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Volume 6, Issue 30 (Wednesday, May 18th)

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Hi Folks,

Thanks to our Will Grant for rounding up these stories tonight. Bad news for Titans TE Bennie Joppru (again), Deuce McAllister is talking about a new deal and we even have a David Boston sighting.

I'm putting this out a little early tonight as I have promised my young Jedi in training son, Sam Bryant, that I'd take him to the midnight showing of Star Wars. He says there will be a major league disturbance in the force if we're late so let's jump to it.

J

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Site News: Remember that the Early Bird Discount ends May 20, 2005. There are just a few more days to take advantage of the special $19.95 price. You can order from the front page of www.footballguys.com.

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. HOU - TE Joppru - Torn ACL 2. MIA - WR Boston Re-Signed. 3. NO - RB McAllister - Contract Talks Resume 4. BAL - QB Wright Ready To Roll 5. CIN - WR Warrick Ready To Play. Still Not Healthy Enough. 6. DEN - WR Watts Seeks Lights-Out Year. 7. ARI - LJ Shelton and Lorenzo Diamond Released. 8. JAX - RB Pearman - Pushing for 3rd Down Role. 9. DEN - WR Jerry Rice: Coming Soon? 10. CHI - IDP CB McQuarters - One Step Closer to Release

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1. HOU - TE Joppru - Torn ACL.

Clipped from: Houston Cronical.com article by Joseph Duarte 5/18/05

Texans tight end Bennie Joppru will miss a third consecutive season after an MRI exam Tuesday confirmed a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Joppru suffered the injury during a non-contact drill Monday. He is expected to undergo surgery within the next two to three weeks. An ACL injury typically requires six to nine months of rehabilitation.

"He's still in shock," said Joppru's agent, Ken Zuckerman. "I think he's wondering what's going on. This is his third year out of football. He was really feeling good about himself and getting back."

Joppru, a second-round selection out of Michigan in 2003, missed his first two NFL seasons with a groin injury that required surgery.

The latest setback occurred when he planted his foot to make a cut during a drill on the outdoor grass field at Reliant Park.

"It was a freak accident," Zuckerman said. "It's been a freaky three years."

Joppru, who is due a base salary of $380,000 in 2005, was fourth on the depth chart at tight end but was expected to compete for the starting job in training camp. The Texans are believed to have interest in unrestricted free agent Marcellus Rivers, who spent the past four seasons with the New York Giants, as a roster replacement.

"He had worked real hard; he was in excellent condition," Texans general manager Charley Casserly said of Joppru. "He really looked good in spring workouts. This is a guy that had never been hurt in college, and now he's been hurt three straight years."

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

Yesterday's update reported that Joppru injured his knee in a non-contact drill and speculated that he might be lost for the season. This confirms it. Joppru hasn't played for Houston, and even dynasty fantasy owners need to be concerned that he may never be 100%. Even if it's just a really long string of bad luck, at some point, you have to wonder how well he can still play after missing three seasons in a row. Houston TEs Mark Bruener and Billy Miller combined for 230 yards receiving and 1 TD last season, so this probably isn't earth-shattering news to anyone's fantasy team.

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2. MIA - WR Boston Re-Signed

Clipped from: Reuters.com article by The Sports Network 5/18/05

Davie, FL (Sports Network) - The Miami Dolphins and wide receiver David Boston have apparently agreed to terms on a one-year deal, two months after the team terminated his contract following a failed physical.

The Palm Beach Post reported that Boston was in South Florida Tuesday and a deal could be announced as early as Wednesday.

Boston was acquired by the Dolphins last summer in a trade with San Diego, but never played a down for the club. He ruptured a patella tendon in his knee during training camp in August, and was placed on injured reserve.

Off-field troubles also hounded the veteran from Ohio State, as he had a run- in with a ticket agent at a Vermont airport in October and was suspended by the NFL in December after testing positive for steroids.

Boston spent his first four NFL campaigns in Arizona and posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2000 and '01, when he reached his only Pro Bowl after catching 98 balls for 1,598 yards and eight touchdowns. He became a free agent after the 2002 season and signed a big contract with the Chargers. Boston had 70 catches for 880 yards and seven scores in 2003, but often butted heads with coach Marty Schottenheimer which led to the off-season trade.

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

At one time in his career, Boston had the makings to be a genuine fantasy stud. Now, it's hard to see him having an impact anywhere. The failed physical should be cause for concern. This is a nasty injury and you have to wonder how recovered he is. This is one of those 'approach with caution' type of things. A healthy, full speed Boston paired with Chris Chambers would be a dangerous combination. However, at this point, it's pure speculation as to what Boston will mean to the team. We'll keep you posted on any further developments with this situation.

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3. NO - RB McAllister - Contract Talks Resume

Clipped from: The Times-Picayune article by Jeff Duncan 5/18/05 .. The Saints are expected to re-open talks with McAllister within the next week. McAllister's agent, Ben Dogra, said he spoke with Loomis earlier this month about resuming negotiations and hopes to submit a proposal for a multiyear deal to the Saints by next week.

The sides conducted preliminary talks before and during last season.

"It's our move to try to get something to the Saints," Dogra said. "Deuce wants to be in New Orleans. Hopefully, we can get something done that keeps Deuce there for the rest of his career."

McAllister will earn a base salary of $2.3 million this season via an accelerator clause in his original deal that boosted his base pay by $1.75 million. His rookie contract was for six years at $6.25 million.

McAllister, a two-time Pro Bowler, is expected to command a deal similar to the eight-year, $50 million deal Clinton Portis received from Washington in March 2004. Portis' deal includes $17 million in bonuses during the first four years.

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

The article also talks about holdouts and contract negotiations for Derrick Rodgers, Fakhir Brown, LeCharles Bentley and Mike McKenzie. It's clear from reading the full article that the Saints are working hard to keep all of their key players in place and happy with their contracts. McAllister is of particular importance as he is a top ten fantasy pick in most redraft leagues. If McAllister is able to sign a deal that will keep him in New Orleans for the next eight years, he'll be a great long term prospect for keeper and dynasty owners as well. Even though McAllister missed a couple games last season because of an injury, he still managed to finish as a top 20 fantasy running back and finished 51st among all fantasy players, regardless of position. A healthy McAllister should return to the top ten again this season. See the FBG rankings here http://apps.footballguys.com/05rbrank1.cfm

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4. BAL - QB Wright Ready To Roll

Clipped from: Baltimoresun.com article by Brent Jones 5/18/05

The realization hit Anthony Wright a month ago and is being confirmed during this week's inaugural passing camp.

The injured right shoulder, which caused the Ravens quarterback so much physical and mental pain last season, is fully healed. The velocity on his throws is back, the soreness that hampered his arm is nowhere to be found and the opportunity for him to lead the team again - as he did in 2003 when starter Kyle Boller went down with an injury - may arise this fall.

"My arm feels great," said Wright, who had his shoulder surgically repaired a year ago. "I'm not having any soreness or anything wrong with it. I'm just ready to start getting some contact. I'm excited about getting back with the team. If I'm called upon, I'll be able to come in and do whatever is needed of me."

Wright spent the first nine games on the season rehabilitating the shoulder, then sat behind Boller and backup Kordell Stewart on the active roster for the final seven.

Boller remained healthy all season, and Wright did not take a snap for just the second season since he came in as an undrafted rookie in 1999.

If he had had to play, chances are Wright would not have been at the same level he was when he finished with a 5-2 record and led the Ravens to the playoffs in the 2003 season. Wright just recently regained the arm strength that was sapped during the team's first passing camp a year ago when the injury was discovered.

Wright threw every pass in his arsenal during the session.

"Anthony looks good," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Getting thrown a curve with his injury last year extended us a bit. But Anthony looks healthy, has been here the whole time working out, and we're very comfortable with Anthony here as our backup. We think we have an excellent 1-2 punch."

The emphasis, though, lies in the pecking order. Wright may be the unquestioned backup, but the probability that he will get another shot this year is in his favor.

Boller was one of 12 quarterbacks (out of 32 teams) to start every game last year, but he may be hard-pressed to duplicate that feat.

"I'm going to be a lot more prepared because I know that anything can happen on any given Sunday," Wright said. "I have to be ready to go in and perform. I'm going to be ready for the call either way. I know how this business is and how injuries and so forth go, so I'm going to make sure I'm ready to take this team where we want to go."

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You can bet Kyle Boller is taking note of this one. A healthy Wright means that Boller will be looking over his shoulder the entire season. If it motivates him to elevate his play, that would be great. However, some people will remember that Wright was 5-2 back in 2003. If Boller falters, the pressure to insert Wright will mount. In fantasy terms, it means that if you have Boller as one of your QBS, you must handcuff him but drafting Wright to insure that you'll always have a starter. One other note, do not believe anything coach Brian Billick says regarding this situation. He's a great coach but put him in the Denny Green category when it comes to putting much stock in what he says about training camp battles.

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5. CIN - WR Warrick Ready To Play. Still Not Healthy Enough.

Clipped from: Cincinnati.com article by Mark Curnutte 5/18/05

Peter Warrick had to fight a familiar urge Tuesday, the first day of the Bengals' on-field coaching sessions at Paul Brown Stadium.

Not yet medically cleared to participate in team drills, Warrick stood on the sideline - having completed his solo rehabilitation work - and wanted to join teammates.

"Today, I was watching things and wanted to go out there and do it," Warrick said after the practice, which lasted one hour and 50 minutes. "But I've got to take my time. This is my future."

Warrick played in just four games last season, as knee and shin injuries forced him to miss significant time for the first time in a football career that dates to youth leagues in his native Florida.

He flashed his 2003 form with 11 receptions for 127 yards in the first two regular-season games. But he rushed back from the slight fibula fracture he suffered in the opener. After playing in Games 2 and 3, he sat out two games and the bye week. He returned Oct. 25 but struggled and went on injured reserve two weeks later.

Warrick said Tuesday he would not repeat the mistake he made in 2004: He didn't listen to his mother's advice.

"I think about it every day," Warrick said of the frustrating 2004 season, which led to rumors the Bengals might release him. "My mom was on me not to come back so quick. ... She told me to chill, to get rest."

The Bengals invested their third- and sixth-round draft picks last month on wide receivers Chris Henry and Tab Perry.

Coach Marvin Lewis said Warrick will be on the field when he's healthy.

"I'm just going to do what the coaches want me to do," Warrick said. "Deep down, (playing now) is not the smartest thing."

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It's good to see that Warrick is ready to come back. However, it may be to late for the Bengals 2000 first round draft pick (#4 overall). Warrick fell to #4 on the Bengal depth chart behind Chad Johnson, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Kelley Washington. Both Washington has great potential and Houshmandzadeh showed excellent skills last year. He's proven he can perform week to week. It's questionable if Warrick will be released after June 1, but if he stays with the Bengals, he's going to have to really prove himself to make an impact. A change of address might be the best thing for him. Until he is released or traded though, Warrick will have minimal fantasy impact without an injury to one of the starters unless he has an incredible preseason.

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6. DEN - WR Watts Seeks Lights-Out Year.

Clipped from: Rocky Mountain News.com article by Lee Rasizer 5/18/05

If Darius Watts fails to improve on his uneven rookie season with the Denver Broncos, it will not be for lack of trying.

Watts, the team's No. 3 receiver last season, has been a fixture at Dove Valley since February, lifting weights and catching passes six weeks before the official start of Denver's off-season strength and conditioning program

Back then, only a handful of teammates were around, a stark contrast to the full roster filling the locker room this week during quarterback camp.

"I felt it was important," Watts said Tuesday. "That's why I stayed out here this off- season."

And make no mistake, Denver is counting on Watts to break through in his sophomore season.

The Broncos had been expected to add a veteran receiver in free agency and barring that, in the draft.

They have done neither.

One reason is their strong faith in Watts.

"I think they're counting on all of us receivers to come through and that's why they didn't go out and get anybody," he said. "And whether I'm the third guy, second guy or the first guy, I have a burden on my shoulders regardless."

Watts ranked fifth on the team with 31 receptions in 2004 and frequently showed an ability to get off press coverage.

But the second-round pick had only 11 receptions in the second half of the season. Watts failed to record a catch of at least 20 yards after Week 8 and had a few key drops. He also seemed to play out of control at times.

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Watts is a nice sleeper pick. He's going to push for more playing time this year. With Rod Smith winding down his career, and Ashley Lelie taking his time to reach his full potential, Watts could really have an impact if given the chance. He made some rookie mistakes last year, but he's really working hard to get by all of that. Watch how the summer progresses for Watts, and keep an eye on him during the pre-season. If he comes in and blows everyone's doors off, it's going to be hard to keep him away from the ball.

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7. ARI - LJ Shelton and Lorenzo Diamond Released.

Clipped from: azcardinals.com article 5/18/05

Shelton was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the first round (21st overall) of the 1999 draft out of Eastern Michigan. He appeared in 12 games at right tackle in 2004 (nine starts) before being placed in injured reserve with a knee injury on December 14. Over the past six seasons, Shelton started 77 of the 82 games in which he appeared.

Diamond, who originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent from Auburn in 2003, appeared in five games (four starts) in 2004 with three receptions for 19 yards. He spent the first 14 weeks of the 2003 season on the Cardinals practice squad before being signed to the active roster for the final two games.

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

Shelton's phone should immediately start ringing. There are plenty of teams around the NFL who would love to add a RT to their roster. Diamond may sign with another team, but his fantasy impact will be minima. We'll keep you posted on any updates as they happen.

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8. JAX - RB Pearman - Pushing for 3rd Down Role.

Clipped from: Jaguars.com article by Vic Ketchman 5/18/05

Through five mini-camp and two passing-camp practices, it's become apparent Pearman offers strong potential to become the third-down back this team hasn't really had since Tavian Banks blew out his knee in 1999. Pearman, who at 5-9, 208 is a little on the smallish side and doesn't exactly have ideal speed, is making eyes pop in practice with his pass-catching ability.

A feature back? Maybe not. A pounder? Certainly not. An outlet receiver who can catch the ball and move it past the sticks? You bet.

"I have my sights set on being the best football player I can be," Pearman said following Wednesday morning's practice. "I'm highly competitive and have a lot of heart. I'm the kind of player who does what it takes. That's how I describe my game."

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

With Fred Taylor's injury status still a big question mark, Pearman has a chance to really see some playing time. He knows it too. His weaknesses are documented in the article above, but a back that can catch the ball well is always in demand in the NFL. While he may not turn into the next LaDainian Tomlinson, Pearman just might be a back that you can count on for a few points every week. In leagues that reward 1 pt for every reception, Pearman could even be a nice sleeper in deeper leagues.

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9. DEN - WR Jerry Rice: Coming Soon?

Clipped from: NFL Network article by Adam Schefter 5/18/05

Jerry Rice and the Denver Broncos, each with a need for the other, are exploring the idea of uniting this season.

Rice and Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who worked together for three years in San Francisco, were scheduled to talk at some point in the past 24 hours about the possibility of working together again this season. Shanahan also conducted preliminary talks this weekend with Rice's agent, Jim Steiner. Now the question becomes: Can they work out a deal?

It sounds like both sides want to make sure this is the right match before moving forward. The 42-year-old Rice wants to be assured he will have a role in the Broncos offense, and the Broncos want to make sure Rice will be happy playing whatever role he does, even if it is limited. Rice is willing to concede he will not start this season, but he would like to play. Denver would not expect him to start, but with as many four- and five-receiver sets as the Broncos use, Rice might be able to get extensive time. Rice already has turned down one offer from another team, but now he will have a chance to talk seriously with another.

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

Fantasy wise, Rice is all but done. He'd be used more in a leadership/spot WR role in Denver. It would nice to see Rice in more of a coach's role, but on the playing field? That seems like a stretch. As usual, we'll keep you posted on any developments out of Denver.

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10. CHI - IDP CB McQuarters - One Step Closer to Release

Clipped from: Chicago Sports.com article by Terry Bannon

When the Bears gather at Halas Hall for their three-day mini-camp Friday, one of their veterans who is on the trading block will be there and one won't.

Place-kicker Paul Edinger will be on hand to greet newly signed challenger Doug Brien.

But cornerback R.W. McQuarters won't be there, sources said, presaging the end of his Bears career after five seasons. He is expected to be released if the Bears can't make a trade, unlikely given his salary.

McQuarters is scheduled to make $3.05 million in 2005, a bit pricey for a punt returner and backup cornerback. Charles Tillman and Jerry Azumah are set as starters, and the Bears already have engaged in preliminary talks to re-sign Azumah, who is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2005 season. Tillman is signed through 2007, and the Bears like the potential of Nathan Vasher, a fourth-round pick last year who led the Bears with five interceptions.

In 2000, the Bears acquired McQuarters from San Francisco, which drafted him out of Oklahoma State on the first round in 1998, for a 2001 sixth-round pick. He came into his own in the 13-3 season of 2001, getting a $5.5 million signing bonus as part of a five-year deal that has two years remaining.

The mini-camp will feature the return of injured quarterback Rex Grossman.

Hunter Hillenmeyer will get another chance to show he can be the starting strong-side linebacker. The Bears have decided not to sign former Seattle starter Anthony Simmons, who has been slowed by an assortment of injuries the last three years.

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

McQuarters had 55 solo tackles and 12 assists for the Bears in 2004. He also had 2 INTS, including 1 for a TD. He also had 44 punt returns for 435 yards and a TD. Those were some of his best stats since coming to the Bears in 2000. However, McQuarters has fallen behind Charles Tillman and Jerry Azumah on the CB depth chart, and with Nathan Vasher and Todd McMillon progressing well, McQuarters doesn't justify the salary that he is due.

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

J

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