/Time to Eat: One Player on Every NFL Team Who Deserves More Reps

Time to Eat: One Player on Every NFL Team Who Deserves More Reps

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    It’s Thanksgiving, and with roughly a quarter of the 2019 NFL season remaining, NFL teams can be broken down into two categories—those still pushing for the playoffs and those playing for next year. Regardless of which category a team falls into, shuffling the roster a bit can be beneficial.

    For potential contenders, upping a player’s snap count could help improve a position or boost the surrounding cast. Is a team undervaluing a running back or a pass-rusher? It could be wise to see if they can provide a spark ahead of the postseason.

    For teams looking toward 2020, expanding a player’s role could help the evaluation process.

    Regardless of the reason, there’s at least one player on every roster who should be fed more opportunities over the final stretch. We’re going to examine them here.


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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    In April, the Arizona Cardinals used a second-round pick on former Massachusetts speedster Andy Isabella. As a deep threat, he seemed primed to help open up the offense for No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray. 

    However, Isabella has largely been an afterthought in the offense this season. Despite appearing in 10 of 11 games, he has seen just 101 offensive snaps. He’s hit the occasional big play—Isabella has averaged 25.7 yards per catch—but he has just seven receptions on the season.

    With the Cardinals out of it at 3-7-1, it’s time to see what Isabella can do with a bigger offensive workload. This might mean scaling back the role of veteran Larry Fitzgerald—who is playing on a one-year deal—but the Cardinals need to find out if Isabella can be a consistent playmaker moving forward.

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    Running the football has been an issue for the Atlanta Falcons this season. Starter Devonta Freeman is set to return from injury after a two-week absence, but he’s struggled even when he has been healthy. He’s averaged 3.5 yards per carry, while Atlanta ranks 31st in rushing with an average of 72.9 yards per game.

    With Ito Smith on injured reserve, the door has been opened for Brian Hill, though the results have been disappointing. After averaging 3.1 yards per carry in Week 10, he has tallied just 1.8 yards per carry in the two games since.

    It’s time to see if journeyman Kenjon Barner can add anything to the equation. Though the Oregon product has only carried the ball four times this season, he’s gained an impressive 28 yards and has averaged 4.2 yards per carry throughout his career. 

    Giving Barner more offensive snaps—he’s had just 49 in nine games—could help spark the running game and  take pressure off quarterback Matt Ryan.

    The playoffs aren’t a realistic goal for the Falcons. Keeping Ryan healthy should be.

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens have an unusual two-pronged rushing attack, given that quarterback Lamar Jackson is half of it. Veteran back Mark Ingram II is the other, providing the physical element and some red-zone running prowess.

    Ingram has rushed for 778 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

    Even with Jackson and Ingram running well, there’s room to get Gus Edwards more work in the backfield. The second-year back is averaging the same 5.2 yards per carry as Ingram, yet he has seen just 33 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

    The Ravens are a virtual lock to win the AFC North at this point, and utilizing Edwards more would help ensure that both Ingram and Jackson are at 100 percent come playoff time.

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills took former Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver with the ninth overall pick in April’s draft. Oliver has been productive in spurts, especially recently with two sacks in his last two games. However, his overall production has yet to match his draft status.

    In 11 games, Oliver has produced 24 tackles and three sacks.

    Part of the issue is that Oliver has played just over 52 percent of Buffalo’s defensive snaps this season. In Week 12, he played just 43 percent of the snaps. Jordan Philips, meanwhile, played 61 percent of the defensive snaps. Given Oliver’s ability to wreck offensive plays, these roles should be reversed.

    “While Phillips has the sack statistic in his corner, I haven’t seen him play nearly as consistently as Oliver,” The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia wrote.

    Oliver is a difference-maker, and it’s time for the Bills to cut him loose.

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    At 5-6, the Carolina Panthers are not out of the playoff mix just yet. Whether they’re playing for the postseason or next season, though, they should think long and hard about preserving star running back Christian McCaffrey.

    McCaffrey has carried the ball 221 times this season while catching 68 passes. With five games remaining, there’s a chance he’ll finish the season with 400 touches. That’s the sort of workload that can take a toll on a running back’s career.

    This is why Carolina should give at least a few more touches per game to backup Reggie Bonnafon. The 2018 undrafted free agent out of Louisville has flashed potential in limited opportunities—he’s averaged 8.6 yards per carry and 4.5 yards per reception—but rarely sees the football. He has just two touches over the last three games.

    Giving Bonnafon even a handful of carries per game could help save tread on McCaffrey’s tires.

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Though he hasn’t played particularly well this season, Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky deserves to finish out the season as the starter. Chicago needs to determine if the 2017 second overall pick is still the quarterback of the future.

    To find out if Trubisky can be successful, head coach Matt Nagy needs to give him more reps—in the running game.

    Trubisky is clearly still developing as a passer, but his mobility and scrambling ability are assets that are being underutilized this season. He carried the ball 68 times for 421 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. He has just 22 carries this season.

    Trying to mold Trubisky into a pocket passer is not the right answer. Mobile quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen have found success this season because their coaches have adapted to their quarterbacks’ skill sets. Nagy needs to do the same.

    Doing so would potentially improve Trubisky’s efficiency while also sparking a rushing attack that has averaged just 78.5 yards per game.

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    Frank Victores/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals gave rookie fourth-round quarterback Ryan Finley a three-game audition before making the switch back to Andy Dalton.

    “It’s in the best interest of the football team to do this and get Andy back out there,” head coach Zac Taylor said, per ESPN’s Ben Baby.

    Dalton may be an upgrade over Finley. He may even get Cincinnati a win or two down the stretch, but that wouldn’t be in the best interest of the franchise. It would be in the best interest of Taylor’s job security.

    No one wants to go winless, and there’s a chance Taylor will be one-and-done if the Bengals do. However, Cincinnati is playing for the future now and for the top pick in the 2020 draft. Cincinnati has a two-game “lead” over the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins for that pick—with a game against Miami coming in Week 16.

    Winning two games down the stretch—including one against the Dolphins—could cost the Bengals a shot at a quarterback prospect like LSU’s Joe Burrow.

    Putting Dalton back into the lineup for a couple of cosmetic wins is risky, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it isn’t fair to Finley, whose three starts came against teams currently with winning records.

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    As a rookie, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield quickly developed chemistry with wideout Rashard Higgins. The third-year receiver finished 2018 with 39 catches for 572 yards and four touchdowns as one of Mayfield’s most reliable targets.

    The chemistry hasn’t been present in 2019, however, and not only because Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. are ahead of Higgins on the depth chart.

    While injuries have limited Higgins to just six games this season, the Browns coaching staff hasn’t given him many opportunities even when he has been healthy. Higgins has played just 125 offensive snaps this season.

    Now that Mayfield appears to be finding a rhythm with Landry and Beckham, it’s time to get Higgins more involved in the passing attack. If Mayfield can re-establish some trust with Higgins, it could make for a lot of mismatches because of the defensive attention Landry and Beckham command.

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys are still in the playoff hunt at 6-5, but the margin for error is slim. Dallas has lost two of its last three games and now sits just one game ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles. Therefore, it’s not difficult to see why the Cowboys continue to lean on running back Ezekiel Elliott.

    Yet, the Cowboys need to consider lightening Elliott’s workload down the stretch. He’s already carried the ball 215 times and caught 32 passes—a burden that could be taking its toll. In two of his last three games, Elliott has failed to even average 3.0 yards per carry.

    This is why Dallas should give more opportunities to rookie back Tony Pollard, who is averaging a solid 4.7 yards per rush. He’s a capable back, and there’s no reason why he should be seeing 12 offensive snaps per game—as he did against the New England Patriots in Week 12.

    Keeping Elliott fresh for the playoffs should be the short-term goal. After giving him a six-year, $90 million extension in the offseason, keeping him healthy should be the long-term goal.

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    At 3-8, it’s time for the Denver Broncos to evaluate their roster. The quarterback position is an obvious place to start, but it isn’t the only spot where the Broncos have major uncertainty.

    Another position Denver needs to evaluate ahead of 2020 is left tackle. 2017 first-round pick Garett Bolles has started all 11 games there, and the results have left much to be desired. According to Pro Football Focus, Bolles has allowed four sacks and committed 14 penalties so far. 

    With Elijah Wilkinson starting on the right side in place of Ja’Wuan James, Denver has been hesitant to bench Bolles. At this point, it’s worth giving journeyman backup Jake Rodgers a series here and there to see what kind of drop-off there is from Bolles—if any at all.

    Rodgers has appeared in nine games this season but has seen just 32 snaps, none on offense. Giving him some opportunities on the line could help the Broncos determine if Bolles really is this bad or if his struggles are a product of poor overall line play.

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    The Detroit Lion defense has been a disaster for most of the 2019 season. Despite having a defensive head coach in Matt Patricia, the Lions rank just 25th in scoring defense (26.5 points per game allowed), 29th in total defense (396.2 yards per game allowed), 30th in pass defense (275.5 yards) and 24th in run defense (120.7 yards).

    One of the only bright spots has been rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai. The former Hawaii standout has been valuable both as a player—he has 38 tackles, 2.0 sacks, a pass defended and a forced fumble—and as a leader.

    “Just nine games into his NFL career, Tavai has made a positive impression in an otherwise ordinary unit,” Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press wrote. “The fact that the Lions entrusted him to relay the defensive signals is significant.”

    Tavai has seen an increased role in recent weeks, but the Lions could afford to get him on the field even more. In Week 12, he played just 48 percent of the defensive snaps.

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    The Green Bay Packers are still searching for reliable receivers not named Davante Adams. Last season, it looked like Marquez Valdes-Scantling could be a consistent No. 2, but he’s fallen off big this season.

    Despite playing the most offensive snaps at the position this season, Valdes-Scantling ranks sixth on the team with 23 receptions. Wideouts like Geronimo Allison and Allen Lazard have flashed at times, but neither has emerged as a target upon which Aaron Rodgers can depend.

    Just consider this: Rodgers passed for a mere 104 yards during Week 12’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Adams produced 43 of those yards, and no other wide receiver produced more than nine.

    It’s time for the Packers to try out wide receiver Jake Kumerow in an expanded role. Like the other wideouts on the roster, Kumerow has only shined on occasion—he has 10 catches for 163 yards—but he’s also played just 34.4 percent of the offensive snaps.

    Green Bay needs one of its receivers to emerge if the Packers are going to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Kumerow deserves the opportunity to be that guy.

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    With J.J. Watt out for the season with a torn pectoral, the Houston Texans have an opening at defensive end. This provides Houston with an opportunity to better evaluate rookie Charles Omenihu, though the team has largely relied on rotation along the line, with Omenihu seeing fewer than 50 percent of the snaps—he played 29 in Week 12.

    Omenihu has shown promise in spurts, particularly when pressuring the quarterback. He has 2.0 sacks in 246 snaps, meaning he’s gotten to the quarterback once every 123 snaps. Before getting injured, Watt averaged a sack every 120.5 snaps.

    This isn’t to suggest that Omenihu is as potent a pass-rushing presence as Watt, but Houston should explore giving the fifth-round pick more opportunities—both for his evaluation and to see if he can help spark the pass rush ahead of the postseason.

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    Justin Casterline/Getty Images

    The Indianapolis Colts have an average pass defense—ranked 16th with 235 yards per game allowed—but it could be better with an improved pass rush. As a team, Indianapolis has just 26 sacks on the season. Eight of them have come from Justin Houston.

    Despite playing opposite Houston, Jabaal Sheard has been sporadic as a pass-rusher. He is capable of bringing pressure off the edge, but he’s only reached the quarterback 2.5 times this season. Rookie second-round pick Ben Banogu has that many sacks despite playing a much smaller role in the defense.

    Sheard has played 51.7 percent of defensive snaps this season, while Banogu has played 27.8 percent.

    Banogu saw just 14 defensive snaps in last week’s loss to the Texans, and it’s time for the Colts to give him more chances in the defensive-end rotation to see if he can help spark the pass rush.

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    While San Francisco 49ers pass-rusher Nick Bosa is a prolific front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year, Josh Allen of the Jacksonville Jaguars has quietly been nearly as impactful. The former Kentucky star recently tied a Jaguars rookie record with his eighth sack of the season. He also has 28 tackles and two forced fumbles.

    Allen might be even more impactful with a bigger defensive role.

    This season, the rookie has played 63.7 percent of the defensive snaps. That’s less than the 70.5 percent Bosa has played in San Francisco, and the 49ers have arguably the deepest defensive line in the league.

    With the playoffs a long shot at 4-7, the Jaguars owe it to themselves to see how Allen performs in an expanded role.

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    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    When the Kansas City Chiefs drafted speedy former Utah State running back Darwin Thompson in the sixth round this past April, it seemed like a solid match of player and need. However, the Chiefs have barely given Thompson an opportunity. He’s played just 2.9 percent of the offensive snaps this season.

    Instead, the Chiefs have flip-flopped between LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams as the starting tailback—due to injuries and inconsistent play—while mixing in regular doses of Darrel Williams.

    The problem is that this combination hasn’t been especially effective. Kansas City averages just under 95 rushing yards per game.

    At 7-4, the Chiefs are in a good position to make the playoffs. But if they’re going to make a deep run, they need to get more out of their ground game. It’s worth giving Thompson an opportunity to see if he can provide more. 

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    Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    At 4-7, the Los Angeles Chargers are technically still alive for the postseason. However, their chances are dwindling fast. While trying to win should still be the goal, it’s also time for L.A. to start evaluating its talent for next year.

    That’s why the Chargers should get rookie first-round pick Jerry Tillery onto the field more. The former Notre Dame standout has appeared in all 11 games but has rarely filled a significant role. He’s played just 40.6 percent of the defensive snaps on the year and logged just 39 percent in Week 11 before the bye.

    Tillery has not yet been the impact interior rushing presence the Chargers wanted when they drafted him. He’s young and still adjusting to the NFL, though. Every extra rep the Chargers can give him this season will provide valuable experience for 2020 and beyond.

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    After having one of the league’s most explosive offenses in 2018, the Los Angeles Rams have been a mess on that side of the ball this season. They’ve seen their point production drop from 32.9 per game in 2018 to just 22.6.

    Inconsistent play from quarterback Jared Goff has been one of the biggest issues, but a shaky rushing attack has also contributed to the offensive struggles. Starter Todd Gurley is averaging a solid 4.1 yards per carry but no longer appears to be a high-end workhorse back.

    Los Angeles needs to give more opportunities to rookie third-round pick Darrell Henderson. While the Memphis product has been roughly as effective as veteran backup Malcolm Brown—they’re both averaging 3.7 yards per carry—only one of them is likely to be an offensive building block over the next several seasons.

    Yet Henderson only has 33 carries and has often been ignored altogether. In Week 12, he saw just eight snaps, none of which came on offense.

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The Dolphins have gotten where they want to be with journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s played well enough to evaluate the remaining offensive talent on the roster, yet not so well that Miami isn’t in line for a high draft pick.

    With five weeks remaining, it’s time to turn back to second-year quarterback Josh Rosen.

    By now, Miami should have a good idea of which offensive pieces are worth keeping around in 2020. Wideouts DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, for example, have shown a lot of promise with Fitzpatrick on the field.

    What the Dolphins don’t know is whether Rosen has any shot at being the franchise’s signal-caller of the future.

    Rosen was put into the starting lineup in Week 3 and received three starts before being pulled for Fitzpatrick. There’s little reason not to give him one more crack at the starting job before the end of the season, aside from the fact that the results may be a tad more difficult to watch.

    The Dolphins have Rosen under contract for at least two more years. It’s time they find out what value Rosen will have during that time frame.

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    It’s hard to justify taking running back Dalvin Cook off the field. Already this season, the Minnesota Vikings back has rushed for 1,017 yards and caught 45 passes for 455 more yards. However, the team should consider giving more of his touches to rookie Alexander Mattison down the stretch.

    Mattison has averaged a solid 4.8 yards per carry while spelling Cook, but he has only seen 20 percent of the offensive snaps. Giving him a bigger workload would help ensure that the starter, who has missed 17 games since the start of 2017 due to injury, remains healthy for the postseason.

    While riding Cook could help ensure that Minnesota gets to the playoffs, giving Mattison a few extra carries per game shouldn’t hurt.

    “He runs hard. He’s physical,” head coach Mike Zimmer said of the third-round rookie, per Mark Craig of the Star Tribune. “… He can take some of the carries off Dalvin.”

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    New England Patriots rookie receiver N’Keal Harry finally saw a significant offensive role in Week 12, though that was largely due to the absence of Mohamed Sanu. With the veteran out, Harry played 81 percent of the offensive snaps. The week prior, he played just 43 percent.

    And that’s it for Harry, who has only appeared in two games since being activated off injured reserve. New England should make a dedicated effort to keeping him on the field—even after Sanu’s return—because Harry could be an important piece in the postseason.

    The reality is that the Patriots are short on offensive weapons. They don’t have a playmaking tight end. But at 6’4″, 225 pounds, Harry could potentially play the sort of mismatch role usually reserved for that position.

    However, Harry can only become a consistent mismatch if he gains experience in the offense and the trust of Tom Brady. Both can be accomplished over the final five weeks, but not if the Patriots relegate him to a minor role after Sanu returns.

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    Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

    Two years ago, linebacker Craig Robertson was a vital piece of the New Orleans Saints defense. He started 12 games and finished with 77 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. In the two years since, however, he’s been purely a backup.

    This season, Robertson has appeared in 10 games but has played just 2.9 percent of the defensive snaps. With the Saints on the cusp of reaching the postseason—they can lock up the NFC South with a win on Thursday—it’s time to increase his role.

    Upping Robertson’s workload just a bit could help save linebackers such as Kiko Alonso and Demario Davis for the playoffs. This isn’t to suggest the Saints should rest those players; they’ll want to keep their foot on the gas in the chase for the No. 1 seed. However, giving Robertson more reps, especially if and when New Orleans has a late lead, could be beneficial.

    Robertson is an experienced and capable veteran who deserves more playing time than he’s getting.

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The New York Giants have a decision to make on cornerback Janoris Jenkins in the offseason. He’s due to carry a cap hit of $14.75 million but has just $3.5 million remaining in dead money. Given his inconsistent play over the past few seasons, the Giants may not be interested in keeping him.

    That’s why New York should try working cornerback Sam Beal in more over the last five weeks of the season. The 2018 supplemental draft pick has only played in two games since returning from injured reserve, and he hasn’t played a significant role in either.

    Beal played just 15 percent of the defensive snaps in Week 10 and 37 percent in Week 12. The Giants need to give him a heavier workload to better evaluate his future and whether he could be a potential replacement for Jenkins.

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    The New York Jets used their first pick in April’s draft on former Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. So far, Williams has not provided the sort of impact one would expect from the third overall selection, with just 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks in nine games.

    Part of the issue has been how he’s been used in Gregg Williams’ defense, where he’s asked to support the run more than pressure the quarterback.

    “Quinnen is handicapped, in my opinion, by the defense. You put him in Philly, he’s Fletcher Cox,” former NFL pass-rusher Chuck Smith said, per Matt Stypulkoski of NJ Advance Media.

    Not only is Williams often asked to occupy blockers, but he’s also regularly rotated out of the lineup—another product of the Gregg Williams defense. The rookie has played more snaps than any other defensive tackle but has still been in the lineup for less than half of the team’s snaps.

    It’s time for the Jets to turn Williams loose, both by keeping him on the field longer and by giving him more reps as a pass-rusher.

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    Oakland Raiders wide receiver Keelan Doss has been through an odd series of events in his first NFL season. He was signed as an undrafted free agent, released, signed to the Jaguars practice squad and then re-signed by Oakland again. He’s appeared in five games this season and has six receptions for 79 yards, but he’s been inactive since Week 7.

    The Raiders need to move Doss back into the lineup. One of the reasons he’s been on the sidelines is because Oakland added third-year receiver Zay Jones. He really hasn’t been any more productive than Doss, though, catching 11 passes for 88 yards in five games. Even in limited action, Doss has shown himself to be a bigger downfield threat.

    Bringing Doss back into the offense also makes sense because the Raiders are expected to be without rookie wideout Hunter Renfrow for the foreseeable future. Renfrow ranks second on the team with 36 receptions, and someone needs to step in and take his place.

    Doss, a young and hungry option, makes the most sense.

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    According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, rookie wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is finally in line for a regular starting role. This is absolutely the right call for the Philadelphia Eagles, who have struggled with injuries and consistency at the receiver position all season.

    Philadelphia ranks just 23rd in passing offense, averaging 217.2 yards per game through the air. That isn’t going to be good enough if the 5-6 Eagles hope to get back into the NFC East race.

    Though he has appeared in all 11 games this season, Arcega-Whiteside has seen limited action. He’s played 31.7 percent of the offensive snaps and has a mere five receptions for 86 yards. It’s time for the Eagles to give their second-round pick a bigger role in the offense.

    Even if the Eagles fall out of contention, it will be important for them to know what Arcega-Whiteside brings to the table as a starter.

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers have been without starting running back James Conner for the majority of their last four games. Even when he’s been healthy, though, running the ball has been a struggle for Pittsburgh, which has averaged a mere 87.8 rushing yards per game.

    That’s why Kerrith Whyte Jr.’s out-of-nowhere explosion in Week 12 was such a pleasant surprise. The rookie back carried the ball six times for 43 yards in his first game action with the Steelers.

    That performance alone should earn Whyte—who was signed off the Bears practice squad on Nov. 16—more opportunities in the Steelers offense. Pittsburgh sits at 6-5 and still holds playoff aspirations. Whyte can help them get where they want to go.

    Even with the change from Mason Rudolph to Devlin Hodges at quarterback, the Steelers should lean on their ground game moving forward. Rookie Benny Snell has proven to be the team’s best pure runner, but Whyte can bring the kind of explosiveness that will finally make Pittsburgh’s backfield a legitimate threat.

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    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    The strength of the 49ers defense is up front, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t playmakers on the back end. Richard Sherman is the standout, but fellow cornerback K’Waun Williams shouldn’t be overlooked.

    With Sherman helping to get Williams onto the Pro Bowl ballot, it’s unlikely that he will.

    The 28-year-old has regularly made impact plays this season, appearing in all 11 games and recording a sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles to go with 37 tackles.

    He’s arguably underutilized as a pure nickel corner. He has been on the field for just 64 percent of the defensive snaps this season. Given his big-play ability, Williams deserves to be on the field more.

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    This past offseason, the Seattle Seahawks brought in Ezekiel Ansah to help bolster their pass rush. However, they haven’t given him many opportunities.

    The 30-year-old defensive end has played just 262 defensive snaps, or 33.7 percent of the share over his eight appearances. Even with Jadeveon Clowney sidelined in Week 12 with knee and hip injuries, Ansah played just 49 percent of the snaps on defense. 

    Yet he’s been plenty impactful, producing 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The Seahawks should expand his role ahead of the postseason to see what sort of impact he can have, ideally playing opposite Clowney.

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two talented tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. However, only one of them deserves more playing time.

    Even if he isn’t as explosive, Brate has proved to be the more consistent pass-catcher, reeling in 71.4 percent of his targets compared to the Alabama product’s 64.3 percent. The 6’6″, 251-pound Howard has the physical tools and the first-round pedigree, but he seems to be letting down head coach Bruce Arians.

    “It’s hard to say [what’s wrong],” Arians said, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “He’s a talented, talented guy, but it’s not showing up on Sundays.”

    With Howard continuing to disappoint—he has just one catch in his last two games—it’s time to give Brate a bigger piece of the proverbial pie. He’s played just 36.7 percent of the offensive snaps, while Howard has been on the field for 61.7 percent.

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Even though tight end Delanie Walker has been out since October with an ankle injury, the Tennessee Titans have leaned on their tight ends more than No. 3 wideout Adam Humphries. Considering Humphries’ ability as a high-end slot receiver—not to mention his hefty four-year, $36 million contract—this is a little surprising.

    Though he’s averaging close to what he did in 2018—10.0 yards per catch versus 10.7 the year before—he’s on pace for 24 fewer receptions.

    In Week 12, Humphries had just 12 offensive snaps.

    The Titans need to get him more involved—not to get away from their run-first, run-often philosophy but to help open up the field and keep opposing defenses off balance. Tennessee shelled out a lot of cash for Humphries. It should utilize him.

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    If the Redskins hope to see growth from rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, they need to support him with a functional backfield. However, Washington ranks just 27th in rushing (85.9 yards per game), and its best runner, Adrian Peterson, offers little in the passing game.

    Wendell Smallwood should receive more opportunities down the stretch.

    Though he has appeared in all of his team’s 11 games, he has seen just 21.2 percent of the offensive snaps. Yet he has just two fewer receptions than Peterson (40.6 percent of offensive snaps), and he has averaged more yards per carry (4.2) than AP, Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson—who has been out since Week 6 because of turf toe.

    Washington is 2-9 with the playoffs out of the picture, so the rest of this season has to be about developing and evaluating Haskins. Giving more playing time to Smallwood could help accomplish that goal.


    *All snap count information via Football Outsiders. Contract information via Spotrac.