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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.