Coming off last week's strong performance, Antoine Winfield is showing that he's a force to be reckoned with this year and looks to be in the running for a Pro Bowl slot. Cris Collinsworth's been asking for it for four years, and he's still hitting with the same ferocity. In the Vikings' big victory against the Cardinals this week, Winfield was the main contributor on defense, with 11 tackles (10 solo) and a clutch sack of John Skelton. Skelton was running on a fourth-and-two at the Vikings 18 when Winfield came up from a cover two spot and delivered a huge hit on the Arizona QB. Another Ohio State veteran played in this game, last week's star Michael Jenkins. Christian Ponder didn't have a great game, though, and so Jenkins only contributed one catch for seven yards. Chris Wells continues to be inactive, and the Cardinals' running game got a boost from LaRod Stephens Howling. It looks as though it's only a matter of time before Beanie's run in AZ is done.
Staying in the NFC North, AJ Hawk and Ryan Pickett had decent games against the St. Louis Rams. Hawk had 4 solo tackles and one assist, and Pickett had three tackles, a tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure. Poor Sam Bradford was running for his life. On the other side, James Laurinaitis continues to be a leader for the Rams' D. Lil' Animal contributed an astounding 13 solo tackles and one assist. He leads the league with 57 (!!!) solo tackles, and is 2nd in total with 69. Jake McQuaide helped his kicker recover some confidence this week with two good snaps. He has not had one bad snap yet this year.
Elsewhere in the black and blue division, the Bears and Lions are squaring off tonight. Former Buckeyes Rob Sims and Dane Sanzenbacher are active and playing for Detroit and Chicago, respectively. So far, Sims has had a little trouble blocking up front and Sanzenbacher has not been on the field for the offense of the Bears just yet.
In the AFC North, a few former Buckeyes squared off on Sunday Night. Mike Adams had a little bit of trouble and was beaten on a strip-sack by Cincinnati's Robert Geathers, but otherwise performed admirably in his first start under the lights. He received help all game long with chip blocks and double-teaming by running backs or tight ends, but still had a decent game going against a strong Bengal pass rush. Will Allen contributed two assisted tackles at safety, while Cameron Heyward made a stop on a kickoff return. For the Bengals, Nate Clements made two solo tackles playing mostly at nickel corner and safety, while Mike Nugent added a field goal and two extra points. In other Bengals news, Brian Robiskie was granted a tryout today after the Bengals' passing game took up residence on the struggle bus.
In the NFC South, several former Buckeyes were back on the field for the Saints and Panthers after their bye weeks. For the Saints, Malcolm Jenkins led the team in tackles from his nickel corner/hybrid safety spot with six solo and 3 assists, plus one tackle for loss. Will Smith also had a tackle for loss along with another solo tackle and a pass batted down at the line, contributing to the Saints' victory. The news wasn't so positive in Carolina, as Chris Gamble joins the growing list of former Buckeyes to be out for the season. Gamble suffered a shoulder injury against Atlanta and wasn't the same player afterwards. It was thought that he would return after the bye week, but he couldn't go against Dallas and was placed on injured reserve the same day that the Panthers fired their general manager. Ben Hartsock was active for Carolina but did not record a statistic.
Thursday night's game featured the 49ers, and whenever the 49ers come up so do the former Buckeyes. Alex Boone is now officially playing at a Pro Bowl level and is really dominating defensive tackles and linebackers when he pulls. Ted Ginn was on duty returning both punts and kickoffs, and while he didn't break any touchdowns, he did have a nice 38 yard kickoff return and 26 yard punt return this week. Safety Donte Whitner continues to be overshadowed by some of his secondary counterparts, but had a decent if unspectacular game recording 3 tackles. Larry Grant, after making tackles in consecutive weeks, was active but had no stats.
The Jets and Patriots had an interesting game Sunday afternoon. With Santonio Holmes and Jake Ballard out for the year, only two Buckeyes were representing in this one. Nick Mangold played pretty well against New England's mammoth defensive tackles, as he usually does. He allowed Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight to see some of their biggest running lanes of the season. Nate Ebner, while he did not record a statistic, was on the field often, on special teams and even a few snaps on defense.
For Miami, Brian Hartline's 0-catch performance two weeks ago and subsequent bye week have him way down to twelfth on the receiving yards list in the NFL. On a bye with him was Austin Spitler. Other inactive or non-stat contributing Buckeyes included Terrelle Pryor (Raiders), Jim Cordle (Giants, active - no stats), Doug Worthington (Redskins, active - no stats), Brandon Saine (Packers, IR), DeVier Posey (Texans, active - no stats), Michael Brewster (Jaguars, active - no stats) and Kurt Coleman (Eagles, bye).