Since the Bengals played some of their backup players this week against the Ravens, there are going to be a couple of new names on the final regular season installment of "The Unsung Hero of the Week Award". This award differs from our MVP feature in that it recognizes players who contributed in a less dramatic fashion and/or play a less prominent position than those that are more easily recognizable. The vast majority of the time, these nominees are different from those nominated for our MVP.
Though he plays a prominent position, Bruce Gradkowski plays for a team that has a solid quarterback situation, so he doesn't get much recognition. On Sunday, Gradkowski got some extensive time in the second half against the Ravens. He didn't thrill anyone with his five for 11 passing day, but he made a couple of plays and the Bengals pulled out a victory with him at the helm.
Wide receiver Brandon Tate came up with a nice day when starting wide receiver A.J. Green took a seat in the second half. He had three receptions for 53 yards, with the bulk of his yardage coming on a 44-yard dart from Gradkowski. Though he gets targeted by fans' anger at times, Tate continues to make a big play here and there to make us all remember why he's in Cincinnati. He's not likely to have a big role on offense during the postseason, but he'll be key on special teams.
With BenJarvus Green-Ellis sustaining a last-minute hamstring tweak, Brian Leonard was forced into a bigger role on offense. He didn't light up the show, but did have ten carries and two receptions on the day, helping to balance out the offense a bit. His role has diminished a bit with the emergence of Cedric Peerman and the bulk of the carries going to Green-Ellis, but he's still a valuable member of this team and steps up whenever his number is called.
Defensive end Wallace Gilberry has been another great acquisition for the Bengals, becoming a valuable rotational player on the stout line. He had three tackles and another sack, finishing with 6.5 on the season. He has stepped in with the injury to Jamaal Anderson and has consistently made plays in a backup role.
Kevin Huber, the punter for the Bengals, is having a career year for the team. He had another big game against the Ravens, booting seven punts for a 43.4 per punt average and a long of 58 yards. He also had four of the seven downed inside the 20-yard line, something he has been great at this season.
Who gets your vote for the Week 17 "Unsung Hero of the Week Award"?