By Eric Uribe
Each week The Nevada Sagebrush will take a look at former Wolf Pack players in the National Football League. The week thirteen edition features three players that played under a national television spotlight this past week and another that could be thrust into the limelight by blocking for one of the most polarizing players in the NFL.
1. Brandon M.Marshall
Linebacker, Denver Broncos
After suffering a concussion last week against the Miami Dolphins, Marshall’s status was in question for a Sunday Night Football showdown with archrival Kansas City Chiefs. However, in a game that featured four former Nevada players starting between both teams, Marshall left no doubt about which Wolf Pack alumni is leaving the biggest dent in the NFL.
Marshall tallied six tackles to boost his yearly total to a team-high 100 tackles — 54 more than the next Broncos player. Moreover, Marshall made his presence felt in the fourth quarter, first by deflecting a pass on a two-point conversion then by a third-down sack to force a Kansas City punt. The sack was the second of Marshall’s career. Coincidentally, his first-ever sack came against the Chiefs earlier this season, too.
2. Virgil Green
Tight end, Denver Broncos
With star tight end Julius Thomas sidelined for a second consecutive week, Green started again and netted one catch for 10 yards in a 29-16 win over Kansas City. While Green’s statline against the Chiefs — or his 20 career catches, for that matter — doesn’t jump off of the page, Green does the bulk of his damage as a blocker. Green’s blocking has been a big part of the Broncos’ rejuvenated run game that has chewed up 415 yards the past two weeks behind third-string running back C.J. Anderson.
3. Joel Bitonio
Offensive tackle, Cleveland Browns
The biggest test of Bitonio’s young career might have been blocking against the Buffalo Bills elite defensive line, specifically against defensive tackle Kyle Williams. The Browns came up short, being stymied 26-10 by Buffalo, but Bitonio had an admirable performance.
While Williams came up with a sack of newly-inserted Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel late in the game, the sack didn’t come off of Bitonio himself. With Manziel possibly taking over the starting role next week, Bitonio will be tasked with keeping the prized first-round pick with his stallion-like playing style upright.
Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
With a national TV audience on Thanksgiving night glued to their screens for a NFC Conference Championship rematch, Kaepernick had one of the worst games in his career en route to a 19-3 loss for San Francisco to the Seattle Seahawks. Kaepernick was 16-of-29 for a measly 121 yards and a pair of interceptions to Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman — a deja vu of last year’s NFC title game. Seattle has proven to be Kaepernick’s kryptonite with three of the quarterback’s four career multi-interception games coming against the Seahawks. Even San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh would shy away from calling Kaepernick “great with a capital G” against Seattle, that the scrappy defensive back isn’t one to back down from a challenge.
Eric Uribe can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @Uribe_Eric.