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Volume 6, Issue 36 (Tuesday, May 24th)

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Tonight's Update is Brought to you by Fanstar.com

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

Hi Folks,

Things continue to warm up as we have twenty stories to bring you
tonight. Thanks to our Footballguy Mark Wimer for gathering these.
Let's jump to it.

J

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

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. TEN - Who'll Back Up RB Brown?
2. TEN - TE Ben Troupe Injures Foot in Practice
3. NYJ - Add OL Depth With OG/T Brooks
4. MIA - RB Williams Expected to Report to Camp
5. NYG - WR Toomer Not #1 Anymore?
6. NE - TE Watson Ready to Practice, Play
7. NYJ - PK Nugent Has Focus, Talent to Succeed
8. BAL - WR Moore More of a Target
9. BAL - WR Darling Uncertain of Slot on Depth Chart
10. PIT - QB Roethlisberger Throwing A Lot in OTAs
11. HOU - To Max Protect Carr in 2005: More Dinks and Dunks on Tap
12. DEN - To Play or Not to Play: The Question for WR Rice
13. SD - Chargers' Rookie RB Sproles Turning Heads
14. TEN - PK Ola Kimrin: A Swede in the NFL, Titan's Job His to Lose
15. ARZ - Signs WR Charles Lee
16. MIN - PK Edinger a "Camp Leg" for the Vikings?
17. WAS IDP - S Cory Hall Signs With Redskins
18. CLE/CIN - Overview of Rookies' Reaction to NFL Playbooks
19. DAL - Cowboys Switch to 3-4 Defensive Scheme
20. NFLPA to NFL: Let's Get The CBA Extended

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

1. TEN - Who'll Back Up RB Brown?

Clipped from: Tennessean article by Paul Kuharsky and Jim Wyatt, 5/24/05

The Titans aren't sure who will be the No. 2 running back behind Chris
Brown this fall.
But with three of the top four running backs out of action yesterday,
the Titans got a good look at several long shots.

Brown (broken right hand), fifth-round pick Damien Nash (swollen knee
that required an MRI) and undrafted rookie Walter Reyes (travel
problems) were out yesterday.

That left undrafted rookie Terry Jackson, who like Reyes was rated as
draftable by the Titans, at the head of the line.

"All of our jobs is to not make mistakes, but when you're in there
with the ones (first team) you really can't make mistakes," said
Jackson, who played for Southern Illinois.

"The vets hold you accountable while you're in there. To get their
trust, that's the ideal thing."

Among other undrafted players to line up in the backfield were Charles
Anthony, Corey Larkins and Jimmy Dixon.

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

Get used to reading about obscure football players during Tennessee's
training camp. They are cap-strapped and attempting to forge a team
including a lot of undrafted rookies. Brown's fragility is an issue
for the team (he's also still rehabbing his turf toe injury, and had a
setback with it shortly before breaking his hand) - his backup could
see significant playing time, so the battle for #2 RB in Tennessee is
something fantasy owners will want to observe carefully.

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

2. TEN - TE Ben Troupe Injures Foot in Practice

Clipped from: Tennessean article by Jim Wyatt, 5/24/05

Titans tight end Ben Troupe drew a crowd yesterday as he eased himself
to the ground, his tingling left foot preventing him from taking
another step.

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow arrived on the scene, followed by
quarterbacks Steve McNair and Billy Volek and receiver Drew Bennett.
Coaches across the way looked on as trainers examined the foot.

Troupe was scheduled for X-rays yesterday, but the team didn't make
results available last night. Coach Jeff Fisher said after practice
that he didn't think the injury was serious, but Troupe wasn't able to
finish drills and was wearing a walking boot in the locker room 30
minutes later.

Judging from all the attention, the Titans are counting on big things
from Troupe in his second NFL season. That's why players and coaches
were crossing their fingers yesterday.

But based on the team's recent bad luck with injuries, it would also
be easy to understand why some were bracing for the worst.

After initially feeling some irritation in his left foot earlier in
practice, Troupe continued to play before coming out following a
two-minute drill. He said he didn't feel anything pop, but "I'll know
more after X-rays.''

The Titans haven't had good luck with foot injuries in practice in
recent years. Defensive end Bo Schobel broke the fifth metatarsal in
his left foot last offseason, and former Titans defensive end Jevon
Kearse suffered a similar injury on the practice field during the 2002
season.

If that's the case with Troupe, he'd miss the rest of the offseason
camps and would be a question mark for the start of the season.

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

Troupe's injury will not endanger his season, according to the AP.

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

3. NYJ - Add OL Depth With OG/T Brooks

Clipped from: New York Post article by Mark Cannizzaro, 5/24/05

The Jets yesterday did what they opted not to do in the draft: add
offensive-line depth.

They signed veteran guard/tackle Ethan Brooks as well as quarterback
Bill Whittemore.

Brooks is a 6-6, 330-pound swingman who's played with the Ravens most
recently as well as the Falcons, Rams and Cardinals. He's played in 75
career games in his seven NFL seasons, starting 26 games. He played in
44 games with the Ravens in the last three seasons, starting 23 games.

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

Someone has to open holes for Curtis Martin and protect Chad
Pennington and his surgically repaired shoulder - Brooks is a veteran
who knows how to get the job done at this level, and his versatility
is a plus.

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

4. MIA - RB Williams Expected to Report to Camp

Clipped from: Miami Herald article by Mike Phillips, 5/24/05

Ricky Williams isn't just thinking about returning to the Dolphins.

He's planning on it.

Williams' agent, Leigh Steinberg, said Monday that Williams will
''definitely'' be in Dolphins training camp in July.

''He's planning on playing for the Dolphins,'' Steinberg said. ``This
thing has to be a step-by-step process, and obviously there are
details that need to be worked out, but we have been in contact with
coach [Nick] Saban and the Dolphins over the past week and informed
them that he is excited and planning on playing for the Dolphins.

``The details and the process are in their court. But let me say that
I am optimistic about the process. He's planning on returning.''

Williams probably won't be there when camp begins July 24, but that's
only because of a technicality.

When Williams retired in July, he was in violation of the NFL's
substance-abuse policy and subject to a one-year suspension. If he
returns within a year of the day he retired, he would still be subject
to the one-year ban. If he returns after that date, he will be subject
to a four-game suspension.

There is some confusion as to when Williams retired, but according to
the NFL, the date is July 27. The Dolphins open training camp July 24.

It would be difficult to imagine anyone holding it against Williams if
he doesn't show up until July 28.

Steinberg said he has been in contact with Williams in the past
months, and recently said Williams was ''excited'' about the idea of
returning.

Now he seems certain.

There is still a matter of $8.6 million the Dolphins say Williams owes
them for breach of contract, but both sides have ample time to
negotiate a new deal.

Williams left the NFL and spent most of the past year studying
holistic health and yoga in California and India.

After attending the California College of Ayurveda, where he studied
to be a Holistic Heath practitioner from October through March,
Williams left for India, where he spent a month studying yoga at the
world-renowned Sivananda Yoga Center.

Williams now is a certified yoga teacher.

Steinberg said both institutions are opposed to using drugs or alcohol
to alter consciousness.

Williams returned to the United States three weeks ago and began
expressing an interest in returning to football. He has lost weight
and is now between 195 and 200 pounds, but Steinberg said Williams
plans on being ready for the upcoming season.

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

This situation muddies the waters for rookie prospect Ronnie Brown -
the Dolphins have to pay him like a #2 pick, so they'll have a lot of
cash invested in the young RB. However, if Williams can be
renegotiated to a reasonable price, head coach Nick Saban has
repeatedly said he'd love to have Williams on the team. He'll still
miss the first 4 games of the season due to his pending drug
violation/suspension. If Williams really can stay out of trouble with
the league's drug tests, that's good news. However, he has a history
of mental instability and unpredictability, so how he'll react to
being back in the limelight of the NFL is anybody's guess. Miami is a
different place than the Sivananda Yoga Center. We also have no idea
how the year off has affected his timing, conditioning, and etc, and
we won't get a look until sometime in August. Right now, we'll take a
wait-and-see approach with Williams until he's actually in camp,
toting the pigskin through the Dolphins' offensive line.

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

5. NYG - WR Toomer Not #1 Anymore?

Clipped from: Newsday.com article by Neil Best, 5/24/05

[Opponents] definitely can't come with the short corners," Toomer said
in his first public comments since Burress signed. "I don't know what
they are going to do, really."

So the good news for Toomer is he might have complementary threats to
ease the double-teaming that has frustrated him in the past. But how
will he react to not being the clear No. 1 receiver anymore?

"I'm just excited about having Plaxico playing on the other side," he said.

In no way, he said, did he feel slighted by the Giants' pursuit of
Burress. He knew that in searching for an upgrade over Hilliard, a new
high-profile receiver was inevitable. "I felt regardless of what type
of year I had, they would have done the same thing," Toomer said.

The fact Toomer had the season he did in 2004 surely raised the
stakes, though. He had 51 receptions for 747 yards and no touchdowns,
his worst numbers in six years as a starter.

During the season, Toomer was reluctant to cite a right hamstring
injury that nagged him starting Oct. 24 against the Lions. But
yesterday he said that after that day, "you could see everything kind
of go downhill." He said he now regrets playing through the injury
rather than resting to allow it to heal properly.

"We had a chance to make the playoffs, and as hurt as I was, I was
helping the team," he said. "But it was a lot worse than I thought."

Toomer, 30, said he feels good now but does not yet know if he is
fully healthy because he has not tested himself at full speed. He
might do so today when the team holds one of 12 practices it is
allowed in the offseason in addition to minicamp, which is next week.

Regardless, he is confident that last year was an injury-driven
anomaly and that he and Burress will be a potent combination. Said
Toomer, "I definitely have [good] years left."

Notes & quotes: Shockey, who skipped most of the first two months of
the voluntary offseason program, participated in full-team, on-field
workouts last week and is expected to do so again this week. The
three-day, mandatory minicamp begins June 1.

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

Opinions vary as to the prospects for Toomer now that Plaxico Burress
is in town. Our panel of FBG's experts rank him anywhere from 19th to
53rd, and he and Burress both fall outside the top 30 WRs right now
(Toomer is 36th and Burress 31st on the consensus board). We'll get
a clearer picture of their potential once we can judge how well Eli Manning's
development is progressing.

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

6. NE - TE Watson Ready to Practice, Play

Clipped from: Providence Journal article by Tom E. Curran, 5/24/05

It didn't go exactly as planned. First, Watson missed most of
rehearsal (training camp) during a holdout. Then he aggravated a balky
knee on opening night against the Colts.

Two weeks later, after having caught just two passes for 16 yards, he
went onto the inactive list and under the knife. And so the curtain
fell on Big Ben's brief rookie season.
This week, the Patriots are holding a passing camp at Gillette Stadium
and there may be no player more excited about it than Watson.

By the time the season starts, the 6-foot-3, 253-pound tight end from
Georgia that the Pats took with the 32nd overall pick in 2004 will
have played in one football game in the preceding 20 months.

"I feel like I haven't played football in forever," Watson said
yesterday. "As much as we groan about going to practice, it's not
something I'd give up."

It's not something he could afford to, either. Despite being one of
the smartest players in the Patriots' locker room, Watson quickly
admits he doesn't have a hammerlock yet on what he's supposed to be
doing at all times.

"I know I'm not ready," he said. "I know I have to take stuff step by
step and one day at a time. Football is a lot more than being
physically ready to play. When I got to the Patriots, I realized it's
more mental than physical, and mentally I'm not ready yet. And that's
why this passing camp and mini-camp (in two weeks) are so important. I
need this for training camp and when the live bullets start flying.

"I'm going into this year as still a rookie, but not a wide-eyed
rookie that doesn't know what to expect," he added. "I can calm down
now and concentrate on my assignments, and everything's not totally
new to me. But I still haven't had any reps during game time."

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

With Daniel Graham firmly atop the depth chart at TE, Watson will have
some time to develop before he's needed for a lot of game time.
However, injuries are always a concern in this league, so it's
important to note that Watson figures to be #2 on the depth chart for
2005.

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

7. NYJ - PK Nugent Has Focus, Talent to Succeed

Clipped from: Newsday.com article by Ken Berger, 5/24/05

Although it would've made a better story, there was no epiphany. There
was no knee-jerk moment when the Jets decided to boot Doug Brien and
draft a kicker named Mike Nugent to replace him.

Sure, the team had followed Nugent closely for more than a year.
Special-teams coach Mike Westhoff scouted Nugent at the combine and at
Ohio State's pro day, spending hours breaking down film with the kid
from Centerville, Ohio, the one who would wind up carrying the Jets'
fortunes on his right foot.

Although Westhoff came away thoroughly impressed, he wasn't surprised
or disappointed when the team began covering its bases by aggressively
pursuing free-agent kicker Joe Nedney in March. "I wouldn't have been
opposed," said Westhoff, Nedney's first special-teams coach with the
Dolphins in 1996. "You could be very happy with a Joe Nedney."

Not as happy as he is with Nugent, who didn't really emerge as a
realistic option until three days before the draft, when the Jets
packaged their first-round pick, 26th overall, in a trade with the
Raiders for tight end Doug Jolley.

The pre-draft arrest of Clemson cornerback Justin Miller, whom the
Jets liked but not as a first-round pick, bolstered their position.
With Miller plummeting - the Jets got him later in the second round -
it was virtually a no-brainer to select Nugent with the 47th pick.

A no-brainer who will wind up being one of the most scrutinized draft
picks in Jets history. "He's the guy I want," Westhoff said. "I'll go
out on a limb."

Nugent, who owns 19 Ohio State records and was the consensus top
kicker in the nation, will face scrutiny few kickers have encountered.
He shrugged it off when reporters charted his uninspiring performance
on the first day of minicamp last month; he was 4-for-6, missing his
first because of a bad snap and bouncing the second in off the
crossbar. But when he got back to Columbus, Nugent admitted he was a
little shaken.

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

Welcome to the Big Apple, rookie. Nugent better get used to close
scrutiny, playing in New York City. We're sure he'll do well once he
gets over his early jitters.

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

8. BAL - WR Moore More of a Target

Clipped from: Carroll County Times article by Aaron Wilson, 5/24/05

With the build and height of a tall shooting guard, Clarence Moore
wasn't exclusively an inviting downfield target for quarterback Kyle
Boller last season.

Helmet-hunting defensive backs and linebackers identified the rookie
wide receiver as too slender and a tad reluctant to challenge them
across the middle.

Plus, the 6-foot-6 sixth-round draft pick's weight dipped as low as
205 pounds midway through last season even while emerging as a
formidable red-zone threat specializing in the fade pattern.

However, Moore's lack of upper body strength often prevented him from
gaining significant yards after the catch by breaking tackles.
Escaping cornerbacks' jam attempts at the line of scrimmage was
another major challenge.

After devoting himself to strength and conditioning coach Jeff
Friday's weightlifting regimen and increasing his calories this
off-season, Moore has bulked up to 220 pounds and hopes to be a lot
more durable and productive.

"I'll feel a lot better going across the middle now," said Moore, who
caught 24 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns last season. "When
you put on some good weight, you feel better all around. I finally put
on a little bit of muscle and gained some weight.

"I maintained my quickness and speed. If anything, I'm getting into my
patterns quicker because of my leg strength and I feel a lot more
powerful."

Designated as the Ravens' No. 3 wide receiver behind Derrick Mason and
Mark Clayton, Moore remains one of the tallest wide receivers in the
NFL.

Now, Moore, 22, looks a lot more like a football player than an NBA
athlete, crediting his time spent training with Friday along with
regular excursions to Outback Steakhouse and The Cheesecake Factory.

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

With a conservative offense centered on Jamal Lewis and the
uninspiring Kyle Boller tossing the ball around, we don't expect
quality fantasy numbers for the Raven's #3 WR this year. However, if
something happens to elevate him into the starting lineup, Moore's
yardage and TDs could increase enough to make him a viable fantasy
option.

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

9. BAL - WR Darling Uncertain of Slot on Depth Chart

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Jamison Hensley, 5/24/05

A once-promising rookie season has evolved into an uncertain sophomore
one for Devard Darling.

In a matter of nine months, the Ravens' 2004 third-round draft pick
has bounced from a starter in the team's preseason opener to a
receiver unsure where he stands on the depth chart.

That's what happens when a team aggressively revamps its receiving
corps by signing Derrick Mason on the first day of free agency and
drafting Mark Clayton in the first round.

When the Ravens began their second passing camp yesterday, Darling
said he intended to show the coaches that he has recovered fully from
a season-ending heel injury and still can become the playmaker that
the team envisioned last season.

"The only person who can stop me is me," Darling said. "I have all the
physical attributes. The Lord has blessed me with everything I need to
succeed. It's just up to me to transfer it on the field. It's all a
mind-set. It's going to happen."

At this stage of the offseason, the Ravens likely have Mason and
Clayton penciled in as starters and probably rank Clarence Moore as
the No. 3 receiver. That would mean Darling is battling Randy Hymes
for the fourth and perhaps last spot.

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

Darling's first NFL season was almost nonexistent - he played in 3
games and caught 2/5/0. He'll have to do more than that (and stay
healthy) if he wants to be in the mix by opening day, 2005.

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

10. PIT - QB Roethlisberger Throwing A Lot in OTAs

Clipped from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Ed Bouchette, 5/24/05

The Steelers of spring have a different look about them that has
little to do with new players or the absence of those who moved on.
The offense is performing stunts infrequently seen last fall.

Quarterbacks are throwing the ball around their South Side campus as
if tossing Frisbees on the beach. Last fall, they passed the football
as seldom as any NFL team in the past 20 years.

Ben Roethlisberger asked the Steelers to open up the offense more, and
it seems they will comply.

"Certainly, we want to run the football, that's our identity," said
coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, author of play calls that resulted in 61
percent runs from scrimmage last season. "But I think we'll be able to
do a few more things throwing the football this year, especially on
first and second down, and I think that will even help us run the ball
better."

The Steelers ran 618 times and passed 358 times (plus 36 sacks trying
to throw) even though their quarterback had the best rookie season of
anyone in the history of the league. Roethlisberger completed 66.4
percent of his passes for a 98.1 passer rating, both NFL rookie
records.

But part of Roethlisberger's success came from the simple formula the
Steelers used to provide him as much support as they could -- run the
ball, pass only when necessary and play great defense. They limited
the playbook as well.

As the Steelers take to the field today for their second full week of
team voluntary practices, they are loosening the reins on Big Ben and
allowing him to blossom more in his second season.

"The biggest thing is he's more comfortable with what we're doing,"
said Whisenhunt, who enters his second season as coordinator. "I think
our offense is more comfortable with him and with what we're doing,
and certainly I can get better. I've learned some things from the
first year."

Roethlisberger said he'd like to see the offense open up more next
season, yet he understood why Whisenhunt was more conservative with
him at quarterback in 2004.

"I think he didn't want to overload my mind too much," Roethlisberger
said. "Hopefully, he'll have enough confidence in me this year to do
more."

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

Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle-El and Roethlisberger owners have to be
happy to hear that the Steelers are going to open up the offense in
2005. We'll see if their off-season resolution to do so lasts into
regular season. If Roethlisberger can maintain his accuracy while
throwing more often, he and his compatriots in the WR stable will
start to move up draft boards during pre-season.

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

11. HOU - To Max Protect Carr in 2005: More Dinks and Dunks on Tap

Clipped from: Houston Chronicle article by Richard Justice, 5/24/05

David Carr was going places. He felt he was getting there, too. He had
crossed a threshold of sorts in January after his third NFL season.
That season ended with an embarrassing 22-14 loss to Cleveland, but
that one defeat led the Texans to look at themselves harder than they
had before.

So poised and so careful with his words for most of his career, Carr
seethed with anger after that game. He hinted at internal problems, at
things that needed to be fixed before the Texans could even think of
making the playoffs.

"It was the frustration of knowing the talent you have on the team is
not matching up with what you're producing on the field," he said. "I
felt last year we were a playoff team. We were good enough. We fell
way short of that."

He was sacked 49 times last season to bring his three-year NFL total
to 140. Carr knew if he kept getting hit, there would be long-term
consequences.

That last game had ended badly. Carr had been booed. A fan had thrown
a cup of beer at Melody.

He was swirling with anger and frustration when he asked to meet with
head coach Dom Capers a few days after the season. Carr told him
something had to be done. He said he couldn't keep getting hit the way
he had been getting hit.

He couldn't have known it, but the Texans already were having meetings
on that very subject. General manager Charley Casserly essentially
ordered Capers to have offensive coordinator Chris Palmer fix the pass
protection.

By the time the Texans returned to the practice field last week, their
offense had been dramatically changed. They have added an array of
quick throws, timing routes and new pass-blocking schemes. When they
do throw down the field, they are going to keep extra men in to block
for their quarterback.

Why they allowed their quarterback to be sacked 140 times before doing
something so basic is a discussion for another day.

Capers has installed a buzzer at practice to remind Carr how much time
he has to release the ball. Depending on the route, Carr typically has
2.6 to 3 seconds to unload it.

The immediate result will be more short throws, more dump-offs to
backs and tight ends. But Carr believes as opposing defensive backs
adjust to the short stuff, the deep routes will develop.

"I think the way the season ended might be positive in some way," Carr
said. "I don't think we'd have made these changes and looked so hard
at our offense if we'd have won that game. If we'd have won, we would
have rode off into the sunset and said, 'OK, everything is great.' "

Against this backdrop of change and optimism, David Carr learned that
his son had a disease that could require insulin injections and a
vigilant monitoring of his blood sugar and diet for the rest of his
life.

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

First of all, we all hope that Carr's young son can adjust to living
with his disease of juvenile diabetes, and send our best wishes out to
him and his mom and dad.

Secondly, while it's a good idea to protect your quarterback, we're
going to have to wait and see if more dinking and dunking in the
passing game will open up or restrict the Texans' offense. It will
probably mean an increase in Domanick Davis' receptions/receiving
yardage, which is something to keep in mind when you do your
projections for the Texans' players - especially if you play in a
one-pt-per-reception league.

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

12. DEN - To Play or Not to Play: The Question for WR Rice

Clipped from: Denver Post article by Patrick Saunders, 5/24/05

When Jerry Rice caught seven passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns
in San Francisco's 55-10 victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV,
Darius Watts was 8 years old.

Monday after quarterback camp practice, the second- year Broncos
receiver was asked what it would be like to be ahead of Rice on the
depth chart.

"I don't know how to answer that," Watts said, before bursting into a
fit of laughter. "I don't know, man. I don't know."

But Watts might know how it feels soon. Rice, who turns 43 in October,
is contemplating an offer to join the Broncos. His agent, Jim Steiner,
said a decision could come today. Rice likely will choose between
signing with the Broncos or retiring after 20 NFL seasons.

"Jerry is flying back from Mississippi today and he's thinking about
his options," Steiner said Monday. "I expect him to make a decision
soon. Maybe by (today)."

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he talked with Steiner Monday
morning, clarifying Rice would have to earn a spot on the roster and
was not guaranteed to be the second or third receiver.

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

Rice as a veteran mentor for the Denver receivers could be a great
asset to the team, but we don't expect to see him put up strong
fantasy numbers unless he somehow battles into the starting lineup.

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

13. SD - Chargers' Rookie RB Sproles Turning Heads

Clipped from: San Diego Union-Tribune article by Nick Canepa, 5/24/05

Darren Lee Sproles was too small to play football for Olathe North
High in Kansas. So he rushed for 5,230 yards and scored 79 touchdowns.

Darren Lee Sproles was much too small to be an every-down back for
Kansas State. So he ran for 4,979 yards, not to mention 6,812
all-purpose yards and scored 48 touchdowns.

In 2003, he was fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Darren Lee Sproles most assuredly will be too small to play for the
Chargers this fall. A 5-foot-6 rookie running back is going to look
like a dandelion in Sequoia National Park.

So NFL defenders probably won't think he's in The League. They may
never see him.

Truth be told, the only impediment Darren Lee Sproles has ever had
involves his speech. He is not Winston Churchill. He is not Martin
Luther King. But I never saw those men do insane things with a
football in their hands, either. Sproles can communicate, can
communicate well.

"I stutter, I guess I've stuttered since I was 5 or 6 years old," says
Sproles, who has been wowing them in the Chargers' minicamp and
current summer camp sessions. "When I get nervous, I stutter. I can
talk to my friends and family. I'm fine. But if you stick a camera in
my face, or if I'm doing an interview, I stutter.

"It's just me. I deal with it. It's the way God made me. On the field,
I don't stutter."

On the field, only his feet stutter. Wait until you get a load of this
22-year-old, whose quickness and moves have Chargers defenders
searching for words to describe him - not to mention various articles
of clothing.

"They tell me about it," Sproles says. "They tell me to stop doing it
to them and wait until game day and do it to somebody else. But that's
what I do. I make people miss."

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

With LaDainian Tomlinson atop the depth chart, Sproles won't be
setting the fantasy world on fire, but he could be a nice
change-of-pace back and backup for Tomlinson - we'll see how he does
during the pre-season action.

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

14. TEN - PK Ola Kimrin: A Swede in the NFL, Titan's Job His to Lose

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article by Teresa M. Walker, 5/24/05

Ola Kimrin knows he has a strong enough leg to kick in the NFL. The
second Swede to play in the NFL now has his best chance so far to earn
a roster spot.

The Tennessee Titans signed Kimrin in February to a one-year contract
and the team promised to bring in other kickers for competition, but
this job is his to lose.

"He's going to have to kick under pressure, and that goes beyond out
here on the practice field," coach Jeff Fisher said.

"He's done very well for us, but he's going to have to kick and make
kicks in the preseason in a competitive situation. Then, of course,
we're also looking for the kickoffs.

We have to get the ball up in the air and deep down the field."

The Titans have looked at a couple of Arena Football League players
for the position, but Kimrin is the only kicker signed. He isn't
taking anything for granted.

"Anything can happen in this league, but it's good," Kimrin said. "I'm
glad I was the first one in. That might give me an edge maybe. It all
comes down to how straight you kick them.".

."If you can kick it straight, if you just get into this league, you
can stick around," Kimrin said.

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

The Titans hope that Kimrin can kick it straight through the
goal-posts once the regular season rolls around.

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15. ARZ - Signs WR Charles Lee

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 5/24/05

The Arizona Cardinals signed wide receiver Charles Lee to a one-year
contract Monday.

Lee, 27, a seventh-round draft pick by Green Bay in 2000, spent two
years with the Packers and three more with Tampa Bay.

He had 15 catches for 207 yards in seven games with the Buccaneers last season.

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

Behind Fitzgerald, Boldin and Johnson, Lee is unlikely to be
significant in fantasy terms unless there is an injury plague in
Arizona this year.

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

16. MIN - PK Edinger a "Camp Leg" for the Vikings?

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 5/24/05

The Minnesota Vikings and free agent kicker Paul Edinger agreed to
terms on a one-year contract Tuesday.

Edinger, who spent the past five seasons with Chicago, was cut by the
Bears earlier this month after they signed veteran Doug Brien.
Edinger, who signed a $7 million, five-year offer sheet with Minnesota
in 2003 that was matched by Chicago, is the most accurate field goal
kicker in Bears history with a 75.3 percent success rate. He was
drafted in the sixth round by Chicago in 2000 out of Michigan State.

Last year, Edinger accumulated a career-low 67 points - making only 15
of 24 field goals. He will compete with Aaron Elling in training camp.

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

If Edinger can reclaim the form he displayed early in his career,
he'll mount a serious challenge to Elling. If he hits a mere 62.5% of
his FG chances during training camp (as he did last year with the
Bears), the job will be Elling's. Edinger was high on the Vikings'
wish list back in 2003, so some observers believe he has the inside
track on a new job in Minnesota - time, and performance, will write
the conclusion to this camp duel.

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

17. WAS IDP - S Cory Hall Signs With Redskins

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 5/24/05

Safety Cory Hall signed with the Washington Redskins on Tuesday after
two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Hall made 60 tackles in 14
games, including 13 starts, for Atlanta in 2004. He was released on
March 2.

He played in 87 games over six seasons with the Falcons and Cincinnati
Bengals, with 352 career tackles - 232 solo - plus four interceptions
and a forced fumble.

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

Hall had a respectable number of tackles last season, but ranked 139th
among all fantasy DBs in fantasy points per game, so he's not exactly
a hot property. He'd have to elevate his game significantly before
warranting consideration in fantasy circles, or be pressed into
extensive service due to injuries among his new team-mates.

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

18. CLE/CIN - Overview of Rookies Reaction to NFL Playbooks

Clipped from: Dayton Daily News article by Carlos Holmes, 5/24/05

With mini-camp and other off-season programs in full swing, it's
back-to-school time for many of the rookies entering the NFL. These
workout sessions are very instrumental in the development of a young
player before the dog days of summer (also known as training camp) set
in. This is the rookie's first taste of life in the league as they
prepare for the rigorous grind of the regular season.

During my time at Browns and Bengals camp, I observed a number of
newcomers sitting in front of their lockers with their noses buried in
their playbooks studying hard with the hopes of getting a leg up on
the learning process.

Browns sixth-round draft pick LB Nick Speegle was entrenched in his
playbook that was the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica before being
bombarded by members of the media. He explained the learning curve
between his days at New Mexico and the pros. "It's quite a bit
different," Speegle said before taking the field as a pro. "It's a lot
more complicated and there's a lot more stuff you have to know. That
means it's that much more time you have to spend with it. We ran the
same system in college for five years, and my last three years I knew
it. I didn't have to look at it. But now you have to stay in it, stay
in it, and just try and learn as much as you can."

Speegle is known for being a highly intelligent linebacker, but when
asked if the playbook would come somewhat easy to him he was a bit
unsure, answering "maybe." However, Speegle did go on to say that he
was going to study the playbook all the time when he got home because
he does not like to be wrong when coaches ask him questions. Speegle
appears to be ready to take every possible measure in preparing
himself for what lies ahead.

In Cincy, Bengals first-round pick LB David Pollack was another rookie
overwhelmed by the complexity of the playbook, saying "It's a hard
learning curve, but I'm picking it up. When I got my playbook, I just
start learning it and things started to come to me." Pollack added
that lining up alongside former Georgia teammate LB Odell Thurman has
made the learning curve that much easier because of the familiarity
they have with one another.

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

The complexity of NFL offensive and defensive schemes is a quantum
leap from the college ranks - that's why it is often difficult for
rookies to make a big impact in their first season(s) in the league.
The article is a cautionary tale for people tempted to rely too
heavily on rookies during their 2005 draft.

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

19. DAL - Cowboys Switch to 3-4 Defensive Scheme

Clipped from: Star-Telegram article by Charean Williams, 5/24/05

Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has four defensive playbooks
from other teams sitting in his office. He has video and more video of
other teams' defenses. He has notes from conversations with other
defensive coordinators.

Zimmer has spent his off-season begging, borrowing and stealing,
learning everything he can about the 3-4 defense. The front, which the
Cowboys are expected to use as their base in 2005, is new to Zimmer
and new to the Cowboys.

"It's like learning Greek," Zimmer said. "It's been a busy off-season."

The Cowboys, who have used the 4-3 since their inception in 1960, are
one of three teams planning to switch to the 3-4 this season. The San
Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns, who changed head coaches in the
off-season, also are converting from the 4-3.

That means at least eight teams will use the 3-4 -- three linemen and
four linebackers -- as their primary defense this season. Other teams,
including the New York Jets, the Denver Broncos and the Miami
Dolphins, will use the 3-4 on occasion this season.

It has been some 30 years since the 3-4 was as popular with defensive
coordinators.

"I think it is cyclical," Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher said.
"That seems to be the case in the league. You've seen a couple more
teams, it seems like every week, that are going to it. We'll see how
long people stay with it. It's one thing to make the change; it's
another to stick to it."

It wasn't long ago that the 3-4 was on the endangered list. In 2001,
Cowher's Steelers were the league's top-rated defense and the only
team using the 3-4 full time. (The New England Patriots used a hybrid
version of the 3-4 in winning the first of three Super Bowls in four
seasons.)

The Steelers have used the front since 1983, longer than any other
team, and have led the AFC in total defense six times and in points
allowed five times since 1990. The Patriots won the last two Super
Bowls with the 3-4, finishing first in the league in points allowed in
2003 and tied for second in 2004. Those teams' success has helped the
revival.

"Some of it is belief," said New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, whose
team uses the 4-3. "A lot of guys who have been through Pittsburgh
really believe in that system more than anything else. It's been very
good to them; the Patriots, it's been very good to them."

But there are other reasons for the 3-4 defense's growing popularity:
the elevations of defensive coordinators Romeo Crennel and Mike Nolan,
who are 3-4 disciples, to head coaching positions at Cleveland and San
Francisco, respectively; the flexibility of the front and the
confusion it can create; and the salary-cap friendliness of the 3-4
with linebackers generally costing less than linemen.

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

Dallas has been busily making over their defense during the
off-season, and the switch to the 3-4 is only part of the picture. DE
Marcellus Wiley has been released, and 2 new CBs are in town (Aaron
Glenn and Anthony Henry). We'll see how well the new-look scheme works
while all the new pieces try to jell into a coherent unit during
training camp.

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

20. NFLPA to NFL: Let's Get The CBA Extended

Clipped from: Washington Post article by Leonard Shapiro, 5/24/05

The head of the NFL Players Association offered a stern warning
yesterday to team owners convening today in Washington for a two-day
league meeting.

"To sit around and think that labor peace is going to just fall off a
tree, they're reading the wrong tea leaves," said Gene Upshaw, the
union's executive director. "It's time for them to wake up to the fact
that we have a problem, and we need to get it fixed."

The league and the union have had discussions over the last year on
extending the collective bargaining agreement past its expiration
following the 2007 season. But Upshaw said that in recent meetings
with owners and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue: "It's beginning to sound
like that movie 'Groundhog Day.' They give us the same thing over and
over and over.

"Their last proposal to us was totally unacceptable. You see what
happened to hockey [a lockout that forced cancellation of the 2004-05
season]. Now basketball is moving in the same direction. I don't see
us as being too far off the pace from those two. For some reason, the
owners have not moved the ball at all."

At their winter meetings in Hawaii in March, the owners continued to
discuss a CBA extension tied to changes in the current revenue-sharing
agreement among the 32 teams. The major issue has been the reluctance
of higher-revenue teams such as the Washington Redskins and Dallas
Cowboys to share more of their locally generated revenues with teams
in smaller markets.

Upshaw said that, in the latest talks with the league, the union has
been offered 57 percent of the league's designated gross revenues
"when they admit to us under the old agreement we've been getting 59
to 60 percent. So why would we accept something less than what we're
already getting? We're not going to do that."

Under the current labor agreement, a salary cap will be in effect for
the last time for the 2006 season, and if there is no extension, the
2007 season would be uncapped, meaning teams could spend as much as
they want to sign free agent players. Upshaw said if it came to an
uncapped year, he would decertify the union, a move that essentially
would mean all players would become free agents.

"Once you get to an uncapped year, you can't go back," Upshaw said. "I
think that's something they don't want to see happen. I think we need
to do this before it gets too late.
I'd much rather talk to the players this fall about what we can agree
on rather than telling them you better prepare for a train wreck,
because that's what it will be."

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

The NFL is the premier professional sports league in the US today
partly because of their long period of labor peace - the owners are
well aware that a lockout/strike like the situation that destroyed the
NHL would be a lose/lose proposition. We expect to see a new revenue
sharing plan and an extended CBA before the uncapped 2007 season.

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

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

J

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