Secondary injuries are primary concern for IDP owners

This week's "Reading the Defense" begins with a serious note. Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is taking a leave of absence to have a surgical procedure.

Throughout his tenure in the NFL, Phillips' defenses have been among the best in the league. This year has been no different, with the Texans starting Week 15 with the NFL's top-ranked defensive unit, an incredible turnaround from a group that was ranked 30th last season. And he's accomplished it despite losing Mario Williams in Week 5.

What's more, he's done it with a group of players that aren't exactly household names...and are even less likely to end up on IDP fantasy rosters. So hats off to Wade Phillips. Hopefully he's back on an NFL sideline very soon.

Four Downs

First down: With James Harrisonfacing a one-game suspension, the Steelers would hate to lose another playmaker. But it's a possibility with safety Troy Polamalu (hamstring) being listed as questionable. Pittsburgh faces a San Francisco offense on Monday night that has struggled to score at times this year, but their problems have been mostly in the red zone. Between the 20s, the Niners have moved the ball effectively. With Polamalu's all-over-the-field style, he would be primed to make plenty of plays ... if he plays.

IDP rankings

Top five scoring IDPs (according to NFL.com):

  1. D'Qwell Jackson

Second down: With the Broncos welcoming the Patriots to town Sunday, Denver will need all hands on deck. Good thing coach John Fox expects safety Brian Dawkins (neck) to be ready for Sunday. Denver's defense has been a large part of the team's resurgence but Dawkins and his secondary mates will be tested by New England's high-powered offense. They should plan on seeing plenty of throws headed their way and Dawkins could have quite a few chances for a sack or a pick.

Third down:Ravens CB Lardarius Webb (toe) says he plans to play Sunday night against the Chargers. Webb is eighth amongst NFL cornerbacks with 62 tackles and has a team-leading four interceptions. He's likely to draw a matchup with Vincent Jackson and with Philip Rivers sporting a hot hand, he could see plenty of action on his side of the field.

Fourth down: A frustrating season for Redskins safety LaRon Landry (Achilles) is now over after being placed on injured reserve. When he was on the field, he was pretty effective. Problem is, he played in just eight games this season. Reed Doughty will remain in Landry's spot and should see plenty of work against Eli Manning and the Giants corps of receivers.

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