Week 5 Key Player Profiles

A look at a player from each team that will have a significant impact on Sunday's contest. This week: 49ers' LOLB Julian Peterson and Lions' cornerback Dre' Bly.

Key Lions Profile: Dre' Bly
CB #32
5'9 190
North Carolina

2003 Stats:
21 tackles (17 solo) 1 sack, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 9 passes defensed

Fast Fact:
In his five year career, Bly has only started 29 games, but has racked up an impressive 299 yards and four touchdowns off 17 interceptions.

Strengths:
Dre' has optimum speed, and displays amazing quickness and break on the ball. Very instinctive, does a great job anticipating the throw and is aggressive going after the ball. Plays well in man coverage and has better strength than his size dictates. Smooth backpedal and turn, very fluid in his movement. Doesn't always wrap up well, but is a physical tackler. Excellent at reading a quarterback and diagnosing the play. Always around the ball, and is very good in lateral pursuit.The definition of a playmaker.

Weakness:
Tends to roll the dice too often. Will often gamble for the pick instead of swatting the ball and insuring a non reception. Has never been very active in run support and tends to get pushed around by bigger receivers. Because of his lack of size, he is also a liability in the red zone, or on fade routes. Relies on positioning to get interceptions rather than going up and muscling receivers for them.

Overall:
Bly has certainly been a playmaker thus far for the Lions and one of the few bright spots on defense. He faces one the wide receiver elite this week in Terrell Owens who should be his toughest competition yet as a #1 corner. With a chance to showcase his skills against a reeling 49ers club, Dre' will need to step up his game on Sunday to contain the ever dangerous "T.O".

Effect on Sunday:
This week will be very difficult for Bly to matchup physically with the dominating Terrell Owens. Owens can take over the game with his physical play and at 6'3, holds a distinct size advantage over Bly (5'9) However, Owens will likely see a double team more often than not and Dre' will benefit greatly from this. Owens usually relies on his size to get separation on his breaks and rarely gets a burst on his cuts. He as of late hasn't shown the tenacity to go and get the ball like he once did. His sideline tirades have been well documented, and he will be -- like always -- calling for the ball. Quarterback Jeff Garcia who is off to a slow start, hasn't been connecting well with Owens. When Garcia is out of his rhythm, he is susceptible to making mistakes. Jeff lives and dies by his timing. So does Bly. Dre' can jump on a route with amazing quickness but can get burned just as easy. If Garcia is off target with Owens, chances are Bly wont be far away. Obviously no one can shut down one of the leagues best receivers and T.O will have a substantial day, but I do see Bly making something happen, most likely with an interception.


Key Opponent Profile: Julian Peterson
LOLB #98
6'3 235
Michigan State

2003 Stats:
27 tackles (20 solo) 2 sacks, 1 Interception, 1 forced fumble

Fast Fact:
Peterson became the NFL's first player ever to play at four different positions in one game (Dallas 12-08-02), linebacker, defensive end, cornerback and safety.

Strengths:
An amazingly athlete. Peterson has optimum speed, quickness and can make plays sideline to sideline. Does an outstanding job in coverage vs. tight ends, and is very quick in recognizing pass and getting to his zone. Excellent blitzer and very effective when playing near the line. A superb tackler, especially in space. Can play rush end on passing situations and has proven effective there so far. Fundamentally sound, uses his hands well and keep blockers off his body. Possesses a non stop motor and is a great leader.

Weakness:
A bit undersized bulk wise at 235 (OLB's are ideally 245-250). Doesn't have great strength and is less effective when teams run at him because it limits his ability to use his speed. At times he over pursues and can be pushed out of the play as a pass rusher, if he doesn't get a good first step.

Overall:
Peterson is an excellent linebacker and is one of the most overlooked players in the NFL. His athleticism and skills vs. both the run and pass make him a top five linebacker. Coming off a Pro Bowl year, Julian has picked up where he left off, and should continue to be a force for many years to come.

Effect on Sunday:
Peterson has been all over the field this season so far, leading his squad with 26 tackles. He's arguably the best player on a defense that currently ranks 3rd in the league. His excellent coverage skills with probably once again keep Mikhael Ricks to a quiet day. As a pass rusher, I don't see him doing much damage. The Lions offensive line is superb at pass blocking and so far they have been able to keep KGB, Trevor Pryce and Bertrand Berry under wraps, so I don't see Peterson as a mismatch vs. the offensive line. His athleticism makes it hard to get a body on him when teams run outside, but the Lions usually run inside the tackles, which will limit Julians effectiveness in pursuit. However, he will be a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball, and as the old saying goes, you can only hope to contain him


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