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Volume 6, Issue 47 (Saturday, June 4th)

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Hi Folks,

Things are starting to heat up a little. Thanks to our Aaron Rudnicki
for rounding up these stories today and let's get to them.

J

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

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

 1. SEA  WR Robinson's Breathalyzer Results: .191
 2. CLE  Browns Sign OT L.J. Shelton; Verba Could Be Out
 3. PHI  TE L.J. Smith Ready For Breakout Season
 4. PHI  Absences Are Making Eagles Fond Of Rookie WR Reggie Brown
 5. MIA  Weight Could Be An Issue For RB Ricky Williams
 6. NYG  QB Eli Manning Is Calling The Shots
 7. BUF  OT Mike Williams In Great Shape
 8. CHI  RB Jones Unfazed By Benson's Presence In Backfield
 9. IDP: WAS  S Sean Taylor Charged With Aggravated Assault
10. IDP: IND  CB Nick Harper Arrested
11. IDP: DAL  DB Reese Returns To Cowboys
12. IDP: MIN  DB Sharper Looks Good In Purple
13. IDP: CIN  LB Nate Webster Restructures Contract, Avoids Being Cut
14. IDP: CAR  Top Pick Davis Is Panthers' Wild Card
15. IDP: IND  LB Gardner To Compete For Starting WLB Job
16. IDP: NYG  Wilson and Williams Competing At SS

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

1. SEA  WR Robinson's Breathalyzer Results: .191

Clipped from: News Tribune article by Mike Sando, 6/4/05

Koren Robinson's blood-alcohol level measured .191 percent in a pair
of breath tests administered by Medina Police in the early morning
hours of May 6, records show. The state's legal limit for driving is
.08 percent.

Robinson, released Thursday by the Seattle Seahawks after incurring
DUI and reckless-driving charges, has pleaded not guilty in Kirkland
Municipal Court. He claimed in court papers to have consumed alcohol
after driving and before taking the breath tests.
Whatever the case, blood-alcohol readings on file with the Washington
State Patrol suggest Robinson was drinking heavily on the date in
question.

Robinson, who weighs approximately 205 pounds, might have to consume
10 drinks in an hour to reach .191 percent, according to estimates
provided by the state's liquor control board.

If convicted of the charges, Robinson's minimum sentence would be 48
hours in jail or no less than 30 days in electronic home monitoring,
plus a $1,078 fine and one year's suspension or revocation of driving
privileges. Robinson would also face no less than one year with an
ignition interlocking device.

The maximum penalty would be 365 days in jail with a $5,000 fine, plus
reimbursement for court costs and revocation of Robinson's license to
drive.

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

More bad news for Robinson. After being caught driving with a reading
that high, it seems like he's going to have more important concerns
than football to worry about over the next few months. At this point,
he definitely is a player to stay away from in 2005, but you have to
think some team out there will give him another chance at some point.
The really sad thing about this story is that he just recently
completed a treatment program for alcohol abuse and the Seahawks were
hoping he'd be able to put his problems behind him. The release of
Robinson will provide increased opportunities for Bobby Engram, Jerome
Pathon, and Joe Jurevicius.

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

2. CLE  Browns Sign OT L.J. Shelton; Verba Could Be Out

Clipped from: MercuryNews.com article by Patrick McManamon, 6/4/05

The Browns added a free-agent offensive tackle Friday night, which
could mean Ross Verba's days with the team could be drawing to a
close.

L.J. Shelton, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals, agreed to terms on a
one-year deal. Shelton, 6 feet 6 inches and 335 pounds, has started 77
games in his six-year career at both right and left tackle.

The Browns did not announce the deal because the contract had not been
signed and probably will not be presented to the league until Monday,
but a source said the deal is complete.

Verba, the starting left tackle, is boycotting the team's "passing
camp" to highlight his demands for a new contract. He has threatened
to boycott the team's upcoming minicamp and hold out of training camp
if his salary is not increased greatly. Verba already has been paid a
$465,000 signing bonus, and he's set to make just less than $3 million
in salary this season.

Shelton was a first-round draft pick of Arizona, but he fell out of
favor with coach Dennis Green when he reported to a 2003 minicamp in
what Green thought was poor shape. He lost the starting left tackle
job to Leonard Davis before the '03 season but in October earned the
spot as starting right tackle. Shelton had ankle surgery following the
2003 season, and ended last year on injured reserve with a sprained
knee.

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

This could be a great signing for the Browns as their offensive line
has been a weak link for a long time. There was surprisingly little
interest in Shelton, but he was a highly regarded OT not that long
ago. He's still young enough to rebound, and with a 1-year contract
he'll be highly motivated to become a key contributor so that he can
get a better deal in free agency next year. This signing also gives
the Browns leverage in their dealings with Ross Verba, and they may
just decide to release him rather than concede to his contract
demands. If things can be worked out, the Browns will probably have
their best depth at offensive tackle since they returned to the
league.

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

3. PHI  TE L.J. Smith Ready For Breakout Season

Clipped from: Express-Times article by Nick Fierro, 6/4/05

Though he didn't start last season, Smith was a big contributor. His
34 receptions for 377 yards were fourth on the team behind Owens,
Brian Westbrook and Todd Pinkston and ahead of Lewis.

"Last year, I think me sharing time with Chad and me not being the
starter kind of showed what I can do," Smith said Thursday following
practice at the team's final minicamp. "I put up decent numbers and I
wasn't the starter and I just felt like if I had the opportunity this
year, I think everything will take care of itself."

Because the Eagles brought him along slowly, Smith sees a breakout
season directly ahead. "I think the coaches did a pretty good job," he
said. "Actually, I probably wasn't ready to be a starter. This year,
with two years under my belt, I'm ready to go."

Still, it is a strange, unwelcomed feeling for Smith not to have Lewis
in the locker room. "He's a mentor," Smith said, "and him not being
here, it's kind of weird. ... Chad taught me so much."

Smith played much of last season with a painful bulging disc in his
back. That is now behind him, figuratively, thanks to offseason
surgery.

Smith isn't the only one brimming with confidence that this season
will be his best.

"I know injuries really played a major part in it (last year)," McNabb
said, "but his attitude has definitely changed this year, knowing the
situation, knowing what's in front of us and knowing everything he can
do in this offense. I know he's excited about it. We're excited about
it, and you can kind of see the progression going on all throughout
the offseason by just talking to him, just his goals and what he plans
on doing this year."

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

Although he may not have officially been the starter last year, Smith
clearly emerged as the Eagles best TE. Now, with Lewis's return in
doubt as he tries to recover from a foot injury he suffered in the
playoffs, the path is clear for Smith to have a breakout season as the
primary target at TE. Smith is an athletic player capable of creating
mismatches over the middle of the field, and he was particularly
effective in the red zone last year. A top-10 season from Smith in
2005 is very plausible, and he's currently ranked #9 on our consensus
rankings.

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

4. PHI  Absences Are Making Eagles Fond Of Rookie WR Reggie Brown

Clipped from: Philadelphia Inquirer article by Shannon Ryan, 6/4/05

The Eagles' receivers are a quieter bunch these days. Without Terrell
Owens around and Freddie Mitchell gone, quarterback Donovan McNabb is
throwing more to newer targets. The Eagles' seven-day passing camp is
the perfect time for receivers such as rookie Reggie Brown to make a
little noise with his play.

Brown said he is trying to make the most of the chance to catch passes
from McNabb in front of coach Andy Reid, as Owens boycotts minicamp
while trying to renegotiate his contract. "I'm getting a good
opportunity with the lack of receivers that were here previously," he
said. "I'm just thankful and want to make the best of it."

Brown is a 6-foot-1, 197-pound athlete with great speed - and
fantastic dreadlocks. The Eagles chose him in the second round of this
year's draft, the seventh receiver taken overall. At the University of
Georgia, Brown earned a reputation for intense and diligent practices.

He already seems to have won early approval from a very important
member of the team. "It is exciting for him, and it is exciting for us
just to watch him get out there and work," McNabb said. "From a
passing offense in Georgia, he knows kind of the big-play ability that
we are looking for. We have seen it a lot from him in some of the
games that he has played. We expect for him to do that here."

Of course, absorbing the Eagles' West Coast offense is not an easy
task. Few Eagles rookie receivers have made an immediate impact. Greg
Lewis caught six passes as a free-agent rookie in 2003 and has grown
into a reliable target. He may play an even bigger role this year.
Draft picks Todd Pinkston and Mitchell caught 10 and 21 passes,
respectively, in their first year with the team. Billy McMullen,
another draft pick, had just one catch as a rookie.

So far, his receiving colleagues like what they see in Brown. "He's
fast, and he can catch," Lewis said. "He's willing to learn. There's a
lot being thrown at him."

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

With Owens missing, Brown is getting a great opportunity to get in a
lot of extra work with McNabb and that should help speed up his early
development. He's a talented player with a nice combination of size
and speed who gives them some insurance if Owens holds out. He should
compete with Greg Lewis for the #3 WR role early on, but he could also
push Todd Pinkston for a starting job with a strong preseason. For
those of you in dynasty leagues, Brown is a very solid choice once the
top-4 WRs are off the board.

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

5. MIA  Weight Could Be An Issue For RB Ricky Williams

Clipped from: ESPN.com article by Len Pasquarelli, 6/3/05

Here is a true fact: The average weight of the 32 starting tailbacks
in the NFL last season was 217.8 pounds. Only half of the 32 starters
dented the scales at less than 220 pounds. Extending the point one
step further, the average tonnage of the top two tailbacks on the 32
rosters was 219.9 pounds. And how many of the 64 tailbacks who were
either first or second on depth charts in 2004 checked in at less than
200 pounds? That would be exactly two: Atlanta Falcons star Warrick
Dunn (180 pounds) and Charlie Garner of Tampa Bay (190 pounds). The
New York Giants' marvelous Tiki Barber, at 200 pounds, was the only
other back under 205 pounds.

"I always thought [Williams] was a back who could run past you,"
Buffalo linebacker Takeo Spikes said, "but who preferred to run over
you."

Since he can't return to the league until late July, Williams will
have missed all of the Dolphins' offseason program. With a new coach
in Nick Saban, there is a new offense to assimilate, and as best we
can determine, Williams has yet to lay eyes on the 2005 edition of the
Miami playbook. Assuming Williams plays in the preseason opener, the
Hall of Fame game against Chicago on Aug. 8, it will have been 619
days between carries. A lot of oxidation can collect on a body in what
amounts to 20 months of relative inertia. Williams still owes the
Dolphins $8.6 million and owes the league a four-game suspension. And
there are already indications the two sides might not be able to reach
a speedy agreement on Williams' compensation for 2005.


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

As usual, Pasquarelli brings up some interesting points. It wasn't
that long ago that RBs could get by in the NFL at around 200 pounds or
so. But, these days, guys like Warrick Dunn and Tiki Barber are
clearly the exceptions. For a power runner like Ricky Williams, it is
hard to imagine him being effective at his current weight. The other
roadblocks facing him seem pretty daunting as well, so it's best not
to get too excited about his fantasy prospects for the 2005 season.

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

6. NYG  QB Eli Manning Is Calling The Shots

Clipped from: Star-Ledger article by Mike Garafolo, 6/4/05

Now, after a first year that included a quarterback competition, seven
starts and dozens of gaffes, Manning has proclaimed himself the
unquestioned leader of the team.

"That's the way you want it. You want to come in having it be your
team," Manning said yesterday during the first day of the Giants'
minicamp. "The whole off-season has been that way, where I've had to
get guys out and go throw with them and do it on our own -- working in
the weight room, watching film and relaying back to these guys what
you expect from them and how we have to get better."

Getting the most out of his teammates is what a quarterback and leader
is expected to do. In Manning's opinion, it doesn't matter how little
experience that player has, and there is no reason to approach the
role any differently because he has yet to play a full season.

So after a year abiding by the unwritten rule that rookies should be
quiet and unassuming, Manning has quickly become more vocal and
commanding. "It's not the same Eli that played his first game against
Atlanta last year," backup quarterback Jesse Palmer said. "He's
certainly taken more of a leadership role, and he should."

When tight end Jeremy Shockey chose to work out in Miami this
off-season instead of participating in the team's voluntary workouts,
Manning called Shockey to request he show up at Giants Stadium. Later,
Manning voiced his displeasure with Shockey's decision to reporters.
Meanwhile, Manning took the initiative to start holding passing drills
with the receivers, tight ends and even a few defenders.

And during the past few weeks, with the entire team present for the
organized team activities, Manning hasn't hesitated to critique or
instruct teammates.

"It's funny because with his personality, you don't assume he's the
kind of guy who would assert himself that way," Palmer said. "But he's
able to really do that. He's a different Eli when he gets on the
field. He's not the kind of guy who will grab your facemask and punch
you in the face. But at the same time, he takes control of the huddle
and he takes control of the guys."

Manning said there was no meeting with coach Tom Coughlin this
off-season concerning what type of leader he should be. His father,
Archie, an NFL quarterback for 15 years, and his brother, Peyton, the
league's MVP in 2004, also offered no advice on the matter.

The change in demeanor, Eli said, was simply part of his preparation
for his second season. "Nothing sparked it. It's just what comes with
the territory," he said. "You're the starting quarterback, you have to
start taking charge more and telling people what you expect. From an
offensive standpoint, you have to know what you want and what the
coaches want. And you have to relay that to the other players."

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

This should come as great news to Giants fans, as this is exactly the
type of behavior you want to see from your starting QB. Eli has always
been described as a quieter and more laidback type of player compared
to his older brother Peyton, but it looks like leadership comes pretty
naturally to him. He has high standards for himself and the players
around him, and the Giants have given him a pretty decent supporting
cast. He clearly has the respect of his teammates in the locker room,
and now he'll just have to go out and earn it on the field.

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

7. BUF  OT Mike Williams In Great Shape

Clipped from: Buffalo News article by Mark Gaughan, 6/4/05

Mike Williams has himself in the best offseason shape of his young
career and is determined to build on his success of last season.

"I felt pretty good at the end of last season about my performance,"
Williams said after Friday's practice in Orchard Park. "It definitely
outweighs the two previous seasons. You kind of see and get a glimpse
of what you can be and how good you can be. I think I saw that. It
gives me a starting point for this year to build on. I gotta keep
improving."

Williams' solid play over the last three-fourths of the Bills' season
serves as motivation for the 25-year-old Texan. Williams thinks if he
can make the kind of progress in his fourth season that he did in his
third, he can rise into the elite category of offensive linemen in the
NFL.

"I want to be in that category," he said. "I can't control what other
people think and how they look at me. But I have to focus on getting
better than last year. If I improve on that, those other things will
take care of themselves."

Williams did not get off to a fast start last summer. Troubled by the
health problems of several family members and by some bad financial
advice he received, a distracted Williams showed up for training camp
at more than 400 pounds.

This year he says he's "hitting the ground running."

"I've come into the offseason with the mind-set that I just want to be
physically in shape for training camp," he said. "I'm not focusing too
much on strengthwise. I don't know how much stronger I can get. It's
just maintain muscle tone and maintain the strength that I have and
stay in shape."

A typical bench-press session for the 6-foot-6, 375-pounder is 325
pounds in sets of eight repetitions. That kind of strength gives
Williams road-grading potential in the Bills' power running game.

"He looks in good shape to me," Bills line coach Jim McNally said. "I
think he had a good year last year. He was hurt a few games. His
potential is unlimited. He's smart. He knows the assignments and the
calls. He's familiar with the system. He was a pretty good technician
before I even got him. He continues to work on it. As long as he can
stay injury free and keep his weight down, he's a dominating force."

Williams thinks his intrinsic motivation will carry him to a big year.
"I think it's a big difference from last year to this year. I was
feeding off everybody else (for motivation) in working my way back
last year. Now it's like if you really, truly want to get to that
level of greatness as a tackle, it's gotta start with you."

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

Williams came into the league with very high expectations after the
Bills spent the #4 pick overall on him. He's had an up and down start
to his career, but he finally showed signs of turning the corner late
last season. He's capable of being one of the best run blocking
tackles in the league and should open plenty of holes for McGahee this
year. The fact that he's apparently focused on football and
intrinsically motivated to establish himself as an elite tackle is a
good sign for the Bills offense in 2005 as he'll be a huge factor in
how successful they are.

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

8. CHI  RB Jones Unfazed By Benson's Presence In Backfield

Clipped from: ChicagoBears.com article by Larry Mayer, 6/4/05

If Thomas Jones feels threatened by the presence of first-round draft
pick Cedric Benson, the veteran running back isn't showing it.

In his first public comments since the draft, Jones characterized
himself as a team player and insisted that he's not upset with the
Bears' decision to select a highly-touted prospect at his position
with the fourth overall pick. "No, there's no disappointment," Jones
said. "He's a guy who's here just like everyone else to help us be a
better team, and that's how I see it."

With the Bears leaning toward a running back in the first round, they
informed Jones of their plans before the draft so he wouldn't be
blindsided by the news. "They said that we may end up drafting a
running back, that he may be the best player at that position, and
that's fine," Jones said. "They make the decisions and I play
football."

Identified as the perfect fit in offensive coordinator Terry Shea's
system, Jones signed a four-year contract with the Bears just hours
into free agency last offseason.

One of the few bright spots on the NFL's lowest-ranked offense in
2004, the 5-10, 220-pounder established career highs by rushing for
948 yards and 7 touchdowns and catching 56 passes for 427 yards.

Jones broke Walter Payton's team record of 53 receptions by a running
back and became the first player to lead the Bears in rushing and
receptions since Neal Anderson in 1989.

With Benson's arrival a year later, it appears likely that Jones' role
eventually will be reduced. But the six-year veteran isn't worried
about sharing or losing his job.

"That's not even how I'm thinking," said Jones, who continues to work
with the No. 1 offense in practice. "I haven't even had those thoughts
in my mind. I'm just trying to enjoy my offseason and get ready for
the season like everyone else.

At the Bears' May 20-22 minicamp, first-year offensive coordinator Ron
Turner insisted that the Bears will be able to keep both Jones and
Benson happy and involved with the offense. Jones, meanwhile, believes
that Turner's scheme actually fits his skills better than Shea's
system.

"I like the new offense, I like it a lot," Jones said. "It definitely
fits a lot of guys' talents and it gives everybody an opportunity to
have a chance to make a play.

"Last year I'm not sure if the offense was basically executed the way
we wanted to execute it because we had a lot of injuries. We had
quarterback problems, we had offensive line problems."

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

Thomas Jones is handling this situation well, and is still considered
the starter until Benson beats him out. While some think it is a
forgone conclusion that Benson will become the starter after he was
drafted with the #4 pick overall, Jones isn't likely to give up the
job without a fight. Jones really turned his career around since he
got out of Arizona, and played great last year despite all the
injuries the Bears had on offense. Even if the Bears go with some type
of running back by committee approach this year, Jones could be a nice
value pick on draft day.

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

9. IDP: WAS  S Sean Taylor Charged With Aggravated Assault

Clipped from: Miami Herald article by Charles Rabin and Susannah A.
Nesmith, 6/5/05

Former University of Miami All-American and current Washington Redskin
safety Sean Taylor turned himself in to police Saturday night and was
charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and battery.

Taylor pointed a firearm at a person during a dispute over an
allegedly stolen ATV and demanded to know where the vehicle was, said
Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Linda O'Brien.

The incident occurred about 1 a.m. Wednesday, O'Brien said. No one was
injured but a car was damaged by gunfire.

Taylor turned himself in, accompanied by his lawyer, about 10 p.m.
Saturday at the Cutler Ridge district police station, O'Brien said. He
was taken to Turner Guilford Knight correctional facility.

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, would not comment. His mother, Donna Junor,
also declined to comment earlier in the day Saturday.

Taylor's father is Florida City Police Chief Pedro W. Taylor. He could
not be reached Saturday night.

Taylor has been in Miami while negotiating a new contract with the
Redskins. Coach Joe Gibbs has been asking Taylor to join the team in
voluntary workouts at their home base in suburban Washington. Taylor
missed spring mini-camp this year and has been asking to renegotiate
his seven-year $18 million contact, which he signed as a rookie in
2004.

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

Bad news for Redskins fans. Taylor was a very high draft pick last
year, and although he played well on the field as a rookie, he's had
some off-field incidents in the past year. If these charges stick,
this is going to be a black eye for the organization and the league
and could potentially lead to some type of disciplinary action for
Taylor. It may be appropriate to drop Taylor a bit in any IDP rankings
and possibly the Redskins team defense as well. We'll keep you updated
on this as more news is made available.

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

10. IDP: IND  CB Nick Harper Arrested

Clipped from: AP article posted by Washington Post, 6/4/05

Indianapolis Colts cornerback Nick Harper was arrested Saturday for
allegedly hitting his wife.

Deputies were called to the couple's home north of Indianapolis in the
morning, Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Carter said. Harper's wife,
Danielle, was treated for an eye injury but wasn't taken to a
hospital, Carter said.

Harper, 30, was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and was
being held Saturday at the Hamilton County Jail in Noblesville on
$2,500 bond. Because of the nature of the charges, he cannot bond out
of jail until after his initial court appearance Monday. "He'll be in
jail all weekend," Carter said.

Harper, who has started 27 games the last two seasons, re-signed with
the Colts in April. He had three interceptions last season and a
team-high four in 2003.

He became the second Colts player arrested within a week. Safety Mike
Doss was arrested Sunday in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, on gun
charges.

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

Trouble brewing for the Colts secondary as Harper is the second player
in a week to be arrested. Harper has been the team's most productive
cornerback over the past couple years, and this is clearly a troubling
sign. Marlin Jackson is expected to take one of the starting CB jobs,
but Harper's job opposite him might now be up in the air depending on
the severity of the charges and the type of punishment he receives.

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

11. IDP: DAL  DB Reese Returns To Cowboys

Clipped from: AP article posted by SI.com, 6/3/05

The Dallas Cowboys reunited with safety Izell Reese on Friday, signing
their former draft pick to a one-year deal.

Reese was a sixth-round pick by the Cowboys in 1998 and started 15
games in four seasons with the team. He started 18 games for Buffalo
the past two seasons after starting 15 games for Denver in 2002.

Reese will make the minimum salary of $665,000.

The signing came on the same day the Cowboys released tackle Harvey
Dahl, fullback Jonathan Evans, tight end Duncan Reid, guard Marlon
Tickles and safeties Clint Finley and Dominique Price.

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

Reese was a solid safety with the Bills the past few years, and he
fills a clear need for the Cowboys. He's the type of player that won't
make too many mistakes in coverage, but he is not much of a playmaker
and also isn't very physical in run defense. With Roy Williams lining
up at SS though, the FS in Dallas will likely be playing deep
centerfield most of the time and that's a role that Reese could fill
adequately until a better option is found.

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

12. IDP: MIN  DB Sharper Looks Good In Purple

Clipped from: Pioneer Press article by Don Seeholzer, 6/4/05

Even after eight seasons in Green Bay green and gold, the Vikings' new
starting free safety said he felt instantly at home in purple.

"I think when I first put the jersey on, I felt comfortable," Sharper
said. "There are always going to be times when you go through changes,
and this is a good change for me at this point in my career. It's easy
to feel comfortable when you come to a good team."

Released by the Packers in March after refusing to accept a $4 million
pay cut, Sharper signed a four-year, $14 million contract two days
later with the Vikings, who were looking for a veteran leader for
their secondary.

According to defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, the two-time Pro Bowl
selection has been just that from Day 1. "That's his personality. He
kind of commands that," Cottrell said. "When a Pro Bowler walks into
the locker room, I think that carries a different weight with the
players. It makes it a little easier to accept him. The other guys
know this guy's a player coming in."

The leadership role comes naturally to Sharper, a six-year starter in
Green Bay, but it's one he goes about quietly. His preferred style is
to lead by example. "I'm not going to come here whooping and
hollering," he said. "We've got Fred Smoot for that. I'm going to lead
in other ways. I'm going to talk to guys and try to show them things
that I've done that have allowed me to be successful. My leadership
will be more in a low-key role, but if I have to be vocal, I can do
that."

Sharper, 29, and Smoot were two of at least five new defensive
starters acquired during the offseason by the Vikings, who added
middle linebacker Sam Cowart in a trade with the New York Jets for
some of the same reasons they signed Sharper.

"It's not just the leadership," Cowart said. "We were brought in here
to make plays also. We expect Darren to come in and be that leader on
the field and also make plays to help us win ballgames. I think we
made a great move bringing him over here."

With Sharper, Smoot and the other defensive additions, many are
predicting big things this season for the Vikings and their defense,
which finished 28th in the NFL last season and has ranked 23rd or
lower every season since 1999.

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

Sharper has had problems staying healthy during the past couple years
in Green Bay, but he's been willing to play hurt and is still young
enough to be a big-time player for the Vikings. He'll provide great
leadership in the secondary, and because the Vikings are so strong at
cornerback he should be able to take more chances. He's one of the
best playmakers in the league, and should help turn the Vikings into a
productive fantasy defense this year.

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13. IDP: CIN  LB Nate Webster Restructures Contract, Avoids Being Cut

Clipped from: Bengals.com article by Geoff Hobson, 6/3/05

ESPN.com is reporting that the Bengals and injured middle linebacker
Nate Webster aren't parting ways anytime soon as a re-done deal
reflects a commitment on both sides, even though NFL senior writer Len
Pasquarelli is reporting the final three years of his five-year deal
at $5.7 million has been voided. It is now an incentive-laden one-year
deal at the $540,000 minimum.

If the Bengals had cut Webster in the middle of his rehab, it would
have been a player's worst-case scenario: Hurt and unemployed. But now
if he makes the team (and it will be tough with Landon Johnson and
Odell Thurman in front of him), he gets paid for this year and gets a
chance at a new contract next year.

This also gives him the luxury of not rushing back for training camp
if his kneecap isn't ready after two surgeries on the torn patella
tendon. The first injury came late in last season's third game. The
second injury came two months later in December.

But Webster now has a workable enough deal that the Bengals could
conceivably put him on the physically unable to perform list (PUP).
The down side is he wouldn't be able to practice all of training camp
and the first six weeks of the season. The upside is he could be sure
his knee is ready and the Bengals can still carry him through the
roster cutdown. But it's all speculation now and is hinging on the
knee.

Webster had been scheduled to make $1.5 million this year. The most he
can make this year, according to ESPN.com, is $1 million if he reaches
all of his $500,000 in play-time escalators. The Bengals took a bigger
cap hit this year on Webster ($2.5 million) compared to the old deal
($2.1 million), but they have now freed up space in the future
depending on how he comes back.

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

Webster's had a frustrating career. He's been given several
opportunities to establish himself, but can't seem to stay healthy for
very long. Now that the Bengals have Landon Johnson and Odell Thurman
in place at MLB, he'll have an even harder time getting playing time
once he recovers. Probably best not to count on any fantasy production
from him for 2005.

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14. IDP: CAR  Top Pick Davis Is Panthers' Wild Card

Clipped from: Charlotte Observer article by Pat Yasinskas, 6/4/05

Thomas Davis, a very serious young man by all accounts, has turned
into a Joker for the Carolina Panthers. That's Joker as in Joker
linebacker, a hybrid position that is part linebacker, part safety and
part of the Panthers' nickel defense. "Why we call it Joker, I don't
know," defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac said. "That's just the name
for it."

In the first week of June coaching sessions, Davis has worked at both
safety and linebacker and that could make him a valuable tool when the
regular season starts. "He's got a lot of versatility," Trgovac said.
"It's hard to find those guys that are as big as he is, can run like
he does and loves the contact like he does. We're trying to put him in
those situations where he can be successful."

The plan, at least for now, is to play Davis at strong safety on the
early downs and move him to Joker linebacker in some passing
situations. "That's basically the same thing I did at Georgia, where
the coaches give me a lot of freedom," Davis said. "I love it. I was
able to accomplish a lot at Georgia doing it, and hopefully I can do
the same here."

Davis has been working behind veteran Mike Minter at strong safety.
But, if Davis remains at that spot as the season approaches, there
could be some shifting. It's unlikely the Panthers wouldn't have their
first-round draft pick in the starting lineup and that could prompt a
move of Minter to free safety, a position he played earlier in his
career.

But passing situations could bring a different look to the secondary
with Davis moving to linebacker where there would be many
possibilities of how to use his skills as a pass rusher and in
coverage.

"He's really explosive off that edge," Trgovac said. "That's what
we're going to do with him. We're going to put him in those situations
where we line up where sometimes we bring him and some times we don't
bring him and make offenses have to guess whether he's coming or not.
He's got the speed and the size to come off that edge and be a force."

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

Davis is the type of player that would likely excel no matter where he
lined up. The Panthers plans for him seem pretty interesting, and
should take maximum advantage of his skills. He's a dominant run
defender and great pass rusher, but he can struggle at times in
coverage against faster players. This way, he'll be able to contribute
as an in the box type of SS on early downs, and then can rush the
passer or cover a TE on passing downs. He should be a nice addition
for the Panthers defense.

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15. IDP: IND  LB Gardner To Compete For Starting WLB Job

Clipped from: Colts.com article by John Oehser, 6/2/05

Gardner, a third-round selection in the April 2004 NFL Draft from
Purdue University, entered the NFL as a speedy, physical player who
had 215 tackles, 23 for losses, and seven forced fumbles in college.

He entered training camp healthy as a rookie, but sustained an ankle
injury that kept him out of much of the preseason. He missed the first
two regular-season games, then played extensively as a reserve before
missing two more games in November with a hamstring injury.

He then missed the regular-season finale with a shoulder injury. "Of
course, you start to get discouraged," Gardner said. "But you can't,
because it comes with the job. You play through it."

Gardner did play through it, finishing the season with seven tackles 
three solos  and developing into one of the Colts' top special teams
players. In 11 games, Gardner had 13 tackles on special teams, with
eight solos.

"I'd say people have seen about 10 percent of what I can do," Gardner
said. "Injuries stink, but they come with the job. Hopefully, I'll
stay healthy this year and it will give me a chance to show what I can
do."

Gardner said he got through the season with the help of veterans such
as linebacker David Thornton, and said the experience made him
mentally tougher. Now fully healthy, Gardner has worked on the
weakside  where he played collegiately  during the Colts'
summer-school sessions. He said he is comfortable on the weakside, and
that he expects to compete with Cato June  the Colts' leading tackler
last season  for a starting position during training camp.

"If I didn't have that mindset, I shouldn't be here," he said. "Of
course, we're competing. I learn from Cato every day, but we compete.
I make him good and he makes me good. But I think I should play and
start every game. That's the attitude I have to take."

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

Some expected Gardner to beat out June for the WLB job last year, but
he never really got a chance due to a variety of injuries. June played
better than expected and put up some very good numbers at times, but
he could be pushed by Gardner this year. Gardner was a 1st day draft
pick last year and played in a very similar defensive system in
college. The WLB in the Colts defense is always a coveted position for
fantasy linebackers and whoever wins that job should continue to be
very productive, so it might be worth stashing Gardner on your roster
if you play in a deep dynasty league.

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16. IDP: NYG  Wilson and Williams Competing At SS

Clipped from: Giants.com article by Michael Eisen, 6/3/05

In 2003, Shaun Williams tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee,
underwent surgery, missed the last six games of the season and endured
an arduous rehabilitation before returning to action as the Giants'
starting strong safety.

In 2004, Williams tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee,
underwent surgery, missed the last 14 games of the season and endured
an arduous rehabilitation before returning to action as  well, that
has yet to be decided.

When Williams went down last year, rookie Gibril Wilson stepped in and
played superbly, intercepting three passes, recording three sacks and
earning NFL Rookie of the Month honors for October. Wilson suffered a
burner at Arizona on Nov. 14 and like Williams, never returned to the
field. He missed the final seven games of the season.

During the five practices in the full-squad mini-camp that concluded
today, Williams and Wilson split time at strong safety. But Wilson
took most of the snaps with the first team, another development in an
offseason of uncertainty for Williams, the Giants' first-round draft
choice in 1998. On March 31, Williams agreed to a restructured
contract. Had he not, he would have lost his spot on the roster.

"Before they restructured my deal I didn't think I was going to be
here," Williams said. "But they decided to keep me around."

So now what happens? Given that he is entering his eighth season, is
coming off two knee surgeries and is competing with a talented
youngster, Williams still has plenty to prove.

"I really don't know (what will happen)," Williams said. "I just try
to practice and prepare as hard as I can. We'll see what happens.
Gibril is very talented. I'm just going out there and see where I fit
in. We're both playing strong safety and he's the starter right now.

"I'm not a hundred percent, but I have no pain or swelling. I ice
myself down after practice. I feel great and I'm planning to get back
to a hundred percent. I'm probably 80 percent right now. I'm
definitely going to get there; by the time I get to training camp, I
think I'll be a hundred percent. There are times I feel close to a
hundred percent now. My legs aren't as strong as they used to be."

Wilson is also reluctant to predict what will happen. With only eight
games of NFL experience  seven as a starter  he is still trying to
establish himself with the Giants and in the league.

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

Williams has been a pretty productive player when healthy, but he's
had a lot of trouble staying healthy recently. Wilson was one of the
best fantasy DBs over the first half of last season, and seems like he
should be able to hold onto the starting SS job. If both players are
healthy and playing well, the team may eventually consider moving one
of them to FS to ensure that their best two safeties are on the field.
This could be an interesting situation to watch during the preseason,
and Williams may offer some nice value as a fantasy DB.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and have a great
Sunday. We'll see you tomorrow with the update.

J
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