Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Trumaine Johnson, CB, Rams (NFL): Attaching himself to Calvin Johnson on Sunday and limiting the Lions’ superstar receiver to just one catch for 16 yards probably would’ve been enough to get Trumaine Johnson on this list. But throw in his 58-yard interception return for a touchdown, and that made it an easy decision. Also impressive is that Johnson, who added five tackles in the 21-14 victory, isn’t even considered the Rams’ top cornerback; he stepped up to the task of guarding “Megatron” while No. 1 CB Janoris Jenkins was out with an injury.
Kurt Coleman, SS, Panthers (NFL): With QB/MVP Cam Newton headlining the offense and LB Luke Kuechly spearheading the defense, Coleman is one of the overlooked contributors who is a big part of Carolina’s 13-0 start. In Sunday’s 38-0 domination of the Falcons, Coleman intercepted his seventh pass of the season — tying him for the NFL lead with Bengals safety Reggie Nelson — and made a team-high nine tackles.
Lorentez Barbour, FS, Navy (NCAA): With all due respect to Grambling and Southern and the Bayou Classic, college football’s best “mid-major” rivalry game went to Navy for the 14th year in a row in Saturday’s 21-17 win over Army. Barbour, a senior who waited his turn on special teams before finally winning the starting free safety job this year, made the biggest impact of any DB with a team-high eight tackles and one interception.
Ron Parker, SS, Chiefs (NFL): After playing excellent defense for 59 minutes and 55 seconds on Sunday, the Chiefs found themselves backed up to their own five-yard line with the Chargers threatening to tie the game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Parker, who had four tackles and one sack for Kansas City, kept tight coverage on San Diego’s 6-6, 240-pound tight end Ladarius Green on an incomplete pass that was the Chargers’ best scoring chance. Two plays later it was over and the Chiefs had a well-earned 10-3 victory.
William Gay, CB, Steelers (NFL): Bengals backup QB A.J. McCarron played pretty well on Sunday, considering that he was unexpectedly thrust into the middle of a heated rivalry game with playoff implications after starter Andy Dalton broke his thumb. McCarron threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, but the pass that keeps making the highlight reels from Pittsburgh’s 33-20 victory is the wide receiver screen that Gay jumped in front of and returned 23 yards for a touchdown.
Desmond King, CB, Iowa (NCAA): The junior from Detroit won the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award as college football’s best defensive back last Thursday, and he was named to pretty much everybody’s All-America first team. King has 67 tackles, eight interceptions and 12 pass breakups for the Hawkeyes, who will face Stanford in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.