Sports

Sherman busy on field and off; pumps McCaffrey for Heisman

 

Former Stanford defensive back Richard Sherman, in his fifth season with the Seattle Seahawks, was a busy guy in more ways than one on Sunday as the Seahawks dismantled Minnesota, 38-7, with the defense not allowing a single point (Minnesota scored on a kickoff return).

Sherman and the Seahawks defense limited Teddy Bridgewater to 118 passing yards on 28 attempts, also corralling lead receivers Mike Wallace and Stefon Diggs, who combined for four catches and 65 yards on nine targets.

Sherman also was vocal, to say the least, on another topic in his postgame interview, declaring current Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey "the best player in college football." Sherman has long been a avid supporter of the sophomore, exclaiming "Christian McCaffrey for Heisman" in an Oct. 29 interview with Dave Wyman on 710 ESPN Seattle's "The Huddle".

Furthermore, Sherman was named a finalist for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award this past week, an annual award recognizing an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. In 2013, Sherman started his foundation, Blanket Coverage, with the goal of providing students in low-income communities with school supplies, clothing, mentorship and encouragement to achieve their own goals.

Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin also came up big against the Vikings with another pair of touchdown catches as the Seahawks won their third straight. The former Cardinal hauled in five of seven targets for 94 yards and now has five receiving touchdowns in the past two weeks.

After a dismal 2-4 start, the Seahawks have stormed back into the NFC playoff picture thanks in large part to the recent contributions of Baldwin. Already having set a career mark in touchdowns (8), Baldwin is well on his way to establishing career highs in receptions and receiving yards. In his past four games, Baldwins has 24 receptions for 428 yards and six touchdowns.

Former Stanford players, meanwhile, kept busy in Week 13 of the NFL season:

Offensive guard David DeCastro of the Pittsburgh Steelers helped his team post a 45-10 victory on Sunday night against Indianapolis, with the Steelers rushing for 158 yards on 32 touches. Pittsburgh leads the NFL with 4.9 yards per carry, due in much part to the consistency of DeCastro.

The All-America selection at Stanford earned his highest Pro Football Focus grade (+3.9) of the season. For the ninth consecutive week, DeCastro has earned a positive Pro Football Focus grade, and has only allowed one sack and one QB hit all season.

For the Colts, former Stanford tight end Coby Fleener was his team's most-targeted receiver against the Steelers. He was targeted eight times, hauling in four balls for 20 yards. He also made a tackle after a pass intended for former Stanford teammate Griff Whalen was intercepted by the Steelers. Over the course of the season, Fleener has established himself as a better run blocker, as evidenced by his 20 more snaps than fellow Colts tight end, Dwayne Allen.

Former Stanford QB Andrew Luck, meanwhile, watched from the sidelines. Earlier in the week, Colts owner Jim Irsay told NFL.com that Week 15 is the targeted return date for his franchise quarterback, with head coach Chuck Pagano declaring Luck will not play again until he is 100 percent healthy.

Ex-Stanford defensive tackle David Parry, meanwhile, struggled against Pittsburgh. Parry started at nose tackle, making two solo tackles. He also played a snap of offense as a blocker for the second consecutive week. Whalen was QB Matt Hasslebeck's second most targeted receiver, hauling two of six balls thrown his way for nine yards. He was in on 36 percent of offensive snaps and 25 percent of defensive snaps.

Tight end Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles was limited to just two catches on four targets for nine yards in a 35-28 upset of New England. However, one of his catches was for a touchdown after previously leading NFL tight ends who have not scored a touchdown in receptions and yards. The Eagles (5-7) are still in the playoff hunt after their miraculous win in Foxborough. Philadelphia rookie safety Ed Reynolds had five tackles while playing 89 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps against the pass-happy Patriots.

New England offensive guard Cameron Fleming's production has taken a slight dip since starting at left tackle a short while ago. He was in on just three offensive snaps as the Patriots' sixth offensive lineman in the loss to Philadelphia. Defensive back Jordan Richards was a healthy scratch for the second week in a row for the Patriots.

Running back Toby Gerhart of the Jacksonville Jaguars was placed on season-ending IR on Saturday with a groin injury. 2015 has been a rough year for the 2009 Heisman Trophy runner-up due to constant battles with injury. With one year left on a three year, $10.5 million contract he signed prior to the 2014 season, Gerhart will likely find a new team in the offseason.

Blocking tight end Ryan Hewitt of the Cincinnati Bengals helped his team rush for 144 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 37-3 win at Cleveland. Hewitt was in on 67 percent of offensive plays, also catching a pass for seven yards in the third quarter. With New England's loss against Philadelphia, the Bengals (10-2) now hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff picture with a Week 16 matchup against Denver (10-2) looming.

Defensive back Johnson Bademosi of the Cleveland Browns was exclusively used on special teams, appearing on 91 percent of special teams plays. Tight end Jim Dray started at tight end and was utilized on 56 percent of offensive snaps.

Defensive end Josh Mauro •of the Arizona Cardinals was in for 36 percent of defensive snaps and 32 percent of special teams plays as Arizona won in dominant fashion, 27-3, at St. Louis. The Cardinals (10-2) sit atop the NFC West standings and are close to clinching their second consecutive playoff berth. Running back Stepfan Taylor was used on offense and special teams for Arizona. He made a special teams tackle to go along with five carries for 20 yards and one target in the passing game.

Wide receiver Ty Montgomery of the Green Bay Packers missed his sixth straight contest as Green Bay won, 27-23, on a miraculous Hail Mary play with time expiring to beat Detroit. With all-pro receiver Jordy Nelson out for the season, Montgomery's role in the offense may be more integral than expected. But, since Montgomery's ankle injury in Week 6 against the chargers, Green Bay is 2-4 and averaging just 244.33 passing yards per game.

Linebacker Trent Murphy of the Washington Redskins started in a 19-16 loss to Dallas on Monday night, appearing on 50 percent of defensive snaps and 68 percent of special teams plays. He was credited with a sack, a QB hit and a tackle for a loss, while the Redskins (5-7) still retained their place atop the NFC East.

Offensive tackle Andrus Peat of the New Orleans Saints made his second consecutive start at left guard for New Orleans in a 41-38 loss to the undefeated Carolina Panthers. Peat played 100 percent of offensive snaps, recovered a fumble and is taking the NFL experience in stride. "I'm hoping to play tackle because I feel like that's my position, but right now I'm happy to step in at guard and get on the field and get experience and play where my coaches want me to play right now," he said earlier in the week.

Linebacker Shayne Skov of the San Francisco 49ers was released on December 5 to make room for Daniel Kilgore, an offensive lineman. Skov had played in every game of the season until that point, primarily appearing on special teams.

Safety Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins started in Miami's 15-13 win against Baltimore. For the second week in a row, he was utilized on more snaps (89) than any other Dolphins player, finishing with six tackles, three solo and a special teams stop. The Dolphins (5-7) need some help, but their playoff hopes are still alive with four games left to play.

Tight end Levine Toilolo of the Atlanta Falcons started and played 37 percent of offensive plays and 76 percent of special teams snaps in a 23-19 loss against Tampa Bay.

— Stanford Athletics/Palo Alto Online Sports

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