NFL Nation: 2010 Week 8 High Energy NFC

NFC West High Energy Player of the Week

November, 2, 2010
11/02/10
3:02
PM ET
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 8.

The St. Louis Rams are giving middle linebacker James Laurinaitis extra down time during their bye week.

[+] EnlargeJames Laurinaitis
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonJames Laurinaitis made his presence felt in the Rams' victory on Sunday.
Laurinaitis needs the rest to let a sprained knee recover, but he's earned the break outright.

The second-year pro from Ohio State was all over the field Sunday as the Rams defeated the Carolina Panthers 20-10 -- the seventh time in eight games Laurinaitis & Co. have held their opponents to 18 or fewer points.

Laurinaitis finished the game with eight tackles, including three for losses, one sack and a tone-setting interception on the Panthers' first play from scrimmage.

"They tried to come out with some kind of trick stuff," Laurinaitis told reporters after the game. "I think we had the deep option covered. I see [Panthers receiver] Steve Smith kind of running a drag. Eventually the quarterback's going to look at him and I don’t think he saw me dropping back."

Laurinaitis was tough to miss for the rest of us.

He made a third-down tackle to end Carolina's third drive. His tackle for a 2-yard loss helped stop the Panthers' fourth drive. Late in the third quarter, Laurinaitis tackled Jonathan Stewart for a 3-yard loss, then sacked Moore for a 6-yard loss on third-and-13.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 8.

Calvin Johnson is built like a tight end, and so far this season he is playing like one -- to the direct benefit of the Detroit Lions.

[+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiCalvin Johnson caught three touchdown passes in the Lions' win over Washington.
Heralded for his 4.35 speed during the 2007 draft, Johnson has morphed this season into an intermediate-range receiver to ensure a maximum number of touches in the Lions' scheme. He caught touchdown passes of 13, 10 and 7 yards Sunday in the Lions' 37-25 victory over the Washington Redskins and is once again among the most productive receivers in the NFL.

The goal of any offense should be to get the ball into the hands of your best players, and to this point the Lions are excelling. Johnson has been targeted a team-high 69 times in seven games, including 15 against the Redskins, and is helping the Lions move the ball in ways other than 70-yard bombs.

In fact, 31 of Johnson's 38 receptions have gone for less than 20 yards and only one has been longer than 40. His 14.2-yard average per catch is more than a yard lower than his career average, but overall he is on pace for career highs in receptions and touchdowns.

At times stymied by deep Cover 2 defenses, the Lions have found a way to get a high-energy receiver the ball on a frequent basis. Kudos.
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 8.

[+] EnlargeLeGarrette Blount
AP Photo/Paul ConnorsLeGarrette Blount capitalized on the chance Tampa Bay gave him.
When the preseason ended, LeGarrette Blount briefly didn’t have a team to play for. The Tennessee Titans waived the undrafted running back, hoping they could bring him back to the practice squad.

That didn’t happen because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers swooped in and grabbed Blount. Seven games into the season, he has become the main focus of Tampa Bay’s running game.

With veteran Cadillac Williams struggling, the Bucs at first turned gradually to Blount and he showed some promise. That’s why the Bucs handed Blount the whole load in the running game Sunday against Arizona.

Blount entered the game with 21 carries. Against the Cardinals, he got 22. He responded with 120 yards and two touchdowns while showing a good combination of power and speed. He also caught two passes for nine yards as the Bucs remained undefeated on the road.

NFC East High Energy Player of the Week

November, 2, 2010
11/02/10
3:01
PM ET
NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 8.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Banks
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiBrandon Banks racked up 271 yards on kickoff and punt returns against the Lions.
Without rookie Brandon Banks in the return game, the Redskins would not have been in the game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The former Kansas State player was electrifying in returning both punts and kickoffs. His 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter briefly gave Washington the lead.

His returns contributed to 17 of the Skins' points in a 37-25 loss. Banks has remarkable speed, but he also seems to have the loosest hips on the roster with the way he wiggles away from defenders. With Donovan McNabb playing poorly and no running game to speak of, it was left up to Banks to be a difference-maker. And that's exactly what he was.

I think it's time for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to figure out how to use Banks on offense from time to time. If you can get this man in space, he'll do some damage. On Sunday, he was really the only consistent threat the Skins had on the field. And that's why he has been handed one of the most prestigious awards in the blog kingdom, the NFC East High Energy Player of the Week. Congrats to the Banks family.

SPONSORED HEADLINES