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SEC In The NFL: Fans Chant “Tebow!” As McFadden Mashes Broncos

Darren McFadden put the NFL on notice Monday night he could be in store for a big year.  The former Arkansas Razorback and number one pick of the Oakland Raiders back in 2008 rushed for 150 yards on 22 carries in the Raiders 23-20 victory over the Denver Broncos.

After one week, McFadden is the NFL’s leading rusher.  His performance Monday night was similar to what he did against the Broncos last year when he rushed for 165 yards and 119 yards in two games against the division rival.

The Sporting News calls McFadden “officially among the game’s elite all-purpose backs.”

On the other sideline, disappointed Bronco fans were chanting “Tebow! Tebow!” after an opening game loss at home.  Tim Tebow, the former Florida great, is described today by a Denver Post columnist as “America’s favorite backup quarterback.”

Columnist Mark Kiszla says Denver QB Kyle Orton “has lost all credibility with Broncomaniacs.” Ouch.

When asked after the game if he considered making a change at quarterback, new Broncos coach John Fox ignored the question.  Looks like it’s going to be an interesting and tumultuous season in Denver.

Update: “I couldn’t actually hear that,” Fox said of the Tebow chants. “I thought our crowd was great. I thought it was electric. I thought it was as good as I’ve been associated with. All my feelings about the fans and the crowd and the home field was tremendous.”

In the first game Monday night, Tom Brady lit up the Miami Dolphins, throwing for a team-record 517 yards.  A key member of the supporting cast was former Florida Gator Aaron Hernandez.

Hernandez caught seven passes, including one touchdown, for 103 yards, about 20% of Brady’s total production.

“When you have a great quarterback who puts the ball at the right spot all the time, it’s easy to make a catch,’’ Hernandez said. “Tight ends are used a lot in this offense. And Tom knows how to get us the ball.’’


Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry is lost for the season.  The former All-American safety from Tennessee and the Kansas City Chiefs number one pick in 2010 tore ligaments in his left knee early in Sunday’s loss to Buffalo.

“Eric is a special and will continue to be a special individual,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley said.  “This really digs you deep first and foremost because I know how hard he’s worked, and I know how much it means to him.”

Update: Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson describes the play that led to Berry’s injury.  “You don’t go out there to hurt anybody. We get plays and coaches tell us what to do and we go out and try to execute it. I went out there and did a chop block on Eric Berry, the safety. Let’s say Freddy (Jackson) was to break that run … [Berry] would’ve been the next defender. That would’ve been a good block, we just sprung Freddy for the touchdown. It just so happened to be a bad play and a bad situation. … I definitely don’t want that to happen to anybody.”

Rodney Harrison called the hit on Berry “cowardly.”

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Mallett Just Wants To Be Drafted

The run-up to the NFL draft hasn’t been particularly kind to former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.  Over the past few weeks he’s been called everything from a drug user to Vanilla Ice.  (Not sure which is worse, by the way).  Now, after all the rumors and accusations, Mallett just wants the whole process to come to a close.

“I just want to get my name called and go play ball for any team that wants me,” Mallett said this week.  “And whatever team takes me I’m going to go out there and give them everything I’ve got.”

When it comes to off-field worries, we at aren’t particularly concerned.  Wearing his hat sideways is not something that worked against Mallett in Arkansas’ locker room or on the playing field.  In fact, on the field he’s shown that he’s very coachable.

After his sophomore season, Mallett was anchored to a 55.8 completion percentage.  He had a reputation for struggling in road games.  But as a junior, he improved in both areas.

From 55.8% to 64.7% his completion number jumped.  He also led Arkansas to a 6-2 record away from home with the losses coming to eventual #1 Auburn — in a game in which Mallett was injured — and top-five Ohio State.

While his late-game decision-making against Alabama and OSU has been questioned, Mallett did throw for 380 yards at Georgia in a last-minute win.  He threw for 303 yards in a 41-20 win at East champion South Carolina.  And he threw for 320 more yards and three TDs against LSU in a game that had a Sugar Bowl berth (and $17 million BCS dollars) riding on it.

Is Mallett simply a product of Bobby Petrino’s system?  That’s a fair question.  Tyler Wilson entered the Auburn game after Mallett’s injury and rolled up 332 yards through the air with four touchdowns.  Mallett went out, but the Arkansas offense kept moving the ball. 

Another concern is Mallett’s style of play.  To this New England Patriots fan, I’m reminded of former Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Bledsoe when I see Mallett.  Big build, big arm, big numbers.  However… Mallett is also as slow as Bledsoe.  And as NFL defensive ends got faster throughout Bledsoe’s career, his numbers dropped.  Quite simply: You can’t throw from your backside.

Whether Mallett is a product of Petrino’s system or so slow that he’ll be a sitting duck behind center is anyone’s guess.  But his skills are those of a prototypical, first-round quarterback.  The Vanilla Ice issues might cause the big gunslinger’s stock to drop, but if he can prove that he’s not a system guy and that he can speed up his delivery time — Peyton Manning and Tom Brady don’t win a lot of games with their legs, folks — some team could get a franchise quarterback at a bargain price in tomorrow’s second round.

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Gamecock Great Sidney Rice Nets 105 Yards Receiving Versus Bills, Scores Two TDs

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In only his third game this season after undergoing hip surgery, former South Carolina Gamecocks WR Sidney Rice, of the Minnesota Vikings, caught five passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns yesterday versus the Buffalo Bills.  Both touchdown passes were thrown by Tarvaris Jackson, who replaced Brett Favre after Favre was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury.  Rice, who made the Pro Bowl last year, now has eight receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns since returning to action.   

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