The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 197 By The Numbers: LaMarr Woodley 4 Straight multi-sack playoff games were recorded by Woodley in the 2008 and '09 postseasons to set an NFL record. He notched a pair of sacks as a rookie in the wild card loss to Jacksonville, then posted two quarterback takedowns in each of the Steelers' three wins en route to the Super Bowl XLIII championship. No player had ever accomplished the feat in three straight post- season contests. 5 Seconds were left on the clock after Woodley sacked and forced Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner to fumble in Super Bowl XLIII, which clinched the Steelers' title. 7 Straight playoff games where Woodley logged at least one sack from 2008-11; he was the first in NFL history to do so in six straight postseason contests. 11 Playoff sacks recorded by Woodley, which is tied for fifth in NFL history and ranks second among active players. 13.5 Sacks by Woodley in 2009 to set a career high. It was his second of three straight double-digit sack campaigns and helped him earn second-team All-Pro laurels. 22 He enters 2014 ranked 22nd among all active players with 57 career sacks. 46 Woodley was selected by the Pitts- burgh Steelers with the 14th pick of the second round in the 2007 NFL Draft, 46th overall. Michigan teammate David Har- ris was selected with the next pick by the New York Jets. 57 Career sacks for the pass-rushing specialist, to go along with 299 tackles, nine forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, five interceptions and a defensive touchdown in 94 games played. His sack total ranks fifth on the Steelers' all-time list. 73 Games he needed to reach 50 career sacks; that was 22 games faster than any other Steelers player in franchise history. 81 Woodley has started in each of the last 81 games he has played in — he last appeared in a game while not starting in his rookie year. Wolverines On The Move Jason Avant From The Eagles To The Panthers Carolina finished last season ranked 29th in the league in passing offense with a measly 190.2 yards per game through the air, so during the offseason they got rid of every wide re- ceiver who caught a pass for the team last year. The Panthers' solution for fourth-year quarterback Cam Newton in 2014? New blood — the team signed a veteran trio of pass catchers in Avant, Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood, and also drafted 6-5, 240-pound Florida State product Kelvin Benjamin in the first round. Avant, the owner of 297 career receptions for 3,646 yards and 12 touchdowns, becomes the second-most-experienced receiver on the roster behind Cotchery (437 career catches for 5,558 yards and 30 scores), who does his best work in the slot. Avant became expendable in Philadelphia after the team brought back receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin this offseason. He started a career-high 13 games in 2013 and finished with 38 catches for 447 yards, but averaged 52 catches and 633 yards per season in the previous three campaigns. The ninth-year veteran is a complete receiver, should get more op- portunity with the Panthers, and gives his new team a strong locker-room presence and an example for their youngsters at the position. "There have not been any players who have represented the Philadelphia Eagles with more class and dignity than Jason Avant," Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement after the veteran was released following eight years with the club. "Whether it was in the locker room, on the playing field or in the community, he has always been a true professional, a role model and a winner every step of the way." Mario Manningham From The 49ers To The Giants After two seasons on the West Coast with the San Francisco 49ers, Manningham is returning to the Giants, the squad that drafted him in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft and where he spent his first four seasons in the league. The veteran battled knee injuries in both seasons with San Francisco — his first ended with a torn ACL, and he was limited to six games and three starts while still recovering in 2013 as he posted his lowest receiving totals since his rookie campaign. The 28-year-old has ended each of the last two campaigns on injured reserve and is hoping for better luck in his return to the Giants, the team he helped to the Super Bowl XLVI title. New York inked him to a one-year deal this offseason. Manningham is obviously experienced with quarterback Eli Manning, who was the starter during the receiver's first four years with the squad, and the team needed to fill the void left by the de- parture of Hakeem Nicks, who tallied at least 692 receiving yards in his first five years in the league before heading to Indianapolis. Although Manningham nearly topped 1,000 receiving yards in 2010, he is most known for the crucial fourth-quarter catch that led to New York's go-ahead score in the Super Bowl. The Giants were deep in their own territory when he came down with a sensational 38-yard catch between two defenders while keeping his feet in bounds along the sideline. LaMarr Woodley From The Steelers To The Raiders The 2014 campaign won't just provide a change of scenery for the first time in Woodley's profes- sional career, the new Raider will also be moving to his college position of defensive end. Woodley doesn't expect there to be many differences between the pass-rushing role he played as an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme and his new job in the Raiders' 4-3 attack, except he may get more opportunities to attack the quarterback while worrying less about pass coverage. Oakland bolstered its defensive line March 13 with the addition of Woodley just two hours after inking former New York Giants star Justin Tuck. The duo has a combined 117.5 career sacks. Woodley and Tuck were joined by fellow lineman Antonio Smith, a veteran with 41.5 career sacks who could slide in at defensive tackle, the next day. It's all part of Oakland's offseason overhaul, which should net the team at least 10 new starters when 2014 opens. The hope is that the additions will break the spell of consecutive 4-12 campaigns. The Raiders have not seen the postseason since 2002, but Woodley thinks they have added the pieces needed to end that drought this fall. "I feel like we bring leadership and experience to this defense," he told "Me and Justin both have played in two Super Bowls. He has won two, I've won one Super Bowl, but we know what it's like to be on a winning team, and we know what it takes to get there. "I think that we're both proven guys, had some injuries here and there that slowed us up, but when we're 100 percent out there on the football field we bring it, and we just try to go out there and help our team win football games." Woodley's career sack total of 57 ranks 22nd among active players, while his 11 postseason sacks are second among ac- tive players and tied for fifth all-time. PHOTO COURTESY PITTSBURGH STEELERS Avant, who has 297 career re- ceptions for 3,646 yards and 12 scores, will try to help boost a Carolina passing attack that ranked 29th in the NFL last year. PHOTO COURTESY PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 194-197.NFL Wolverines.indd 197 6/19/14 2:16 PM

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