Sheard highlights down week for former Panthers


By Jack DeMarco / Staff Writer

The performances by former Pitt players in the NFL during week 3 of the season were anticlimactic. 

Jabaal Sheard, a Cleveland Browns linebacker, led the underwhelming group of former Panthers with a respectable outing. Altogether, Sheard finished his bout against the Baltimore Ravens with five tackles and battled in the trenches throughout the game. Sheard’s most noteworthy play came in the fourth quarter, when he stuffed Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro short of a first down on a fourth-and-one conversion attempt. Even though Cleveland fell short in an eventual 23-21 loss, the Browns defense has received considerable praise in this young season. Browns cornerback K’Waun Williams, a rookie, didn’t make it onto the field this week.

In spirit of the St. Louis Rams’ heartbreaking loss versus the Dallas Cowboys, defensive tackle Aaron Donald made a dull appearance. The Cowboys’ 34-31 comeback win after trailing by 21 points tied for the biggest recovery in franchise history and saw the Rams’ first-round pick make just one tackle. As of right now, Donald’s play is a byproduct of a highly talented defensive group that’s underachieving. The Rams defense is currently allowing 28.3 points per game, which is surprising since the team’s defensive scheme is overseen by coach Gregg Williams. Even though Williams has 12 years of experience as a defensive coordinator at the professional level, the unit’s production is laughable. Donald’s dominant days remain to be seen as the troubled Rams [1-2] need to fix much of their problems before he can return to the spotlight.

No matter how much frustration Larry Fitzgerald might feel for his lack of personal production, the Arizona Cardinals have started strong as a team. They beat their NFC West foes the San Francisco 49ers 23-14, to surge to a 3-0 record. In the process, Fitzgerald caught three balls for 34 yards while being targeted seven times and fumbling once. Through three games, Fitzgerald hasn’t been his usual self, by only accounting for 73 yards receiving with no touchdowns. Much of the offensive action has been centered on Arizona receivers Michael Floyd and Pittsburgh State rookie John Brown, who has caught three of the four passing touchdowns for the Cardinals thus far.

LeSean McCoy played an insignificant role in the Philadelphia Eagles’ high-scoring 37-34 win over the Washington Redskins. The opportunity was there (19 carries), but the execution was not (22 yards). Both offenses stole the show as the Eagles recorded 379 total yards, and the Redskins exploded for 511 yards of their own. An overwhelming majority of these yards came through the air, meaning McCoy’s campaign for the title of league’s best running back has temporarily been delayed. 

The New England Patriots avoided a scare by escaping with a 16-9 win against the visiting Oakland Raiders. In a game expected to be a blowout, the Pats came out flat and couldn’t put the game out of reach early. Instead of the Patriots riding a 23-point victory a week ago into another strong performance, they left many question marks on the field. However, the much-improved Patriots defense held the Raiders to nine points, marking the second week in a row they’ve held their opponents under double digits. Ex-Pitt defensive back Darrelle Revis wasn’t fancy in his three-tackle outing, but he made no mistakes in coverage. The Raiders failed to score a single touchdown.