- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Elway's No. 1, but the jury's still out. Says one Bronco, "I won't be convinced until I'm sure John has stopped believing he's Superman and starts working on learning the game plan. He must be the only starting NFL quarterback who didn't stay in his team's town and work out in the off season. He has to stop thinking he can just wing it out there."
And the motion offense? Well, it may be working against the Broncos. Tight end Eason Ramson, who was traded to Denver by the 49ers and is now on injured reserve, has told his old teammates that Reeves's offense is "too confusing." Another Bronco says, "There's no rhyme or reason to it. It's all memorization." And 49er cornerback Ronnie Lott adds, "If Elway played in our system, he'd be one of the leaders in passing."
"I guess I'm not flashy enough," William Andrews, the Falcons' All-Pro running back, has said repeatedly during his five-year career. "I'm legitimate, though. My peers know that, even if the public doesn't."
Andrews, who has outgained all other NFL backs rushing and receiving (8,384 yards) since he was a third-round pick out of Auburn in '79, is the most underrated player in the league. He's one of only three backs in NFL history—the others are O.J. Simpson and Walter Pay-ton—to twice gain more than 2,000 yards rushing and receiving in a season. Andrews had 2,037 yards in '81 and 2,176 in '83.
"Every year there was a hotshot rookie, or a Sweetness [Payton] or a Tony D, who beat me out for the rushing title," Andrews said. "I'm just plain old William. Maybe if I was 'Billy Andrews' I'd be on the tips of people's tongues."
Unfortunately, it has taken a severe season-ending—and maybe career-ending—knee injury for Andrews to get attention. Cutting upfield on a routine right sweep in practice last week, he hyperextended his left knee, tearing the posterior and anterior cruciate ligaments and rupturing the lateral ligament complex. When Andrews said his leg felt "asleep," it was feared he had also severed the peroneal nerve, which runs around the outside of the knee and controls the upward movement of the foot and toes. If so, he might never have walked normally again.
Dr. John Garrett, Falcon orthopedic surgeon, said that while the nerve was "in continuity," it would be at least six months before he'd know if it would heal properly. He said he was "optimistic" about Andrews' return but he predicted at least a year of rehabilitation.
Raider linebacker Matt Millen spotted something a couple of weeks ago while studying films of the Dolphins: Fernanza Burgess, a free agent receiver from Morris Brown College, delivers a mean crack-back block. Millen didn't like what he saw, and he liked it even less when he saw it Aug. 19 in the first half of the Raiders' game against Miami. Repeatedly, Burgess went in motion, doubled back along the line of scrimmage and blind-sided L.A. linebackers.
On the first play of the second half, Burgess went directly for Millen, who was waiting. Millen hammered Burgess with a forearm, and, for good measure, cornerback Lester Hayes jumped on Burgess's back. Shula figured that might happen, so he had called a hand-off to running back Joe Carter, who shot through the hole created by Millen's absence and ran for 56 yards.