Football briefs: Cardinals’ Dockett playing better than ever

Pro Football Weekly staff

The Way We Hear It

Even though he has four fewer sacks and three fewer tackles than he had through the first six games last season, when he made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, team insiders maintain that fifth-year DE-DT Darnell Dockett is playing the best football of his career this season. “In terms of consistency, it’s by far the best he’s been,” a team insider told PFW. “Opposing teams have mentioned every week how much of a disruptive force he’s been, how quick he is with that great first step. He was outstanding against Dallas” in Arizona’s Week Six upset victory. Equally worth noting is Dockett’s lack of ill-timed penalties, which have been a problem in the past. “He may have had a facemask penalty here and there, but there have been none of the stupid late hits he had been known for,” the insider said. “It’s been only six games, so I’m hesitant to say he’s completely turned the corner. But he seems to finally be getting it.”

NFL Whispers

DOLPHINS: The Dolphins took a risk during the offseason in re-signing SS Yeremiah Bell, who had missed almost all of 2007 with a torn Achilles tendon. Word we’re hearing out of Miami is that the Fins couldn’t be more pleased with Bell’s play, as he’s developed into a tremendous physical presence. He only signed a one-year contract, but it could be extended soon.

VIKINGS: We hear Vikings LB Erin Henderson might get more of a chance to play going forward, especially with teammate and brother E.J. Henderson out for the season. The coaches will be asking OLBs Ben Leber and Chad Greenway to stay on the field on nickel situations, so you might see Henderson take a series in the middle of the game at either OLB spot going forward.

49ERS: Our Niners sources tell us offensive coordinator Mike Martz would like to get both RB Michael Robinson and TE Delanie Walker more involved in the offense.

The Fantasy Buzz

QB Matt Schaub and the Texans really came alive last week versus Miami, and now they get a date with the awful Lions. Detroit is getting torched through the air weekly, allowing 250.6 passing yards per game, and they’ve given up nine TDs through the air already. Schaub should have little trouble finding WRs Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter in this one.

The Steelers get a key component of their offense back this week in RB Willie Parker, and it shouldn’t take him long to get back on the fast track. He goes against a Bengals defense that is giving up 156.8 rushing yards per contest and has yielded eight scores on the ground. Expect Fast Willie to rack up plenty of yardage once Pittsburgh jumps out to an early lead.

After gaining just two yards on the ground in his last outing, Chiefs RB Larry Johnson could be in for another long day against Tennessee. The Titans have been one of the league’s best all-around defenses, giving up just 4.2 yards per play, and they likely will stack the box and force returning QB Brodie Croyle to beat them through the air.

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