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Wolverines in the NFL: Catching up through Week 5, Part One (The Offense)

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It's been too long since I've given an update on all the Wolverines playing in the next level. Let's get started with the Wolverines in the NFL on offense.

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

QUARTERBACKS

Tom Brady (New England Patriots):

Week 2: 14/21 for 149 yards and one touchdown

Week 3: 24/37 for 234 yards and one touchdown

Week 4: 14/23 for 159 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions

Week 5: 23/35 for 292 yards and two touchdowns, 4 rushes for 13 yards

For anyone who remembers back to Week 1, Brady and the Pats started the 2014 on the wrong foot with a 33-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins. In the game, Brady fumbled twice and had 25 of 60 dropbacks disrupted, including 17 hits, eight hurries, and four sacks. Week 2 saw a 180 degree turnaround. A quick start by Brady and Co., one sack and zero turnovers by #12 led to a 30-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The win was number 149 for Tom, and it moved him ahead of John Elway on the all-time wins list for quarterbacks (only Brett Favre at 186 and Peyton Manning at 169 have more).

However, just when things started to look like they were returning to normal, Weeks 3 and 4 hit with a whimper. Brady dialed in a lackluster performance followed by a downright ugly one. Against the Oakland Raiders in Week 3, he started out missing throws but improved as the game went on and accounted for the Pats only touchdown in a 16-9 win. Then, Week 4 happened against the Kansas City Chiefs. Brady imploded ended the game with his rear end planted on the bench (and deservedly so). In the first five drives of the second half, Brady did the following, in order: fumbled (not lost), fumbled (lost), interception (returned to New England's 13), touchdown pass, interception (returned for touchdown). Following his final mistake, Brady earned a spot on the bench, and the final score ended up being 41-14 in favor of the Chiefs.

As you would expect, this has people talking about whether or not Brady's declining to a shell of his former self, is the blame on the offensive line, do the Patriots lack offensive weapons, is a complete team meltdown, etc. There were even reports that there was "tension" between Brady and the Pats. That's unlikely, and Brady silenced the critics with guns blazing on Sunday night. Brady was pissed off and ready to win, so he naturally recorded his best game of the season en route to a 43-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. If there's one thing you don't do, it's count out Tom Brady.

Chad Henne (Jacksonville Jaguars):

Week 2: 14/28 for 193 yards, one touchdown, and one interception

Week 3: 4/7 for 33 yards

If you've been following these posts at all over the past year or watch the NFL with any regularity, you know that Chad Henne if not an NFL-caliber quarterback. There's no denying the fact that he has underperformed with regularity over the years, especially in his three years with the Jags. He was re-signed in the offseason to be a veteran leader and help Blake Bortles - the heir apparent to the QB job in Jacksonville after being taken third overall in last year's draft. Nobody expected Henne to be "the guy," and his time in the driver's seat came to end during halftime of a Week 3 blowout against the Indianapolis Colts. For some, this change may have been a tough pill to swallow, even when you know it's coming. But for Henne, he's taking it in stride, as leader's do:

"The biggest thing for me is to just keep my head held high and try to be the captain that I was voted to be for this year and help Blake out as much as I can and really try to help this offense grow."

- Chad Henne, following the change at QB

RUNNING BACKS

Denard Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars):

Week 2: 2 catches for 14 yards

Week 3: 8 rushes for 33 yards

Week 4: 9 rushes for 25 yards, 3 catches for 7 yards

Week 5: 3 rushes for 6 yards, 2 catches for -1 yards

The Jaguars aren't good at football. Case in point: they're already 31.25% of the way to matching the Detroit Lions 2008 season, i.e. the 0-16 season. However, Denard is finally starting to earn more and more touches, even though a look at his stats above might not illustrate it. In Week 3 against the Colts, "Robinson set career highs in snaps (20), carries (eight), and rushing yards (33)" and looked more dynamic than the Jags starting back, Toby Gerhart. Shoelace followed that up with another strong outing (by Jaguars standards) in Week 4 by showing "the type of explosion and vision that Toby Gerhart has lacked" during a career-high 36 snaps. Week 5 showed a bit of a dip in performance, but the Jaguars as a whole laid an egg in a 17-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So while Denard's numbers aren't as gaudy as they were during his time in Ann Arbor, he seems to be moving towards an increased role in Jacksonville's lackluster offense. He isn't turning the ball over like he did last year while he continued to battle nerve issues, and he's outperforming his competition on a fairly regular basis. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues throughout the rest of the 2014 season.

Fitzgerald Toussaint (Baltimore Ravens):

Following Ray Rice's indefinite suspension by the NFL and release from the Ravens, Baltimore was in need of running backs, making it seem more plausible that Toussaint would be promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. However, on the same day of the aforementioned actions against Rice, the Ravens cut Toussaint. In the following weeks, they'd re-sign him to the practice squad, promoted him to the 53-man roster, waived him, and brought him back to the practice squad, where he currently resides. All in all, he's been on the active 53-man roster for two games this season but hasn't recorded any stats.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Jason Avant (Carolina Panthers):

Week 2: 5 receptions for 54 yards, one touchdown

Week 3: 2 receptions for 12 yards

Week 4: 2 receptions for 24 yards

Week 5: 2 receptions for 42 yards

After catching five passes and scoring a touchdown in a 24-7 victory over the Detroit Lions, Avant has caught only six passes since then and has watched his number of targets drop: seven in Week 2, six in Week 3, three in Week 4, and four in Week 5. However, Carolina's primarily using him as a third-down, short to mid yardage situation receiver, and he's performed well in that role.

Junior Hemingway (Kansas City Chiefs):

Week 2: 2 receptions for 21 yards

Week 3: 2 receptions for 18 yards

Week 4: None

Week 5: 4 receptions for 50 yards

Hemingway seems to be firmly planted in the third/fourth receiver spot in Kansas City. Even though he finished with no stats in Week 4, he showed his value in the run game by blocking Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis, which contributed to a decent gain. His 50 reception yards in Week 5 marked a career-high for Hemingway. He's received diminishing snap counts since Week 2 (34, 27, 28, 13), and it doesn't seem likely he'll see an increased role any time soon.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

William Campbell (Buffalo Bills):

After being cut by the New York Jets before the start of the regular season, Campbell has found a new home in Buffalo. The Bills recently signed him to their practice squad.

Jonathan Goodwin (New Orleans Saints):

Goodwin's still the starting center in New Orleans after beating out his competition this offseason. He's been battling minor injuries (elbow, high ankle sprain, neck, bruised knee), limiting his time at practice and causing him to miss portions of at least two games. There doesn't seem to be any issues with his performance when he's healthy, but he's unlikely to be at 100% for the rest of the season. Goodwin needs the injuries to stop piling up or his season might end sooner than expected.

Taylor Lewan (Tennessee Titans):

Lewan hasn't seen much action as of now in his rookie campaign (51 total snaps), but that could all be changing due to issues at left guard in Tennessee. Now, Lewan isn't a left guard by trade, but he's impressed observers up to this point with aggressive play and his strong frame. He's even making a name for himself by standing up for his quarterback following a late hit. While it wasn't the smartest play, it shows he cares for his team and teammates. Current Michigan players, take notes.

Jake Long (St. Louis Rams):

Long's still trying to regain his peak form following his torn MCL and ACL last season. He's battled with inconsistency during his time in St. Louis (making many fans complain about his gigantic contract), but even so, he's still considered a leader for the Rams. Unfortunately, he made a game-changing mistake against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5. Turf Show Times referred to the play as "a sack-fumble-Jake Long can't hold on to wet soap incident," and described it as follows: "He essentially escorts the defender to the QB for the strip sack, and then swats the ball into the end zone where the Eagles recover for the TD." Not good Jake.

David Molk (Philadelphia Eagles):

After a solid performance off the bench at left guard in Week 1, Molk was active but did not play in Week 2. Then, injuries struck the Eagles offensive line yet again, and Molk was thrust into his best position, center. With the starter expected to be out about two months, Molk's going to get a chance to show if he can be reliable as a full-time contributor after being out of the NFL for all of last season. Prior to his first career start in Week 4, he was pretty pumped up for the opportunity: "Let's go. That's what I've been waiting for. This is why I'm here. This is why I played in college. This is why I've worked my entire life. This is the opportunity." But it didn't go all that well. Molk graded by PFF as one of the worst players on the Eagles offense in Week 4 with a -2.0 grade due to struggles in pass blocking. Still, there are no signs that the Eagles are looking to move on from him just yet. Hopefully more NFL experience will help Molk continue to grow and improve.

Patrick Omameh (Tampa Bay Buccaneers):

Omameh's gone from standing on the sideline for all of 2013 to starting right guard in 2014. By all accounts I can find, he's currently "playing very, very well," and he's started all five games for the Bucs this season.

Stephen Schilling (Seattle Seahawks):

Expected to add depth to Seattle's offensive line, Schilling hasn't seen much action so far in 2014. In Weeks 2 and 3, he played a total of 15 snaps, all on special teams. After a bye in Week 5, he gained three offensive snaps near the end of the game following an injury to the Seahawks starting center (as well as nine special teams snaps). His playing time going forward will likely depend entirely on injuries ahead of him on the depth chart.

Michael Schofield (Denver Broncos):

As the backup right tackle in Denver, Schofield's played for a grand total of zero snaps so far in his rookie campaign. He's been inactive for all four Broncos games, and barring a multitude of injuries ahead of him, it's unlikely he'll be protecting Peyton Manning any time soon.