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Volume 6, Issue 114 (Wednesday, August 10th)

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LOVE FANTASY FOOTBALL?

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More control and one more way to have fun each week of the NFL season.

Joe Bryant:
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David Dodds: "The better managers are going to win the vast majority of the time. And that is what makes this so intriguing."


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Hi Folks,

Hope your day was better than what the Eagles and Terrell Owens endured Wednesday. Training camps are rolling and we're here for you to plow through the mountain of news and bring you the key things you need to know. For you subscribers, get ready to be happy: Our Issue #2 of the Training Camp Updates are ready to roll - check them out. And thanks to our Footballguy Mike Herman for the help rounding up these stories tonight. Let's get to it.

Joe Bryant

SITE NEWS

A. (Premium Subscription) 35 Page Training Camp Update Issue #2 Ready For Download
We showed everyone what we're doing with the Training Camp Updates last week as we gave away Issue #1. Subscribers to the Premium Subscription can download Issue #2 here. Since camp had just opened last week, Issue #1 was mainly an off season summary. Issue #2 is focused on just the last seven days with detailed reports on camp battles and practice reports. It's chock full of coaches comments, player quotes, depth chart battles and much more.

B. (Premium Subscription) Top 300 Players with Comments
Our list of the best 300 players plus this time we've added comments on each guy.

C. (Premium Subscription) IDP Players in the NFC - Eyes of the Guru
By John Norton

D. (Premium Subscription) QB Fantasy Points Study (2000-2004)
By Chris Smith

E. (Premium Subscription) Pass It On - Fantasy Football and Kids
By Cathy Fazio

F. (Premium Subscription) WR Team Change - What to Expect
By Matt Ball

G. (Premium Subscription) Top WRs That Should Climb Higher
By Matt Ball

H. (Premium Subscription) A Review of Place Kickers 2002-2004. Do High Scoring Teams Produce Elite FF Kickers?
By Matt Ball

I. (Premium Subscription) Establishing a Contract League
By Jeff Kline

J. (Premium Subscription) Experts' Conservatism and the Anti Michael Vick Prejudice
By Brett Martz

K. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Jeff Garcia
By Jason Wood and Chris Smith

L. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Joey Harrington
Jason Wood and Chris Smith

M. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Kevan Barlow
By Jason Wood and David Yudkin

N. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Cadillac Williams
By Jason Wood and Chase Stuart

O. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Deion Branch
By Jason Wood and Chris Smith

P. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Santana Moss
By Jason Wood and David Yudkin

Q. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - David Patten
By Jason Wood and David Yudkin


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. PHI - WR Terrell Owens Suspended One Week by Coach Reid
2. BUF - Rookie RB Lionel Gates in the Mix
3. DET - QBs Joey Harrington vs. Jeff Garcia
4. WAS - RB Clinton Portis and Redskins Expanding
5. CLE - WR Antonio Bryant Flashing Talent and Maturity
6. NO - WR Donte' Stallworth Asks to Play Slot
7. TEN - New Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow Watching the Clock
8. CLE - Rookie WR Braylon Edwards and Browns Agree, Then Disagree, Then Reportedly Agree
9. TB - FB Mike Alstott Says This Year Will Be His Last
10. CIN - PK Shayne Graham Limited by Sore Groin
11. STL - Rookie OT Alex Barron Agrees to Five-year Contract
12. IDP: OAK - DT Warren Sapp back Where He Belongs
13. IDP: NYJ - DT Dewayne Robertson Getting Second Opinion on Knee
14. IDP: HOU - LB Antwan Peek Promoted to Starter

1. PHI - WR Terrell Owens Suspended One Week by Coach Reid

Clipped from ESPN.com article

All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens left Philadelphia Eagles training camp Wednesday after being suspended until next Wednesday by coach Andy Reid. ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reported Reid told Owens to leave after Owens "dropped an expletive" on him during a heated exchange about the wide receiver's practice session that was conducted apart from the team. Owens then left for his Moorestown, N.J., home where media members found him later Wednesday.

"I got sent home until Wednesday for whatever reason," Owens told Comcast SportsNet for a TV interview from his front lawn. "It was just a difference of opinion. I was defending myself."

Comcast SportsNet reported the disagreement occurred during a team meeting. Owens then got his belongings and cleared out of training camp at Lehigh University.

"T.O. was asked to leave by Andy Reid," Owens' publicist Kim Etheredge said. "I don't think that it was heated, it was a difference of opinion. I don't know if there was an argument." Owens did not say what the argument was about. "If the truth needs to be told, then that's what I'll do," Owens said. "If he [Reid] wants me to be a man about it and have me really go on the air and really tell the people what happened, then I can. It was a difference of opinion."

Eagles' spokesman Derek Boyko had no comment. Drew Rosenhaus, Owens' agent, declined to comment other than to say it was a matter between Owens and his coach.

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

Life with TO is never dull. From a fantasy perspective, a week of missed practice is no big deal. But you have to wonder how much deeper it goes. The Eagles have been adamant from the very beginning that they will not trade or renegotiate with Owens. But one has to wonder if they really envisioned the situation deteriorating to the point where Owens "drops an expletive" on Reid and is asked to leave camp for a week.

Both the Eagles and Owens have simple decisions to make: Play or don't play. Owens rumbled about a holdout this summer but when push came to shove, he showed his hand to reveal he was going to play. The Eagles haven't shown as much of their hand. No one seems to buy into it completely, but the attitude seems to be "we've had great success before T.O. and even last year, we got through the playoffs without him." You'll hear subtle references to the Patriots and how they plugged holes with team players who put the greater cause of the team above their own personal gain.

But the reality of the situation is this: Barring a trade, an Eagle team without Terrell Owens would feature a starting wide receiver corps of Greg Lewis and Reggie Brown. Those two have a grand total of 23 receptions for 278 yards and 0 TDs. For their NFL careers. That's scary enough that I think they figure out how to get Owens on the field.

The real concern is how much the disharmony carries into the regular season. Will there be more incidents which lead to some bench time for Owens in portions of games or entire games? Both sides are very strong-willed which makes the potential for this to fester and resurface something to worry about. No one really knows how this will play out. But you don't subscribe to our info for us to sit on the fence. My personal opinion is that Owens will remain an Eagle and grind through the season with an obviously and sometimes uncomfortable strained relationship. I'm bumping his projected numbers down a bit just for the worry factor and the fact that a strained relationship will somewhat (but not drastically) affect his stats. In the end, it'll boil down to talent and need. Owens is too talented and the Eagles need a WR.

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2. BUF - Rookie RB Lionel Gates in the Mix

Clipped from: BuffaloBills.com article by Mark Ludwiczak

With nearly two weeks of Bills training camp underway, Lionel Gates may have a better chance of making the team than even he could have imagined. A pleasant surprise to many, Gates has looked more like a three-year veteran than a recent seventh-round pick at Bills training camp this year. "I like his running style," Bills head coach Mike Mularkey said after a recent practice. "He's got some feel for the inside running game and he's not bad outside either. He's hit some things outside...He's got speed for a big guy. He's cut pretty well for a rookie back that is new to this."

So why was the back still on the board when the Bills made their final selection in the 2005 draft? Well, for a few reasons actually - and none of which were necessarily Gates' fault. The back was part of a three-headed monster at Louisville, splitting time with fellow runners Eric Shelton and Michael Bush for most of his college career.

And then there was the combine. Gates ran an unimpressive 40-yard-dash time (he was clocked by many to be in the low 4.7-range). But as is often the case, there's more to the story. A lingering thigh bruise stopped Gates from performing his best. "When I was at the combine I wasn't at 100 percent," Gates said. "I tried to tough it out and run anyways and unfortunately ran a low time. But in previous years I've been running 4.4's. So I'm back 100 percent, top notch. I'm ready to go."

And the coaches are giving him opportunities, as Gates is parted of a heated battle for the backup running back position behind Willis McGahee. Also in the mix is second-year pro Shaud Williams, fullback/running back Joe Burns and free agent pickup ReShard Lee.

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

At the exact moment, Gates doesn't have a lot of fantasy value for 2005. The preseason competition between him, Shaud Williams, and ReShard Lee for the RB2 spot does however merit watching. If one of them can manage to secure the backup role to Willis McGahee, they would have fantasy value to owners who like to draft/handcuff the backup to their starter.

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3. DET - QBs Joey Harrington vs. Jeff Garcia

Clipped from the Detroit Free Press article by Nicholas J. Cotsonika article

Joey Harrington or Jeff Garcia? It's the most important question -- and the most sensitive and most awkward question -- facing the Lions in training camp. "It's a tough call, man," wide receiver Roy Williams said. "I'm glad I'm not in the position to make that call."

Harrington is the starting quarterback; Garcia is the backup. The Lions have made that clear ever since they signed Garcia in the off-season. But clearly, it's not that simple.

Harrington says he's not looking over his shoulder, but he also says Garcia might give him the jolt he needs. Garcia says he's not here to create controversy, but he also says he's a starter. Coach Steve Mariucci refers to them as his "pitching staff," signaling both could play.

Nothing has happened in the first 14 practices to upset the hierarchy. Harrington has gotten most of the snaps with the first offense; Garcia has gotten some with the first, some with the second. Both QBs have been OK overall, no better, no worse.

But Friday night brings the exhibition opener against the Jets in New York, and the true competition begins. "We'll just let their performance dictate how that unfolds," offensive coordinator Ted Tollner said. "Your hope is that the young up-and-coming guy blossoms into what you want him to be and he leads this franchise to victories for a number of years. That's what we're trying to make happen. But in the end, it has to happen."

Harrington, 26, is set up for success much more than he has been since the Lions drafted him third overall in 2002. He wasn't surrounded by much talent before. Now he has a strong running back in Kevin Jones to keep defenses guessing, plus inviting targets in tight end Marcus Pollard and wide receivers Kevin Johnson, Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams.

But with that comes higher expectations, and people are impatient. Harrington is 14-30 as a starter, and the first time he threw an incomplete pass in the Lions' public practice Saturday at Ford Field, he was booed. The offense might need time to come together because of alterations and inexperience, but Harrington doesn't have time.

Harrington said he didn't think about the competition from pass to pass in practice. But he acknowledged the presence of Garcia was much different than that of his former backup, Mike McMahon, and put a positive spin on it. "I'm not looking over my shoulder thinking, 'If I throw an incompletion, uh-oh, what's going to happen?' But he's been where I want to go, so it's that little bump in the ass, it's that little jolt, that maybe gets you over the top."

While saying the starting job was "Joey's to lose," Garcia sounded eager to take it. "I'm going to show this team -- my teammates, my coaches -- that I'm a starting quarterback," Garcia said. "That's all that I can say I'm here to do." Garcia said he wasn't a "negative threat," but he was a "threat" because he had played the position at a Pro Bowl level and didn't feel any different than he did then. He said he was a competitor more than a mentor.

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

Regardless of who the QB is for Detroit this year, the potential is intriguing due to the surrounding cast: an improving offensive line, a talented running back that came on strong late last year, and of course the growing stockpile of wide receivers drafted early in the first round. The uncertainty at quarterback makes it tough on fantasy drafters. Many drafts we've seen so far this year have one owner taking both Harrington and Garcia. In a somewhat disturbing article for Harrington fans, http://www.detnews.com/2005/lions/0508/10/D01-276425.htm FOX Sports Analyst Terry Bradshaw commented after watching Harrington in practice that "He's got a good arm -- got a good hot arm". However, Bradshaw goes on to offer some less than flattering words: "Heck, this morning in practice he made a lot of bad decisions," Bradshaw said. "I'm sitting there with Matt (Millen) going, 'Oh, that's not good, that's not good, that's not good, that's not good.'

"In practice you should be a little sharper than that, I think, but who knows what they're trying to do? I'm not in the huddle over there.

"I liked him. I liked him going out of college. I like talking to him. He's an upbeat kid. But you never know internally how he's going to handle all of this."

Bottom line: If you draft Harrington, I'd be for pairing him up with Garcia.

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4. WAS - RB Clinton Portis and Redskins Expanding

Clipped from the Washington Post article by Nunyo Demasio

When tailback Clinton Portis sauntered off the field in helmet and pads after yesterday morning's practice, it was difficult to notice any difference in his physique from last season. In both practice sessions -- the other in the afternoon -- Portis exhibited his usual explosiveness and shiftiness.

But Portis said he has gained almost 20 pounds to help withstand the pounding of the regular season as the centerpiece of Coach Joe Gibbs's offense. Portis is listed on the Redskins' official roster at 5 feet 11 and 212 pounds, an increase of seven pounds from last season. But roster weights are fluid and not exact. Portis claimed he weighs about 225 pounds after playing last season between 205 and 207, the heaviest in his career.

"Pretty much it was just working [out]. I knew what it was going to take. I knew I needed to pick up weight for the type of offense that we're running. In the two-yard gains, I probably need this weight to turn 'em into four or five." Last season Portis amassed 1,315 rushing yards, the sixth-highest figure in franchise history. But the scatback-sized runner took a pounding while averaging only 3.8 yards, often running in between tackles like a power back.

"As the season wears on, some of the weight is going to disappear," said Portis, who gained an average of 5.5 yards per rush in his first two NFL seasons. "I think last year, early on, I was probably a little worn down. This year, I'm looking to be in it for the long run. It's going to be physical. There's going to be contact made. And I'm going to be the one making it."

The Redskins have altered their blocking schemes to better accommodate Portis, who prefers open space. But the counter trey -- which requires patience and pounding -- will remain a staple. Unlike other runners his size, Portis, who runs with power and finesse, gains much of his yards running up the middle.

Portis said he increased his girth without any prodding from Redskins coaches. Portis, who impressed his coaches with perfect attendance during the offseason, worked out religiously in the weight room at Redskins Park.

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

As long as it hasn't slowed him down, the extra pounds are probably a good idea. More important is the Redskins plan to make some adjustments to their running game to make better use of Portis' skills. While it may involve some work on the coach's end, it's still easier than trying to change a player's natural abilities.

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5. CLE - WR Antonio Bryant Flashing Talent and Maturity

Clipped from: Cleveland Plain Dealer article by Tony Grossi

The flashy new receiver figured to be the talk of this Browns training camp. It's just that it was supposed to be Braylon Edwards, not Antonio Bryant. Oh, you say that Bryant isn't new, that he had 42 catches in 10 games last season after being acquired from Dallas for Quincy Morgan? Think again. This is a Bryant that few here have seen.

"I'll tell you right now, he's a totally different player than he was when I played against him," cornerback Gary Baxter said. "If he keeps working as hard as he's working, he's going to be one of the top receivers in the league. The biggest thing is his attitude is so positive right now." Quarterback Trent Dilfer said, "He is by far the most explosive receiver I've ever played with. His ability is off the charts. Nothing he's doing surprises me."

Nobody ever questioned Bryant's ability. After all, he is one of only two players to win the Biletnikoff Award -- given to the top receiver in college -- as a sophomore. The other was Randy Moss. It's just that his reputation as a hothead preceded him. He was suspended once at the University of Pittsburgh for fighting with a teammate. Last year in June, he was escorted out of Dallas Cowboys practice after he threw his jersey in the face of coach Bill Parcells. That incident led to his trade to the Browns in October.

In Berea this summer, Bryant has been a model teammate and, so far, a spectacular receiver. He has maintained a high level of performance despite leaving practice for two days last week to attend to an undisclosed family matter that understandably is weighing on his mind. "You get older, you mature," Bryant said.

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

The prevailing opinion by many seems to be that the Browns won't be a very good team this year. Even bad teams put up some offense at times, and as the saying goes, somebody has to catch the ball. Andre Davis is currently considered WR1 and Bryant is WR2, but we're projecting that Bryant will end the year with more fantasy points than any other Browns' receiver. Braylon Edwards will be a contributor but the time he's missed will be a factor.

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6. NO - WR Donte' Stallworth Asks to Play Slot

Clipped from: The Advocate article by Sheldon Mickels

Other than having his team come up short in a late charge to make the playoffs, the 2004 NFL season couldn't have gone any better for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Donte' Stallworth. While most observers would guess that playing in all 16 games for the first time in his three-year career was the key to Stallworth posting career-highs with 58 receptions for 767 yards, he said there was more to it than that. Yes, being injury-free played a big part. But there was something else that propelled Stallworth to his breakout season, a level of maturity that the Saints coaches had been waiting to see since the team made the former Tennessee speedster its top draft pick in 2002.

"I think maturity had a lot to do with it," said Stallworth, who won't turn 25 until Nov. 10. "A lot of it was me understanding the offense a lot more, but that came with me being here for three years. Learning to take care of my body helped, too." But growing up as a person and a player was the real key. As a rookie, Stallworth said he was fined enough by coach Jim Haslett to buy "a small luxury car." But he wouldn't divulge the exact amount. "Let's just leave it at that," he said with a slight chuckle.

That's what three seasons in the NFL will do for a youngster who was just 21 when the Saints chose him with the 13th overall pick in 2002. Now, Stallworth is looking for bigger things. He started nine games last season and cemented his starting spot opposite Horn with a solid offseason under the watchful eye of first-year offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard.

When Mike McCarthy resigned to take a job with the San Francisco 49ers in late January, Haslett looked around before promoting Sheppard. Stallworth couldn't have been happier because he often turned to Sheppard, the quarterbacks coach, to help him refine his routes. "I had gotten close to him (Sheppard) and he would show me what I was doing wrong, or he would tell me where to be on a certain route from a quarterback's perspective," Stallworth said.

The first time the two talked after Sheppard moved up, Stallworth forgot to congratulate him. That's because was eager to ask if he could play the slot receiver spot on certain plays, which he did a lot at Tennessee. "I told him that's what I had in mind," said Stallworth. "I wanted to get in the slot since I've been playing here, but I didn't feel as comfortable talking to Mike McCarthy as I did with Mike Sheppard. I like Shep a lot because of his broadmindedness." The change in his duties will be beneficial, Stallworth said, to the offense because his size and speed will create more matchup problems for opposing defenses. For example, he said he should come across more linebackers and safeties when he lines up inside against zone defenses.

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

Last year Stallworth ended up as the 35th ranked fantasy WR. We expect he should equal or slightly improve on that this year. The biggest wildcard in the Saints offense for this year is probably offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard. As we reported several days ago, he has been working to simplify the offense and all reports so far have been positive about the changes Sheppard has implemented.

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7. TEN - New Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow Watching the Clock

Clipped from: ESPN.com article by Len Pasquarelli

Just four days shy of his professional football debut, Tennessee Titans first-year offensive coordinator Norm Chow was asked, following practice Monday, about the biggest adjustment he has had to make in his new job.

"Dealing with the clock, I think, that's been the biggest adjustment," said Chow, long regarded as the college game's premier coordinator and now, at age 59, preparing for his first taste of the NFL. "The ball goes out of bounds, or there's an incomplete pass, they wind the [play] clock right away. And they don't stop the clock [in the NFL] after first downs, either. The first few times in practice, I was thinking about what play to call, and you look up, and the [play] clock is running. For a guy like me, who wants to get [his team] out of the huddle quickly, it's a little bit of an adjustment."

One of the priorities he has most stressed since being hired by head coach Jeff Fisher in February, replacing coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who moved on to the New York Jets, is quickness into and out of the huddle. He wants McNair to ideally have the offense at the line of scrimmage with 20 seconds remaining on the play clock, so there is ample time to make presnap reads, perhaps audible, and to prevent defenses from being able to make late adjustments that force offenses into disastrous plays.

In the Chow offensive design, the calls are more player-friendly, relatively facile, and not overly mentally demanding.

In comparison, his offense is a quicker-read paradigm than what Heimerdinger had, and the ball should come out faster because he wants McNair to essentially get it to the first open receiver. The progressions a quarterback has to read are far fewer, and the options available to the passer should be more immediately discernable. And it's not as if Chow is trying to force some kind of gimmick offense into the league, as Steve Spurrier did with his ill-fated Fun-and-Gun experiment in two seasons with the Redskins.

"It's based on the theory that, whatever decision the defense makes, it will be the wrong decision," said former NFL quarterback Gifford Nielsen, who played for Chow at BYU. "There's something to counter whatever the defense does."

Nielsen said he has no doubts the Chow offense will succeed in the NFL. A man not given to hyperbole, Chow didn't disagree. It's not that Chow believes he has created the all-time offensive panacea, just that he feels his offense can counter the defense's ability to take away a team's top receiving threat, and that it translates well to any level of the game. In his offense, every receiver should run every route as if he is going to get the football because he might.

The offense developed by Heimerdinger evolved in recent years into one that was almost too vertical at times. It was heavy on three-wide receiver sets and made little use of the tight ends or running backs as receivers. Chow wants his tight ends and backs to combine for more receptions than his leading wideout. His goal is to have those players total, say, 100 receptions among them, while his lead wideout catches maybe 70-75 balls. The key is to spread the ball around and, of course, to do it quickly.

"In this league, if the defense says, 'OK, we aren't going to let you throw the ball to that guy,' it can pretty much do it," Chow said. "It can make things difficult. That's why we aren't going to hold the ball. The reads are boom, boom, boom, throw it. It's not nearly as complicated as people want to make it, you know? I mean, look, football is football."

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

If Chow can successfully implement his offense, it bodes well in the passing department for Steve McNair. As for the receivers, the spread-the-ball-around concept could help some and hurt others. Drew Bennett, the new WR1 now that Derrick Mason is gone, might not get comparatively as many targets as WR1s on other teams. The receivers a little further down the depth chart could benefit, such as Tyrone Calico and/or the various rookies, Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby, and Roydell Williams.

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8. CLE - Rookie WR Braylon Edwards and Browns Agree, Then Disagree, Then Reportedly Agree

Clipped from: NFL.com wire article

Rookie wide receiver Braylon Edwards agreed to terms on a five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns, ending his holdout and a bizarre day of negotiations.

Edwards, the No. 3 overall pick, will sign his contract Aug. 11 and practice with the Browns for the first time, a person within the league told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The source asked to remain unidentified due to the sensitivity of the negotiations between the Browns and agent Lamont Smith.

It appeared Edwards would sign his deal hours earlier after arriving at the team's headquarters, but things took a strange turn as he and Smith bolted after negotiations hit a snag.

The pair, along with Edwards' parents and other family members, drove away in a three-car caravan without finishing the deal.

"You don't have a deal until you have a deal," Smith, sitting in the passenger seat of an SUV driven by Edwards' father, Stan, said at about 6:30 p.m. "We're leaving Cleveland."

They didn't get far. Smith stayed in touch with the club and was able to complete a contract.

Once he signs, Edwards, who was supposed to report July 25 with the club's other rookies, will be required to pass a conditioning test of several 300-yard shuttle runs.

"He should be able to run it right now," Crennel said. "If he can't, he hasn't been working out enough."

Crennel was asked what his first words for Edwards will be.

"I'll tell him, 'Go run,' " Crennel said.

While he has been absent, the Browns have installed a big chunk of the offense they'll use this season. Edwards is even further behind after missing the club's minicamp in June because of a family funeral and injury.

Crennel is confident Edwards eventually will catch up.

"He's going to get acclimated," he said. "It's just going to take a little time, but it's going to happen. It could very well take him a full year because he has missed this much camp. He's going to learn. The guy is going to be a good player, but it's going to take time.

"It's not going to happen tomorrow."

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

As goofy as this thing has been, wait until you see a signature on the contract before you can call him signed. As mentioned in article 5 above, Antonio Bryant has really shined during Edward's absence so far. Edwards has the potential to be something special but it remains to be seen how much he'll be affected by missing camp. Stay tuned.

.

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9. TB - FB Mike Alstott Says This Year Will Be His Last

Clipped from: Orlando Sentinel article by Chris Harry

With each burst through the line, each change of direction, rookie tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams draws gasps of approval from Tampa Bay fans at Disney's Wide World of Sports. The future of the Bucs' running game is like a bright sun rising on the horizon.

Meanwhile, a favorite son is setting. "That's the business of football," fullback Mike Alstott said. "He's going to be a great player." One of the most popular players in Bucs history, Alstott has all but decided that his 10th NFL season will be his last. Four months shy of his 32nd birthday, two years removed from neck surgery and coming off the least productive season of his career, Alstott now just wants to go out on his terms.

"This team is who I am," said Alstott, whose time in Tampa Bay has been defined by a Super Bowl title, six Pro Bowl invitations and a family of five. "I can't imagine doing this somewhere else. This is the place I wanted to be."

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

This is more of a general interest football story than fantasy news, since Alstott's days as a fantasy player are already behind him. Anyone who owned Alstott during the years when he could put up a fair chunk of yardage and two touchdowns in a game probably will remember him fondly.

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10. CIN - PK Shayne Graham Limited by Sore Groin

Clipped from: Bengals.com article by Geoff Hobson

Kicker Shayne Graham is helping himself as well as an old Virginia Tech teammate. With his sore groin flaring up this week, Graham said he somewhat recommended the Bengals sign the kicker that followed him at Virginia Tech, Carter Warley. Graham has known Warley for eight years and was a senior when Warley red-shirted. This is Warley's first NFL stint after leaving Tech in 2003. He has been kicking for the Manchester Wolves in New Hampshire of Arena Football 2.

"It's good to get him in here," Graham said. "For one, people can look at him and it's also keeping me from kicking my leg too much when I need to be resting it." After two days of rest, Graham said he felt good enough to kick some field goals while Warley handled the kickoffs, and that's how they'll handle the duties Friday night against the Pats. Warley had a shaky start on his kickoffs before he got into a pretty good groove.

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

Although he's not one of the big name kickers, Shayne Graham and the Bengals placed fifth in kicker scoring last year, and the offense looks like they could again provide him with plenty of scoring opportunities. The sore groin does not appear to be a long term concern, and the fact they brought in Warley supports that. Warley is there primarily to help out with kickoffs for special teams practice and in preseason games, and is should not be considered a legitimate placekicking backup.

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11. STL - Rookie OT Alex Barron Agrees to Five-year Contract

Clipped from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch article

The Rams agreed to terms on a five-year contract with tackle Alex Barron, the team announced Wednesday night. Details of the contract were not available. Barron was the first offensive lineman taken by the Rams in the first round of the NFL Draft since making tackle Orlando Pace the No. 1 overall pick in 1997.

It was not known when Barron would report to the team. He had missed 14 days of training camp before Wednesday's development.

On Saturday, Rams coach Mike Martz voiced his frustrations with Barron's agent, Roosevelt Barnes, over Barron's contract holdout. In Sunday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Martz and Barnes both commented on the negotiations between the Rams and Barron. "Let me just say this about this agent," Martz said Saturday. "This is not about the player; this is about the agent. Because what the kid is going to get out of his contract, the difference (in money) is insignificant. What this agent is doing is recruiting other players by doing this stuff.

The Rams held practices Wednesday at the Edward Jones Dome, working out for the first time on the new FieldTurf surface. The team will hold Thursday's practice there as well before opening their preseason schedule Friday night at home against the Chicago Bears. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

With Barron's signing, the Rams have all but one of their 11 draft picks under contract. Only guard Richie Incognito, the Rams' third-round draft selection (81st overall), is still unsigned.

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Barron should be the starting right tackle, probably in week 1, or not long thereafter. It is also well within the realm of possibility that the Rams will start another rookie, fourth round pick Claude Terrell, at left guard. Sure they have Orlando Pace, but having two rookies on the line is worrisome, regardless of their talent and potential. There could be some growing pains along the line for the Rams this year, and that could impact the offensive numbers for guys like Bulger, Holt, Bruce, Jackson, Faulk, etc.

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12. IDP: OAK - DT Warren Sapp back Where He Belongs

Clipped from: Contra Costa Times article by Steve Corkran

The breaking point came eight games into the season. Raiders defensive lineman Warren Sapp finally snapped. Coach Norv Turner received the brunt of a Sapp tirade in the midst of a lopsided loss to the San Diego Chargers. Turner fired back and told Sapp to hustle off the field. Point made. So it was that Sapp kept to himself the frustration of his most disappointing NFL season. Yet, Sapp isn't one to stay silent for long. He let it be known that he isn't suited to the role the Raiders envisioned for him when they signed him almost 17 months ago, and that a change was needed.

First-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan implemented a three-linemen, four-linebacker alignment as his base scheme last season. That necessitated Sapp moving from tackle to end after seven straight Pro Bowl seasons at tackle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "Nightmare," is the word Sapp used to describe his 2004 season. Sapp, 32, recorded a career-low 21/2 sacks -- his two solo sacks came after the Raiders' playoff chances had evaporated -- in 16 games and wasn't anywhere near as effective as he was inside with the Buccaneers.

"I've always been a team player," Sapp said Monday. "Whatever they ask me to do, I was going to do. It wasn't what I was used to and it wasn't playing to my strengths, but it was what the defense called for." Ryan asked Sapp to play what is known as a two-gap technique, which meant Sapp lined up closer to the opposing team's left offensive tackle. "I'm not a two-gap player," Sapp said.

Turner said putting Sapp at end in the 3-4 "wasn't the best thing for him." To that end, Ryan has moved Sapp back inside in the 4-3 alignment, between the left guard and center, and doesn't intend to use him as much at end as he did last season.

The addition of pass-rush specialist Derrick Burgess also figures to ease the pressure Sapp felt last season. The Raiders lacked a player of Burgess' caliber last season and looked to Sapp to fill a void.

Sapp likely won't have to worry too much about experiencing the frustration he did last season. That is, if they employ a four-man line as often as he has been told. "Whenever I'm in a four-man line, I'm at home ... ," Sapp said. "There're going to be a lot more opportunities for me to make plays. I'm looking forward to that." He said he's also looking forward to proving wrong those people who say he has lost a step, that he isn't the same player without the strong supporting cast he had with the Buccaneers.

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It's unlikely that Sapp will return to the level of his glory years with the Bucs, but he should put up better numbers than last year if the Raiders follow through with this plan.

13. IDP: NYJ - DT Dewayne Robertson Getting Second Opinion on Knee

Clipped from: New York Daily News article by Rich Cimini Defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, one of the Jets' defensive anchors, visited renowned orthopedist James Andrews yesterday in Birmingham, Ala., to get a second opinion on a problematic knee, the Daily News has learned. Robertson, the fourth pick in the 2003 draft, has missed several practices in training camp due to discomfort. Until yesterday, the club hadn't acknowledged any sort of knee problem. Surgery isn't an option, according to Herm Edwards and Robertson's agent. "It's just something he'll have to deal with his whole career," Edwards said. Neither Edwards nor the agent, Hadley Engelhard, felt comfortable discussing the club's diagnosis, although Engelhard claimed there is "no structural damage." It's believed that Robertson, 23, who hasn't missed a game in two seasons, has little or no cartilage in his knee, presumably the result of a previous operation. It is causing a "bone on bone" effect in the joint, according to a person familiar with the situation. Players have been known to play many years with that type of condition; it often becomes a pain-tolerance issue. In Robertson's case, it has to be a concern because he is such a valuable player. The Jets traded two first-round picks and gave him $13million in bonuses, expecting him to become a dominant player. "He worked really hard in the offseason, and he got frustrated because it was bothering him, so I set up an appointment to get a second opinion," Engelhard said. "That's all there is to it." After a disappointing rookie year, Robertson made significant strides last season, finishing with 60 tackles and 3-1/2 sacks. His development was one of the keys to the overall improvement of the defense.

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We'll keep an eye on this to see whether there is more reason for concern that indicated by the original diagnosis. Be sure to regularly check our free News Blogger for the latest developments on just about every story of interest to fantasy football owners. BLOGGER LINK: http://news.footballguys.com/new/blogger.php

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14. IDP: HOU - LB Antwan Peek Promoted to Starter

Clipped from: Associated Press

Antwan Peek gained the respect of Houston Texans coaches with outstanding special teams play last season. He was rewarded with a move to the starting outside linebacker position that was left open when Kailee Wong was moved to the inside. Coach Dom Capers thinks Peek will help a struggling pass rush, but knows replacing him on special teams won't be easy.

"I just think over a period of time he'll make big plays on defense like he's made on special teams," Capers said. "We'll miss his production on special teams this year. We'll have to find somebody to pick that up." Those plays last season included recording a team high 18 tackles and having the Texans' only blocked punt of the season.

But he also stood out in limited action at linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 259 pound player had two sacks, a forced fumble and 12 tackles on defense. He also intercepted a pass by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and returned the ball 20 yards. Peek had his first NFL touchdown when he returned a fumble 66 yards for a score against Jacksonville. He spent the offseason recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered when he was tackled after that score.

The Texans had the NFL's least productive pass rush with only 24 sacks last season. Capers thinks Peek's ferocious style of play could help improve that statistic. "He is really strong in his upper body and really strong with his hands," Capers said. "This is very important since he has to play so much with his hands. I think that is a real key in rushing the passer, because you are grabbing and trying to gain leverage."

LB Kailee Wong, who had one year left on his contract, signed a four-year contract extension on Tuesday night. He moves to inside linebacker after playing on the outside the past three seasons.

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As some suspected, the Texans have apparently decided to go with the Wong move and make Peek the starter. The transition to starter obviously improves Peek's fantasy prospects, plus the potential on pass rushing could be an added bonus.

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

J

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