Card: Sage 2014
Acquired: 2016, Box Breaker
Dominique Easley played college ball for the Florida Gators from 2010 to 2013. An impressive defensive line talent Easley posted 72 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks, but has been plagued by injuries (most troubling) to his ACL. He’d be selected by the New England Patriots with the 29th pick of the 2014 NFL draft to be groomed as Big Vince Wilfork’s eventual replacement on the line. After playing sparingly, he’d be placed on IR to end his rookie season with 9 tackles, a sack, and a pick. In 2015, Wilfork departed for greener pastures leaving Easley squarely in the rotation, but once again Easley frustratingly finished the season on IR, after just 15 tackles and 2 sacks. He’d be cut by the team in 2016.
Passing through waivers, Dominique signed a contract with the Los Angeles Rams. The bet paid off as he had a solid season worked into the defensive line rotation. He’d post a career high 35 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Easley resigned with the Rams in 2017, but tore his ACL again in camp ending his season before it began.
Cards: Sage 2014 (72/250), SP 2014, Crown Royale 2014
Acquired: 2016,2017 Ebay
Failure: 2014, C/o The Houston Texans
Alfred Blue has always been an interesting diamond in the rough. Originally a 6th round pick out of LSU, Blue compiled 209 carries for 1253 yards and 11 TDs over his college career. Primarily coming in off the bench and oft-injured, Alfred only technically made 7 starts for the Tigers. While he’d probably be considered the #1 back at many other schools, it really tanked his draft stock as LSU keeps a solid stable of backs. Coaches also felt that Alfred was weak in pass protection and overall physicality. It was surprising to see Blue drop so far into the 2014 NFL Draft, but the Texans were fine picking him up there in the 6th round.
Houston was rebuilding its runningback depth chart. With Arian Foster oft-injured and Ben Tate realizing his dream of being a #1 back in Cleveland, the Texans needed to revitalize the position. Blue has been an O’Brien favorite since claiming a spot on the Texans roster. He rushed for 528 yards and 2 TDs in his rookie season.
In 2015, Blue helped the Texans reach the playoffs stepping in for Foster for 9 games, rushing for 698 yards on 183 carries and 2 TDs. He ran a career high 31 times for 139 yards and a TD against the Buccaneers in a 19-9 win during week 3. 2016 saw the arrival of free agent Lamar Miller for the Texans, essentially replacing Arian Foster as the lead dog. Blue would become more of a change of pace back to Miller, and while Alfred was more efficient, his carries dropped.
It appeared that 2017 was the year that Alfred was going to be on the way out, as the Texans drafted Doak Award Winner D’Onta Foreman in the 3rd round. Foreman impressed and climbed the depth chart, but tore his Achilles ending his season. Blue stepped in near the end of the season and chipped in 108 yards on 16 carries in a loss to the Steelers. He finished the year with 262 yards on 71 carries and a TD. He also had 7 catches for 54 yards. Houston didn’t really do anything with their RB depth for the 2018 season. Blue found no suitors in the open FA market worth signing with and re-upped with the Texans. A valued special teams contributor, Alfred will find competition this season from Tyler Ervin, but it remains to be seen what will happen before opening day.
I had tried to get Blue during his rookie season on a card or two as well as a great photo of him diving over a pile to score a TD but disappointingly he didn’t respond. Eventually I gave up and during the low point of the season in 2016 and 2017 I bought a few of his cards.
Card: Sage 2014 (#178/250)
Acquired: 2016, Box Breaker
Okay, let’s forget about the shirt that Brett is wearing. It’s a one of a kind on a card though as I’ve never seen a curse word sneak through. Sage’s entry is not a pretty one here, but rarely are their photos ever exciting. It’s a pretty basic entry and not very risky. Kudos though for showcasing what matters: the certified autograph. I didn’t really like the cards out of this set, but for what it matters, you can still find hobby boxes of this set at an extremely reasonable price (2017), fattening up your collection by 7-10 autographs in each box.
Brett Smith played for Wyoming from 2010-2013. Despite setting numerous records for the Cowboys including career offensive yards (10,390), passing TDs (76), career TDs (97), and most total yards passing in a game (640), he was not selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. He’d sign as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Bucs and later join the CFL as a member of the Toronto Argonauts, and then the Arena Football League with the San Jose SabreCats.
In 2015 Brett rejoined the CFL, signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He’d win the 3rd string job, but end up starting a fair amount of the season, after injuries hit the quarterback position. Smith finished with a respectable 15 TDs to 9 interceptions on the season. After the season he spent time on the rosters of the Redblacks (2016) and Eskimos (2017). Currently he is a free agent.