Off the Snap: Replacement ref Lance Easley now a Seattle fan favorite
Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web….
• Lance Easley, the replacement NFL official who signaled touchdown on the Seattle Seahawks’ controversial Hail Mary against Green Bay this past season, seems determined to make his 15 minutes of infamy last.
Over the weekend, Easley worked as a ref for a charity game put on by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman — even going so far as to pose with Sherman, while signaling touchdown and sporting a huge smile. Oh, and Easley has a book coming out soon, titled Making the Call: Living with your decisions and has lined up multiple speaking engagements per month since his call handed the Seahawks a last-second, Week 3 win over the dumbfounded Packers.
One can assume that most of those requests for Easley are coming from the Seattle area (he reportedly had as many autograph requests as the Seahawks players at Sherman’s event). One word of advice for the man who now has a place forever as a footnote in NFL history: Don’t book any gigs in Green Bay.
• The Bills’ coaching staff continues to say that first-round pick E.J. Manuel will get every shot to win the starting QB job over Kevin Kolb once camp opens. Manuel is not the only rookie in the mix for major playing time in Buffalo, though.
Both WR Robert Woods and LB Kiko Alonso could — maybe even should — work their ways into the starting lineup come Week 1. Mark Armstrong of BuffaoBills.com writes that Woods “will have a great opportunity to contribute” and Alonso “has wasted no time in putting his mark on this defense.”
The need to play early may be greater in Alonso’s case. Buffalo would like to utilize Woods alongside No. 1 WR Stevie Johnson and T.J. Graham. There is a much less certain depth chart at linebacker.
• Another rookie who could wind up starting on a team hoping to surprise people with a playoff run: CB Darius Slay, the Detroit Lions’ second-round pick out of Mississippi State. The Detroit Free Press‘ Dave Birkett believes that Slay has the inside track on the Lions’ No. 2 corner job right now, opposite Chris Houston.
The Lions tried to fill that role last season with third-round pick Bill Bentley, but inconsistent performance and injuries derailed his rookie year. Veteran Ron Bartell, who has played previously for St. Louis and Oakland, may wind up challenging Bentley and Slay for that gig, too.
And if nothing else, the Lions need to continue developing depth there, with Green Bay and Chicago set to spread the field in the same division. Both the Packers and Bears will challenge Detroit (and everyone else) through the air — the Packers with Aaron Rodgers at QB, the Bears with a more wide-open attack under new head coach Marc Trestman.
Slay is a talented player, and he may even have outplayed his ex-teammate and fellow draft pick Johnthan Banks last season. But is he ready to help anchor Detroit’s pass defense?
• Matt Waldman of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio (which I’d highly recommend ordering, if you’re a draft junkie) is diving into the game of San Francisco RB LaMichael James this week. Specifically, Waldman is asking the question: Can James be the league’s next Warrick Dunn?
Few “smaller” backs have been asked to do as much as Dunn did while racking up nearly 11,000 yards for Atlanta and Tampa Bay. James, at 5-foot-8 and 195 pounds, could have a bright future in San Francisco.
• Remember Pat White? The record-setting West Virginia QB was a second-round pick of the Dolphins in 2008, only to quickly fizzle out as a prospect. He’s trying to make a comeback this summer with the Washington Redskins.
“I miss the competitiveness of the game, the challenge of the daily grind,” he told Redskins.com. “I am trying to get better, and I’m going to push everyone each and every day.
“My mentality is different in that I treat every day like it’s game day.”
White would have to beat out Rex Grossman as the Redskins’ No. 3 quarterback to earn a spot at that position. He may be able to convince the Redskins, though, that he is still versatile enough to contribute elsewhere.