NFL notes: Ex-Cat Williamson a bright spot for struggling Titans

The Tennessee Titans liked what they saw on tape when they watched Avery Williamson's college tape from his games at Kentucky.

And the rookie middle linebacker impressed them even more when he interviewed with them before the draft.

"To see how mature he was and how he handles everything. There's a humility about him, but also a quiet confidence," Coach Ken Whisenhunt told The Tennesseean, a Nashville newspaper, about Williamson. "You couldn't help but like him."

The Titans took Williamson in the fifth round of the draft and he's been a bright spot for a team that has started the season 2-7.

He tied a career high with 10 tackles this past weekend against the Baltimore Ravens. Two of those tackles were for a loss, and he also had two quarterback pressures.

Williamson, who is fifth on the team in tackles with 46 even though he didn't play on defense the first two weeks, told The Tennessean he's trying to make a name for himself now that he's playing the bulk of the team's defensive snaps.

"That's what I want to do every week,'' he told the newspaper. "I want every team to know that Avery Williamson is a legit linebacker — that is my goal until the end of the season. I want every NFL team to know who I am, no matter what the circumstances are."

Whisenhunt is pleased with the progress Williamson is making so far.

"Avery is doing a nice job for a young player," he said. "You are really excited about the young man moving forward with just how he is playing defensively.

"He works really hard at it. If you want somebody to have success, it's those kinds of guys because they work so hard at it and they are such good teammates. It's great to see."

■ For more on Williamson from The Tennesseean, check out the full story on their website at

Willis out for season; 49ers add ex-Cat Smith

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis will miss the remainder of the season and require surgery for a strained muscle in his left big toe.

Willis was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list Tuesday for the injury suffered in the third quarter at St. Louis on Oct. 13.

"It's very frustrating," Willis said. "My teammates mean everything to me and I want to be out there experiencing all the good times and all the rough times with them."

A Pro Bowler all seven seasons in the NFL, Willis had missed six games in his career before this latest injury sidelined him for the final 10 games in 2014 for San Francisco (5-4). He had 34 tackles and an interception this season for the Niners.

Willis is a captain and leader of a 49ers team that has reached the NFC championship game in each of the past three seasons.

"We haven't lost him in the locker room," linebacker Michael Wilhoite said. "We're still all together here. It hurts but at same time we need to keep going out and win games."

■ The Niners signed running back Alfonso Smith to replace Willis on the roster. Smith, a former UK star, was one of the team's final cuts in training camp.

Smith, 27, spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He was used primarily on special teams. He has 48 career rushing attempts for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

Benched Pryor has 'chip'

Calvin Pryor has two goals for the second half of his rookie season: make more plays — and make meetings on time.

The New York Jets safety, the team's first-round draft pick out of Louisville last May, was replaced Sunday in the starting lineup by Jaiquawn Jarrett, who had two interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery in the Jets' 20-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Meanwhile, Pryor played only on special teams and it was revealed that the rookie has missed a few team meetings during the season — an issue that veteran teammates have addressed with him.

"I'm pretty sure it's not the first time it happened. Guys have been late," Pryor said after practice Tuesday, downplaying the matter. "Just have to learn from it and move on."

It has been a frustrating first season for Pryor, who was expected to come in and make an immediate impact with his hard-hitting style and ball-hawking abilities. Instead, Pryor has had to play more in deep coverage rather than closer to the line of scrimmage — his strength — because of issues at cornerback.

"I've got a little chip on my shoulder right now," he said. "Kind of my back is against the wall, so to speak. Because everything, just expectations and just me personally taking it upon myself, I haven't been playing the way I should. That's something I have to look at myself and tell myself to just go do better."

When asked how he'll improve, he said simply: "I'll let my actions speak."

Around the league

Seahawks: Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane will miss the rest of the season after being placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a hamstring injury.

The move was expected after Coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the injury suffered in Seattle's 38-17 win over the Giants was "legit." The team had been waiting for additional results.

Jaguars: Jacksonville's most productive rookie is done for the season. The team placed receiver Allen Robinson on injured reserve Tuesday with a broken right foot. He initially hurt his foot against Miami on Oct. 26, and the pain kept getting worse. Tests Monday revealed a stress fracture.

Cowboys: Dallas activated defensive tackle Josh Brent, another step toward his return to the field almost two years after a drunken-driving crash that led to his conviction for intoxication manslaughter.

Bears: Chicago waived former Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Santonio Holmes.