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Volume 6, Issue 5 (Wednesday, April 13th)

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This Email Update is brought to you by our friends at the World
Championship of Fantasy Football who are now taking reservations for
the 2005 WCOFF -- and they are selling out fast!  If you're a fantasy
football junkie who wants to compete for some of the most prestigious
awards and highest prizes in fantasy football, go to wcoff.com right
now and pre-register for the 2005 WCOFF.  I've been to the WCOFF draft
in Las Vegas and it's a fantastic event. Check out the WCOFF.com web
site TODAY, before they sell out!

Joe's Note – Big congrats to Footballguy Subscriber Ronnie Gregg of
Plymouth Florida who won the autographed Marvin Harrison football from
the WCOFF contest.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

Big news for Footballguys – We'll be on the magazine newsstands this
summer with our Footballguys Strategy Guide. It'll be 228 pages jam
packed with the kind of in depth player review, drafting strategy, and
serious analysis, plus a lot more. The magazine will have nationwide
distribution with premium retailers like Barnes and Noble and Borders.
We also have a few advertising opportunities still available in the
magazine. We've got some creative ways to combine promotion in our
magazine and also on the website. If you'd like some information on
promoting your company or product to the highly desirable demographic
group of serious Football junkies, please shoot our Advertising
Director, Mark Wimer an email at wimer@footballguys.com   We'll keep
you posted on the magazine.

In the meantime, here are the latest NFL stories over the last couple
of weeks. The Draft is just around the corner and there will be a
flurry of activity involved with that soon. What we'll do for you here
is keep our readers up to date on all the Football news that's
happening. Thanks to our Mark Wimer for rounding up these stories.
Have a great week and I'll see you soon.

Joe

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. T.O.: Contract Squabble with Eagles Looming?
2. TE Shockey: Focused on Giants? (Commentary)
3. Texans' Skill Players: WR Bradford, RB Wells Re-Sign
4. RB Dillon: Contract Extension with Patriots
5. RB Bettis: Decides to Play
6. Pit WR Wilson: Loves His New QB, Big Ben
7. QB Manning and the Colts: OTAs Ongoing (Includes Training Camp Schedule)
8. RB Henry: Waiting for a Deal to Get Out of Buffalo
9. QB Ramsey: Ready to Lead Redskins O
10. WR Santana Moss: Not in Voluntary Workouts With New Team
11. Bears: Options in Draft to Replace A-Train (Commentary)
12. QB McNair: Plans to Play in 2005
13. #1 Pick in the Draft: QB Smith, Rodgers, WR Edwards, CB Rolle the Finalists
14. IDP: KC LBs Thin; Injured – Beisel to NE, Fujita Injured
15. IDP: Redskins' LB Arrington Concerned About Recovery
16. IDP: S Arturo Freeman to Packers
17. IDP: LB Polley to Ravens

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

1. T.O.: Contract Squabble with Eagles Looming?

Clipped from: Philadelphia Inquirer article by Bob Brookover, 4/12/05

…Owens said he fully intends to be back with the Eagles in 2005, but
was noncommittal about whether he would attend the team's minicamp at
the NovaCare Complex the weekend after the April 23-24 NFL draft.

"At this point, I don't have a clue about anything like that," he said.

Owens threw the Eagles a curveball last week when he informed them
that he had replaced his longtime agent, David Joseph, with Rosenhaus,
who represents some of the biggest names in football. Predictably,
Rosenhaus' first act as Owens' agent was to meet with the Eagles on
Wednesday in an initial attempt to rework the seven-year deal his
client signed after being traded to the team in March 2004.

The Eagles have made it clear that they have no intention of modifying
Owens' contract.
"As of right now, I'm a Philadelphia Eagle, and that's where I want to
remain," Owens said. "I had one of my best years there, so why would I
want to leave? I just want the fans to know this is nothing personal.
It's business."

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

Whether you like TO or not, it's pretty clear this marks the end of
the "honeymoon". That's fine as it was one heck of a good honeymoon.
Owens is obviously a brilliant wide receiver with explosive fantasy
potential. However, this is probably something worth keeping an eye
on. It'll likely blow over but there are more than a few people that
have always predicted things won't stay rosy in Philadelphia forever.
It doesn't appear that the Eagles will budge on this one. Let's see
what effect, if any that has on Owens.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

2. TE Shockey: Focused on Giants? (Commentary)

Clipped from: Newsday.com article by Jon Heyman, 4/10/05

Supposed Giants tough guy Tom Coughlin continues to let no-show tight
end Jeremy Shockey do what he wants, which is often the absolute
minimum. Coughlin never takes on Shockey, who's skipped the first
three weeks of the offseason program without a note.

When your team wins 10 games in two seasons and you score 10
touchdowns in three, you're set, I guess. Why lift a finger? Why
practice with the team? Why get accustomed to Eli Manning's passes?

It's obvious by now, Shockey cares more about hooking up with Tara
Reid than Manning.

While Manning publicly voiced disappointment over Shockey's extended
absence, Coughlin has stayed silent. He's the classic bully. He picks
on media members, backups and deposed coaches, not on stars like
Shockey.

GM Ernie Accorsi pointed out that league rules make the program
optional. Yet Accorsi allowed, "You prefer him to be here."

Accorsi said he's been assured that Shockey is working hard in a setup
of Floridian athletes. "He's not laying under a palm tree in Miami, I
can tell you that," he said.

Shockey's absence had nothing to do with the tight end's
dissatisfaction with last year's offensive strategy or with New York,
Accorsi insisted. "As you can tell from the non-sports pages," he
said, "[Shockey] enjoys living in New York."

Unfortunately, that's where Shockey's made his mark so far - on the
"non-sports" pages.

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

Shockey's 2004 performance – 61 receptions for 666 yards and 6 TDs –
put him at #6 on the fantasy TE board. It wasn't the top 3 finish that
many projected for the TE, but it wasn't a disastrous season, either.
However, annoying coach Coughlin by sitting out the voluntary workouts
may not be the best plan in the world. A lot will depend on what kind
of shape Shockey is in when he reports for training camp.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

3. Texans' Skill Players: WR Bradford, RB Wells Re-Sign

Clipped from: Houston Chronicle article by Carlton Thompson, 4/12/05

After surveying the NFL landscape, Bradford discovered his best fit
was in Houston, and he replanted his flag with the Texans on Monday by
agreeing to a one-year contract worth $800,000, including a $150,000
signing bonus.

Bradford, a seven-year veteran who led the team with a career-best 697
receiving yards in 2002, saw his role reduced after the Texans
selected Andre Johnson with the third overall pick of the 2003 draft.
Bradford caught just 51 passes for 859 yards over the past two seasons
combined.

The Texans were not overly aggressive in their attempts to re-sign
Bradford, and the 29-year-old receiver seemed determined to test the
market.

Bradford visited the Lions and Giants before focusing his attention on
re-signing here.

"The Texans had a better record last year than the teams I was looking
at," Bradford said. "We've gotten better every year, and I think this
is the year we're going to do it — the playoffs and everything. This
is going to be that year, and I'd like to be a part of that."…

…The Texans also re-signed restricted free-agent running back Jonathan
Wells, who led the team in rushing yards in 2002.

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

Both players aren't big contributors at this point, but given the
frequency of injuries in the NFL, it's worthwhile to note who is next
in line at the skill positions.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

4. RB Dillon: Contract Extension with Patriots

Clipped from: Boston Herald article by Michael Felger, 4/12/05

Dillon's agent, Steve Feldman, announced yesterday that Dillon and the
Pats have agreed on a two-year, $10 million guaranteed extension that
could stretch to as long as five years and be worth as much as $25
million.

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

Dillon is a top-shelf fantasy back at this point, and he's got some
security with this deal. That should allow him to concentrate on doing
what he does best – rushing the football.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

5. RB Bettis: Decides to Play

Clipped from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Ed Bouchette, 4/9/05

Five weeks after he said he was not sure he wanted to play football
again, Jerome Bettis apparently has decided he will.

Bettis, making an appearance in Philadelphia yesterday to promote
asthma awareness, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he plans to play
for the Steelers in 2005 after wavering about his decision since the
end of last season.

"My body didn't feel good after the season," Bettis told the
newspaper. "I felt pretty rough. It was difficult for me. As the days
went by, my body started to recover, and I felt better.

"My love for the game hadn't wavered. It was a situation where I'd be
doing myself a disservice if I retired, because I wanted to try to win
a championship."

Bettis could not be reached for further comment, but the Steelers
begin their unofficial workout sessions Monday in Pittsburgh, and they
expect he will attend. He signed a renegotiated contract before free
agency began March 2 that will pay him $1.5 million. It contains a
$100,000 workout bonus if he meets certain requirements this spring
that include participation in the drills and making periodic weight
limits.

Early last month, Bettis said he probably would let the Steelers'
coaching staff know by June 1 of his plans to play this season or not.
Coach Bill Cowher, though, has planned on him being there.

"I think his mindset is that he wants to come back," Cowher said two
weeks ago at the NFL meetings in Maui.

Bettis likely will remain the backup to Duce Staley, who started the
first seven games at running back before a hamstring injury prompted
Cowher to turn the job over to Bettis.
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Even when Staley was healthy, Bettis was used extensively in goal-line
situations, making him a valuable player in basic-scoring leagues.
Staley owners would be wise to protect themselves with Bettis, in case
we see a repeat of 2004 this year.  For another story on Bettis' first
day at OTA's, click here:

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

6. Pit WR Wilson: Loves His New QB, Big Ben

Clipped from: Tribune-Review article by Joe Bendel, 4/12/05

Cedrick Wilson tried to keep from gushing over Ben Roethlisberger on
Monday, but the new Steelers receiver could not control himself after
a voluntary workout at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.

He is clearly aboard the Big Ben bandwagon.

"Wow, that guy ," Wilson said. "I don't want to say anything bad
(about other quarterbacks), but the truth is, I never had the type of
talent at quarterback that Ben brings to the table. He's an awesome
guy. He's an awesome player. I've been watching him on film a lot and
watching him scramble out of the pocket. Being a big guy and being
able to do scramble like that, it's like, 'Wow.' He definitely brings
a lot to the table."

Wilson, a free-agent acquisition from San Francisco who signed a
four-year, $8 million contract three weeks ago, has spent the past two
weeks working with Roethlisberger and wideout Lee Mays on the South
Side. He was one of several players, including running back Jerome
Bettis, who participated in the first day of voluntary workouts.

Wilson, who fills a void left by the free-agent departure of Plaxico
Burress to the New York Giants, is looking to build on a 2004 season,
his fourth in the league, in which he grabbed a career-high 47 passes
for 641 yards with three touchdowns.

He'll compete against Antwaan Randle El for a starting job opposite
Hines Ward, and could win the job as the team's third receiver. Each
day he spends with Roethlisberger increases his chances of excelling
next fall, according to Wilson.

"It's very important," Wilson said of building camaraderie with
Roethlisberger. "When I first met Jerome Bettis, he was like, 'It's
going to be very important for you to build a relationship off the
field with Ben.' And Ben knows that and I know that. I played
quarterback in high school and my receivers, the guys I threw the ball
to all the time and count on, we used to do those things."

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

Wilson and Randle-El will battle for the #2 spot as the pre-season
progresses – one of them is likely to be a worthwhile fantasy starter
in 2005. Keep an eye on this contest as training camp progresses.
Wilson is doing his part to win the confidence of Roethlisberger…

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

7. QB Manning and the Colts: OTAs Ongoing (Includes Training Camp Schedule)

Clipped from: Indianapolis Star article by Mike Chappell, 4/12/05

Manning and the Colts are into the second week of their offseason
conditioning program at the Union Federal Football Center. There is
time for an occasional round of golf -- Manning and wide receiver
Brandon Stokley played Monday afternoon -- but the focus is on what
Manning describes as "my day job."

The league's labor agreement with its players limits offseason
conditioning programs to four days a week, four hours per day. Pads
and group activity are not allowed. All on-field drills, in two-hour
segments, are restricted to positional work.

The program is voluntary, but participation is heavy.

"Most of our guys are here," coach Tony Dungy said. "Everybody will be
here for some part of it."

The Colts' offseason regimen includes a three-day minicamp for rookies
(April 29-May 1), a mandatory three-day full-squad minicamp (May
20-22) and a 14-day summer school that begins May 16. Training camp
opens July 27. The site has yet to be determined, but it appears the
Colts will return to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre
Haute, Ind., for a seventh consecutive summer.

The importance of putting in the time in April, May and June isn't
lost on Dungy.
"The two places I've been, we've had very good attendance," he said,
referring to his six-year stint at Tampa Bay that preceded him being
named the Colts' coach in 2002. "We've gotten things done.

"It's made us a better team because I believe there is a tie-in. The
more guys you have here (in the offseason) and the more often they're
here, probably the better you do the next year."

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

This isn't shocking news. Manning attributes much of his success to
his tight focus on football and his work ethic – he is constantly
working to improve his game. You can see the same type of effort (and
results) in players across the league.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

8. RB Henry: Waiting for a Deal to Get Out of Buffalo

Clipped from: Buffalo News article by Mark Gaughan, 4/10/05

…But it's not easy for him to be patient when he's hoping for the
trigger to be pulled on a deal sending him to Arizona for tackle L.J.
Shelton.

"I don't understand why the deal hasn't been made," Henry said. "My
understanding is Arizona wants to do it player for player. There's no
other holdup on their end. They don't want anything else."

Henry was referring to a comment Bills President and General Manager
Tom Donahoe made in a radio interview two weeks ago about the Cards,
at one point, seeking more in return than just Henry.

Henry likely will be on edge the next couple of weeks. There's plenty
of posturing to be done before a trade is made. This is a deal that
still has a chance to be made, but the likeliest time would be on
draft day, when the NFL teams are on the draft clock.

Here's why it would make sense for Arizona. The Cardinals are a 6-10
team that has numerous holes. Filling its gaping running back void
would allow it to address other gaps, such as cornerback, tight end,
offensive tackle and defensive tackle. Arizona traded No. 1 corner
Duane Starks, and No. 2 David Macklin is ordinary at best.

While Arizona could get one of the top three elite running backs in
the draft when it picks No. 8 overall, teams usually can get better
value with a big man or a cornerback in the first 10 picks.

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

Obviously, Travis Henry in Arizona would be a lot more interesting as
a fantasy prospect than Travis Henry stuck behind Willis McGahee in
Buffalo, as is the current situation. If the trade happens, Henry
figures to see a lot of work with the Cardinals, now that Emmitt Smith
has retired. Stay tuned.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

9. QB Ramsey: Ready to Lead Redskins

Clipped from: Washington Times article by David Elfin, 4/7/05

Last April, Ramsey was still recovering from foot surgery, had lost
his starting job to Mark Brunell and didn't know the new coaches or
their offense. Today Ramsey is healthy, the Redskins' unquestioned No.
1 quarterback and well-versed in coach Joe Gibbs' system.

"It gives you a different mind-set," Ramsey said after a workout at
Redskin Park. "I don't think in any way it's a situation where I don't
need to continue to earn it, continue to improve. I want this to be a
big year, not only for myself but more importantly for this team, this
organization."
After a relaxing 10 weeks hunting, fishing and hanging out with family
back home in Louisiana, Ramsey returned to Washington on March 21 for
the start of offseason work.

"Hopefully, I can make a bigger jump [than between his rookie and
second years] because I've had three seasons to develop," Ramsey said.
"You see the game. You kind of can anticipate a blitz or where it's
coming from. You know how to study film. You know how to react in a
ballgame."

The Redskins were just 3-4 after Ramsey regained his job from Brunell
in November, but three of the losses were to NFC champion Philadelphia
and AFC runner-up Pittsburgh. Ramsey connected on 65 percent of his
passes for 1,313 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions and
proved to Gibbs that he should be the man in 2005.

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

Ramsey was certainly an improvement over mega-bust FA Mark Brunell.
However, it remains to be seen how explosive their passing game will
be with Laveranues Coles in New York and AWOL newcomer Santana Moss
(see next story) shagging Ramsey's passes. Keep an eye on how the
Redskins' offense jells during the pre-season.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

10. WR Santana Moss: Not in Voluntary Workouts With New Team

Clipped from: Washington Post article by Jason La Canfora, 4/8/05

The Redskins traded top wide receiver Laveranues Coles to the Jets,
and took a $9 million salary cap hit in the process, to land Moss, who
has yet to show up at Redskins Park as the third week of offseason
work comes to a close. Although these workouts are voluntary, Moss's
absence is unexcused and tied to Washington's inability to agree to a
long-term contract with him, Coach Joe Gibbs said. Moss, 25, had one
season worth $450,000 left on his current deal.

Safety Sean Taylor, 22, who is seeking to renegotiate his rookie
contract, is also missing the sessions and both players are working
out with other former University of Miami players in south Florida,
according to teammates. Both players are represented by agent Drew
Rosenhaus, who has declined to comment on either situation.

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

It's never an easy thing to learn a new offense, and Moss will be
behind the curve due to missing opportunities to develop chemistry
with Patrick Ramsey. Hopefully, his situation is wrapped up soon. Stay
tuned.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

11. Bears: Options in Draft to Replace A-Train (Commentary)

Clipped from: Daily Southtown article by Gene Chamberlain, 4/12/05

There should be plenty of nice consolation prizes among the running
backs in this year's NFL draft.

The back the Bears really covet as a replacement for backup Anthony
"A-Train" Thomas isn't likely to be available when they draft at No. 4
overall in Round 1. But even if Auburn's versatile Ronnie Brown goes
to Miami with the No. 2 pick as expected, the Bears could still opt
for a ball carrier because the next-best rushers also can shift into
high gear.

Brown's teammate, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, and Texas' Cedric
Benson both rate highly enough on most draft boards that they should
make the Bears at least pause without automatically tabbing a wide
receiver.

Selecting Benson might concern some Bears fans. In 2002, he was
charged with possession of less than two ounces of marijuana and being
a minor in possession of alcohol. Charges were later dropped, but the
situation could remind fans of Rashaan Salaam, the Bears' 1995
first-rounder who eventually went bust.

"There's no such thing as perfect," Benson said of his transgression.
"Who makes it through college without anything on their record? I
think the most important thing would be me learning a lesson from it.
I've learned and moved on from it."

Benson also fumbled seven times in a three-game stretch last year.
Salaam also had a penchant for fumbling.

But it would be difficult not to fumble given all the carries Benson
made. He's by far the best workhorse and most accomplished back among
those deemed as first-rounders: He rushed for 100 or more yards 25
times in his career, ranks sixth in NCAA rushing yards with 5,540 and
had a whopping 609 carries over his final two seasons.

"I think what I've done on the field speaks for itself," he said.
"There are a lot of great backs coming out, so I can't just say I'm
the best back coming out this year. But I've done a lot of good
things."

Benson must constantly try to convince personnel types he's serious
about football because some perceive him as a Ricky Williams clone. He
went to Texas, has a similar powerful running style and has the
marijuana charge to explain. He also had dreadlocks like Williams, but
no longer does.

Another red flag: He played pro baseball for two seasons in the
Dodgers' organization.

"I gave up baseball for (football)," Benson said. "That says a lot. I
made a dedication to the university and my team and I wanted to play
football. I've put baseball behind me.

"They were paying me at the time. I put the money behind me and
everything and dedicated myself to football."

As for Williams, if he is a Cadillac, then he was a smallish model by
season's end. He was down to 205 pounds before bulking up to 213 for
the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

"That was a concern with most scouts," he said. "With me being 205,
they felt I was an undersized guy and wondered if I could carry the
load. So I just bulked up a little bit and showed them I can gain
weight."

Williams also lacks experience in the passing game.

"That's one of the main reasons I went to the Senior Bowl," he said.
"Teams really didn't know if I could catch, and I dropped a few here
and there, so my hands were a big question mark. So I went down to the
Senior Bowl and did a good job, and hopefully I can continue to show
them I have good hands."

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo says depth at the position makes
running back the best position in the draft. That means the Bears
could easily find one with their second pick, the 39th overall and
seventh in Round 2.

There's Florida's Ciatrick Fason, for example. He wouldn't mind
joining former teammates in Chicago.

"We've got a lot of Gators on the Bears," he said, referring to Rex
Grossman, Alex Brown, Todd Johnson and Ian Scott.

At 6-foot, Fason compares himself to long strider Shaun Alexander of
Seattle. But he has idolized late Bears legend Walter Payton.

"I've always tried to do the things that Walter Payton's done," he
said. "I think the way Walter Payton ran the ball, never going out of
bounds, just his toughness. He had the heart.

"I always tried to match myself and try to be better than Walter Payton was."

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

The article touches on some of the questions that Benson and Williams
have – Benson's legal troubles in college (marijuana and
alcohol-related arrests), Williams' size and lack of experience in the
passing game. Let's not forget that Thomas Jones is still a Bear, too
– if either rookie ends up in Chicago, they'll have to deal with him
this season. As a side note, the article mention's Florida's Ciatrick
Fason who seems to be getting a lot of notice lately. Sporting News'
Dan Pompei recently mentioned him as a potential "find" in this year's
draft class.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

12. QB McNair: Plans to Play in 2005

Clipped from: Tennessean article by Paul Kuharsky, 4/9/05

Fifteen weeks removed from bone graft surgery to reduce the risk of
further injury, McNair met yesterday with Titans Coach Jeff Fisher.

Based on the input of doctors, family, coaches and trainers and recent
test results that freed him to do anything except absorb contact,
McNair officially told Fisher he would return this fall.

''I'm working hard and trying to get better,'' said McNair, who shared
the NFL MVP Award with Peyton Manning in 2003. ''The reason I made the
decision to come back is because of my health.''

He said he's not even conscious now of his repaired sternum, on which
doctors performed bone graft surgery Dec. 28. A small piece of bone
from McNair's hip was inserted into a small gap in his sternum that
never filled in with bone as he grew up.

''We just were waiting for that last CAT scan to see if the bone was
growing together,'' McNair said. ''So they're healing properly, they
are healing together. They're not all the way healed yet, but in time
it will be. So that made my final decision.

''Dr. (Burton) Elrod gave me the clearance to do whatever I wanted to
do just so long as I don't have a guy hit me directly on my chest
right now. But I can do all the exercises, all the things I need to do
as far as throwing the football, running around, and it feels good. It
felt good two weeks ago. Right now I am probably in the best shape of
my life.''

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

McNair was the NFL co-MVP in 2003, but the 2005 Titans are a changed
team. They are in salary cap hell, and the quality of the players
around McNair is simply not as good – top WR Derrick Mason is now a
Raven. We'll have to wait and see if Tyrone Calico 
can make it all the way back from last seasons' left ACL tear – if
not, the Titans won't have much in the way of tested WRs beyond Drew
Bennett.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

13. #1 Pick in the Draft: QB Smith, Rodgers, WR Edwards, CB Rolle the Finalists

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article by Greg Beacham, 4/12/05

Smith visited the 49ers' training complex Tuesday, standing in front
of the franchise's five Super Bowl trophies while explaining why he
should be the top pick in next week's draft. The athletic, brainy
6-foot-4 passer has emerged as many draft experts' top recommendation
for the Niners.

Though he would welcome the honor, Smith is aware of the pressure he
would face as a No. 1 pick asked to start immediately at the NFL's
toughest position on one of the league's worst teams — and while
playing in the shadow of Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young,
no less.

"Obviously, this is a young team. This is not something that's going
to be turned around right away," Smith said. "We're not going to be
winning Super Bowls next year, I don't imagine, although we'd like to.

"(The 49ers) are people who are driven and want to win, and I like
that. They're not taking this first pick lightly. They're going to put
in the work, and they're going to make the right decision, and that's
something that gets me excited. I want to be a part of it, and I
anticipate winning a lot of games in the future."

Smith and California's Aaron Rodgers, who will be in Santa Clara on
Wednesday, are the two quarterbacks among the 49ers' four finalists to
be the No. 1 pick. Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards and Miami
cornerback Antrel Rolle visited the training complex Monday.

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

The 49ers are rebuilding, and their offense was anemic in 2004 – don't
expect elite fantasy numbers from any rookie QB that lands in San
Francisco this season (ditto for Braylon Edwards). Antrel Rolle could
be an intriguing IDP prospect if he lands in San Francisco, depending
on how quickly he establishes himself in the starting lineup.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

14. IDP: KC LBs Thin; Injured – Beisel to NE, Fujita Injured

Clipped from: Kansas City Star article by Adam Teicher, 4/8/05

Scott Fujita's season could rest on results of arthroscopic ankle
surgery he was to have today in California.

The Chiefs are privately concerned that Fujita, a three-year starter
at linebacker, might miss at least the start of the regular season and
perhaps a lot more.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs lost a linebacker Thursday when free agent Monty
Beisel agreed to terms of a two-year contract with New England.

Fujita, contacted before leaving Kansas City for California on
Thursday, indicated the injury might not be that severe. But it's
possible today's surgery will reveal damage beyond what he might
anticipate…

…A significant injury to Fujita would further deplete a position that
for the Chiefs is low on both numbers and quality. Beside Fujita, the
Chiefs have only six linebackers under contract, and all have issues.

Recently acquired Kendrell Bell, Shawn Barber and Mike Maslowski are
coming off injuries that cost each a significant portion of last
season. The Chiefs are confident Bell will be able to play, but they
also know Barber won't be ready when the season begins.
They are hopeful but uncertain about Maslowski.

The other linebackers are Kawika Mitchell, who was a disappointment as
a starter last year; Keyaron Fox; and Rich Scanlon. Fox and Scanlon
played little except on special teams as rookies last season.
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Kansas City's defense was very poor last season, and a dearth of
quality starting LBs is not likely to help the situation. With many
injury issues hanging over the squad, IDP owners will want to be very
careful when considering Kansas City linebackers on draft day.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

15. IDP: Redskins' LB Arrington Concerned About Recovery

Clipped from: Washington Post article by Jason La Canfora, 4/12/05

Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington arrived at Redskins Park yesterday
-- on crutches after a second, previously undisclosed surgery on his
right knee -- and expressed concern with how the Washington Redskins
have handled his recovery.

Arrington, 26, offered no timetable for his return to the field, and
said that, because he worries about career-threatening ramifications
from the injury, he will take as much time as necessary to heal.

In his first public comments since the season ended, Arrington
criticized the Redskins for pushing him to return too quickly from
surgery last fall and for how they have handled information about his
condition, as well as an unrelated grievance he has filed with the
players' union.

Coach Joe Gibbs asserted that in no way did the staff urge Arrington
to rush back from his injury -- Gibbs said he repeatedly withheld
Arrington from practices and workouts -- and that he was waiting to
speak with Arrington before making news of his surgery public. Gibbs
and Arrington spoke shortly after the coach became aware of his
comments yesterday and, according to Gibbs, have resolved the issue.
Arrington was unavailable for further comment last night.

"In terms of the support from [team officials], it's like nothing,"
Arrington said before leaving Redskins Park early this afternoon.
"It's like, just let me disappear and die. To me it kind of [stinks];
it [stinks], because it's not like I have a relationship built with
[the coaches] anyway, because they're new and then I get hurt and
every year it's always someone new [as a head coach]. Does that mean
it's right the way it's being handled? . . . It makes you wonder, man,
what's their agenda?"…

…"Every single part of LaVar's injury has been treated with utmost
caution," Gibbs said, "and I would say that from a Redskins
standpoint, even LaVar has been mad at me because we've been so
cautious . . . last year and this year, and we're taking a very
cautious approach this year. We're going to err with the side of
caution with this injury, and always have."

Gibbs said a teleconference with Andrews, Arrington and Tyer will take
place today to ensure that all parties are "on the same page," and the
plan is for Arrington to wait at least two months before attempting to
run. Arrington, who was selected with the second overall pick in 2000,
has played very little in the scheme of Gregg Williams, assistant head
coach-defense, and missed 11 straight games last season. The Redskins
originally estimated that he would return in about two months.

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

Arrington struggled to get in the game last season, and it looks like
we might be in for more of the same in 2005. He doesn't look like a
strong fantasy prospect at this time – fantasy owners should be very
leery of adding this hobbled player to their roster.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

16. IDP: S Arturo Freeman to Packers

Clipped from: Journal-Sentinel article by Tom Silverstein, 4/11/05

Moving to fill a void in the secondary that has remained open most of
the off-season, the Green Bay Packers signed free-agent safety Arturo
Freeman, a former Miami Dolphins starter who played under new
defensive coordinator Jim Bates.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Monday night that Freeman's
agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said the 6-foot-1, 210-pound safety had signed
a one-year deal with the Packers. Rosenhaus did not answer his phone
earlier in the day and was unavailable for comment.

Freeman, 28, made a free-agent visit with the Packers on Thursday and
Friday and met with Bates, who installed him as the Dolphins' starter
after taking over as interim head coach last year. In Freeman, Bates
gets a player who can function in his defensive scheme immediately as
well as help others learn it.

The Packers cut starting safety Darren Sharper and backup Michael
Hawthorne and allowed backup Bhawoh Jue to sign with San Diego in free
agency, leaving starting strong safety Mark Roman as the lone returner
from the 2004 roster.

The Packers intend to select at least one safety in the draft and have
brought in at least three prospects for pre-draft visits over the last
week or so. However, acquiring Freeman allows them another option if
they don't get a starting-ready player in the draft.

In Bates' five years in Miami, Freeman started 29 of the 72 games in
which he played, including nine last season after former Packer Antuan
Edwards was released in mid-season. Freeman has just five career
interceptions but he tied for the team lead with four last season.

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

Freeman was the 174th ranked fantasy DB last season, but he comes into
a situation where he could get significant playing time, depending on
how the Packer's draft/draft picks pan out. He could be a strong
pickup – if Freeman ends up an every-down starter with the Packers.
Keep an eye on how the Packer's secondary shapes up during training
camp/pre-season.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

17. IDP: LB Polley to Ravens

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Jamison Hensley, 4/12/05

The Ravens are banking that (Tommy) Polley's speed is a solid fit in
their attacking scheme. His strength is great range against the run,
with the closing speed to track down a lot of plays from behind and
playmaking ability in pass coverage.

But the former second-round pick received virtually no interest in
free agency despite making 49 starts in four seasons.

The biggest knock on Polley is that he's a finesse linebacker who
isn't aggressive or tough enough. Last season, Polley lost his
starting job to rookie Brandon Chillar before regaining his spot in
Week 3.

In 57 career games for the Rams, he totaled 290 tackles, four
interceptions, two sacks, 18 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and
two recoveries.

Asked why he lasted so long on the free-agent market, he said: "That's
a good question. I'm trying to figure that out right now. I feel I
have always made plays. I'm still mind-boggled by it."

In the Ravens' expected switch to a 4-3 defensive alignment, they will
play Polley on the weak side, Ray Lewis in the middle and either Peter
Boulware or Adalius Thomas on the strong side. Terrell Suggs, who
played on the outside last season, likely will move to defensive end.

Polley essentially replaces Ed Hartwell, a vastly different type of
linebacker who signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent. But
what the Ravens lose in Hartwell's physical play, they gain in
quickness.

"His athleticism is intriguing," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said.
"As soon as we looked at him, we're like, 'Shoot, this is a guy that
we would really like,' and Ozzie made it happen."

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

Polley has fantasy potential in this situation – he was 49th among
fantasy LB's last season (vs. Hartwell's 72nd rank), and there will be
play-making opportunities to be had in the new alignment. Keep an eye
on how well Polley fits in with the Ravens' other players as training
camp advances.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

That'll do it for today Folks. We'll see you again next week with a
wrap up and then remember that we'll start delivering these updates to
you every single day starting April 25. Have a great week.

J
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