Newsbreakers Recap

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May 3, 2005 9:00 PM ET
Bears: Gage given the starting job
The News
Justin Gage caught only 12 passes last season, but the third-year wideout was named as a starter by Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake after last weekend's rookie minicamp. 'It's his time,' Drake told the Chicago Sun-Times. 'He's got the ability to be there, and people really haven't seen it. Last year, he didn't get those opportunities and lost his confidence. He's more comfortable, and you can see it in his play. His confidence is slowly starting to come back. It's hard to stop a confident man.' He will start opposite Muhsin Muhammad, who signed as a free agent this March.
Our View
With a run-heavy offense, an inexperienced quarterback, and a Pro Bowler on the other side, we don't have high fantasy hopes for whoever ends up as the Bears' No. 2 wideout this season. Gage may own that position now, but he'll have some competition from Bernard Berrian, Bobby Wade, and rookie Mark Bradley this summer.

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May 3, 2005 6:12 PM ET
Dolphins: Harris stands out in minicamp
The News
Former West Virginia running back Kay-Jay Harris was not chosen during April's draft, but signed a free agent contract with the Dolphins last week and was a standout during last weekend's minicamp, reports the Palm Beach Post. He knows that he has to stay motivated if he is going to make the team. "I definitely have a chip on my shoulder, on both shoulders. . . . head, toes, knees and shoulders — all of it," Harris told the paper after the minicamp. "You've got to play this game with a chip on your shoulder. If you don't, that's the play you get knocked out. After I make the team and I'm able to get out on the field, then I can go ahead and unleash that."
Our View
We were afraid that Harris was going to break into a rendition of 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes', but luckily he stopped just short of that. He is entering the league as a 26-year-old rookie because he spent four seasons in the Rangers minor league system. He's not going to beat out Ronnie Brown for the starting job, but a strong camp could earn him a role as a backup.

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May 3, 2005 3:51 PM ET
Bears: Safety switch
The News
The Bears are keeping Mike Brown and Mike Green in their starting lineup, but have decided to switch Green to free safety and Brown to strong safety, reports the Daily Southtown. "We saw that Mike Brown is an aggressive football player who is a tremendous blitzer," defensive coordinator Ron Rivera told the paper. "Based on stuff we saw from last year [on film] from the '03 defense and some of the stuff we saw early before he got hurt, we thought that he's a box safety." Green had 107 tackles last season, but Brown played only two games because of a torn right Achilles' tendon.
Our View
We applaud this switch because it increases Brown's fantasy value by allowing him to become a more aggressive player. As a strong safety in the Bears' scheme, he's going to have more freedom to blitz, which will lead to more tackles and sacks this season.

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May 3, 2005 2:36 PM ET
Packers: Favre rips Walker over holdout
The News
Javon Walker's boycott of the Packers' first minicamp has prompted his legendary quarterback to speak out. Brett Favre angrily denounced his Pro Bowl receiver's decision to stay away from camp in an attempt to get a bigger contract. "Maybe I'm old-school, but I always thought you honor a contract," Favre told the Green Bay Press Gazette. Among the many things Favre went on to say is that Walker is going about things the wrong way, and even: "I sure hope the Packers don't give in to him."
Our View
The Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens tiff is getting most of the headlines, but this situation is growing pretty nasty too. Think the Packers players, fans, and front office might listen when No. 4 talks? How about if and when Javon gets back on the field? What will the relationship be like then and will it impact their production? This thing only makes sense when you consider that Javon hurt his head in a jet-ski accident several weeks ago. Walker's fantasy value is about to slide.

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May 3, 2005 1:10 PM ET
Browns: Winslow's wallet, season in jeopardy
The News
The Browns remain tight-lipped about the extent of the injuries suffered by tight end Kellen Winslow in Sunday's motorcycle accident, but sources indicate that at a minimum the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft will take a hit to the bank account. NFL.com reports that Winslow's contract includes language specifically forbidding dangerous activities such as motorcycling, and that the Browns could go after the $4.4 million option bonus paid to Winslow on March 1 as well as a portion of his $6 million signing bonus. Winslow's questionable status for the 2005 season also puts in jeopardy the salary escalator clauses that inflate the value of his contract, as well as the base salary which Winslow would not be entitled to if he doesn't play this season. Reports indicate that Winslow is being treated for unspecified internal injuries and has swelling in his right knee and right shoulder. "The extent of these injuries will not be known until further medical evaluation is complete after the swelling is reduced," read a statement the Browns released to the media. The statement added that no timetable has been set for Winslow's release from the hospital.
Our View
None of this sounds like good news for the Browns, who have gotten two games of work from their top pick in last year's draft and appear to be in danger of getting another series of goose-eggs. Winslow has already missed out on more than $5 million in incentives by sitting out the final 14 games of last season, and another hit to the wallet could be in store. The Browns, meanwhile, have to be glad they didn't pass on wide receiver Braylon Edwards in the 2005 draft because they thought they already had their playmaker in the passing game.

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May 3, 2005 12:21 PM ET
Buccaneers: Watson added to backfield
The News
The Buccaneers signed free agent running back Derek Watson, who participated in last weekend's rookie minicamp. Watson originally joined the NFL as a member of the Patriots, signing as an undrafted free agent last season but getting cut in training camp.
Our View
Watson amassed 2,374 rushing yards, 545 receiving yards, and 22 touchdowns in a collegiate career that included stops at both South Carolina and South Carolina State. He could be the heir apparent to Charlie Garner as the Bucs' pass-catching back, though at this point projecting anything resembling fantasy value is entirely premature.

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May 3, 2005 11:58 AM ET
Eagles: Lewis, Brown impress during minicamp
The News
With Terrell Owens threatening to hold out and Freddie Mitchell all but gone, the Eagles will need someone to step up in the passing game. A pair of candidates emerged during minicamp: third-year player Greg Lewis and rookie Reggie Brown. "He's looked fast here in this minicamp," Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress told the Philadelphia Daily News of Lewis. "He's not just straight-line fast, he [changes direction well], and he's got nice hands." As for Brown, who said he focused on learning the West Coast offense during camp, coach Andy Reid told the Daily News, "You're looking at a guy who seemed to pick things up quick, No. 1. Then, is very gifted athletically. He made some plays down the field for us. He also caught the short-intermediate routes, seemed to have a nice feel for zone vs. man coverage."
Our View
Lewis and Brown will be battling the likes of Todd Pinkston and Billy McMillan for playing time, though T.O.'s absence certainly provides the potential for a whole lot more touches in 2005. Lewis who had almost as many receiving yards in the preseason (182) as he did in the regular season (183) already seems to be on Donovan McNabb's radar. At a minimum, you shouldn't have to hit the panic button on McNabb's fantasy value if Owens takes his ball and goes home—and at best, Lewis and Brown provide a pair of potential sleepers this season.

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May 3, 2005 11:09 AM ET
Jets: Abraham expected to retire
The News
Veteran cornerback Donnie Abraham will likely retire rather than returning to the Jets for this 10th season. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, quoting "two people with knowledge of the situation," Abraham is expected to call it quits, although the team will likely wait until after June 1 to make it official.
Our View
The retirement of Abraham could open the door for the Jets to sign free agent Ty Law, who has reportedly contacted Jets coach Herm Edwards twice to express his interest in joining the team. Law is still recovering from offseason foot surgery and won't be ready to work out for interested teams until at least the end of May. As of now, the Jets would go to battle with David Barrett and Ray Mickens, who is trying to come back from a knee injury that sidelined him all of last year, as their starters. Rookie Justin Miller is promising, but the Jets view him as a project who won't be more than a fourth or fifth option this year.

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May 3, 2005 11:09 AM ET
Panthers: Stubblefield eager for shot
The News
Wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield caught more passes than any other receiver in NCAA Division I history, but he was still passed over on draft day. Stubblefield told the Charlotte Observer that "about 10 or 12 teams" contacted him, but he selected the Panthers because of their past success, because he knows some of the players, and because he believes he can make the team. "I'm excited to be a part of this organization," he told the Observer. "And, hopefully, I can contribute."
Our View
Stubblefield is neither big (5-11) nor particularly fast (4.69 in the 40), but his productivity speaks for itself. The Panthers have Steve Smith and Keary Colbert penciled in as starters, but after that the competition is wide open.

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May 3, 2005 11:00 AM ET
Titans: Williams draws praise from Chavous
The News
Wide receiver Roydell Williams, a fourth-round pick of the Titans, has already caught the eye of one Pro Bowl defensive back. "I think people will be pleasantly surprised at how NFL-ready Roydell is," Chavous told The Tennessean. The two met while training in New Orleans (where Williams went to Tulane) and exchanged contact information. Chavous, a renown talent evaluator who has worked as a draft analyst for ESPN and the NFL Network, provided Williams with film of what NFL receivers do to be successful. "He's taught me several things," Williams told the Tennessean. "Things I should work on and things I should expect in the league. I think that gives me a little something extra going in."
Our View
The Titans have a huge need for a wide receiver, with Drew Bennett the only healthy and experienced wideout on the roster. Williams could easily step into the No. 3 role as a rookie, and if Tyrone Calico isn't all the way back from knee surgery Williams' role could extend beyond even that.

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May 3, 2005 10:52 AM ET
Dolphins: Rookie wideout Davis impresses
The News
Rookie Josh Davis was singled out by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel as having a good minicamp over the weekend. Davis, the second-leading receiver in NCAA history during his career at Marshall, was not drafted but was signed as a rookie free agent after the draft by the Dolphins. "[Former Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich] molded me into a great receiver," said Davis.
Our View
Davis went undrafted due to questions about his speed and size, although he obviously had a great career at Marshall. He is probably nothing more than a possession-type receiver, but he'll be given every opportunity to win a spot on a Dolphins' squad that doesn't have a lot of depth at receiver.

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May 3, 2005 10:32 AM ET
Bills: Everett has torn ACL
The News
Rookie tight end Kevin Everett suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during last weekend's minicamp. He will undergo surgery and will not return until late September at the earliest, according to the Buffalo News. It was a non-contact injury that occurred during the first day of minicamp when Everett crumpled to the ground after planting his left leg in the turf.
Our View
The Bills were excited about their third round draft choice and felt he could have made an immediate impact as a pass-catching threat this season, however those plans are now obviously on hold. The team's top two returning tight ends, Mark Campbell and Tim Euhus, are both recovering from major knee surgeries as well. Both are expected to be healthy in time for training camp in August, but the team may look for insurance at the position. For your own good, just stay away from this situation come fantasy draft day.