I helped call the Redskins-Titans game last week, and of course all of the discussion since then has focused on the aftermath of the fallout between QB Vince Young and coach Jeff Fisher and whether they can coexist in Tennessee. That story will work itself out over the coming weeks and months.
What I did see in that game were a number of players who are below the radar, but made big contributions to their teams:
Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins: He was never a full-time starter at LSU, but has played very well as a rookie and at times as been the Redskins’ lead back. With Chad Simpson going down in pregame warmups, Ryan Torain still out and Clinton Portis unable to finish the game, Williams had to carry the load against the Titans. I’m very impressed by what I see out of a back who can run, catch and also does a nice job in blitz pickup. He’s turning into an all-around back in a short amount of time.
Brandon Banks, WR, Redskins: Don’t be surprised at all if this guy — who is all of 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds — starts to get into the rotation at wide receiver. He’s absolutely fearless. Check out his tapes from Kansas St., he can absolutely fly and will eventually make a difference for the Redskins.
Marc Mariani, WR, Titans: It was quietly whispered in my ear from someone within the organization to not be surprised if Mariani develops into a slot receiver for the Titans. He would be very dependable in that role. The pride of Havre, Montana (home of the Havre High Blue Ponies), this guy has both a punt return and a kickoff return for touchdowns this season as a seventh-round draft pick. He was a walk-on at the University of Montana before eventually becoming an All-America.
Alterraun Verner, CB, Titans: One of my favorite young defensive backs. He got into the lineup because of the injury to Jason McCourty earlier in the season. I liked him during his entire career at UCLA. We talk about the term “ball hawk” quite a bit, and Verner is a flat-out ball hawk. He’s around the football all the time, is fearless in run support and tackles better than he’s given credit for.
These guys might not get the headlines, but it doesn’t mean they don’t make valuable contributions to help their teams win. Enjoy these guys on Sundays and don’t sleep on them.