After delivering three sacks to help the Green Bay Packers overcome the absences of hurt linebackers Clay Matthews and Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk proudly declared, "It's kind of been our motto for a long time around here: 'Next man up.'"
Real original, A.J.
When Chicago Bears rookie Jonathan Bostic filled in at middle linebacker after D.J. Williams was lost for the season, coach Marc Trestman opined: "He's in the 'next man up' situation."
When New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo went on injured reserve, backup Dane Fletcher explained: "Our defense knows what we have to do. It's always 'next man up.'"
And when Dallas Cowboys pass-rusher extraordinaire DeMarcus Ware's consecutive-games streak was about to end at 134 because of an injury, cornerback Brandon Carr noted that missing such a key player hurts the team, "But at the same time, it's the 'next man up' mentality."
Those examples are all from the past few weeks alone. Yes, NFL coaches and players love to use a certain cliche when discussing the importance of adequately replacing sidelined players. Last weekend was filled with images of guys being driven off NFL fields on carts, and now we'll start to see how the "next man up" does replacing Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing and others.
Here's a Pick 6 of some of this season's super subs so far:
HARRY DOUGLAS, WR, FALCONS: Until now, Douglas was the unknown receiver for Atlanta, a No. 3 lost behind Julio Jones and Roddy White. But with Jones done for the season after foot surgery, and White missing a game for the first time in his career because of a hamstring problem, Douglas got his chance last week against Tampa Bay. He came through, too, catching all seven passes Matt Ryan threw his way for a career-high 149 yards, including a 37-yard TD, during Atlanta's 31-23 win.
GEORGE SELVIE, DE, COWBOYS: A fourth-year journeyman who didn't even sign with the Cowboys until injuries had cropped up four days into training camp, Selvie suddenly found himself getting significant playing time — and even starting. With Ware out, Selvie contributed 1½ sacks in last weekend's 17-3 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles that put Dallas alone atop the NFC East. He's second on the team with 4½ sacks this season.
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