Not going to hit everyone with this, just a few newsworthy items from the past few weeks.
I've always looked at 2009 as essentially a redshirt year for Mike Teel. By staying on the bench, the Seahawks can evaluate his progress in private, possibly giving them more leverage with their future personnel moves. The best thing for Teel, if he wants to take over Seattle's starting job in a few years, was that Matt Hasselbeck have a bounce back season. The results haven't been great, with Hasselbeck missing two games, and being inconsistent from week to week. Seattle will have ample opportunity to scout Jake Locker down the road at the University of Washington, and whether or not the Hawks address that position in the draft will be telling as to Teel's long-term status in town.
When evaluating how Kenny Britt has played to this point, it's not much of a suprise that Tennessee favors the running game, and wants to get Chris Johnson as many touches as possible. Poor quarterback play has been a factor. With how Britt started in September however, I was surprised that he didn't see that many touches over the past month or so. With Justin Gage hurt, Britt returned to the starting lineup last week, and did have two catches for decent yardage. He is averaging 16 yards a catch on the season, which is, as Doug Marrone would say, tremendous. With Jarrett Dillard out for the season, Tiquan Underwood is up to 4th in the Jaguars' WR rotation. He started the year 6th and on their practice squad.
In the backfield, it's been a good year for the tandem of Ray Rice and Brian Leonard. The Ravens may only be 5-4, but that's through no fault of Rice, who's on pace for nearly 1,200 rushing yards, and is 4th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. The bigger story on the year is the revitalization of Brian Leonard (the jumping fullback-turned-blogger), who's finally found his niche as a premier third-down back for the resurgent Bengals. With a 91% catch rate (Brian has caught 22 passes this year, and dropped two), he's in the conversation for best hands in the entire league. Cedric Benson's injury could lead to more touches for Leonard and fellow backup Bernard Scott, although that will be complicated by how fast newly-signed pickup Larry Johnson can get up to speed, and whether or not he has anything left. It's no surprise that Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer loves Leonard, and his ability to convert crucial third downs as a receiver out of the back field. Between Leonard, long-snapper Clark Harris, and watching Hard Knocks over the summer, I've been trying to follow the Bengals this year. They're a nice story.
Jeremy Zuttah has started all year at left guard for the Bucs, although mysterious absentee Aaron Sears recently returned. With Zeus's top level athleticism, he may still may end up at center when all is said and done (my wishful thinking: to the Giants after O'Hara's contract is up). Jeremy has played well this year, although Sears was thought of as a rising player, and his woes prompted an inability to shift Zuttah to center following an injury to Jeff Faine.
You know things aren't going well for Vernon Gholston when the NY tabloids are speculating about whether the Jets will give up on him after just two seasons. I don't follow the Jets though, so I can't say anything else about Jamaal Westerman's play beyond that.
Zuttah's Bucs also recently promoted CB Derrick Roberson off their practice squad. Titans CB Jason McCourty has been inactive recently, after looking very green earlier in the season when pressed into action by a rash of secondary injuries. That's not a surprise, as he is very smart and athletic, but struggled in coverage as a senior, and is probably more of a long-term project. A lot has been made about Vince Young replacing Kerry Collins in Tennessee, but the deep ball was killing them earlier in the year. Plus, Chris Johnson is too good to not win a few games by himself.
And for good measure, the Raptors recently cut Quincy Douby. Things are going a bit better for Todd Frazier, just named the Reds' best prospect by Baseball America. I think Todd has a lot more value in the infield (2B or 3B) than at a corner OF position. He'll probably start '10 at AAA Louisville. A hot start might prompt Cincy to call him up early in the summer. Still can't believe the Yankees passed on him for Andrew Brackman.