I was as shocked as anybody when the 2013 NFL Draft ended and former Tennessee Vols wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers had not been selected. I know he had some problems in Knoxville that eventually forced him to transfer, but from my understanding -- from Rogers himself -- those problems were basically an addiction to marijuana. I never heard that he had done anything malicious while on campus, so I couldn't understand how so many teams could pass on a guy with his kind of talent.
And oh, does this kid have talent. He is big at 6'2. He is pretty fast, clocking in with a 4.5 40 time at the NFL combine. He can jump with a 39.5 inch vertical. Most importantly, he can catch.
I lamented before that we all tend to get so enamored with size and speed of these new-age wide receivers without noticing how many of them can't do that most vital of skills for guys playing the position: catch the ball.
Rogers is the exact opposite.
The way he snatches the ball out of the air, even in traffic, reminds you of a poor man's Anquan Boldin. Evidently, none of that was enough to overcome whatever issues teams thought they would have with Rogers off the field.
After bouncing around in the preseason and landing on the practice squad in Indianapolis to begin the regular season, the Colts added him to the 53-man roster on Nov. 11. He finally had the opportunity to play in the last two weeks. With the injuries to the Colts' wide receiver corps, I'm sure Rodgers thought he would get some opportunities to make some plays and that he would need to make the most of them.
Boy, did he ever.
The Colts got thumped by the Bengals in Cincinnati, but it was a coming-out party for Rogers, who hauled in six passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns. If Rogers and Andrew Luck can continue to develop good chemistry, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Rodgers could end up being the key to a Colts playoff run with a strong effort over the final three games.
It's about time I show my fellow Vol-For-Life Cordarrelle Patterson some love, and the timing couldn't be better after he put on a show last Sunday. All he did was go out and catch five passes for 141 yards, including the electrifying 79-yard catch-and-run at the end of the game for a touchdown to put the Vikings on top. Patterson looks too big to make some of the cuts that he makes, and yet he makes them week after week. That last touchdown when he freaked the Ravens defender out of his shoes defied every law of gravity and momentum.
If the Vikings can find a quarterback to get this kid the ball accurately and consistently, he is going to be one of the best we have ever seen, I'm convinced.
I know they won, but the Ravens making Joe Flacco throw the ball 50 times in the snow just wasn't sound strategy. For all of the rubes who claim cold, snow and wind is "real" football weather, a lot of cold-weather teams seem to have forgotten the formula for winning in those elements.
A - Run the ball
B - Run the ball
C - See A and B
Real football weather is 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky, anyway. If I'm wrong, why aren't there more Super Bowls in Idaho and North Dakota?
I rest my case.
All eyes on Vereen
As much as the New England Patriots missed Rob Gronkowski while he was out to begin the season, the troubles on offense during that stretch may have more to do with Shane Vereen's injury. Vereen has essentially taken over Kevin Faulk's old role, and he's the guy Tom Brady looks for when things break down.
Even though he was an essential cog for the offense, Vereen generally wouldn't have eye-popping stats because of his specialized role. That changed on Sunday.
Vereen played a central role in the Patriots' comeback win against the Browns. He caught 12 passes for 153 yards on a day when the offense got off to a slow start. In fact, on a three-play drive at the end of the third quarter Vereen caught a pass for 50 yards and another for 16 yards. He ran it in for the Patriots' first touchdown of the game on the final 6 yards of the drive.
It is unfortunate that Gronk's season ended prematurely with an injury, and I wish him a full and speedy recovery. As much as the Patriots will miss his production, I have a feeling that Vereen will pick up a lot of that slack.
The wrong call
With 11:14 left in the third quarter, the Steelers apparently stopped the Dolphins short on a third down deep in their territory, courtesy of a big hit by long-time starting safety Ryan Clark. Unfortunately, the play was flagged for unnecessary roughness because of helmet-to-helmet contact.
I have a huge problem with the flag being thrown in this instance, even though, technically, there was helmet-to-helmet contact. Clark is aiming for the middle of Daniel Thomas' chest, and it is obvious he has lowered his aiming point to avoid drawing just such a penalty (and probable fine). Thomas, on the other hand, lowers his head in anticipation of contact. It was clearly his action that led to the helmets colliding.
As I recall, there was a much ballyhooed rule change this spring whereby offensive players couldn't lower their heads to initiate contact outside the tackle box and down the field. I wasn't happy when I heard about that rule change, but if anybody should have been flagged here, it was Thomas.
It was a pretty big call because instead of forcing a field goal attempt, the Dolphins had a first-and-goal and scored on the next play. I hate to see the game turn on a play where a defender was trying to do the right thing and was still punished for his effort.
First mate LaVonte David
I know most people have probably lost interest in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by now after an 0-8 start and a current 4-9 record. There is one Bucs player in particular who you should be watching. LaVonte David is having one of the best years of any defensive player in franchise history, including Derrick Brooks. With 117 tackles, six sacks and five interceptions as a linebacker, David filled the stat sheet to the brim, even with his team struggling.
Not only should David be on your Pro Bowl ballot, he should also be on your short list for Defensive Player of the Year. Don't believe me? Think I'm just a Bucs homer?
Go look up his stats and put them up against anybody else in the NFL, and try to show me where I'm wrong.
I dare you.
Glennon, Abraham, etc.
- Mike Glennon was 9-of-25 for 90 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions with a 40.4 quarterback rating in the Buccaneers' 27-6 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Are some of us still going to pretend he is amazeballs?
He is decent, not awful, but certainly not above average, either. And to be honest, there is nothing wrong with that.
Two weeks ago in my Notebook, I detailed all of the things that went wrong with the Falcons' season. One of those things was moving on from John Abraham and signing Osi Umenyiora to replace him. On Sunday, Abraham had a three-sack game for the Arizona Cardinals in a division win over the Rams, giving him 11 sacks for the season.
That move by the Falcons will never make sense to me.
The Washington defense only stopped the Chiefs' offense from scoring one time in the first half. Once. Washington's special teams also gave up a punt return and a kick off return for a touchdown in the first half.
But please, by all means, lets keep focusing on RGIII and Mike Shanahan, because obviously that is more important.
Dolphins tight end Charles Clay has finally turned into the pass-catching weapon they envisioned when he arrived in Miami in 2011. After Sunday's win over the Steelers, Clay now has 60 catches on the season for 678 yards and six touchdowns. He caught only 18 passes a season ago. Clay came up big Sunday, becoming a reliable option in the passing game for quarterback Ryan Tannehill on a cold snowy day in Pittsburgh.
His seven catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns in bad weather were key to the Dolphins getting a road victory. The Dolphins will need more performances like that one if they intend to stay in the playoff race over the next three weeks.
Please don't disrespect Marcel Reece of the Raiders by calling him a fullback. That might be what they list him as, but he can do it all. My question is why it took both Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden getting hurt before the Raiders decided to feed Reece the ball? Over the years, he has shown himself a more than competent running back, fullback and, at times, a tight end. Maybe the Raiders should have thought about maximizing his abilities before they were forced to do so.