Former Brown University star Michael Malan went to NFL Europe as a member of the Patriots in part to work on his blocking in his transition from running back to fullback. After his Scottish Claymores produced a 100-yard rusher for the second straight week and currently hold the title of Europe's top rushing offense, you'd have to say that Malan's a quick learner. With the season currently at its halfway point, the Claymores lead the league with 771 yards rushing, good for an average of 154.2 rushing yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.
"It's just a different point of view when you are the fullback and not the featured back in an offense," Malan said last week. "But, I feel like I am contributing greatly to this team and that makes me happy. I would say that my blocking has improved the most in my time over here so far. It's fun to see your block spring a guy into the end zone. I am happy with my progression."
Despite seeing his team drop a sloppy 17-10 decision to the first-place F.C. Barcelona Dragons on a rain-soaked field in Glasgow, Malan contributed to a strong Claymores ground game yet again in Week Five. Malan helped running back Ken Simonton chug for 108 yards as part of the team's 137-yard rushing effort, adding to the exploits of NFL Europe's top running game. Besides Malan's helping hand lent to the other Scottish runners, he has carried the ball himself six times for 42 yards and has also been a healthy receiving option out of the backfield, ranking third on the squad with 14 catches for 120 yards. He's also pitched in with a pair of special teams fumble recoveries.
Malan and his four Patriots teammates dropped their third game of the season on Saturday, as the Claymores missed three field goals and had a touchdown nullified by penalty. Tight end Rod Trafford had his most productive offensive game so far this season, hauling in three passes for 32 yards after getting the starting nod at tight end. Trafford snared tosses good for nine, 11 and 12 yards. Wide receiver Scott McCready leads the Claymores and ranks fourth in NFL Europe in receiving yards (237), despite being held without a catch for the first time this season. Also on Saturday, Dyshod Carter made a solo tackle from his backup cornerback slot, while quarterback Shane Stafford did not play for the second straight game.
In other Patriots news from Europe, middle linebacker Courtney Ledyard was placed on injured reserve by the Rhein Fire. Ledyard was the top player selected by the Fire in the NFL allocation draft and had started three games before sustaining a shoulder injury during Week Three. For the Frankfurt Galaxy, wide receiver T.C. Taylor again participated in a reserve role, while center Mike Clare did not play for the first time this season as Frankfurt dropped a 14-7 decision to Rhein.
Although he was shut out this week, McCready has caught 13 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns in five starts. He leads the Claymores in both touchdowns and receiving yards and ranks fourth in NFLE in receiving yards. … Stafford did not play over weekend but has completed 20-of-34 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions through five games. … Malan has started all five games for Scotland. He has totaled 14 receptions for 120 yards in the air and 6 carries for 42 yards on the ground. His 14 receptions total ranks third on the team. … Like Malan and McCready Trafford has started all five games for the Claymores. In those five starts he has six catches for 63 yards. … Carter has seen action in all five games at corner with three starts, and has 13 tackles with two passes defensed in that action. … Ledyardhad started in three games for the Fire before the shoulder injury and has four tackles on the season. … Clare missed his first game after starting the first four at center for the Galaxy. … Despite playing in his second game of the season, Taylor has yet to record a catch. … Following last weekend's action Barcelona tops the standings at 4-1, Frankfurt and Rhein are a game back at 3-2, Amsterdam and Scotland sit at 2-3 and Berlin finally got in the win column to improve to 1-4.