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News Clips - July 6, 2004

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  • 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