Thursday, June 16, 2016

NFL '15 Dread News - Week 21

In the few number of NFL reports I've done over the past couple of years I have made a big deal of the fact that the team losing the Super Bowl one year does not play in the Super Bowl the next year. There's no written rule that forbids a team from going back the next year, but for whatever reason none have made it back - for 22 straight years now (including the one mentioned in the Week 22 report that I haven't even done yet). Half the length of that streak is one that affects the Super Bowl winner - a streak you're probably already familiar with. When the Patriots fell to the Broncos in the AFC championship game in Week 20, they became the 11th straight league champion to fail to successfully defend their title the following season. During the course of this season's playoffs (I don't remember exactly when) a couple of other fascinating tidbits came to my attention that are kind of mind boggling too. You might want to keep them in mind while filling out your NFL brackets for the 2016 season.

One of them concerns teams making the playoffs. Every year - as in every single year without exception - since the NFL playoff format increased from 10 to 12 teams in 1990 there have been at least 4 teams to make the playoffs that didn't make the playoffs the preceding season. That's right, beginning in 1991 and ongoing over the next 25 years there have been at least 4 new teams in the playoffs. So chew on this. This season's playoff teams were the Patriots, Bengals, Steelers, Texans, Broncos, Chiefs, Redskins, Vikings, Packers, Panthers, Cardinals, and Seahawks. If history continues to repeat itself, at least four of those will fail to make the playoffs in the 2016 season. Good luck trying to figure out which four; but just know for sure there will be four. It's gonna happen. Because history says so.

The other item regards the NFL's Final 4, a.k.a. the conference championship games. In the two title games for the 1995 season the Cowboys beat the Packers 38-27, and the Steelers edged the Colts 20-16. All four of those teams made the playoffs again in 1996. But ever since then, in every year at least one of the final 4 has failed to make the playoffs the following season. I repeat, failed to make the playoffs the following season. When I first heard that, I couldn't believe it; but I checked it myself and it's true. In fact, more often than not (10 times out of 19) at least two of the final 4 didn't get back to the playoffs the next year - most recently in 2013, when the Falcons went 4-12 and the Ravens went 8-8 after playing in the 2012 conference championships. So what this all means, of course, is that if history repeats for a 20th straight season in 2016, either the Patriots, Broncos, Cardinals, or Panthers will miss the playoffs next season. Wow. I can't even imagine that happening; but get ready; it's going to. So if any of those teams are your favorites, beware!

The 2016 version of NFL free agent frenzy has hit full force in the house of dread. Just in the first week of free agency (which began on March 10) there were 15 players with dreads signing with new teams; and currently the number stands at 32, with a few more still to come before training camp starts. I don't know; maybe that many isn't anything unusual. But it seems like this is the largest number of players with dreads ever to switch teams in a single offseason. A few of the changes: Danny Trevathan and Omar Bolden left the Super Bowl champs to reunite with Coach Fox in Chicago; Damon Harrison changed teams but not cities, going from the Jets to the Giants (left photo above); Chris Ivory also left the Jets, signing with the Jaguars; the Chargers were worst in the league at returning punts in 2015, but that figures to change (it better change) after Travis Benjamin (right photo above) signed with them; and Reggie Nelson traded in the orange and black of the Bengals for the silver and black of the Raiders. 
The only game on the schedule for Week 21 was, as usual, the Pro Bowl, the NFL's oft-criticized annual All-Star Game. Of course, with all players on the two Super Bowl participants ineligible to play and most of the players from the losers of the conference championship games not in the mood to play, it can be argued that this season's Pro Bowl wasn't exactly an all-star game. Stars or not, though, there were 86 players in uniform in Honolulu for the game on Jan. 31. At first I wasn't planning to watch it; but once I saw how many players with dreads there were on the rosters of the two teams, I couldn't resist, and I ended up watching the entire game.

The very existence of the Pro Bowl disgusts a lot of people, but that's because those people just don't get it. Those people want to see a real, fiercely-fought battle between the league's best players and are unhappy that that's not what they get to see. To them I say that the Pro Bowl is what it is - a friendly game in which the intensity level rarely rises above the level of an OTA practice in the summer. And if that's not your thing, just don't watch it; and you can stop wasting your breath whining about it too because it's not going to change. Certainly we'd all like it to be a competitive game. But I can still enjoy it for what it is - an exhibition game in which the players can relax and have a little fun and where the only thing that really matters is that nobody gets injured.

One thing I would liked to have enjoyed seeing for a final time this season but didn't was Reggie Nelson's awesome dreads. It was supposed to be the 1st Pro Bowl appearance of Nelson's 9-year career; but unfortunately and apparently the ankle injury he suffered in the Bengals' playoff loss in Week 18 prevented him from playing. Dolphins C Mike Pouncey also missed the game due to injury, while Larry Fitzgerald and Jamie Collins were among the 9 (out of 11) members of the Cardinals and Patriots who said, "Thanks, but no thanks; somebody else can take my place." Even without those four, there were still 12 players with dreads among the 86 in uniform. That total got a boost when the Panthers and Broncos made it to the Super Bowl, as CBs Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, and Josh Norman all were replaced by CBs with dreads - Desmond Trufant, Jason Verrett, and Adam Jones.
One player you wouldn't think would be excited about appearing but who definitely was was none other than Richard Sherman - because oddly enough it was his first chance to actually play in the Pro Bowl. You may recall that back in his first All-Pro season in 2012 he wasn't picked for the Pro Bowl because it looked like he was going to be suspended (even though he told everybody he was going to win his appeal). And then in 2013 and 2014, of course, there were no Seahawks in the Pro Bowl because they had a slightly more important game to play a week after the Pro Bowl. But with the Seahawks out of the playoffs after round 2 this season, Sherman wasn't about to miss his first chance to play. There is an article about Sherman (#25 in photo above) and Trufant (#21) from the Seahawks' website a couple of days before the game that I'd like for you to be able to read; but for some reason I can't type the correct address to it. So please, first click on the link below to an article on the Falcons' website, and then click on the link (printed in red) that says ... Trufant recently spoke about his relationship with Sherman:   

If you clicked on the video included in that article, you heard some of the Seahawk players talking a little trash at each other. That's because although they're on the same team during the season, they would not be teammates for this game. In the Pro Bowl draft 4 days before the game the 86 players were selected by the team captains - former NFL greats Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice - to form the two teams that would face each other. Sherman and Trufant were picked to play for Irvin's team, and they were joined by Jones, RBs Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley, WR DeAndre Hopkins, and DE Ezekiel Ansah (photo above). That left Verrett and RB Chris Ivory (the top two contenders for best dreads in the game), along with WR T.Y. Hilton, LB Julius Peppers, and DE Cameron Jordan to play for Rice's team. I guess it only mattered because the winning team's players would be paid more money, but they did actually keep score; and Team Irvin came away with the victory 49-27.

After falling behind 7-0 on the game's first possession, Team Irvin jumped out to a 21-7 lead early in the 2nd quarter, scoring on 3 of their first 4 possessions; and for a while I thought that all three of their TD were scored by players with dreads. I later (as in, after the game was over) found out, however, that WR Julio Jones, whose 14-yard TD catch made the score 7-6, had untwisted the short dreads he had for most of the 2nd half of the season and was back to normal hair. So, it was Jones' teammate with the Falcons, Freeman, who got the 1st TD by a player with dreads, accounting for all 28 yards on a drive following a turnover, including the 6-yard TD catch that put Team Irvin ahead (to stay) 14-7 (Freeman celebrates that TD with QB Russell Wilson in photo on left). Then Gurley accounted for the last 21 yards of a 75-yard drive on the first possession of the 2nd quarter, including a 10-yard TD catch to make it 21-7.

Hilton beat Sherman for what appeared to be a 51-yard TD catch (photo below) - until the catch was nullified by a replay review; but Team Rice got the TD anyway 5 plays later to close within 21-14. And it looked like they would tie it up on their next drive; but on the next play after Ivory picked up 16 yards (on his first and only rushing attempt in the game) to the 10-yard line, the Team Irvin D came up with their 3rd INT of the game to end the threat. The Team Irvin offense then promptly went 80 yards in 7 plays to make it 28-14 at halftime.
Thanks to a conversion on 4th and 2 on a successful fake punt, Team Rice began the 2nd half with a 10-play, 75-yard TD drive. But Team Irvin came right back to make it 35-21, with Verrett getting burned by Jaguars WR Allen Robinson on a stop-and-go route for a 50-yard TD. Later in the 3rd, after runs by Gurley of 11 and 4 yards, Titans TE Delanie Walker finished the 68-yard drive, beating Peppers on a route 20 yards downfield and turning it into a 53-yard TD to make it 42-21. Team Irvin then put it out of reach, using up half of the time in the 4th quarter on a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Hopkins' 7-yard TD catch - the 3rd TD by a player with dreads - to make it 49-21.

There was actual tackling of running backs for about the first 20 minutes of the game before the players came to their senses. From then on, simply wrapping up or standing up any RB carrying the ball was counted as a tackle. During the 2nd half and just for fun a few players decided to change things up a bit, lining up on the opposite side of the ball than they usually do. So among other things we got to see Hopkins and Giants WR Odell Beckham playing as DBs. We got to see Sherman lining up as a WR and getting the ball on a reverse - and losing 22 yards yards. And we got to see Freeman get in for a few snaps at safety, where he ignored the unwritten rule to not hit anybody too hard when he with all of his might slammed Ivory down out of bounds on the final play of the 3rd quarter. Chris didn't look to pleased about it either. I couldn't find a photo of the play, but you can see a GIF video of it on this link:

Team Irvin ended up with a 503-457 edge in total yards and a +3 advantage in turnovers (6-3). Unfortunately none of the 6 INT by the Team Irvin D were by players with dreads. Ivory (photo above on right) and Hopkins finished with the most total yards by players with dreads. They both had 71. On defense Peppers, Jordan, Ansah, Trufant, and Adam Jones all were credited with 1 tackle. Sherman had 2 tackles and 3 PBU. I can't remember if anybody got injured; but if anybody did, it was nothing serious. Seahawks QB Wilson and Seahawks DE Michael Bennett were the offensive and defensive MVPs (photo on left, with Irvin in between, after the game). A good time was had by all (except for Commissioner Goodell, who as usual was complaining about the players not playing hard enough). I just wish Reggie Nelson had been there. It would've been nice to see those dreads.


     Best player with dreads: Demarcus Lawrence
     Player with best dreads: Dwayne Harris


Perhaps if DeSean Jackson hadn't missed 6 games due to injury, I would have picked him; but instead it's Demarcus Lawrence who gets the nod as the best player with dreads in the NFC East. In his 2nd NFL season - and his 1st with dreads - Lawrence (top photo on right) played all 16 games and had 55 tackles, including a team-leading 8 sacks. Unfortunately there's no way he's playing 16 games again next season because he's suspended for the first 4 ..... Cowboys had two other players with dreads in their starting lineup - mediocre DBs J.J. Wilcox and Brandon Carr. Wilcox (left photo below) was a starter in 13 of the 16 games he played and recorded 48 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU, and 1 FR; and he also put 2 points on the board for Cowboys in their Week 17 loss to Washington, as his 1st career TFL resulted in a safety.

Despite starting all 16 games (for the 8th straight season), Carr had 0 INT in 2015 and only 6 PBU - career low totals for him. His dreads, in their 2nd season, were just long enough to start barely peeking out of the bottom of his helmet but were best seen with his helmet off, as it was after Eagles scored a TD in overtime in Week 9 (right photo above) to hand Cowboys' their 6th straight loss ..... After taking a 1-year detour to Chicago, special teams ace Danny McCray was back on the team this season - and wasted no time re-announcing his presence, as his blocked punt in Week 2 (photo on right) resulted in a TD that helped Cowboys win at Philadelphia ..... As I expected (and hoped), undrafted rookie Lucky Whitehead earned the job as the team's primary return man - on both kickoffs and punts. Although there weren't enough of them, he did have some moments of brilliance. He averaged 28.3 yards on kickoff return, with the longest being a 79-yarder. How dangerous a runner he is once he gets the ball is reflected by his contributions on offense, as he got the ball more often on reverses (10 carries for 107 yards) than receptions (6 for 16 yards). He didn't take anything to the house all season, so that's at the top of his to-do list for next season. The red tips on the ends of his long dreads kind of clash with the Cowboys' colors; but Whitehead (photo below) said he had to keep them because he was worried he'd ruin his dreads altogether if he tried to bleach the red out ..... DT Ken Bishop and his long dreads (in the background and to the right of Lawrence in top photo) sadly were released in early October after 2 games and 0 tackles ..... After being cut by Cowboys, Raiders, and Bears in September, DE Lavar Edwards on practice squad from end of September until signing with Bills at end of November ..... Rookie RB Gus Johnson on practice squad for about a month until being released in late October ..... Unfortunately rookie WR Deontay Greenberry was so disappointing he was released already with 2 games still to go in the preseason ..... Sick CBs Brandon Smith and Robert Steeples, and WR Clyde Gates all were cut near or at end of training camp.

S Danny McCray
WR Lucky Whitehead



Times sure do change, don't they? Once upon a time (I assume this story, which I heard years ago, is true, but I never bothered to verify it - it sure sounds true) Coach Coughlin - obviously not a fan of having players with long hair on his team - told a player (probably a rookie) desperate to make the team during training camp (in Jacksonville) that he would be released unless he got a haircut; and then went on and released him anyway the next day, after he had gotten that haircut. (It was dirty tricks like that, no doubt, that prompted the players union to want to alter their collective bargaining agreement with the owners, leading to the rule now in effect today that players cannot be disciplined for the length and/or the style of their hair.) How ironic it was then that it was Coughlin, of all people, in the final season of his illustrious, who was the coach of the team with the best dreads in the NFC East.

Until now Giants had always been among the teams with the fewest dreads in the league. In fact, I graded them at D- and F in my 2013 and 2012 dreads focuses. But things got a little better in 2014, and they took a giant step forward this season, thanks mainly to the addition of Dwayne Harris (top photo on right). After playing his first 4 seasons with the Cowboys, Harris left Dallas, electing to sign the Giants' offer of $17.5 million for 5 years. A lot of people thought the Giants overspent with that contract, and that includes the writer of this article on the Newark Star-Ledger website:
If you haven't already, be sure to read the first reader comment posted (by Charles S), because it sets the record straight on Harris, accurately pointing out that just because he didn't produce much on offense with the Cowboys didn't necessarily mean that he wasn't capable of producing. Anyway, his 1st season in a Giants uniform no doubt silenced a lot of the doubters, as he made major contributions on both special teams and offense. With some of the longest dreads in the league coming out of his helmet, Harris racked up 1,380 all-purpose yards and scored 6 TD - all 6 of which came at key
moments of games (although Giants managed to go only 2-3 in the games in which he scored) ..... Growing the 2nd edition of his dreads - which are now barely visible outside his helmet, free agent signee J.T. Thomas (2nd photo from top on right) started 11 games, finishing with 44 tackles while playing the 2nd half of the season on a bad ankle that ultimately landed him on IR for Week 17 ..... Only other starter with dreads was Brandon Meriweather (2nd photo from bottom on right), who
was doing such a great job that Giants decided to dump him after Week 14, only to bring him right back a week later for the final 2 games. He finished with 2 INT and 5 PBU in 13 games, but his dreads were disappointing. Once among the best in the league, Meriweather's dreads were reduced for every game and were much shorter than in previous seasons .....After spending first half of season on practice squad, Montori Hughes played in 7 games as a reserve D-lineman in his 1st season on the team ..... DE Damontre Moore ended up tied for 2nd on the team in sacks with 3, even after being released after Week 13 basically due to him being an immature idiot ..... WR Preston Parker and his odd-looking dreads (bottom photo on right) lasted only until Week 2 before getting the axe (that is, he got the axe, not the dreads). Parker caught 5 passes in the first 2 games but was killing the team with his dropped passes on key plays, including the one on 4th down that ended Giants' last drive in the Week 2 home loss to the Falcons, which was the last straw. Nobody else picked him up either after Giants let him go ..... Harris was not the only WR with sick dreads on the roster. 6th round rookie Geremy Davis (photo below, warming up before his 1st NFL game at Dallas in Week 1) played in 10 games but only had 2 catches ..... Signed to and cut from practice squad twice, Adam Gettis finally saw some action in final game of season. Hopefully we'll see much more of him in the future. His dreads are arguably the longest of any O-lineman in the league ..... During his 4-team tour around the league this season, CB Dax Swanson was on Giants' practice squad for 11 days in November before being released ..... DE Robert Ayers unfortunately said goodbye to his dreads just before start of the regular season.

WR Geremy Davis
G Adam Gettis
WR Dwayne Harris
DT Montori Hughes



After Eagles got an 'F' in my 2013 dreads focus, I'm pleased to report things are much better now, but there's still a whole lot more room for improvement. In his 4th season on the team and his 1st with dreads, Cedric Thornton (left photo below) missed 3 games due to injury and started the other 13, finishing with 32 tackles and 1 sack ..... Despite starting only 3 games, E.J. Biggers got a lot of playing time in the secondary in his 1st season on the team (after the previous 2 seasons with Washington and 3 with Tampa Bay before that), finishing with 7 PBU but 0 INT. Sadly and as I have mentioned before, Biggers (right photo below) is one of those players who keeps his dreads reduced all the time, denying us the chance to see something really special.

Cut at the end of training camp, Najee Goode (photo on right) was re-signed 2 weeks later and played 14 games - mostly on special teams - in his 1st season with dreads. His scoop and score of a blocked punt at New England in Week 13 was Eagles' 1st TD by a player with dreads since Asante Samuel's pick six in Week 9 of the 2011 season ..... Only sick dreads on the team - and they are very long - are on the head of undrafted rookie Denzel Rice (photo below), who made the team with an impressive showing in training camp but that appeared in only 5 games, finishing with no stats ..... Steven Means signed off Texans' practice squad in early December but did not appear in any games ..... Cut at end of training camp, WR Quron Pratt signed to practice squad but then was let go 2 weeks later ..... Rice's awesome dreads are the only thing keeping this grade above a 'D'. Then again, at least it's better than an 'F'.

CB E.J. Biggers
LB Najee Goode
DE Steven Means
CB Denzel Rice



My crystal ball said at least 4 NFC East players with dreads would score TD this season. Little did I expect that Redskins alone would have four to score. With this team you arrive at the epicenter of the partial dreads craze. If you had attended every Redskins game in person, you'd probably say that they have only 3 players with dreads. But when you include the players that just started their dreads this season, that total jumps up to 7 players with dreads.
Ricky Jean Francois (photo on right, tackling Rams RB Tre Mason in Week 2) was a key reserve in his 1st season on the team after signing as a free agent. The 2nd edition of his dreads (he cut off the first shortly after he got drafted in 2009 and immediately started re-growing his hair, getting it long enough to put back into dreads in time for the start of the 2010 season) are easily visible - that is, they were visible in the few games he didn't have them reduced ..... DeSean Jackson was not one of the 4 NFC East players with dreads I expected to score touchdowns. Oh, I expected him to score; I just didn't expect him to still have dreads when the season was over. But surprise, surprise - he kept his dreads all season (!), although after starting the season with a full head of dreads (left photo below, congratulating WR Pierre Garcon on his last-minute, game-winning TD catch vs. Eagles in Week 4), eventually he decided he should look like everybody else and finished the season with partial dreads (right photo below, telling the Philly fans to shut up during Redskins' division-clinching win over Eagles in Week 16). After injuring his hamstring in the 1st quarter of the season opener and missing the next 6 games too, Jackson - always a dangerous deep threat - averaged 17.6 yards on the 30 catches he made in the final 9 games, including 4 TD. Had he been healthy all year, he likely would have done well enough for me to pick him as the division's best player with dreads. He had four 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the first 7 years of his career but a career-low 528 yards this season.

Matt Jones most definitely was a player I expected to score, and the 3rd round rookie finished with 4 TD while gaining 794 total yards. After having his long dreads tackled vs. Eagles in Week 4 (the photo of Jones on right is from that game, so no wonder somebody grabbed them), he unfortunately kept them reduced one way or another for the rest of the season; and now - as you know if you've seen him recently - he too has joined the partial dreads craze. What a shame ......Just like Jean Francois, Mason Foster played his 1st season with the team while growing his 2nd set of dreads, although his 2nd set just got started this season and cannot be seen unless his helmet is off ..... Also with dreads too short to be seen are reserve O-lineman Ty Nsekhe and kickoff returner Rashad Ross. With some reluctance I decided to welcome Ross, who scored 2 TD, to the house, not sure if those really are dreads he has. But as you can see in this interview from Week 3 - if you look close enough - his hair unquestionably will be dreads once it grows longer: ..... For a few weeks in October and November CB Bashaud Breeland had his hair in partial dreads but then changed his mind and went back to normal hair ..... The 4th Redskin with dreads - and there's no doubt about these being dreads - to take one to the house is Andre Roberts (photo below and in background of photo of Jackson and Garcon above), who scored on a kickoff return at Carolina in Week 9 but did little else in 9 games before missing the last 6 weeks with a knee injury, officially going on IR in Week 15. Andre won't be back next season. He was released on May 17 and is currently still looking for a new home ..... After being cut at end of Buccaneers training camp, rookie DE Ryan Delaire signed to Redskins practice squad but was there for only 3 weeks before signing with Panthers.

LB Mason Foster
DT Ricky Jean Francois
RB Matt Jones
OT Ty Nsekhe
WR Andre Roberts
WR Rashad Ross




     Best player with dreads: Todd Gurley
     Player with best dreads: DuJuan Harris


Cardinals began training camp with a chance to have 12 players with dreads on the roster this season and finished the season with 9, including 3 starters. After 12 seasons in the NFL - all with dreads - Larry Fitzgerald  (photo on right) you'd think would have dreads longer than almost everyone. But I guess his just don't grow very fast. Although they're very long, there are several players with longer dreads that have played a lot fewer seasons than him. Fitzgerald's 12th season was one of his better ones, as he finished over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time since 2011, had a career high 109 receptions, and scored 9 TD ..... 2nd round draft pick Markus Golden did not disappoint, finishing with 30 tackles, 4 sacks (the first of which - a half sack in Week 4 - in left photo below), and 2 FF in 15 games, 6 of which he started in his rookie season ..... But unfortunately Jonathan Cooper did disappoint. I don't know if the broken leg he suffered that caused him to miss his rookie season in 2013 has affected his play. But whatever the reason, Cooper (right photo below, celebrating Andre Ellington's TD in Week 1) hasn't been the dominant O-lineman Cardinals were hoping he would be when they drafted him early in the 1st round. He was benched late this season after playing 14 games, including 9 starts, and will not be back next season after being traded .....

After playing his first 6 seasons with Titans and then with Jets in 2014, Chris Johnson (photo on right) - the RB formerly known as CJ2K, signed with Cardinals after training camp was already underway and earned the starting job - and was on pace for a 1,200-yard rushing season until breaking a bone in his leg at San Francisco in Week 12 and going on IR/return. He would have been eligible to be activated (and surely would have because he had fully recovered) had Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl; but that didn't happen did it? ..... Ellington (photo below, trying to get away from Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict in Week 12) continues his outstanding play - when he plays, that is. And that continues to be not often enough, as he was healthy enough to play only 10 games this season. That plus the arrival of Chris Johnson plus the emergence of rookie David Johnson dropped him to #3 on the depth chart, and he finished with a career low 437 total yards (after topping 1,000 in both of his first 2 seasons) ..... Ed Stinson had 3 TFL in 15 games mostly as a reserve ..... After missing all of 2014 due to injury, Sean Weatherspoon didn't play much in his 1st season with Cardinals, which also was his 1st season with dreads. He had 11 tackles in 14 games and is going back to ATL for next season ..... Xavier Williams hardly played at all (4 games), but at least the undrafted rookie made the team ..... After being discarded by Texans (during offseason) and Buccaneers (after Week 10), D.J. Swearinger hopes he has found a home with Cardinals ..... Robert Hughes cut at end of training camp and then not signed to practice squad until Week 7 and spent remainder of season on it ..... Rookie QB Phillip Sims didn't play badly during the preseason but apparently wasn't impressive enough. He was cut at end of training camp, as were CB Shaquille Richardson and rookie CB C.J. Roberts ..... Injured during training camp, rookie S Brandon Person spent entire season on IR.

RB Andre Ellington
LB Markus Golden
FB Robert Hughes (PS)
S Brandon Person (IR)
DT Ed Stinson
S D.J. Swearinger
LB Sean Weatherspoon
DT Xavier Williams



With two rookies with dreads new to the roster this season and two players already on the roster starting their dreads this season, Rams had the potential to get an 'A' grade for their dreads. But it's the reduced dreads of a couple of their better defensive players that prevents that.
With all due respect to Richard Sherman, I decided to go with rookie Todd Gurley (top photo on right) as the division's best player with dreads. I was feeling kind of down after a suspension and then an injury ruined Gurley's junior season in college (Georgia). I really wanted to see him win the Heisman. But 2015 went much better for the 225-pound speedster, and I couldn't be more thrilled for him. The Rams didn't really need another RB, but they took Gurley anyway with the 10th pick in the 1st round of the draft - mostly because of his special talent but also because they were afraid that if they didn't take him, either the Cardinals or Seahawks would. After missing the first 2 games of the season to make sure he was 100% recovered from the ACL surgery he had done in November 2014, Gurley went out and performed the way Rams fans hoped he would - spectacularly. He finished 3rd in the league in rushing, averaged an excellent 4.8 yards per carry,
and scored more TD than any other NFC West player with dreads. He earned All-Pro honors (2nd team) and was named offensive rookie of the year. And that was just the 1st chapter of his career. The best is yet to come. I pray that he can stay healthy from now on, because if he does, he'll have a good chance to make of the Hall of Fame ..... Janoris Jenkins' dreads are getting so long that even though they're now permanently reduced, they don't look half bad. Jenkins started 15 games, finishing with 64 tackles, 12 PBU, and 3 INT - including a highlight reel pick vs. Cardinals in Week 4 (2nd photo from top on right) - to earn a big payday for next season, but not with the Rams ..... Mark Barron (3rd photo from top on right) absolutely thrived in his position switch from S to LB. He tied for 9th in the league with 16 TFL even though he had only 1 sack. But those dreads, seriously reduced to just a few locks, are a big-time disappointment. And it almost makes me want to cry, because if he would just let them flow, his dreads would look really good ..... Gurley wasn't the only Rams rookie to put a smile on my face. I also was thrilled to see Bradley Marquez (left photo below) not only make the team but be a key contributor on special teams. That fair catch he called for on that onside kickoff to start overtime, helping Rams defeat Seahawks in Week 1, was something else. As the season went along he saw a bit more action on offense but finished with just 3 first downs on his 13 catches and averaged just 6.8 yards per reception. But the best is yet to come for him too. With Jenkins and Barron going with reduced dreads, Marquez's dreads are the easy choice for the best on the team.

I had Daren Bates on my watch list before the season started; and indeed he did start growing dreads; but little did I know he was planning to have them look like this (right photo above). Kind of Preston Parker-esque. Bates played 15 games, almost exclusively on special teams ..... Michael Brockers started growing what looks like dreads (photo on right), so I reluctantly welcomed him to the house. But unfortunately I guess he didn't want to stay. We won't get the chance to see what these dreads would have looked like after they got longer. After starting all 16 games and recording 8 TFL, including 3 sacks, Brockers cut them off after the season and went back to normal hair ..... If he didn't have dreads, Demetrius Rhaney would be just another reserve O-lineman that I had never heard of. But there aren't many players with dreads who play center, so let's hope he's going to be around for a while. Rhaney played in the FCS in college (Tennessee State) and was Rams' 7th round draft choice in 2014. After spending his entire rookie season on IR, he played all 16 games this season, starting once ..... The unexpected drafting of Gurley sent shock waves through the team's depth chart at the RB position. One RB immediately asked to be traded. But Tre Mason decided to stay the course and see how things would turn out. Well, they turned out as expected. His carries went from 179 in his 2014 rookie season to just 75 this season, and his yards rushing dropped from 765 to 207. Despite being on the field less often, Mason actually made himself more well known, turning his ordinary dreads into "Goldidreads" - dyeing his entire locks not just the tips (photo below) ..... Justice Cunningham and his sick dreads bounced back and forth between the active roster and practice squad all season. He appeared in 2 games with 0 catches ..... CB Trovon Reed, G Travis Bond, and G Brandon Washington all cut at end of training camp, with only Reed being signed to practice squad, where he spent 10 days before being let go for good.

LB Daren Bates
TE Justice Cunningham (PS)
WR Bradley Marquez
RB Tre Mason
C Demetrius Rhaney



Thank goodness for a couple of late-season additions to the roster, otherwise this would have been a total washout. Actually not a total washout, as Ian Williams (right photo below) finally was able to stay healthy, playing all 16 games for the first time in his career and becoming one of the league's best DTs with dreads. But his dreads don't seem to be getting any longer. They look like they're the same length as they were when he first came into the league.

For the 1st half of the season Williams was 49ers' only player with dreads. Then RB Travaris Cadet was signed after Week 9 and played 4 games (7 carries for 16 yards, 7 catches for 66 yards) before being let go 3 days before Christmas ..... In came DuJuan Harris, who proved to be an upgrade, both talent-wise and with his dreads, which are spectacular (left photo above). After signing with Vikings during the offseason and being cut at the end of their training camp, Harris made a couple of other brief stops before arriving in San Francisco for the final 2 games of the season. He played so well in those 2 games (237 total yards on 36 touches) that 49ers re-signed him for next season ..... After being released by Raiders, Ray-Ray Armstrong (photo below) was signed the day before Thanksgiving and played the last 5 games, entirely on special teams ..... WR Chuck Jacobs and LB Philip Wheeler cut near end of training camp, with Wheeler eventually landing in ATL.

LB Ray-Ray Armstrong
RB DuJuan Harris



The two-time defending NFC champs began the season with only 3 players with dreads on the roster, and it remained that way almost all season. 2 of the 3 just happen to be among the very best players with dreads in the league - Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman, of course - but neither was as successful in 2015 as they had been the previous few seasons. Lynch (top photo on right) began the season by getting tackled for a 1-yard loss on 4th and 1 with the Seahawks trailing by 3 in overtime in the season opener at St. Louis, and things didn't get any better after that. He was on the weekly injury report every week for the last 15 weeks of the season and missed 9 games, with the worst injury being the sports hernia that caused him to miss the last 7 games of the regular season and the 1st round playoff game. In the 7 games he played he made the dread stars list only twice. Running behind a mediocre O-line, Lynch rushed for a career low 417 yards, and his 3.8 average per carry was his worst since his first season in Seattle in 2010. With his running style, Lynch takes a lot of punishment; and a lot of people were surprised he was able to last as long as he has. But after playing for 9 seasons, he's not coming back for a 10th .....
Sherman (middle photo on right) played all 16 games for the 5th straight season. But although he was named All-Pro for the 4th straight year (2nd team this season after making the 1st team the previous three seasons), it seemed like he wasn't as dominating as in the past. I don't know for sure because I don't watch the Seahawks a lot; but it sure seemed like teams were having much more success than usual throwing the ball to man he was covering. Can't complain about those dreads though ..... Seahawks tried to increase their number of players with dreads through the draft. 5th round pick Tye Smith (bottom photo on right, listening to some advice from Sherman during his 1st preseason game on Aug. 14 - he later switched to #21 when veteran RB Fred Jackson joined the team) made the team but played only 4 games, finishing with 1 tackle; while 4th round pick Terry Poole didn't make the team, spending 3 months on the practice squad before suffering an injury and ending up on IR ..... Lynch was not the only Seahawk RB to be plagued by injuries, so DuJuan Harris was signed to the practice squad just before Thanksgiving and then saw some action in December, bringing dreads even better than Lynch's (photo below) to the team's backfield, but was let go after rushing for only 49 yards on 21 carries (2.3) in Weeks 13 and 14 (after which he landed in San Francisco) ..... Rookie Trovon Reed, not signed after trying out during rookie minicamp in May, signed to practice squad in mid-November and spent rest of season on it ..... After being released by Cowboys, rookie WR Deontay Greenberry was signed, but Seahawks didn't like what they saw either, and he was released again 5 days later ..... CB Brandon Dixon on practice squad for a couple of days before Week 1 before being let go.   

OT Terry Poole (PS,IR)
CB Trovon Reed (PS)
S Tye Smith




     Best player with dreads: Danny Trevathan
     Player with best dreads: Ricardo Mathews


Week 5 injury to Jamaal Charles put race for division's best player with dreads up for grabs, and it was Danny Trevathan who won it with his outstanding season. The Broncos' only starter with dreads didn't have any sacks but did lead the team in tackles and had 4 PBU and 2 INT, one of which was a pick six. While the 6th round draft choice (2012) has turned into an excellent player, the same cannot be said about his dreads. At first I thought he wasn't letting his dreads get any longer, but as you can see in this shot of him in Week 1 (left photo below), that's not true. They're long enough to be easily seen outside the helmet. But for some reason he never has them hanging outside the helmet. In every other game he had them either reduced or stifled somehow so much that when you saw him on the field, you wouldn't even know he has dreads. And this isn't anything new. He's been doing it this way for at least the past 3 seasons. Yo Danny, why you keep hiding your dreads like that? You're killing me, man ..... Playing his 7th season, David Bruton changed things up, adding some color to his dreads - the team's colors, that is - first going with orange tips (right photo below) for most of the season before changing to blue by the end of the season. Very quietly Bruton had a nice season, finishing with a career high 43 tackles, 1 sack, 2 FF, 5 PBU, and 2 INT in 13 games before going on IR after breaking his leg in Week 15, causing him to miss the playoffs.

During his time in college at Missouri Shane Ray gave no indication he was interested in growing dreads; so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to welcome him to the house. I didn't know he was growing dreads until the season already was underway; but apparently he got them started just before training camp. From where they were then to where they were by the end of the season (top photo on right) is evidence that they're growing very quickly. Drafted in the 1st round, Ray didn't play much (averaging 24 snaps per game) because there were two outstanding outside LBs ahead of him on the depth chart; but he produced when given the chance, finishing with 4 sacks, and could turn into a Pro Bowl caliber player soon ..... Although nobody with dreads touched the ball on offense for the 5th straight season (I'm not counting the 2 times Bruton carried the ball on fake punts, which are special teams plays even though the stats count for the offense), 3 of their 38 TD in the regular season were scored by players with dreads. The first of those was by Bradley Roby, who scooped and scored in the final minute for the winning points in an improbable win at Kansas City in Week 2 (he celebrates the TD in bottom photo on right, where you can also see Trevathan's reduced dreads barely coming out of his helmet). Like Ray, the only reason Roby wasn't in the starting lineup was the two great players ahead of him on the depth chart. Literally he'd be a starter on any other team. In his limited playing time Roby was outstanding, finishing with 40 tackles, 9 PBU, and 1 TD, and coming up with several huge, important plays. As for those dreads? Well, just add him to the list of players whose dreads would look really cool if they weren't reduced every week. Omar Bolden (photo below), limited to 9 games due to 2 different injuries and then put on IR after being injured again in the playoff win over Pittsburgh, played mostly on special teams, with the best highlight of his season coming in Week 9 at Indianapolis, when he took a punt return 83 yards to the house - something I wouldn't mind him doing again next season since he'll be wearing a different shade of blue and orange ..... LB Reggie Walker cut near end of training camp.

CB Omar Bolden (IR)
S David Bruton (IR)
LB Shane Ray
CB Bradley Roby



Chiefs had to make do without their top offensive weapon for most of the season, as Jamaal Charles (photo on right), tore an ACL in his knee (for the 2nd time in his career) during 3rd quarter of Week 5. At the time he was injured he was on pace to finish the season with 1,226 yards rushing, 596 yards passing, and 16 TD. (That's what you missed if he's on your fantasy team.) But after a murderous schedule early (5 of their first 6 opponents made the playoffs) Chiefs hit the soft part of their schedule, so they were able to survive quite nicely without him. Hopefully Jamaal will be able to continue to thrill Chiefs fans for several more seasons; but he's been in the league 8 years now and will be 30 years old on his next birthday (2 days after Christmas), so the finish line of his career isn't that far away ..... Chiefs' two other starters with dreads play on defense, although Dontari Poe was moonlighting as a FB when he scored his 1st career TD on a 1-yard plunge in Week 11 at San Diego. Defensively he finished with 39 tackles - but only 1 sack - in 15 games and didn't make the Pro Bowl (after playing in the previous two).

Ron Parker started all 16 games and was good but not great, finishing with 78 tackles, 5 sacks, 9 PBU, and 3 INT (he celebrates the 2nd of those INTs, vs. Broncos in Week 10, in right photo above) ..... Chiefs had 4 players with dreads that scored TD - Charles, Poe, and the two players from Georgia they took in the 2015 draft. Playing behind star WR Jeremy Maclin, 3rd round pick Chris Conley (left photo above) didn't see much action, but his confidence grew as the season went along; so I'm still expecting big things from him after he he had only 17 catches for 199 yards this season ..... 4th round pick Ramik Wilson recovered a Jay Cutler fumble in the end zone for his 1st career TD in Week 5 and finished his rookie season with 20 tackles in 11 games. He
moved into the starting lineup for a couple of games until injuring his ankle vs. Vikings in Week 6 and missing the next 5 games. Although you can still see the dreads outside Wilson's helmet (top photo on right), Chiefs' grade would've been at least a half grade higher had he not cut them several inches shorter than he had them during his senior season in college ..... With Wilson out of the running, Nick Williams (bottom photo on right, and I'm sorry I couldn't find a better one) took 1st place for longest dreads on the team. The reserve D-lineman had 9 tackles in 14 games ..... Although he finished with 5 PBU, Jamell Fleming's not the guy you want covering your opponent's best receivers; but he earns his keep with his strong play on special teams (he downs a punt at 6-yard line in Week 6 in photo below) ..... Jarrod Pughsley on practice squad for 3 months until being added to active roster and seeing a bit of action in 2 of the final 3 games of season ..... O-lineman Laurence Gibson on practice squad all season ..... After being cut by Jets and Lions, WR Saalim Hakim signed to practice squad after Week 5 then activated after Week 9 and played 2 games, mostly on special teams, before being released right after Thanksgiving ..... LB Jayson DiManche signed to practice squad the same day as Hakim but was gone a week later after Browns signed him ..... Injured for most of training camp, WR Junior Hemingway cut at end of training camp ..... Rookie G Marcus Reed also cut near end of training camp.

WR Chris Conley
CB Jamell Fleming
OT Laurence Gibson (PS)
G Jarrod Pughsley
DE Nick Williams
LB Ramik Wilson



Three starters with dreads for the Raiders, and all are linemen. 6 of Denico Autry's 22 tackles were TFL, including 3 sacks - one of which came in the end zone for a safety in the Christmas Eve win over Chargers ..... 2nd round draft pick Mario Edwards had a good rookie season, recording 41 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 14 games before going on IR with a neck injury. Edwards didn't give the first edition of his dreads (which he had during his sophomore season at Florida State in 2013) any chance at all to get longer, cutting them off after one season. He started his 2nd edition right after being drafted, turning them into the unusual look that everyone could see loud and clear in Week 11 at Detroit when his helmet came off at the same time Autry was sacking Matthew Stafford (top photo on right). Unusual or not, let's hope he keeps them growing for a while this time .....
Donald Penn had his hair in braids for most of his 7 seasons with Buccaneers. But since coming to the Raiders in 2014, it certainly looks like he has switched over to dreads; so I welcomed him to the house this season ..... Best dreads on the team are on the head of rookie Neiron Ball, who unfortunately appeared in only 6 games before going on IR after Week 13 with a knee injury. Ball's best highlights came in Week 3 at Cleveland, when he recovered the ball (bottom photo on right) after Travis Benjamin muffed a punt and also got his 1st career sack - both late in 4th quarter to help Raiders hang on for a 27-20 win .....
I had never heard of Seth Roberts before Raiders signed him right after he went undrafted in 2014, but he certainly made me and - more importantly - opposing defenses take notice this season. After spending almost all of his rookie season on the practice squad, he became a major contributor this season. With dreads now long enough to barely be seen coming out of his helmet, Roberts (photo below) appeared in all 16 games, starting 5 times, and had 32 catches for 480 yards and 5 TD, including 2 game-winning TD catches (with :26 remaining against Ravens in Week 2 and with 1:21 to play vs. Titans in Week 12). What a pleasant surprise. Hopefully we've just seen the start of a long and successful career ...... LB Ray-Ray Armstrong created a stir in Week 9 at Pittsburgh when he barked at a police dog outside the team's locker room before the game. There was an investigation but no charges were filed. But that wasn't the reason - said the Raiders - he was suddenly released 3 weeks later; it was because he just wasn't playing well enough. He had 15 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 FR in 10 games, including 2 starts, when he was let go. He didn't stay unemployed for long ..... During training camp I was hoping TE Clive Walford would convert his hair into dreads, but he never did ..... After being cut by Packers and Dolphins 5 days apart at end of training camp, Rajion Neal signed to Raiders' practice squad and was on it for 2 months until being released in mid-November ..... G Adam Gettis added to practice squad the day Neal was released but stayed for only 2 weeks before signing with Giants ..... Cut at end of Cowboys' training camp, DE Lavar Edwards signed with Raiders but didn't even make it to opening day before being cut again ..... With a strong showing in the preseason, RB Trent Richardson could have earned a job, but he was cut near end of training camp, as were LB Horace Miller and rookie OT Quinterrius Eatmon

LB Neiron Ball
WR Seth Roberts



I could nitpick and mention that Chargers don't have the most players with dreads; but for real if every team had dreads exactly the same as the Chargers, there would be very little to complain about. Chargers have dreads in every position group except QB and a half dozen players with sick dreads. 
It seemed like Jahleel Addae and Jason Verrett (both in photo on right) were having a weekly competition among DBs to see whose dreads were more fabulous. It was hard to pick the winner. Staying healthy has been the only concern about Verrett (left photo below, getting an INT vs. Broncos in Week 13) since he was picked in the 1st round of the 2014 draft. He played in only 6 games as a rookie due to a shoulder injury but this season, despite being injured twice, was on the field for 14 games (all starts) and played in his 1st Pro Bowl. It likely won't be his last, because the quality of his play matches the quality of his dreads ..... In his 3rd NFL season Addae (right photo below) moved into the starting lineup for the first time, and he was mediocre. In 13 games he finished with 64 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR, 4 PBU, and 0 INT. But the coaching staff seems satisfied, and hopefully he'll continue to improve. No need to improve those dreads though. Just let them keep growing the way they are.

Playing his 1st season with dreads, Melvin Ingram was only other starter on Chargers' D. Slowed by injuries the previous two seasons, Ingram (top photo on right, walking off after the last-second loss to Ravens in Week 8) - the team's 2012 1st round draft choice - stayed healthy, starting all 16 games, and had his best season, playing well enough to earn one of the LB spots on my soon-to-be-released Pro Bowl with dreads team ..... "It was terrible. I was terrible." That's what Melvin Gordon had to say about his rookie season, and you'd have a hard time finding anybody who would disagree. There were 9 players with dreads picked in the 1st round of the 2015 draft; and of the 7 who saw action Gordon was the runaway winner for the most disappointing. Yes, it's true that the Chargers' O-line was one of the worst in the league (if not the worst) and that on many of his carries there were defenders already in the backfield when he took the handoff; but by no means was he blameless. He ended up leading the team in rushing but had only 641 yards, averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, had a whopping 6 fumbles (only two RBs had more), and his longest run was just 27 yards.
When he scored a highlight reel TD vs. Lions in Week 1 - only to have it overturned by a replay review - I would have been willing to bet a lot of money that it wouldn't be long before he took another one to the house . And I would have lost a lot of money, because he never did get that 1st TD. He led the league in most touches by a player without scoring a TD. Of course, it didn't help that they took him out almost every time they reached the red zone. I was like, "This is a guy that scored 32 TD last year (his junior season at Wisconsin). You need him on the field not the sidelines when you're in the red zone." Not that Danny Woodhead did much better. Chargers finished with a league worst 4 rushing TD all season. And then, if things weren't already bad enough, injury was added to insult for Gordon. He spent the final 2 games on IR after injuring his knee in Week 15 and ended up having surgery on it. Despite all that, Gordon, according to this article on the Chargers' website, says he's still confident: ... I thought Gordon would be OK when the Chargers drafted him. I didn't realize the O-line would be so lousy. If had better get better though, or else Melvin's not going to come close to reaching his potential ..... Despite playing all 16 games, David Johnson touched the ball only 3 times all season. Whether lined up at TE or FB, his main job was to block for Gordon (bottom photo on right) ..... Joe Barkdale, a 16-game starter, was the best of the bunch on the O-line ..... 6th round draft pick Darius Philon, who missed 7 games during the middle of the season due to an injured hip, had only 5 tackles; but he showed some promise and at 21 years old is bound to improve ..... Ricardo Mathews already had very long dreads when he first came into the league. So it's no surprise that 6 years later those dreads are in the running for longest in the league (photo below). In his 2nd and final season in San Diego Mathews played all 16 games, starting 7, and finished with 22 tackles, 3 TFL, and 1 sack ..... Adding to Chargers' embarrassment of riches in sick dreads, Matt Daniels was added to roster for final game of season, challenging Verrett and Addae for best dreads in the secondary, after spending 2nd half of season being on and off practice squad ..... Craig Watts was cut 3 times during season and brought back to practice squad each time ..... DT Luther Robinson cut at end of training camp.  


S Matt Daniels 
TE David Johnson
DT Ricardo Mathews
DE Darius Philon
G Craig Watts (PS)



1. Colts WR T.Y. Hilton takes some time for autographs during practice on Jan. 29, a couple of days before playing in the Pro Bowl for the 2nd straight year and for the first time in Hawaii.


2. The coaching staffs of the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs earned the right to coach the two teams in the Pro Bowl, as they were the highest seeded 2nd round playoff losers in their respective conferences; but Rams RB Todd Gurley (#30) still had a familiar face advising him before playing in his 1st Pro Bowl. Ben Sirmans, Gurley's position coach in 2015 with the Rams but hired by Packers about a week before the Pro Bowl, gives a few pointers to his troops - left to right, Falcons RB Devonta Freeman, Raiders RB Latavius Murray, Gurley, and Falcons FB Patrick DiMarco, all of whom were making their Pro Bowl debuts - during practice a couple of days before the game.   


3. Although Chiefs rookie Marcus Peters and Jason Verrett of Chargers - the two starting CBs for Team Rice, shown here stretching during practice - would both be wearing #22 during the game a few days later, it wasn't going to be too difficult to tell who was who when they were on the field.


4. With Devonta Freeman (#24) being one of the captains for Team Irvin helping draft the team, it's no surprise that all the Falcons ended up on Team Irvin and would be wearing the black uniforms in the game. Freeman, along with CB Desmond Trufant (#21), WR Julio Jones (#11), and FB Patrick DiMarco, pose together, flanked by hula girls, during picture day on Jan. 29 .....


5. But it was a different story for the five members of the Seahawks in the game. While CB Richard Sherman (#25), QB Russell Wilson (#3), and DE Michael Bennett (#72) would be playing together for Team Irvin, LB Bobby Wagner (54) and KR Tyler Lockett (#16) would be in the Team Rice white uniforms.


6. Desmond Trufant and Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins track an incoming pass, as Bengals CB Adam Jones looks on from the sideline, during a Team Irvin practice on Jan. 29. I included this photo basically because I couldn't find any photos of Trufant from the game. He was credited with 1 tackle (1-0) during the game.


2 days later, on Jan. 31 at Honolulu, it's game time.

7. After Team Rice began the game with a 10-play, 75-yard TD drive, Team Irvin strikes back immediately. On their first play from scrimmage Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins beats Chiefs CB Marcus Peters deep, making the catch at the 27-yard line before going out of bounds at the 14 for a 61-yard gain. It should have been a 75-yard TD, but Hopkins had to slow down to catch the slightly underthrown pass from Seahawks QB Russell Wilson .....


8. Team Irvin gets the TD anyway 3 plays later, as Falcons WR Julio Jones reaches to make the 14-yard reception from Wilson on 3rd and 10 midway through 1st quarter. Chargers CB Jason Verrett got beat for a TD later in the game, but this one wasn't on him. Verrett was covering Bengals WR A.J. Green outside, while Chiefs S Eric Berry (#29) was supposed to cover Jones in the slot but for some reason didn't, leaving him wide open for the easy TD. 
Verrett finished with no stats in the game.


9. Team Irvin takes the lead for good with this TD on their next possession, as Falcons RB Devonta Freeman, after beating Ravens LB Elvis Dumervil and making the catch at the 3-yard line on 2nd and goal, turns upfield and scores standing up with 3:40 remaining in 1st quarter. The 6-yard TD reception finished a 28-yard drive (following a turnover) on which Freeman gained all 28 yards (11 rushing, 17 receiving). 


10. Only in the Pro Bowl do you see a Falcon and a Buccaneer get to celebrate together. The man holding the Bucs' helmet is Freeman's former teammate at Florida State, rookie QB Jameis Winston, who came flying onto the field to do an air bump with Freeman after his TD. This was pretty much it for Devonta. He gained just 16 more yards the rest of the game, finishing with 27 yards rushing on 6 carries and 2 catches for 17 yards.


11. Poor Elvis Dumervil. He'd rather be rushing the passer, but LBs aren't allowed to blitz in the Pro Bowl. Instead he's in coverage again and getting beat again for another TD. On 2nd and 7 from the 10-yard line Rams rookie RB Todd Gurley catches a short pass from Wilson at the 6, and after breaking a tackle by Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner, gets past Dumervil too at the 3 and scores to up Team Irvin's lead to 21-7. The 10-yard TD was Wilson's 3rd TD pass of the afternoon, and it completed a 5-play, 75-yard drive on the 1st possession of 2nd quarter. Gurley, who accounted for the last 21 of those yards, finished with 18 yards rushing on 3 carries and 18 yards receiving on 2 catches.


12. Team Rice turned the ball over on their next drive but got the ball right back when Giants CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie fumbled on the INT return. And on the next play, from the Team Rice 49-yard line, a deep pass turns into a jump ball, with Richard Sherman going above the pack and getting credit for the PBU, as Vikings S Harrison Smith, Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry, and T.Y. Hilton also all try to make the catch.


13. On the next play Raiders QB Derek Carr, after drawing Seahawks DE Michael Bennett offside, knows he has a free play and steps up to avoid both Bennett and Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah to buy time before unleashing another deep pass. This was the only action shot of Ansah I could find. He finished with 1 tackle (1-0) and also got credit for a QB hurry in 3rd quarter that resulted in Rodgers-Cromartie getting his 2nd INT of the game.
As for Carr's pass .....


14. It comes down perfectly on target and in the hands of Hilton, who has gotten behind both Sherman and Smith, for what appears to be and what at first was ruled a 51-yard TD .....


15. As Smith and Sherman walk away, T.Y. does his usual TD celebration, assuming he has scored. But .....
If you stop the video exactly at the :50 mark, you'll notice what the replay official did - that when Hilton hit the ground, he momentarily lost control of the ball; and although the ball never touched the ground, by the time he regained control he was out of bounds. So after the replay review, it was no TD, just an incomplete pass. Too bad. Team Rice did score a TD 6 plays later, but it wasn't by Hilton. T.Y. finished the game with 1 catch for 20 yards.


16. Team Irvin turned the ball over on the first play of their next drive, with Peters returning an INT 37 yards to the Team Irvin 26-yard line. And on the next play Jets RB Chris Ivory finds running room up the middle on a draw play on his 1st carry of the game, getting past Buccaneers LB Lavonte David, Ezekiel Ansah (Lions helmet), and Cowboys LB Sean Lee (#50) at the 19-yard line .....


17. As he gets to the 14-yard line Ivory tries to split Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins and Dolphins S Reshad Jones but can't stay on his feet and goes down at the 10-yard line, settling for a 16-yard gain. Instead of giving the ball to Ivory again on the next play, Team Rice turned the ball over again, as a pass by Carr was deflected by Bennett and intercepted by Titans DE Jurrell Casey, ending the threat.
This turned out to be Ivory's only rushing attempt of the day. He also caught 3 passes for 55 yards to finish with 71 total yards - the most by anyone with dreads for Team Rice.


18. On the 6th play of the opening drive of 3rd quarter, Raiders WR Amari Cooper has Adam Jones beaten up the left sideline on 3rd and 2 and attempts to make the catch 25 yards downfield; but Sherman, not in the picture yet but closing fast, comes to Jones' rescue and separates Cooper from the ball at the 25-yard line, resulting in an incomplete pass. Jones finished the game with 1 tackle (1-0) for his only stat.
Team Rice converted on a fake punt on 4th and 2 on the next play and scored a TD 3 plays later to close within 28-21. But they went INT, INT, and end of quarter not yet in FG range on their next 3 drives, allowing Team Irvin to up their lead to 42-21 heading into 4th quarter. 


19. It wouldn't be a Pro Bowl without a little comic relief, and Richard Sherman provided some on this play with 5:44 remaining in 3rd quarter. After lining up on offense as a WR on 1st and 10 from the Team Irvin 48-yard line, Sherman takes the pitch 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage on a reverse and runs to the left, only to find Rams DT Aaron Donald and Raiders LB Khalil Mack blocking his way at the 44-yard line. So he reverses his field back to the right .....


20. ..... and encounters Eric Berry at the 41-yard line, using a stiff-arm to try to elude him .....


21. ..... But Berry stays on his feet and keeps chasing Sherman, who keeps giving ground while running across the field. Sherman finally shakes Berry, eluding his diving attempt, but by now is all the way back to the 25-yard and running out of gas. As he gets near the sideline he finally turns back upfield but runs into Wagner, who drives him out of bounds along the Team Rice sideline at the 26-yard line, the play ending up as a 22-yard loss. Wagner and a couple other Team Rice players let him know about it too.
The video of the play is included in this article from the Seahawks website:
When he stuck to defense, Sherman did OK in the game, finishing with 2 tackles (1-1) and 3 PBU.


22. I couldn't find any photos of Team Irvin's final TD of the game, just of the celebration after the TD, as DeAndre Hopkins goes up and tries to dunk the ball over the goal post after his 7-yard reception of a pass from Winston on 3rd and 2 finished a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ate up the first 7:10 of 4th quarter and made the score 49-21. It was the 3rd and final TD of the game by a player with dreads. Hopkins finished with 3 catches for 71 yards - the most total yards by any Team Irvin player with dreads.
This article from the Texans website includes a video of Hopkins' TD and an interview after the game along with a couple of other goodies:


23. Time for a little post-game quiz. What do Chris Ivory, Eagles RB Darren Sproles (#43), Saints DE Cameron Jordan (reduced dreads), and Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins, shown posing together after the game, have in common?
If you're a Saints fan, I'd be disappointed if you didn't know.
Of course, a little earlier in their careers, they were all teammates with the Saints, playing together in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
With Jordan's dreads too short to escape his helmet and being reduced on top of that, it was pointless showing any action shots of him from the game. He finished with 1 tackle (1-0).


24. Before riding off into the sunset at the finish line of his 18-year career, Raiders S Charles Woodson shakes hands with Packers LB Julius Peppers after the game. The two weren't teammates in Green Bay, as Peppers was coming as Woodson was going in 2013. Peppers, now 36 years old, will have to play 4 more seasons to match Woodson's 18.
Peppers, named to the Pro Bowl for the 9th time, was credited with 1 tackle (1-0).

In what likely will be the last ever Team Irvin vs. Team Rice Pro Bowl (it's back to AFC vs. NFC next year) and what possibly will be the last Pro Bowl in Hawaii (it better not be), the final score was Team Irvin 49 Team Irvin 27. Aloha.


Now that we've seen how the real Pro Bowl turned out, let's drift off to the land of make believe. Let's pretend the captain of Team Rice was Sidney Rice instead of Jerry Rice, and he would be coaching a team made up entirely of players with dreads in the Pro Bowl. And who would be the players on the team of the league's best players with dreads? Well, check out the rest of the photos in this dread gallery section, because I'm going to introduce them - the 2015 Pro Bowl with dreads team.

Maybe you'd have a different opinion than me (if so, feel free to express yourself), but for the most part the selections are obvious and pretty easy to make. The same as with the real Pro Bowl, there will be 43 players on the team and will be determined only by how they played during the 2015 season. Unlike the real Pro Bowl, I'm going to cheat and make a couple of changes.

Here is the position-by-position number of players for the teams in the real Pro Bowl:

OT (3)                     DE (3)                P (1)
G (3)                        DT (3)                K (1)
C (2)                       OLB (3)             KR (1)
TE (2)                      ILB (2)              Specialist (1)
WR (4)                    CB (4)
RB (3)                     S (3)
FB (1)
QB (3)

There are no kickers with dreads currently in the NFL, so I'll be putting those 2 roster spots to better use. But while you can find anybody to kick, not just anybody can play QB. Hmm. What to do about QB? There aren't any QBs with dreads either. But you can't play without one, so I'll have to come up with something. So with no kickers and only one QB, here's the number of players by position for the 43 players on the Pro Bowl with dreads team:

OT (3)                    DE (3)                 KR (2)
G (3)                       DT (3)
C (2)                      OLB (5)
TE (1)                    ILB (2)
WR (5)                   CB (5)
RB (4)                    S (3)
FB (1)
QB (1)

To be eligible for team, you have to have had dreads for the whole season. So you won't be seeing photos of Juluis Peppers or Jamie Collins or Julio Jones or Ted Ginn. Sorry about that. And the only other rule is that you couldn't have been on the IR list when the season ended.
Let's begin.

25. Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah (left photo), sacking QB Sam Bradford in Lions' 45-14 win over Eagles on Thanksgiving - one of the 3.5 sacks he had in the game) and Cameron Jordan of Saints (right photo), in his 1st season with dreads, are the starting DEs. Both 94's.

ANSAH (DET): 3rd season, 16 games, 47 tackles (39-8), 15 TFL, 14.5 sacks, 1 PBU, 4 FF, 2 FR
JORDAN (NO): 5th season, 16 games, 45 tackles (32-13), 15 TFL, 10 sacks, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FR


26. At a combined weight of 696 pounds, Dontari Poe of Chiefs (left photo) and Damon Harrison of Jets (right photo) are the starting DTs.

HARRISON (NYJ): 4th season, 16 games, 72 tackles (39-33), 5 TFL, 0,5 sack, 1 FF
POE (KC): 4th season, 15 games, 39 tackles (29-10), 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR; also had 1 carry on offense for 1-yard TD


27. This sack by reserve DE Jabaal Sheard during 4th quarter at Houston in Week 14 resulted in a turnover, as QB Brian Hoyer, instead of going down, tried to break the tackle and fumbled the ball when Sheard spun him to the ground. In his 1st season with Patriots, after spending his first 4 with Browns, Sheard had 8 sacks and 4 FF, which were a half sack and 1 FF short of his career highs - and he might have set new career highs had he not missed 3 games due to injury. And oh, I almost forgot. He actually got to play in the playoffs for the first time too.

SHEARD (NE): 5th season, 13 games, 38 tackles (28-10), 9 TFL, 8 sacks, 2 PBU, 4 FF


28. After playing just 15 games combined in his first 4 seasons, reserve DT Ian Williams surpassed that number in this season alone, starting all 16 games and playing well enough that 49ers decided to re-sign him for next season.

WILLIAMS (SF): 5th season, 16 games, 65 tackles (45-20), 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR


29. The starting outside LBs are Vontaze Burfict (left photo, tackling QB Blaine Gabbert for his only sack of the season in Bengals' 24-14 win over 49ers in Week 15) and Dont'a Hightower of Patriots (right photo).

BURFICT (CIN): 4th season, 10 games, 74 tackles (57-17), 6 TFL, 1 sack, 2 INT, 3 PBU
HIGHTOWER (NE): 4th season, 12 games, 61 tackles (51-10), 5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FR


30. You can't go wrong with having either of these inside LBs on the field - both of whom I picked as the best player with dreads in their respective decisions. I decided to give Danny Trevathan of Broncos (left photo) the starting nod over C.J. Mosley of Ravens (right photo), who was in his 1st season with dreads.

MOSLEY (BAL): 2nd season, 16 games, 116 tackles (76-40), 13 TFL, 4 sacks, 7 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FR, 1 TD
TREVATHAN (DEN): 4th season, 15 games, 109 tackles (73-36), 3 TFL, 2 INT, 4 PBU, 1 TD


31. Another player in his 1st season with dreads (and thank goodness they're not partial dreads), Melvin Ingram of Chargers (right photo), who came into this season with 6 career sacks in 3 years, nearly doubled that total in 2015. He is one of the three reserve OLB's. And so is Pernell McPhee, who had 6 sacks in his 1st season with Bears, including one of Alex Smith (left photo) in Bears' unlikely 18-17 win at Kansas City in Week 5.

INGRAM (SD): 4th season, 16 games, 65 tackles (52-13), 14 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 6 PBU, 3 FF, 1 FR
McPHEE (CHI): 5th season, 14 games, 53 tackles (42-11), 9 TFL, 6 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FF


32. Mark Barron is the choice as the 3rd reserve OLB. The 7th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Barron was supposed to be an outstanding player. I don't know exactly why, but Buccaneers gave up on him midway through his 3rd season, trading him to Rams. He wasn't exactly making a huge impact with Rams either until starting LB Alec Ogletree got injured in Week 4 this season. Barron switched from S and moved into the starting lineup as a LB and suddenly transformed into a near Pro Bowl level player, averaging 8 tackles per game in the 12 games he started and convincing Rams to re-sign him for next season.

BARRON (STL): 4th season, 16 games, 113 tackles (76-37), 16 TFL, 1 sack, 5 PBU, 3 FF


33. If I didn't make Richard Sherman one of the starting CBs, he'd just go on Twitter and explain to everybody why I should have; so I'll save him all the trouble. But his 2 picks this season were a career low. He had 4, 8, 8, and 4 in his first 4 seasons.

SHERMAN (SEA): 5th season, 16 games, 50 tackles (33-17), 1 TFL, 2 INT, 12 PBU


34. Adam Jones is the other starting CB, after playing in his 1st career Pro Bowl this season. Even though he's now 32 years old, Bengals have re-signed him to a 3-year contract. And that's a good thing, because he needs the money. Although he never had to go to jail for that disastrous nightclub incident in Las Vegas 9 years ago, he's still paying for it (literally).

JONES (CIN): 9th season, 14 games, 62 tackles (53-9), 1 sack, 3 INT, 9 PBU, 1 FF


35. In 3 seasons Desmond Trufant has started all 48 games for Falcons, playing in the Pro Bowl for the first time this season. Other than a lack of INTs (just 6 so far in his career), he has lived up to expectations since being drafted in the 1st round (22nd overall) in 2013.

TRUFANT (ATL): 3rd season, 16 games, 42 tackles (35-7), 1 sack, 1 INT, 10 PBU, 2 FR, 1 TD


36. Jason Verrett had a successful evening covering Steelers star WR Antonio Brown in Week 5 (although it would have been a fairer and stiffer test had Ben Roethlisberger been playing QB instead of Michael Vick). And he wasn't too bad in the rest of the games either. Already after 2 seasons it looks he's going to be a star in the league for a long time.  

VERRETT (SD): 2nd season, 14 games, 46 tackles (41-5), 2 TFL, 3 INT, 9 PBU, 1 TD


37. It didn't take long for Ronald Darby to get his 1st career PBU, as he prevents a catch by Colts WR T.Y. Hilton on the 6th play of the opening drive of the season. Darby joins Verrett and Trufant as the reserve CBs; and just like those two he has a very bright future.

DARBY (BUF): rookie, 15 games, 68 tackles (61-7), 3 TFL, 2 INT, 19 PBU


38. Reggie Nelson makes the 7th of his league-leading 8 INT at Cleveland in Week 13. I wish the Jaguars hadn't given up on him so quickly (after 3 seasons) because he has turned into a very solid player in Cincinnati. His 8 picks this season upped his career total to 30 and earned him his 1st Pro Bowl selection (although he couldn't play due to injury).
If you've been watching the NFL Network's countdown of the league's Top 100 players (they do 10 players every Wednesday night), you may have seen the segment on Nelson, who was ranked as the 60th best player. If you haven't, or would like to see it again, here it is:

NELSON (CIN): 9th season, 16 games, 72 tackles (50-22), 2 TFL, 8 INT, 6 PBU, 2 FR


39. Nelson was an easy choice for a starting S spot, and so was Da'Norris Searcy of the Titans, who is rated as one of the league's better safeties despite less than impressive stats. Hopefully by next season his dreads will be long enough that I'll be able to post a photo of him with his helmet on.

SEARCY (TEN): 5th season, 15 games, 55 tackles (42-13), 0.5 sack, 1 INT, 3 PBU


40. It was not an easy choice for the one reserve safety spot. Among the several contenders I decided to go with Dwight Lowery, who had a career high 4 INT in his 1st season with Colts.

LOWERY (IND): 8th season, 16 games, 76 tackles (56-200, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 4 INT, 4 PBU, 1 TD


41. It's a good thing I was able to welcome Donald Penn (right) to the house this season, because there aren't many other good O-lineman with dreads. Penn has not missed a single game in his 9-year career, and has started every game for the last 8 seasons. Another #72 from the AFC West joins Penn in the starting lineup as the OTs. Despite Chargers' O-line woes, I heard that Joe Barksdale (left photo) actually played OK during his 1st season in San Diego. He started all 16 games.


42. A couple of 1st round draft picks are the starting guards, with James Carpenter (right photo) having a better season in 2015 than Jonathan Cooper (left photo). In his 1st season with the Jets (after playing his first 4 seasons in Seattle) Carpenter started all 16 games for the first time in his career. As I mentioned earlier, Cooper's career hasn't gone as well as he had hoped, starting with breaking his leg during training camp in his rookie season in 2013 and missing the entire season. Maybe he'll do better next season with the change of scenery he got after being traded to New England.


43. It's a good thing Mike Pouncey began growing dreads this season, because there are no other good centers with dreads in the league. A starter on the Dolphins' O-line ever since being drafted in the 1st round in 2011, Pouncey played 14 games this season and earned his 3rd straight Pro Bowl selection (although he was unable to play this season due to a foot injury).


44. Although Demetrius Rhaney played all 16 games, he wasn't on the field very often; but I was able to find this photo were you can kind of see him from the Rams' Week 12 game at Cincinnati - the only game he started. It was rather easy for Rhaney to nab the reserve C spot, as he and Pouncey are the only centers with dreads that I know of. 


45. Hopefully some day before their careers are over Derek Newton of Texans (left photo) and A.J. Cann of Jaguars (right photo) will be good enough to play in the real Pro Bowl. But that day wasn't this season. Just as with Rhaney, Newton, who started all 16 games for the 3rd straight year for Texans, and Cann, who started 13 games in his rookie season, are reserve O-linemen more by default than anything else.


46. Not getting your 1st reception of the season until Week 16 (at Oakland) and then fumbling the ball on the run after that catch is hardly the way to audition for a spot on the team as the TE. But David Johnson of Chargers has always made his living more on his blocking ability than as a receiver. He must be doing something right; because despite having just 24 receptions (only 1 for a TD) in his career, 2016 will be his 7th season in the league.

JOHNSON (SD): 6th season, 16 games, 2 carries for 4 yards rushing, 1 reception for 4 yards, 1 fumble (1 lost)


47. DeAndre Hopkins led all players with dreads in TD receptions this season with 11, including this one in Week 11 on which he beat Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis for a 61-yard score. Hopkins has gone from 52 to 76 to 111 receptions in his first 3 seasons and is on his way to becoming one of the NFL's best receivers ever.

HOPKINS (HOU): 3rd season, 16 games, 111 receptions for 1,521 yards (13.7), 83 1st downs, 11 TD, 1 fumble (1 lost)


48. Larry Fitzgerald is the other starting WR. In 2015 he topped the 100-catch mark for the 3rd time in his career and the 1,000-yard mark for the 7th time. He made 9 TD catches, including this 6-yarder which upped Cardinals' lead to 31-20 in 4th quarter at Cleveland in Week 8. Showing no signs of slowing down, Larry will reach the 100 career TD mark on his 2nd TD of 2016.

FITZGERALD (ARIZ): 12th season, 16 games, 109 receptions for 1,215 yards (11.1), 65 1st downs, 9 TD, 2 fumbles (2 lost)


49. The three reserve WRs all hail from the state of Florida. Representing the 239 (southwest Florida) is Sammy Watkins (left photo, making a 44-yard TD catch vs. Dolphins in Week 9), who managed his 1st career 1,000-yard season despite being targeted on only 96 passes (7 per game). And on the right, from the 561 (Palm Beach County, including Muck City), Travis Benjamin runs in his 42-yard TD reception to tie game with Ravens at 27 with 1:47 to play in 4th quarter on Monday night in Week 12. Always a standout punt returner throughout his career, Benjamin finally became a regular part of Browns' offense this season after gaining a total of just 717 yards receiving in his first 3 seasons.

BENJAMIN (CLEV): 4th season, 16 games, 68 receptions for 966 yards (14.2), 39 1st downs, 5 TD, 3 fumbles (2 lost)
WATKINS (BUF): 2nd season, 13 games, 60 receptions for 1,047 yards (17.5), 41 1st downs, 9 TD, 0 fumbles


50. Miami has two area codes, so I'm not sure if T.Y. Hilton, shown here making one of his 2 TD catches vs. Buccaneers in Week 12, is from the 305 or the 786. I am sure that in 2015 he played in the Pro Bowl for the 2nd straight season and topped 1,000 yards for the 3rd straight season.

HILTON (IND): 4th season, 16 games, 69 receptions for 1,124 yards (16.3), 49 1st downs, 5 TD, 1 fumble (0 lost)


51. As mentioned earlier, Todd Gurley's rookie season with the Rams was a smashing success. Even though he missed 3 games he still led all RBs with dreads in yards rushing, including a 146-yard game in his 1st career start vs. Cardinals (right photo) in Week 4. Joining Gurley in the starting backfield is FB Boobie Dixon (left photo), who has maintained perfect attendance throughout his career (96 games in 6 seasons) since being drafted in the 6th round by 49ers in 2010.

DIXON (BUF): 6th season, 16 games, 21 carries for 44 yards rushing (2.1), 5 1st downs, 1 TD; 6 receptions for 44 yards (7.3), 1 1st down, 0 TD; 0 fumbles
GURLEY (STL): rookie, 13 games, 229 carries for 1,106 yards rushing (4.8), 45 1st downs, 10 TD; 21 receptions for 188 yards (9.0), 8 1st downs, 0 TD, 3 fumbles, 1 lost


52. As mentioned earlier, reserve RBs Devonta Freeman (left photo) and Chris Ivory (right photo) had an unusual encounter in the Pro Bowl. But let's forget about that and focus on the fact that they played well enough to be in the Pro Bowl, both establishing career highs in yards and TD and both topping 1,000 yards for the first time.

FREEMAN (ATL): 2nd season, 15 games, 265 carries for 1,056 yards rushing (4.0), 67 1st downs, 11 TD; 73 receptions for 578 yards (7.9), 21 1st downs, 3 TD, 3 fumbles (2 lost)
IVORY (NYJ): 6th season, 15 games, 247 carries for 1,070 yards rushing (4.3), 50 1st downs, 7 TD; 30 receptions for 217 yards (7.2), 9 1st downs, 1 TD, 4 fumbles (2 lost)


53. When DeAngelo Williams left the Panthers after 9 seasons and signed with Pittsburgh, he knew he would be expected to start the first 2 games while star RB Le'Veon Bell was serving a suspension. He also knew he would be spending the rest of the season on the bench when Bell returned. But when Bell was injured in Week 8, the door opened again for Williams, and he ended up having his best since when he rushed for over 1,000 yards back in 2009. Sadly (almost tragically) after not missing a game all season, he was injured during Week 17 and was unable to play in the Steelers' two playoff games.

WILLIAMS (PIT): 10th season, 16 games, 200 carries for 907 yards rushing (4.5), 51 1st downs, 11 TD; 40 receptions for 367 yards (9.2), 15 1st downs, 0 TD, 3 fumbles (1 lost)


54. If somehow the Pro Bowl with dreads defense ever gave up any points, we've certainly got the right guy to return the ensuing kickoff. Ever since he was drafted in 2013, Cordarrelle Patterson has unquestionably been the best and most dangerous kickoff return man in the league. His 2 returns to the house (including a 93-yarder at Oakland in Week 10, photo above) were the 3rd and 4th of his career. I'd like to see what he can do on punt returns too; but Vikings so far have limited him to kickoff returns only.

PATTERSON (MIN): 3rd season, 16 games, 32 KR for 1,019 yards (31.8), 2 TD, 1 fumble (1 lost)


55. Dwayne Harris gave Giants fans plenty of reasons to smile during his 1st season with the team, including when he took a kickoff return 100 yards to the house for a huge TD in 4th quarter (photo above) vs. Cowboys (his former team) in Week 7. Kickoff returns, punt returns, covering punts, you name it - Harris does an excellent job on special teams.

HARRIS (NYG): 5th season, 15 games, 22 KR for 631 yards (28.7), 1 TD; 34 punt returns for 341 yards (10.0), 1 TD, 3 fumbles (0 lost) 


And finally, that brings us to QB. This is the point where I was hoping to be including rookie Phillip Sims on the team. In 4 games with Cardinals during the preseason he went 28 for 51 (54.9%) for 261 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, passer rating 88.8. After he was cut at the end of the preseason, I thought for sure he'd be on somebody's practice squad. But that didn't happen. At last check he's going to try to play in the CFL for the 2016 season.
With Sims not an option, I was going to pick Denard Robinson as the QB, but then .....


56. ..... I remembered that MarQueis Gray was a QB in college too - and a better passer than Robinson, at that. So I'm going to cheat and active Gray off of IR to be the QB. He suffered a broken arm in the Bills' Week 4 loss to the Giants and had surgery 3 days later on Oct. 7. It's almost 5 months from then until the date of the Pro Bowl (Jan. 31), so there's a chance he would have been healthy enough to play by then.
Gray worked out as a QB at the 2013 Combine (left photo) but was not drafted. The 49ers signed him right after the draft and decided his size (6-foot-4, 242 pounds) and athletic ability could be put to better use at TE, and that's been his position ever since - although he did take a few snaps at QB when he was with the Browns in 2013 (rushing for 43 yards but attempting no passes). After spending the 1st half of 2014 with the Vikings, he was released and immediately picked up by the Bills. But after catching 8 passes for 118 yards in the final 5 games of the season, he didn't get a chance to build on that thanks to his injury this season. The photo on right is of him running after a catch during a preseason game on Aug. 29.  
I don't know; I didn't see a lot of him in college, but he seemed like a decent enough passer. Put him on this team, give him some practice time to get the rust off, and he might not be half bad as a QB.

So here once again are the 43 players on my Pro Bowl with dreads team, with the starters in all CAPS.

DE Jabaal Sheard (NE)
DT Ian Williams (SF)
OLB Mark Barron (STL)
OLB Melvin Ingram (SD)
OLB Pernell McPhee (CHI)
ILB C.J. Mosley (BAL)
CB Ronald Darby (BUF)
CB Desmond Trufant (ATL)
CB Jason Verrett (SD)
S Dwight Lowery (IND)

OT Derek Newton (HOU)
G A.J. Cann (JAC)
C Demetrius Rhaney (STL)
WR Travis Benjamin (CLEV)
WR T.Y. Hilton (IND)
WR Sammy Watkins (BUF)
RB Devonta Freeman (ATL)
RB Chris Ivory (NYJ)
RB DeAngelo Williams (PIT)

KR/PR Dwayne Harris (NYG)
KR Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN)


  1. Derwin James started growing dreads this offseason no pics yet but if u check his insta you'll see @derwinjames

    Plus at one point i think Jalen Ramsey was as well but idk

    1. Thanks for the info on James. Looks like it's going to be a while before he gets to the NFL.

      I was just checking the Patriots website and I noticed Jonathan Cooper does not have dreads anymore.

    2. I can live with Jonathan Cooper cutting off his dreads .....
      but not Vontaze Burfict too.