NFC West: Kawika Mitchell
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Bills' Trent Edwards wasn't the only NFL quarterback to take a hard hit during Week 5. Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck and Arizona's Kurt Warner also absorbed punishment. While the league fined the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson for knocking out Edwards, the hits on Hasselbeck and Warner did not draw punishment.
Hasselbeck was dropping back to pass when the Giants' Justin Tuck hit him in the knee. Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren raised the possibility of a penalty, which was not called:
"The young man who [hit him], he's really a good player and a good kid. He's a high-effort guy. The problem with the play as far as we were concerned was he got hit from both sides, and we shouldn't have let that happen. I think the league has made every effort to protect the quarterbacks and I think it's the right thing to do, with their rules and so on.
"The question then -- I asked the official because I didn't see the play, I was looking downfield -- the question that has to be the one focused on is: You can't hit the quarterback low like that. That's a foul, unless the player was blocked into the quarterback. If he was blocked into the quarterback, then it's not. And when you look at the play, that's really what you have to decide. It's pretty hard to decide."
The hit on Warner seemed a little more borderline. The Bills' Kawika Mitchell slammed into Warner with a hit to the chin. I just watched the play again. Warner had just throw the ball when Mitchell's helmet struck Warner in the chin. Warner suffered a cut, bled rather profusely and was obviously hurting. There was no flag on the play and no fine.
Also on the non-fine front: While referee Mike Carey and crew penalized Justin Smith for allegedly grabbing Matt Cassel's helmet in Week 5, the league did not fine Smith. Niners coach Mike Nolan seemed perplexed by the call, which turned a 3-yard sack on third-and-6 into a first-and-goal with 14 seconds left before halftime. The Patriots scored a touchdown two plays later, taking a 17-14 lead and the momentum into halftime. Finally, the league did not fine Seattle corner Josh Wilson for his hit on Giants receiver Domenik Hixon.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks head to Buffalo for a [dreaded] 10 a.m. PT kickoff Sunday. Feel free to pick up a copy of the Bills' 25-category roided-out roster.
The Bills are the sixth-youngest team in the league, averaging 26.7 years old. Only six of their players are 30 or older, including zero offensive starters. Five quick notes on Buffalo:
- Quarterback Trent Edwards has returned from a thigh bruise that limited him to 16 pass attempts during the exhibition season. Edwards completed 10 of those passes, two for touchdowns, on his way to a 125.5 rating in the fake games.
- Bill left tackle Jason Peters continues to hold out for a new contract. Right tackle Langston Walker starts in Peters' place despite an injured left forearm.
- Kirk Chambers, the new right tackle, made his first NFL start in the 2007 regular-season finale. Chambers started at left tackle, lining up against the Eagles' Trent Cole, who finished the game with one tackle. Chambers draws Seattle's Patrick Kerney, who had 14 1/2 sacks last season. Cole had 12 1/2, but none against Chambers.
- Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, acquired from Jacksonville, has seen his starts diminish over the last three seasons (16 to 11 to nine). He tries to reverse the trend at age 30.
- Beyond Stroud, the Bills added linebacker Kawika Mitchell and backup defensive tackle Spencer Johnson in free agency. They parted with five unrestricted free agents during the offseason: tight end Michael Gaines, receiver Sam Aiken, linebacker Leon Joe, cornerback Jason Webster and linebacker Josh Stamer.
I used the word "dreaded" regarding the early kickoff time for a reason. The Seahawks really, really, really, do not like the early starts. Really. Their record in the Eastern time zone last season: 1-4, with three of the losses by a combined nine points.
Update: Chris Brown of buffalobills.com says Jon Corto, formerly listed as a safety, has changed jersey numbers to reflect his status as a linebacker. This gives the Bills six linebackers. I've updated the Bills' roster to reflect.