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News Clips - July 6, 2004

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  • News Clips - July 6, 2004

    Rams - Bulger Relaxed And Settled In As Starting QB
    Jim Thomas, Sporting News

    Now that Marc Bulger knows he's the guy, he should be more relaxed--and effective. An underrated leader, Bulger is accurate and has improved at reading coverages. Even though the offense emphasizes aggressive play, Bulger needs to be a better judge of when to take chances, which will help him cut down on interceptions.

    Seahawks - TE Mili's Mistake Is Stevens' Gain
    Clare Farnsworth, Sporting News

    TE Itula Mili, who caught a combined 89 passes the past two seasons, made a mistake in holding out for portions of recent minicamps. Mili did not get the contract he wanted, and his absence gave more reps to Jerramy Stevens, who has a head start going into training camp. The team is eager for Stevens, a former first-round pick, to emerge as a a downfield threat.

    Chargers - Rookie QB Rivers To Start Immediately?
    Jim Thomas, Sporting News

    Drew Brees and Doug Flutie return, but first-round pick Philip Rivers is expected to claim the starting job. Coach Marty Schottenheimer will make the call during the exhibition season. Rivers (6-5, 229) is big and strong and has a quick release. He is a quick study but will have to adjust to the speed of the pro game; his strengths are accuracy and ball security.

    Steelers - Don't Count Out QB Roethlisberger For This Season
    Gerry Dulac, Sporting News

    Tommy Maddox should be the starting quarterback in 2004. The plan is to groom Roethlisberger for 2005, but coach Bill Cowher will play the first-round pick if he is who gives the team the best chance to win. Some thought Roethlisberger was the most talented quarterback in the 2004 draft class; he has all the tools. He will get an opportunity in training camp to show he can play immediately.

    Giants - QB Warner Likely To Start But Could Have Short Leash
    Neil Best, Sporting News

    Kurt Warner was shaky in minicamps and got frustrated as he tried to learn the system. It will be crucial for him to establish early in camp that he has something left. Rookie QB Eli Manning has the tools to be the centerpiece of the offense for years. His smarts and pedigree should allow him to learn quickly, and if Warner falters there will be little hesitation about starting Manning.

    Vikings - Culpepper's Improved Study Habits Key To Success
    Bill Williamson, Sporting News

    Diligent study habits helped Daunte Culpepper make great strides last season. Culpepper, 27, showed a better understanding of defenses and reduced his turnovers, but he still has a lot to learn. Now that Culpepper makes better reads, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan lets him throw deep more often. Culpepper must improve in the red zone, however.

    Dolphins - Feeley Should Emerge As Starting Quarterback
    Jason Cole, Miami Herald

    A.J. Feeley and Jay Fiedler will battle for the starting job. Look for Feeley to win because he has a stronger arm and the team plans to emphasize deep passing. He also has the backing of G.M. Rick Spielman and owner Wayne Huizenga. Feeley has a reputation for being unimpressive in practice and better in games, which can bother coaches.

    Dolphins - TE McMichael Out Of Shape
    Jason Cole, Miami Herald

    In addition to his off-field problems this offseason, TE Randy McMichael has let himself get out of shape. McMichael is a talented receiver but needs to get stronger and become a more willing blocker.

    Jaguars - QB Leftwich Ready For Stardom?
    Bart Hubbuch, Times-Union

    Byron Leftwich went through growing pains as a rookie but also gained invaluable experience. He has a strong arm, reads defenses well, is an eager student and should blossom into an elite passer--perhaps this year. The only thing Leftwich lacks is mobility.

    Texans - QB Carr Tough, Talented And Ready
    Carlton Thompson, Houston Chronicle

    David Carr can make every throw, and he's tougher and more mobile than anyone could have imagined when the team took him with the top pick in the 2002 draft. With the best offensive line in the team's history in front of him and gifted players at the skill positions, this is the year Carr will take his game to the next level.

    Lions - QB Harrington Poised To Improve
    Tom Kowalski, Sporting News

    Joey Harrington has a strong arm, but his best asset is his accuracy--and his completion percentage will continue to climb because of his knowledge of the offense and the improved talent around him. Although Harrington is fairly mobile and can step away from a rush, he's still hesitant to scramble for a modest gain. The coaches want Harrington to be a threat to run.

    Lions - WR Rogers Blazing Fast And Confident
    Tom Kowalski, Sporting News

    Second-year WR Charles Rogers has raised eyebrows with his blazing speed during workouts. He no longer is feeling his way through routes and is hitting high gear quickly.

    Broncos - WR Lelie Is A Bigger And Stronger Player
    Patrick Saunders, Sporting News

    The offseason program has been beneficial for WR Ashley Lelie as he added about 10 pounds of muscle, which should help him get off the line of scrimmage and gain separation from physical cornerbacks.

    Ravens - Rookie DT Edwards Impressing His Coaches
    Mike Preston, Sporting News

    Rookie DT Dwan Edwards impressed the team in minicamps with his energy and solid fundamentals. Look for Edwards to work into a five-man line rotation and get more playing time in the second half of the season. .

    Cardinals - McCown Still Cardinals Choice At Quarterback
    Kent Somers, AZ Central

    Coach Dennis Green is one of the few people who isn't worried about this position. He anointed Josh McCown the starter months ago, even though McCown has just three career starts. He doesn't have a big arm, but it's strong enough. McCown is an exceptional athlete who provides an added weapon with his running ability. The team seemed to rally around him last season.

    Redskins - QB Brunell Likely To Start Over Ramsey
    Paul Woody, Sporting News

    Mark Brunell likely will beat out Patrick Ramsey in a training camp battle. Brunell still has zip in his arm and should be rejuvenated after not playing much in 2003. But he'll also be 34 in September. Brunell no longer has outstanding mobility, but he has the footwork to get out of a jam. Ramsey has a superior arm, an excellent work ethic and the respect of his teammates for his toughness.

    Titans - CB Dyson To Make Stronger Impact In 2004
    Dan Pompei, The Sporting News

    After arriving as a legitimate NFL corner last season, Andre Dyson of the Titans should take his game to the next level. He has added strength and showed greater understanding of his team's schemes and the techniques he is required to play. Dyson has plenty of motivation; this is the last year of his contract, and if he plays well, he will be a highly pursued free agent.

    Chargers - CB Jammer To Be More Confident This Season
    Dan Pompei, The Sporting News

    The Chargers' Quentin Jammer finally started playing like a high first-round pick late last year after more than a season and a half of inconsistent play. If Jammer can continue to be consistent with his techniques, he has the potential to be one of the league's best all-around corners. As he develops confidence, he'll show more of the aggressiveness that made him an outstanding college player.

    Chiefs - DT Sims Stronger and Ready To Excel
    Dan Pompei, The Sporting News

    Ryan Sims took a big step last season for the Chiefs, and he's capable of taking a jump this year. With increased dedication, Sims has improved his strength and is bench-pressing 465 pounds. His pass rush will be enhanced in new coordinator Gunther Cunningham's defense. "You can just see it in him," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil says. "He's growing up a lot. I expect him to be a Pro Bowler one day."

    Eagles - DE McDougle Ready To Perform
    Dan Pompei, The Sporting News

    After putting on about 20 pounds of muscle since last season and not losing any quickness, second-year man Jerome McDougle could be ready to show the pass-rush ability that made him so effective at the University of Miami. McDougle should benefit from the Eagles' acquisition of Jevon Kearse, who will attract most of the double-team attention.

    Lions - Third Year The Charm For DE Edwards
    Dan Pompei, The Sporting News

    This should be the season Kalimba Edwards' preposterous athleticism begins to become evident. In his rookie season, the Lions didn't play him enough. As a second-year player, Edwards struggled with a groin injury. As a third-year player, he's out of excuses and ready to turn the corner in his career and in his pass rush.

    Cardinals - Coach Green Green Welcomes Underdog Status
    Kent Somers, AZ Central

    Go ahead, tell Dennis Green he can't turn the Arizona Cardinals into a winner. List the names of the coaches who have tried and failed. Green doesn't seem to mind people questioning his sanity or doubting his team. While some wonder how Green can turn the Cardinals into a winner, he imagines the satisfaction that will come if he does. "I'm an underdog kind of guy," Green said.

    Steelers - RB Bettis Admits Role In Gambling Project

    RB Jerome Bettis acknowledged Tuesday limited partnership in a company seeking to build a $500 million horse racing track and slots parlor. Last week, the NFL said it wanted to talk to Bettis about his ties to the project. Bettis, in a statement, said he appeared in Harrisburg last week with developer C.J. Betters as lawmakers were considering legalizing slot machines.

    ***** - Safety Lewis First *****' Rookie To Sign

    The ***** made it official with the first of 10 rookie draft picks, signing safety Keith Lewis to a multi-year contract Tuesday afternoon. Financial terms of the deal were not released. Known as an intense and confident competitor, Lewis started 37-of-49 games during his career at the University of Oregon.

    Texans - Time To Go Deep
    ESPN Wire

    If the Houston Texans are to take the next step, two words are going to have to come out of David Carr's mouth more often: Go long. Carr insists offensive coordinator Chris Palmer's playbook is wide open this year, after two seasons of moderation. This is the first year Carr appears poised to play with the same personnel in the spring, summer and fall.

Related Topics


  • Nick
    ESPN Insider's Whispers from around the NFL (5/23)
    by Nick
    Whispers from around the NFLPro Football Weekly

    • The way we hear it, Panthers DT Kris Jenkins, who missed the bulk of last season with a shoulder injury, is carrying more weight than usual, and there is some concern he will not be as effective as he once was unless he drops some pounds.

    • One scout told PFW the Redskins appeared to have hit it big with first-round pick QB Jason Campbell, if the rare poise and performance he showed in his first minicamp is any indication. He said Campbell looked like "the next Doug Williams" and that "Joe Gibbs knew what he was getting (in Campbell)."

    • Chargers WR Reche Caldwell, who tore an anterior cruciate ligament in Week 6 last season, looked good during a full-squad workout in May, just six and a half months removed from surgery. Caldwell, who last season showed signs of finally leaving his bust label behind, is expected to compete with Eric Parker and second-rounder Vincent Jackson for playing time.

    • We hear the Patriots likely will give second-year RB Cedric Cobbs a lot of work in training camp and the preseason to give him needed touches and build experience as a possible backup option behind Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk.

    • We hear the Cardinals' release of OT L.J. Shelton is seen as vindication of a Bills brain trust that was heavily criticized by some media members for not pulling the trigger on a proposed Travis Henry-for-Shelton trade. GM Tom Donahoe caught a lot of flak for not making that trade, but he said time and again that a player-for-player swap was not equal value. The Cardinals' decision to give Shelton his outright release is seen by the Bills as proof of that fact.

    • We hear most of Jets CB Donnie Abraham's teammates assumed he would retire after he skipped most of the offseason to be with his family in Tampa. However, word is the Jets and Abraham have worked out a way for Abraham to see his family more often during the season, and that allowed him to be comfortable enough to return for his 10th NFL season.

    • With DTs Tim Bowens (back) and Larry Chester (knee) both struggling to return to form following season-ending injuries, we hear it has become clear to the Dolphins they won't be able to count on Bowens and Chester to play a big role in the defense this season. That likely will lead the Dolphins to sign the free agent who best fits the profile of what coach Nick Saban is looking for – Keith Traylor, who played nose tackle with the Patriots last season.

    • Saints CB Fahkir Brown surprised his team when he held out of minicamp workouts, because nobody – including general manager Mickey Loomis – knew Brown was unhappy with his contract.

    • Expect the Saints to open talks with RB Deuce McAllister about a contract extension in early June, with a deal expected to be hammered out in a short time.

    • Panthers WR Drew...
    -05-26-2005, 01:24 PM
  • RamsFan4ever
    Top 50 players: Fleeting moments of glory... 3 Rams
    by RamsFan4ever

    May 30, 2006
    By Pete Prisco
    CBS Senior Writer
    Tell Pete your opinion!

    The NFL is a cruel business for its players. I've always believed that, which is why players should enjoy it while they can. It goes so fast, their time in the spotlight limited, the big-money years coming and going, replaced by the reality that it's over.

    That becomes even more evident to me each summer when I sit down to do the CBS list of the Top 50 players in the league, which is something I've been doing the past six years.

    Offseason knee surgery isn't expected to slow down Carson Palmer much. (Getty Images)
    It's amazing to see the change from one year to the next. Players rise, players fall. Age impacts some, their spot taken by somebody with the vigor of youth. The injured get discarded like a worn-out pair of socks, their perch among the game's elite no longer in their grasp.

    Two years ago, the No. 3 player on our list was Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair. The No. 4 player was Kansas City Chiefs running back Priest Holmes.

    Want to know where they are on this year's top 50? Scan it all you want. You won't find them.

    Injuries and age have sent those two falling like Tom Cruise's popularity. McNair, who might play for the Baltimore Ravens this year, can still get it done, but he isn't as good as he was in 2004, when he was coming off a co-MVP season.

    In 2003, Holmes ran for 1,420 yards and scored 27 touchdowns, earning him the high ranking in our 2004 Top 50. Since then, he has played in a total of 15 games because of injuries and has rushed for 1,343 yards the past two seasons. There's talk he might be forced to retire because of a neck injury.

    That's so cruel. That's the NFL.

    The flip side is the emergence of young stars, players who have found their way into the top 10, a guy like Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer.

    When we did the rankings in June 2004, Palmer was coming off a rookie season in which he didn't take one snap. There was no way he could be ranked anywhere close to the top 50.

    Two years later, he's the fifth-ranked player in the league, despite suffering a serious knee injury last January.

    That's how quickly thinks change.

    One thing that hasn't changed is the top-rated player. For the third consecutive year, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning tops the list. Manning had another outstanding season in 2005, leading the Colts to best record in the league before they choked away their chance to win a Super Bowl.

    Manning remains the game's best player, on his way to becoming perhaps the game's greatest passer. He is certainly on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The reason he...
    -05-30-2006, 03:59 PM
  • evil disco man
    They're poised to break out on 'D'
    by evil disco man
    by Dan Pompei -

    Our 2004 breakout defensive players (rookies were not considered):

    Defensive ends

    This should be the season Kalimba Edwards' preposterous athleticism begins to become evident. In his rookie season, the Lions didn't play him enough. As a second-year player, Edwards struggled with a groin injury. As a third-year player, he's out of excuses and ready to turn the corner in his career and in his pass rush.

    After putting on about 20 pounds of muscle since last season and not losing any quickness, second-year man Jerome McDougle could be ready to show the pass-rush ability that made him so effective at the University of Miami. McDougle should benefit from the Eagles' acquisition of Jevon Kearse, who will attract most of the double-team attention. Kearse's presence at left end means McDougle should be taking most of his snaps at right end, a new position for him. A rotation with N.D. Kalu and Derrick Burgess should help keep McDougle fresh.

    Defensive tackles

    Ryan Sims took a big step last season for the Chiefs, and he's capable of taking a jump this year. With increased dedication, Sims has improved his strength and is bench-pressing 465 pounds. His pass rush will be enhanced in new coordinator Gunther Cunningham's defense. "You can just see it in him," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil says. "He's growing up a lot. I expect him to be a Pro Bowler one day."

    The goal in Long Island is for Dewayne Robertson to play 20 pounds lighter than he did as a rookie, and Robertson has been progressing nicely toward that goal. Robertson has too much ability to continue to be the nonfactor he was last season, and Jets coaches are convinced Robertson will make an impact this year.

    Outside linebackers

    With instincts, toughness, explosiveness, athleticism and ball skills, Lance Briggs should become an excellent linebacker in his second season with the Bears. Briggs will be helped by a new system and a switch to weakside linebacker after starting the last 13 games of last season on the strong side. It also doesn't hurt to be playing next to Brian Urlacher.

    Another second-year linebacker who could improve after an impressive rookie season is Pisa Tinoisamoa of the Rams. Tinoisamoa continues to improve his coverage skills and learn angles and drops, which is critical because he's a bit undersized. He displays great intensity, instincts and the ability to play three downs. Last year, Tinoisamoa started 14 games and played 87 percent of the snaps.

    Middle linebackers

    There are two good candidates at this position, and the strongest is Robert Thomas of the Rams. At times last season, Thomas was dominant after being switched to the middle from the outside, where he played as a rookie. But he struggled with injuries for...
    -07-05-2004, 09:10 PM
  • Nick
    ProFootballWeekly: The Way We Hear It
    by Nick
    -Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said during the team’s recent bye that he is “totally happy” with Jake Plummer and was adamant in his support of him as the quarterback of the future in Denver. However, Bowlen admitted he was not up to speed on Plummer’s contract status, which includes a $6 million roster option in March.

    -Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams indicated this week that he has no intention of leaving after one season in Washington and harbors no head-coaching aspirations — for now.

    -A few Philly pass catchers, including WR Freddie Mitchell and TE L.J. Smith, quietly complained about QB Donovan **Mc*Nabb not looking anywhere except for WR Terrell Owens. But the two were quieted by teammates and coaches, who reminded them that Owens is often the first option on passing plays and that McNabb’s philosophy always has been that he throws it to whoever is open.

    -We hear hardworking rookie Niko Koutouvides has a good shot at becoming Seattle’s undisputed starter at middle linebacker next season.

    -Don’t be surprised if the Panthers give third-string QB Chris Weinke a half or possibly an entire game to show off his talent later this season just to get an idea of where he is as a player.

    -Falcons WR Dez White could be close to losing his starting job in the team’s three-WR rotation to rookie Michael Jenkins.

    -Look for Falcons DE Patrick Kerney to be more effective with DT Rod Coleman returning to the lineup.

    -Although Buccaneers PK Martin Gramatica isn’t expected to be released any time soon, the fact the team signed PK Jay Taylor to the practice squad is a sign the Bucs may be preparing for life after Gramatica.

    -We’re told Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden reacted angrily early last week to questions about former Tampa Bay and current Atlanta general manager Rich McKay because he didn’t want to spend all week having to answer questions about his former co-worker.

    -We’re told Saints head coach Jim Haslett decided to demote WR Donté Stallworth from the starting lineup in favor of veteran Jerome Pathon because he’s tired of using inconsistent players, even if it means putting less talent on the field.

    -Saints observers believe Haslett’s challenge to his players not to give up the season with the message that players are either with the team or against it is nothing more than desperate words from a desperate man.

    -The Colts are crossing their fingers that their banged-up defensive backs last down the stretch. No. 1 CB Nick Harper (shoulder) can’t practice most days, and his replacement, Joseph Jefferson, continues to battle chronic knee soreness. Rookie CB Jason David, according to coaches, has been the team’s most consistent cornerback of late, but he’s also dinged up.

    -WR Marvin Harrison denied telling ABC’s “Monday Night Football” that he was “frustrated” sharing...
    -11-16-2004, 08:54 AM
  • RamWraith
    Around the league 5-3-05
    by RamWraith
    May 2, 2005 11:32 PM ET
    Bengals: Pollack progressing nicely
    The News
    Bengals first-round pick David Pollack spent his first minicamp switching from defensive end to linebacker and impressed his coaches with his progress. "He's got a long way to go, but he gets better every day. He's better in everything we're teaching him. He's a coachable guy. He's making progress," defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said to the team's website. "With a guy who has played the position before, you might go a little faster. We have to make sure we go from A to B to C and not A to E to M to R, but that's good because everyone can learn from that." Even head coach Marvin Lewis took time out of his day to remark on Pollack's development. "He's further ahead than any guy I've ever had [make the switch]," Lewis said to the sit. "I don't see that being an issue."
    Our View
    That is high praise for Pollack from Lewis, who was in Baltimore when Peter Boulware switched from defensive end to outside linebacker and became a Pro Bowler. The rookie has all the natural tools to succeed as a linebacker and is improving every day. We'll keep an eye on him during training camp because he may turn into a sleeper linebacker who can help out fantasy teams this fall.


    May 2, 2005 8:39 PM ET
    Cowboys: A-Train parks in the Lone Star state
    The News
    Running back Anthony Thomas will be a Cowboy this season, according to the Dallas Morning News. The paper is reporting that he signed a one-year deal with the club, but financial terms were not disclosed. Thomas ran for 404 yards and two touchdowns last season as a Bear.
    Our View
    Anthony goes from backing up one Jones brother in Chicago to another in Dallas. He'll compete with rookie Marion Barber III to be Julius' primary backup. As long as Bill Parcells doesn't him give goal line carries because of his size, the A-Train's fantasy value will be minimal at best.


    May 2, 2005 7:55 PM ET
    Bengals: Johnson to take Henry under his wing
    The News
    Bengals veteran Chad Johnson plans to take rookie wideout Chris Henry, who saw his draft stock fall because of attitude problems, under his wing, reports the team's website. Johnson even plans to send Henry to a receiving camp after the Bengals end their workout in June. "He doesn't know it yet," the loquacious Johnson informed the site.
    Our View
    While allowing Johnson to mentor a kid whose attitude is already questionable may seem as wise as using Kristie Alley as your nutritionist, the veteran's tutelage should help Henry develop faster. The Bengals have a deep receiving corps, but if Peter Warrick and Kelley Washington...
    -05-03-2005, 05:35 AM