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Volume 6, Issue 23 (Wednesday, May 11th)

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Hi Folks,

Why tune to the Comedy Channel when you can catch the NFL today? Onterrio Smith helps us learn new words like the "The Original Whizzinator" and we're proud to be featuring John Tayman's Bang cartoons. Enjoy. Thanks to our Will Grant who also found time for some serious NFL news. Let's get to it.

J

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

Site News:

A. Bang Cartoons Return We're proud to once again be featuring John Tayman and his Bang cartoons. Regular readers know John from last year. He's got a great look at the "Chosen One" dealing with his agents.

B. St. Louis Team Report by Bob Magaw, Chris Smith and Mike Herman

C. Seattle Team Report by David Shick, Bob Magaw, Chris Smith and Mike Herman

D. Depth Charts Updated Our Bob Henry has the latest tweaks from mini camps.

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. MIN - RB O. Smith - Caught with Drug Masking Kit. 2. PHI - Eagles Won't Re-Negotiate with Owens 3. PHI - QB McNabb Thinks Eagles Can Win Without Owens 4. SF - QB Smith Looking Good In Camp 5. GB - RB Green Pleads Not Guilty to Disorderly Conduct. 6. NYJ - TE Jolley Could Blossom with New Team and New Offense. 7. MIA - Team Embraces Saban's Approach. 8. GB - C Mike Flanagan Back On the Field 9. IDP MIA - CB Poole Could Return This Season 10. IDP NE - Patriots Prepare for Life After Bruschi 11. IDP NE - Patriots Sign Chad Brown 12. IDP NO - DE Howard Happy to Be Staying with the Saints. 13. IDP BAL - LB Peter Boulware Released

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1. MIN - RB O. Smith - Caught with Drug Masking Kit

Clipped from: Star Tribune.com article by Kevin Seifert 5/11/05

Vikings running back Onterrio Smith was detained last month at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport after police found paraphernalia later identified as a kit used to circumvent drug tests.

Smith was neither arrested nor charged, but as of Tuesday it was unclear whether the incident will affect his status in the NFL's confidential substance-abuse program.

Smith acknowledged to airport police that he was carrying dried urine, along with a device called "The Original Whizzinator" and a bottle of pills labeled "Cleansing Formula." He told police the kit was "for making a clean urine test," according to the police report, and said he was taking the materials to his cousin.

Smith was suspended four games last season after testing positive for marijuana, his second "strike" in the league's program. A third "strike" would result in a yearlong suspension. An attempt to substitute a urine specimen qualifies as a positive test, but NFL spokesman Greg Aiello did not immediately know Tuesday whether possession of a masking device fits that criteria.

Smith could not be reached for comment. His agents -- Michael Sullivan, Doug Hendrickson and Jeff Sperbeck -- declined to comment. Vikings coach Mike Tice said he was unaware of the incident and had no comment.

According to the police report, a bag Smith was carrying set off security alarms before an April 21 flight. The alarms later were traced to a tube of toothpaste.

During the search, a Transportation Security Administration officer found "six or seven" vials of white powder in a clear bag, according to the report. Airport police were called to the scene and began inspecting the materials in a private room.

A sample from one of the vials tested negative for cocaine and opiates. Smith was then led into the room and identified the powder as dried urine. He also acknowledged the presence of a Whizzinator.

Smith was allowed to leave after questioning.

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

We don't make this up. Whether this is considered Smith's third strike or not, it should be HUGE red flag to anyone who was expecting Smith to take over the starting job in Minnesota. This should be give Michael Bennett and Mewelde Moore a bump in your projections, and open the door for rookie Ciatrick Fason as well. We'll keep you posted on how the NFL treats this situation. Using this type of thing to circumvent a drug test would be an immediate failure, but this is only possession of the device. I live in Knoxville and Smith was run out of the University of Tennessee for being a head case (a somewhat telling fact as it takes a lot to be run out of UT.) He's blessed with All World Talent but seemingly doesn't have the mental prowess to match. He's clearly a risky pick.

And one last thing - Do they really have to call it the "Original Whizzinator"? I mean, are there that many imitation knockoff Whizzinators our there that the "Original" has to distinguish itself as the first mover in that market? I need to get out more I guess.

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2. PHI - Eagles Won't Re-Negotiate with Owens

Clipped from: ESPN.com associated press article 5/11/05

The Philadelphia Eagles will not renegotiate the contract of star wide receiver Terrell Owens, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.

Owens fired longtime agent David Joseph in April, hired Drew Rosenhaus and started asking for a renegotiation just one year into a seven-year deal worth almost $49 million. The Eagles have intimated they wouldn't redo the contract, and owner Lurie told the newspaper, ``It's not even an issue.''

``It's a non-issue,'' Lurie said. ``There area lot of things I spend time thinking about, but that's not one of them.''

Lurie criticized Owens' new agent for giving him ``self-destructive advice.''

The flamboyant Owens helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl in his first season in Philadelphia after eight years with San Francisco.

Owens, reached at his offseason home in Atlanta, declined to comment. Rosenhaus also declined to respond. ``My policies are not to comment, so I have no comment,'' Rosenhaus said.

Owens skipped the Eagles' mandatory minicamp April 29, in a holdout that could extend into training camp, which starts in late July.

``I know I'm a top player in the game, and my current contract doesn't justify that,'' Owens had said after hiring Rosenhaus.

``Every player is both fragile and talented,'' said Lurie, who was traveling Wednesday with NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to a conference of chief executive officers in Beijing.

``Unfortunately, we're seeing around the league certain agents who take advantage of the fragility of the players, and are less worried about their continued success and stability than acting self destructively. It's too bad,'' he said.

Asked if he expects Owens to be with the Eagles next season, Lurie said, ``If he wants to win a Super Bowl, he should be.''

``At this level, with multimillions (of dollars), you're just trying to leave a legacy and win Super Bowls, as far as I am concerned. And he's got a great opportunity,'' Lurie said.

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

This one is getting worse by the minute. Holdouts in May usually don't concern us because it's way too early to get excited. However, Owens has proven that he can be very persistent about these things and the Eagles have drawn their line in the sand as well. If this continues into Training Camp which opens in late July, it will be time to get concerned. Until then, we'll keep you posted on what happens.

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3. PHI - QB McNabb Thinks Eagles Can Win Without Owens

Clipped from: The Mercury News.com article by Rob Maaddi 5/11/05

PHILADELPHIA - Donovan McNabb is confident the Philadelphia Eagles can win the Super Bowl without Terrell Owens.

"I feel that if he plays or not, we definitely have a chance of making it to the Super Bowl and winning it," McNabb said Wednesday, one day after owner Jeffery Lurie said the team won't redo Owens' contract. "That's nothing against T.O. and it's nothing against anybody else. I just feel confident in the guys that we have. With T.O., I think we can do a lot of great things. Without him, I still think we can do a lot of good things."

Owens, the All-Pro wide receiver who helped the Eagles reach the Super Bowl last season, skipped a mandatory minicamp last month because he wants to renegotiate the seven-year deal worth almost $49 million he signed in March 2004.

Owens' new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, declined comment Wednesday. Rosenhaus also refused to say whether Owens plans to hold out of training camp, which starts in late July.

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

As mentioned above, it's a little early to get excited about a holdout in May. McNabb has to take the Eagles' side in this matter, or risk bringing the entire team into the mix. This is between Owens and the Eagles. It's just going to take a while to work it all out.

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4. SF - QB Smith Looking Good In Camp

Clipped from: 49erswebzone.com article 5/11/05

According to ESPN's John Clayton, Alex Smith did so well in mini-camp that coach Nolan feels he is in competition for the starting job. It also states that Smith has been working with former NFL coach Larry Kennan during recent months on dropping back from center. Smith is coming from a college offense where he primarily worked in the shotgun.

"He commanded the line of scrimmage," Nolan said. "He may have only dropped one or two snaps, and he might have had 100 snaps during the weekend. He's going to be all right."

Nolan is optimistic that a contract agreement with Smith will be reached prior to the start of 49ers training camp.

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

Everyone looks good in May, and NFL coaches love to tell you how much they love their first round picks. John Clayton's name adds a bit of credibility to this claim though, and it's also good to see that Smith is working hard to make an impact this year. If Smith continues to progress, expect a wide-open competition when the pre-season rolls around.

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5. GB - RB Green Pleads Not Guilty to Disorderly Conduct

Clipped from: The Washington Times Associated Press Article 5/11/05

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green pleaded not guilty Wednesday to disorderly conduct after his wife called 911 for help because she felt threatened during an argument.

Green, who wasn't at court, sent two attorneys to enter the plea for him. Green wasn't required to appear at the proceeding. Brown County Court Commissioner Lawrence Gazeley set Green's next court date for Aug. 29, with a trial to start Aug. 31.

The Packers open their season Sept. 11.

Officers arrested Green on April 25 after someone called 911 from his home. A woman's voice was heard saying "help me" before the line went dead.

The Brown County Sheriff's Department said Green's wife, Heather, felt threatened when she and her husband were arguing. Officers said Green became agitated and resisted arrest before an officer drew a Taser stun gun.

Green, released after posting $150 bond, filed for divorce April 28. One of Green's attorneys, Marc Hammer, said Green was "sorry his family, wife and employer were brought into such a public event."

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

Expect the NFL and the Packers to stay clear of this whole mess as the legal process plays out. This should be viewed as something to watch, but from a "what will he do on the field" perspective, the early word looks like he'll be ok. We'll keep you posted on any new developments.

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6. NYJ - TE Jolley Could Blossom with New Team and New Offense

Clipped from: Profootballweekly.com article 5/11/05

We hear that the Jets' pre-draft trade for ex-Raiders TE Doug Jolley is the biggest indication yet of the differences between New York's offense under new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and the old attack used by ex-coordinator Paul Hackett. Heimerdinger's offense utilizes the tight end as a regular pass-catching option - as illustrated by Frank Wycheck and Erron Kinney in Tennessee - while Hackett's strict West Coast offense used the tight end in more of a blocking role. Jolley, 26, has been on the Jets' radar since coming into the league out of Brigham Young. He's got great hands and excels vs. zone coverage, finding open spots to help his quarterback. Jolley also poses the downfield threat the Jets have lacked in recent years, which should spare WRs Laveranues Coles and Justin McCareins from facing the bracket coverage that teams often used vs. the Jets' wideouts last season.

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

Jolley isn't receiving a lot of love from the fantasy community yet, as he's only ranked 18th on the footballguys.com expert chart, and his average draft position is 16.08 according to antsports.com. If the Jets start to take advantage of Jolley's receiving skills, he could be a nice sleeper pickup this year.

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7. MIA - Team Embraces Saban's Approach

Clipped from: Miami Herald.com article by Barry Jackson 5/11/05

As the Heat grabs the local spotlight, the Dolphins go about their business of learning coach Nick Saban's system. Some buzz from Davie:

. Players like Saban's no-nonsense, businesslike approach. Privately, one veteran called him a breath of fresh air. They not only appreciate his organization and attention to detail but also that they'll get what they believe are honest answers. ''He doesn't treat anybody [more] special than anybody else,'' Randy McMichael said.

Said Reggie Howard: ``He's very detailed, a perfectionist, doesn't let anything go by. It will make you a better player. He will stay on you until you get it right.''

Saban's approach to offseason work is ''no sitting around, no wasting time. It's fun,'' Sam Madison said. Asked what's different, Madison said, ``Everybody's energetic. [In the past], you had some coaches energetic here or there.''

And Zach Thomas noted, ``Every one [of the assistants] is coaching. You learn a lot of stuff from every coach.''

There's clearly an intimidation factor with Saban. There was one recent incident when players in the training room were joking around. The room went silent when someone whispered that Saban was approaching.

''You're going to know your responsibility, because if you don't, there's a lot of yelling going on,'' Junior Seau said.

The Dolphins will be disguising their defenses more, which has players excited. Thomas said opponents ''knew where I was going to be at all times last year.'' That's no longer the case. ''[Opponents] don't know what we're going to do one week [to the next],'' Thomas said. ''It keeps me interested.'' As Seau put it, ``It's nice to know we can go into a game and not be predictable.''

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

One of the hardest things for a new head coach is to earn the respect of his new team. Saban already has that with the Dolphins. That's good news for Dolphin fans that are hoping to forget the 4-12 season they had last year.

The article also mentions that DT Tim Bowens continues to have problems with his back, that safety is still a position of concern for the Dolphins, and that a fourth WR may be brought in to compete with Bryan Gilmore, but it will not be Troy Brown.

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8. GB - C Mike Flanagan Back On the Field

Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel Online article by Rob Reischel 5/4/05

When you're 31 years old, have a Super Bowl ring in your pocket and a Pro Bowl berth on your résumé, football practice can often be one thing: a pain in the tail.

But last week's minicamp practices were anything but for Mike Flanagan.

The Green Bay Packers center missed the final 13 games of the 2004 season after undergoing surgery for patellar tendonitis in his left knee. So when he took the field last Wednesday for his first practice since that time, he did so with the same enthusiasm and excitement the rookies had when they arrived later in the week.

"It feels great to be back, because these are my guys," Flanagan said. "And you miss the whole part of going out there and bleeding and sweating with them, all that stuff. "The whole rehab and injury thing, it's not physically that kills you. It's the psychological part. The mental hurdles are the hardest part."

There wasn't much about the whole process that was easy for Flanagan.

A notorious tough guy as well as a locker room cut-up, Flanagan tried fighting through the injury at the start of last season. But when the pain got too intense, and he realized he wasn't playing near his old level, Flanagan called it a season.

He had surgery on Oct. 7 in which about one-quarter of his tendon was removed, then began his rehabilitation. First came exercises to help him regain his range of motion, then he needed to strengthen the knee.

Flanagan spent the off-season working out with his personal trainer Mark Phillipi, a national power lifter and one of the world's strongest men, in his off-season home of Las Vegas. Phillipi, who's the director of strength and conditioning at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and has blown out both of his patellar tendons, "put me through the ringer" according to Flanagan.

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

The Packers tied for the league best 14 sacks allowed last season. A healthy Mike Flanagan will go a long way to keeping Favre alive, and opening up holes for Green as well. Flanagan is one of the team leaders, and is a great locker room presence for the team as well. This is excellent news.

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9. IDP MIA - CB Poole Could Return This Season

Clipped from: Miami Herald.com article by Jason Cole 5/10/05

Dolphins cornerback Will Poole's season might not be completely lost, but he'll need a very positive result on his upcoming surgery if he is to salvage some of it.

Meanwhile, veteran cornerback Terrell Buckley would be more than happy to take a third tour of duty with the Dolphins. Buckley, who recently built a home in Davie near the Dolphins training facility, said Monday that he has contacted the Dolphins about possibly returning as he seeks a home for his 14th season.

''I hope we can work something out,'' said Buckley, 34, who said no one from management had returned his call as of late Monday. ``It's like I tell everybody, I think I have two really good years left.''

As for Poole, the question is whether he will be able to play in any of his second season with the team. Poole sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during practice last week.

He is expected to have surgery in the next week or two after the swelling in the knee subsides. The good news for Poole is that he doesn't have any further damage to the knee.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Poole, declined to comment. However, two sources familiar with the injury said Poole could return as early as October.

In that situation, Poole could be placed on the physically unable to perform list, allowing the team to evaluate him again during the season after he has rehabilitated the knee. Both sources indicated the Dolphins are leaning toward that avenue rather than putting Poole on injured reserve, which would mean he would miss the entire season.

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

Not sure if this is good news of not. Even if Poole is able to come back and play, he probably won't be 100%. In 2004, Poole only had 26 solo tackles, 5 assists, with 1 sack, 0 INT and 5 PDS. Those are not exactly super stud stats for a DB. If you can draft Poole and immediately place him on your taxi squad, that might be an option. If he's going to take up an active roster slot for the entire year, you are probably better off looking somewhere else for DB help.

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10. IDP NE - Patriots Prepare for Life After Bruschi

Clipped from: Boston Herald.com article by Michael Felger 5/11/05

Tedy Bruschi may have kept his silence regarding his football future, but the maneuverings of the Patriots over the past month could be doing the talking for him.

If actions speak louder than words, then it's clear the Pats have prepared themselves for life without Bruschi in 2005.

Bill Belichick will tell you not to read anything into any one personnel decision, but when you string a series of moves together as the Pats have at inside linebacker recently, it's hard to come to any other conclusion.

The signings of free agents Monty Beisel and Chad Brown (whose deal has yet to be officially announced) were not scrap-heap pickups. Both players are big, versatile and experienced, prerequisites to playing inside in the 3-4. Second-tier free agent Wesley Mallard was added for depth and special teams. The Pats have also talked with free agent Anthony Simmons. And the drafting of Ryan Claridge not only brought more depth, it was a noticeable departure for Belichick, who avoided the inside linebacker position over his first five Patriots drafts.

The Pats are also factoring in the release of fellow inside linebacker Roman Phifer in February (even though Phifer's locker stall remains intact at Gillette Stadium). But in signing Beisel and Brown, the Pats added starting-quality linebackers, not rotational players.

Meanwhile, word is that Bruschi has been cleared by doctors to run, lift and break a sweat. He's been at Gillette Stadium regularly for workouts. The fact that Bruschi has received such clearance so soon after his mild stroke on Feb. 16 (not to mention a reported procedure to repair a hole in his heart in March) is an excellent sign for his overall well-being. Sources say a return to the NFL has not been categorically ruled out by Bruschi's doctors.

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

Bruschi may be taking his time, but the Patriots are expecting the worst. Bruschi is a fighter and he is definitely a guy who would be able to come back from this sort of thing. We'll have to wait and see as the summer progresses.

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11. IDP NE - Patriots Sign Chad Brown

Clipped from: SI.com article 5/11/05

FOXBORO, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- Uncertain of Tedy Bruschi's status, the New England Patriots on Wednesday signed three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Chad Brown.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Brown, 34, was released by the Seattle Seahawks last month for salary cap purposes. He has missed 19 games over the last three seasons due to an assortment of injuries.

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

As mentioned above, Brown was brought in to help prepare the Patriots in case Tedy Bruschi does not return. Bruschi posted 122 total tackles last season, 3.5 sacks and 3 INTS. His presence will be missed if he doesn't return to the Pats in 2005.

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12. IDP NO - DE Howard Happy to Be Staying with the Saints

Clipped from: Theadvocate.com article by Les East 5/11/05

METAIRIE -- The Saints got their first look at the players they drafted during last weekend's rookie minicamp, but they might find that the best move they made in the draft was holding on to veteran defensive end Darren Howard.

They talked with several teams, most notably Dallas, about trading Howard for a package that likely would have involved one or more draft picks. The prospect of freeing more than $7 million in salary-cap space by trading a player at one of the deepest positions of the team to bolster weaker positions, made trading Howard tempting.

But eventually no one offered enough to make New Orleans do the deal, so the six-year veteran is back after leading the team and matching his career-high with 11 sacks a year ago.

"Darren is a heck of a football player and our stance from Day 1 was that we weren't going to give up one of our better players unless we got equal value, period," coach Jim Haslett said. "I talked to Darren about it a number of times, and all he wanted to know was where he'd be. I credit him. He's as strong as he's been since he came here and he's healthy."

Howard started working out in early February, taking advantage of his first offseason in three years in which he wasn't limited by rehabilitation from surgery.

"It was uncomfortable," Howard said of the trade talks. "Along with all the football stuff, there are a lot of other things you've got to take care of if you're going somewhere else. You've got your family and your home and all these other things you've got to deal with. "I just sat back and waited for something to happen. I'd see people on the street all the time and they'd ask me if I was leaving or staying, and I didn't know. If it happens, it happens. It was something to deal with, but it wasn't that tough. It was almost like the draft, actually, a real, real long draft, a three- or four-month draft."

Haslett told Howard all along that if a deal happened, it would happen no later than the draft. When Haslett told him two days before the draft that he didn't think a deal would happen, Howard relaxed and didn't even watch the draft. And for the first time in four years the Saints didn't select a defensive lineman in the first round .

"It's a lot easier to focus now," Howard said. "And if I had been traded it would be easier to focus now, knowing where I was going to be. The only thing that bothered me was just not knowing where I was going to be because I was trying to take advantage of this offseason because I didn't have surgery on anything and that was rare.

"I was really trying to get myself ready for the season early and not knowing who I was working out for, who I was improving for, was tough

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

Howard led the Saints last year with 11 sacks despite only playing 13 games. A healthy, happy Howard gives the Saints excellent depth at DE with Charles Grant and Will Smith. If Howard can stay healthy this season, he has an excellent shot at putting up some of the best stats for his career. Howard currently ranks 13th on the Footballguys.com expert DL chart.

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13. IDP BAL - LB Peter Boulware Released

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Brent Jones 5/11/05

The Ravens released popular linebacker Peter Boulware on Wednesday, citing his $6 million base salary this season as the primary reason.

Boulware, a four-time Pro Bowl player, is the franchise's all-time sack leader (67.5) but would have been used as a backup and pass-rushing specialist. Besieged by knee and toe injuries that kept him out all last season, the Ravens and Boulware's agent, Roosevelt Barnes, tried to re-negotiate his contract to something more suitable for a backup player but were unsuccessful.

"The conversations had gone enough to where we pretty much knew where we were at," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "[General manager] Ozzie [Newsome] had extensive conversations with Peter's representation. That negotiation was completed. They felt like there was more for them out in the open market, and we wanted to give them that opportunity. There was no reason to wait until June 1 once we had reached that point. We owed Peter that much."

Boulware, an eight-year NFL veteran, was named to four Pro Bowls (1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003) and totaled 487 career tackles. He was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1997 after posting 11.5 sacks, and he led the AFC and ranked second in the NFL with a career-high 15 sacks in 2001, when he switched from linebacker to defensive end for the final six games of the season.

The Ravens drafted two linebackers last month, including second-round pick Dan Cody from Oklahoma. They also signed free-agent linebackers Tommy Polley and Jim Nelson this offseason. Polley is expected to compete for the starting outside spot vacated by Ed Hartwell, who left via free agency and signed with Atlanta.

"Due to the play of Adalius Thomas and the drafting of Dan Cody, we decided to terminate Peter Boulware," Newsome said in a release. "Peter has been a major contributor to the success of our organization both on and off the field. As others who have departed this year, whether it has been by termination or free agency, we feel that Peter will continue to be a successful player in this league."

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

Chris Smith reported in the May 9th update that Boulware would only be retained if the contract terms made sense. It's clear from Billick's statements above that the Ravens were not really close to a deal with Boulware, and that releasing him made more sense. Boulware is still a quality LB and will be signed by someone before the pre-season begins. We'll keep you posted on where he signs.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and we'll see you tomorrow with the update.

J

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