The list of HBCU NFL players battling injuries and particularly the COVID-19 virus grew exponentially this week.
Indianapolis all-pro linebacker Darius “The Maniac” Leonard out of South Carolina State was ruled out just before Saturday’s game vs. Arizona. He tested positive for the virus. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Leonard is unvaccinated and will therefore miss 10 days — including Week 17’s game — due to his positive test. The Colts were able to come up with a 22-16 win over the Cardinals despite Leonard’s absence.
Arizona’s defensive back Antonio Hamilton also a South Carolina State product, started at cornerback and posted a seson-high seven tackles, six solos vs. Indy. He also had one pass break-up. Hamilton wins the HBCU NFL Defensive Player of the Week award.
The explosion the last two weeks in the NFL has resulted in 164 positive tests from Dec. 13-19, 211 from Dec. 20-26 and 135 the last two days. That’s 510 in the last 16 days to bring the total for the month to 554. The number is more than double the 262 positive tests there were for the entire 2020 season.
Tough sledding in the Big Easy
Among those also sitting out was veteran offensive lineman Terron Armstead (Arkansas-Pine Bluff). Armstead missed the New Orleans Saints game Monday vs. Miami with a knee injury. His absence only added to the Saints woes. They had an as many as 21 players and four coaches out with the coronovirus. By game time Monday night, there were just 36 active players and 13 practice squad players available.
The depleted squad fell 20-3 to the Dolphins.
HBCU NFL ProFile: Howard and starting offensive line out
Former first round pick Tytus Howard out of Alabama State was out for the Houston Texans game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The third-year veteran has reportedly tested positive for the COVID-19 virus for the second time this season. He spent a week on the COVID list in training camp and ended up on the reserve list again this week.
Howard was among 23 Texans’ players on the COVID list including their entire starting offense line. Despite missing that many players, Houston managed to knock off the LA Chargers, 41-29.
NC A&T’s Parker gets it done
At least one lineman with HBCU roots made it through the week.
North Carolina A&T product Brandon Parker of Las Vegas played all 69 offensive snaps in the Raiders 17-13 win at home over Denver. Parker and his offensive line cohorts paved the way for Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense to put up 361 total yards vs. the Broncos.
It was the second straight win for Las Vegas after a 48-9 blowout loss to Kansas City two weeks ago. It also keeps alive the Raiders playoff hopes. They are now 8-7 with a key game coming up at 9-6 Indianapolis this week.
HBCU NFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
For games of December 23 – 28, 2021
– #33 – ANTONIO HAMILTON, DB, Arizona (6th season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – In 22-16 loss to the Indianapolis, Hamilton started at cornerback and was second on the team with seven total tackles, six solos and one pass defended. He played 57 defensive snaps (81%) and three snaps on special teams (12%).
– #75 BRANDON PARKER, OT, Las Vegas (4th season, NORTH CAROLINA A&T) – In the Raiders’ 17-13 win over Denver, Parker started at right offensive tackle and helped Las Vegas rush for 160 yards and one TD and pass for 201 yards and one TD while the line gave up two sacks. Parker played all 69 offensive plays (100%) and three special teams’ snaps (14%).
– #80 CHESTER ROGERS, WR/KR, Tennessee (5th season, GRAMBLING STATE) – In 20-17 win over San Francisco, Rogers had one reception on one target for 3 yards and 57 yards (28.5-yard average) on two kickoff returns with a long return of 37 yards. He logged 31 plays on offense (50%) and six plays on special teams (26%).
HBCU NFL PROFILE: OTHER TOP PERFORMANCES
– #18 KHADAREL HODGE, WR, Detroit (5th season, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M – In the Lions’ 20-16 loss to Atlanta, Hodge had one 21-yard catch in his only target. He played eight plays on offense (12%) and eight on special teams (35%).
– #60 NICK LEVERETTE, OL, Tampa Bay (4th season, N. C. CENTRAL) – In 32-6 win over Carolina, Leverette got in on three offensive plays (4%).
– #71 TYTUS HOWARD, OG, Houston (3rd season, ALABAMA STATE) – In 41-29 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Howard did not play because he is on the reserve COVID-19 list after testing positive for the virus.
– #72 TERRON ARMSTEAD, OT, New Orleans (10th season, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF) – In the Saints 20-3 loss to Miami, Armstead did not play as he is out with a knee injury.
– #95 JAVON HARGRAVE, DT, Philadelphia – In 34-10 win over the New York Giants, Hargrave had two solo tackles, one hit on the quarterback and one batted down pass. Hargrave played 40 snaps on defense (53%) and one special teams’ snap (3%).
– #90 GROVER STEWART, DT, Indianapolis (5th year, ALBANY STATE) – In 22-16 win over Arizona, Stewart had two assisted tackles, one solo on 31 plays on defense (48%) and 10 plays on special teams (42%).
– #41 ANTHONY LEVINE SR., DB, Baltimore (10th season, TENNESSEE STATE) – In 41-21 loss to Cincinnati, Levine had two tackles on defense, one solo and one assist, and defended one pass. He played 12 snaps on defense (16%) and 23 on special teams (88%).
– #36 DANNY JOHNSON, DB/KR, Washington (3rd season, SOUTHERN) – In 56-14 loss to Dallas, Johnson had two total tackles, one solo. He was in on 48 plays on defense (66%) and 12 on special teams (36%).
– #53 – DARIUS LEONARD, LB, Indianapolis (4th season, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE) – In 22-16 win over Arizona, Leonard was in health and safety protocols and did not play.
– #27 BOBBY PRICE, DB, Detroit (2nd season, NORFOLK STATE) – In 20-16 loss to Atlanta, Price did not register a stat while playing six plays on defense (13%) and 14 on special teams (61%).
– #66 JOSHUA MILES, OL, Arizona (3rd season, MORGAN STATE) – In 22-16 loss to Indy, Miles was in on five special teams’ plays (21%).
– #60 TRENT SCOTT, OL, Carolina (3rd season, GRAMBLING STATE) – In the Panthers’ 32-6 loss to Tampa Bay, Scott got in for two plays on special teams (7%).