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No pressure, Chris Clark, being thrown into the fire protecting Peyton Manning's blind spot and keeping a Super Bowl hopeful humming. Plus, more of what I'll be watching in Week 3

Chris Clark will go from observer to integral very quickly.
Chris Clark will go from observer to integral very quickly. (Bob Leverone/AP)

You’re Chris Clark. You’re 27 years old, and you may have trouble sleeping Sunday night.

You’re starting your first game at left tackle this weekend. Your only significant regular-season game experience to this point is as a jumbo tight end in 2011, when Tim Tebow ran the offense. Now your job is to protect Peyton Manning’s blind side.

You’ll be playing on Monday night. You entered the league as an undrafted free agent, you’ve been cut three times, and your debut comes on Monday Night Football.

You’ll be going up against a pass rusher, Oakland’s Lamarr Houston, who leads all NFL pass rushers through two weeks in quarterback pressures. He has 16, in eight quarters. He’s very good at stunting, which means you not only have to block Houston, but when he stunts, you have to be able to communicate with your guard about who’s blocking whom. Not easy when it’s your first game starting at left tackle.

You’ll be taking over for the consensus best left tackle in football, Ryan Clady. He’s out for the season after rupturing a foot ligament last week. Which means it’s all you now. The last line of defense, expected to sub in and not let the offensive production fall off with the great Clady missing.

Oh, and in the next two weeks, two of the best pass rushers in football—Trent Cole (Philadelphia) and Demarcus Ware (Dallas)—are ready to test you.

So how are you feeling about it all?

“So excited,’’ the 6-5, 315-pound Clark said, driving home Thursday evening after practice and meetings at the Broncos facility. “No feeling of fear. I will not be afraid. But it’s pretty intense, and believe me, I am not taking any of this lightly.”

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Looking for advice to set your lineups this week? Alessandro Miglio and Eric Edholm have answers.

Clark’s mobility is just average, and Denver may need to help him with chip-blocking from an extra tight end on passing downs. On the plus side, he’s played a lot of left tackle in the spring and summer this year, because Clady held out of camp while negotiating a contract and Clark was the nominal starter there, getting reps and comfortable with the line. “I was lucky to have learned so much from Ryan,’’ he said. “You want to be able to learn from a guy who does everything right. I try to match what he does, mimic him.’’

The matchup with Houston, Clark said, “will be tough. He plays hard every play. All the guys in the league are good, and he’s one of those guys.’’

And Manning has his back, according to Clark.

“When we found out about Ryan,’’ Clark said, “Peyton texted me. He said to me, basically, ‘I know you can do it. You’ve been waiting for this moment your whole life. Let’s get it done.’ That meant a lot.’’

“What’s your goal for Monday night?” I asked.

“No one touches the quarterback,’’ Clark said.

That’s Manning’s goal too.

About Last Night …

Kansas City 26, Philadelphia 16. I thought the story was the marauding Kansas City defense, with its five sacks, four forced fumbles and 11 pass deflections. That is one tough group to block. It’s clear the Chiefs have the right formula to win: an offense that doesn’t turn the ball over (12 quarters, zero giveaways) with a defense that chases the quarterback all over the field and can stop the run. But the other story of the night was the coach who went back home. Check me on this: Ever see Andy Reid smile so much late in a game and in the post-game scrum? I don’t think I ever have. The game, clearly, meant more to him than a third win by Sept. 19 for a team that won two all last year. “You put it out of your mind as best you can,’’ Reid said after the game. “But 14 years is 14 years. I really didn’t think much about it ’til the game was over. I’m not sure exactly how I feel, other than we won the game.’’ I’ll translate for Reid. This is what he just said: “YIPPEEEE! WE WON! WE WON WHERE THEY RAN ME OUT OF TOWN!!!!!”

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Player You Need To Know This Weekend

Tyrann Mathieu has already proven himself capable of making big plays in the NFL.
Tyrann Mathieu has already proven himself capable of making big plays in the NFL. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Anatomy of a Game-Winner

Tyrann Mathieu explains what was going through his head as he made the critical play that sealed the Cards' victory over the Lions last week.

Tyrann Mathieu, safety, Arizona (No. 32). He’s emerged, as Arizona GM Steve Keim thought he would, as an impact player early, and now he goes home to his birthplace, New Orleans, and his home state, where he has had so much triumph and sorrow, to play the Saints.

In 92 defensive snaps, Mathieu is second on the Cards with 13 tackles, and has a forced fumble (saving a Jared Cook touchdown against the Rams) and a deflected pass. The emotion should be on display Sunday at the Superdome.

Sound Bite of the Week

“We did not bring him here to be the water boy. He’ll be ready to go, as much as he can handle.”

—Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano, who watched Trent Richardson practice Thursday in Indy, 18 hours after the Colts consummated a trade with Cleveland for the third pick in the 2012 draft. Expect Richardson to start at running back at San Francisco Sunday.

Ten Things I’ll Be Watching For This Weekend

1. The putrid Giants pass rush. For the draft currency New York has spent on pass rushers—Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul, and the dearly departed Osi Umenyiora—it seems amazing that the Giants are so bad right now in getting to the quarterback. New York has two sacks, and Pro Football Focus has the Giants with seven pressures or quarterback hits in 45 pass drops. That cannot continue if the Giants hope to beat Cam Newton and exit winlessville Sunday in Charlotte.

2. Ray Rice’s health. Sure looked like a serious hip injury Rice suffered last Sunday, though Ravens coach John Harbaugh said several times he expects Rice to play Sunday against Houston. He walked off the field in great discomfort, limping. Rice hasn’t practiced all week. If he plays, how effective will he be in a game the Ravens are going to have to score a lot to win?

3. Ed Reed’s debut. Texans at Ravens. Reed argued to play last week, but was held out with a hip injury. How will Gary Kubiak possibly prevent Reed from playing in the stadium he called home for 11 seasons?

The Podcast
4. RG III’s condition. Another loss—Washington hosts Detroit—and the fans might start calling for Rex Grossman, never mind Kirk Cousins.

5. Rehabber of the Week. Will New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, after five offseason surgeries on his forearm and back, make his season debut Sunday at home against Tampa Bay? Magic 8 Ball says … Looks doubtful. Atlanta next week more likely.

6. An unexpectedly important injury. If you watched the Monday night game, you saw what an impact running back Giovani Bernard is going to be for Cincinnati. He scored once on the ground once with a pass, and made Steelers miss several times in the Bengals’ win. But he was limited with a hamstring injury in practice Thursday, and Cincinnati will need all hands on deck to win an anticipated shootout with Green Bay Sunday.

7. The San Diego offensive line. Tennessee’s defensive front has been impactful in the first two weeks, and the Chargers took a hit at practice Wednesday when starting right tackle D.J. Fluker was concussed. Fluke didn’t practice Thursday. If he can’t play Sunday, backup Mike Harris, a second-year man from UCLA, would go—and the Titans would be pleased.

8. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Cleveland Browns. At quarterback, Brian Hoyer. At running back, Willis McGahee. Yeeesh.

9. Dashon Goldson’s target. The league had its one-game suspension of Goldson, the Tampa Bay safety, for helmet hits overturned, and so Goldson will play against the Patriots Sunday in Foxboro. Whoever plays receiver for New England—that is always a moving target these days—must watch for Goldson for three hours Sunday.

10. The underrated game of the weekend: Atlanta at Miami. The Falcons are beat to heck, and lost two linebackers and a running back last week in the win over St. Louis. Miami (2-0) is trying to ride a top-five defense to the penthouse of the AFC East. Late game Sunday. Dolphins’ home opener. Should be fun.

25 comments
elijahrock2
elijahrock2

I'm extremely conservative and Washington should change its team name.  Sometimes even liberals are right.


mikevoice1
mikevoice1

Used to read your stuff a lot but now all I will do is say it like it is you liberal slob. 

Redskins, Redskins, Redskins, Redskins, Redskins, Redskins you PC Ahole!

TooncesDMV
TooncesDMV

I don't see a shootout in Cincy.  Pack 31-20

evileyefleagle
evileyefleagle

Looks like the 0 - 16 Browns will be flipping a coin with the 0 - 16 Jags for the rights to babysit Johnny Football.

CSK
CSK

Peter wrote: "with a defense that chases the quarterback all over the field and can stop the run"

What? Were you watching the same game? The Chiefs D gave up 260 yards!! rushing last night for a an average carry of 9.3 yards.


Their D did play well- but they got gashed in the running game.

mikevoice1
mikevoice1

@elijahrock2 

If you believe the PC BS you are not a conservative. Conservatism is where the truth lives, there is no other proper way.

Blue2
Blue2

@mikevoice1 I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you're an older white guy. OWG's always get to decide what's best for everyone who isn't an OWG. They're so handy to have around. And always so friendly to anyone and everyone who disagrees with them. 

mikevoice1
mikevoice1

@Sdwalt @mikevoice1 

Aside from a bus getting in my path I won't be gone anytime soon though the truth is I really don't care if Sheeple miss me or not.

UrsaMajor
UrsaMajor

@Blue2 @mikevoice1 Hey hey hey!  We older white guys object to you lumping this clod in with us!  With age generally comes a bit of wisdom and tolerance.  This guy is still obviously young enough to know everything.

mikevoice1
mikevoice1

@Blue2 @mikevoice1 

Blue- first things first. The commenting area of this site is quite bad. Anyhow you are 1/2 correct.. I'm white but not older. Considering about 88% of the country is white you really where not much out on the limb there. 

You are also correct about me being friendly, I'm super friendly but I'm so tired of this PC BS. It really is not even about being PC.. it is about division. If you don't understand this then I suggest you take a long look at real history. 

Mike26
Mike26

@mikevoice1 @UrsaMajor @Blue2 considering that you believe 88% of the country is white, I'm not sure that you know as much as you believe that you know - and what you already said that you know.

mikevoice1
mikevoice1

@UrsaMajor @mikevoice1 @Blue2 

Perhaps the smartest thing you have ever said/written so you get credit for that even though you are wrong. Sure I know a lot about many things, a ton about history and social engineering but I don't know everything. 

mikevoice1
mikevoice1

@UrsaMajor @Blue2 @mikevoice1

What I do know is the purpose of political correctness. Even in all your years it appears wisdom has not approached you. 

You are allowing the media to inform your opinion and not common sense. You are near a direct image of the dumbing down of this once great country. 

mikevoice1
mikevoice1

@Lizard_King @CharlesVekert @mikevoice1 @Blue2 

Come on now, you don't think "Mike's and idiot" because you are unable to form a single thought on your own but nice try. 

In addition I'm not yet old enough to join such a club so no burning of a club needed. 

Enjoy continuing on your path of sheephood. Oops.. the term hood is not a politically correct. 

mikevoice1
mikevoice1

@CharlesVekert @mikevoice1 @Blue2 

I understand your point about it seems counterproductive but don't agree. Highlighting the fact King is  PC liberal slob is the truth and the truth should always win. The Redskins are the Washington Redskins and not simply the Washington football club. Geeze.. some other liberal slobs PC Ahole are now referring to the Redskins as the "R" word. 

Being PC is not only about division it is also about growing a bunch of non-thinking weak minded highly emotional people. Some areas have banned Santa from saying "ho ho ho", some cities cannot any longer user the term "master bedroom", many places in America the American flag is considered offensive. Christmas is is now called by some "winter solstice holiday". Saying Merry Christmas is now offensive and is often referred to as Happy Holidays.  All in the name of being politically correct. 

Somehow the term gang tackle is now offensive it has changed to population tackle. 

Many Americans are easily made to believe anything and they believe because of liberal slobs with their PC madness, King fits the bill. Being PC in itself is politically incorrect. 

This numbers may be off a bit but 20 years ago something like 97% of people polled did not feel the name Redskins was offensive in any way. Today this number has dropped to 88%. Even today of Native Indians over 90% feel the same way. In ten years because of being PC and because the liberal slobs like King in the media telling people what to think that trend will continue. 

Because of all this your solution is horrible. 

Hail to the Redskins and shun to all the PC liberal slobs. 

Lizard_King
Lizard_King

@CharlesVekert @mikevoice1 @Blue2 I'm an older white guy and I think Mike's an idiot.  We're ready to kick him out of the older white guy club and burn his membership card. He's like that crazy aunt you keep in your attic.

CharlesVekert
CharlesVekert

@mikevoice1 @Blue2 If you think that the problem is that these PC quarrels cause division among Americans, then calling Mr. King a "PC Ahole" seems counterproductive. You have not endeared yourself to Mr. King or to anyone who agrees with him.

Here is my solution to the problem: Change the name to "Washington's Continentals" and make the colors blue and buff. I would rather have the team celebrate our earliest citizen soldiers than anyone else.

mikevoice1
mikevoice1

@BY @mikevoice1 @Blue2 

Not a fitness model and king being overweight has nothing to do with him being a slob, being liberal has everything to do with it. 

BY
BY

@mikevoice1 @Blue2 Mike, what did you find PC? King is overweight, that does not make him a slob. Are you fitness model?

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