Volume 6, Issue 33 (Saturday, May 21st)
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Hope you're having a great weekend. We are here. Thanks to our Aaron
Rudnicki for rounding up these stories tonight. And for the 200 guys
who emailed me about the Early Bird Discount, check out the site news
below. Let's jump to it.
Site News: Bryant Folds. I admit it, I'm soft. We're extending the
Early Bird Discount until the end of the day on Monday, 5/23/05. It's
actually not because I'm a nice guy. We had some tech problems that
kept some folks from being able to access the site. All those are
clear now so no more excuses. If you haven't signed up yet, you have
until the end of the day on Monday, 5/23/05 to snag the Early Bird
Discount price of $19.95. After that, it goes to $24.95.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
1. MIA - Agent Says RB Ricky Williams Will Report To Dolphins Training Camp
2. CLE - TE Winslow's Career Could Be Permanently Damaged
3. DEN - Broncos Extend Contract Offer To WR Rice
4. CHI - QB Grossman Ready To Roll
5. SF - C Newberry Will Need More Surgery
6. TEN - QB McNair Will Unload Quickly in Chow's Offense
7. IDP: ATL - LB Hartwell A Tenacious Competitor
8. IDP: NE - LB Bruschi Hasn't Decided His Playing Status For 2005
MIA - Agent Says RB Ricky Williams Will Report To Dolphins Training Camp
Clipped from: Palm Beach Post article by Greg Bedard, 5/21/05
The agent for Ricky Williams said Friday the retired running back
"absolutely" will report to Dolphins training camp in July. "Ricky's
made the decision he wants to play again," Leigh Steinberg said.
Asked when Williams can be expected to make a final decision about
returning to the Dolphins, Steinberg said: "He has. He's expressed his
desire to play this year."
Steinberg said Williams has spoken several times to Saban in recent
days. "He feels a very natural rapport with coach Saban, and I think
that's a very positive factor,'' Steinberg said.
Although Steinberg insists Williams plans to return, the running back
didn't sound as certain in an online chat with a Sports Illustrated
reporter Wednesday night. When asked if he planned to play football
again, SI.com reported that Williams said, "I honestly do not know.''
The online report also said Williams weighs 195 pounds - about 30
pounds lighter than he weighed in his last season with the Dolphins.
Steinberg didn't dispute the player's reported weight.
"He just returned from a respected yoga teaching center in India,"
said Steinberg, who added that Williams is now a certified yoga
instructor. "That is a very strenuous physical discipline which
fortunately allowed him to keep in shape. But since he's been back in
California, he has been working out."
Despite Williams' uncertainty in the online interview, Steinberg
believes he wants to play. "Ricky never lost his love for football.
It's just a question of whether he wanted to play in the NFL,"
Steinberg said. "And I think in the time away he's realized that he
misses it and he's excited about rejoining the Dolphins."
Williams said online that he believes he can play two more seasons.
"I've still got 4,000 yards left in me," Williams wrote, meaning a
pair of 2,000-yard rushing seasons. "Who is gonna turn that down?"
Steinberg declined to comment about issues blocking Williams' return
to the NFL. He faces a drug suspension for violating the league's
substance-abuse policy, and he owes the Dolphins $8.6 million for
violating his contract through last summer's sudden retirement.
Williams, who reportedly tested positive for marijuana three times,
can't rejoin the Dolphins until July because his retirement triggered
a one-year suspension under the league's drug policy. Williams is also
subject to an in-season suspension and fine.
"He owes a four-game suspension provided he comes back after the
one-year anniversary of his retirement," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello
said. A source said Williams is considering challenging the four-game
Steinberg wouldn't comment about Williams' personal life, but a source
who has spoken to Williams said he has been drug- and alcohol-free
since he enrolled at the California College of Ayurveda in Grass
Valley, Calif., last fall to study holistic medicine. "If he wasn't
going to be in rehab, he was probably in the best place for him," the
source said. "They don't believe in any of that stuff there."
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]
This is a pretty interesting development, but it's hard to know
exactly what to make of it. While the fact that Williams supposedly
has developed a good rapport with Nick Saban is a good sign for his
eventual return, it is also very possible that Steinberg is pushing
Ricky to return simply because of the $8.6 million he owes the
Dolphins. There are also plenty of potential roadblocks in place that
could prevent him from contributing much this year. First, he's
looking at a likely 4-game suspension once he returns, which could
eventually lead to a longer suspension if he fails another drug test.
Second, if he weighs just 195 pounds in May, there may not be enough
time for him to add weight and get back into football playing shape by
the time the season begins. Finally, the Dolphins spent the #2 overall
draft pick on Ronnie Brown, and he'll likely be given every
opportunity to start. We'll continue to follow this story for you and
keep you posted on any developments.
CLE - TE Winslow's Career Could Be Permanently Damaged
Clipped from: ESPN.com article by Len Pasquarelli, 5/19/05
Assuming that the news reports are accurate, and that Winslow has
suffered damage to his right knee sufficient enough to sideline him
for the entire 2005 season, his lack of maturity can only be deemed
staggering. In endangering his career by strapping himself to a
motorcycle, the specific model of which has been alternately nicknamed
the "crotch rocket" and the "donor wagon," Winslow displayed
of common sense.
Now his right knee, which figures to require extensive repair work,
likely will display a long, ugly scar.
Will those surgical sutures, the graphic and lifelong reminder of a
joy ride that was transformed into a tragic lapse of judgment, forever
alter Winslow's approach to life and to his livelihood? Time will
tell. Should the events of the past few weeks dramatically change the
manner in which the Cleveland organization views a player who saw
himself as a football messiah? Quite clearly, the answer is yes.
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]
Pasquarelli takes Winslow to task in this article, as well as the
people who have given him special treatment throughout his development
and made him think he was invincible. Winslow is not unlike most
successful athletes who are given the star treatment all their lives,
but he may have taken irresponsibility to a higher level. The article
mentions that a Browns functionary actually carried Winslow's helmet
and shoulder pads off the field for him after practice during his
first training camp last year, and that type of treatment certainly
didn't go over to well with his veteran teammates. Hopefully, this
experience will humble Winslow a bit, and perhaps serve as a
motivating factor to mature and live up to all the high expectations
people have for him.
DEN - Broncos Extend Contract Offer To WR Rice
Clipped from: Rocky Mountain News article by Lee Rasizer, 5/21/05
An invitation to have NFL receiving legend Jerry Rice join the Denver
Broncos has been formally extended. All that remains is Rice's RSVP.
Rice will take the weekend to consider the offer before informing the
Broncos of his decision early next week. "He's just considering
whether it's the right thing to do," Rice's agent, Jim Steiner, said
Friday. "It's just a lot to absorb. He definitely wants to play. I'm
sure this will be his final stop. He just wants to think about it,
then make the call."
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was satisfied Rice was clear on his
possible role with the Broncos to such an extent he has put the
decision in the receiver's hands.
The Broncos are high on Darius Watts as their No. 3 receiver and
wanted to make sure Rice wasn't under the impression he was guaranteed
a spot in the regular rotation simply by his reputation and
achievements, which include 13 Pro Bowl appearances in 20 pro seasons.
"There's no promises of him being the third receiver, fourth receiver,
fifth receiver," Shanahan said. "If he does come here, we'll give
a chance to compete with the other receivers."
If Rice isn't one of the top five players at the position at the end
of training camp, Shanahan said he told his former pupil with the San
Francisco 49ers from 1992-94 he would "have one of the toughest jobs
in the world, and that would be to release a guy that is arguably the
best player to ever play the game."
Rice's response, according to his former offensive coordinator:
"Coach, I wouldn't want it any other way." "I don't think there's
downside as long as somebody understands what the situation is going
in," Shanahan said.
Rice, 42, isn't expected to make more than the veteran minimum
contract, so that shouldn't be a roadblock to joining the Broncos,
although "there's always parameters that you have to work out,"
More likely, Rice's decision is centered on family considerations,
since he already has decided to play. He's married with three children
and already turned down a job offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this
off-season because of logistical concerns.
>From Denver's perspective, Rice could provide veteran insurance in
case of an injury to projected starters Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie.
Watts is talented but young, and there's an inexperienced cast behind
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]
While it is somewhat sad to see Rice considering playing another year
for the veteran minimum as just a 4th or 5th WR after the great career
he's put together, you do have to be impressed by his longevity and
passion for the game. At 42 years old, if he does decide to play for
Denver, his fantasy impact should be pretty minimal. But, he'll likely
provide a reliable option in 3 and 4 WR sets and should be a great
role model for promising young players like Ashley Lelie and Darius
Watts. Rice still runs great routes, has great hands, and will work as
hard as anybody in the league.
CHI - QB Grossman Ready To Roll
Clipped from: Chicago Tribune article by Terry Bannon, 5/21/05
When Rex Grossman took the practice field Friday, his surgically
repaired right knee was there for all to see. No wrap, no brace, no
"We'll always protect our quarterbacks, but Rex is ready to go as far
as we're concerned," coach Lovie Smith said after the first practice
of the Bears' three-day mini-camp. "We don't put players out there if
they need special treatment, and he doesn't need any."
Grossman went through all the usual workouts in these non-contact
mini-camps, another phase in his recovery from ACL surgery on his
right knee that ended his 2004 season after three games.
"It took a lot of time, more than that a lot of hard work, doing the
rehab," he said. "It's been seven months, and it seems like seven
years. It's fun to get to this point and just play and not worry about
it and just do what you're supposed to do."
Grossman said he might have worn a brace if he had hurt his left knee,
which is more exposed when setting up to pass. The injured knee gets
post-practice ice treatment.
"I didn't know how I was going to feel," Grossman said. "I'd
an injury like this and I didn't know how the knee would respond or
how I was going to respond to having an injury. I'm all healed up.
It's not a problem to me."
Grossman's goal is to become a consistent, winning quarterback, which
he hasn't had a chance to do-in two seasons he has started just six
"I've done it for two years now, so hopefully it all comes together
and I have a full season," he said. "Obviously there's a silver lining
in everything. I had to search hard to find it last year. It got me in
the building every single day since I got hurt, working on my knee,
watching tape, working with coaches . Being here like a full-time job,
like it should be."
Grossman is working with a new-look receiver corps led by the Bears'
biggest off-season signing, Muhsin Muhammad. Justin Gage is getting
the first shot at the other starting job, with Bernard Berrian running
"Rex practiced with confidence and threw the ball with confidence,"
Muhammad said. "Even the ones we didn't complete, he threw the ball
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]
Although these are non-contact drills, the fact that Grossman is going
through full practices in May without a brace is definitely a good
sign for fantasy owners and Bears fans alike. Grossman has flashed
signs of his potential during limited playing time, but it is hard to
make reliable projections for him based off just 6 starts in the past
2 seasons. In addition to the difficulty of returning from a torn ACL,
Grossman will also be learning his 3rd different offensive system
since entering the league. The Bears, however, have made some major
upgrades on offense that should make his job easier, including the
signing of RT Fred Miller and the addition of WR Muhsin Muhammad, who
led the league in receiving last year. A strong running game led by
rookie Cedric Benson should also help take some pressure of Grossman.
He's one of the few QBs you can draft late who has almost no
competition for a starting job. WR Justin Gage is also a player to
keep an eye on, as it appears he'll be given the first shot at
starting opposite Muhammad this year.
SF - C Newberry Will Need More Surgery
Clipped from: AP article posted on FoxSports.com, 5/21/05
Jeremy Newberry, the San Francisco 49ers' two-time Pro Bowl center,
needs more arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome right knee, coach
Mike Nolan said Friday.
Newberry played just one game last season because of problems with his
kneecap and the cartilage around it. He had surgery in September, but
missed several return dates with persistent pain and a nagging back
injury as well.
Newberry participated in the 49ers' minicamp earlier this month, and
pronounced himself healthier than he had been in at least two years.
But his latest surgery, which will occur in the next 10 days, will
require eight to 10 weeks of recovery, putting his availability in
question for the start of training camp.
"We will minimize Jeremy's work during training camp to assist with
his recovery," Nolan said. "This should allow him the opportunity
play this season, something that Jeremy has stated he wants to do."
Newberry made the Pro Bowl in 2001 and 2002. From 1999-2003, the Bay
Area native started 79 of the 49ers' 80 regular-season games.
Newberry is expected to be the leader of the 49ers' revamped offensive
line this season alongside new acquisition Jonas Jennings and three
recent draft picks: tackle Kwame Harris and guards Justin Smiley and
"I like the new coaching staff, and I like the new guys," Newberry
said at the Niners' last minicamp. "I think I'm healthy, and it feels
like I've been waiting to play forever. I can't wait to get started."
If Newberry's recovery is slow, Baas could move over to center, where
he played for Michigan last season. The 49ers also will attempt to
sign a veteran defensive lineman after the NFL's latest round of
roster cuts on June 1.
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]
Last year, the 49ers probably fielded the worst offensive line in the
league. This year, they've added Jonas Jennings in free agency and
David Baas in the draft. But, the most important player on the line
might be Newberry, who missed almost the entire 2004 season. He's the
veteran of the group and a former Pro Bowl performer. Hopefully,
Newberry will be ready to return around the time that training camp
begins, as a young offensive line like this will need a lot of reps to
reach maximum effectiveness. Baas will provide solid depth at the
position, but the team would prefer to keep him at guard early in his
TEN - QB McNair Will Unload Quickly in Chow's Offense
Clipped from: AP article posted at SI.com, 5/21/05
Steve McNair loved the way Mike Heimerdinger let the Tennessee
quarterback throw the ball deep at every opportunity.
But the 10-year veteran and one-time NFL co-MVP is into
self-preservation these days, so McNair thinks new offensive
coordinator Norm Chow's plan to get rid of the ball quickly is the
perfect offense for someone who missed eight games in 2004 because of
a chest injury. "This offense is going to help that," McNair said.
"We're not going to sit there and throw short passes all day. We're
going to throw deep balls too, but we're going to protect me."
When Heimerdinger left for the same job with the New York Jets, Titans
coach Jeff Fisher used the opportunity to find a replacement who could
condense the offensive playbook. He chose Chow for his offensive and
teaching skills despite a lack of NFL experience. But the man known as
a quarterback guru for coaching three Heisman Trophy winners has a
primary mission -- keep McNair as healthy as possible by getting rid
of the ball quicker.
"That doesn't mean to say we're not going to take our shots," Fisher
said. "We're going to take our shots. But you need to understand on
third-and-11 plus, we'll take a check down, an incomplete pass, punt
and come back and go at it again."
Chow certainly has the resume that seemingly would qualify him for
almost any job, but he spent all of his 32 years at the college level
without ever being a head coach. Forget his magic touch with
quarterbacks ranging from Jim McMahon and Steve Young at BYU to Carson
Palmer and Matt Leinart in his most recent gig at two-time national
champion Southern California.
His offenses ranked in the top 10 nationally in 15 of the last 21 years.
The Titans, who had to chop about $27 million off their salary cap in
February, knew they needed a coach used to teaching young players. An
offense that ranked 11th in the NFL with 342.9 yards per game now has
rookies backing up running back Chris Brown and receivers Drew Bennett
and Tyrone Calico for now.
Some of the changes have been obvious in the Titans' first minicamp.
Speed is the key with players expected to run back to the huddle with
the next play already called, and the emphasis so far has been on
short passes and involving the running backs more in the passing game.
McNair has caught himself stumbling a little with the different terms,
and he had to change the snap count he has used since his Pop Warner
days from "hut" to "go."
"He wants the speed of the game to speed up as far as tempo to the
huddle, in and out and back to run another play. He's emphasized that,
and I think we're going to live by it. We're going to respect that and
do the things we need to uphold his end of the bargain of getting this
offense better," McNair said.
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]
This news may be a blessing in disguise for McNair owners. While all
the downfield passing helped his fantasy numbers, it also often opened
him up to a lot of punishment. Although the article suggests that the
Titans offense might become slightly more conservative, if it keeps
McNair healthy and off the weekly injury report, then he may see an
improvement in his performance as a result. One of the most
frustrating things about owning McNair in recent years has been the
weekly guessing game about whether he's going to be healthy enough to
start or not. With the loss of Derrick Mason, and questions about
Chris Brown's durability, the team probably needs a healthy McNair
more than ever.
IDP: ATL - LB Hartwell A Tenacious Competitor
Clipped from: AtlantaFalcons.com article by Michael Oldham, 5/20/05
The Falcons starting middle linebacker is already showing off a
tenacity and intensity that has Atlanta convinced he's going to
elevate the play of their defense in 2005. See the man play, and
you'll believe it too.
"You can see the tempo that he plays at, the speed that he plays and
his intensity," linebacker Keith Brooking said after observing
Hartwell in mini camp. "He fits into what we're trying to do. He has
passion for the game of football. It means a great deal to him and we
welcome anybody like that on this football team."
He couldn't have had a better pair of mentors in Baltimore than
perennial Pro Bowler Ray Lewis and linebackers coach and Hall of Famer
"The one thing that I really learned from Ray is that it's a lot of
the small things in the NFL that make you better," Hartwell conveyed.
"It's not necessarily being bigger or faster or stronger. It's the
little things on techniques, it's the little tricks to the trade.
[Lewis] is a great guy, a great athlete and a great teacher. And my
goal is to be better than my teacher."
What about Singletary, you ask? Well, he's only Hartwell's idol, not
to mention the reason he dons number 50. "He is one of the greatest
men I have met in my life," Hartwell said. "And if I had to be like
anybody, I would be like Mike Singletary in this game. I really admire
Learning under Lewis and Singletary his rookie season, Hartwell mainly
contributed on special teams in all of Baltimore's 16 games, while
also adding six tackles in a limited role on defense.
But then came Hartwell's chance to put his preparation at the
collegiate level and his rookie year to the test. In 2002, Ray Lewis
was limited by injury and Hartwell stepped in, starting 15 games and
leading Baltimore with 191 total tackles. It was the first time in
Ravens franchise history someone other than Lewis had led the team in
Hartwell spent the following two seasons playing alongside Lewis and
under the tutelage of Singletary, gaining the reputation of a
relentless worker, a ferocious run-stuffer and a tackling machine at
But when he reached the required four accrued seasons he needed for
unrestricted free agency, Hartwell knew that it was time to move on.
"I don't want to take anything away from that group up in Baltimore --
they're a great group of guys and a great set of coaches -- but a
young lion had to get his own pride," he smiled.
Atlanta just so happened to be that pride. When Hartwell hit the
market, the Falcons saw their future middle backer built in the team's
image: an athletic, high-effort, athlete with a non-stop motor and a
commitment to being the best.
"I want to come in and get this defense to be not only in the top
five, but the best defense in the league," Hartwell said at his
introductory press conference. "If you're going to do something, be
great at it. I want us to be the greatest defense in the NFL."
In his short time at Flowery Branch, Hartwell is already showing he
can help make that happen.
"This is a perfect-fit defense for him," Mora said. "We look
to be a very productive player for us this year. He'll make a lot of
tackles, he'll elevate the play of his teammates and he's an exciting,
fun guy to have around."
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]
Hartwell could be in for a huge year in 2005, and should provide a
major upgrade from Chris Draft at the MLB position. He's a tireless
worker, and will bring a lot of the intensity and leadership that guys
like Ray Lewis and Mike Singletary played with to the Falcons defense.
Hartwell showed what he was capable of when he took over for an
injured Ray Lewis in the 2002 season, and he could be one of the
bigger IDP sleepers in the league this year.
IDP: NE - LB Bruschi Hasn't Decided His Playing Status For 2005
Clipped from: AP article posted at Yahoo.com, 5/21/05
New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who suffered a mild
stroke three days after the Pro Bowl, doesn't know if he will play
football this season.
Bruschi told WBZ-TV in Boston on Saturday that he will take his time
before making the ``big decision'' of whether he should get back on
the field in 2005 with the Super Bowl champion Patriots.
``During the season we take it one game at a time, and right now in my
life I'm taking it one day at a time,'' said the 31-year-old Bruschi,
who said he's ``feeling great'' three months after the stroke. ``When
it comes time for a decision to be made, we've been talking about it,
my family and I, but that's a decision you don't rush into so I'm
taking my time with it.''
The linebacker, one of the Patriots' most important and popular
players, suffered the stroke 10 days after New England beat the
Philadelphia Eagles for its third Super Bowl victory in four years.
He has been working out at the team training facility at Gillette
Stadium in Foxboro, but there has been no announcement, from Bruschi
or the team, about his playing prospects. ``I'm going in (to the
stadium), getting my health back in order, working out and that's my
step right now -- just testing myself physically, seeing where I am,
seeing where I am tomorrow,'' he said.
Bruschi's agent, Brad Blank, said in March there was a possibility
that Bruschi would sit out the 2005 season and return in 2006.
``That's one of the options. I have a lot of options,'' he said.
Bruschi, who negotiated his own contracts without an agent following
his rookie season, hired Blank after the stroke.
Bruschi is scheduled to earn $850,000 in 2005, $1.35 million in 2006
and $1.70 million in the final year of his contract. His deal would be
voided if he retires, but he could earn his full salary if the team
elects to place him on the physically unable to perform list.
[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]
While the Patriots have been preparing to enter the 2005 season
without Bruschi, the possibility still remains that he'll decide to
play. He's been working out regularly at the team's training facility
and reportedly "feels great". If the Patriots are forced to go on
without him, that could be a huge blow to a defense that has
consistently been one of the top fantasy defenses over the past few
years. We'll be sure to keep you updated on this if any decision is
That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and have a great
Sunday. We'll see you with the update tomorrow.