2012 Fantasy Football Preview: RB

As the NFL season gets closer every day, so does your fantasy draft. The Sports Bank fantasy football previews continue we take a look at a running back position that has as many question marks as answers.

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Detroit Lions 2012 slate: NFC North division darkhorse?

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The NFC North figures to be a three-horse race in 2012. The Green Bay Packers will be the favorite, as they were 15-1 last season. The Chicago Bears have made some good moves this offseason and figure to be a major player in the NFC. And then there’s the Detroit Lions who’s young nucleus gets older and better next season.

The Lions made a breakthrough last year, finally have a winning campaign and reaching the postseason after many years of futility. Looking at their schedule, here’s the chance for them to vault from sixth seed wild card to division champ this year.

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Detroit Lions 2012 preseason schedule; multiple arrests on marijuana charges

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The Detroit Lions have been making headlines lately.

For marijuana usage and police reports. Mikel Leshoure and Nick Fairley have run into the trouble with the long arm of the law, and their news has dominated Lions related headlines lately. Leshoure faces a felony charge;

In January, offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath was arrested for simple possession of marijuana after he was spotted on a hotel surveillance camera putting two blunts in the drawer of a hallway dresser. Fairley faces a second degree marijuana possession charge.

But there is on-the-field news too. The Lions preseason schedule is out.

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Detroit Lions Give It Their Best Try, But Fall Short to Brees and the Saints

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NFL’s Wild-Card Weekend started off with a bang in the NFC with the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints battling in a close  game that eventually was decided in the fourth quarter. Drew Brees and the Saints proved to be a bit too much to handle for the Lions’ defense in a 45-28 win.

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson both had great games (211 yards and two touchdowns accumulated between the two), but the difference in this one was multiple missed opportunities on the defensive end.

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Illini Receiver A.J. Jenkins: Probably Best WR Weapon in Big Ten

Earlier this college football season, University of Illinois senior wide receiver A.J. Jenkins made some comments that proclaimed himself the best wide receiver in the Big Ten.

He has since backed off from those remarks, and now maintains a more standard, PR-friendly, humble and some could say vanilla manner in his on-the-record comments to the media. But his play on the field (third in the nation, first in the Big Ten in receiving yards) is making a loud and powerful statement.

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Illini LB Kick to Northwestern OL Groin Earns him 1 game Suspension

The Big Ten Conference announced today that it has accepted the one-game suspension of University of Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown for violating the Big Ten Sportslike Conduct Agreement during the rivalry game versus Northwestern this past Saturday.

In case you missed it, Brown blatantly and very intentionally kneed Wildcats OL Patrick Ward in the, um, let’s say he hit him right in the Marvin McBucknuts. Watch the video here.

And the cheap shot/act of unwarranted aggression cost him the opportunity to play this week versus the Indiana Hoosiers.

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Groin Kicks. Juvenile Insults. Illinois-Northwestern Rivalry Gets Low Brow

The video that follows after the jump makes me anything but proud to be an Illinois alum.

Illini linebacker Jonathan Brown has had his issues within the program. He’s found himself benched when he’s failed to meet his commitments and expectations, but this is only going to further tarnish his reputation.

He kneed Northwestern offensive lineman Patrick Ward in the groin in the first half on Saturday.

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Illini Beat Northwestern 38-35: Chicago’s Big Ten Team?

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It was a week where one school’s marketing slogan became a motivational rallying cry for the other school in the state. Northwestern has been promoting themselves as “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” for a season and half, and today Illinois made stated pretty loudly how they felt about it.

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase scored a 1-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left to lead #22 Illinois to a 38-35 comeback win over NU. He threw for a career-high 391 yards and three touchdowns (one interception) for the Illini (5-0 for the first time since 1951). All three TD passes went to A.J. Jenkins, who had 12 catches for a school-record 268 yards. The previous school receiving yards record was also set versus Northwestern in 1984. (David Williams 204).

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#22 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats: Brutally Honest Game Preview

Big Ten conference play begins with the annual in-state rivalry game between the Northwestern Wildcats and Illinois Fighting Illini. It does feel a little weird not having this game played on the last week of the season, when all the other intrastate, intra-region bloodfeud games are held.  But last year it was such a special event that it’s hard not to get excited for the 2011 edition.

Remember last year? The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs hosted the Wrigleyville Classic, with ESPN Gameday and Erin Andrews visiting Chicago. And of course, the goofy everyone going the same way on offense because of the short-sighted brain-dead planning in regards to the end zone barrier less than six inches from the wall. That didn’t make anyone here look good.

One guy who did look good was Mikel Leshoure who broke the Illini single game rushing record. Illinois relied on a powerful rushing attack—totaling 519 yards on the ground—to turn a 27-24 halftime deficit into a 48-27 win over NU. The Wildcats were playing for the first time without quarterback Dan Persa, who injured his Achilles tendon the week prior against Iowa.

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Troy Pollard, Jay Prosch Add to Illini RB Depth

While Illinois’ rushing offense has remained dominant, the Illini are doing it by committee this year rather then relaying on one dominant runner like they did in 2007 (Rashard Mendenhall) and 2010 (Mikel Leshoure). Four different Illini have over 200 rushing yards on the season, and all four have scored at least one rushing TD.

Senior RB Troy Pollard (a runner in the Daniel Dufrene, Rocky Harvey mold) leads the Illini ground attack with a team-high 260 yards on only 25 carries (10.4 ypc). A fifth-year senior, Pollard (nicknamed “Bucket of hair” for obvious reasons) ran for a career-high 133 yards on 14 attempts (9.5 ypc) last week against Western Michigan, marking his second 100-yard effort in the last three games (101 vs. South Dakota State on 9/10).

He provides the “lightning” in the “thunder and lightning” type backfield approach. Freshman Donovonn Young is the thunder.

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Donovonn Young Might Continue Illini #5 Running Back Tradition

Given the recent tradition/memories of the last two players to wear the famed #5 in Champaign: Mikel Leshoure (a Detroit Lions rookie who will miss the season with an injury) and the Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall (who’s developed into a Pro Bowl, 1,000 yard rusher style NFL back) it’s easy to see why the jersey number is starting to take on a special meaning for Illinois Fighting Illini football.

The orange and blue #5 is developing into a new, stellar tradition in college football and Donovonn Young is the next in line for the Illini.

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#22/#18 Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Illinois Fighting Illini: Brutally Honest Game Preview