Eyes of the Guru - Game Notes - Preseason Week 1
By John Norton
August 22nd, 2010

Fantasy champions are always digging for any scrap of info that might give them an edge. I still haven't had a chance to review all the week one games but thought I would pass along what I have digested thus far. There are still a lot of things I want to take a look at but some of them may have to wait until Week 2.

Saints VS Patriots

Pats Starters

  • B. Spikes 55, J. Mayo 51 ILB
  • M. Wright 99, G. Warren 68 DE
  • T. Banta-Cain 95, M. Murrell 93 OLB
  • D. Butler 28, D. McCourty 32 CB
  • B. Meriweather 31, P. Chung 25 S
  • V. Wilfork NT

Nickel/Dime

  • B. McGowan 30, Chung, Meriweather, McCourty, Butler, J. Wilhite 24
  • Mayo, Banta-Cain, Murrell
  • Wright, M.Pryon 91

Notes: Chung is playing every down and looks very good. Move him up a few slots. Spikes is tough against the run and is making plays but is leaving the field on passing downs as anticipated. Wright looked very good, may be this year's surprise 3-4 end. Gerard Warren looks like the replacement for Ty Warren unless Burgess becomes a factor. Murrell is starting at OLB and could be the real deal. He looked very good and was always around the ball.

Saints Starters

  • J. Dunbar 56 SLB, J. Vilma 51 MLB, J. Casillas 52 WLB
  • J. Greer 33, T. Porter 22 CB
  • W. Smith 91, A. Brown 96 DE
  • A. Ayodele 92 , S. Ellis 98 DT
  • M. Jenkins 27 FS, R. Harper 41 SS

Nickel/Dime

  • Vilma, Casillas LB
  • Porter, Gay 20, Greer CB, Harper SS, Jenkins FS
  • Ellis, Ayodele, T. Hargrove 69 DT
  • J. Wilkerson 99, Smith DE

Notes: Shanle has been moved to SLB so Casillas can start at WLB. Casillas is staying on the field in the nickel package and was making plays all over the field (10 solo tackles). Get this guy on your sleeper list. Brown is starting but not playing full time. He was replaced by Jimmy Wilkerson in the first team nickel package and Bobby McCray opened second series with the starters. Hargrove continues to work as the third wheel in the rotation but is not necessarily getting all the nickel snaps. Jenkins replaced Sharper at FS and did a good job.

Cowboys VS Raiders

Cowboys Starters

  • J. Hatcher 97, I. Olshansky 99 DE
  • J. Ratliff 90 NT
  • D. Ware 94, A. Spencer 93, B. James 56, K. Brooking 51 LB
  • A.Ball 20 FS, G. Sensabaugh 43 SS, T. Newman 41, M. Jenkins 21 CB

Nickel/Dime

  • S.Bowen 72, Ratliff DL
  • Spencer, Ware, James, Brooking
  • Newman, Jenkins, Sensabaugh, Ball, O. Scandrick 32 DB

Notes: No surprises. Brooking is seeing time in nickel but that will likely change once Sean Lee comes back. If Lee misses too much more it could impact his playing time early in the season.

Raiders Starters

  • M. Shaughnessy 77, L. Houston 99 DE
  • R. Seymour 92, T. Kelly 93 DT, J. Henderson 79, D. Bryant 90 (rotation)
  • T. Scott 91 WLB, R. McClain 35 MLB, K. Wimbley 96 OLB
  • T. Branch 33, M. Huff 24 S
  • N. Asomugha 21, C. Johnson 37

Nickel/Dime

  • Asomugha, Johnson, Routt 26, Branch, Huff
  • McClain, M. Mitchell 34 LB
  • Kelly, Seymour DT. Wimbley, Scott DE

Notes: Houston was a surprise starter at end opposite Shaughnessy. Great coverage in the secondary helped the ends record 2 sacks each, despite neither of them getting snaps in the nickel package. Seymour, Kelly and Henderson worked in a rotation at DT with Bryant also getting a few snaps with the starters. Kelly and Seymour were at tackle in the nickel package. Wimbley is starting at SLB and Scott at WLB but both are putting their hands down and rushing in nickel packages with Michael Mitchell lining up at LB with McClain. The Raiders made some plays and I really like the way they are using their personnel, but they looked like a snake trying to get comfortable in a new skin.

Bills VS Redskins

Bills Starters

  • M. Stroud 99, R. Edwards 98 DE, K. Williams 95 NT
  • C. Ellis 93, R. Torbor 53 OLB, A. Davis 54, K. Mitchell 55 ILB (Posluszny sat out)
  • T. McGee 24, D. Florence 29 CB, D. Whitner 20 SS, J. Byrd 31 FS

Nickel/Dime

  • Edwards, Williams DL
  • Mitchell, B. Scott 43 LB, Ellis, A. Maybin 93 OLB
  • R. Corner 27, Florence, McGee, L. McKelvin 28 CB, Byrd, Whitner S

Notes: This unit has a long way to go, especially at OLB. Scott was playing only as an LB in the nickel and George only with the second team but that will change with the recent injury to Byrd. This will be a situation to check out in the next game. Whitner had a big hit on Cooley and looked pretty good, but will likely go back to FS now. Posluszny did not play but neither Davis nor Mitchell stood out.

Redskins Starters

  • A. Carriker 94, K. Golston 64 DE, M. Kemoeatu 96 NT
  • L. Fletcher 52, R. McIntosh 52 ILB, B. Orakpo 98, A. Carter 99 OLB
  • D. Hall 23, C. Rogers 22 CB, L. Landry 30 SS, K. Moore 41 FS

Nickel/Dime

  • Golston, Carriker DL
  • Carter, Orakpo OLB, McIntosh, Fletcher ILB
  • Hall, Rogers, P. Buchanon 31 CB, Landry, Moore S

Notes: No real surprises. Moore started over Reed at FS and made a couple of real nice plays. He seems to have locked down the starting job so put him on the sleeper list. Landry is playing in the box as expected. He was around the ball a lot. Fletcher didn't seem to have any problem with the new scheme and looked like the same old tackling machine. Carter looked OK at OLB but is a much better DE I think. Don't be surprised if Chris Wilson or Lorenzo Alexander get some first team looks in the next couple of weeks.

Falcons VS Chiefs

Chiefs Starters

  • T. Jackson 94, G. Dorsey 72 DE, R. Edwards 95 (D. Lokey 99) NT
  • M. Vrabel 50, T. Hali 91 (A. Studebaker 96) OLB, D. Williams 53, C. Mays 51 ILB
  • B. Flowers 24, C. Carr 39 CB, E. Berry 29 SS, J. McGraw 47 FS

Nickel/Dime

  • Dorsey, G. Wallace 92 DL
  • Studebaker, Hali, OLB Vrabel, D. Johnson 96 ILB
  • Flowers, Carr, T. Daniels 34 CB, Berry SS, McGraw/Lewis FS

Notes: McGraw played first series at FS with Kendrick Lewis replacing him on the second series. We need to follow this competition. Derek Lokey replaced Edwards at NT and Studebaker replaced Vrabel on the second series. Johnson is still seeing no first team snaps in the base defense while surprisingly, Williams did not see time in the nickel package. That said, the Chiefs stayed in their base 3-4 in a lot of situations that would usually bring on the nickel package. This is reason to down grade Williams a little but he will still have a lot of opportunity. When they did use the nickel Vrabel lined up inside with Johnson. It will be interesting to see if this continues in the next couple of weeks. Johnson worked with Jovan Belcher in the base defense when the second team started getting on the field. Contrary to earlier reports, Berry is NOT playing FS. He looked sharp and aggressive as SS and should be in for a productive season.

Falcons Starters

  • J. Abraham 55, J. Anderson 98 DE, J. Babineaux 95, T. Lewis 97 DT
  • S. Nicholas 54, S. Weatherspoon 56 OLB, C. Lofton 50 ILB
  • C. Owens 21, B. Grimes 20 CB, E. Coleman 26 SS, T. DeCoud 28 FS

Nickel/Dime

  • Abraham, K. Biermann 71, C. Peters 91, Babineaux
  • Lofton, Weatherspoon LB
  • Owens, Grimes, C. Jackson 22, Coleman, DeCoud

Notes: Announced starters were Jerry and Babineaux at DT, Nicholas and Peterson at OLB, Owens and Robinson at CB but Peterson, Robinson, and Jerry did not play. That may not be a good sign for Weatherspoon and Grimes. Weatherspoon lined up at SLB in most situations which is another bad sign. He did pair with Lofton in the nickel which is a plus but who knows if that will continue once Peterson returns. Coleman made a couple of nice plays and should pick up right where he left off. Biermann is still not working with the starters despite playing circles around Anderson. He made the most of his nickel package snaps going 2-0-1 with a forced fumble.

Buccaneers VS Dolphins

Bucs Starters

  • G. McCoy 93, R. Miller 90 DT, M. Moore 94, S. White 91 DE
  • Q. Black 58 SLB, B. Ruud 51 MLB, G. Hayes 54 WLB
  • E. Mack 33, R. Barber 20 CB, S. Piscitelli 21 SS, T. Jackson 36 FS (S. Jones 26)

Nickel/Dime

  • McCoy, Miller DT Crowder 96, Moore, White DE
  • Hayes, Ruud
  • Mack, Barber, Biggers 31, Jackson, Piscitelli, Jones

Notes: Moore and White started at DE but Crowder rotated in with the first team on both passing a running downs. On some of the nickel snaps Moore moved inside with McCoy while Crowder and White lined up at end. Barber, Ruud and Jackson played just 1 series. Sean Jones replaced Jackson on the second series. Reports say Jones lined up at FS but it looked to me like he was at SS with Piscitelli moving to FS. I'm not sure what we should read into that situation, but it seems there is at least some chance Jones and Piscitelli could be the starters. On the other hand, maybe coaches just wanted to get a look at Jones while getting Jackson off the field healthy. Maybe week two will tell us more. Biggers replaced Barber and Hayward took over for Ruud on the second series. Talib did not play. McCoy looked OK but didn't make a big impact.

Dolphins starters

  • K. Langford 70, J. Odrick 98 DE, R. Starks 94 NT
  • K. Misi 55, C. Wake 91 OLB, K. Dansby 58, C. Crowder 52 ILB
  • V. Davis 21, S. Smith 24 CB, Y. Bell 37 SS, C. Clemons 30 FS

Nickel/Dime

  • Starks, Odrick DL
  • Dansby, Crowder, ILB Wake, Misi OLB
  • Davis, Smith, Bell, Clemons S

Notes: No surprises. Misi and Wake looked pretty good. Clemons made a couple of nice plays but was not particularly impressive. word is that he's not locked in as a starter yet. Starks made no impact at NT. Maybe they need to put him back outside.

Seahawks VS Titans

Seahawks Starters

  • B. Mebane 92, C. Cole 90 DT, C. Clemons 91, R. Bryant 79 DE
  • A. Curry 59 SLB, D. Hawthorne 57 MLB, W. Herring 54 WLB
  • M. Trufant 23, J. Wilson 26 CB, E. Thomas 29 FS, L. Milloy 36 SS

Nickel/Dime

Notes: Tatupu did not play so Hawthorne started in the middle. This guy is good and has a bright future. Clemons and Bryant are working pretty much as every down ends. Clemons looked pretty strong versus the run and made a nice move for a sack. He could be the real deal. Bryant is huge for an end. He moves well and is tough against the run but not much of a pass rusher. They are playing the front line much like a 3-4 with Bryant working a 2 gap responsibility as a strong side end and Clemons working much like a weak OLB. He even stood up on a couple of plays. It's unclear where new addition Kentwan Balmer will fit in. Milloy is starting at SS for now. Wilson is ahead of Jennings at corner. Vickerson replaced Cole at DT on the second series.

Titans starters

  • S. Marks 94, J. Jones 91 DT, J. Babin 93, J. Ford 78 DE
  • C. Allred 56 SLB, W. Witherspoon 92 WLB, S. Tulloch 55 MLB
  • J. McCourty 30, R. Mouton 29 CB, C. Hope 24 SS, M. Griffin 33 FS

Nickel/Dime

  • Marks, Jones DT, Babin, Ford DE
  • Tulloch, Witherspoon
  • Verner 20, Mouton, McCourty CB, Hope, Griffin S

Notes: The Titans were missing a lot of starters. Tony Brown, William Hayes, Derrick Morgan, David Thornton and Courtland Finnegan all sat out. Mouton and McCourty competing to start, both looked pretty good. Its interesting that Marks started ahead of Haye at DT. Haye saw time with the starters in the second series when Jones was pulled. Witherspoon is playing in nickel with Tulloch as expected. He could be more productive than expected.

Cardinals VS Texans

Cardinals Starters

  • C. Campbell 93, D. Dockett 90 DE, B. Robinson 97 NT
  • J. Porter 55, C. Haggans 53 OLB, P. Lenon 51, M. Beisel 52 ILB (D. Washington)
  • T. McBride 37, D. Rogers-Cromartie 29 CB, A. Wilson 24 SS, K. Rhodes 25 FS

Nickel/Dime

  • Dockett, Campbell DL
  • Porter, Haggans OLB, Lenon
  • McBride, Rogers-Cromartie, M. Adams 27, M. Ware 22 CB, Wilson, Rhodes S

Notes: Washington didn't get the start but entered the game on the second series in place of Lenon. He was all over the place once he got on the field (9-4-0) and outplayed the guys that started ahead of him. He'll be in the starting lineup soon because Lenon and Beisel are clearly not going to be the answer. In passing situations the Cards are actually using dime personnel. They sent Robinson and Beisel to the bench, had Wilson move up into a LB alignment with Lenon and brought in Ware and Adams to fill the secondary. Hard to say if they will keep doing that once Hayes is healthy and Washington claims the starting job. Wilson made some good plays and looked like the stud of old. His stock should get a little boost after this showing. Cody Brown entered the game on the second series as well. It looks like he will spell Porter and Haggans often this year.

Texans Starters

  • S. Cody 95, A. Okoye 91 DT, A Smith 94, M. Williams 90 DE
  • B. Cushing 56 SLB, D. Ryans 59 MLB, Z. Diles 54 WLB
  • G. Quin 29, B. McCain 21 CB, B. Pollard 31 SS, E. Wilson 26 FS

Nickel/Dime

  • Okoye, T. Bulman 93 DT, Williams, Smith, C. Barwin 98 DE
  • Ryans, Cushing, LB
  • Quin, McCain, A, Molden 28 CB, Pollard, Wilson S

Notes: Kareem Jackson missed the game due to a death in the family. Barwin surprisingly didn't get on the field much early in the game. He did replace Smith in the nickel for a couple of plays in the second series. Rookie OLB Darryl Sharpton had a good game with 7 tackles and a pick. He may have earned a starting spot for at least the first four games while Cushing is suspended. Bulman was paired with Okoye as the interior linemen in the nickel, but landed on IR earlier this week. That could move Smith inside on passing downs and get Barwin on the field more in week two.

That's all the games I have been able to watch as of Wednesday. I'll keep looking and try to hit several different teams in preseason Week 2. Some of the questions I will be looking to answer include, Who plays in the nickel in Carolina? Is Justin Durant a three down LB? What are the Lions going to do for a SS? who is starting at SS in Cleveland? Can Larry Grant be productive at the Rams WLB and will he hold off Bobby Carpenter? Is E.J. Henderson going to bounce back strong or start slow? Is Corey Wootton a serious threat to start at end? Will Chris Harris settle in as the starting SS in Chicago? Are the Seahawks looking at a 3-4 switch and if not what are they going to do with Balmer? And anything else that jumps out at me between now and then.

Best of luck to those who will be drafting this week.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to norton@footballguys.com.

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