|Chris Neild- Washington Redskins|
This past weekend of NFL football signaled the start of the 2nd half of the season. By now, we know who looks like they are going to contend for a Super Bowl berth, and others that are already looking towards next season.
The Green Bay Packers look like the strongest team in the league so far, and want to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having a season that few other signal callers have ever had. The Philadelphia Eagles dubbed themselves the 'Dream Team' before this season began after picking up several Pro-Bowl caliber free-agents before the season began. After losing again last night to the Chicago Bears, Owen Schmitt and the Eagles find themselves in serious jeopardy of missing the Playoffs.
There are some surprise teams out there. In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers have only one loss going into the 2nd half. Former #1 overall pick Alex Smith is starting to live up to some of the promise that he had coming out of Utah. The Cincinnati Bengals are another surprising one-loss team. However, they get into divisional play starting next week at Pittsburgh (another strong Super Bowl contender).
As far as former Mountaineers are concerned, there have been few standout performances. In Week 1, Chris Neild burst onto the scene in his first regular season NFL game with two sacks against Eli Manning the New York Giants. Since then, he has started to settle into a role as a contributor on the the Redskins D-Line, and with the team's slide, he should get more playing time as the season progresses as the Skins build toward the future.
Steve Slaton switched teams after being cut by the Texans. He now plays for the Miami Dolphins where he is still trying to find a role on the team. He has played in two games since joining the team when injuries to starting RB Daniel Thomas forced him to sit out. In the second game Slaton played, he found himself as the running back in goal line situations, coming out with 1 TD in the game, and returning kicks. With Thomas and Reggie Bush also in the Dolphins' backfield, kick returner is where the Dolphins will find the most value in Slaton this season. Slaton was inactive in last weekend's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Two former Mountaineers began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list for their respective teams. Adam Jones with the Bengals, and Brandon Hogan with the Panthers. Jones came off the PUP list two weeks ago and played against Seattle. He left that game after pulling his hamstring on a 63-yard punt return. He sat out this weekend's game against his original NFL team, the Tennessee Titans. At the time of this writing, Hogan's fate with the Panthers has yet to be decided. The team has until Thursday to decide whether or not to activate him for the season. He has practiced for the the last two weeks with the team, and it has been reported that he received reps with the 1st team Panthers' defense. He tweaked an ankle early last week in practice, but was back out with the team at Monday's practice lining up with the 1st team D.
Here is a recap of this past weekend's games involving former Mountaineers:
N.Y. Jets 27
Buffalo Bills 11
The Jets recently re-signed Ellis Lankster to the roster after cutting him at the end of the Preseason. Lankster was elected as one of the Jets' captains for this game. He finished the game with 1 tackle. Corey McIntyre continues to see a diminished role as the Bills starting FB as the team uses more and more 4 wide receiver sets.
Atlanta Falcons 31
Indianapolis Colts 7
With the Dolphins win this weekend, the Colts are now in the lead for the #1 overall Draft pick in the spring. To demonstrate the Colts futility on offense with Peyton Manning sidelined with a neck injury, Pat McAfee tied a 30-year-old Colts record for most punts in a game with 9. He averaged over 50 yards per punt with a long of 60.
San Francisco 49ers 19
Washington Redskins 11
Chris Neild recorded 1 tackle in the game.
Baltimore Ravens 23
Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Ryan Mundy had 1 tackle in the loss for the Steelers and a pass breakup on a 3rd down play.
Chicago Bears 30
Philadelphia Eagles 24
Owen Schmitt did not break into the stat column on the offensive side of the ball, but did have one special teams tackle. He, like Corey McIntyre, continues to see a diminished role as the Eagles FB.