On The NFL Nose 2010

There were 14 teams that during the 2010 season used the 3-4 as their base defensive alignment. That group included five of the six defenses that allowed the fewest yards in the league and eight defenses in the top half of the league.

For the 3-4 defense to work there must be good and dominating play at nose tackle, a guy like Green Bay’s B.J. Raji (top right) and Pittsburgh’s Casey Hampton (bottom right.)

(#1) San Diego (gave up 271.6 yards per game and 32 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Antonio Garay, 6-4, 320 pounds, he’s going into a 5th season after joining the team as a street free agent. He was released by Cleveland after he was a sixth-round choice in 2003 by the Browns. He played in 16 games and started 15 times, finishing with 48 total tackles and 5.5 sacks.

Backup NT – Ogemdi Nwagbuo, 6-4, 312 pounds, going into his third season. He signed out of Michigan State as an undrafted free agent with New York, where he was released. He was signed by the Chargers to their practice squad in December 2008. Last season, he played in 15 games with 19 total tackles and half-a-sack.

(#2) Pittsburgh (allowed 276.8 yards per game and 20 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Casey Hampton, 6-1, 325 pounds, and going into his 12th season. He was selected in the first round of the 2001, with the No. 19 pick out of Texas. In the 2010 season, Hampton played in 15 games with 14 starts. He had 20 total tackles with one sack.

Backup NT – Chris Hoke, 6-2, 305 pounds, going into his 11th season. He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie out of Brigham Young in 2001. Hoke played in 15 games with one start on the nose. He finished with 12 total tackles.

(#3) New York Jets – (gave up 291.5 yards per game and 35 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Sione Pouha, 6-3, 325 pounds, is going into his 7th season. He was drafted out of Utah in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Pouha played all 16 regular season games during the ’10 season, with 15 starts. He finished with 46 total tackles and 2 sacks.

Backup NT – Marcus Dixon, 6-4, 295 pounds, going into his second NFL season. Dixon was signed by Dallas as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2008 out of Hampton. He spent two full seasons on the Cowboys practice squad but was released on the final cutdown of the ’10 pre-season. He was claimed the next day by the Jets. He was inactive for 13 games and played in 3 with 1 start, picking up four tackles and a sack.

(#5) Green Bay Packers (allowed 309.1 yards per game and 22 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – B.J. Raji, 6-2, 337 pound will be going into his third season. Raji was a first-round choice of the Packers in 2009 with the ninth pick overall. He had 66 tackles while starting all 16 games. His 6.5 sacks led all NFL nose tacklers and the most sacks for a nose tackle since Minnesota’s Ken Clarke in 1990 (7). He was a Pro Bowl alternate.

Backup NT – Howard Green, 6-2, 340 pounds, going into his seventh season. Green was claimed off waivers on October 27 from the Jets and played in the final nine games of the season. He entered the NFL as a sixth-round choice of Houston in 2002, and he has played for the Ravens, Saints, Seahawks and Jets before the Packers. Green had 17 tackles and half a sack for Green Bay.

(#6) Miami Dolphins (gave up 309.3 yards per game and 30 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Paul Soliai, 6-4, 355 pounds, is going into his fifth season. A fourth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2007 from Utah and Coffeyville C.C., the 108th player selected. He played all 16 games and started 14 times, picking up 39 tackles and two sacks.

Backup NT – Chris Baker, 6-2, 329 pounds, going into his third season. He was signed as an undrafted college free agent out of Hampton in 2009 by Denver and ended up on the Dolphins practice squad in 2010. He was activated on November 26 and played in one game and did register a tackle.

(#10) Baltimore Ravens (allowed 318.9 yards per game and 27 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Kelly Gregg, 6-0, 320 pounds, is going into his 12th season. He entered the NFL originally as a sixth-round choice by Cincinnati in the 1999 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. He played three games with the Eagles in ’99 before he was signed by the Ravens in ’00. He started all 16 games on the nose and finished with 39 total tackles.

Backup NT – Terrence Cody, 6-4, 349 pounds and will be in his second season. A second-round choice by the Ravens in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Alabama, Cody played in 15 games as a rookie. He was credited with 13 tackles.

(#13) San Francisco 49ers – (gave up 327.8 yards per game and 34 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Aubrayo Franklin, 6-1, 317 pounds and will be in his ninth season. He was signed in 2007 as an unrestricted free agent from Baltimore. Franklin entered the NFL as a fifth-round choice of the Ravens in 2003 out of Tennessee. In the’10 season, he had 86 total tackles, with 5.5 tackles for loss while starting all 16 games on the nose.

Backup NT – Ricky Jean Francois, 6-3, 295 pounds and will be in his third season. The Niners drafted him in the seventh round in 2009 out of LSU. Francois had 23 total tackles and a sack while playing in all 16 games.

(#14) Kansas City Chiefs – (allowed 330.2 yards per game and allowed 34 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Ron Edwards, 6-3, 315 pounds and will be in his 11th NFL season. Edwards was signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2006 from Buffalo, where he came into the league as a third-round selection in the 2001 Draft. Last season, he played 16 games and started 15 times, with 22 tackles and 2 sacks.

Backup NT – Shaun Smith 6-2, 325 pounds and will be in his seventh season. He joined the Chiefs as a street free agent last year after playing in earlier seasons with the Saints, Bengals and Browns. He came into the league as an undrafted rookie free agent with Dallas out of South Carolina. Last year, he played in all 16 games, with 10 starts, all of those at defensive end. He had 31 tackles and a sack.

(#22) Cleveland Browns (350.1 yards per game and allowed 33 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Ahtyba Rubin, 6-2, 330 pounds and going into his fourth season. A sixth-round choice of the Browns in the 2008 NFL Draft out of Iowa State, he had 82 total tackles during the 2010 season, with two sacks and an interception as he appeared in all 16 games.

Backup NT – Shaun Rogers, 6-4, 350 pounds, will be in his 11th NFL season in 2011. He entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Lions in 2001. He was traded to the Browns in 2008, and between the two teams he made three Pro Bowls. In the ’10 season, he appeared in 14 games with 16 total tackles and 1.5 sacks.

(#23) Dallas Cowboys (351.8 yards per game and allowed 44 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Jay Ratliff, 6-4, 303 pounds and will be in his 8th season. Ratliff was drafted in the seventh round of the 2005 Draft as a DE out of Auburn. He was moved to NT two years later and he’s now made the Pro Bowl twice. Last season, he started 16 games on the nose and had 31 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Backup NT – Josh Brent, 6-2, 315 pounds. A rookie out of Illinois, Brent was selected with a seventh-round choice in the 2010 Supplemental Draft. He played in 15 games and finished with 14 tackles.

(#24) Buffalo Bills (361.5 yards per game and allowed 46 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Kyle Williams, 6-1, 306 pounds and will play his seventh season. Williams arrived as a fifth-round pick of the Bills from LSU in the 2005 NFL Draft. He started all 16 games, and had 77 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

Backup NT – Torell Troup, 6-3, 315 pounds. He joined the Bills as a second round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Central Florida. In his rookie season, he appeared in 15 games and started twice when Buffalo opened with two defensive tackles. He had 23 tackles.

(#25) New England Patriots (366.5 yards per game and allowed 35 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Vince Wilfork, 6-2, 325 pounds and headed for his eighth season. Wilfork was selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft out of Miami. He’s been to multiple Pro Bowls. He had 87 total tackles last year.

Backup NT – Ron Brace, 6-3, 330 pounds and will begin his third season. He was a second-round choice in the ’09 Draft out of Boston College. In the ’10 season, he played in 13 games and started five. Brace had 28 total tackles before he went to the injured-reserve list at the end of the season because of an elbow injury.

(#30) Washington Redskins (389.3 yards per game and allowed 38 touchdowns.)

Starting NT – Albert Haynes worth, 6-6, 335 pounds and the coming year will be his ninth in the league, if he gets back on the field. Haynesworth had problems last year with Washington and played in only eight games over the ’10 season. He had 16 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. Haynesworth entered the NFL as a first-round draft choice of the Titans in 2002.

Backup NT – Anthony Bryant, 6-3, 360 pounds, will be in his fifth NFL season. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2005 by Tampa Bay and played their two years. Later he did time with Detroit and Miami before landing with the Redskins last year. He played in six games with three starts, putting up eight tackles.

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