Mark Craig

Looking for a way to kick that ridiculous habit of wasting beautiful
April weekends watching ESPN as Mel Kiper Jr. endlessly breaks down the
NFL draft?

Turn on the Lions-Vikings game at noon today. Watch the receivers.

No, not Charles Rogers, the second overall pick in 2003. Detroit cut
him this summer.

No, not Mike Williams, the 10th overall pick in 2005. The Lions have
buried him so deep on the bench that he trails backup quarterback Josh
McCown in receptions, 2-1.

No, not Troy Williamson, the seventh overall pick in 2005. The Vikings
deactivated him last week because, well, he can't catch. Who knows if
he'll even suit up today.

OK, so there is Roy Williams, the seventh overall pick in 2004. He
leads the NFC in receiving yardage with 1,043. But his 63 catches are
not the most among the players in today's game.

That distinction belongs to 6-foot, 205-pound Mike Furrey, an undrafted
player and lifelong overachiever who has 65 catches for 773 yards
(11.9) and four touchdowns.

"I wish they could re-do the draft right now," Furrey joked during a
phone interview on Wednesday. "I'm still the smallest and shortest of
that group. But it would be interesting."

He'd go No. 2 behind Roy Williams. And that's not bad for a guy who has
been overlooked for, well, ever.

Furrey didn't get a scholarship out of Grove City, Ohio. He walked on
at Ohio State, where he spent a couple of seasons with current Vikings
cornerback Antoine Winfield.

"I'll take Mike Furrey any day," Winfield said. "Some of those guys,
they go in the top 10, get that money and then fall off the map. But
Mike is blue-collar."

Furrey transferred to Northern Iowa to get more playing time. The Colts
signed him as a rookie free agent in 2000, but released him before the

Furrey played in the XFL in 2001 and the Arena League in 2002 and 2003.

"Sure, there was a lot of doubt about when I should hang it up and get
a real job," said Furrey, who made $45,000 in the XFL and topped out at
$37,000 in the AFL. "But I was always single and had no family ties. So
I just played football."

He got engaged in October 2002. With three games left in the 2003 AFL
season, then-Rams coach Mike Martz gave him his second shot at the NFL.
At the time he left the AFL, Furrey was leading the league in
receptions (108), receiving yards (1,574) and receiving touchdowns (46).

Furrey caught four passes total and was mostly a special teams player
for the Rams in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, Martz got the idea that he
could save an active game-day roster spot by having Furrey double as
the team's fifth safety. By the Rams' sixth game, Furrey was starting
at free safety. He went on to lead the team in interceptions with four.

When Martz joined the Lions this season as offensive coordinator, he
brought along Furrey as an extra receiver. Before long, Rogers was cut
and Mike Williams started pouting. And, presto, Furrey became the starter.

"With Mike, it's full-speed every snap," Martz said. "Whatever Mike has
to give, you get it all the time."

Money to burn in 2007

The ***** are expected to have the most room -- $42.1 million to be
exact -- under next year's salary cap of $109 million.

The rest of the top six are expected to be the Bills ($39.7 million),
Cardinals ($36.7 million), Titans ($36 million), Browns ($33.3 million)
and Vikings ($32.4 million).

The Packers are expected to be 12th ($29.5 million), the Lions 16th
($23.8 million) and Bears 17th ($23.4 million).

Flags don't have to fly

Flags are flying everywhere for the rookie coaches in Minnesota (Brad
Childress), Detroit (Rod Marinelli) and St. Louis (Scott Linehan). The
Vikings lead the league with 93 penalties, while the Lions (86) are
third and the Rams (85) fourth.

But not all of the rookie coaches this season are dealing with such
sloppy execution.

The Jets under Eric Mangini have the third-fewest penalties (56) in the
NFL. They've been penalized only 14 times over the past four games.

"Some of it is understanding the rules," Mangini said. "Some of it is
making better decisions, and we're going to keep working at that
because that's something that we can control to a big degree."

The other rookie coaches and their team's number of penalties are: Mike
McCarthy, Packers, 72; Gary Kubiak, Texans, 71; and Sean Payton,
Saints, 62.

Sayers torches Grossman

Bears fans and the media aren't the only ones upset that coach Lovie
Smith hasn't switched quarterbacks.

"It's a shame Lovie Smith won't go to Brian Griese," Bears Hall of Fame
running back Gale Sayers said. "He is 10-2 with Rex Grossman, but the
defense is winning these ballgames. You are not going to the Super Bowl
with Rex Grossman."

Patriots running game slipping

Since rushing for 125 yards against Cincinnati in the fourth game of
the season, Patriots rookie and former Gopher Laurence Maroney has been
held to below 40 yards in six of his past eight games.

The Patriots' running game as a whole has fallen from third in the
league after four games to 12th. Corey Dillon now has some nagging
injuries and Maroney has what is believed to be a case of badly bruised

Quick hits

. The Chiefs are an NFL-best 20-1 at home in December since 1995.

. Falcons kicker Morten Andersen needs seven points to surpass Gary
Anderson (2,434) as the NFL's all-time leading scorer.

A variety of sources were used to compile this notebook.