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Volume 6, Issue 12 (Saturday, April 30th)

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Hi Folks,

Hope you're having a great weekend. After WR Matt Jones in yesterday's
update, another rookie receiver was injured in TE Kevin Everett. And
we've got an interesting article on Maurice Clarett. Good stuff.
Thanks to our Footballguy Aaron Rudnicki for rounding up these
stories. Let's jump to it.

Joe

******************************************

Site News - Team Reports Are Unveiled
One of the most popular features we offered last year was the detailed
Team Reports and we're back with them for 2005. We'll be releasing a few
at a time here and keeping them updated through the Spring and Summer.

A. Arizona Team Report
by Andy Hicks, John Norton and Chris Smith 

B. Atlanta Team Report
by Will Grant, Bob Magaw and Chris Smith 

C. Carolina Team Report
by Will Grant, Bob Magaw and Chris Smith 

D. Chicago Team Report
by Ron White, Aaron Rudnicki and Chris Smith 

E. Detroit Team Report
by Ron White, John Norton and Chris Smith 

F. Green Bay Team Report
by Bob Henry, Aaron Rudnicki and Chris Smith 

******************************************

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. BUF  Rookie TE Everett injures knee in practice
2. NO  Saints could be on the move as early as 2006
3. WAS  TE Troutman experiment ends quickly
4. NYG  Interested in QB Testaverde to backup Eli
5. CLE  WR Edwards vows not to hold out of camp
6. DEN  Broncos believe RB Clarett ready to break free of past
7. JAX  Jaguars players enjoying new offense
8. BUF  JP Losman era begins
9. IDP: CIN  Pollack feels out of place as linebacker
10. IDP: IND  DE Mathis and CB Strickland staying put
11. IDP: MIN  CB Williams will be nickel cornerback; CB Irvin leaves
minicamp in contract dispute
12. IDP: MIA  Dolphins hope rookie LB Crowder's knees hold up
13. IDP: IND  Rookie DB Jackson ready to make impact in Colts secondary

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

1. BUF  Rookie TE Everett injures knee in practice

Clipped from: Buffalo News article by Allen Wilson, 4/30/05

The first day of the Buffalo Bills' minicamp ended on a sour note for
rookie tight end Kevin Everett, who was taken from the field after
suffering what the team believes to be a twisted left knee.

Everett, the Bills' third-round draft pick, was hurt after making a
catch during a team drill during the afternoon session in Ralph Wilson
Stadium. He crumpled to the ground when his foot appeared to stick in
the turf as he planted to cut upfield. He was on his back in obvious
pain and slapped the turf in frustration before team trainers helped
him onto a cart.

Bills coach Mike Mularkey said he wouldn't know the full extent of
Everett's injury until today, but doesn't think it is as serious as it
looked. "We're going to take a look at it," Mularkey said. "But it
looks like he twisted the knee."

The Bills hope that it's nothing more than that. They are already very
thin at the position with starter Mark Campbell and to backup Tim
Euhus still recovering from reconstructive knee surgeries. The team's
No. 3 tight end, Ryan Neufeld, also did not practice Friday.

Everett is expected to have a key role in the offense and provide some
insurance in case Campbell and Euhus aren't 100 percent by training
camp.

Everett was having a good first day, making nice catches and showing
off the athletic skills that made him an appealing prospect. He caught
23 passes for 310 yards during his last year at Miami, but missed the
Peach Bowl with separated left shoulder.

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

Well, this certainly isn't the way any player wants to start out his
professional career, and could be trouble for the Bills offense. Tight
end was a big need for the Bills on draft day given the fact that
their top 2 TEs from last season are both currently rehabilitating
from late season ACL tears. They took Everett in the 3rd round in the
hopes that he could add another dimension to their offense. Hopefully
it's nothing more than a sprain and he'll be ready for training camp.

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

2. NO  Saints could be on the move as early as 2006

Clipped from: AP article posted at ESPN.com, 4/29/05

The New Orleans Saints offered to pay up to $17.5 million toward
Louisiana Superdome renovations and also sought cash subsidies that
would have required $16 million in new taxes, leaving the team and the
state tens of millions of dollars apart when negotiations over a new
and longer stadium lease broke off this week, Superdome Commission
chairman Tim Coulon said.

"I would say the Saints have not accepted our last offer, which we
considered to be our final and best offer," Coulon said Friday.
"Where we go from here is, we live under our existing agreement."

Saints owner Tom Benson has cut off negotiations until after the 2005
season, at which time he could opt out of the current lease by paying
the $81 million and then sell or move the team. The NFL has repeatedly
said that bringing a team back to Los Angeles, either through
relocation or expansion, is a priority.

"It's about leverage. It's about creating an opportunity for fear -
fear factor among those who support the Saints," Coulon said,
recalling what happened when the current deal was renegotiated from a
previous, then-active lease in 2001. "In 2001, the state had a deal
with the Saints, and the Saints said it wasn't good enough because the
climate had changed in the NFL. The state stepped up and changed the
deal. Now the climate is different for the state.

"We're optimistic their intent is consistent with what Mr. Benson has
said, and that's to stay in the city," Coulon added.

Coulon acknowledged that the Saints had agreed to eliminate the 2006
escape clause from the current lease if the state would eliminate its
own, which takes effect in 2007. Coulon said the state refused because
the state's ability to end cash subsidies early gives it more leverage
in renegotiating a longer lease that is more favorable to taxpayers.
The New Orleans-area hotel and motel taxes dedicated to the current
lease are expected to come up about $9 million short this year alone.

Most details of the negotiations, aimed at ensuring the Saints remain
in New Orleans at least another 20 years, had been kept confidential
until Coulon and Superdome official Doug Thornton decided to meet with
reporters on Friday afternoon.

The pair said they had, under Gov. Kathleen Blanco's direction,
offered the Saints a generous deal that would have given the team an
opportunity to be in the top half of the NFL in revenue.

Benson could still change his mind and accept the state's latest offer
until March of 2006, after which the terms would change because of a
projected 3 percent annual increase in construction costs, Thornton
said.

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

The NFL wants a team in the LA market, and the Saints continue to look
like the best candidate. The problem is LA doesn't seem to want an NFL
team all that badly. There is still plenty of hope for Saints fans
that a long-term deal could be struck, however, and most of this is
likely done for negotiating purposes. It may simply come down to how
badly the people in Louisiana want the team to stay and how much they
are willing to pay to keep them.

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

3. WAS  TE Troutman experiment ends quickly

Clipped from: Washington Times article by David Elfin, 4/30/05

The Washington Redskins' new 'Chevy' barely got out of the garage.
Former Pittsburgh basketball player Chevon 'Chevy' Troutman's audition
as an NFL tight end lasted all of one practice before he was among
eight players not invited back for the rest of this weekend's
minicamp.

It was a bad sign when coach Joe Gibbs at first couldn't place him
when asked for his assessment of the player whom the Redskins hoped
might be the next Antonio Gates, who zoomed from Kent State basketball
star to Pro Bowl tight end for the San Diego Chargers in just two
years.

'When I saw Chevon catch the ball, you could see he has some athletic
ability, but he has a very long way to go,' tight ends coach Rennie
Simmons said. 'Unfortunately, if you're not sure what you're doing,
where to go or what foot to step with, you're like a duck out of
water.'

Troutman, Pennsylvania's 'Mr. Basketball' as a senior in Williamsport,
averaged 15 points and eight rebounds as a senior at Pitt, but those
qualifications didn't help yesterday. 'When they first threw
everything at me, it looked like Spanish or something,' said the
6-foot-6, 240-pound Troutman, who played high school football as a
junior. 'I feel like I can play in the NFL. I just need a little bit
of time to learn everything.'

Unfortunately for Troutman, his time with the Redskins has expired.

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

For anyone that watched Pittsburgh's men's basketball team this year,
the idea of Troutman playing TE should not come as a surprise. The
overwhelming success of Antonio Gates in San Diego now has NFL
personnel people scouting basketball games trying to find players that
can help their teams. Most people agree that Troutman has the size,
speed, and athletic ability to make a successful transition, but
apparently it will be a lot harder than he originally thought. It
sounds like he could really use a crash course in basic techniques and
football terminology.

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

4. NYG  Interested in QB Testaverde to backup Eli

Clipped from: Newsday.com article by Neil Best, 4/30/05

Unlike last year at this time, the Giants know who their starting
quarterback is. But the backup job is in flux.

The team signed Jim Miller on March 9 to serve as Eli Manning's
mentor/understudy, but Wednesday, Miller had hip surgery and is
expected to be out three to four months.

On Thursday, 42-year-old Doug Flutie visited Giants Stadium, but
Friday, he signed with the Patriots, opting to play near his hometown
of Natick, Mass., presumably as Tom Brady's backup.

What's next? Does the name Vinny Testaverde ring a bell?

Testaverde's agent, Mike Azzarelli, confirmed Friday that the Giants
called to express interest in Testaverde. Azzarelli said he will talk
to Testaverde this weekend and give the Giants his answer next week.
Testaverde is "definitely interested in playing. There's no question
about it," Azzarelli said, "but there are questions whether the Giants
have enough cap space to sign him."

The Giants have not closed the door on retaining Miller, 34. But he
might not be ready until late August, and training camp and preseason
are critically important for backups because it is their only
opportunity for extended action.

The X-factor is Jesse Palmer, to whom Tom Coughlin's staff took a
liking last year. He re-signed as a free agent and could challenge for
the primary backup job. Palmer has a powerful arm, but he went 0-3 in
place of Kerry Collins late in the 2003 season behind a porous,
makeshift line.

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

The Giants thought they had addressed their backup QB position when
they signed Jim Miller, but his recent health problems have created
another opening. At his age, it's hard to imagine a team offering
Vinny much more than the veteran minimum, so the comment from his
agent about the Giants possibly not having enough cap space sounds
more like posturing than anything else. Vinny would likely be a great
fit and a good mentor for Eli, as he was with Chad Pennington.

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

5. CLE  WR Edwards vows not to hold out of camp

Clipped from: The Plain Dealer article by Mary Kay Cabot, 4/30/05

Browns No. 1 pick Braylon Edwards vowed Friday not to hold out of camp
in a contract dispute.

If he signs before camp, he'll break a string of four straight top
picks who held out, including Gerard Warren, William Green, Jeff Faine
and Kellen Winslow Jr..

"That's the ultimate goal right now," Edwards said on the first day of
minicamp for rookies and undrafted free agents. "My agent knows where
I stand on that. I really would like to be here by the time camp
starts. The organization knows how sincere I am to that. Now it's just
a matter of finding a happy medium and getting it done."

That might be easier said than done. Typically, the starting point in
negotiations is the deal for last year's corresponding pick. If that's
the case, Edwards' agent, Lamont Smith, will work off the rookie
record deal signed by No. 3 overall pick Larry Fitzgerald, the
receiver from Pittsburgh. Fitzgerald signed a six-year, $60 million
deal with the Cardinals.

It exceeded those of No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks, Eli Manning and
Robert Gallery, respectively. It included a $7.5 million signing bonus
and $20.4 million in guaranteed money.

On draft day 2004, Cardinals coach Dennis Green said Fitzgerald was
the best player in the draft - and then he put his money where his
mouth was. Similarly, Browns General Manager Phil Savage has said that
Edwards was the top player on the Browns' board.

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

Every team and player should have the goal of avoiding a player hold
out. It almost always winds up hurting the player's development, and
the team as well. It is a good sign that Edwards is highly motivated
to get into camp on time so that he can start developing some
chemistry with new Browns QB Trent Dilfer and become the true #1 WR
that this team has always lacked. Sounds like things could get tricky
though if the Edwards camp wants to use the Larry Fitzgerald contract
as their benchmark.

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

6. DEN  Broncos believe RB Clarett ready to break free of past

Clipped from: Rocky Mountain News article by Jeff Legwold, 4/30/05

When Maurice Clarett's name was read to conclude the first day of the
draft April 23, jaws dropped, eyebrows were raised. The Broncos were
roundly questioned for taking a player who was described as little
more than a questionable guy.

A quitter, some scouts had said. Too slow. Just trouble. Three strikes
and Clarett was out, in the view of many NFL insiders and fans. Some
wondered if he might even be worth drafting, let alone a first-day
pick.

"We knew it would shock some people," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan
said. The people who weren't shocked were the ones moving Clarett up
their draft boards in the six weeks leading up to selection weekend.
What they knew was that the three strikes against Clarett probably
were two too many.

In a startling renaissance, not only did Clarett drop his 40-yard dash
time from a disappointing 4.78 seconds to a respectable 4.67 in his
final predraft workout, he actually won over some people concerned
about his personality.

A psychological profile used by many NFL teams on draft prospects
showed that Clarett not only wasn't a wayward, yeah-whatever kind of
guy as believed but a driven, goal-oriented player willing to work
within the framework of a team.

Shanahan will not comment on what tests the Broncos use on draft
prospects, but two other teams said this week Clarett scored "very,
very high" and "over the top" in those traits. In fact, his results
were among the best of any player in the draft, several teams said.

"We've had extensive meetings with psychiatrists on him on two
different occasions," said Charley Armey, general manager of the St.
Louis Rams, who likely would have selected Clarett as early as the end
of the fourth round. "The risk/reward is very good on that player."
The Rams and Broncos weren't alone. The Dallas Cowboys were prepared
to take Clarett in the fourth round. Others had moved him up their
draft boards, too.

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

This is a very interesting article on Maurice Clarett and suggests
that his attitude and personality may not be as bad as previously
thought. On draft day, it seemed like a reach to many when the Broncos
took him at the end of the 1st day, but apparently the Rams and
Broncos were also interested in drafting him. Shanahan certainly has a
track record of getting the most out of his RBs, so if he likes
Clarett, there must be a good reason. As is usually the case, the
Broncos backfield should be one of the most closely watched situations
this offseason.

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

7. JAX  Jaguars players enjoying new offense

Clipped from: Washington Times AP article by Mark Long, 4/30/05

When quarterback Byron Leftwich first saw Jacksonville's new playbook
a few weeks ago, he immediately called running back Fred Taylor. "This
is going to be fun," Leftwich said. "Yeah, there's some good stuff in
there," Taylor responded.

Leftwich, Taylor and the rest of the Jaguars have been even more
impressed after seeing the system in action during minicamp Friday and
Saturday. "The offense is about just letting the receivers get down
the field and make some plays," backup quarterback David Garrard said.
"That's definitely something that's been lacking here the last couple
of years."

The Jaguars finished last in the AFC and 29th in the league in scoring
last season, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was fired two
days after the season. Musgrave was blamed for not getting the most
out of an offense that featured Leftwich, Taylor and receiver Jimmy
Smith. The Jags struggled all season in the red zone, on third downs
and in short-yardage situations.

Coach Jack Del Rio replaced Musgrave with Southern California
quarterbacks coach Carl Smith, who tutored Heisman Trophy winner Matt
Leinart last season and helped the Trojans win the national
championship.

Smith has coached 12 years in college, three in the USFL and 17 in the
NFL. He has worked with such pocket passers as Tim Couch in Cleveland,
Drew Bledsoe in New England and Jim Everett in New Orleans. When Smith
introduced the Jaguars to his offense, the first thing he told them
was, "We're going to go for it."

So far, so good. The numerous deep balls have been the highlight of
the three-day minicamp.

"Instead of scoring on 11- and 12-play drives, let's score on one
play," said Jimmy Smith, who was admittedly frustrated in Musgrave's
system. "The previous offense wasn't a vertical system, and I think we
all realized that. In that type of system, it gives the defense more
opportunities to create a turnover or for us to have a penalty and for
something to go bad rather than going for the throat."

The Jaguars should have the personnel to make the offense work, too,
especially after drafting big-play receivers in the first round the
last two years.

Reggie Williams, the ninth overall pick in 2004, caught just 27 passes
for 268 yards despite starting every game last season. But the
6-foot-4 wideout has slimmed down, sped up and been one of the
offensive stars of the minicamp. Ernest Wilford, a fourth-round pick
last year, Cortez Hankton and Troy Edwards also have looked sharp. And
this year's first-round selection, speedy Arkansas
quarterback-turned-receiver Matt Jones, showed glimpses of brilliance
before straining a hamstring Friday.

"We have some talented wide receivers, some guys that can make plays,"
Del Rio said. "Certainly as a football team we need to throw it and
catch it better. Everybody knows that, and we will."

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

The Jaguars continue to look like one of the more promising young
teams in the league. The defense made strides last year, and the
offense may do the same in 2005. Leftwich is an extremely talented
passer who now has a talented group of WRs to throw to, and an
offensive system designed to attack opposing defenses. A slimmer
Reggie Williams, who played too heavy last year and looked more like a
TE, along with the addition of Matt Jones and continued improvement
from Ernest Wilford could be enough to push Leftwich up to a top-10
fantasy QB in his 3rd year.

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

8. BUF  JP Losman era begins in Buffalo

Clipped from: Buffalo News article by Mark Gaughan, 4/30/05

Losman and 83 other Bills teammates went through the first of three
days of minicamp workouts at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It was the start of
a long on-the-field education to get Losman ready to run the show when
the Bills open their season against Houston on Sept. 11.

In stepping into the shoes of 12-year veteran Drew Bledsoe, Losman is
focused on earning the respect of his teammates. The first step is
proving he has the program down cold.

Losman showed up in Buffalo on Feb. 7 to begin work and has been
studying daily for the past 11 weeks under the eyes of Bills
quarterbacks coach Sam Wyche.

"He did a good job of commanding the huddle," said receiver Eric
Moulds. "He called the plays correctly and he did a great job of
getting people lined up and getting people in motion. I think he
missed some throws today but at the same time he's still young and he
has a long time to get ready for the season," Moulds said. "He's going
to have some missed throws and some missed reads. But he's going to
make some big plays also, because he can scramble and he can throw on
the run. - And we've surrounded him with a lot of guys who know how to
play."

"The best part of the day was you could tell the guys on the team were
anxious to see how well I knew the offense - the linemen especially,
and I think the offensive coordinator," Losman said, referring to
coach Tom Clements. "I've been working predominantly with Sam, so he
(Clements) didn't really know himself. I could see he started saying
the plays, and then he started saying them faster. He's like, "Dang,
the kid got it.' So he started saying them faster. And we just started
rolling. It was a good feeling."

Coach Mike Mularkey thought it was a good start for Losman.

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

The Bills made a huge leap of faith when they decided to hand the
starting job over to Losman this offseason after just a few cameo
appearances last season. Losman is doing his best to reward their
faith in him and has been working out and studying with QB coach Sam
Wyche for nearly the past 3 months. Most stories that come out at this
point of year are positive, so it's hard to read too much into all
this. Nevertheless, all the time Losman is putting in now should give
him a head start when training camp rolls around, and also help him
gain the confidence of his veteran teammates and the coaching staff.

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

9. IDP: CIN  Pollack feels out of place as linebacker

Clipped from: Washington Times AP article by Joe Kay, 4/30/05

The 17th overall pick in the NFL draft took his first steps Friday in
a major transformation. The defensive lineman from Georgia is moving
to outside linebacker in the pros, a position he has never played.

In four years at Georgia, Pollack lined up at defensive tackle and
end. He still had an end's number - 99 - and mentality when he arrived
for the Bengals' rookie minicamp, two things he needs to change.

"I'd rather have a number in the 50s to look like a linebacker,
because I am a linebacker now," he said. "Yesterday we had to stand
up, tell our position, the university you went to and your hometown. I
stood up and went, 'David Pollack, defensive ... uh, linebacker,
University of Georgia.' I had to catch myself."

His assignment is to catch on quickly. Pollack didn't think it would
be smooth, but had no idea it would be as tough as it turned out on
his first day.

He got his playbook and studied the X's and O's on Thursday night with
(Odell) Thurman, a Georgia teammate who has played middle linebacker
his entire career. Pollack saw where the X lined up on paper and
envisioned himself there on the field.

Unfortunately, the visualization didn't work so well. When the rookies
practiced lining up during a light workout on Friday morning, Pollack
kept forgetting where he was supposed to be. It bothered him.

"I want to be good, and I'm not good yet. I've got to start over. I
didn't know where to get into position. I was frustrated because I
felt it was my responsibility to know that. But I can look at the
playbook all night and it seems like it doesn't soak in necessarily
until I do it."

By the afternoon practice, he had figured it out enough that he could
smile when practice ended. "This morning, I think he was a little
frustrated," said Thurman, Pollack's roommate for the weekend. "Then,
it started to click. He's catching on real fast. I knew that was going
to happen."

So far, Pollack has been more demanding than the coaches, who expect a
break-in period. The main thing they're looking for is progress from
one practice to another. "When you're playing something totally
different, I think they'll understand," Pollack said. "I think they'll
have patience with me for a little while. But that patience will wear
out if I keep messing up. The important thing for me is I've got to
learn not to do the same thing (wrong) over and over. I think that's
the one thing coaches can't stand."

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

Moving from college to the pros is probably hard enough, but doing it
while switching positions sounds particularly challenging. Pollack has
been one of the most productive DEs in the country over the past few
years, and now he'll have to learn how to do things he's never done
before. He likely would have been a better fit as an OLB in a 3-4
scheme than he will in Cincinnati's 4-3. He's a hard worker and will
probably pick it up eventually, but expect plenty of growing pains for
him. At worst, he should contribute as a pass rush specialist right
away.

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

10. IDP: IND  DE Mathis and CB Strickland staying put

Clipped from: Indy Star article by Mike Chappell, 4/30/05

When the four-week summer school opens on May 16, two veterans will
find themselves at familiar spots: Robert Mathis at defensive end and
Donald Strickland at cornerback.

The team had considered moving Mathis to outside linebacker and
Strickland back to safety, where he started eight games as a rookie in
2003. There's still a chance Strickland will see playing time at
safety if the team deems the current prospects unsatisfactory.

"I think it would be a mistake to move him right now," Dungy said of
Strickland. "Guys playing the same position the longest do the best."

Strickland started the first four games at cornerback in 2004 before
undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.

As for Mathis, the Colts have determined to leave well enough alone.
They believe he could develop into a play-making outside linebacker in
time. But they know he's a play-making end. Despite being used
primarily as a pass rusher in the nickel package a year ago, Mathis
was tied for third in the AFC with 10.5 sacks.

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

Important information here for Mathis owners and Strickland owners.
Mathis had a breakout season in 2004 playing opposite Freeney on
passing downs, and a position change seemed like a bad idea. As for
Strickland, he's a physical CB who played well as a rookie safety in
2003. The team currently has two very highly regarded safeties on the
roster in Bob Sanders and Mike Doss, but both are ideally suited to
play strong safety so a spot at free safety could potentially open up
if either struggles.

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

11. IDP: MIN  CB Williams will be nickel cornerback; CB Irvin leaves
minicamp in contract dispute

Clipped from: ESPN.com article by Len Pasquarelli, 4/30/05

Three-year veteran cornerback Brian Williams, who has started all 32
games for the Minnesota Vikings over the past two years but figures to
be bumped playing in the nickel package in 2005, has re-signed with
the team.

Williams, 25, signed the one-year restricted free agent qualifying
offer worth $1.43 million that the Vikings had tendered him two months
ago. Despite two straight strong seasons, Williams drew little
interest in free agency, in part because any team that signed him to
an offer sheet would have been forced to compensate Minnesota with a
first-round draft choice.

If he does not sign an extension before next spring, Williams will be
eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.

The physical Williams, a strong run-support defender who registered a
career-best 111 tackles in 2004, was the team's starter at right
cornerback in both 2003 and 2004. The acquisition of unrestricted free
agent Fred Smoot from Washington means that Williams will surrender
his starting job, but he will still log considerable playing time
because, like most teams, Minnesota uses three cornerbacks more than
50 percent of the time.

Williams joins Smoot and Antoine Winfield in providing the Vikings one
of the best cornerback trios in the NFL. It is important for any team
to go three deep at cornerback, but especially now in the NFC North.
The Detroit Lions can put three former first-round wide receivers on
the field at the same time, and Green Bay often uses three-wideout
formations.

A fourth-round choice in the 2002 draft, Williams started seven games
as a rookie, then moved into the lineup full time the following
season. He had five interceptions in 2003 and, while his pickoffs
dropped to two in 2004, he still recorded 16 passes defensed. In fact,
in his two seasons as a starter, Williams had 16 pass deflections each
year. He also averaged 90 tackles in that stretch, an unusually high
number for a cornerback.

The former North Carolina State standout has 208 tackles, eight
interceptions, 38 passes defensed and 208 tackles in 48 appearances
and 39 starts.

In a related item, 10-year veteran Ken Irvin, scheduled to be the
Vikings' No. 4 corner this year, departed the team's minicamp on
Friday in a contract dispute. Irvin, who missed the entire 2004 season
with a ruptured right Achilles tendon, is entering the final year of
his contract and scheduled to have a base salary of $1.5 million. The
Vikings have asked him to reduce that salary.

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

The Vikings made some major improvements on defense last year and have
made even more this year. The additions of Smoot and Sharper give the
Vikings one of the most talented secondaries in the league. Ken Irvin
provides quality depth, but the team would probably be fine with Ralph
Brown as their #4 CB if he doesn't agree to a pay cut and winds up
being released. All the pieces are in place for the Vikings to have a
dominant defense, but we'll have to wait and see how well they play
together.

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12. IDP: MIA  Dolphins hope rookie LB Crowder's knees hold up

Clipped from: Sun-Sentinel.com article by Alex Marvez, 4/30/05

Frequently swarming to the football in his No. 52 jersey, linebacker
Channing Crowder was easy to spot Friday in his debut at Dolphins
rookie minicamp. But while such high-energy play was one of his
trademarks the past two seasons at the University of Florida, how long
Crowder can stay on the field in the NFL is a subject of conjecture
that may have negatively affected his standing in last weekend's
draft.

Crowder said he has had three surgeries on the anterior cruciate
ligament in his right knee, the first during his sophomore year of
high school, as well as an arthroscopic procedure on the same knee.
Crowder also said he had surgery on his left anterior cruciate
ligament. "I probably shouldn't be walking, but I'm blessed," said
Crowder, who was drafted in the third round.

One NFL franchise that was surveyed said it was concerned enough about
Crowder's right knee that he was not ranked as a first-day pick.
Another gave him bad marks for medical and character issues stemming
from several college arrests.

"You have to distinguish the injury situation," one NFL executive
said. "This is more a longevity thing because he did play last year.
How he functions on the field is far more important than the clinical
diagnosis. For the first part of his contract, he should be fine. But
you do have risks after that."

The possibility that Crowder's knees could affect his draft status
prompted his agent, Joel Segal, to send him to renowned sports surgeon
Dr. James Andrews for an examination. Andrews wrote a letter to all 32
NFL teams stating Crowder doesn't have a degenerative knee condition
and that he isn't at an increased risk of additional ACL tears.

Dolphins coach Nick Saban said Friday that Crowder's medical history
made Crowder a "moderate risk." But the Dolphins did their own medical
research when contacting Gators physician Dr. Pete Indelicato, a knee
specialist and former Dolphins team physician who vouched for
Crowder's health.

That was good enough for the Dolphins to select Crowder, who Saban
said has the ability to play all three linebacker positions in the
team's 4-3 defensive alignment.

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Crowder was considered a first round pick and the best ILB in the
draft for most of the offseason, but his stock dropped in the weeks
leading up to the draft due to concerns about his knees and character.
Those three separate surgeries on his ACL definitely seems like a
legit reason to be concerned, but Dr. James Andrews and the Gators
team doctor both vouched for him, so perhaps he'll be alright. If he
stays healthy, Crowder should provide the Dolphins with a physical
presence at LB and could be one of the steals of the draft.

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13. IDP: IND  Rookie DB Jackson ready to make impact in Colts secondary

Clipped from: FortWayne.com AP article by Michael Marot, 4/30/05

Marlin Jackson hopes this weekend's rookie minicamp is just the first
step toward earning a starting job. But first, he must overcome the
steepest of learning curves.

Rookie cornerbacks usually get picked on by NFL quarterbacks, and even
the slightest mistake - a step in the wrong direction, a hesitation,
turning his hips the wrong way - can be the difference between making
a big play and giving one up.

Jackson is the Colts' latest hope to shore up a beleaguered secondary.

During the last six years, Indianapolis has spent more than one-third
of its draft picks - 17 of 49 - on defensive backs, with marginal
success. Big-hitting safeties Bob Sanders and Mike Doss are expected
to man the middle, and the Colts are hoping Jackson's size will give
them a new element on the outside.

President Bill Polian and coach Tony Dungy believe Jackson, at 6-foot
and 196 pounds, is strong enough to challenge the NFL's biggest
receivers and quick enough to run with them. If comparisons mean
anything, the Colts think they've hit the jackpot. "When I asked
(Michigan coach) Lloyd Carr who he'd compare him to, Lloyd said he's a
lot like Ty Law," Dungy said. "We hope that's what we get."

Now Jackson must live up to that standard, and Dungy undoubtedly
believes he can. "We think Marlin can be a complete corner," Dungy
said. "We think he can cover people, tackle people and be physical. I
think that's what a corner has to do, he has to be a complete corner."

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Marlin Jackson has been one of the best cornerbacks in the Big 10 over
the past few years and is following in the footsteps of players like
Ty Law and Charles Woodson. He's a physical CB who also played safety
for one season at Michigan, and should be a great fit in the Colts
cover-2 defensive scheme, which requires that its CBs be able to make
tackles and help in the run defense.

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

J


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