The NFL regular season is going into its last full month, and the Playoff picture is becoming clearer after several teams clinched berths over the weekend. There will be several Mountaineers in the Playoffs to look forward to. Two of them could meet in a re-match of a thriller played on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Ellis Lankster earned his first start for the Jets. We’ll tell you how many times Bruce Irvin put Jay Cutler on his back. But first, Green Bay Packers’ undrafted rookie Don Barclay received his first significant playing time as a WVUPro, and raised a lot of eyebrows. We begin with him in our NFL Week 13 rundown.
Don Barclay has climbed the ranks of Packers’ offensive linemen since the Preseason through his hard work, instincts and other players’ injuries. Barclay was set, before the Packers game against the Vikings, to be the extra lineman in Jumbo sets. That is exactly how Barclay got on to the field as a freshman at WVU.
During the second quarter, T.J. Lang left the game for the Packers with an ankle injury. Head coach Mike McCarthy inserted Barclay in at RT for the rest of the game.
How Barclay would perform was unknown. Outside of a lone holding penalty on a pass play, he exceeded expectations, and the Packers may have found a gem.
He played very well in the running game, opening up holes for the Green Bay running backs. On one play during the second half, Aaron Rodgers pitched the ball outside to James Starks with Barclay leading the way. He met a Vikings’ LB and knocked him to the turf, resulting in a hole leading to a 12-yard gain and a first down.
During the fourth quarter, the Packers assembled the longest drive of the season in the NFL, holding onto the ball for over 11:00 minutes. The drive helped the Packers win the game, and without Barclay, it may not have happened.
It will be interesting to see how the Packers use him over the last quarter of the season. Keep an eye on Don Barclay.
Bruce Irvin and J.T. Thomas
Seattle traveled to Chicago on Sunday in a potential Playoff matchup. If the season ended today, these two teams would meet in the first round. If yesterday was anything to go by, it will be a thrilling game after Seattle won in overtime on a Russell Wilson touchdown pass.
Bruce Irvin was left out of the sack column, but played a solid game. He had two QB hits on Jay Cutler during the second half and applied strong pressure other times.
The Seahawks are beginning to leave Irvin on the field more on running downs than they did at the beginning of the season. That’s a good sign that he is progressing to be an every-down player.
Thomas played on special teams for the Bears, but did not break onto the stat sheet.
Lankster started for the first time in his career for the New York Jets against Arizona. The Jets opened up with five defensive backs against the Cardinals, and Lankster was one of them. He finished the game with three tackles.
A week after injuring his ankle, McIntyre returned to the field for the Bills as they named him a captain for the game. He went on to record two special teams tackles against the Jaguars.
McAfee and his #Boomstick were in full effect at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday. He punted the ball eight times for the Colts with an even 50.0 yard average.
Reynaud had a nice day of returning kicks and punts for the Titans against the Texans. He had two kickoff returns for 56 yards and a long of 35. He returned six punts for 65 yards, an average of 10.8 yards per punt return.
Keith Tandy and Najee Goode
With a rash of injuries and suspensions in the Bucs secondary, Keith Tandy was active for the team yesterday against the Broncos. Goode was inactive.
Last week, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano commented that, although they haven’t played much, Goode and Tandy are progressing very well as rookies.
Adam Pacman Jones
Jones returned two punts for the Bengals against San Diego. He returned one for 24 yards, the other for 15.
Will Johnson and Ryan Mundy
Johnson caught two passes for nine yards for the Steelers in their win over rival Baltimore. He lined up at both fullback and tight end, and color analyst commended Johnson for his blocking on one run during the third quarter. Mundy had one tackle for the Steelers.