During the NFL’s second week, a couple of former Illini defensive backs and special teamers shined for their respective teams.
Miami Dolphins’ cornerback Vontae Davis was a nuisance for Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Brett Favre and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe while Indianapolis corner Kelvin Hayden paced the Colts’ defense during a rout in Manning Bowl II.
Jets’ punter Steve Weatherford averaged more than 50 yards as New York booted the Patriots while Houston Texans’ kicker Neil Rackers drilled a game-winning field goal against the Redskins in overtime.
Here’s a recap of how other former Illini fared in Week 2 of the NFL season.
Running Back Rashard Mendenhall
Despite the win, Pittsburgh couldn’t get its running game going against the Titans, which held the former Illini star running back to 69 yards on 29 carries. That’s an average of just 3.0 yards per carry. When taking away his game-long 20-yard run, Mendenhall rushed the ball 22 times for 49 yards, which averages out to 2.2 yards per carry. Despite a frustrating day on the ground, Mendenhall can take solace in the fact that the Steelers are 2-0 without Ben Roethlisberger and that Tennessee’s stud running back Chris Johnson was limited to 34 yards on 16 carries, a 2.1 rushing average.
Linebacker Will Davis
It was a long day for the former Illini defensive lineman Davis and the Arizona defense, which gave up 221 yards on the ground (129 yards rushing for Atlanta’s Jason Snelling and 75 yards for Michael Turner) and surrendered 223 yards in the air. For the second straight week, Davis had 1 tackle in a reserve role.
Cornerback Vontae Davis vs. Wide Receiver Greg Lewis
Former Illinois and current Miami cornerback Vontae Davis was a key contributor in frustrating Brett Favre on Sunday. Davis had one of the Dolphins’ three interceptions of Favre, added two passes defended, and contributed 6 tackles, including a bone-crushing hit of Minnesota tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. For the second straight week, Lewis had one catch for the Vikings, this time for 14 yards. Former Illini linebacker J Leman is on injured reserve for the Vikings.
Guard Jon Asamoah vs. Offensive Tackle Tony Pashos
Asamoah is currently a backup on the offensive line of the Chiefs, which are off to a surprising 2-0 start after squeaking out a victory on a fourth-quarter field goal by Ryan Succop. Pashos is a backup on the Browns for John St. Clair.
Wide Receiver Arrelious “Rejus” Benn
The surprising Bucs are off to a 2-0 start, though Benn has yet to make a catch in his first two professional games.
Cornerback Alan Ball and Defensive Lineman Josh Brent
Panic time has set in for the Big D, as the Cowboys are off to an 0-2 start for the first time since 2001. Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler picked apart Dallas for 277 yards on 21-of-29 passing and hit Greg Olsen on a second-quarter touchdown during which Ball couldn’t track down the athletic Chicago tight end. After a great game against the Redskins, Ball had just 2 tackles against the Bears while Brent failed to register a tackle.
Wide Receiver Brandon Lloyd
Pete Carroll’s Seahawks came back to Earth after drilling the 49ers in week one while the Broncos rebounded from a tough loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. After leading the Broncos with 6 receptions in week one, Lloyd had another solid effort, registering 3 catches for 53 yards (17.7 average), including a long of 25 yards. Denver tempered its celebration of the win on Monday, when wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead in his home, from an apparent suicide. Just 23 years old, McKinley was on injured reserve for the Broncos after suffering a knee injury in August. Condolences to the McKinley family.
Tight End Michael Hoomanawanui
The Rams fell just short for the second week in a row, with rookie tight end Hoomanawanui missing the game after suffering an ankle injury during St. Louis’ week one loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Hoomanawanui is expected to miss at least six weeks.
Offensive Lineman Steve Moore, Punter Steve Weatherford, Tight End Jeff Cumberland
After a disappointing 10-9 loss to the Ravens in week one, the Jets got better in week two with an impressive second half against the Patriots. Thanks to some of his dirty work up front, Moore helped the Jets rush for 136 yards, with LaDainian Tomlinson showing some flashes of brilliance en route to 76 yards on just 11 carries (6.9 rushing average). In the punting game, New York’s Weatherford was very good yet again, averaging 51.3 yards on 4 punts, including a long of 58 and 1 punt inside the 20-yard line. New York rookie tight end Jeff Cumberland was inactive for the second week in a row.
Kicker Neil Rackers and Safety Eugene Wilson
Trailing 27-10 late in the third quarter, the Texans rallied to force overtime, where Rackers drilled a 35-yard field goal with 3:24 left to give Houston the victory and a 2-0 record. Rackers had 12 points on the game, making 3-of-4 field goal attempts (including a long of 47 yards) and drilling all 3 of his extra-point attempts. Wilson had 3 tackles and 1 pass defended for the Texans, which got the win despite watching Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb throwing for 426 yards.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden vs. Offensive Lineman David Diehl
The much-talked about Manning Bowl was much ado about nothing as the Colts controlled this game, leading 24-0 at halftime. Hayden had a really good game for Indianapolis, leading the Colts with 6 tackles, adding 2 assists and defending 1 pass. The Giants rushed for 137 yards as a team behind Diehl and the rest of the New York offensive line. It should be noted that former Illini offensive lineman Xavier Fulton is on the Indianapolis practice squad.
Running Back Pierre Thomas and Linebacker Danny Clark
New Orleans’ kicker Garrett Hartley was the man for the Saints, drilling 3 fields goals in the fourth quarter (including the game winner with no time remaining) as the Saints remained perfect on the season. It was a tough night on the ground for the Saints, with former Illini back Pierre Thomas gaining just 46 yards on 18 carries (a 2.6 average) and Reggie Bush breaking his fibula, an injury that will sideline him for about 6 weeks. On the defensive side of the ball, Clark had 1 tackle and 2 assists for the Saints.
Until Week 3.
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