NFL player ticker

News, notes and happenings regarding players on the four teams who participated in conference championship games over the weekend:

1283 Morgan, Dan (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- LB Dan Morgan injured his shoulder once again on Sunday and he will likely need surgery to repair a dislocation. Morgan, who bit on a play fake that resulted in a touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Stevens, has been playing in pain throughout the season. Perhaps he can come back and be stronger next season and maybe even play all 16 games for the first time in his career. 789 Hasselbeck, Matt (Seattle Seahawks) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- QB Matt Hasselbeck tossed two touchdown passes and did not commit a turnover during his second consecutive strong showing in the playoffs. Hasselbeck spread the ball around to eight receivers. 25 Alexander, Shaun (Seattle Seahawks) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- RB Shaun Alexander rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns in by far his best postseason performances. Alexander had struggled in three previous playoff games but he found openings in Carolina's defense as the Panthers had to respect the pass. 140 Bernard, Rocky (Seattle Seahawks) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- DT Ricky Bernard collected two sacks as Seattle got a pass rush without blitzing. Bernard had 8.5 sacks during the regular season. He is a free agent after the season. 144 Bettis, Jerome (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- RB Jerome Bettis will likely end his distinguished 13-season NFL career at home in Detroit in the Super Bowl, a dream that drove him to come back for one more season. 672 Goings, Nick (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- RB Nick Goings wound up going to the hospital Sunday night as a precautionary measure after taking a blow to the head on Sunday in a collision with rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu. 2081 Witherspoon, Will (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- LB Will Witherspoon will be an unrestricted free agent after the season but said he wants to re-sign with Carolina. "I hope this was not my last game in a Panther uniform," Witherspoon said in the locker room after Sunday's loss to Seattle. "It's a long time from now until all of that kind of stuff gets worked out. So we'll just go day-by-day." 780 Harrison, James (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- LB James Harrison should be ready for the Super Bowl. He missed the past two games with a sprained ankle. 1314 Nalen, Tom (Denver Broncos) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- C Tom Nalen will void his contract and become a free agent this offseason. He said he wants to come back to Denver but didn't know if that would happen. "I don't have a gut feeling, but it was weird walking off the field thinking it might be my last game at this stadium," Nalen said. "Hopefully it's not." Nalen is 34 years old and the Broncos already have his successor at center. Starting left guard Ben Hamilton was re-signed when he was a free agent last offseason, in part because the Broncos wanted him to take over at center whenever Nalen was no longer with the team. Nalen could end up in another uniform next season. He is a five-time Pro Bowler but he didn't know what to expect on the open market. "I'm old, so I don't know what kind of market is out there for me," Nalen said. "I've never been a free agent." Nalen said he is definitely not considering retirement. "I'd love to play," Nalen said. "I feel great. I feel as good as when I was 24. My body is not an issue right now." 595 Foster, DeShaun (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- RB DeShaun Foster, who broke his ankle in a divisional playoff loss to Chicago, will become an unrestricted free agent in March and the team is likely to at least make an attempt to re-sign him. But Foster may want to go play in an offense that is more conducive to his cutback style of running. 55064 Tatupu, Lofa (Seattle Seahawks) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- MLB Lofa Tatupu picked off a pass and knocked Panthers RB Nick Goings from the game with a hit that seemed to hurt both players. Tatupu suffered a mild concussion during the game and was off-limits to reporters afterwards. 1149 Manuel, Marquand (Seattle Seahawks) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- FS Marquand Manuel collected one of three Seattle interceptions on Panthers QB Jake Delhomme. Manuel has stepped up big this season after the team lost FS Ken Hamlin to injury. 1808 Taylor, Ike (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- CB Ike Taylor intercepted his first pass of the season in Denver after he dropped what he said were 10 interceptions. He picked off Jake Plummer just before halftime and WR Hines Ward caught a 17-yard touchdown pass with 7 seconds left. 1557 Roethlisberger, Ben (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- QB Ben Roethlisberger, in three playoff games, threw seven touchdown passes and one interception. He was sacked five times. 2067 Wilson, Cedrick (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- WR Cedrick Wilson, who did not have a 100-yard game or a touchdown in the regular season, caught his second scoring pass in the playoffs and almost had his second 100-yard game. He led the Steelers with five receptions for 92 yards in Denver. 1512 Reed, Jeff (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- K Jeff Reed made both field goal attempts in Denver and has converted 10 straight without a miss. 287 Carter, Drew (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- WR Drew Carter caught two passes for 88 yards, including a 47-yard bomb from Jake Delhomme for a touchdown. The Panthers are hoping Carter can emerge next season as the team's No. 2 receiver, but he will first need to improve his pass-catching ability. Carter has outstanding speed, but he doesn't have great hands. 1716 Smith, Steve (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- WR Steve Smith established a new NFL record for receptions in a postseason with 27, breaking the old mark set by Minnesota's Anthony Carter. He also became the first player in playoff history to score a touchdown receiving, rushing and on a punt return when he took one 59 yards to the house in the second quarter. Despite an absolutely incredible season, Smith's day receiving was a major disappointment as he finished with just 33 yards receiving and also fumbled late in the game. Smith grew frustrated as the game progressed as the Seahawks, sensing Carolina could not run the ball on them, often dropped a linebacker back in coverage, sometimes giving them three players to help out on Smith. "One time they had a linebacker, corner and safety (on me)," said Smith, who led the NFL with 1,563 yards receiving during the regular season and scored five postseason touchdowns. "They did a good job, doubling, tripling. They schemed me pretty good. It worked, worked to a T. It worked they way they wanted it to work." 448 Delhomme, Jake (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- QB Jake Delhomme, who entered the game as the highest-rated quarterback in postseason history, finished with a rating of 34.9, by far the worst in his six career postseason starts. "They did a good job, there's no doubt," Delhomme said. "Certainly the crowd was jacked up, it was extremely loud, it was a great atmosphere if you were on the other side. We didn't get anything going. We were stuck in third-and-long and we just couldn't get it done. There isn't much to say. It wasn't my day today." 283 Carstens, Jordan (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- DT Jordan Carstens injured his ankle in the final stages of Sunday's game and was taken to the locker room early. Carstens had a nice season overall filling in for the injured Kris Jenkins. 254 Buckner, Brentson (Carolina Panthers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- DT Brentson Buckner announced after the game he plans to return next season. 53866 Frazier, Andre (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- LB Andre Frazier has a broken ankle and a concussion, injuries that occurred on a second-quarter kickoff. He will go on injured reserve. 144 Bettis, Jerome (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- RB Jerome Bettis leads the Steelers in rushing in the post-season with just 137 yards in three games. He has also scored three touchdowns. 54518 Miller, Heath (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- TE Heath Miller has seven receptions for 107 yards in three playoff games and one touchdown. 589 Foote, Larry (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- LB Larry Foote led the Steelers with seven tackles and also had an interception and a pass defensed against Denver. 1557 Roethlisberger, Ben (Pittsburgh Steelers) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- QB Ben Roethlisberger turned in another sparkling playoff performance, and he had to because his running game was not working. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He had a 124.9 passer rating. He converted 8 of his first 9 third downs with pass completions. 1446 Plummer, Jake (Denver Broncos) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- QB Jake Plummer took the blame for his four turnovers against Pittsburgh. Plummer had two fumbles and two interceptions, both of which were bad decisions. "I fought hard all year, and through all this game, but I had a couple of poor decisions and in a game like this you can't do that," Plummer said. 1954 Warren, Gerard (Denver Broncos) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- DT Gerard Warren is one of Denver's top free agents. Warren had a good season and was a solution to the Broncos' problems at defensive tackle. But Warren will probably get interest on the open market because he is athletic and strong inside, and solid defensive tackles are always in demand. 53750 Duke, Wesley (Denver Broncos) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- TE Wesley Duke started for the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in a two tight end set. Duke, an athletic rookie, made progress through the entire season and his continued development will be important for the Broncos in the offseason. 52 Anderson, Mike (Denver Broncos) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- RB Mike Anderson had a very good season. But he will be 33 years old next September. Anderson slowed down a bit at the end of the season but he will enter the offseason atop the depth chart at tailback. 53852 Foxworth, Domonique (Denver Broncos) (01/23/2006) ---------------------------------------------------------- CB Domonique Foxworth was targeted by Pittsburgh. The Steelers picked on Foxworth and completed many passes against him, but Foxworth probably won't let the bad game to end his rookie season linger. Foxworth is mentally strong and physically talented and should be a key player for the Broncos in 2006.

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