PFW news on Falcons, Titans, Cardinals, Browns, Saints, Bucs, Bears and more.
The Way We Hear It
Falcons DE John Abraham is playing at an All-Pro level in the early part of this season, and if he can overcome the challenge of staying healthy — the ninth-year veteran has played an entire 16 games only four times — he could be in for a career year.
In last week’s win over the Chiefs, Abraham had two sacks and a forced fumble. Sources noted a couple reasons for his strong showing thus far:
He has been helped by the addition of DL coach Ray Hamilton, who coached Abraham when he was a rookie with the Jets in 2000, to the Atlanta staff. Abraham had 4.5 sacks in just six games that season in New York, and he’s very comfortable working under Hamilton’s guidance.
The Falcons have been moving Abraham, who now has six sacks through three games, from side-to-side on the D-line frequently to give him better matchups and to keep offenses off balance.
TITANS: RBs Chris Johnson and LenDale White got about the same number of carries in the first three games, with Johnson carrying 50 times and White carrying 49 times. However, Johnson could start getting a bigger share of the carries sooner than later, from what we’re hearing.
CARDINALS: We hear the Cardinals are getting increasingly frustrated with NT Alan Branch, a 2007 second-round pick who has continued to fall far short of expectations. “He’s starting to look maybe like a colossal bust,” said one team insider. “People in the organization are really down on him. He’s just been a big, nice guy who hasn’t shown much of anything. And he looks too heavy.”
BROWNS: Look for rookie OLB Alex Hall to start getting more work in the weeks to come. The season-ending knee injury suffered by Antwan Peek early in September meant the Browns had to play 36-year-old Willie McGinest a little more than they had planned in the first two weeks. Hall, a seventh-round pick, may be called upon to have a bigger role in coming weeks. In fact, in Week Three, Hall started at left outside linebacker while McGinest was inactive. The rookie had a productive outing, notching seven sacks and one sack.
The Fantasy Buzz
The days of the Reggie Bush-Deuce McAllister one-two punch in New Orleans are over; it’s the Bush and Pierre Thomas show now. With McAllister watching from the sideline, Thomas has taken over as the team’s goal-line back, scoring two more TDs on Sunday to give him three for the season. Although he won’t give you much in the yardage department, anybody who averages one TD per game is a nice flex option. If you’re thin at running back, Thomas is a great addition.
Buccaneers WR Antonio Bryant’s top-notch talent and ideal size have made him a fantasy tease for years, but the stars might have finally aligned for him in Tampa. With Joey Galloway (foot) out last Sunday, Bryant had 10 catches for 138 yards against the Bears, clearly establishing himself as QB Brian Griese top target. With Galloway’s timetable unknown, Bryant could be the Bucs’ No. 1 receiver for weeks to come, which would make him a viable fantasy addition.
There wasn’t much chance that we’d recommend picking up a Bears wideout this season, but Brandon Lloyd has done enough to look like a legit contributor. He has 11 receptions for 190 yards and a TD over the past two weeks, and QB Kyle Orton appears to trust him. With Chicago being a run-first team, Lloyd isn’t going to go crazy every week, but he should do enough to be a solid bye-week fill-in, which we’ll all be needing beginning now.
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