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Volume 6, Issue 14 (Monday, May 2nd)

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Hi Folks,

It was a busy day. Kellen Winslow's Evel Knievel act may be costly.
The Eagles aren't making much progress with their disgruntled
offensive stars. And Bills rookie TE Kevin Everett's season could be
over before it started. Thanks to our Mark Wimer for rounding these up
today. Let's jump to it.



Site News:

A. Early Bird Discount good till May 20. For you guys that pay
attention to Football in May, we're offering a discounted price for
the Footballguys subscription. We held the price from last year of
just $19.95 for you until May 20, 2005. Jump on it here  It's everything you need to dominate your

B. More Team Reports. They keep rolling...

1. Houston Team Report
by Mike Anderson, David Baker, Mike Herman and Chris Smith 

2. Indianapolis Team Report
by Mike Anderson, David Baker, Mike Herman and Chris Smith 

3. Pittsburgh Team Report
by Keith Overton, Mike Herman and Chris Smith 

4. Tampa Bay Team Report
by Will Grant, Bob Magaw, Mike Herman and Chris Smith 



1. CLE TE Kellen Winslow Injured in Motorcycle Accident
2. Eagles Irked with RB Westbrook, WR Owens Over Skipped Minicamp
3. Raiders' New FB Konrad Announces Surprise Retirement
4. Bills' Rookie WR Roscoe Parrish Impresses During Minicamp
5. Eagles' Rookie WR Brown Does Well During Minicamp
6. Eagles' RB Buckhalter "I know what it takes to get back."
7. Jets' QB Fiedler: Looking Sharp
8. Lions' First Minicamp: Everyone Participates, Expectations High
9. Packers' WR Walker: Team Ready to Move On Without Him?
10. Texans' Rookie WR Jerome Mathis Impresses in Minicamp
11. Vikings' WR Burleson: The Next Minnesota Go-To Guy?
12. Vikings' PK: Elling Gets Vote of Confidence from Tice
13. Panthers' Backup WRs: Open Contest for Youngsters in Camp
14. Chiefs' Rookie WR Thorpe: Can He Come Back From "Shattered" Leg?
15. Buccaneers' Rookie Skill Position Players Praised by Gruden
16. Bills' TE Everett: ACL Tear, Out for the Season?
17. Cowboy's Newest RB: Anthony Thomas
18. Cowboys' D/ST: DC Zimmer Sees Promise
19. Bears' D/ST: Some Early Reviews After Rookie Mini-Camp
20. IDP: Packers Likely to Start Rookie at S This Season


1. TE Kellen Winslow Injured in Motorcycle Accident

Clipped from: CBS Wire Reports, 5/2/05

Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was injured in a
motorcycle accident, but the team said his injuries aren't

Winslow was riding in a community college parking lot Sunday when he
hit a curb at about 35 mph and was thrown from the motorcycle, police
Lt. Ray Arcuri said.

He was taken by ambulance to Fairview Hospital and was scheduled to be
transferred to the Cleveland Clinic on Monday where the team's medical
staff would treat him, Browns spokesman Bill Bonsiewicz said.

"He went over the handlebars and was real evasive about what the
injuries were," Arcuri said.

Winslow was wearing a helmet, but it wasn't strapped on and flew off
his head, Arcuri said.

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

The snake-bitten career of Kellen Winslow continues to face
challenges. Hopefully, he wasn't seriously injured, but it's no joke
to go flying through the air at 35 mph without a helmet on your head.
CBS Sportsline reports that Winslow complained of chest pains after
the accident, and that he hit a small tree at the edge of the parking
lot hard enough to tear it out of the ground. Go here for the extra
details: . Other sources
are reporting that he's not seriously injured and that he should be
fine. There does appear to be some issues on how this will affect some
escalator clauses in the contract and also the contractual language
about what constitutes dangerous activities that Winslow is supposed
to be avoiding. It's standard to include language in the contracts
prohibiting "dangerous activities not related to football" and
motorcycle riding is often included among the off limits activities.
Violating this part of the contract could lead to potentially
significant financial penalties. Stay tuned.


2. Eagles Irked with RB Westbrook, WR Owens Over Skipped Minicamp

Clipped from: Philadelphia Daily News article by Les Bowen, 5/2/05

Unofficially, management is really upset - not just with wideout
Terrell Owens, whom the Eagles might try to declare in violation of a
standard clause they place in every contract, which could allow them
to try to recoup about $1.8 million of Owens' $9.6 million signing
bonus - but also with running back Brian Westbrook.

Westbrook didn't attend the minicamp because he is not under contract,
having not yet signed the 1-year, $1.43 million restricted-free-agent
tender he was offered in February. But a team source noted that
restricted free agents almost always sign the tender in time to attend
the mandatory minicamp; they can't be signed by other teams after
April 15. Last year, Eagles restricted free agents Correll Buckhalter
and Keith Adams signed in time for the mandatory camp.

Last week, agent Anthony Agnone told the Daily News his client still
considers himself an integral part of the team and will sign the
tender by June 15, the date when the Eagles are allowed to substitute
a lesser offer. The Eagles will have completed all their minicamps by
then. Agnone, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said
last week that Westbrook will be in training camp and very much wants
to come to a long-term agreement with the Birds. But the team source
said that unless something changes dramatically, there seems little
chance of that happening; the team and Agnone have not been on the
same page in negotiations. The Eagles did not take the decision to
hold off on signing the tender and skip minicamp as a positive step.

It's unclear, meanwhile, whether the Eagles will try to get money back
from Owens, a move that would raise the stakes in their disagreement
over T.O. and agent Drew Rosenhaus' attempt to get Owens' 7-year
contract revised after one season. According to sources, the Eagles
place language in every contract that allows them to come after part
of the signing bonus should the player breach the contract. The team
isn't believed to have ever invoked the clause. According to a recent
story in the Washington Post, the NFLPA advised Owens against signing
the Eagles contract. Given Owens' controversial history, that clause
might have been the reason.

Rosenhaus yesterday refused to discuss any aspect of Owens' situation,
and said he doesn't plan to do so in the near future.

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

The situation between the Eagles and these two key offensive skill
position players is worsening. If both sides continue to move towards
more confrontational stances, the squabbles could become very long,
drawn-out affairs. That wouldn't be good news for the Eagles' offense,
as even top pros like McNabb and Owens need plenty of repetitions
together to stay at the peak of their games.


3. Raiders' New FB Konrad Announces Surprise Retirement

Clipped from: Mercury News article by Steve Corkran, 5/2/05

Fullback Rob Konrad has decided to retire before he plays a game for
the Raiders, his agent said Sunday.

"His heart's just not in it anymore," said Drew Rosenhaus, Konrad's
agent. "I tried to talk him out of it, but this is what he wants to
do. He has lost his love, his passion for the game."

Konrad, 28, did not participate in Oakland's three-day mini-camp over
the weekend.

The Raiders signed Konrad in March to a one-year, $700,000 contract.
Konrad said then that he was looking forward to reuniting with Coach
Norv Turner. Both were with the Miami Dolphins in 2002-03, when Turner
was offensive coordinator.

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

Hopefully, the Raiders can find another veteran FB to open holes for
LaMont Jordan  but the loss of Konrad won't be easy to address, as he
had intimate knowledge of the Raiders' system. As the article goes on
to report, Konrad has struggled with injuries over the past 2 seasons,
which makes us wonder if his decision wasn't at least partly


4. Bills' Rookie WR Roscoe Parrish Impresses During Minicamp

Clipped from: Buffalo Democrat and Chronicle article by Leo Roth, 5/2/05

Wide receiver Roscoe Parrish sprinted down the sideline and with a
perfectly timed jump to beat the cornerback, latched onto a long pass
from quarterback J.P. Losman.

Later, Parrish ran a curl route, catching the ball and spinning up
field so fast, the helpless defender nearly corkscrewed himself into
the turf trying to keep up.

The reaction from the media watching the Buffalo Bills' top draft
choice during a three-day mini-camp that concluded Sunday at Ralph
Wilson Stadium?

No. 11 sure got faster.

Having been assigned the number worn by ex-quarterback Drew Bledsoe 
OK, so Drew was 8 inches taller and 70 pounds heavier  Parrish went
out and turned heads all weekend with the raw speed, deft hands and
playmaking skills that made him one of the most exciting players in
college football last fall at the University of Miami.

"I was somewhat nervous coming out on the field," Parrish said after
his first NFL practice. "The main thing I knew I had to do was learn
(the plays). Last night, I studied my pages a lot."

Crafting plays for the 5-foot-9, 168-pound dervish may be as simple as
coach Mike Mularkey saying, "Roscoe, run."

Just days into the process of working Parrish into a lineup that
includes Pro Bowl veteran Eric Moulds and last year's rookie
sensation, Lee Evans, the coaches had specific plays for Parrish to
run on third down and in the red zone.

He didn't disappoint, making big catch after big catch.

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

While it is usual for optimism to run high during the early part of
pre-season, it certainly sounds like Parrish was very impressive in
his opportunities during the Bills' mini-camp. While playing behind
Eric Moulds and Lee Evans is likely to limit his fantasy upside this
year in redraft leagues, Parrish is a player who sounds like a solid
pick for dynasty owners with a need at WR. Of course, if either Moulds
or Evans suffers a serious injury, Parrish could make a big splash
during 2005. Keep his name in the back of your mind as a player to
watch during training camp.


5. Eagles' Rookie WR Brown Does Well During Minicamp

Clipped from: Philadelphia Courier-Post article by Don Benevento, 5/02/05

Newly drafted wide receiver Reggie Brown came to his first Eagles
minicamp prepared to be tested.

He was not disappointed.

The No. 35 pick in the second round of last weekend's draft and former
University of Georgia star took advantage of the absence of Terrell
Owens and Freddie Mitchell from camp to make a strong first impression
on both head coach Andy Reid and offense coordinator Brad Childress.

"You're looking at a guy who seemed to pick things up quickly, No. 1,"
Reid said Sunday as the Eagles concluded their three-day camp. "He's
very gifted athletically. He made some plays downfield for us, he
caught some intermediate routes and he did a nice job of that."

No one expects Brown to step in to fill the role that Owens handled
for the team last season. No one is projecting the 77 catches or the
1,200 yards or the 14 touchdowns that Owens contributed. But it's no
secret that Reid would like to put some pressure on his hold-out star

Owens wants to rework the final six years of a seven-year contract,
and Reid likely won't let that happen.

Meanwhile, it seems almost certain Mitchell will not return to the
team. Mitchell was told by Reid to stay away from this camp. But the
coach did not rule out the possibility
Mitchell would be back.

"We'll see how things go," Reid said. "I'm not saying one way or the other."

For his part, Brown knows this is only the beginning.

"This is a process," he said. "You can't feel like you're the only one
who has ever been through this. You take it one step at a time, and
try to take in as much as you can."

During the camp, Brown lined up primarily on the outside in Owens'
position, while Greg Lewis and Billy McMullen played Mitchell's role
in the slot.

McMullen is beginning his third season with the team, and this may be
the last chance he has to prove he belongs. A third-round draft pick
from the University of Virginia in 2003, McMullen has only caught four
passes for 26 yards.

The Eagles liked the contributions Lewis made last season in his
second year when he caught 29 passes for 267 yards. But Reid said
Lewis' role is undefined.

"It depends on how things work out," he said. "We'll see how it goes."

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

Given the contract squabble between Owens and the Eagles, and the lack
of a high-profile receiving corps behind Owens, there may be some
unexpected opportunities for the young receivers on the Eagles'
roster. Another article written about the
Philly mini-camp by the
Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen, indicates the Lewis has a good
shot at stepping into the lime light: "Still, if somebody new is going
to step into the spotlight here, Lewis, the third-year undrafted free
agent from Illinois, might be the most likely bet. He had eight
postseason receptions for 182 yards in three games, given more playing
time than in the regular season, when he caught 17 passes for 183
yards. The Eagles signed him to a 5-year contract extension last fall
that runs through 2011." Obviously, the WR situation in Philadelphia
is fluid heading into training camp. Considering the hugely talented
QB slinging the ball around in Philadelphia, it'll be worth monitoring
who ends up as the #2 WR this year.


6. Eagle's RB Buckhalter "I know what it takes to get back."

Clipped from: Philly Burbs article by Reuben Frank, 5/2/05

Buckhalter was hurt in a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens,
carted off the field with his second season-ending injury in three

He has spent 25 of the last 36 months rehabbing serious injuries, but
it hasn't dampened his enthusiasm or love for the game.

"I know a lot of people are counting me out, but they did that when I
hurt my ACL (before the 2003 season) and I came back from that," said

Buckhalter, 26, probably could have participated in this weekend's
camp, but the coaches wanted to see a lot of the young backs, so there
was no reason to push it.

"I'm ready now," he said. "No need to rush it. Hopefully, this was the
last practice I'll ever have to watch. For the rest of my career."

When the Eagles reconvene for June passing camp, Buckhalter will be on
the field. But June 1 isn't the date he has circled on his calendar.

"No, July 29, that's when training camp starts," he said. "Actually,
Aug. 3. That's the date I'm pointing to. That will probably be the
first day with pads."

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

Buckhalter has proven to be fragile during the early part of his
career, which is likely to dampen fantasy owner's enthusiasm for
drafting him. However, if he can get back to his 2003 form (126 rushes
for 542 yards and 8 TDs, with 10 receptions for 133 yards and 1 TD),
he'll be a valuable reserve fantasy RB with the potential to put up
games like his week 8, 2003 game vs. the New York Jets (15 rushes for
100 yards and 2 TDs). Time will tell what Buckhalter's role will be
during 2005.


7. Jets' QB Fiedler: Looking Sharp

Clipped from: article by Ken Berger, 5/2/05

Here are some thoughts and things we learned from the Jets' three-day
minicamp, which wrapped up yesterday at Hofstra:

The Dol-fans in South Florida will beg to differ, but there are plenty
worse backups in the NFL than Jay Fiedler. The Oceanside native was
sharp, well prepared, and commanded respect in the huddle. And let's
face facts: No matter what Chad Pennington says, Fiedler will be light
years ahead of him when training camp opens. If Fiedler has to start a
game or two this season, he'll be fine.

Laveranues Coles looked comfortable in his surroundings and picked up
where he left off - both on and off the field. Don't expect to see
Coles quoted in the newspaper much; he despises the media. Do expect
his production to return to pre-Redskin levels.

Dick Curl is coaching running backs now ("Hey, Curtis, run that
way!"), and he's also keeping his duties as the clock management guru.
But guru or no guru, it is on Edwards to clean up that area once and
for all this season. There are no more excuses.

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

While it is too early to determine whether Pennington will be ready
for the regular season opener, it is worth noting that Fiedler looks
competent in the Jets' new offense. Fantasy owners with Pennington on
their rosters would be wise to back him up with Fiedler, just in case
the Jets' backup gets the call during 2005. It's also good news to
hear that Coles looked comfortable running routes  we'll see how his
toe holds up during the heavier work of training camp.


8. Lions' First Minicamp: Everyone Participates, Expectations High

Clipped from: Detroit Free Press article by Curt Sylvester, 5/2/05

Coach Steve Mariucci has been around long enough to know better than
to pin his expectations on an enthusiastic minicamp, but he liked what
he saw nevertheless.

"It was kind of an interesting weekend in the meetings and the
lunchroom," Mariucci said. "There's a certain hunger or eagerness with
this bunch. Not only do they want to be good, because that's always
the case. But I think they think they really can be good.

"We've got some playmakers, we're growing up in certain spots.
Everybody's playing and the camaraderie is good. I don't see any
selfish guys out there at all, everybody's keeping the team in mind,
and I think there's a certain optimism in the hallway right now."

Most notably, all of the players were able to participate, including
wide receiver Charles Rogers, linebacker Boss Bailey and kick returner
Eddie Drummond, who were all coming off injuries.

Wide receiver Mike Williams, the Lions' No. 1 draft pick, has much to
learn about the West Coast offense. But he made a good first
impression, as did second-round pick Shaun Cody, a defensive tackle,
and third-round pick Stanley Wilson, a cornerback.

Even the second-day picks -- quarterback Dan Orlovsky, defensive end
Bill Swancutt and linebacker Johnathan Goddard -- and a couple of the
free agent rookies -- fullback Will Matthews of Texas and tight end
Jason Randall of Michigan State -- caught the coaches' attention.

"A lot more pieces are in place now," Mariucci said. "Now, most of the
work is going to be the development of these pieces, putting them
together, getting them to play as a unit and understanding what we do.
Getting good at it and feeling confident in it."

Quarterback Joey Harrington said he has never gone into a season
without high expectations, but he admitted the Lions might be better
prepared to fulfill them.

"Our talent pool is bigger, that's the best way to put it," he said.
"We have more talent out there than I've seen in my last three years
of being here. It's exciting for me to look out there and see those
guys, knowing that if we get things on the same page we could have
some fun."

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

The Lions have a load of potential at the offensive skill positions 
but will their QBs be able to exploit the explosiveness? Another
report about the mini-camp was not very complimentary about veteran QB
Jeff Garcia.
Wrote's Tom Kowalski "Jeff Garcia, the Detroit Lions new
backup quarterback, looked good for the majority of the team's
three-day minicamp, but there were also times when he looked
not-so-good. There were times when Garcia threw short to receivers
downfield, but head coach Steve Mariucci isn't concerned at all. "I
think he's practicing right now as well as he has," said Mariucci,
adding that Garcia would occasionally throw bad practice passes even
during his three-year Pro Bowl run from 2000-02 when Mariucci coached
Garcia with the San Francisco 49ers." As Garcia was brought in to
pressure Joey Harrington and provide an alternative if Harrington
falters, the lukewarm review isn't great news for the Lions' offense.
Time will tell how the Lions jell.


9. Packers' WR Walker: Team Ready to Move On Without Him?

Clipped from: Green Bay News Chronicle article by Todd McMahon, 5/2/05

An unhappy Sherman suggested the team is prepared to go into next
season without Walker. The fourth-year pro skipped the entire minicamp
- the last three days of which were mandatory and will result in a
fine of up to $1,000 per day for Walker - because he wants a new
contract. He's vowed to stay away from the team until his demand is

"We've already moved on," Sherman asserted. "You can't wait for
anybody in regard to that situation. You always put another guy in
(his place), and you go forward. Just like if you get somebody hurt -
you move on, and you go."

To that end, Sherman sang the praises of the receivers in attendance,
particularly young returnees Antonio Chatman and Andrae Thurman.
Draftees Terrence Murphy (second round) and Craig Bragg (sixth), along
with Butler, also attracted notice playing alongside veterans Donald
Driver and Robert Ferguson.

"The strongest position on our team right now probably is the receiver
position," Sherman said.

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

The Packers are in an uncomfortable position with Walker, as there is
no denying he has proven his excellence at the WR position. Whatever
their rhetoric indicates, the Pack can't be happy about the prospect
of not having Walker's talent in the lineup (89/1382/12 receiving last
season), but management also doesn't want to cave in to contractual
demands too easily, either. Right now, the situation isn't critical 
but we'll definitely be keeping our eye on the progress of


10. Texans' Rookie WR Jerome Mathis Impresses in Minicamp

Clipped from: Houston Chronicle article by Carlton Thompson, 5/2/05

It's not easy to overthrow a target as fast as Mathis, who was clocked
at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Mathis
would be the first to admit speed was the reason NFL scouts found him
at Hampton University and the first to admit that speed alone won't
keep him in the league.

The only word more often associated with Mathis than speed is raw.
Mathis didn't play against top-level competition at Hampton, and
didn't even have a position coach during his last two years at the
school. One coach split time between the quarterbacks, running backs
and receivers.

"There are a lot of things he hasn't been exposed to: fundamental
things like route-running techniques, some of the adjustments we have
to make within a route," Texans receivers coach Kippy Brown said.
"It's like anything else  if you haven't done something, it makes you
raw in that particular area."

Whereas Mathis might be a bit raw in terms of how to do things the NFL
way, he's quite seasoned in the play-making department. He averaged
26.4 yards a catch and a touchdown approximately every four times he
touched the ball during his career at Hampton.

"We're working the hell out of him here," general manager Charley
Casserly said. "You can't teach speed and athletic ability and he's
got those two things, and he's got hands. He's hard to cover."

In terms of wow factor, Mathis jumped off the film when Texans coaches
reviewed practice footage. They knew Mathis was an explosive kick
returner at Hampton; they're also trying to get him accustomed to
handling punts.

But the Texans don't see Mathis as a specialist. With more work, they
see him competing with Corey Bradford, Jabar Gaffney and Derick
Armstrong for playing time opposite Andre Johnson.

"Every practice we've had, he's run by somebody and caught a deep
ball," Capers said. "You see the speed show up. I like the way his
hands have looked to this point in time.
He has a lot to learn in terms of running routes, but I think he's a

Mathis is aware of where he needs to improve and has been hanging on
Brown's every word. The fourth-round draft choice wants nothing more
than to be considered an all-around receiver.

"I'm here and I'm happy to be here," he said. "It's a learning
experience, coming in and realizing that you don't know everything and
there's always room for improvement."

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

This is a player to put on your list of deep-sleepers at WR. If Mathis
can continue to improve, he could challenge for playing time during
2005.  His presence could also signal a slip in the fantasy prospects
of Bradford and Gaffney, so if you already have one of these guys on
your roster in a dynasty league, you'll want to pay attention to
Mathis' progress.


11. Vikings' WR Burleson: The Next Minnesota Go-To Guy?

Clipped from: St. Paul Pioneer Press article by Tom Powers, 5/2/05

You can talk about Troy Williamson and the other newcomers all day,
but the truth is that Nate Burleson is the man. The featured combo in
the Vikings' offense this season will be Daunte Culpepper to Nate

"If feels good," Burleson said the other day at minicamp. "But at the
same time, I don't feel like the guy. I feel like I'm a piece of the

Modesty from the No. 1 option on offense? This will take some getting used to...

..."Each day in practice I go against some of the best cornerbacks in
the league," Burleson explained. "When you are going against the best
cornerbacks in practice, defensive backs in the games don't seem as

Isn't that interesting?

Williamson may turn out to be a top player. But Burleson is a proven
commodity. He really came through last season, when Moss suffered
several injuries, and finished with 68 catches for 1,006 yards. Not
bad for a second banana.

Like the rest of us, Burleson was caught off guard when Moss was traded.

"I was shocked," he said. "I never thought it would happen."

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

Considering that Daunte Culpepper has thrown for at least 3, 479 yards
every year during the last 3 years, and hit 379/548 for 4717 yards, 39
TDs and 11 interceptions last season, the new #1 WR in Minnesota is
likely to score a ton of fantasy points. It will be very interesting
to see how Burleson performs with all the pressure on his shoulders.


12. Viking's PK: Elling Gets Vote of Confidence from Tice

Clipped from: St. Paul Pioneer Press article by Don Seeholzer, 5/2/05

That was the word Sunday from coach Mike Tice, who said in so many
words that the job is Aaron Elling's to lose.

"I don't foresee us bringing anyone in just for the sake of bringing
somebody in," Tice said. "You know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That's the way I'm going to look at it. Right now, it's not broke.
(Elling) is hitting the ball real well."

Elling solidified his hold on the job during the Vikings' three-day
weekend minicamp by out kicking kickoff specialist Jose Cortez and
rookie free agent Jonathan Nichols of Mississippi.

Things could change between now and the start of training camp, but
Elling, a third-year veteran, appreciated his coach's early vote of

"I like that," Elling said. "I feel like I'm hitting the ball real
well now. I've kind of found my groove, and I'm back to where I was
before whatever happened. I'm excited for training camp and I like to
hear that. A little confidence always helps."

This has been a nervous offseason for Elling, who lost his job as the
Vikings' kicker in training camp last season but returned for six
games as a kickoff specialist before suffering a broken ankle Nov. 8
at Indianapolis that ended his season.

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

Elling has the early lead in the Viking's place-kicking derby, but if
he starts shanking a bunch of kicks during pre-season, his lead will
quickly evaporate. Right now, though, he looks like the front-runner
for 2005.


13. Panthers' Backup WR: Open Contest for Youngsters in Camp

Clipped from: Herald article by Darin Gantt, 5/2/05

It happens every spring. Each offseason, there's a player who looks so
smooth in non-padded practices that he captures the imaginations of
fans and sometimes coaches alike.

This year's nominee figures to be wide receiver Drew Carter, who could
take advantage of the short numbers at his position to make a dent in
the Carolina Panthers roster. It doesn't hurt that he opened eyes in
minicamp with a number of nice catches and several instances of
getting away from talented defensive backs.

The 2004 fifth-round pick didn't play as a rookie after suffering his
third tear of an anterior cruciate ligament in last June's coaching
sessions. Similar injuries cost him all or part of two other college
seasons, making him a major unknown. But the same can be said about
the Panthers wide receiver position in general, giving Carter a shot.

Top receiver Steve Smith's coming back from a broken ankle and should
be fine soon. Fellow starter Keary Colbert should improve from an
up-and-down rookie season, and veteran Ricky Proehl is back for a
final season. Beyond that, there's not much aside from standout
special teams players Karl Hankton and Micah Ross.

Panthers coach John Fox said Carter impressed him this weekend, and
benefited from being around the program last year even though he never
ran a route past June 2.

"Mentally, it really helps a lot," Fox said. "He's very sharp. (Wide
receivers coach) Richard Williamson said that he would take the test
the players get each week and would do outstanding. With Drew, it's a
matter of physically getting healthy.

Clipped from: Charlotte Observer article by Stan Olson, 5/2/05

Taylor Stubblefield caught more passes than any NCAA Division I
receiver in history while at Purdue -- 316. Then he sat and waited for
his named to be called during the NFL draft.

It never happened, and he signed with the Carolina Panthers as an
undrafted free agent.

"I sat there, especially as the second day (of the draft) started,
watching the fourth and fifth and sixth round, and I was very
frustrated," he said Sunday following the final practice of Carolina's
minicamp. "Looking at the guys that went in front of me made me very

Stubblefield isn't particularly tall (5-foot-11) or fast (4.69-second
speed in the 40-yard dash), and that combination dropped him off most
draft boards. But he was productive, with good hands and precise
routes, and those plusses impressed many teams.

"Before the draft was even over, there were about 10 or 12 teams that
called," he said. He picked the Panthers because of their recent
success, because he knows several players, and because of his
perception that he has a chance to make the team.

Now he's wearing that Panthers-blue No. 3 jersey, and no longer thinks
of that draft-day disappointment.

"I'm excited to be a part of this organization," he said. "And
hopefully, I can contribute."

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

As we saw last year when Steve Smith went down and Keary Colbert was
elevated into the starting lineup, yesterday's backup can easily
become today's starter in the NFL. Carter and Stubblefield are two of
the players who may make the Panther's final cut come September  they
are worth keeping in the back of your mind as deep sleepers.


14. Chiefs' Rookie WR Thorpe: Can He Come Back From "Shattered" Leg?

Clipped from: Kansas City Star article by Elizabeth Merrill, 5/2/05

It was a simple choice of words. "Craphonso Thorpe Shatters Leg."
Thorpe was lying on the field, with 83,000 watching, and he just
didn't get up. A teammate motioned for his parents to come. His mom
sprinted down the bleachers.

Michelle Thorpe said those words probably cost her son millions.

"It was never a shatter," she said. "We heard that's how he dropped.
His leg. The media said it was shattered, but it was a clean break."

Never argue with an NFL mom holding a large camera. The Thorpes were
in Kansas City over the weekend watching Craphonso, a fourth-round
draft pick, work in his first NFL
camp. They love Kansas City.

They say the Chiefs got a steal...

...Excuse Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil if he holds off on assessing
Thorpe's draft value. After three days of rookie camp, it was hard to
tell. Two nervous quarterbacks  James Kilian and Jason White  spent
part of the weekend off target. Thorpe, like most rookie receivers,
struggled to run different routes.

"He'll be OK," Vermeil said after Sunday's final workout. "He's got a
lot of work to do, though. It's hard to go full speed and think at the
same time when you're not sure you're going the right direction and
doing the right thing."

The 6-foot, 187-pound Thorpe compared the playbook to math: Get the
basic stuff down, and keep adding. Thorpe calls Chiefs offensive
coordinator Al Saunders a "football mastermind." He says the offense,
which ranked No. 1 in the NFL last year, is a perfect fit.

Thorpe was master of another high-powered offense in 2003 when had 51
catches for 994 yards at Florida State. He was blocking a North
Carolina State defender on an overtime play when he broke both major
bones in his right leg. The Chiefs' draft media packet called the
injury "gruesome." The word "shattered" was also used.

Whatever it was, Thorpe is ready for the questions to end.

"I'm just trying to show everybody I'm healthy," Thorpe said. "That
was the biggest question about me coming in.

"I think I have more of a drive, more of a hunger. It was tough
getting that confidence back, but I had a whole season to work through

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

The Chiefs don't have a deep stable of veteran receivers, so if Thorpe
really is all the way back to his top form, the youngster may have a
shot at a roster spot.


15. Buccaneers' Rookie Skill Position Players Praised by Gruden

Clipped from: Orlando Sentinel article by Chris Harry, 5/2/05

The Buccaneers wrapped up their three-day mini-camp Sunday, with Coach
Jon Gruden excited about the prospects of his newest players.

"We got a lot done," Gruden said. "I'm was very pleased with the
execution. We got better and better. That's as good a rookie camp as I
can remember."...

..."When you combine good players with guys I think are very good
position coaches, you have a chance to have a really good camp,"
Gruden said.

Tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, the team's No. 1 pick and fifth
overall, along with tight end Alex Smith (3rd round) and wide
receivers Larry Brackens (5th), Paris Warren (7th) and J.R. Russell
(7th) received praise from a head coach desperately seeking some
firepower on offense.

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

The Buccaneers hope to turn around an offense that ranked 29th in
rushing yards per game last season (93.1 yards per game), and 14th in
passing yards per game (217.1 yards per game). Williams figures to
make an immediate impact, but we'll wait and see which receivers
emerge from the pack during training camp before we get too excited
about the rest of the players mentioned.


16. Bills' TE Everett: ACL Tear, Out for the Season?</A>

Clipped from: CBS Wire Reports, 5/02/05

Buffalo Bills rookie tight end Kevin Everett has a torn left knee
ligament and could miss the start of the season. Bills spokesman Scott
Berchtold said Monday that the team's third-round pick will have
surgery. There is no timetable for Everett's return.

It generally takes players four to six months to recuperate from such
an injury. That means Everett would miss most if not all of training
camp, which is scheduled to open in late July. The Bills then must
decide whether to keep him on their roster or put him on injured
reserve, ending his season.

Everett was hurt during minicamp Friday when he made a catch and his
foot appeared to stick in the turf when he planted to turn up field.
He needed help getting up before being driven away in a cart.

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

On 4/30/05, our Aaron Rudnicki extended the hope that the injury,
originally reported to be a twisted knee, would be a sprain. However,
that hope has gone sour, as Everett is likely to be out for the season
after just one day of practice. The Bills have had a tough run of
injuries at this position. Ryan Neufeld is the player next on the
depth chart behind Mark Campbell and Tim Euhus, who are both coming
off knee injuries that occurred last season. If neither Campbell nor
Euhus can go to begin the season, Neufeld would be the starter by


17. Cowboy's Newest RB: Anthony Thomas

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 5/2/05

Free agent running back Anthony Thomas agreed to a one-year deal
Monday with the Dallas Cowboys.

Thomas will provide depth at running back and some veteran experience,
especially after the release last week of Richie Anderson. Julius
Jones became the top back as a rookie last season for the Cowboys, who
also chose Marion Barber in the fourth round of the NFL draft.

Financial terms for Thomas weren't released.

A second-round pick out of Michigan in 2001, Thomas had two 1,000-yard
seasons in his four years with the Chicago Bears. The 1,183 yards he
had as a rookie were his career high. He had 404 yards rushing and two
touchdowns in 12 games last season.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Thomas gives the Cowboys a short-yardage threat.

"Anthony will provide an excellent complement to the other backs we
have on the roster," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He gives us
depth and experience. His addition will make us take a long hard look
at carrying four backs on the roster in the fall."

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

While this is a great NFL move, giving the Cowboys veteran depth and
change-of-pace options for Dallas, it may negatively impact Julius
Jones' fantasy value if Anthony Thomas becomes a goal-line
"plunge-back" (think Jerome Bettis during the first half of 2004).
He's proven his ability to produce at this level, and could step into
the starting lineup effectively if Julius Jones suffers a serious
injury. Jones owners will probably want to add Thomas as insurance in
the later rounds of their fantasy drafts.


18. Cowboys' D/ST: DC Zimmer Sees Promise

Clipped from: Dallas Star-Telegram article by Charean Williams, 5/2/05

The Cowboys' defense doesn't look anything like itself, which is good.

The Cowboys fell from first in 2003 to 16th in overall defense last
season when they allowed 330.3 yards per game and gave up 406 points.

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has spent the off-season learning
the 3-4 defense. The Cowboys then got him some new talent to go with
the new front, using six of their eight draft picks on defenders after
signing free agents Jason Ferguson, Aaron Glenn and Anthony Henry. The
Cowboys are expected to have at least five new defensive starters,
including first-round picks Demarcus Ware and Marcus Spears.

"It's changed a lot," Zimmer said of his unit compared with a year
ago. " ... The different personalities, I'm going to have to get to
know them. Obviously, they're going to have to get to know me. It's
going to be a good challenge to try to get them all on the same page
and doing everything. Just because you've got a bunch of new guys
doesn't mean they're all going to jell, so we're going to have to work
real hard to do that."

Ware, a defensive end/linebacker, and Spears, a defensive end, showed
why they were first-round picks during the team's three-day rookie
minicamp. Linebacker Kevin Burnett, a second-round pick, surprised
Zimmer with his coverage skills. Burnett worked at both inside
linebacker and outside linebacker.

"They were as good as expected," Zimmer said. " ... It is exciting to
have guys who are talented, that can do some different things. It's
good to see this the last couple of days."

Safety net

While the Cowboys are much improved at cornerback, with the free-agent
signings of Anthony Henry and Aaron Glenn, Dallas has done nothing to
improve itself at safety. Roy Williams, a two-time Pro Bowler, will
move to strong safety, leaving Lynn Scott, Keith Davis, Clint Finley
and sixth-round pick Justin Beriault to compete for the free safety
job. Scott started nine games at strong safety last season.

"I think hopefully with the situation we've got at corner now and the
nickel situation, I think that will clarify a lot of the problems that
we had a year ago," Mike Zimmer said.
"I'm excited about that. The safety situation, we've still got to wait
it out and see what's going to happen there and try to get it all
patched together."

The safeties left on the free-agent market aren't enticing. Cowboys
owner Jerry Jones said last week the team isn't interested in former
Cowboy Brock Marion "at this time." Also unsigned are former Cowboy
Omar Stoutmire, released by the New York Giants; Eric Brown, released
by the Houston Texans; and Damien Robinson, released by the Seattle

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

As coach Zimmer pointed out in the interview, it takes time for a unit
with a lot of new pieces to jell  the Cowboys are just starting a
long process. It will be interesting to see how they progress during
the pre-season.


19. Bears' D/ST: Some Early Reviews After Rookie Mini-Camp

Clipped from: Chicago Tribune article by Terry Bannon, 5/2/05

Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera singled out Jonathan Jackson, a
6-foot-2-inch, 250-pound defensive end from Oklahoma, and Talib Wise,
a 6-foot cornerback from Nevada and Simeon High School.

"Jonathan Jackson did a real nice job, and Talib Wise was very good,"
Rivera said.

Wise and another undrafted rookie to watch, cornerback Leroy Smith
from Florida State, missed Sunday's workout with sore legs.

The Bears didn't draft a defensive player until the sixth round, and
then didn't take a cornerback or end.

Sixth-rounder Chris Harris from Louisiana-Monroe is a safety and
seventh-rounder Rod Wilson from South Carolina is an outside
linebacker. Wilson made an acrobatic interception in Sunday's workout.

Safety switch

Coach Lovie Smith said he wanted more production out of the strong
safety position in 2005, and he hopes he found it by moving Mike Brown
from free safety. He'll switch jobs with Mike Green.

At 5-10 and 210 pounds, Brown is smaller than many strong safeties,
but he always has been a big hitter for his size.

"There have been a lot of good ones who've been short but they're
stout, and he's a good football player," Rivera said.

Brown missed the last 14 games of 2004 after tearing his Achilles'
tendon at Green Bay.

"The big plays Mike made for us last year were when he was playing
free safety," Rivera said. "And we also saw that Mike Brown is an
aggressive football player and tremendous blitzer, based on what we
saw in '03 and last year before he got hurt."

Up and down

Wide receiver Mark Bradley, the second-round pick from Oklahoma, had
an up-and-down mini-camp, making some tough catches and missing some
easy ones. After the misses, he promptly did 10 push-ups, the penalty
for not making a play on a catchable ball.

"Pro Bowlers drop them too," Smith said. "We think he'll be a heck of
a football player. We don't have any complaints."

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

The Bears certainly hope that they can improve on defense, considering
their 2004 squad ranked 21st in the NFL allowing an average of 336.9
total yards of offense per game.


20. IDP: Packers Likely to Start Rookie at S This Season

Clipped from: article by Pete Dougherty, 5/2/05

In 14 previous seasons as a defensive assistant in the NFL, Jim Bates
has had only one rookie starter at safety  former first-round pick
Eric Turner with the Cleveland Browns in 1992.

There's a decent chance, though, that one of two draft picks this
year, either second-rounder Nick Collins or fourth-rounder Marviel
Underwood, will be in the starting lineup for Bates' first season as
the Green Bay Packers' defensive coordinator.

Having to start a rookie or two is a fact of life for most teams in
the NFL today because of the yearly roster purges under the salary-cap
system, but there's more concern at safety than several other
positions because they're the quarterbacks of the defense.

However, Bates says he has no qualms about starting Collins or
Underwood, and that there's enough flexibility to put most of the
quarterbacking duties on the other starter if either rookie cracks the

"We'll have time to get (the rookies) ready," Bates said. "We may have
a learning experience where they'll have to learn on the run, but
hopefully we'll have them ready."

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

There are veterans Mark Roman, Arturo Freeman, and Earl Little also in
this mix, so it's hardly a fore-gone conclusion that Collins or
Underwood will actually be an every-down starter  but the potential
is there. If you have a need at DB on your IDP squad, pay attention to
who wins the starting spots, as the Packers play against pass-happy
Minnesota (2nd in completions, 8th in attempts last season) twice per
season, and Detroit also figures to throw the ball a lot if their
young WR corps can stay healthy and effective during 2005.


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


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