By: Barry Barnes, Founder
Special teams plays an important element in a team’s success due to big gains and field positioning. Not often does a huge hit from special teams set the tone for a matchup. The Washington Redskins benefited from such a play Monday night when they upset the Dallas Cowboys in front of a national audience when rookie defensive back Akeem Davis leveled Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris on the 19-yard line while fielding a punt.
Davis runs with a purpose, a fire that can not be match by any of his teammates on special teams, and probably the entire roster.
The product from Memphis normally is the first player down the field in punt and kickoff coverage, and his six tackles on the season is proof of that. Davis was reactivated from the practice squad to the active roster Sunday. Following the Redskins matchup against the Houston Texans in Week 1, Davis was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad, where he remained for four weeks until he was released and signed back to the practice squad.
Ironically, Davis’ hit on Harris was identical to his first tackle against Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Brown, but was flagged for a personal foul of helmet-to-helmet contact. Monday, it appeared that Davis struck Harris in the head when the play occurred last in the first quarter with 2:55 remaining. However, the referee stated that there was no foul on the play.
A lot of football was played since Davis’ hit on Harris. Nevertheless, the defense fed off that play and it carried over onto their play as they created a turnover shortly after the hit. The Redskins’ aggressive tone was set from that point on, and Davis played a major role in the team’s solid defensive performance for the divisional showdown.
Clearly, Davis’ determination is what can be expected from a hungry guy who ventured through the NFL Regional Combine twice to earn glory on the gridiron, but is humbled by achievement. It’s safe to say that Davis will be among the active 53-man roster for the remainder of the season.
Speaking of achievement, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger set franchise records against the Indianapolis Colts with a 522 passing yards, six touchdown outing. And fullback Will Johnson contributed to those stats.
Entering the contest against the Colts, Johnson caught only one pass, which came against the Jaguars in Week 5 for 12 yards.
Midway through the second quarter with 7:34 on the game clock, the Colts blitzed on first down and Roethlisberger quickly hit Johnson across the middle for a 18-yard pick up. Two plays later on second-and-2, Roethlisberger connected with Johnson again for a 4-yard gain. On the next play, the Colts were focused on where Johnson was on the field, and Roethlisberger went up top to wide receiver Antonio Brown for a 47-yard touchdown pass.
Johnson, who ventured through the Atlanta workouts of the NFL Regional Combine in 2012, registered a tackle as well.
The West Virginia product has been a member of the black and gold for three seasons.
Occasionally, Johnson participates on special teams. Nevertheless, he doesn’t specialize in tackling, that duty is left up to defensive backs and fellow NFL Regional Combine brothers Antwon Blake and Robert Golden.
Blake was all over the field Sunday as he recorded three tackles, and Sunday, he earned his first NFL interception. Golden got two tackles. Blake and Golden are becoming special teams studs.
While on the topic of studs, Atlanta Falcons defenders in safety Kemal Ishmael and linebacker Joplo Bartu are still racking up tackles for their struggling ball club. Ishmael led the team with six crushes, while Bartu had five.
To round out the rest of Week 8 regarding the NFL Regional Combine standouts….
St. Louis Rams safety Cody Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Isaiah Frey and Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Stefan Charles all had a tackle. In the blowout win over the New York Jets, Charles had a fumble recovery.
Frey played in his first game as a member of the Bucs since being released by the Bears a couple of weeks ago.
Rams punter John Hekker had six punt attempts as he averaged 46.2 yards, one landing inside the 20, and Houston Texans running back Jonathan Grimes had two carries for seven yards.
Despite being blitzed by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, newly activated from the Chicago Bears practice squad cornerback Al Louis-Jean saw plenty of action and posted five tackles (three solos).
The NFL is a week away from the midway point of the season. The NFL Regional Combine workouts are around the corner. Needless to say, the RC players of the NFL today are looking for what Week 9 has to offer.
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