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Volume 6, Issue 40 (Saturday, May 28th)

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Hi Folks,

Fire up that grill and kick back with some news and notes here. Thanks
to our Aaron Rudnicki for rounding up these stories today. Let's get
to it.

J

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

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. NYG - WR Burress Cleared In Tax Snafu
2. TEN - WR Drew Bennett Now The #1 Man
3. TEN - McNair Meshes With New Receivers
4. PHI - RB Westbrook Hasn't Changed Agents
5. NYG - Q&A with GM Ernie Accorsi
6. IDP: BAL - LB Lewis and DB Reed Both Want More Money
7. IDP: NYG - LB Green Eyes A New Start
8. IDP: DEN - LeSueur Being Moved From CB to S

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

1. NYG - WR Burress Cleared In Tax Snafu

Clipped from: New York Post article by Paul Schwartz, 5/28/05

In what his tax attorney described as a "bureaucratic snafu," Giants
receiver Plaxico Burress was issued an arrest warrant because of
unpaid taxes and suffered a day's worth of bad publicity until
yesterday, when the matter was rectified and Burress was cleared.

According to a report in Thursday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a
criminal complaint filed by a collections agency stated that Burress
did not file returns or pay the combined one percent wage tax to the
Moon Area School District.

Burress, a Florida resident, lived in Moon, Pa., a suburb of
Pittsburgh, several years ago before moving within the city limits.
The report added that Burress could be arrested and fined $2,500 if he
returned to Pennsylvania.

Chuck Potter, a partner in the Pittsburgh law firm of Pepper Hamilton,
was retained by Burress and after investigating the matter, built a
consensus that Burress was not at fault since income tax is based on
domicile and Burress is a resident of Florida. As a non-resident, he
was required to pay local taxes to the city of Pittsburgh because he
worked there.

"He paid where he worked, it was taken right out of his paycheck by
the Steelers and paid over to the city of Pittsburgh," Potter said
yesterday. "He's paid every penny he owed. The municipality he lived
in three or four years ago thought he should be paying tax there. He
shouldn't have been paying tax there. It was a mistake that they came
after him for these taxes."

Burress spent most of the offseason working out in Miami but was at
Giants Stadium this past week and is expected to participate in the
mandatory three-day mini-camp starting on Wednesday. No stranger to
controversy, Burress is attempting to rejuvenate his career with a
fresh start with the Giants. After signing a six-year, $25 million
contract he's now had to endure the embarrassment of having a warrant
issued for his arrest.

"It's particularly difficult," Potter said, "because I'm sure he's
trying to build up a good image there in New York."

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

Good news for Burress, who was told just a few days ago that a warrant
had been issued for his arrest. Showing up in the papers for being
charged with tax evasion certainly wasn't going to make a great first
impression on Giants fans. It will be interesting to see how Burress
does in his new role as the #1 WR, while also having to handle all the
media scrutiny that comes with playing in New York City. If he can
gain the confidence of Eli Manning, Burress could be a nice value pick
at WR this year.

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

2. TEN - WR Drew Bennett Now The #1 Man

Clipped from: Nashville City Paper article by Terry McCormick, 5/26/05

Drew Bennett knew his role was going to be different the first day he
walked into the meeting room this offseason. "It was definitely quite
a shock the first day in the meeting room with all new faces," Bennett
said.

That wide receiver room underwent sweeping changes this off-season, as
long-time No. 1 receiver Derrick Mason was a February cap cut, and
backups Eddie Berlin, Jason McAddley and Darrell Hill were allowed to
leave in free agency. Even receivers coach Steve Walters left to join
the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Titans brought in respected receivers
guru Ray Sherman to replace him and to mold rookies Brandon Jones,
Courtney Roby and Roydell Williams.

With Tyrone Calico, the only other holdover still rehabbing a knee
injury, it leaves Bennett as the clear No. 1 receiver and the only
experienced wideout to take part in the OTAs. It makes him the veteran
voice the younger players now look to when they need advice or have
questions.

For Bennett, who won't turn 27 until August, it is an unusual
situation, but one he believes he is ready for after a 2004 season
where he posted a career-high 80 catches for 1,247 yards and 11
touchdowns.

He insists that at least physically the bigger jump came last year
when he moved from part-time player (he shared reps with Justin
McCareins in 2003) to full-timer a year ago. "Obviously, there will be
more pressure at No. 1, and that's just something I'm going to have to
wait and see," Bennett said. "But as far as the physical demand, I
think it's pretty similar to the role I had last year, playing 80
plays a game."

He realizes that being a No. 1 receiver certainly entails more than
just drawing the opposition's top cornerback in man coverage. "It's
one thing when the team is not doing well and you're the No. 2, but
it's another if the team is not doing well and you're the No. 1
receiver," Bennett said. "You're directly who people look at. Are you
producing and doing what it takes to win? I think that added pressure
adds a lot more than people understand."

The other concern regarding Bennett's move atop the receiver hill is
the fact that most of his production last year came with Billy Volek
at quarterback after McNair's sternum injury had put him on the shelf.

In the eight games McNair started for the Titans, Bennett caught 33
passes for 397 yards and one touchdown. In eight games with Volek
getting the call, Bennett had 47 catches for 850 yards and 11 TDs.

In fairness, Bennett was battling a broken rib in the first half of
the year while McNair logged most of his time, causing some of the
discrepancy. But neither QB nor receiver believes they'll have trouble
getting on the same page this season.

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

Bennett's performance down the stretch last year likely determined
many fantasy football championships. In his first year as a full time
starter, he emerged as a big play threat playing opposite Derrick
Mason. Now that Mason is gone, defenses will undoubtedly focus a lot
of attention on Bennett this year and that could make it tough for him
to repeat his numbers from a year ago. Not only will he be matched up
against the #1 CB of most teams as the article mentions, but he's also
likely to see much more double teams as well. The fact that he put up
his huge numbers with Volek at QB is also a legitimate reason for
concern as McNair's passing numbers last year were very disappointing.
In short, he's in a different situation this year than he was last
year. And that always merits concern.

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

3. TEN - McNair Meshes With New Receivers

Clipped from: Tennessean.com article by Jim Wyatt, 5/28/05

Titans quarterback Steve McNair lost his favorite target this
offseason, but he gained triplets. So far, he likes them all.

As the Titans wrapped up their May minicamp Thursday, it was clear
that rookie receivers Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby and Roydell
Williams had passed their first NFL test.

Just don't ask McNair to name his favorite. "The knack for going after
the football, it's impressive,'' McNair said. "They are coming in
running better routes than I expected and making catches better than I
expected, especially with the deep ball. Jones, Williams and Roby - I
didn't know they were that fast until I started throwing to them. They
are making all of the right moves they need to make to get the
coaches' eyes, that's for sure.''

Veteran receiver Derrick Mason caught 96 passes last season, but the
Titans released him in February in a salary cap purge and he has since
signed with the Ravens. With Tyrone Calico still on the sideline as he
recovers from knee surgery, the Titans are getting plenty of chances
to evaluate their young receivers.

All of them will be counted on to assist veteran Drew Bennett and
Calico this fall. So far, Titans veterans and rookies have practiced
together six times this offseason, with six more days of organized
workouts scheduled for June. Training camp begins July 30.

Jones has arguably been the most impressive player of the trio so far,
mainly because of his ability to stretch the defense and catch the
football. The third-round pick out of Oklahoma, who has run the
40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, made a sparkling catch roughly 50 yards
downfield on the final day of this month's camp which had many of his
new teammates talking. "I hope I have (McNair's) confidence because I
want him to continue to throw it to me,'' Jones said. "I still have a
lot of work to do, but I'm getting more comfortable.''

Roby, from Indiana, and Williams, from Tulane, were most consistent in
short- and mid-range situations during minicamp.

McNair said the biggest adjustment for everyone involved is timing, as
the quarterbacks continue to get a read on the trio's speed. "I knew
it would be fast, but I didn't think it would be this fast," Williams
said. "But I think I am adjusting well to it. I am able to get in with
Mr. McNair and focus on my route running and catching the ball.

Until the next minicamp the trio will remain in town to work with new
Titans receivers coach Ray Sherman and learn the playbook. Perhaps
most important to new Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow is for
all three receivers to show the effort he believes will carry over
into games.

"I told them to make a mistake going 100 miles an hour,'' Chow said.
"If you make a mistake turning left instead of turning right but you
went 100 miles an hour, we can correct that. But we can't correct the
attitude and the willingness and the hard work.''

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

With Tyrone Calico still recovering from knee surgery, there will be
plenty of opportunities for the Titans rookie WRs to earn themselves
some playing time over the next few months. It looks like Brandon
Jones may be separating himself from the pack early on, but any of
these guys are probably worth picking up in a deep dynasty draft when
you consider that they might only be another Calico injury away from
starting.

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

4. PHI - RB Westbrook Hasn't Changed Agents

Clipped from: Philadelphia Daily News article by Les Bowen, 5/28/05

The news last week that Brian Westbrook apparently was switching his
agent to Fletcher Smith, who represents Donovan McNabb and Correll
Buckhalter, was widely hailed as an encouraging development in the
stalemated talks toward a long-term deal between him and the Eagles.

That optimism might have been premature. Smith said yesterday he has
not yet been hired by Westbrook and isn't sure he will be. "I don't
have an answer for you," Smith said. "I'm not representing Brian...
It's a process, and a decision he has to make."

Eagles sources said last week they were under the impression that
Westbrook had informed Agnone he was switching agents, and that Smith
would represent Westbrook after a required 5-day waiting period.
Yesterday, the NFLPA spokesman said Westbrook has not filed any sort
of notice with the union.

An Eagles source said yesterday the team's understanding hasn't
changed. The source said the Eagles believe Westbrook is away on a
brief vacation, and will take care of the agent switch when he
returns.

The confusion certainly does nothing to clarify Westbrook's contract
situation. When it looked as if Smith would be his agent very soon,
the Eagles anticipated that their top running back would sign the
1-year, $1.43 million restricted free-agent tender and report for a
minicamp that starts Wednesday. Then talks toward a longer-term deal
would be scheduled over the coming months.

Agnone's strategy, outlined last month, was to skip the minicamps,
partly to avoid the potential for injury, then sign the tender before
June 15, when the Eagles can substitute a lower offer. Eagles
officials were not pleased that Westbrook skipped the mandatory
minicamp the week after the draft, and they have been pessimistic
about reaching a long-term agreement with Agnone.

So, when Westbrook will sign the tender, whether he will take the
field Wednesday, and what his prospects might be for a future here
beyond this season remain anyone's guess.

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

Like the Patriots, the Eagles are a well-run franchise who do not make
a habit of overpaying their players. It does sound as though Westbrook
will eventually sign the 1-year tender and negotiate for a long-term
deal, but having their top RB and top WR (Terrell Owens) missing out
on offseason activities can't be great for team chemistry. The Eagles
are also reportedly still interested in Bills RB Travis Henry. If this
situation doesn't improve over the next month or so, perhaps those
trade talks will pick up again.

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

5. NYG - Q&A with GM Ernie Accorsi

Clipped from: Giants.com article by Michael Eisen, 5/26/05

Q: After a draft, there is often one player you seem more excited
about than others. Is it safe to say Brandon Jacobs is that player
this year? What do you like about him?

Accorsi: "He's just an intriguing prospect. This isn't a lottery
ticket here. This guy was highly-recruited to Auburn. He played well
there. He ran into Williams and Brown. And I said several times during
this post-draft period, Red Grange would have transferred if those two
backs were with him. They were trying to make him something else. If
you look at him, you can see he could have grown into a defensive end,
a linebacker, a fullback, anything. He wanted to be a halfback. That
was the key - that is an old term. But to try to be more specific, a
halfback, that is what he is, that is what we drafted him as. Then he
transferred to Southern Illinois, which had two other transfers that
season. They would use all three of them. But he played the game - he
rushed for over 900 yards, a 6.6-yard average, and 19 touchdowns. The
one thing that everybody says he will solve your short yardage
problem. You have 267 pounds, he should solve it. But he is much more
than that. If you saw him out there at mini-camp, you saw a big, tall
halfback. He is fast, he has got the moves, he drops his weight.
Everybody worries too much about a tall back, because a lot of times
they run upright and are big targets. Well, (Hall of Famer Eric)
Dickerson was tall, so I don't worry about it. There are always
exceptions. The key is, do you run upright or are you able to drop
your weight, which gives you the ability to change direction and cut.
And he does. If you tried to put the blinders on and pretend, and not
look at him in relation to the other players and see how big he is, if
you know the game, you would know that he is a halfback, not a
fullback. We didn't draft him as a fullback. Those guys are basically
blockers who catch the ball in the flat. That is not what this guy is.

"So, now all of a sudden our running back situation - because we like
(Derrick) Ward, we like (Mike) Cloud and we like Jacobs - is in pretty
good shape. And the kid we signed out of Notre Dame (Ryan Grant) isn't
a bust either. So we have big backs, finally. And he has an important
role, because even Tiki said it publicly, 'If I am going to last, I
have to get somebody to help me.'"

Q: As much as everyone likes Tiki on the field, would you like to see
him carry less of the load?

Accorsi: "We would like to keep him fresh. Everybody in the league is
rotating backs. We never did it with (Ron) Dayne. Going way back I
could never understand because we did it in 2000 and went to the Super
Bowl. But it is an actuary theory. You just can't keep killing Tiki.
I'm like anybody else, I'm just like the coaches, when the game is in
a crucial situation, you want Tiki on the field. I remember in the San
Francisco playoff game, when we were driving for a touchdown that
ended up being a field goal to make it 38-14. Had we scored a
touchdown, it would have been 42-14. Tiki happened to be out of the
game on that drive after playing a great game. I said, 'Why isn't he
in the game.' So I am just as guilty as everybody else. There are
times to do it during the course of the game, not at the end.

"But we have a couple of backs that we have confidence in. There are
people here that feel so strongly about Ward that they thought we
didn't need to pick Jacobs. But Ward hasn't played enough. So we still
had to pick Jacobs. But yes, I want to see Tiki get some rest. He has
defied every theory about running backs that I have ever heard: that
you get slower, you only last five years, you get less durable. He is
more durable. He is faster and he is getting better. But we had better
preserve him, too."

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

This article has some interesting insights from Accorsi on the Giants
draft picks and what they look for when evaluating players. He is
obviously extremely high on Brandon Jacobs, and sees him as a running
back rather than a fullback. The Giants struggled in converting short
distance 3rd downs last year, but Tiki Barber was very effective near
the goal line for some reason. Jacobs will be given every chance to
take over the short yardage duties to keep Barber fresh, and he could
steal quite a few goal line carries as well. As a result, Barber may
not get as many touches or touchdowns this year, but he may be more
effective with the chances he does get.

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

6. IDP: BAL - LB Lewis and DB Reed Both Want More Money

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Mike Preston, 5/28/05

ON ONE SIDE, the Ravens have their top player of the past decade, and
on the other their top player of the future. They both want more
money, but it appears the Ravens only have definitive plans for one.

The Ravens are intent on re-signing possible free agents after the
2005 season like tight end Todd Heap and running back Jamal Lewis, and
they have claimed Ed Reed is a priority, but are in no apparent rush
to restructure the four years left on Ray Lewis' contract.

According to general manager Ozzie Newsome, Lewis has four years left
on his current contract. Team and league officials have indicated he
wants a new deal with a $50 million signing bonus.

Lewis doesn't deserve that kind of money. But the team has to treat
Lewis much like the Orioles treated Cal Ripken. Here's a player that
gave the Ravens an identity around the league shortly after the
franchise moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996.

He was the most dominant force behind the team's Super Bowl run in the
2000 season. He also became the team's top ambassador in the
community, a spokesman for the club in trying to sign free agents. As
expected, Lewis' performance has declined some with age, but it will
be interesting to see how he performs in the new 46 defense, where the
Ravens will try to keep him untouched by offensive linemen so he can
run sideline to sideline.

"We're in the 46 defense now, and finally, finally again, I get to
play football," said Lewis. "My job is not to take on offensive
linemen, but to make running backs not want to play against me. Last
year, there was a lot of personal stuff going on, petty stuff, in the
locker room. This year, I'm just going to play football. I don't want
to be a GM, I don't want to be a coach. I'm going to be a player
again, and end up being the Most Valuable Player, not just on defense,
but for the entire league."

If that happens, the Ravens won't have a problem with a new deal.
"Yeah, but I might ask for A-Rod numbers then," said Lewis, laughing.
But right now, the teams is going to stay status quo as far as
offering a contract extension.

Reed's (situation) isn't as complicated. Privately, he has threatened
to stay out of training camp if he doesn't get a new deal. He has two
years left on his current one, and will make only $550,000 in base
salary this season.

You can understand why he wants a new contract. He's a playmaker and
was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year last season. More
important, he's only 26 and will eventually replace Lewis as the
defensive leader.

Despite reports to the contrary, the Ravens aren't close to a deal
with Reed. We have not initiated any discussions with Ed Reed," said
Newsome. "But he has been told and there will be discussions."

Translation: Shut up, Ed. It's not your turn. We'll get to you after
Heap and Jamal Lewis.

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

It would seem that the Ravens will eventually have a hard time paying
all their star players, many of whom are considered the elite at their
position. With Jamal Lewis and Todd Heap and Ed Reed all likely to
receive big contract extensions in the months ahead, it seems very
unlikely that there would be much left for anybody else, even someone
as important as Ray Lewis. Players like Chris McAlister, Jonathan
Ogden, Samari Rolle, and Derrick Mason are also paid very well, so
Ozzie Newsome should have his work cut out for him in keeping
everybody happy and still fitting it all under the salary cap.

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

7. IDP: NYG - LB Green Eyes A New Start

Clipped from: NY Post article by Paul Schwartz, 5/27/05

Judging from his lack of production on the field and the swirl of
controversy he created off it, one would assume that linebacker
Barrett Green, if possible, would wipe away all memory of his first
year with the Giants.

That assumption would be incorrect.

"Last year was a very good year for me, I learned a lot," Green said
this off-season. "I think last year is gonna be very pivotal in me
building toward this year. It's gonna make me a lot tougher, a lot
stronger for this year, mentally and physically."

Consider year No. 1 a disaster for Green, signed slightly more than a
year ago to a five-year, $13.25 million contract to make an impact as
a speed demon on the weak side. The Giants on Wednesday assemble for a
mandatory three-day mini-camp, another step toward incorporating a
group of newcomers. Green isn't new but he hopes his fortunes are.

Before he ever played a game for the Giants, Green last year was one
of four players fined for not arriving early enough to a team meeting.
He battled through ankle problems and then was scolded, heavily fined
and benched by Tom Coughlin after arriving very late to work during
the bye week.

On Oct. 31 in Minnesota, Green hurt his knee on the first play and
never was the same. He played in only 10 games and following the
season had reconstructive surgery to repair an anterior cruciate
ligament that he said was 60 percent torn.

"I'm hoping to be ready to go by training camp, 100 percent," Green said.

With Carlos Emmons a steady presence on the strong side and Antonio
Pierce signed as a free agent from the Redskins to patrol the middle,
the Giants have the makings of a solid linebacker corps, as long as
Green returns to the form he showed in Detroit. Green also needs to
play by Coughlin's rules.

"Is he different?" Green asked, responding to a question about
Coughlin's coaching style. "He is, but you have to look at it from a
positive point of view. There's a lot of things he emphasizes that are
going to help this team. Focusing on detail, discipline, doing things
the right way. Sometimes, things are going to mend perfectly and
sometimes they're not; sometimes there's going to be a little
friction. Hopefully, that builds character and builds relationships.

"It takes a little while to get a feel for him because he's one way
all the time, he's never gonna change, and the sooner you realize that
the better off you are as a player."

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

Green looked like a promising player entering last season, but wound
up being a pretty big disappointment for fantasy owners in IDP
leagues. This year, he'll get a chance to rebound and he might be able
to freelance a bit more with the addition of Antonio Pierce in the
middle. Green seemed to have trouble adjusting to Coughlin's coaching
style, but things should go smoother in year two. At just 27 years
old, Green still has youth on his side and could be a productive
fantasy player if he's able to fully recover from his knee injury and
stay healthy.

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

8. IDP: DEN - LeSueur Being Moved From CB to S

Clipped from: RockyMountainNews.com article by Lee Rasizer, 5/27/05

This is not Jeremy LeSueur's rookie season, but forgive him if he has
experienced some of those same wide-eyed feelings the past couple of
weeks. After hernia surgery wiped out his first year in the NFL,
LeSueur was told by the Denver Broncos coaching staff this off-season
he would be switching from cornerback, his natural position, to
safety.

The move was not a complete shock because, before he was drafted in
the third round in 2003, some teams had him pegged as a safety. And
though LeSueur might have somewhat of a jump-start, having sat through
meetings last season, in some respects he is starting over. He still
is sliding to cornerback in certain nickel situations.

"It's been pretty good so far," LeSueur said this week during the
Broncos' passing camp. "In the beginning, it's easier because there's
less calls and you can concentrate on those calls. But they add more
calls each day, so you have to remember those with the other calls and
you might forget a check or two. But the people on my field are always
helping me."

At 6-foot, 197 pounds, LeSueur fits the safety mold at least in terms
of size. But he has an advantage in that he matched up consistently
with receivers during his time at the University of Michigan and has
the speed to do both.

LeSueur said he still experiences some "normal" soreness from surgery
in September. He began on- field work late last season before making
full cuts during the off-season program. "It's holding up real well,"
LeSueur said.

The Broncos are playing LeSueur at strong safety instead of the "free"
position, which actually has evolved into the spot closer to the line
of scrimmage in run support within Denver's defensive scheme.

"I do know from what I saw of Jeremy last year, I like the way the guy
plays the game. He seems to have a knack for getting himself around
the football," Broncos safety John Lynch said, adding he counseled
LeSueur last season to remain involved in the film room. "He spent a
lot of time with the mental part of the game, which is important when
making a switch to safety because a lot of what safety is is getting
people lined up. I think he's doing a pretty good job."

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

The Broncos lost one of their top-3 CBs this year when Kelly Herndon
signed with the Seahawks, which should have opened up an opportunity
for LeSueur. But, they also lost a starting safety when Kenoy Kennedy
signed with the Lions. After spending their top 3 draft picks on CBs,
it seems that LeSueur's best chance for playing time will come at
safety. He'll likely backup Nick Ferguson at strong safety and could
also see time as a nickel DB. It is also interesting to note that in
the Broncos scheme, the free safety actually plays closer to the line
of scrimmage in run support.

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

That'll do it for today, folks. Thanks for reading. Have a great
Sunday and we'll see you tomorrow with the update.

Joe

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