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Volume 6, Issue 17 (Thursday, May 5th)

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Hi Folks,

Big news on the site today as we unveiled our first set of Expert Poll
Rankings. That's right, it's May 5, and we've got detailed player
rankings online for you. We'll continue to update these to give you
the best information available. I love getting started on these early
as it gives us time to shape and sharpen our rankings. While some
sites are on their first version of these in July, we'll be on our 5th
update.

As for stories today, it looks like more bad news for Kellen Winslow
Jr. Thanks to our Maurile Tremblay for rounding up these stories
tonight. Have a great Friday and let's jump right to it.

Joe

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

Site News: Expert Poll Cheatsheets Unveiled.
As always, everything is sortable by just clicking on the column you want
to sort by. (Just in case some of you want to see what the other guys think
besides the David & Joe column...) And this year, when you click on the player name,
you'll shoot over to his player page with all the good stuff there
we've been telling you about. We're stoked about these rankings and
we'll continue to sharpen them as news and situations change.

Remember that our Early Bird Discount for subscriptions runs through
May 20. If you sign up by then, you can get on the low price of
$19.95. The subscription will be $24.95 after May 20. You can sign up
here www.footballguys.com We'll do everything we can to help you
dominate your league.

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

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. TE Winslow Likely Done For The Year With Torn ACL
2. QB Losman (BUF) Ready To Soar
3. RB Rhodes (IND) Eying Larger Role
4. WR Clayton A Catch For Ravens
5. TE Mili (SEA) Ballooned To 290, TE Stevens Looks Good
6. RB Cobbs, TE Watson (NWE) Eye Backup Plan
7. Redskins Hope WR Duo Will Produce Long Passing Plays
8. TE McMichael (MIA) Won't Hold Out
9. Buccaneers Look To WR Hilliard For Help
10. Negotiations Under Way For WR Ward (PIT)
11. IDP: Panther LB Fields To Miss Season
12. IDP: DE McDougle, LB Adams (PHI) Named As Starters
13. IDP: LB Thomas (MIA) Tries New Workout Strategy

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

1. TE Winslow Likely Done For The Year With Torn ACL

Clipped from the Tribune Chronicle article by Mike McLain, 5/5/05:

The joy ride Kellen Winslow Jr. took on his motorcycle last Sunday is
expected to cost the Browns highly-touted tight end the 2005 season.

The Tribune Chronicle has learned that Winslow suffered a tear of the
anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Surgery will be
required, which means that Winslow will likely miss the upcoming
season.

Timetables for recovering from ACL surgery vary depending on the
severity of the tear and the individual. A common reference point is a
minimum of eight to 10 months, but it's possible that Winslow might
need a full year to recover from surgery.

The Browns issued a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming that
Winslow was still hospitalized, but no details of the knee injury were
given. The statement did say that concern remains with the right knee.
It went on to say that the team wouldn't comment on any aspects of his
contract.

Winslow, the seventh overall choice in the 2004 draft, was hurt when
he lost control of his Suzuki GSX-R750 and hit a curb in a parking lot
of a community college in Westlake. Winslow, who was traveling an
estimated 35 mph, was thrown over the handlebars and landed in a
landscaped area. His helmet flew off, but he didn't suffer head
injuries.

A report on the "CBS Sportsline" website stated that Winslow might
have punctured a lung and hurt a kidney. The kidney injury is believed
to be a bruise.

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

This story gets worse every day. It should be noted that the Tribune
Chronicle and a few other sources are reporting the injury to be a definitive
ACL tear as of Thursday night. The team has still refused to give any
official word which is somewhat telling in itself. Rich Eisen on the
NFL Network quoted the Tribune Chronicle on Thursday night with this
same info. ESPN's Len Pasquarelli writes Thursday night that Cleveland team
officials have expressed to him that the club "the club 'strongly suspects'
an anterior cruciate tear, based on the degree of swelling in the knee."

Winslow was in breach of his contract's provision specifically
prohibiting him from motorcycling, so the Browns could seek to recover
a large chunk of his signing bonus. (They have not indicated whether
they will do so.)

None of the Browns' last five first-round draft picks -- Winslow
(2004), Jeff Faine (2003), William Green (2002), Gerard Warren (2001),
Courtney Brown (2000), Tim Couch (1999) -- have lived up to
expectations thus far. If you are superstitious, you may want to avoid
drafting this year's top pick, Braylon Edwards.

With Winslow out for the season, the top tight ends on the Browns'
roster are Aaron Shea and Steve Heiden. Both are decent athletes and
adequate receivers who will probably share time at the position, but
neither has the physical talent of Kellen Winslow.

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

2. QB Losman (BUF) Ready To Soar

Clipped from the Sporting News article by Scott Pitoniak, 5/5/05:

Eric Moulds chuckles as he recounts the difficulties J.P. Losman
experienced calling plays at a Bills minicamp last spring.

"He was just a rookie, and the coaches were throwing so many things at
him, his head was spinning," says Moulds, the Bills' veteran receiver.
"A couple of times, he blurted out some plays that must have been from
his high school, college and Pop Warner playbooks."

At the first minicamp of his second season, though, you see a
new-and-improved Losman. You see a self-assured quarterback who has
become as familiar with the playbook as he is with the back of his
passing hand.

Since early February, when the Bills released Drew Bledsoe and handed
the offense to Losman, he has spent more time in a film room than
Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and Oliver Stone combined. Losman's
six-day-a-week regimen, under the tutelage of quarterbacks coach Sam
Wyche, has paid early dividends.

"It's night and day," Moulds says of Losman's transformation. "Last
spring, he didn't even know what he was supposed to do on certain
plays. Now, he knows what all 11 guys are supposed to do on every
play."

That's good because the pressure soon will weigh heavily on the guy
who was carrying Bledsoe's helmet off the practice field last year.
Now, Losman is carrying the hopes of a football-crazed region that's
still yearning for the second coming of Jim Kelly -- nine years after
the greatest quarterback in Bills history retired.

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

QB coach Sam Wyche previously tutored Joe Montana and Boomer Esiason;
Bills fans are hoping he can work the same kind of magic on J.P.
Losman.

The biggest difference between Bledsoe and Losman, aside from Losman's
inexperience, is his mobility. Unlike Bledsoe, Losman can buy extra
time in the pocket by sidestepping the rush, and when he gets out of
the pocket he is a threat to run. He has a strong arm like Bledsoe,
and it is a good sign that he has spent so much time in the film room
this offseason. There's no getting around the fact, however, that most
quarterbacks struggle in their first year as a starter.

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

3. RB Rhodes (IND) Eying Larger Role

Clipped from the Colts.com article by John Oehser, 5/5/05:

He is willing, able and he said he's very, very ready. He said he very
much wants a larger role. Dominic Rhodes also said he knows it's now
up to him to earn it.

Rhodes, the Colts' backup running back to Edgerrin James since 2001,
recently re-signed with the Colts, a deal that kept him from becoming
an unrestricted free agent. That assured Indianapolis of having Rhodes
available to back up James again next season.
Rhodes' goal is higher than that.

"That's my main focus, going in and winning the job," Rhodes said
recently during the team's off-season conditioning program at the
Union Federal Football Center. "That's just how it is. I'm working on
my fifth year. I'm ready to start some things going for myself in this
league. If I have an opportunity, I'm going to try to take it."

Since joining the Colts in 2001, Rhodes always has been about taking
advantage of opportunities. He's been about enthusiasm, too. And
contributing wherever and whenever he can.

Rhodes, a fifth-year veteran, signed with the Colts as an undrafted
rookie free agent in 2001. He won the backup running back job in
training camp, and started 10 of his 15 games played when James
sustained a mid-season knee injury.

Rhodes that season became the first undrafted free agent in NFL
history to rush for more than 1,000 yards as a rookie, finishing the
season with 1,104 yards and nine touchdowns on 233 carries. He also
caught 34 passes for 224 yards.

Since then, times have been tougher for Rhodes.

He sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament during training camp in
2002, and missed the entire season. The next season, 2003, he played
sparingly early while recovering from the injury. He played in 11
games and rushed for 157 yards on 37 carries.

This past season, knee fully recovered, he returned to a role he
played as a rookie, kick returner, and had one of the Colts' key plays
of the season when he returned a kickoff against San Diego 88 yards
for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

He also rushed for 254 yards and a touchdown on 53 carries, and said
that's what he wants to return to again this season:

A running back who can make a serious impact in the offense.

"I'm focused on going in and fighting for the job," said Rhodes, who
has rushed for 1,515 yards and 10 touchdowns on 323 carries, a
4.7-yard per carry average. "I feel like with me getting a new
contract, the way it's structured, they want to give me the
opportunity to fight for the job.

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

Realistically, Rhodes has no chance of beating out Edgerrin James for
the starting RB job this season. But James is playing under a one-year
contract. If Rhodes can sufficiently impress the coaching staff, he
could get a shot at the starting job in 2006.

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

4. WR Clayton A Catch For Ravens

Clipped from the York Daily Record article by Jeffrey Martin, 5/5/05

The golf cart was parked inside the Baltimore Ravens' practice
facility, positioned at the 50-yard line with an unobstructed view.

Owner Steve Bisciotti lounged in the driver's seat, his eyes focused
on wide receiver Mark Clayton, the team's first-round draft pick.

Everyone was watching Clayton during the Ravens' rookie mini-camp last
week, but Bisciotti was sizing up his newest employee  as if he
needed to see for himself what all of the fuss was about.

To see why Baltimore chose to take a wide receiver in the first round
for the first time since 2000, when Travis Taylor was supposed to be
at least part of the solution to the franchise's passing game woes.

As an unofficial reminder, Clayton was given No.89, the number Taylor
 now a member of the Minnesota Vikings  wore during his five seasons
in Baltimore.

How's that for pressure?

If Clayton felt any, even a shred, it didn't stop him from catching
everything thrown his way. His hands, soft as an offensive lineman's
midsection, plucked each pass out of the air, cradling the football to
the safety of his chest.

And then the fun began.

Quick doesn't do Clayton justice. Neither do his college highlights at Oklahoma.

He's one of those rare players who, at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, might
move as well from left to right as he does straight ahead.

As for speed, he supposedly covers 40 yards in 4.45 seconds, but he
seems faster.

On a deep route Friday, Clayton blew by cornerback Cash Mouton  yep,
that's his real name  on the far sideline, at least eight yards in
front the rookie free agent, a certain touchdown. But the pass was
underthrown.

It didn't matter.

The owner smiled.

Everyone else did, too.

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

Clayton has excellent quickness, speed, and hands, and was known for
running great routes in college. He should start immediately, along
with free agent acquisition Derrick Mason, to give the Ravens more
firepower at the WR position than they've ever had.

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

5.  TE Mili (SEA) Ballooned To 290, TE Stevens Looks Good

Clipped from the Tacoma News Tribune article by Mike Sando, 5/5/05

Mili, the Seahawks' veteran tight end, has told the team he is tending
to an unspecified personal matter. . . .

Six weeks after signing a $10 million contract, Mili reported to the
mandatory portion of the team's post-draft minicamp at 290 pounds,
some 25 pounds above his playing weight.

He jiggled through three days of mandatory camp over the weekend
before joining Jackson as the only signed offensive starters to skip
the voluntary camp.

Mili's absence meant extra work for Jerramy Stevens and Ryan Hannam,
the only other tight ends at camp this week. Hannam's surgically
repaired knee didn't hold up under the heavier load; he missed
practice Wednesday and might need another surgery.

That left Stevens to take all the repetitions in practice.

"It's totally bogus what Itula did to those guys and if he was here to
see it, I think he would handle things differently," Hasselbeck said.
"Because he loves those guys."

The Seahawks are fortunate that Stevens reported to camp in the best
shape of his NFL career. He weighed 248 pounds after finally joining
the team's 7:30 a.m. workout group this offseason  a step Hasselbeck
lobbied for publicly last offseason.

On the final play of practice Wednesday, Hasselbeck scrambled away
from defenders and side-armed a seemingly desperate pass over
linebacker Tracy White. It was the kind of throw a quarterback doesn't
make unless he trusts the man on the other end.

That man was the previously unreliable Stevens, who sent his 6-foot-7
frame high into the air. With Hall of Famer Steve Largent watching
from the sideline, Stevens came down with the reception on a play that
had little business producing positive yardage.
"That's the kind of stuff I'm hoping comes my way next year," Stevens
said. "The biggest thing is me trying to build confidence in our
relationship on the field so Matt is confident going to me when he's
in trouble."

Stevens' extra work isn't going unnoticed. The 2002 first-round draft
choice is still best known for the off-field troubles that marked his
first two years with the team, but that could be changing.

"Honestly, he has stepped up as a leader on our team in a lot of ways
 not in what he says, but more in his work ethic," Hasselbeck said.
"He hasn't said one word but he has sent a message to all of his
teammates that, 'Hey, he really cares and he wants to get better, he
wants to help this team.'"

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

Mili doesn't have great speed even when he's in shape. He can't afford
to play at 290 and expect to be productive as a pass-receiver.
Stevens, a former first-round pick, has better speed and overall
athleticism than Mili, but he has yet to live up to his potential.
Last year he was undisciplined in his routes, and his concentration
was inconsistent. It appears he is working hard this offseason to
correct those deficiencies; if he is able to do so, he should win the
starting tight end job in training camp and hold onto it all season.

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

6. RB Cobbs, TE Watson (NWE) Eye Backup Plan

Clipped from the Boston Herald article by Michael Felger, 5/5/05

The list of Patriots  players who sat out last season and will be
making their "debuts" in 2005 is a long one. Tight end Ben Watson, a
2004 first-round pick who missed every game but the opener with a knee
injury, heads it. The others include safety Guss Scott, wide receiver
P.K. Sam and defensive ends Marquise Hill and Rodney Bailey.

But if you want a complete list, be sure to add running back Cedric
Cobbs. The 2004 fourth-round pick out of Arkansas played only four
games, sitting out the first two months with a hamstring injury and
then being relegated to street clothes for much of the stretch drive.

Now Cobbs is among those looking to make the Year 2 jump.

"I want to be an impact player," Cobbs said Tuesday between workouts
at Gillette Stadium. "At least for those times when they need me."

Of course, "when they need him" is the key issue. Ideally, the Pats
won't. With Corey Dillon coming off a record-setting season and a
multi-year contract extension, Cobbs is aware the top job is not in
play.

Still, the Pats would feel better about their depth chart with a
healthy, improving Cobbs as Dillon's understudy. Dillon turns 31 in
October, and at some point his strong track record of durability (he's
played in 120-of-126 games over his eight-year career) may be put to
the test. At least, the Pats would like to be able to spell Dillon and
not lose a physical, between-the-tackles presence (which third-down
back Kevin Faulk doesn't provide).

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

With Corey Dillon as the established starter, and Kevin Faulk as the
established third-down back, Cobbs is not expected to have a large
role in the Patriots' offense this year. His running style is similar
to Dillon's: he is a strong inside runner with good vision. He will
not challenge Faulk as the team's third-down back, however, since he
is not much of a receiver out of the backfield. Cobbs has value in
dynasty leagues, though, since he is a talented runner and may be
groomed as the eventual replacement for Corey Dillon down the road.

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

7. Redskins Hope WR Duo Will Produce Long Passing Plays

Clipped from the Washington Post article by Nunyo Demasio, 5/5/05

The Washington Redskins yesterday reached an agreement on a six-year
contract extension with wide receiver Santana Moss, ending his
unofficial holdout. The former New York Jet was scheduled to fly into
Washington last night from his Miami home. He is expected to sign the
contract today before attending his first offseason workout since
being traded in March for wideout Laveranues Coles.

Coach Joe Gibbs and Moss -- both of whom were unavailable yesterday --
will hold a news conference today at 1 p.m. at Redskins Park.

Moss's six-year deal totals about $31 million, sources said, with the
first two seasons worth virtual guarantees of $11 million, including
the signing bonus. The contract automatically voids the sixth year if
Moss, 25, plays a minimum number of offensive snaps in any season
between 2006 and 2010. Thus, sources said that the extension
essentially is a five-year deal worth about $26 million.

Moss's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, finalized the deal yesterday at Redskins
Park with owner Daniel Snyder. . . .

Moss (5 feet 10, 185 pounds) had his best season in 2003, finishing
with 74 catches for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last season, while
suffering a sore hamstring, he had 45 catches for 838 yards and
struggled as a punt returner. However, Moss averaged 18.6 yards per
catch to go with a team-high five touchdowns.

Perhaps Moss's most impressive quality was his knack for making first
downs: Moss turned 78 percent of his catches -- 35 of 45 -- into first
downs. (Fifty-two of Coles's career-high 90 catches last season went
for first downs.) Moss has career averages of 16 yards per catch and
11.9 yards per punt return.

The Redskins are expected to pair Moss with former New England
Patriots wideout David Patten, who was signed in March to a five-year,
$13 million deal that included a $3.5 million bonus. Like Moss, Patten
is a smallish receiver who possesses explosive speed and is considered
a big-play threat. The Redskins believe that the duo will help solve
the team's inability to produce long passing plays. The Redskins
mustered only four completions of 40 yards or longer last season.
Washington's receivers managed only six touchdowns -- Coles had one --
while averaging 11.5 yards a catch.

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

The Redskins had the league's 29th-ranked pass offense last year, and
they were 31st in yards per pass attempt. With Mark Brunell at QB,
they did not present much of a downfield passing threat  something
they will try to change in 2005 with a trio of new starters at QB and
WR, Patrick Ramsay, Santana Moss, and David Patten. Moss and Patten
both have plenty of big-play potential. An interesting statistic from
our Redskins Team Report: Moss and Patten averaged 18.4 yards per
catch last year while the Redskins' 2004 starters (Coles and Gardner)
averaged only 11.3 yards per catch.

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

8. TE McMichael (MIA) Won't Hold Out

Clipped from the FL Sun-Sentinel article by Alex Marvez, 5/5/05:

Although he is entering the final year of his contract, Dolphins tight
end Randy McMichael said he won't stage a holdout in hopes of landing
a new contract.

"What is that going to prove to anybody by holding out?" McMichael
said. "I love playing this game. I don't want to be away from it.
That's not even in the back of my mind at all." ...

Dolphins tackle Vernon Carey was asked about former University of
Miami teammate Kellen Winslow, who was involved in a motorcycle
accident that threatens the tight end's NFL future with the Cleveland
Browns. "I haven't seen him since he went up to camp," Carey said. "I
[last] saw him down here riding a Moped on South Beach." ...

While the Dolphins are giving him an opportunity to start at left
tackle, Carey said he was used at different positions across the line
in minicamp practices.

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

It's a strange offseason when a player makes headlines by NOT
threatening to hold out. McMichael is represented by agent Drew
Rosenhaus, whose clients also include current hold-outs Terrell Owens,
Javon Walker, Ruben Droughns, and Anquan Boldin.

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

9. Buccaneers Look To WR Hilliard For Help

Clipped from the Tampa Bay Tribune article by Ira Kaufman, 5/5/05

The search for a veteran wide receiver led the Bucs to 29-year- old
Ike Hilliard, a former University of Florida standout whose eight
years with the Giants were marked by a flurry of injuries and some big
receptions.

Hilliard is expected in Tampa today to sign a one-year contract and
provide leadership for a young Bucs receiving corps headed by second-
year pro Michael Clayton and injury- prone veteran Joey Galloway.

"We're 99.9 percent of the way there ... it'll be 100 percent by
[today]," said Hilliard's agent, Neil Schwartz. "We think it's a
great opportunity for Ike to play for a coach like Jon Gruden who
loves to throw the ball. He's hungry, and there's no reason Ike can't
catch 70 balls and 10 touchdowns next season."

Hilliard was the seventh player selected in the 1997 draft after a
glittering career in Gainesville, where he caught 29 touchdown passes.

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

Hilliard has been a starter for the Giants since his first game as a
rookie in 1997, but he has had trouble staying healthy throughout his
career. He was cut by the Giants earlier this offseason after refusing
to take a pay cut from his scheduled $1.5 million salary. Hilliard is
a dependable route-runner with good hands, but has never been a
big-play threat. His 8.9 yards per catch last year was the lowest for
any NFL wide receiver with at least 25 catches.

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

10. Negotiations Under Way For WR Ward (PIT)

Clipped from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Ed Bouchette, 5/5/05

One year after Hines Ward first made it an issue, the Steelers and
agent Eugene Parker have opened negotiations for a contract extension
that could become the most expensive in the team's history.

And, one year later, it's no longer an issue, at least not a public
one, for the Steelers' four-time Pro Bowl receiver.

"There's nothing I can do," Ward said yesterday as he and the rest of
the Steelers prepare for the start of a mandatory three-day minicamp
tomorrow. "They're talking to my agent and stuff like that. It's out
of my control. I still have to go out here and perform. I'm busting my
tail and worrying about getting better. I'll let my agent and the
Steelers talk about my contract."

That's different from the approach Ward took last year, when he
fretted over a contract that still had two years to go. Holding out of
training camp was an option he considered, although a phone call from
coach Bill Cowher on the eve of camp helped persuade him to show up on
time.

He said there's no thought of missing anything this season, even if
there is no contract. Steelers president Art Rooney reiterated in
March a promise he made last year to make Ward's contract extension a
priority, and the team is now doing that. Whether they can reach an
agreement is another matter because the model for a new contract has
to be the one the Indianapolis Colts gave Pro Bowl receiver Marvin
Harrison last year.

At age 32, Harrison received a reported seven-year, $67 million
extension that included $23 million in guaranteed money the first two
years. He earned a $6 million signing bonus last year plus a $7
million roster bonus this past March, which subsequently was turned
into a signing bonus for salary cap accounting. In essence, he
received a $13 million signing bonus.

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

Ward is three years younger than Harrison, and while he hasn't put up
quite the same numbers as Harrison in absolute terms, he has accounted
for a larger percentage of his team's passing offense. The Steelers
have the most run-oriented offense in the league, but Ward has still
managed to average 95 receptions per season over the last four years.

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

11. IDP: Panther LB Fields To Miss Season

Clipped from the Charlotte Observer article by Pat Yasinskas, 5/5/05:

Carolina Panthers linebacker Mark Fields has been diagnosed with a
reoccurrence of Hodgkin's disease, his agent, Jim Steiner, said in an
e-mail Thursday afternoon.

Fields will begin chemotherapy in the near future and will not play
football in 2005. Fields originally was diagnosed with Hodgkin's
disease in August, 2003 and sat out that season. He underwent
chemotherapy and radiation and made a successful return to the field
in 2004, earning his second career Pro Bowl berth.

Fields is an unrestricted free agent and the Panthers were talking to
him about a new three-year contract. But Fields put those discussions
on hold in March and said he wanted to wait until he had some medical
tests.

"Mark would like everyone to know that he considers this 'blip' in his
recovery a minor setback and that his expectations are to return to
the field for the 2006 season," Steiner said.

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

Tough break for Fields. We wish him a successful recovery, and hope to
see him on the field again in 2006. In the meantime, Brandon Short
will man the strong side linebacker position unless the Panthers
decide to move rookie first-round pick Thomas Davis back to linebacker
after working him at strong safety during the first mini-camp. Davis
has the physical tools to play linebacker, and is a better overall
athlete than Short.

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

12. IDP: DE McDougle, LB Adams (PHI) Named As Starters

Clipped from The Times article by Mark Eckel, 5/5/05:

It's May - not September, or even July - so a lot could change.

As it stands now, however, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson
went over his defense yesterday in the middle of minicamp practices
and announced Jerome McDougle as his starting right defensive end and
Keith Adams as his starting weakside linebacker.

"That's today, that's right now," Johnson said with caution. "I don't
want to say what's going to happen later on, or at training camp.
Right now that's the way we'll go."

While neither move rates high on the surprise-o-meter, it is the first
time either player enters the season, or even the offseason, as a
starter.

McDougle is the player the Eagles want to not just be a starter, but a
star. They traded up to the 15th spot of the first round in the 2003
draft to select him and have waited patiently for him to become the
player to whom they gave a $6 million signing bonus.

Injuries have hampered him through his first two years, and both he
and the coaching staff know this is it.

"Sure, I think he realizes that," Johnson said. "I think he has a
good, positive attitude. He wants to be around here. He's been around
during the offseason working with (defensive line coach) Tommy
Brasher. This is a big year for him. He knows that."

Said McDougle: "It's good to know the coaches see in me what I see in
myself. Whatever happens, happens. I'm not looking at the past, I'm
moving on. I'm looking ahead to the future. I'm trying to relish the
moment."

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

McDougle will be penciled in as the starter heading into training
camp, but he will be challenged by N.D. Kalu, Hugh Douglas, and
possibly Darwin Walker (who is primarily a defensive tackle, but can
play end). Adams played very well at the end of last year and in the
playoffs, but he will also face a challenge in training camp  from
Mark Simoneau and rookie second-round pick Matt McCoy.

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13. IDP: LB Thomas (MIA) Tries New Workout Strategy

Clipped from the Miami Herald article by Jason Cole, 5/5/05:

Linebacker Zach Thomas said he has changed his workout regimen this
offseason in hopes of prolonging his career and avoiding the injuries
that have plagued him in the past.

"I'm not doing the body-building lifting as much," said Thomas, who
has worked independently and with Dolphins trainers this offseason to
devise a suitable program. "I'm doing more of a track workout, and
I'm doing more core-strength work -- from abs to hips to everything.

"It's not the curls all the time and the [triceps], where it looks
good. But looks can cheat you, especially on the field. It has nothing
to do with how much you bench on the field. It's all that core
strength, your speed and how you move. That's all I've been working
on."

His new regimen is similar to what teammate Junior Seau has been doing
for years. Seau is returning for his 16th season.

"I'm finally doing the Junior workout," Thomas said. "That's why
he's played for so long. That made me change my workout. We'll see if
it works. It's easy to talk. If you get hurt before the first game, it
doesn't mean anything. I'm just trying something different. Hopefully
it works out. The whole body-building thing wasn't working for me."

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

Thomas, a ten-year veteran, is 31 years old and has a history of being
nagged by minor injuries. He struggled through a hamstring injury last
season, and has missed at least one game in four of the past five
seasons. The "Junior workout" is something that gained new adherents
every year in San Diego when Seau was with the Chargers, and many
players swore by it. We'll see if it helps Thomas stay on the field
this year.

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

J

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