Saturday, December 17, 2005

- Head coach Mike Martz attended Friday afternoon's practice and stuck around for about 45 minutes. Martz looked to be in good spirits and in better shape. Many of the players went out of their way to stop over and shake his hand as Martz watched from the sideline.

- Rex Tucker is officially out for this weekend because of the flu. Alex Barron returns to the lineup with Orlando Pace on the left side. Pace practiced Friday and should be fine. Matt Morgan will likely assume the role of reserve tackle.

- It's uncertain which young players will be active and which won't dress for tomorrow's game. Joe Vitt said he wanted to see how they performed in practice before making that determination.

- One of the youngsters who will almost certainly be dressed is tight end Jerome Collins. If for no other reason than that he is now the No. 2 tight end on the roster. But there's more to it than that. Collins, who was thoroughly underwhelming in the preseason, has actually come on in practice and looks excited about getting the opportunity. Athleticism has never been a problem for him, but he has struggled with the mental aspect of learning the offense and catching the ball. There have definitely been strides made, though, and he's a player to keep an eye on this weekend.

- Cornerback Ron Bartell practiced through the pain in his ankle all week which is admirable, but it was clear that the ankle is still tender and he was favoring it when he ran in practice. We'll see if it can hold up at full speed.

- Running back Arlen Harris has been upgraded to questionable. He participated in practice Thursday and Friday and looks like he'll be ready.

- The return positions haven't really crystallized yet. Vitt said the staff would evaluate those spots after Friday's practice, but it's probably a safe bet that Marshall Faulk won't be returning kicks or punts unless it's an emergency. Maybe Aveion Cason will finally get a chance to return kicks or perhaps Chris Johnson again.

- A reminder to everyone that Sunday's game starts at noon. It was originally scheduled for 3 p.m.

- Enjoy Saturday's games, be sure to check back for complete coverage of Sunday's game on Sunday night.