It's Week 6 and, unfortunately, the injuries keep piling up across the NFL. Last week, I gave scouting reports on 11 players who were suddenly thrust into bigger roles. This week, after connecting with my sources across the league and digging into the pertinent All-22 Coaches Film, I'm giving scouting reports on eight players poised to take on bigger roles in Week 6.
Replacing: James Daniels (pectoral)
Alex Bars and Rashaad Coward are in the running to replace Daniels in Sunday's game against Carolina. Bars saw action in five games as a rookie in 2019 and has played in all five games this season, receiving a season-high 28 offensive snaps in Week 5. He has shown good technique and instincts as a pass blocker when picking up stunts, but his lack of strength hurts him when facing physical defensive linemen, who often drive him back into the quarterback. In the run game, Bars plays smart and aware but won't knock defenders off the ball.
After playing in 13 games (10 starts) in 2019, Coward has played a combined 23 special teams plays through five games this season. When watching his 2019 film, he showed good strength by moving defenders off the ball in the run game, but he will get top-heavy at times and won't sustain his blocks. He has struggled in pass protection against quickness and lateral movement, which stood out when he had to pick up stunts. The third-year pro was a defensive lineman in college and still seems to be adjusting to playing on the other side of the ball, as he can be a step late.
Replacing: D.J. Reader (quad)
Look for Xavier Williams, who had his first practice with the team on Wednesday, to play in a three-person rotation with Geno Atkins and Christian Covington. Williams played in Week 1 with the Patriots (logged eight defensive snaps) and then returned to the team's practice squad before his Oct. 2 release. When looking at the sixth-year pro's tape, it appears he will be a first- and second-down player. He's not likely to be a factor as a pass rusher since he lacks range in pursuit. He's smart and plays with great effort vs. the run but can be out-muscled at the point of attack.
Replacing: Trysten Hill (torn ACL)
A third-round draft pick in April, Neville Gallimore has played in three games for the Cowboys this season, recording one tackle and QB hit -- both during his 21 defensive snaps in Week 5 vs. the New York Giants. He was aggressive in that game, flashing good quickness, but struggled against double-teams in the run game. He also showed quickness off the ball as a rusher. He needs to develop counter moves to excel at the pro level, though. I think the Cowboys initially thought Gallimore would provide more immediate help to them on third downs when he was drafted. Look for the rookie to be in the mix alongside Dontari Poe and Tyrone Crawford against Arizona.
Replacing: Benardrick McKinney (shoulder)
We got a good look at Tyrell Adams when he replaced McKinney in last week's win over Jacksonville. He recorded a team-high 12 tackles, including one for loss, and recovered a fumble while playing 89 percent of the defensive snaps. There were a lot of positives in his performance both vs. the run and pass. In the run game, he was instinctive, played downhill and showed the ability to slip blocks but lacks some strength to take them on one-on-one. Against the pass, Adams has more speed and athleticism than McKinney. However, his lack of experience shows up when he reacts late as a result of losing sight of the ball at times.
New York Giants
Replacing: Lorenzo Carter (Achilles)
With Kyler Fackrell taking on the main pass-rushing role, both of these rookies will factor in, along with veteran Markus Golden, who played a majority of snaps in Carter's place last week. Sixth-round pick Cameron Brown and seventh-rounder Carter Coughlin have played primarily on special teams this season, with Brown getting in on a two-point conversion play in Week 3. When looking at the college tape, the 6-foot-5, 233-pound Brown played off the ball at Penn State but is better suited to be on the line of scrimmage. Combine Brown's speed with his blitzing ability and he has some potential as a pass rusher at the pro level. That said, he needs to improve his strength vs. the run, so I think he will see most of his snaps on third down as a rusher for the Giants.
Coughlin showed some potential to develop with good size (6-3, 236) coming out of Minnesota. He plays with good technique vs. the run but needs to get stronger to consistently set the edge. As a pass rusher, he has the instincts and flashed the speed to beat offensive tackles, but he also wasn't consistent doing it. I think he will be more of a factor on early downs for Big Blue.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Replacing: Vita Vea (broken leg)
The loss of Vea, who's been a vital part of the Buccaneers' No. 2-ranked defense, comes right before a meeting with the red-hot Packers' offense. Rakeem Nunez-Roches got the call after Vea's exit last week, showing great effort and hustle to the ball. Nunez-Roches, who's played at least 14 defensive snaps in every game for the Bucs this season, is quick off the ball, can penetrate the line of scrimmage and is able to hold the point of attack. However, the sixth-year veteran hasn't made a ton of plays vs. the run and doesn't show the ability to beat blockers with quickness or strength. Nunez-Roches has played in every game for the Bucs since the start of the 2019 season (zero starts), but hasn't recorded a sack since he left Kansas City at the end of the 2017 season. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has his work cut out for him as the Bucs lose a lot without Vea on the field.