It could be because a team wants to play the player that they gave a big contract to, give a high draft pick a chance, or a number of other reasons, we typically run across a large handful of players that we’d like to see more of.
Here are interesting notes about 32 of the men that have been playing well in limited roles. It would be great to see them on the field more to find out what they could do with extended time. (Their current snap totals are listed in parentheses.)
Buffalo Bills: Linebacker Arthur Moats (191 total snaps) is one of the few good pass rush options the Bills have, with 13 overall pressures on 106 pass rushes.
Miami Dolphins: Offensive linemen Nate Garner (145) typically takes some snaps as a sixth offensive linemen, as well as coming in when someone gets injured. He’s allowed just one overall pressure on 59 pass plays, and the third best run block rating of the Dolphins offensive linemen.
New England Patriots: In recent weeks, defensive linemen Brandon Deaderick (156) has seen a handful of snaps each game. He has been used more as a pass rusher, but his strength is in the run game where he’s had three stops on the 60 run plays he has been in for.
New York Jets: Linebacker Josh Mauga (91) typically only sees a few snaps per game, but has managed five stops out of the seven tackles he’s had.
Baltimore Ravens: Cornerback Danny Gorrer (86) is buried on a strong depth chart, but when he’s played he’s had twice as many passes defended (four) as catches allowed (two).
Cincinnati Bengals: Thanks to the injury to A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins (110) has seen more time and shown he deserves a spot in the rotation. He caught 70.8% of the balls thrown his way, and has yet to drop a pass.
Cleveland Browns: I’ve been saying it for over a year now, but tight end Evan Moore (181) has 1.63 Yards Per Route Run – just above Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates and Aaron Hernandez.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Nose tackle Steve McLendon (126) has excelled as a backup against the run. His +5.9 run defense rating is the second-highest of the Steelers’ defensive linemen.
Houston Texans: In recent weeks Quintin Demps (139) has stepped up. He’s had two interceptions and a pass defended. He’s allowed just five catches, with three of them being for 6 yards or less.
Indianapolis Colts: Quarterback Dan Orlovsky (113) has an accuracy percentage of 79.3%. If he kept that up on a higher number of snaps, it would rank second in the league. It is also significantly better than Curtis Painter who is at 61.3% and is 35th out of 39 qualifying quarterbacks.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Linebacker Russell Allen (135) has cracked the starting lineup, and is making a case to be a starter in the future. He has 10 stops, and three of the seven catches he has allowed has been for 2 yards or less.
Tennessee Titans: Rookie middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (263) has stepped in for Barrett Ruud, and has been able to do the one thing Ruud hasn’t been able to: cover. Only 58.8% of passes thrown his way have been caught, which is third-lowest at the position.
Denver Broncos: The emergence of Von Miller left Mario Haggan (146) with very little chances to get on the field, but in his last game against the Vikings he had six stops. He has a stop on 6.2% of the plays he has been in; compared to D.J. Williams who has one on 3.5%.
Kansas City Chiefs: Rookie defensive linemen Allen Bailey (221) typically takes some pass rushing plays, but recently has shown he deserves more. He has six pressures on 45 pass rushes in the past three games.
Oakland Raiders: Rookie running back Taiwan Jones (33) has shown he deserves at least a few carries if he gets healthy before McFadden. He’s averaged 4.0 yards per carry after contact, and has had four players miss tackles on him.
San Diego Chargers: Defensive linemen Tommie Harris (202) is typically used in the nickel defense to rush the quarterback. However, all eight of his tackles were stops, and only two of them came from sacks. His run defense rating is +3.7 is second best of the Chargers linemen.
Dallas Cowboys: Wide Receiver Jesse Holley (50) has caught all seven balls thrown his way for an outstanding 169 yards. When you look at all receivers regardless of snap count, his catch rate is leading the league, and his yards per catch is third.
New York Giants: It took a long time for first round pick Prince Amukamara (99) to see the field. In his three games in the slot cornerback role, he’s allowed just five yards after the catch.
Philadelphia Eagles: While Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson have done fine at rushing the passer, Derek Landri (189) has played too well against the run to ignore. 11 of his 13 plays have ended up in stops.
Washington Redskins: Anyone who can come up with a stop on 14.6% of the plays he’s in deserves more of a shot. Inside linebacker Keyaron Fox (41) has done just that.
Chicago Bears: Due to an injury to D.J. Moore, Corey Graham (80) has taken over the nickel cornerback snaps in recent weeks. He has intercepted 30% of the balls thrown his way, which is a small sample size (10 times thrown at), but is an extremely high rate.
Detroit Lions: Defensive end Willie Young (180) has a pressure on 19.2% of his pass rushes. The next highest on the Lions’ defensive line is Cliff Avril at 10.9%.
Green Bay Packers: With Jermichael Finley in the lineup, it’s hard to find the field, but Andrew Quarless (203) has played well when given the chance. He has yet to allow a pressure, and he is the only Packer with a positive run block rating that’s not an offensive linemen.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have continued to give Shiancoe and Kleinsasser more snaps than rookie Kyle Rudolph (297), but Rudolph has caught 85.7% of passes thrown his way, has yet to allow a pressure, and has a positive run block rating.
Atlanta Falcons: Tight End Michael Palmer (182) has a positive rating in every aspect of the game. He has yet to allow a pressure, and his run block rating is +1.7. That is over 10 higher than starter Tony Gonzalez at -9.5.
Carolina Panthers: Defensive end Thomas Keiser (76) has only played in four games, but has managed three sacks as well as three additional stops despite playing less than 30% of snaps in those games.
New Orleans Saints: In the last two weeks, linebacker Ramon Humber (59) has seen a lot more playing time. He has four total stops on the season, and has yet to allow a catch beyond 10 yards.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Defensive end Tim Crowder (185) hasn’t seen as much playing time as last year with Bowers and Bennett both played well as starters. However his +4.4 run defense rating is the second highest of the players left on the active roster.
Arizona Cardinals: Outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield (316) has seen more playing time in recent weeks, and has had 11 of his 16 tackles end up as stops since Week 7
St Louis Rams: Defensive tackle Gary Gibson (287) is typically used against the run, but he also has nine pressures on 116 pass rushes, which is the best of the Rams’ defensive tackles.
San Francisco 49ers: Wide receiver Kyle Williams (173) has 1.93 Yards Per Route Run, which is significantly higher than Braylon Edwards and Ted Ginn. However, both Edwards and Ginn remain ahead of Williams on the depth chart.
Seattle Seahawks: While the other safeties have played fine, Atari Bigby (134) has shown he can still play when given the chance. He has one pass defended compared to two catches allowed. He has also helped in the run game and the rare pass rush, which has all led to four total stops.