NFC North: Brent Grimes
Except two of the first three times he lined up to punt Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, he ended up not punting at all. Martin completed two fake punt passes in the first half Sunday, a 24-yard completion to Jed Collins that extended the first drive of the game and a 3-yard completion to Isa Abdul-Quddus that didn’t get enough to get a first down.
It is the first time a punter has thrown and completed two passes in a game since Nov. 11, 2012, when St. Louis’ Johnny Hekker completed two passes in a 24-24 tie against San Francisco.
Martin had never attempted a pass in his career before Sunday and was involved in one fake before that -- the Lions’ failed fake field goal at Pittsburgh last season, where Martin got crushed trying to run for a first down deep in Steelers' territory.
Miami also tried to get in the fake punt game, but illegally shifted on its converted fake punt run, eliminating the play and forcing the Dolphins to actually punt.
It was all part of a crazy first half that saw a 49-yard one-play drive by Detroit with a deep post for a touchdown to Calvin Johnson.
There were also interceptions on back-to-back plays in the second quarter: A James Ihedigbo pick of Ryan Tannehill that was returned 70 yards into Miami territory. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford tried to take advantage of Brent Grimes on Johnson on the next play, but Grimes leaped up and made a one-handed interception in the end zone to give the ball back to Miami.
Oh, and in the first quarter, Detroit held Miami to 1 total yard.
Earlier this week, we posted Scouts Inc.'s top 10 free agent cornerbacks, including those who are restricted free agents. That list is down to seven, and there is no indication the Lions are in on negotiations for Nnamdi Asomugha. I've published the amended list below.
Let's not consider these names the Lions' only possibilities. General manager Martin Mayhew is well known for his trading prowess, and it's possible 2010 starter Chris Houston will return. But if you were hoping they would splurge on one of the top two or three cornerbacks available, you're probably going to be disappointed.
I haven't abandoned my expectation that the Detroit Lions will add at least one free-agent cornerback in the coming days. We should point out that one candidate is already off the market; the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to terms with incumbent Ike Taylor late Tuesday night. Other than an expectation that the Lions won't "go big," there is no clear indication what direction they're headed in here.
So until we get a better feel for their approach, I'll leave you with the top 10 remaining cornerbacks on the free-agent market, as ranked by Scouts Inc. (You need an Insider subscription to see the entire list.)
Note that Chris Houston, the Lions' ostensible No. 1 cornerback last season, isn't in this ranking. And remember that restricted free agents require draft-pick compensation if the current team chooses not to match an offer sheet extended by the new team:
Today is one of the rare Sundays when we won't be at an NFL game. As we revealed in Friday's programming note, we're covering Monday night's matchup between Green Bay and Minnesota. We're scheduled to cross state lines later this morning and be with you all day Monday.
But, don't fret. We'll monitor this afternoon's Detroit-Atlanta game as well as tonight's regular-season debut of Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Bears will try to keep up with the Indianapolis Colts. (Here are our NFL Nation thoughts on those games). So check back later today.
There are a number of good Sunday reads to peruse in the meantime. Here are a few from around the NFC North:
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press traveled to the Georgia hometown of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Among the anecdotes: Johnson so abhors attention that he often sits quietly on the visitor's side when he attends games at his former high school.
- Despite all their talk about running the ball, the Lions shouldn't ignore the obvious advantage they have over the Falcons' defense in the passing game, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com. The Falcons will send second-year cornerback Chris Houston and little-used Brent Grimes to defend Johnson and Roy Williams.
- This is the 75th anniversary of Lions football. Roar.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times traces the Bears' defensive slip to the middle of the 2006 season.
- The Colts learned the hard way not to kick to Bears returner Devin Hester, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
- Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers weighs 217 pounds, his lowest since before his sophomore year at Cal. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rogers has lost 11 pounds and cut his body fat from 15 percent to at least 12 percent since he was drafted.
- In an extended interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Rodgers quoted a passage from Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," to describe his personality. (We tried to come up with a snarky passage of our own but ultimately didn't want to soil Mr. Frost).
- Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal opened Q&As with Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson with this question: "Do you guys know what you're doing?"
- Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press compares the Minnesota Vikings' current defensive line to the Purple People Eaters.
- Former Vikings coach Jerry Burns spoke to the team Saturday.