Through nine games, there have been some players we've discussed over and over again. But there are some players that have slipped under the radar with excellent play. Here are some of those players:
Howard's most famous moments have come when he's stymied Mario Williams, but outside of that, he's rarely mentioned. Quietly, he's become the most dependable lineman on the team. You heard that right. D'Brickashaw Ferguson in particular has been much weaker this year, as has Nick Mangold (physically, not mentally), although Mangold's decline hasn't been anywhere as bad. Despite this, Howard has remained an extremely good right tackle... not bad for a former practice squad player.
In fact, ProFootballFocus has Howard graded as the best pass protector on the team. After Vlad Ducasse, he is graded as the best run blocker on the offensive line, and the best among the current starters. He has given up just one sack, compared to five for Ferguson and Brian Winters, each. Howard will be a free agent following this season, and it will be extremely important for the team to re-sign him. He's quietly gone as one of the most underrated players on the team, but certainly one of the most important.
Leger Douzable, or LEGEND Douzable, as I prefer to call him, is a monster of a defensive tackle. Hidden (literally and figuratively) behind Damon Harrison and Kenrick Ellis, Douzable has had a sack, hit, hurry, batted pass, or tackle on 9 of 112 snaps, for a play impact rate of 8%, just behind Damon Harrison's 11%. Not bad for a backup playing half of Harrison's snaps. His versatility has even come into play as Rex Ryan has had him drop into coverage twice this season, including the last game against the New Orleans Saints where he covered Pierre Thomas surprisingly well.
Purdum is probably the least talked about player on the team. He's the long snapper, which means you will only ever hear his name if he screws up. But Purdum never does. Purdum came to the team in 2010 to replace James Dearth, another excellent long snapper, who was the team's man since 2001. Since then, the team has had a rock solid snapper, one that has, and I say this literally, never had a bad snap. Plus, he's better than Regis Philbin, and deadly accurate. Here's to Tanner Purdum, the most unsung man on the roster.