Lance Ball and 5 NFL Gems Unearthed from Other Teams' Scrap Heaps

Thomas EmerickSenior WriterDecember 19, 2011

Lance Ball and 5 NFL Gems Unearthed from Other Teams' Scrap Heaps

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    The Denver Broncos ran at will in the early going of New England’s 41-23 win, with Lance Ball ripping off giant chunks on his way to 105 yards for the day.

    Ball has emerged as an important element in John Fox’s run-heavy attack in Denver, but not long ago he toiled in obscurity between practice squad time and a one-game stint with the Colts.

    Here are a few players who sat unused on other squads before being plucked for big things on new teams.

James Harrison

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    James Harrison has got a chip on his shoulder bigger than his feet, to borrow from John Lennon, and has worn it throughout an incredibly successful career.

    But long before turning the tide of a Super Bowl with a pick-six for the Steelers, Harrison stewed on the Ravens' practice squad in 2004. He was actually cut a few times before the Steelers finally gave him a jersey in which to unleash his wrath on the NFL.

    Baltimore let a future Super Bowl hero and defensive MVP get away.

Mark Anderson

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    Anderson forced the game-changing fumble on Tim Tebow in New England’s 41-23 Sunday, raising his season sack total to 11.

    His breakout year part two—he notched 12 sacks as a rookie in 2006 for the Bears—has formed one of few bright spots for New England’s defense.

    Last season he only managed three starts in his time with Chicago and Houston. Now if only the Patriots could come up with a similar gem for its secondary.

Jared Gaither

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    When the Kansas City Chiefs cut Gaither three weeks ago, the Chargers found their answer at left tackle.

    Philip Rivers ran for his life after LT Marcus McNeill went down in early November, but Gaither has shored up the blindside protection.

    Gaither kept Terrell Suggs, arguably this year’s most terrifying pass-rusher, largely in check during Sunday night’s 34-14 San Diego win. The Chargers have now won three straight, and the Gaither addition can’t be understated.

Danny Woodhead

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    Woodhead became famous well before he added a critical scatback element to the Patriots: His starring role in HBO’s Hard Knocks for Jets training camp flashed his name to the masses.

    After the Jets cut Woodhead, he immediately found a home in the Patriots’ offense, ripping off over 900 total yards and six touchdowns in 2010.

    Brady loves dumping off to Woodhead or handing to him out of the shotgun. The little guy has added a necessary wrinkle to the New England attack.

Ryan Grant

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    With injuries really hitting the Green Bay backfield hard, Grant must jump in the rejuvenation machine and return to the form circa his acquisition from the New York Giants' practice squad.

    He really made his mark over the next three seasons after leaving NY, topping 1,100 total yards in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Grant has slowed down considerably since hitting IR in 2010, but he could prove key to Green Bay controlling the clock on the ground this postseason.