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Volume 6, Issue 25 (Friday, May 13th)

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Hi Folks,

Welcome to the weekend. When we start scraping up Jim Miller stories, you know it's been a slow day, but we've still managed to round up the stories you need to know. Thanks to our Chris Smith for putting these together. Let's jump right to it.

J

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. HOU - OT Riley Signs With The Texans 2. OAK - Tackle Gallery Is On The Rise 3. BUF - RB Lee Signs With The Bills 4. MIA - New Offensive Line Coach, Houck Gets Praise From Chargers' QB Brees 5. CHI - PK Edinger Wants No Part Of Kicking Derby 6. CLE - No Penalties At This Time For TE Winslow 7. IND - QB Peyton Manning Believes Former Collegiate Teammate Price Is A Super Talent 8. BUF - K Lindell Could Be On Thin Ice With The Bills 9. NYG/FA - QB Miller Given Injury Settlement 10. IDP: NE - LB Brown Yet Another Great Move By The Patriots 11. IDP: SEA - Seahawks Interested In LB Boulware 12. IDP: Chi - Free Agent LB Simmons Has Good Workout For The Bears

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1. HOU - OT Riley Signs With The Texans

Clipped from: Houston Chronicle article by Carlton Thompson

The Texans bolstered their offensive line depth and possibly gave left tackle Seth Wand reason to look over his shoulder by signing veteran tackle Victor Riley to a one-year deal with a base salary of $655,000 and a $50,000 signing bonus Thursday. The deal includes a $100,000 bonus if Riley makes the season-opening roster and plays in at least one game.

Riley, a 6-5 and 328-pound seven-year veteran, spent the past three seasons with New Orleans, including the past two as starting right tackle. Because the Texans have made a long-term commitment to right tackle Todd Wade, the left tackle position gives Riley the best opportunity to start with the Texans. At the very least, the former first-round pick upgrades the Texans' depth at a thin position. Riley, 30, could earn an additional $185,000 in playing-time incentives.

Upon agreeing to a deal, Riley was given no guarantee he will be inserted into the starting lineup, but all indications are Wand is working with a shorter leash than in 2004, his first season as a starter. The Texans allowed more sacks (49) than just six teams last season, and David Carr has been dumped more than any quarterback in the NFL over the past three years. Upgrading the pass protection was on the Texans' offseason wish list, but the franchise didn't find a good fit in the early free-agent market or in the NFL draft, and failed in its aggressive attempt to make a trade for seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace of the St. Louis Rams.

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Victor Riley isn't a great offensive tackle but he will provide valuable depth to the Texans and may be able to compete for a starting job against Seth Wand and at the very least will push Wand and make him a better player. A nice little signing for the Texans.

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2. OAK - Tackle Gallery Is On The Rise

Clipped from: Raiders.com article

Being honored as the nation's best interior lineman, and also being considered the best prospect for the 2004 NFL Draft might have given some players quite an ego, but for self-proclaimed "farm kid" Robert Gallery, the accolades just came from doing what he loves to do.

Gallery, a 6'7", 325-pound formidable presence on the gridiron, was the second pick overall in the 2004 NFL Draft when The Oakland Raiders tabbed him as one of the future cornerstones of their offensive line. He developed his immense frame and strategy for punishing opponents at the University of Iowa as a left tackle, where he led his team on and off the field as team captain.

Once Gallery was able to demonstrate his talent in his first NFL game, he quickly moved into the starting lineup and remained there through the season. Raiders Head Coach Norv Turner knew that putting Gallery at right tackle was something new for him, but he pointed out, "He's a very, very natural player." He came prepared for the challenge from the practice he received at left tackle, right tackle and right guard during the Raiders training camp. His versatility is a valuable asset to the team, along with his aggressive mindset.

"I felt comfortable and confident that I could [play right tackle] and the coaches were too," Gallery stated. "I just wanted to play." It is that confidence and tremendous talent that helped him live up to the expectations thrust upon him when he was drafted.

Yet behind the façade of a tough, hard-hitting and aggressive player lies a different side of Robert Gallery. Born and raised in Iowa in a close-knit family, playing in Oakland has taken him away from them for the first time in his life. He mentioned how much he misses the farm and his relatives. His family has had a major influence in his development of talent, humility and dedication. "The way my parents raised me really helped me to be successful by instilling all the values that they did," he noted.

The Raiders are looking to capitalize on the dedication put forth by Gallery in his first NFL season. His remarkable skill is only gaining strength with the advice offered by the seasoned veterans on the offensive line like Barry Sims and Adam Treu. "It's always good to have veterans because they've seen a lot and if I have a question, they're there to help me. They're good leaders," Gallery said of his teammates.

But the veterans aren't the only ones lending a hand to the success that Gallery will achieve in the future. His training camp roommate and Raiders right guard Jake Grove provided support on the offensive line while establishing a bond that will last through the years. "We get along well and when we started playing next to each other last year, it was fun," Gallery asserted. "We both made mistakes but we helped each other out. We're going through the same thing so it's easy to talk to him." As the years pass, Raiders fans will get the opportunity to see Gallery and Grove work together to become a powerful force in the league.

Even though Gallery impressed coaches and fans alike during his rookie season, he is also aware of the fact that he can always improve. "I just want to be better," he declared. For the upcoming season, he wants to focus on remaining consistent and improving his talent to become the premier offensive lineman in the league. "I want to be the best tackle out there and that's what I'm going to shoot for," Gallery asserted. "It'll take time, but hopefully someday I'll get there."

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What else could you ask for in an offensive lineman? Great athleticism being a former tight end, a wonderful work ethic and a tenacious slant to the game makes him almost a lock to be a perennial Pro Bowler as early as this season if everything falls into place. He will be the cornerstone to a very solid Raiders offensive line over the next several years as he and the other youngsters continue to grow as football players.

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3. BUF - RB Lee Signs With The Bills

Clipped from: AP

Running back ReShard Lee agreed to a two-year deal with the Buffalo Bills on Friday. Lee's agent, Harold Lewis, said his client is traveling to Orchard Park to sign the deal Sunday. He didn't disclose terms of the deal. The team declined comment. Lee, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys last week, is expected to compete for the backup job behind Willis McGahee.

Lee played in 14 games last season, running for 128 yards on 27 carries. He sought his release after the Cowboys signed Anthony Thomas. In March, disgruntled Buffalo running back Travis Henry vowed he wouldn't practice or play for the Bills again. He was disciplined in April after missing the start of a mandatory minicamp. The four-year veteran has one year left on his contract but has demanded a trade after losing his starting job last season to McGahee.

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The Cowboys thought so highly of Lee that they drafted rookie RB Marion Barber and signed free agent RB Anthony Thomas this offseason and let Lee walk away. The real news to this article is the ongoing saga of RB Travis Henry. This signing could be to put pressure on Henry to report to camp down the road, it could be simply a depth chart move or it may be simply the Bills have decided to put the Henry problem behind them and move forward. Henry may be stuck in a terrible situation this year and his fantasy worth could be minimal.

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4. MIA - New Offensive Line Coach, Houck Gets Praise From Chargers' QB Brees

Clipped from: Sun-Sentinel article by Harvey Fialkov

San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees spoke highly Thursday of Hudson Houck, his team's former offensive line coach now in charge of the Dolphins' beleaguered unit.

"He was awesome," Brees said after practicing for the EA Sports NFL Quarterback Challenge on a makeshift field behind the Bahia Mar Beach Resort & Yachting Center. "I think it's amazing that you take five guys who have never played with each other ... and he puts them together and says, `You have four months to become one of the best offensive lines in this league.' That's a huge challenge, and Coach Houck was a huge part of that."

Brees, 26, went from almost losing his job to rookie Philip Rivers to earning Pro Bowl honors while playing behind Houck's revamped offensive line, which included two rookies.

"When you know what you're doing, you're going to be more confident, and those guys knew what they were doing because Coach Houck made sure," Brees said.

The Chargers' offensive line allowed 20 sacks, fourth-fewest in the league. Miami allowed 52.

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It is news blurbs like this that can make the difference between an informed, successful owner and an also-ran. Many fantasy owners out there equate the Dolphins offensive line with garbage but the fact is there is a good amount of young talent along this group including 1st round pick last season Vernon Carey, a new tackle brought in from Detroit in Stockar McDougle and finally an offensive line coach who knows how to get the most out of his players in Hudson Houck. The Dolphins offensive line will be much better that it was at the start of last season and uninformed owners will be surprised when the quarterbacks get time to throw (side note: I am still not convinced that A.J. Feeley can hit an open receiver even if the pass rush consists of pylons but at least he and Gus Frerotte won't be running for their lives this season) and the running game has lanes to run through. If Houck can duplicate his efforts from San Diego, expect a much stronger performance from the Dolphins OL in 2005.

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5. CHI - PK Edinger Wants No Part Of Kicking Derby

Clipped from: Chicago Sun-Times article by Brad Biggs

Doug Brien joined the Bears' kicking derby Thursday, prompting Paul Edinger to ask out.

Edinger, a six-year veteran, was called in during the morning and told the Bears were signing Brien to join what the team has said will be an intense competition this summer. It's one Edinger no longer wants to be a part of as his agent officially sought his release before the day was out, saying Edinger and the Bears would be best served by fresh starts.

"I know the team has told me they just wanted competition,'' said Ken Harris, Edinger's agent. "But I don't particularly believe Doug Brien opted for Chicago over other possibilities for a competition.''

Brien was released by the New York Jets on April 28, five days after they used a second-round pick to select Ohio State's Mike Nugent, also represented by Harris. At about that same time, Harris petitioned the Bears for permission to seek a trade for Edinger, who has three years remaining on a five-year, $7 million contract. He's set to earn $1.1 million this season and was originally paid $1.6 million in bonus money.

The Bears, however, decided it would be best to choose between two veterans. Now, Edinger's camp questions how level the kicking field will be.

"Look at a class organization like the New York Jets,'' Harris said. "They did not even hesitate to let Brien go make a living somewhere else. That's something Brien, his family and his representation, I am sure, appreciate.

"When you're on the other side of the coin there, you appreciate what they did for Doug. [The Bears] have their competition, so when they tell you [Edinger is there] for competition, they're crazy. I do not think they would be adversely affected by giving him a chance to make a living somewhere else than waiting until September when it might shut him out.''

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The Bears haven't been pleased with the consistency of incumbent kicker Paul Edinger and I am not surprised they brought in a field goal kicker to compete with him this season. Doug Brien is a proven kicker who has had much success at the NFL level. Many kickers have their ups and downs at the NFL level. Brien has had them and now Edinger is experiencing the same difficulties. Edinger tweaked his unique kicking style this season looking for more dependable kicks and even if he does get his wish and is released, he'll likely land a spot kicking for somebody in the NFL. For now though, I wouldn't consider him as a starter in your fantasy league. Just keep an eye on where he ends up if he does get his release.

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6. CLE - No Penalties At This Time For TE Winslow

Clipped from: Plain-Dealer article by Tony Grossi

The Browns plan no punitive measures against Kellen Winslow Jr. for violating his contract by motorcycling -- at least not until his playing status for 2005 is known. In the team's first public comments about Winslow since he suffered multiple injuries in a motorcycle accident on May 1, club officials expressed support, disappointment and hope the tight end will make a complete recovery. Winslow visited the club facility on Wednesday and did some rehabilitation work on his severely injured right knee one day after being released from the Cleveland Clinic. Club officials confirmed Winslow will have an exploratory procedure done on the knee within seven to 10 days to ascertain the extent of ligament damage. Deferring to the Winslow family wishes, the Browns continued to decline to specify all of Winslow's injuries. They said there is no timetable for his return as an active player.

"I don't think there's any indication this is a career-ending injury," President John Collins said.

Fans who want Winslow dismissed from the team will not get their wish.

"Absolutely not," General Manager Phil Savage said. "This is one of the blue-chip players on the club. When I interviewed [for the GM job], I said the problem with the team is you don't have enough good players. This is one of our better players. We need him and we want him."

But that does not mean the Browns will not take advantage of contract language that allows them to recoup close to $6 million in scheduled bonus and salary payments if Winslow cannot play in 2005 as a result of the non-football-related injuries.

"The contract's pretty clear," Collins said. "We're protected. We know what our rights are. Once we know more about the player, we'll deal with the determination together as a team as to what his impact can be going forward and where we go from there."

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Well it doesn't appear that the motorcycle crash will cause Kellen Winslow's career to be over, and the team will be holding off on taking punitive action against him for now. But this is a serious setback for Winslow. He has a world of talent and natural ability but needs to play in order to improve and missing yet another season would be a disaster for the young tight end. We will keep this situation monitored for you but it doesn't look good for him to play during the upcoming season. It's interesting to see the Browns' fans are already jaded by the whole Winslow experience to this point. Unless the injury turns out to be more serious than believed right now, you have to keep a player with his skill set on the roster. He could still become a vital cog for this team down the road.

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7. IND - QB Peyton Manning Believes Former Collegiate Teammate Price Is A Super Talent

Clipped from: Atlanta Journal Constitution article by Ken Sugiura

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning defended former Tennessee teammate and Falcons wide receiver Peerless Price, who has come under scrutiny for falling short of expectations in two seasons with the team. "Peerless is going to be fine," Manning said. "When you sign for a big contract, a lot of pressure and expectations come with that. . . . Peerless is a super talent. For a No. 1 receiver and a top-echelon quarterback like Michael Vick, it still takes time to get on the same page."

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With all the negative talk in regards to WR Peerless Price, it is refreshing to see something different. While fantasy owners are jaded in regards to Price, it does need to be said that it was as much the fault of talented, yet green quarterback Michael Vick as it was Price's fault. He can probably put up solid numbers if the quarterback can get him the ball but it all depends on how much progress Vick can make when it comes to the passing game in 2005.

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8. BUF - K Lindell Could Be On Thin Ice With The Bills

Clipped from: the Bills Daily article

The Bills' brass continue to say they have confidence in their kicker, Rian Lindell. Their actions may show otherwise though. They signed Joe Rheem as an undrafted free agent shortly after the draft giving them three kickers on the depth chart. Owen Pochman is in NFL Europe although currently injured. The team also was reportedly interested in former Jets kicker Doug Brien before he signed with the Bears. It has also been reported that the team may sign undrafted free agent kicker Matt Payne from BYU in the next few weeks. Why would they be stockpiling kickers if they know Lindell is their man? It did appear that Coach Mularkey had no confidence in his kicker from outside the 40 and it may not be a lock that he is the kicker this year.

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There is a plethora of place kickers available for you to draft this season that are a sure bet. Don't waste a pick on a kicker who isn't considered a lock to make the team. The Bills weren't happy with Lindell and it wouldn't come as a surprise to see him lose a battle for the job and be on the outside looking in. Look elsewhere for your kicker.

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9. NYG/FA - QB Miller Given Injury Settlement

Clipped from: ESPN article by Len Pasquarelli

The New York Giants have reached an injury settlement with Jim Miller, severing ties with the veteran quarterback who was supposed to serve as the primary backup to Eli Manning. The move had been anticipated since Miller underwent hip surgery last month, and the decision came only days after the Giants were awarded three-year veteran and former Washington Redskins backup Tim Hasselbeck through a waiver claim.

The addition of Hasselbeck left New York with five quarterbacks on the roster and, given Miller's current physical status, it was not surprising that he was the odd man out.

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You know it is a slow news day when you see a news blurb about the washed up Jim Miller. He would have served as a good mentor for the 2nd-year quarterback Eli Manning but it looks like former Redskin, Tim Hasselbeck will now be pressed into that role.

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10. IDP: NE - LB Brown Yet Another Great Move By The Patriots

Clipped from: Seahawks.net article by Doug Farrar

As reported by Mike Sando of the Tacoma News Tribune (and confirmed by New England reporter Mike Reiss of the Metro West Daily News), the New England Patriots have once again shown their mastery of the NFL's financial constraints and complexities. The latest player to fall under the spell of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli is former Seahawks OLB Chad Brown.

Brown reportedly refused an offer from the Seahawks to restructure his contract - an offer that would have paid him approximately $1 million plus incentives for the 2005 season. But as these reports show, Brown's deal with New England is for two years and $2.35 million, with a $485,000 signing bonus. Brown's base salaries are $765,000 in 2005 and $800,000 in 2006, In addition, the Patriots will pay Brown a $100,000 roster bonus in 2005 and a $200,000 roster bonus in 2006. According to Reiss, Brown's salary cap hit for 2005 is $1.1 million. There are also unspecified incentives, which could conceivably spike the total deal to the $4 million total that had been previously reported by Seahawks.NET and several other news sources.

When asked why he accepted the Patriots' offer amidst so much interest (he was being courted by Pittsburgh, Denver and New Orleans as well), Brown cited Belichick's creativity. He also said that he is up to the challenge of learning the complex schemes the Patriots use to confuse the rest of the NFL into submission. "I've played in a 3-4, I've played in a 4-3 and I've played end in the nickel and linebacker in the nickel," Brown told Reiss. "In my conversation with Coach Belichick, I was definitely under the impression that I would get to play a few different spots and that's a role I'm very comfortable in."

"I know the Patriots are inventive, but I can't imagine a role, or a coverage or style of play that I haven't played before," he said. "Some of the terminology might be different, but other than bridging the language difference, I don't see much of a problem."

Seattle's defense, ranked 26th in the NFL last season and mired in a sea of sameness from a playbook perspective, may have been unacceptable to a man who former Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Les Carpenter once called "one of the smartest players I've ever met."

The Patriot Way, lined with Lombardi trophies as it is, now has another talented player in its ranks - another player who accepted less money to play in New England than he may have received elsewhere.

If he can stay healthy, Chad Brown will provide a stellar pass rush presence to a team that already has terrorized its share of quarterbacks. Brown acknowledged the concerns regarding his injury history, but he also mentioned that he's ready to let it fly in his new home. "Obviously, I missed some time last season with a broken leg, but I think a broken leg is different than say a damaged knee or a disc in the back that is going to slow you down over time. The bone is healed and I missed (nine games), so I actually feel fresher, stronger and in better shape than I did at this point last offseason. I feel fantastic. I'm truly ready to go."

If this is the case, the New England Patriots' ubergenius Belichick and twice-consecutive NFL Executive of the Year Pioli - may have outdone even themselves. And Chad Brown may be well on his way to the Super Bowl ring that has eluded him throughout his 12-year NFL career.

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There are no guarantees that Chad Brown can regain his place as a great defensive player but the Patriots continue to bring in talented veterans who can have a legitimate impact on the team. Players appear to be flocking to the Patriots to play for guru, Bill Belichick and I wouldn't be surprised to see Brown play at a level he hasn't approached in years. Belichick and the Patriots continue to find awesome value via the free agency route which has led to their dominance over the past couple of seasons.

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11. IDP: SEA - Seahawks Interested In LB Boulware

Clipped from: Seattle Times article by Jose Miguel Romero

The Seahawks are still looking to shore up their pass rush, and Peter Boulware is on their radar. Boulware, older brother of Seahawks safety Michael Boulware, is on the market after being released by the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, and the Seahawks are believed to be one of several teams interested. Peter Boulware, 30, is expected to visit team headquarters in Kirkland. The four-time Pro Bowler and former first-round draft choice is an eight-year veteran and Baltimore's all-time sacks leader, with 67 ½. But he didn't play last season because of a knee injury suffered late in 2003 and a toe injury suffered midway through last season during practice the week in which he was to make his return.

Before the injuries, Boulware had played in 111 straight regular-season games. Though he took and passed a physical in Baltimore on Wednesday and proclaimed his knee and toe to be fully healed - according to the Baltimore Sun - Boulware would have to take a physical as part of his visit with the Seahawks. An outside linebacker in the Ravens' 3-4 defense, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Boulware could be a defensive end for the Seahawks. Seattle added Bryce Fisher at defensive end in free agency and drafted similarly sized Jeb Huckeba in the fifth round, both to help the pass rush. But Boulware would bring his Pro Bowl credentials and proven sack ability from a quality defense if signed.

The Seahawks would have to create room under their salary cap to sign Boulware, who was released because he was due a high salary next season. That would likely involve releasing current players, because Boulware would probably command at least $2 million for a one-year contract.

The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are also interested in Boulware.

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As expected, LB Peter Boulware is a hot commodity after being released by the Baltimore Ravens. He has had a solid NFL career and will offer a fantasy team in IDP leagues good depth as a fourth or fifth linebacker on a fantasy squad. He would be a nice fit for the Seahawks and would likely see the field as a starter if he is signed and is indeed healthy.

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12. IDP: Chi - Free Agent LB Simmons Has Good Workout For The Bears

Clipped from: Chicago Sports article by Terry Bannon Ex-Seattle starter Anthony Simmons had a good workout for the Bears at Halas Hall and could be signed, although the Bears still have concerns about the broken wrist that ended his 2004 season.

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Definitely something to watch when it comes to IDP leagues this season. Simmons is a solid fantasy performer when healthy and would be a great compliment to LB Brian Urlacher. He would be a nice fit in the Bears defensive scheme.

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

J

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