Badgers in the NFL: Week 5

Michael Hickey

Following your favorite Wisconsin football alumni week to week in the NFL can be a difficult task. Don't fret -- here's a recap of how the Badgers' brightest NFL stars did in their games this past weekend.

Just because they no longer play at Wisconsin doesn't mean that they aren't still Badgers. With that in mind, here's a look a how the Badgers of the NFL did in Week 5.

QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson (2011) proved last season that even as a third-round draft pick, he could hang with the big boys, namely Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, who were drafted in the first round. In Wilson's first meeting with either one, however, he was unable to lead his team to victory as Luck and the Colts gave the Seahawks their first loss in the regular season since Nov. 25, 2012, against the Dolphins.

The 34-28 defeat was a battle of two of the brightest young stars the NFL has to offer and Wilson gave it everything he had. The second-year quarterback had a solid day through the air: 15-of-31, 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception - but really excelled on the ground.

Wilson ran the ball 13 times for 102 yards, both of which were career highs for the 5-foot-11 Virginia native. The 7.8 yards-per-rush average was Wilson's highest since Week 15 of last season against the Bills when he averaged an absurd 10.2 yards per rush.

For the second consecutive game, Seattle was missing three starting offensive linemen, so it's no wonder that Wilson ran the ball 13 times as he was flooded out of the pocket on a majority of passing plays.

The Seahawks were just 2-of-12 (16.67 percent) on third downs and were unable to hold onto an early 12-0 lead.

After a field goal to start the game, Wilson threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate to put Seattle up 10-0. The accurate pass was not Wilson's first of the game and not even the first of the day as he was pinpoint accurate during warmups, even with a choir playing defense.

A blocked Indianapolis punt led to a safety, extending the lead to 12-0, only to have Luck and the Colts score 14 unanswered points and cut the deficit to 19-17 at halftime. After five combined field goals in the third quarter, three for Seattle and two for Indianapolis, the Colts scored 11 points to the Seahawks' zero and went on to victory.

The Seahawks host the Tennessee Titans in Week 6.

DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

J.J. Watt (2009-10) has to be getting tired of it. The Houston defense has now let up 20 or more points in seven straight regular-season games, and in eight of its last nine dating back to last season.

Not only is conceding way too many points a problem for the Texans, but they currently give up 126 yards per game on the ground to opponents, a number that is good for 27th in the NFL.

For Watt standards, three quarterback hits and three total tackles including three tackles for a loss is a subpar performance. The 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers looks a lot worse on paper for the Texans defense than it actually was. Matt Schaub threw a pick-six, starting the scoring for the 49ers, and finished with a total of three interceptions on the night. That allowed San Francisco to work with a short field nearly the entire game.

Watt and the Texans actually kept the 49ers' passing game in check, as they held Colin Kaepernick to just 6-of-15 for 113 yards and one touchdown and, aside from a 64-yard touchdown from Vernon Davis, did not give up a pass longer than 12 yards on the night.

San Francisco's running game, however, was nearly unstoppable with Frank Gore averaging over 4.7 yards per carry and the team as a whole combining for 177 yards with five different players each making runs of 11 yards or more.

The question for Watt and the rest of the Houston defense from here going forward will be how much longer they can survive if Schaub is going to keep giving away points and give the ball to opponents deep inside the Houston red zone. Watt voiced his frustration after the loss to Seattle in Week 4 and did not seem any more pleased after his team's Week 5 performance:

"We need to keep points off the board. We need to regroup after a situation like that and we need to fight and tonight we did not prevail and that's that."

The Texans host the St. Louis Rams in Week 6.

TE Owen Daniels and TE Garrett Graham, Houston Texans

With Matt Schaub's struggles being so bad as of late that he may earn a spot on the bench sometime soon, it's tough for Owen Daniels (2002-05) and Garrett Graham (2006-09) to get anything going in the passing game.

Daniels did have six receptions -- tied for a season high -- for 60 yards (both of which led the team) and continued his streak of catching at least one pass in 88 straight regular season games, but it came at a price.

Daniels got two MRIs yesterday on his fibula after injuring it late in the loss to San Francisco and is currently awaiting the results. Early reports are that Daniels could be placed on Injured Reserve, which would keep him off the field for at least the next eight weeks.

If Daniels does end up missing some time due to injury, then Graham is more than capable of filling the tight end spot. Right now, the Texans start both Graham and Daniels, and both players lead the team with three touchdowns apiece. If Houston wishes to continue with the two-tight end look, it will more than likely turn to rookie tight end Ryan Griffin out of UConn or try to snag a veteran tight end off the free agent market (congratulations to anyone who can think of one off the top of their head).

Despite a modest three-catch, 15-yard effort against the 49ers, Graham is a viable option for the Texans moving forward. Graham did not start Week 5, so his scoreless showing has no effect on the 6-foot-3 tight end scoring a touchdown in all three games that he has started for Houston this year.

The Texans host the St. Louis Rams in Week 6.

Other notes from Badgers in the NFL

  • 2013 second-round pick running backMontee Ball (2009-12) carried the ball one time for the Denver Broncos in their 51-48 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Ball had already fallen out of favor in Denver and Sunday's game did him no favors as Peyton Manning himself had four times the amount of rushes.
  • Undrafted defensive tackle Nick Hayden recorded two tackles in the Cowboys' loss to the Broncos.
  • 2012 fourth-round pick wide receiver Nick Toon (2008-11) caught his second career pass on Sunday against the Chicago Bears and it went for 35 yards. Toon is now averaging 26.5 yards per catch as the Middleton, Wis., native has two receptions for 53 yards on the season and for his career.
  • 2009 third-round pick line backer DeAndre Levy (2005-08) had himself a career day covering against the Green Bay Packers. Levy recorded 14 total tackles (a career high) and a pass deflection. While covering Jermichael Finley for the majority of the afternoon, Levy allowed the former Texas Longhorn to catch six passes for just 32 yards (5.3 per).
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