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Volume 5, Issue 64 (Tuesday, June 29th)

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Hi Folks,

Hope you're having a great week. We're rolling here. Thanks to our Mark Wimer for rounding up these stories today. Let's get right to it.

Joe

*******************
Joe Bryant
Owner www.footballguys.com
Why Subscribe to Footballguys.com?

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Site News:

A. Early Bird $100 Winners Announced - You may remember that we offered $100 to five randomly picked subscribers who signed up for our Early Bird Discount. We finally gathered them all together and picked five. These guys can all expect a crisp new Benjamin to be heading their way. Actually, it's a crisp new Footballguys.com check, but it's the same effect. Congrats to:

Scott Blake
Michael Costaglio
Gregory England
Jeffrey Grimes
John Mackiewicz

If you know one of these guys, hit them up for a round.

News and Notes:

1. MIA DE Ogunleye's Agent: We're a Long Way from a 10-Game Holdout
2. WAS TE Ware: Arrested for Public Intoxication
3. Steelers' WR Ward: Training Camp Thoughts
4. ARI HC Green: Fighting to Install a Winning Attitude
5. RB LaDainian Tomlinson: NFL's Top Back (Editorial)
6. Browns RB Analysis
7. Broncos RB Analysis
8. Bills RB Analysis
9. Bengals RB Analysis
10. Ravens RB Analysis
11. Buccaneers RB Analysis
12. Rams RB Analysis
13. 49ers RB Analysis
14. Seahawks RB Analysis
15. Saints RB Analysis
16. Cardinals RB Analysis
17. Cowboys RB Analysis
18. Giants RB Analysis
20. Packers Extend WR Robert Ferguson Through 2008
21. CFL Games to be Shown On NFL Network
22. IDP Alert: Texans Claim Former Vike CB Kelly Off Waivers

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1. MIA DE Ogunleye's Agent: We're a Long Way from a 10-Game Holdout

Clipped from: Miami Herald article by Barry Jackson, 6/28/04

The Dolphins don't comment publicly on trade rumors, but the team might consider a trade only if talks with Ogunleye don't progress during the next two months.

Negotiations on a new contract are not expected to intensify until closer to the start of training camp July 30.

"We're at somewhat of an impasse," Rosenhaus said. "The biggest hang-up has to do with guaranteed money."

Although Rosenhaus said he believes it's unlikely it would come to such a point, he confirmed Ogunleye would sit out either the first seven or 10 regular-season games if he doesn't reach agreement on a long-term deal. If a contract isn't worked out, the Dolphins must notify Ogunleye after the third preseason game if he will be suspended the first three games after he reports.

If the Dolphins take that approach, Ogunleye would report for the final nine games of the season. That would allow him to suit up the minimum six games needed to qualify for unrestricted free agency next offseason. If the Dolphins don't suspend him, he would report after 10 regular-season games.

"But we're a long way from that, and I'm very optimistic we can avoid that," Rosenhaus said.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

It's good news for IDP owners of Ogunleye and the Miami DT that there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, Rosenhaus' sentiment that the holdout can be avoided will pan out in time for Ogunleye to get into training camp without a holdout. Time will tell.

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2. WAS TE Ware: Arrested for Public Intoxication

Clipped from: Washington Times article by Mark Zuckerman, 6/29/04

Washington Redskins tight end Kevin Ware was arrested over the weekend for public intoxication outside a Houston dance club...

"Obviously this is a very serious situation, but we'll refrain from commenting until it is resolved," Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said.

Ware's agent, Cameron Foster, did not return phone calls yesterday.

Though he has been charged with only a misdemeanor, Ware could face disciplinary action from the NFL, most likely in the form of a fine and/or mandatory alcohol and drug testing for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

It is Ware's first offense since joining the Redskins in 2003, but it's not the first time he was arrested. As a junior at the University of Washington in December 2001, he received a one-year suspended sentence and 240 hours of community service after pleading guilty to fourth-degree misdemeanor assault.

Ware was originally charged with third-degree assault, a felony, after striking a university police officer who was trying to break up a fight. He pleaded innocent in King County Superior Court at the time, then pleaded guilty after the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

Ware was suspended for the remainder of the 2001 season, missing Washington's trip to the Holiday Bowl, but he was reinstated his senior year and caught 42 passes for 463 yards in 2002.

Signed as an undrafted free agent last year, Ware appeared in 11 games with the Redskins, finishing with three receptions for 17 yards.

He faces stiff competition for a roster spot this season. Since taking over in January, coach Joe Gibbs has signed or drafted five tight ends/H-backs: Walter Rasby, Mike Sellers, Brian Kozlowski, Fred Baxter and Chris Cooley.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

When you're in a tight battle for a roster spot/a shot at starting (Ware started one game last season), the last thing a player needs is to publicly embarrass his team/coaches. If this is an isolated alcohol-related incident, Ware may salvage his chances - however, if it is part of a larger pattern of abuse, then he may be shown to the door...

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3. Steelers WR Ward: Training Camp Thoughts

Clipped from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article by Jerry DiPaola, 6/29/04

...will Ward, the Steelers' three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, arrive on time with his teammates to training camp at St. Vincent College on July 30?

Ward's response: "I hope. As far as I know I am. Until Eugene (Parker, his agent,) tells me otherwise, I am planning on reporting to camp. That is my plan to be there. I never even considered (being late). That's the last resort, I think. We don't see it being a problem."

Ward said Parker has talked to the Steelers about an extension, but the team is reluctant to renegotiate because the contract has two years remaining on it. Team president Art Rooney II told reporters that the Steelers made "a rare exception" when it reworked quarterback Tommy Maddox's deal that was not due to expire until 2006.

"Rare exception?" Ward said. "Eugene wants to know what is so rare about it?"

Ward, whose salary-cap charge of $2.1 million is 29th among NFL wide receivers, said he doesn't know what will happen if the Steelers remain adamant in their refusal to rework the contract until next year. "I'm waiting to see what (Parker) wants me to do," Ward said. "I don't know 'what-if.' I ask myself that question, too."

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Now that details of Tommy Maddox's renegotiated contract are public , it seems that Ward and his agent have less room to complain, considering that a vast majority of Maddox's money is back-end loaded and contingent upon his remaining the starter beyond 2004 (when, realistically, the Steelers are hoping to have Ben Roethlisberger under center). Still, the NFL is a business and there is no denying that Ward has significantly outplayed his contract during the past two seasons, so his agent could very well determine that a holdout is appropriate...We'll keep an eye on this situation as training camp approaches and keep you apprised of all the developments.

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4. ARI HC Green: Fighting to Install a Winning Attitude

Clipped from: Arizona Republic article by Kent Somers, 6/29/04

"What comes first is you make them understand," Green said. "That's my No. 1 job. We've got some players that I think are pretty good players, but those guys have not played as well as they're capable of playing.

"I have to get them to recognize, 'You have not played very well. And I'm not afraid to tell you that.' And No. 2, that I'm here to help you play better. If you buy into that and play better, we'll put a better team on the field. You have to be able to teach that reality."

So far, it appears to be working. Players seem enthused, but it's only June and the true test won't come until the season starts in September.

"I see this program going in the right direction," receiver Anquan Boldin said. "I see guys walking a little different, coming out of the huddle with a little pep in their step."

In converting minds, Green is battling a formidable opponent: history. The Cardinals have had one winning season since 1984 and have won one playoff game since 1947.

It's hard to say whether his tactics are working yet. More players are working out at the facility in the off-season than in past years, but many aren't. The players do seem to have more energy and enthusiasm this off-season, which might stem from a lack of job security.

In June, Green cut five veterans, which caused a stir in the locker room. He has demoted starters and challenged several others to play better than they did during last year's 4-12 season.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Yogi Berra once said "Baseball is 90% mental -- the other half is physical." - It looks like Dennis Green would agree that the first step to creating a winning team is getting the players to believe they can win.

One winning season in 20 years and one playoff win in over 1/2 a century? Perhaps Anquan Boldin, Bryant Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Josh McCown can generate some excitement in the desert this season. That would be a big boost to the team - giving the fans something to cheer about.

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5. RB LaDainian Tomlinson: NFL's Top Back (Editorial)

Clipped from: SI/CNN.com editorial by Duane Cross, posted 6/28/04

There are many variables in determining the NFL's best all-around running back. It's an exercise in futility. Still the argument rages: Who is the best?

Look no further than LaDainian Tomlinson. Forget the Chargers' 4-12 record, the first pick in the draft (again) and all the other undesirables associated with San Diego. Tomlinson is, even if by the slightest of margins, the league's best all-around running back.

That fact should rankle those who contend San Diego "lost" in the deal after the Chargers traded the No. 1 pick in 2001 to Atlanta, which drafted Michael Vick. San Diego did not come out on the short end of the stick in that deal; Vick is not the league's premier quarterback -- but Tomlinson is the NFL's top running back.

Last season, Tomlinson was one of six running backs to rush for at least 1,500 yards, eclipsing the record of four established in 1979 and equaled in 2002. Yet despite playing behind a suspect offensive line, Tomlinson still managed to account for 46 percent of the Chargers' offense. His 18 touchdowns (13 rushing, four receiving, one passing) were 47 percent of the team's total.

Tomlinson has racked up 4,542 offensive yards the past two seasons, even after being held last year to two of the three lowest single-game totals in his career, 29 and 34 yards.

Yet he still cannot crack the American consciousness, much less a Pro Bowl roster.

"That just shows you what kind of respect we [the Chargers] have around the NFL, which is none," Tomlinson said of being snubbed last season. "If we want some, we've got to earn it ourselves. We've got to flat out, hands down, be better than other guys in stats. That's the way it's always going to be."

If that's the case -- being "better than other guys in stats" -- Tomlinson should have been the first back booking a flight to Hawaii. A look at Tomlinson's 2003 statistics in 17 categories reveals that he is overall the best of the best. Better than Priest Holmes. And Jamal Lewis. And any other running back by comparison.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

This editorial is a great read, and you can check out the 17 categories that the writer used in this analysis if you go to the SI/CNN site and click on the link in his article. We at Footballguys generally agree with the thesis that Tomlinson is the overall #1 RB in the NFL - he's also the #1 fantasy RB in the NFL, averaging a rank of 1.25 on our experts poll .

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6. Browns RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Steve King, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

What was a problem area has turned into a strength--as long as William Green bounces back from off-the-field issues that led to a suspension last season. His battle with Lee Suggs for the starting job will be the top competition in camp. Though Green is not as powerful as Suggs, he has more speed. Also, look for the Browns to pair Green and Suggs at times. No. 3 RB James Jackson is not in Green's or Suggs' class, but he has good quickness. Rookie Adimchinobe Echemandu, a small scatback, likely will take over as the third-down back for the departed Jamel White. Fullback also has become a strength with the signing of Terrelle Smith. He's a powerful lead blocker who could change the offense by letting the team have the running mind-set the coaches want. Backup Ben Miller isn't a powerful blocker but adds versatility.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

The notion that the RB position is an area of strength on the Browns is not necessarily true from a fantasy standpoint. We view this offensive backfield as one of the most evenly split RBBC in the NFL during the coming season, projecting 172/722/4 rushing and 15/90/0 receiving for Suggs, followed very closely by Green at 160/640/5 rushing and 16/104/0 receiving - dropping both backs out of the top 32 fantasy RBs for 2004 (#33 and #35, respectively). Neither player is likely to be suited to every-week duty on a fantasy squad, and both have limited upside thanks to the other's presence on the team. However, if Green melts down off the field again (given his checkered history, that's not a far-fetched scenario), Suggs would benefit mightily from a fantasy standpoint. The bottom line here is you shouldn't expend a high or even a high mid-round draft pick on either guy - and you should probably draft both players if you want the Browns' back on your team.

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7. Broncos RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Patrick Saunders, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

It's a wide-open race to replace Clinton Portis. Coach Mike Shanahan would love to have a stud emerge to handle 25 carries a game. The top contenders are Quentin Griffin and Mike Anderson. Griffin's quickness and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield make him a great weapon, but his lack of size (5-7, 198) raises questions about his ability to hold up and pick up tough yards. Anderson ran for 1,487 yards in 2000, but he has been a fullback the past two seasons. Speedy rookie Tatum Bell is a raw talent who was not impressive during minicamp. To be the starter, he must show he can run between the tackles. Garrison Hearst and Amhaad Galloway provide decent depth. If Anderson doesn't start at tailback, he'll play fullback and share time with Reuben Droughns. Both are good lead blockers; Droughns is a better receiver.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

In this wide-open field, opinions as to who will emerge as the Bronco's top ball carrier vary widely among fantasy experts. In fact, none of the Denver backs were selected during the first 4 rounds of either of the Footballguys' Survivor Commentary Drafts - indicating the level of uncertainty surrounding this camp battle. Some say Griffin has the inside track, some say Anderson - some say Bell will emerge during training camp. As Denver rushed the ball 543 times for 2629 yards (2nd-most in the NFL) and 20 TDs last season, some lucky fantasy owner will win the Denver-starting-RB lottery and walk away with a player that significantly out-produces his draft position - as long as coach Shanahan doesn't employ an ultra-RBBC system this season...

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8. Bills RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Allen Wilson, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

Travis Henry and Willis McGahee have good size, strength and playmaking ability. Henry is a tough and durable runner with great vision, balance and a knack for breaking tackles. He lacks great outside speed but runs with power and burst between the tackles. The Bills hope McGahee will regain the explosive speed, power and elusiveness that made him an exciting prospect before he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for more than a year. Joe Burns and rookie Shaud Williams are vying for the third running back spot. FB Daimon Shelton is a physical blocker with good size. He's not a great runner or receiver but gives maximum effort in both areas.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

As far as we're concerned, Travis Henry has the top job to lose - and we expect him to maintain his hold as the Bill's featured back in 2004. Henry is projected to be the 12th fantasy RB in the land this year, with an expectation of 300/1245/10 rushing and 32/208/1 receiving, while McGahee learns the pro game and amasses 115/460/3 and 14/90/0 in a spot-duty/relief role. Go Here to see all our RB projections, sorted by team.

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9. Bengals RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Chick Ludwig, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

Rudi Johnson, who took over as the starter after the Corey Dillon trade, is a punishing, durable inside runner. He seems to get stronger as a game goes on and is quick enough to get outside but lacks breakaway speed. Rookie Chris Perry is an ideal complement to Johnson. Perry is an inside-outside threat who can make defenders miss, and he will be used as a check down receiver on third downs. Kenny Watson has worked hard to improve and is leading the race for the No. 3 spot. FB Jeremi Johnson is an excellent drive blocker and could play a larger role this year as a runner in short-yardage situations

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

We expect Rudi Johnson to be the man in Cincinnati this season, with 285/1197/9 rushing and 30/204/0 receiving. Chris Perry will get his feet wet as he gets baptized into the NFL, wringing 80/304/2 rushing and 11/77/0 receiving out of his debut season. Hopefully the FB Johnson doesn't steal away a whole bunch of Rudi Johnson's goal-line carries - keep an eye on that dynamic during the pre-season if you are a Rudi Johnson owner.

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10. Ravens RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Mike Preston, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

Jamal Lewis is one of the NFL's premier backs. He's a power runner who can carry a big load and wear down defenses, but he also has the speed to get outside and break long runs. Lewis has legal issues, and the team will be in trouble if he can't play. Musa Smith has the potential to develop into a high-quality starter. He has good speed and power but is raw. Lewis and Smith need to fumble less. Chester Taylor is the third-down back. He is a slasher who has great hands out of the backfield. He needs to be spotted, though, because he tends to wear down. Alan Ricard is an elite fullback. He's a good blocker and effective as a runner on quick dives up the middle.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Assuming Lewis is cleared of the pending charges against him (to be determined in August, most likely), we expect him to remain among the fantasy elite in 2004. How does 345/1553/11 rushing and 28/238/1 receiving grab you? We want to see him cleared to go before we spend a first round pick on him though.

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11. Buccaneers RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Roy Cummings, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

Charlie Garner is coming off knee surgery, but the team is confident he can regain the form he displayed in 2002, when he gained more than 900 yards both rushing and receiving. If the team limits Garner's touches to about 15 per game, he should be a greater force than Michael Pittman. Pittman is suspended for the first three games of the season, but Jamel White appears to be a solid replacement. White has good quickness, speed and hands, but he lacks durability. FBs Mike Alstott and Greg Comella are playmakers but neither is outstanding as a lead blocker. Alstott's recovery from neck surgery might limit his ability to plow into the line with his customary authority.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

As the write-up indicates, there are a lot of "ifs" surrounding the Buccaneers backs heading into 2004. If the OL can play better, the team might score more than 5 rushing TDs (the total of rushing TDs scored in 2003). If Garner's knee fully recovers, he might see 15 touches per game. If White can stay healthy, he'll be an adequate replacement for Pittman during the first 3 games of the season. If Alstott's neck isn't better, then he may be limited in effectiveness. This is perhaps the ugliest RBBC in the NFL this season, folks - at least that's how it looks in late June.

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12. Rams' RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Jim Thomas, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

The big question is how much the Rams will get from Marshall Faulk. Faulk still can be a workhorse for a short stretch, but it would be foolish to count on him for 20 carries per game. First-round pick Steven Jackson has good receiving skills and, though he's more of a power runner than Faulk, can turn the corner. Look for the team to devise some two-back sets to make use of both players. Lamar Gordon, set back by injury problems in the past, might have missed his chance to be Faulk's successor. Joey Goodspeed and Arlen Harris will compete at fullback. Goodspeed is a decent blocker and pass catcher; Harris, a converted running back, is tough but undersized (5-10, 225).

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

There are some chilling words there for Marshall Faulk fans (he's the 12th ranked fantasy RB according to our experts' poll). When you are selecting your #1 RB, you want at least 20 carries a game every game for 16 games that season. We see Faulk at 230/966/10 rushing and 63/422/2 receiving as of 6/21/04, making him our 13th ranked fantasy RB as of late June. Those are respectable numbers, but not top-tier any longer. The bottom line here is that sentiment may lead a person to view Faulk as an elite fantasy RB when the reality is he's dropping into RB #2 range - let somebody else overpay for him in your league's fantasy draft.

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13. 49ers RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Cam Inman, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

After splitting time with Garrison Hearst in his first three seasons, Kevan Barlow is the feature back. He has a physical style, and he prepared for a bigger role by committing to an intense offseason program at the team's facility. Fumbling and blocking blitzing defenders are concerns, but Barlow is a solid pass catcher. Jamal Robertson's quick feet and elusiveness have him poised to be Barlow's backup, but he needs to work on his receiving skills. Terry Jackson, a mainstay on special teams, impressed coaches in minicamps and should be a key contributor on offense. FB Fred Beasley, arguably the NFL's best lead blocker, will have to adjust to playing without Hearst, his best friend, and playing with Barlow, with whom he's had some off-field conflicts.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

One concern here for Barlow boosters has to be the poor relationship between lead-blocker Beasley and Barlow. They simply don't like each other, and even though they are professional players, the chemistry between them is downright bad. Beasley has been a public detractor of Barlow for a long time - that can't be good for team morale. Another concern is the very young and inexperienced WR corps that is going to completely miss out on reps with the starting QB - perhaps until the start of regular season or even beyond due to Tim Rattay's groin injury. Opposing teams will be able to key on the running game and dare the 49'ers to defeat them through the air, until the 49ers prove they have a legitimate air attack. Even facing all these difficulties, Barlow is finally going to be the unquestioned featured back in this attack - and someone has to gain a few yards for the rebuilding club. We project Barlow to make good on his opportunity, with 312/1357/8 rushing and 50/400/2 receiving - but don't expect it to be easy.

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14. Seahawks RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Claire Farnsworth, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

At the urging of the coaches, Pro Bowl RB Shaun Alexander has altered his gliding style and is hitting the hole more quickly and aggressively. He is a reliable receiver but must improve his blitz pickups. The team likes to spell Alexander with a back who provides a change of pace. Maurice Morris is faster and more elusive than Alexander and has been the No. 2 back the past two seasons. He has had injury problems, though, and will be pushed by Kerry Carter, who is a powerful runner and a receiving threat. FB Mack Strong had his most productive season last year as a receiver and runner, but his strength is as a lead blocker.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

This is as clear-cut a fantasy RB situation as you can hope to find. Alexander is the featured back on a rising offense with a solid OL, almost-elite QB, and a talented WR corps. We see 310/1302/13 rushing and 46/345/2 receiving in Alexander's future.

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15. Saints RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Jeff Duncan, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

Deuce McAllister has emerged as one of the league's most complete backs. He has the rare combination of breakaway speed and a power back's body. McAllister will work mostly out of one-back sets this season, so he'll need to be more elusive without a lead blocker. That's why coaches want his weight in the low 230s, down from 238 last season. The team needs to use backups Aaron Stecker and Lamar Smith more to lighten McAllister's load. Stecker isn't big enough to play every down, but he's versatile and can make plays in the passing game. Losing free-agent FB Terrelle Smith was the biggest blow of the offseason. Rookie Mike Karney has the inside track on the starting job, but he's not very agile and needs to finish blocks better. Veteran Sam Gash underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is a long shot to make the roster.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

McAllister is a consensus top-5 fantasy RB according to almost every observer. We see him breaking the 2,000 total yards barrier in 2004, with 340/1530/12 rushing and 64/512/2 receiving - he's one of the guys to build a fantasy franchise around, if you are lucky enough to have a shot at drafting him.

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16. Cardinals RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Kent Somers, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

Emmitt Smith, 35, is the starter, but the days of him averaging 20 or so carries for 16 games are over. He still shows flashes of the instincts and agility that made him the NFL's all-time leading rusher. Marcel Shipp again has been demoted in favor of Smith; coach Dennis Green believes Smith is better suited to the three-receiver, one-back set the Cards will use most of the time. Green is intrigued by Josh Scobey, who could beat out Damien Anderson for the No. 3 spot. Scobey is the team's fastest back and an effective kick returner. The fullback is less important in Green's system. That puts James Hodgins' job in jeopardy. Hodgins catches the ball well, but his forte is blocking.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Another RBBC rears its ugly head, as Marcel Shipp has done just enough in mini-camps to fall into disfavor and lose his job to the elderly Smith. In the end, we think Shipp will carry the ball more than Smith, but with unimpressive fantasy results (190/722/3 rushing and 29/191/1 receiving, while Smith manages 105/347/3 rushing and 8/52/0). Neither guy should be your squad's #1 or #2 RB, and look high and low for other options before choosing either for your #3, as well.

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17. Cowboys RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Jean-Jacques Taylor, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

Rookie Julius Jones has excellent speed and quickness and is powerful enough to be good on short-yardage plays. With Jones, the team hopes it can play the ball-control style Parcells prefers. Jones has good hands, and the team will try to get him the ball on screens and in the flat to take advantage of his ability to make plays in space. Richie Anderson, the starting fullback in 2003, will play a lot more at halfback. He will be used on third down and get four to six carries per game. Jamar Martin and Darian Barnes are the leading options at fullback. Parcells puts a lot of emphasis on having his fullbacks catch the ball and play on special teams. Martin is an excellent blocker but has suspect hands and is below average on special teams. Barnes is a good blocker, has average hands and is solid on special teams.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Julius Jones comes into a high-profile, high-pressure situation in Dallas, as the team's rushing attack is squarely on his shoulders - a situation that fantasy owners love to see for a RB. We think he will do a decent job in his inaugural season, with 290/1187/7 rushing and 8/53/0 receiving (we see Richie Anderson snagging most of the passes, with 50/215/1 rushing but 46/313/2 receiving). He is a marginal #2 fantasy RB or a really strong #3 option for leagues that have the standard 12 team array of franchises.

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18. Giants RB Analysis

Clipped from: Foxsports/Sporting News article by Neil Best, 6/28/04

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS

Tiki Barber is the team's most versatile weapon, but the staff is determined to use him judiciously. That means a return to the role he played brilliantly in 2000 as a receiver and outside running threat. The key is Ron Dayne, who didn't play a down in 2003. If Dayne can be productive as an inside runner, the entire offense will benefit. But Dayne must prove he can hit holes quickly. Undersized Delvin Joyce has showed little in the offense, but his return ability could secure him a roster spot. Antwoine Womack displays promise as a receiver. FB Jim Finn had his moments in 2003, but he isn't an elite blocker, and it's unclear how big of a role the fullback will have in the offense.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Haven't we already seen the Ron Dayne experiment fail miserably in the Thunder-and-Lightning days? He has averaged 3.5 yards per carry over his career (maxing out at 3.8 yards per carry in 2001). But his burst to-and-out-of the hole is unimpressive, to say the least. However, Coach Coughlin more-or-less successfully combined Stacey Mack and Fred Taylor for a few years down in Jacksonville, so perhaps he knows something the rest of us don't. In Mack's most successful seasons, he punched in 9 rushing TDs (2 times), and averaged over 4.0 yards per carry - something Dayne has never done. With a shaky OL in front of Barber and Dayne, things could get ugly in New York very quickly this season as far as the ground game is concerned. There will be double trouble if neither Manning nor Warner can grab the bull by the horns at QB...

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19. TE McMichael Jailed for Assaulting Wife

Clipped from: PalmBeachPost AP article, 6/28/04

Miami Dolphins tight end Randy McMicha

el was arrested Tuesday for allegedly hitting his pregnant wife.

McMichael was charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant woman, a second-degree felony that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, Broward County sheriff's officials said.

His wife, Cawanna McMichael, was also arrested on a domestic battery charge stemming from the early Tuesday morning fight at their home. Both remained in Broward County Jail without bond Tuesday, and it was unknown when they would make their first court appearance.

The Dolphins had no immediate comment. A team spokesman said general manager Rick Spielman and coach Dave Wannstedt were vacationing Tuesday and not readily available.

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Obviously, this is ugly - how it will impact the 2004 season is secondary, at this point. Hopefully, the baby is unharmed. Neither "adult" was seriously injured.

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20. Packers Extend WR Robert Ferguson Through 2008

Clipped from: SI / AP article, 6/29/04

The Green Bay Packers signed wide receiver Robert Ferguson to a five-year contract extension Tuesday.

Ferguson, the Packers' second-round pick in the 2001 draft, started 12 games in 2003. He had 38 catches for 520 yards and four touchdowns and caught two TD passes in the team's loss to Philadelphia in the playoffs.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Andrew Brandt, the team's chief negotiator, would say only that the contract was for five years, and Ferguson's representatives refused to discuss details of the deal.

"Robert doesn't want terms disclosed. He's a very quiet, unassuming guy and we have to respect his wishes," said Eric Overstreet, whose brother and business associate, Brian Overstreet, is Ferguson's agent.

With his extension, the Packers now have quarterback Brett Favre's trio of targets, including Donald Driver and Javon Walker, signed through at least 2006.

"We're glad that our top three is under contract at least three more years, and maybe Brett Favre's glad, too," Brandt said.

Ferguson was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The sides began discussing an extension in early May.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Walker led the club in 2003 (in fantasy terms) with 41/716/9, while Driver caught more balls (52) for less yardage and TDs (621 and 2, respectively). Ferguson made a decent contribution with 38/520/4. This year, we expect to see Favre hit Walker and Driver roughly the same number of times (56 vs. 52 receptions), but see Walker as the more valuable fantasy play (862 yards and 6 TDs, vs. 660/4 for Driver). Ferguson projects to be almost as valuable as Driver, with 44/590/5. Go here to see all our WR projections, sorted by team .

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21. CFL Games to be Shown On NFL Network

Clipped from: GoPBI.com AP article, 6/29/04

"The Canadian Football League is in a new and stronger position," CFL commissioner Tom Wright said in a statement. "We look forward to the continued development of our game in Canada with recent solid results as our foundation."

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue agreed.

"We support the CFL and its unique role in Canada, and share its goal of strengthening the interest and support of football among Canadians," he said in a statement. "As partners we have worked successfully to strengthen the sport of football in Canada, and the NFL looks forward to working with the CFL to build on these programs."

Under terms of the new agreement, NFL teams will still be able to sign CFL players entering their option year through the 2006 season. As in the past, those players aren't eligible for allocation to NFL Europe.

The NFL also will provide exposure for live CFL games, including the Grey Cup on a non-exclusive basis, through the NFL Network.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

This news means that the CFL will continue to be a sort of "farm" or "minor-league" system for the NFL, and that we'll get a chance to watch Canadian-Rules football in the U.S.A. (if you get the NFL Network).

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22. IDP Alert: Texans Claim Former Vike CB Kelly Off Waivers

Clipped from: ESPN.com article by Len Pasquarelli, 6/29/04

Moving to further strengthen a secondary that will undergo some changes this season, the Texans have claimed former Vikings cornerback Eric Kelly on waivers.

Kelly, 27, could compete with two-year veteran DeMarcus Faggins for the nickel spot in the secondary and, at worst, provides the Texans the luxury of an experienced corner at the No. 4 spot on the depth chart. Veteran Aaron Glenn and first-round draft choice Dunta Robinson are the projected starting corners. Former starter Marcus Coleman is moving to free safety this year.

Originally a third-round choice out of Kentucky in '01, Kelly started 23 games for the Vikings during his first two seasons. But in 2003, with Minnesota coaches making changes in the secondary, his role changed and he became a nickel defender and special teams player. Despite playing in all 16 games in 2003, Kelly logged no starts.

He re-signed with the Vikings as a restricted free agent, getting a one-year contract for the low-level qualifying offer of $628,000, but was released on June 18. The Texans will assume that contract.

Kelly had requested his release when the Vikings staff promoted second-year pro Rushen Jones ahead of him to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. His release came one week after he asked coach Mike Tice to cut him free.

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Kelly may not be a starter in Houston to begin the season, but given the prevalence of injuries in the NFL, it's always good to know who is next in line at each position.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Have a great Wednesday and we'll see you tomorrow with the update.

Joe

*******************
Joe Bryant
Owner www.footballguys.com
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