Stock up/stock down

Afalava shines, Vasher does not

August 16, 2009, 5:22 PM

By: Jeff Dickerson

It's always best to watch the film before giving any definitive evaluation of any NFL game. But since we just got back from Buffalo, and don't head down to Bourbonnais until Monday morning, here is a slimmed-down version of "Stock Up/Stock Down" based on my observations in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Stock Up

Al Afalava

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Al Afalava took a giant step in proving he belongs in the NFL.

Al Afalava: The rookie did miss a few tackles, but was always around the ball Saturday night, and proved himself with an open-field stop for a loss on a dump-off pass to Marshawn Lynch. I like the aggressive way Afalava attacks the run, but he's still an unknown commodity in pass coverage. The longer Danieal Manning misses with a hamstring injury, the more likely Afalava retains a spot in the starting lineup. Of course the flip side is that Kevin Payne is forced to play free safety. So just like in the offseason workouts, the Bears essentially are playing with two strong safeties.

Corey Graham: Another player capitalizing off Manning's absence, Graham did a solid job at nickel, even sacking Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards for an eight yard loss. With an estimated 100 family members and friends in attendance, Graham finished with 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 quarterback hurry. Lovie Smith called it an important game for Graham and I agree wholeheartedly with the head coach.

Caleb Hanie: He might not always look great at practice, but Hanie gets it done on game day. Building off last season's excellent preseason, Hanie completed 8 of 11 pass for 87 yards and 1 touchdown. The backup quarterback continues to make plays with his feet outside the pocket, making precise connections with Kellen Davis and Rashied Davis. Hey, at least one former or current Bears quarterback looked good this weekend -- besides Erik Kramer in the broadcast booth, of course.

Stock Down

Nathan Vasher: I'm doing my best to give Vasher the benefit of the doubt, I really am, but he's not looking like the answer at right cornerback. Vasher's mediocre training camp was followed up by a rough outing in Buffalo, getting beat two times by Bills receiver Lee Evans. There isn't a nicer guy on the team, but Vasher just doesn't seem confident anymore. Personally, I'd give Vasher one more shot against the Giants at Soldier Field. He's at least earned that; hasn't he?

Mark Anderson: What in the world was Anderson doing on that 4th-and-1 bootleg by Trent Edwards? Rookies fall for those plays, not someone entering his fourth season. Anderson has looked like a beast in Bourbonnais, but where was he in Buffalo? Rod Marinelli still has some work to do with Anderson, who tallied just a single tackle.

Jay Cutler to Devin Hester: Cutler threw to Hester six times for 22 yards -- hardly what you'd call productive. Plus, the little "miscommunication" on the interception opens the door for speculation about the pair's on-field relationship. Hopefully these guys get on the same page, because neither one is going anywhere anytime soon.


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