We've made it to Week 17, so for the last time this season, I'm providing scouting reports on some lesser-known players ahead of the weekend's slate. After connecting with my sources across the league and digging into the All-22 Coaches Film, here are five players who either will or could play bigger roles in Week 17.
Murray said on Wednesday that there's no holding him back from playing in Sunday's must-win game against the Rams. However, if Murray can't go, Streveler would be thrust into the biggest game of his football career. The 25-year-old quarterback spent two seasons with the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- winning the 2019 Grey Cup (CFL's Super Bowl) -- before signing a three-year deal with the Cardinals in February. Streveler has played in four games this season but has yet to throw a pass. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is athletic and has a strong arm but his accuracy is inconsistent. Should he see playing time, Streveler will no doubt benefit from Arizona's talented receiving corps, which could help boost his accuracy. He also lacks consistent touch on his passes and often takes off to run if his first and second reads are covered. Streveler will be best utilized on designed QB runs with his strong running ability. Look for Kliff Kingsbury to use plenty of bootlegs, run-pass options, play-action passes and QB draws if Streveler is in the game.
If Willis isn't cleared in time for Sunday's game against Jacksonville, Wilson will fill in just as he did last week. Wilson is primarily a special teams player and is at his best on defense when used as a linebacker in nickel defense. His strength is playing the run and covering tight ends in short areas. He lacks speed, thus limiting his coverage ability against good tight ends and most receivers. However, the Colts have used Wilson at deep safety this season and he wasn't involved in many plays in the tape I studied, making it challenging to get a true feel for his instincts in their zone defense. An aggressive tackler, Wilson breaks to the ball well when the pass is in front of him but struggles on deep routes -- which is where the Jags will try to exploit him.
Los Angeles Rams
With Goff out after undergoing thumb surgery on Monday, Wolford steps in for the Rams in what will be his first-ever appearance in a regular-season game. And there will be a playoff berth on the line against the Cardinals in his debut. It will have been 644 days since the 25-year-old quarterback's last start (with the Arizona Hotshots in the AAF). He did, however, spend the 2019 season on the Rams' practice squad and received playing time in all four preseason games, completing 25 of 44 pass attempts for 249 yards, three TDs and zero INTs. When watching the All-22 Coaches Film on Wolford against Houston in the 2019 preseason, my overriding thought was that he played well. He had a grasp of Sean McVay's system, showing he could read the defense and find his second and third receivers. He proved he can slide in the pocket, reset and make a throw. He's more of a touch passer, especially on deep passes, than a strong-armed thrower.
He did struggle to see the field at times due to his stature (6-1, 200 pounds). Arizona could find success against him by taking away the bootleg, an area where Wolford thrives, and making him win from the pocket. If the Cardinals can contain him, expect a number of batted balls at the line of scrimmage. With Cooper Kupp also out on Sunday, Wolford will need help from his play-caller, the run game and the young pass catchers who must step up.
A quarterback at Navy, the seventh-round rookie was converted to wide receiver, specifically slot receiver, by the Dolphins. The scouting report on him coming out of college was that Perry (5-9, 186) was a tough, instinctive and quick player who lacked speed and size. He's played in eight games (two starts) this season and logged eight catches on 12 targets for 67 yards. When watching the tape, I see a player with quickness in his cuts to initially get open. However, he's been unable to separate from the defender, especially on deep routes. He catches the ball well but plays small, as he's had the ball knocked out of his hands upon getting hit by the defender. The Dolphins have used him as a quarterback to run the ball on QB sneaks or designed runs. Overall, Perry has quick, elusive moves but lacks the speed to make big plays.
Washington Football Team
Smith took first-team reps during individual drills on Thursday, so there's still a chance Smith will start Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. If he's unable to play, Heinicke should be ready to go. When filling in for a benched Haskins in the fourth quarter in Week 16, Heinicke provided a spark and played well during his 25 offensive snaps. He posted 137 passing yards, one touchdown and a 102.3 passer rating. His solid performance showed that even though he has not played much recently, he has the advantage of knowing the system having played in it with the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. Against the Panthers in Week 16, he seemed in sync with the offense, showing accuracy and poise. I was impressed with Heinicke's good decision-making, deep-ball accuracy and ability to read the blitz.
While he played well last week, there are concerns surrounding his height (6-1) and limited experience. If he plays in the finale, look for the Eagles to make Heinicke throw from the pocket and bring pressure up the middle.