The NFL playoff field is set — an eclectic mix of high-powered offenses (the Rams score a league-best 29.9 points per game) and stingy defenses (the Vikings allow a league-low 15.8 points per game), hotshot rookies (league rushing leader Kareem Hunt) and Hall of Fame locks who have been playing forever (Tom Brady), postseason regulars (Steelers) and teams that haven’t been to the playoff party in a long time (Bills).
Since they say defense wins championships, that means there are some defensive backs whose play will mean a lot in determining how the road to the Super Bowl is paved. Continue reading
By sharing some of the football cards from my collection, my goal is to put a spotlight on some defensive backs who may have become underrated or have been forgotten by history.
Mark Kelso, FS, Buffalo Bills (Pro Set 1991)
Let’s stop acting like concussion awareness is something brand-new to the NFL or to its players.
Way back in 1990, the league approved a special padded helmet attachment called a ProCap — known in some circles as a “gazoo helmet” — for a handful of players, most notably Buffalo Bills free safety Mark Kelso. The entire point of the ProCap was to reduce the risk of the user getting a concussion.
That was a quarter-century ago. And so the idea that the NFL and its players were blissfully ignorant about concussions until only recently is equal parts ignorant and inaccurate. Kelso may be the most obvious example of that. Continue reading
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Ron Parker, SS, Chiefs (NFL) — Ever wondered what it would be like if Team USA goalie Tim Howard played strong safety in the NFL? On Sunday in Buffalo, the Chiefs were about three steps from a two-touchdown deficit in the second half when Parker dove and slapped the ball away from Bills running back Bryce Brown, causing a fumble that resulted in a touchback. After Kansas City has rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter, Buffalo’s final drive was almost single-handedly ruined by Parker, who knocked down three passes, including QB Kyle Orton’s fourth-down throw to star rookie WR Sammy Watkins that looked like a sure touchdown. Parker also had a team-high eight tackles in KC’s 17-13 victory.
Cleveland Browns (NFL) — Andy Dalton is a Pro Bowl quarterback who has led the Bengals to three straight playoff appearances. Last Thursday, the Browns secondary teamed with the front seven to make Dalton look like an overwhelmed rookie. Continue reading
At least Johnny Manziel had the excuse of inactivity.
While the most talked-about rookie on the Cleveland Browns roster — more accurately, the most talked-about rookie in any professional sport anywhere this year — spent the first game of his first NFL season on the sideline while veteran Brian Hoyer guided the Browns at quarterback, the highest-paid and highest-picked rookie on the Browns undeniably struggled in his debut.
Cornerback Justin Gilbert, the No. 8 selection in last spring’s NFL Draft, had a rough go in Cleveland’s 30-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Continue reading