out mis-match.
Sidney Rice: Adrian Peterson is the offensive linchpin for Minnesota, but if the run game is going to click, it’s because QB Brett Favre and the passing game force opposing defenses to respect the pass. The Monday Night grudge match pit chronic procastinator Brett Favre against his old team and there was no shame in Brett’s game, as he torched Green Bay for 271/3. WR Bernard Berrian is the team’s primary target but Sidney Rice appears to be developing chemistry with the ageless one, as his 4/56/1 line attests. Rice is a spot-start only, but if Berrian suffers an injury or the inconceivable happens, or RB Adrian Peterson is forced to miss any time, Rice’s value will skyrocket.
Kenny Britt: The Titans are in a world of misery right now. Nothing is clicking, the offense is inconsistent and QB Kerry Collins is just b-o-r-i-n-g. But former Rutgers standout WR Kenny Britt is assuming an increasingly large pass catching load and, though I mentioned him in my first Live Wire piece, his performance and value to the Titan O bear repeating.
Jermichael Finley: Finley led all Green Bay Packers in receiving last night and could be coming through on his sleeper status from this preseason. Those hurting at tight end should grab him now before he posts a repeat performance.
Vernon Davis: The light appears to be coming on for the big tight end, and not a moment too soon. With bell-cow Frank Gore sidelined, QB Shaun Hill and the aerial attack have been asked to do more. Like … score. Davis has responded accordingly, stacking TDs like poker chips (ok, three) over the past two tilts and being Hill’s target of opportunity. Due to the relative paucity of Niner pass catchers, I like Davis as a potential 80/600/9 tight end.
I'm the Head of Youth Services for the Edgewater Free Public Library; I place great value on education and literacy... hell, I proof-read everything. Ever proof a Chinese Food Take-Out menu? I do, great for a laugh. Anyway- A long-suffering Minnesota Vikings fan... I harbor hopes, however slender, that my beloved Vikes' will claim a SuperBowl trophy during my lifetime.
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!