We have reached the halfway point of the NFL season, so I thought it was a good time to check in on the Hoos who are currently playing (or not playing, as the case may be) in the NFL.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans - Schaub is having another strong season, despite the injury to his top WR, Andre Johnson. Schaub has thrown for over 2100 yards with 13 TDs and 6 INTs this year, for a QB rating of 95.9 , which ranks him 7th in the NFL. Furthermore, the Texans are 5-3 and lead their division by a half-game over the Tennessee Titans. This, I'm certain, is what Schaub is most proud about right now. The Texans have never made the playoffs in their history, but this year looks promising.
Thomas Jones, Kansas City Chiefs - When Chiefs starting RB Jamaal Charles went down early with a torn ACL, it seemed like Thomas Jones had a chance for a big year. Alas, he has not really had the opportunity and Jackie Battle has stepped into the starting role. Jones has 63 carries for 195 yards and 3 receptions for 9 yards. Still, Jones is a valuable backup, and the Chiefs are tied for the lead in the AFC West.
Cedric Peerman, Cincinnati Bengals - Coming into the season, Peerman wasn't expected to get much playing time at RB. That hasn't changed, as Peerman doesn't have a single carry or catch. However, he is a valuable member of the Bengals specials teams, and has made 6 tackles.
Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons - Snelling is listed as the starting FB for the Falcons, although that isn't exactly a true description of his game. That said, he often lines up in the backfield along with Michael Turner, especially on 3rd down passing situations. Snelling has 6 carries on the year for 24 yards. He has caught 12 passes for 89 yards.
Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys - Even with a few injuries to Cowboys WRs, Ogletree hasn't had the impact that I thought he might have. He has 9 receptions for 106 yards along with 2 rushing attempts for 3 yards. This past week, Ogletree was the Cowboys top kick and punt returner, and was successful in both roles. He returned 2 punts for 35 yards total including a 25 yarder, and 3 KOs for 50 yards. Ogletree has probably been passed on the WR depth charge by Lamont Robinson, but if he continues to excel in the return game, he'll remain a big part of the team.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers - Not surprisingly, Heath is having another big year. After a somewhat down year last year with only 42 receptions, Heath has 30 receptions already this year, for 361 yards and 2 TDs. He also has 1 rushing attempts for 6 yards. Heath also has an impact as a blocker in the ground game. The Steelers have one of the top offenses in the NFL, and Heath is a big part of it.
John Phillips, Dallas Cowboys - Probably the most important stat for John Phillips this year is the games played stat. He's played in every game for the Cowboys missing all of last season. Phillips has 7 receptions for 42 yards on the year, to go along with a 16 yard kick return off a squib kick. The 7 receptions ties Phillips career high, so he is having the most successful season of his career.
Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs - Albert remains the starting LT for the Chiefs, and has helped them to a top 10 rushing attack despite losing their top RB to an injury. The Chiefs are tied for the lead in the AFC, and Albert is a big reason why.
Will Barker, Miami Dolphins - I didn't even include Barker on my preseason list, because I didn't think he would make the team. He made the team, and he's been active for every game, although he hasn't yet stepped on the field. Barker is earning a paycheck, but with the starter, Jake Long, being one of the top LTs in the game, he shouldn't expect too many snaps.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets - Brick also starts at LT, although the Jets offense has struggled. Without going into too much detail, Brick hasn't been the reason why. Brick is a solid LT, and the Jets still have a strong shot at reaching the playoffs again.
Eugene Monroe, Jacksonville Jaguars - Like Albert and Brick, Monroe is also a starting LT. The Jaguars, though, have the worst offense in the NFL. With a rookie QB, this isn't unexpected and the the Jaguars ground game actually ranks in the top 10.
Chris Canty, New York Giants - Chris Canty is starting to live up to the contract the Giants signed him to. Canty has started every game for the Giants, and has 18 tackles and a sack. That may not seem like much, but he has played well. The Giants defensive line has been decimated by injuries, but Canty has been a mainstay in the middle, and the team is 2 games up in the NFC East.
Nate Collins, Jacksonville Jaguars - Collins has played in 4 games this year, mostly on special teams. He has seen some time playing DT, and has one tackle and one pass breakup.
Chris Long, St. Louis Rams - The Rams have struggled this year, and have the worst run defense in the NFL. However, their pass defense is OK, and they are 2nd in the NFL in sacks. Long has 6 sacks, good for 8th in the league. The Rams haven't been as good as people have expected, but at least they are getting production out of their 2008 #2 pick
Darryl Blackstock, Oakland Raiders - Blackstock has played in every game this year, mostly on special teams. He has racked up 9 tackles and has been a valueable member of the Raiders special teams.
Ahmad Brooks, San Francisco 49ers - Brooks has started every game at OLB for the 6-1 49ers. The Niners have a top 10 defense, and Brooks has been a major part of it. He has 22 tackles and 4 sacks, both on pace to be career highs. Brooks has also broken up 3 passes and forced a fumble.
Isaiah Ekejiuba, Detroit Lions - Ike injured his shoulder in September against the Vikings and was subsequently placed on Injured Reserve and will not play again this season. He recorded 1 tackle on the season.
James Farrior, Pittsburgh Steelers - At 36 years old, Farrior refuses to slow down. He has been his usual stout self in the middle of the Steelers 2nd ranked defense. Farrior has 45 tackles and 2 sacks, both right on the same pace as last year. He also has 3 passes defended.
Clint Sintim, New York Giants - As I mentioned in the preseason article, Sintim is out for the season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game. Sintim had a shot to be a starter this year, but chances are he will be elsewhere in 2012.
Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Like Farrior, Barber is 36 years old and refuses to slow down. Barber has started every game for the Bucs, and has racked up 32 tackles, most of them of the solo variety. He also has recovered a fumble, picked off a pass, and has 1 sack. The Bucs defense has not been good, but this is not the fault of Ronde.
Chris Cook, Minnesota Vikings - Cook was really beginning to come on, getting more and more playing time for the Vikings. He had racked up 20 tackles and 4 passes defended. Then, he got arrested for allegedly attempting to strangle his girlfriend. The Vikings have suspended him, and the league is contemplating further punishment. The Vikings have hinted that they may release him so as to free up a roster spot.
Ras-I Dowling, New England Patriots - Dowling is another Virginia player who has been placed on IR. Dowling suffered a hip injury in week 2, and hasn't played since. He started those first two games, and played well, so his future is still bright, if he can get (and stay) healthy. He had 3 tackles in those two games.
Danny Aiken, New England Patriots - Aiken is the long snapper for the Patriots. I haven't watched much of the Patriots, so I can't say for sure how well he's played. But the FG unit for the Pats has been very good, and I haven't heard anything about them looking for a replacement. So let's just say that Aiken has been successful.