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Volume 6, Issue 53 (Friday, June 10th)

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Hey Folks,

Feeling like a proud Dad today as the Footballguys Magazines are in
the house. Details in the Site News below. And thanks to our Chris
Smith for rounding up these stories tonight. Let's get at it.

J

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

Site News:

A. Footballguys Magazines are in the HOUSE
Order here The magazines arrived this afternoon and we're super pleased with
how they came out. I think you will be too. David is busy working on the
packaging and if you've already ordered a magazine, it should ship Tuesday
6/14 via USPS Priority Mail. We told you they'd ship on 6/21 and we're going
to beat that by a mile. Priority mail is normally 3 day delivery so if you've
already ordered, be on the lookout as you should have your magazine by
the end of the week. We only have about 900 copies left and those will
go fast. For orders received from here on out, they should ship about
3 business days after we receive the order while supplies last. Thanks
for supporting what we're doing there.

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

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. DAL - WR Morgan Rehabbing Vigorously After Hurting Shoulder
2. CAR - WR Carter Back Up To Speed
3. WAS - Interest In Trading For WR Gardner Tepid At Best
4. KC - A Step Closer To Signing WR Hakim; WR Mitchell No Longer In Plans
5. DAL - Cowboys' Backfield Talented And Deep
6. DEN - RB Bell Set To Make His Move
7. OAK - WR Moss Proclaims QB Collins Better Than QB Culpepper?
8. PHI - Westbrook, Eagles Continue To Talk Contract; 15-20 Touches Per Game Player
9. CLE - Browns' Offensive Line Overhaul Continues
10. IDP: SD - Secondary Says Time Has Come To Shine
11. IDP: NE - LB Brown On the Complexities Of The Patriots Defense
12. IDP: CAR - S Minter Signs Four Year Contract Extension

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

1. DAL - WR Morgan Rehabbing Vigorously After Hurting Shoulder

Clipped from: Star-Telegram article by Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Cowboys receiver Quincy Morgan injured his left shoulder during
practice last week and is in the midst of a vigorous rehab program in
hopes of being ready in time for training camp. The situation is acute
for the Cowboys because they passed on taking a receiver in April's
NFL Draft and hope several returning players improve their
performances behind starters Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn.

Morgan, who struggled with consistency last season after coming over
from Cleveland in a trade for Antonio Bryant, is chief among the
players from whom the Cowboys want improvement. The former Kansas
State star seemed to be making strides with an impressive off-season;
he caught the attention of Coach Bill Parcells during the June
minicamp.

"He really did a good job of getting into our off-season program
here," Parcells said. "He did a good job of improving his strength and
his body type a little bit, and I think it is showing up on the field
here."

Morgan played nine games with the Cowboys in 2004, catching 22 passes
for 260 yards and no touchdowns. He underwent surgery in January to
remove a bone growth in his left knee.

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

WR Quincy Morgan was drawing praise this offseason with his improved
work-ethic and strength but this injury could set back his progress if
he cannot get healthy before the beginning of training camp. Morgan
is a player who has always had the talent to be a legitimate starting
receiver at the NFL level but unfortunately, he has never been able to
turn his potential into production. The Cowboys were banking on him to
become a consistent weapon for the upcoming season as a # 3 receiver
behind veterans Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson. We'll keep our eyes
open on his progress and let you know how the situation looks as
training camp draws closer.

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

2. CAR - WR Carter Back Up To Speed

Clipped from: CarolinaPanthers.com

After a year spent recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee, wide
receiver Drew Carter started making a name for himself at the Panthers
post-draft mini-camp in late April, where the 2004 fifth-round pick
from Ohio State made the eye-opening play seem almost routine. While
teammates and coaches were happy with what they saw, they were also
cautious to put too much pressure on Carter. But halfway through
summer school, Carter is still drawing attention to himself.

"He keeps making play after play," said quarterback Jake Delhomme.
"We'd never seen him at full strength before. That's the thing. Nobody
knew what he could do last year because he got hurt the first day of
summer school. He's doing some great things. Hopefully, he can
continue. He wants to learn. He wants to be good and he's working at
it. He has some good guys to watch and learn from. It would be nice if
he can come on because he's a big, rangy, tall target."

This would make him a perfect candidate to be part of the Panthers
receiving corps, provided he can stay healthy. He says he is on track.

"I feel good," he said. "I feel blessed to be out here with my
teammates on the field after only being with them off the field all
last year. Even though I wasn't playing, I was in every meeting. I
watched the film. I watched the routes and how the other guys played.
It felt good just to learn from them, and now I feel at ease coming in
as a rookie, basically.

"That whole year made me more comfortable this year. I'm not as
stressed and I'm just ready to play."

Carter provides more than just a tall target. He's one of the fastest
players on the team, and he's not afraid to use his quickness.

"I feel I have top end speed," said Carter. "I can stretch the field."

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

The Panthers would absolutely love for Drew Carter to emerge as a
viable receiver this year, especially with the loss of Muhsin Muhammad
to the Bears. With the return of Steve Smith and the continued
development of Keary Colbert, the team is set at the # 1 and # 2
receiver positions. However it would be a major plus to the team if
Carter could stay healthy and slot in as the # 3 or # 4 guy and add a
dimension of speed to the position. He certainly has the ability to
become a solid player in the pros but he needs to prove he can stay
healthy first. Definitely keep your eyes on this kid throughout the
preseason to track his development.

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

3. WAS - Interest In Trading For WR Gardner Tepid At Best

Clipped from: Washington Post article by Jason La Canfora

Wide receiver Rod Gardner, still on the trading block, is not
scheduled to attend minicamp or training camp, Gibbs said. Interest in
Gardner among other teams has been minimal, with clubs expecting that
the Redskins will cut him. By cutting Gardner, Washington would save
$2.1 million in salary cap space. "One team for sure kind of hinted
they're maybe looking at trying to do something [to trade for
Gardner], but nothing else has really developed with Rod," Gibbs said.

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

It isn't surprising that teams aren't willing to trade for Rod Gardner
when the Redskins will likely dump him and his contract if nobody
bites on trading for him. Rod Gardner has mostly been a disappointment
during his four NFL seasons although he did put together a 1,000 yard,
8 touchdown effort in his second season which ranked him 17th at the
receiver position that season. Gardner does have talent and would be
a nice acquisition for a team looking for an upgrade to the receiver
position. Whether a team finally trades for him or he is cut and
picked up by another team, he is an "under the radar" player we'll
keep an eye on for you this season.

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

4. KC - A Step Closer To Signing WR Hakim; WR Mitchell No Longer In Plans

Clipped from: Kansas City Star article by Elizabeth Merrill

The Chiefs took a step closer to landing a free-agent receiver
Thursday, and it appears as if Freddie Mitchell isn't a part of their
plans. Coach Dick Vermeil said the Chiefs are communicating with
Az-Zahir Hakim's agent, and "when they're talking, you're going in the
right direction."

Hakim and Mitchell came to Kansas City this week for workouts. Just
before Hakim met with the coaches Tuesday, Vermeil suggested that they
might sign both receivers if they went for the league minimum. Asked
Thursday whether Mitchell was still in the mix, Vermeil said, "No, I
think we'll just do one, though I'd like to have them both. Plus, we
have enough receivers, I think, of quality, and some young kids keep
getting better, too."

The Chiefs cut veteran receiver Johnnie Morton last week and have been
bargain shopping for a possible replacement to play opposite Eddie
Kennison. Vermeil said second-year players Samie Parker and Richard
Smith have been impressive in practice, but he's also been intrigued
with Hakim, who played on his 1999 Super Bowl champion team in St.
Louis.

For much of the week, Vermeil has gushed over Hakim, who stands 5 feet
10 and is similar in stature to Parker. Hakim was cut by Detroit in
April, shortly after the Lions drafted Mike Williams.

"I think we'll have to wait and see what he is today compared to what
he was," Vermeil said. "It's like your mom's chocolate cake. It used
to be a lot better then than when you taste it 20 years later. I think
he's still the football player he's always been. He'd be very
competitive to start, and very competitive to play at any time."

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

Az-Zahir Hakim would be a nice pickup for the Chiefs and doesn't bring
the baggage that Freddie Mitchell does. Hakim would see a lot of
playing time whether he slotted in as a #2 or a # 3 receiver and would
likely put up numbers similar to what Morton was able to accomplish
with the team. We'll let you know when (and if) he signs with the
club.

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

5. DAL - Cowboys' Backfield Talented And Deep

Clipped from: DallasCowboys.com article by Mickey Spagnola

Walking back towards the locker room after one of those five mini-camp
practices, Bill Parcells sauntered by after coaching up his return
guys, and sort of under his breath without breaking stride says to me,
"How'd you like those running backs?"

Big smile follows, with an approving nod, as in "best group I've had
since I've been here."

No kidding. Not even close, come to think of it.

Those running backs he speaks of are Julius Jones, Marion Barber,
Anthony Thomas, Erik Bickerstaff and Tyson Thompson - a second-round
pick, a fourth-round pick, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher/2001 offensive
rookie of the year, a possibility and a young project with all the
speed in the world.

Having Julius Jones potentially for 16 games must make you drool after
seeing him rush for 803 yards and seven touchdowns in those final
seven games. (That factors out to a 1,815-yard, 16 touchdown season
over 16 games.)

"I know what Julius can do," Parcells says.

Then there's Barber. OK, he's only a rookie, and only a fourth-round
draft choice at that. But there appears to be something to this kid.
He's bigger than you think, 6-0, 212. He's pretty nifty, too.

"The player Barber reminds me of that I had once before is a kid named
Leon Johnson," Parcells said of his former Jets running back. "When we
first got Leon (1997), he was your backup runner, third down back. He
could return kickoffs, he could return punts, he had good hands, very
versatile type player. Barber kind of reminds me of him somewhat. So
that's kind of the role I hope he can play. To help me 20 to 25 plays
on offense and 20 or 25 plays on special teams."

Now Thomas is a little bigger alternative back there. He's 6-2, 225.
He's got some experience, having played four years in the NFL, with 37
starts.

But you get the feeling Thomas is going to have to sell himself to
Parcells, that it's not an automatic he makes this 53-man roster, even
if he was given a $400,000 signing bonus and promised a $600,000 base
salary for one year. And even if he does, then it's neither automatic
he's active on game day.

"Now Anthony Thomas, I look at him as a between-the-tackle runner a
little bit, OK," Parcells said. "A pretty tough guy, so my vision for
him right now would be a thumper kind of running back-short yard and
goal line. But that's not going to be enough. He's going to have to
venture out into the special teams area, which is something he's not
been asked to do in his past career much. So if he can't get into
doing something on special teams, then there won't be enough jobs for
him."

Then there is the two other youngsters, Bickerstaff, trying to return
from last summer's surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, and
Thompson, who played only one season of Division I football.
Bickerstaff showed promise in 2003, and had some "thumper" qualities
if you're looking for a change of pace. But torn Achilles are hard to
recover from, especially for a running back.

Thompson is raw, having played two years in junior college before this
past season at San Jose State. But he's got some skills, especially
speed, something that can't be coached. He ran the fastest 40 of all
the rookies back in April.

"The other kids, they definitely got to fit on special teams,"
Parcells said, "and hopefully get - show enough that they are going to
get the ball once in a while."

But as you can see, it's a whole lot different back there from last
year, or the year before, or each of the two years before that. You
got a young Julius, I'm guessing a rambunctious Barber, a Thomas
looking for redemption and two youngsters desperately trying to make
their way.

"I am pleased with what our backfield situation is in terms of how the
running backs look like now," Parcells said. "That's much improved
over anytime since I've been here, without a question, just on running
skill."

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

The Cowboys backfield is loaded for bear and the only real question to
really answer is how much of the pie will each player receive this
season. Julius Jones is the clear starter and he'll likely average 18+
carries per game. However the Cowboys want to feature a strong
running game this season and both Barber and Thomas could see a lot of
work as well to keep Jones fresh throughout the entire season. Here's
how we see it right now http://footballguys.com/currentproj-dal.htm
The running backs could finish with a combined 475 carries this season
and there could be some value outside of Jones in deep fantasy
leagues. No matter what, the Cowboys running game is in the best
shape it has been in for a long time and it will be tough to stop in
2005.

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

6. DEN - RB Bell Set To Make His Move

Clipped from: Denver Post article by Patrick Saunders

Broncos running back Tatum Bell has lofty expectations for his second
season. "I want to be a household name around here," he said Thursday
as the Broncos wrapped up their six-day team camp. But first, Bell
must win the starting job.

That means overtaking accomplished veteran Mike Anderson, who
currently is running No. 1. It also means holding off challenges from
others, including third-round draft choice Maurice Clarett - who, like
most rookies, is trying to get a grip on life in an NFL offense.

When asked if he considers himself the favorite to win the starting
job, Bell said next month's training camp and preseason games would
determine that. "Right now, there is no set position. But to my
knowledge, Mike is No. 1 right now," Bell said. "But we are both
running with the No. 1 and No. 2 offenses."

Competing for the job are Anderson, healed from a torn groin muscle
suffered last preseason, was the 2000 offensive rookie of the year
when he ran for 1,487 yards. Anderson, who turns 32 in September, said
last month he can be even more productive than he was as a rookie.

Third-year scat back Quentin Griffin is expected to be on the field
full time during the Broncos' mandatory minicamp July 6-8. He showed
flashes of talent as a rookie in 2003 and last season, but his second
year came to an abrupt end in Week 7 when he tore the anterior
cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Ron Dayne, the former New York Giant and 1999 Heisman Trophy winner,
says he can thrive in Denver's downhill, zone-blocking system.

Clarett, the former Ohio State sensation, hasn't played in a game
since he was a true freshman, leading the Buckeyes past Miami in the
Fiesta Bowl in January 2003 for a national championship. The big test
will come when he puts on pads and the hitting starts during
two-a-days.

And Finally, Bell who rushed for 396 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per
carry as a rookie. He's doing all the right things to impress Shanahan
during the offseason. He has lifted weights and pumped up to 215
pounds - up 10 from his rookie season.

He has studied his playbook and watched hours of tape, making sure the
Broncos' offense is no longer a mystery to him.

"This year, I shouldn't wait until somebody goes down. This year, my
mind-set is totally different. I want to be in the running to be the
starter from the get-go."

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

While pretty much everybody (including us) has 'anointed' Tatum Bell
as the starter going into this season, he will have to fight to beat
out the other four running backs. Here's how we see it breaking down
http://footballguys.com/currentproj-den.htm At this time, Mike
Anderson is listed as the starter but that doesn't mean much in June.
It is likely more to do with installing a sense of purpose to Bell
this offseason to get him ready to go. The Broncos don't want to hand
the starting running back position to Bell on a silver platter but
there is little question the team would like him to emerge as the man
in 2005. With Bell adding ten pounds of muscle this offseason, he has
proved his work ethic is legitimate and the extra weight should help
his durability. The 'wild card' of the group is definitely Maurice
Clarett but Bell should emerge as the starting tailback by the start
of the regular season and could have a very nice season.

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

7. OAK - WR Moss Proclaims QB Collins Better Than QB Culpepper?

Clipped from: Pioneer Press article by Charley Walters

Randy Moss says his new quarterback with the Oakland Raiders, Kerry
Collins, is better overall than his former quarterback, Daunte
Culpepper of the Vikings.

Moss, traded by the Vikings to the Raiders this spring, said so during
an ESPN "SportsCenter'' interview.

"When it comes to athleticism, Daunte has Kerry beat by a large
margin," the controversial wide receiver said. "But Kerry has pocket
presence and knows how to read defenses. So Kerry has a slight step
over Daunte."

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

This likely doesn't have much impact on the Raiders upcoming season.
You would expect Randy Moss to say all the right things about his new
quarterback and both he and Collins are indeed in a great position to
have outstanding seasons. In addition, there are rumblings on the
Internet that what he said doesn't exactly match up with what was
written. Whether he was misquoted or not though, this little blurb
may be a little motivation for Daunte Culpepper who now has yet
another reason to go out and have a tremendous season. Many
individuals question how effective Culpepper will be without his star
receiver and he'll be out to prove he is an outstanding player with or
without Moss in 2005. You have to believe this quote by Moss will be
bulletin board material for Mr. Culpepper throughout the season.

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

8. PHI - Westbrook, Eagles Continue To Talk Contract; 15-20 Touches Per Game Player

Clipped from: Philadelphia Daily News article by Les Bowen

Brian Westbrook really, really wants a long-term deal with the Eagles.
But he doesn't want to be penalized for not doing things he hasn't
been asked or allowed to do within the team's West Coast offense,
Westbrook said yesterday.

There are many points to be made on both sides of the Eagles'
negotiation with their top running back. But the issue of how the team
uses Westbrook and its affect on his value seemed right at the heart
of the matter, as Westbrook's new agent, Fletcher Smith, met with
Eagles president Joe Banner at the NovaCare Complex.

Westbrook, meanwhile, had some thoughts on his role.

"It bothers me to hear people say there are things I can't do, because
of the limitations our offense has put on me," Westbrook said as the
Birds wrapped up their passing camp, the final gathering before
training camp, which starts for rookies and select veterans July 29
(Aug. 1 for everyone else). "I know for a fact I can do all of those
things other running backs do... I work very well in this offense. I
don't control the number of carries."

Westbrook caught 73 passes last season for 703 yards, both figures
tops among NFL running backs. He ran for 812 yards on 177 carries.
During their long impasse with Westbrook's former agent, Anthony
Agnone, the Eagles maintained that they weren't going to pay
franchise-back money for a player they envision touching the ball only
15 to 20 times a game. Westbrook's durability and his viability as an
inside runner have been questioned.

"I don't know what more it really takes," Westbrook said. "I played in
all the games last year except the one [Oct. 31 vs. Baltimore, the
week after] I broke my ribs. The last two, I was available to play
[but was held out, to avoid the possibility of injury]. I've made an
impact on this team, I've done a lot of positive things with this
team. I feel as though the team knows that, they see the things I
bring to this offense. I feel I should be rewarded for that with a
long-term contract."

Though yesterday's meeting might have been preliminary, Westbrook left
no doubt that he's in a hurry.

"I definitely want to get it done before training camp," Westbrook
said. "I think both sides want to get it done."

Coach Andy Reid said a long-term Westbrook deal "is what we are trying to do."

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

This is an interesting situation. If the Eagles truly believe,
Westbrook can only touch a ball 15-20 times per game at best
throughout a season, they may not want to pay him at the level he will
be looking for. Westbrook believes he can do much more if given the
opportunity but it is unclear right now if the Eagles are willing to
give him a chance to touch the ball 20+ times per game consistently
week in and week out. With the Eagles having drafted similar back
Ryan Moats this season, it will be interesting to watch how this
contract impasse plays out. Westbrook is a talented player capable of
scoring from anywhere on the field at any time and is a strong starter
in fantasy leagues. When projecting his numbers this year though,
stay conservative and give him no more than 300 touches (both carries
and receptions combined - we currently see him at 200 rushes with 76
receptions http://footballguys.com/currentproj-phi.htm ).

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

9. CLE - Browns' Offensive Line Overhaul Continues

Clipped from: ClevelandBrowns.com article by Zac Jackson

The Browns' overhaul of the offensive line started with the signing of
two veteran guards in the first week of the NFL's open free agency
period. It continued this week with the signing of two more veterans
and Thursday's release of left tackle Ross Verba. Verba, the team's
starting left tackle for four games in 2001 and all of the 2002 and
2004 seasons, had been sitting out of passing camp practices in a
contract dispute. The Browns signed experienced veterans L.J. Shelton
and Marcus Spears earlier this week, paving the way for Verba's exit.

"We felt this decision was in the best interest of both the Browns and
Ross," Browns general manager Phil Savage said. "With the return of
Ryan Tucker, Jeff Faine and Melvin Fowler, and the addition of free
agents Joe Andruzzi, Cosey Coleman, L.J. Shelton and Marcus Spears,
we're excited and confident in our offensive line."

In Shelton, the team found its likely left tackle of the present. In
Spears, it found an experienced utility man. Shelton, who's spent his
entire six-year career with Arizona, started 68 games at left tackle
in his first five seasons. He made 12 starts last season, nine at left
tackle and three on the right, before being released last month.
Shelton said he chose Cleveland over a handful of other interested
teams "number one" for the chance to play left tackle. He said he's
more comfortable on the left and feels he gets the most out of his
athleticism there.

Shelton practiced with the Browns' first-team offense during passing
camp this week and looks to keep the job as the 2005 season draws
nearer. The team's offseason program concludes with a mandatory
minicamp June 13-15. "I wasn't promised anything but an opportunity to
compete and to play," Shelton said. "That's all I can ask for."

Spears is an 11-year veteran who has spent time with Chicago, Kansas
City and Houston. He has played in 104 career games with 21 starts,
including 16 appearances and three starts at right tackle for the
Texans last season. He started all 16 games for Kansas City (11 at
right tackle, five at left guard) in 2001 and helped Priest Holmes win
the NFL rushing title with 1,555 yards.

"I'm a natural (left tackle)," Spears said. "But I've played it all."

Spears said he worked at right guard this week. Coleman is the
expected starter at right guard opposite Andruzzi, the expected left
guard and fellow free agent acquisition. Tucker and Faine are expected
to return as starters at right tackle and center, respectively.
Fowler, who has experience at center and guard, is in the mix as well.

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

Ross Verba wasn't an elite lineman and doesn't deserve elite lineman
money. But he was quite good and brought a tenacious attitude to the
field. However the Browns have done a good job at immediately filling
the void of Verba's departure and L.J. Shelton certainly has the
ability to make the team forget about Verba in a hurry. Losing Verba
will hurt the team's cohesion at the start of the season, but this is
a veteran unit that should get stronger as the year goes on and could
still put together a very nice season if Shelton can find his 'A'
game.

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

10. IDP: SD - Secondary Says Time Has Come To Shine

Clipped from: Union Tribune article by Kevin Acee

There's no need to call out the particular Chargers receiver. It was,
after all, only one play in an offseason workout. Suffice to say that
on one recent morning, cornerback Quentin Jammer stole this receiver's
lunch in full view of everyone. Jammer and the receiver went up for a
pass in the end zone, the receiver appearing to have possession. But
as both flew through the air, Jammer reached in and tore the ball from
the receiver's chest for a touchdown-denying interception.

Hollering and boisterous talk are common during a football practice,
especially after such a fine play. But this one brought praise from
offensive coordinator Cam Cameron - to a defensive player. You just
don't see that very often. Plays such as this are one way for Jammer
to announce things are about to change for him. Entering his fourth
NFL season, he is still yet to become the force expected of a player
drafted fifth overall.

"There's a lot you'll probably see me do that I haven't done before,"
Jammer said matter-of-factly a few days later.

Jammer is not the only defensive back who has made such a statement
during workouts the past four weeks. That sense of urgency is expected
to carry over into the Chargers' mandatory minicamp, which runs today
through Sunday at the team's Murphy Canyon Road headquarters. The
coming season, those players say, should be their year. Three of the
unit's top seven players are entering their third NFL season, and
Jammer considers himself a third-year player because of a late start
to his rookie season after a preseason holdout.

"We're trying to be more aggressive, trying to make more plays,"
cornerback Sammy Davis said. "This is our third year. We don't have
any excuses to not be one of the best secondaries in the league."

That would be quite an improvement for what was statistically one of
the league's most generous secondaries in 2004. In their first year
running defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, the Chargers
were lauded for a run defense that ranked third in the league. But
they were next-to-last in passing yards allowed per game, and the pass
defense was ripped repeatedly by fans who saw it as the weak link on a
team that went 12-4 and won the AFC West.

The Chargers intercepted 23 passes, their most since 1992. But
linebacker Donnie Edwards had five of those. Jammer, who started every
game, and Davis, who started 10, had one interception apiece. That's
why the secondary has stepped up its focus during offseason workouts,
making it a priority to play hard even away from the ball, going for
balls they might not have before, tightening the little things.

"You get tired of being criticized," Jammer said. "You decide as a
secondary you're going to get over the hump. I think this year could
be the year we get over the hump. We're all still young."

The criticism overlooks the fact the Chargers' pass rush was almost
nonexistent. The team's 29 sacks tied for fourth-fewest in the NFL.

"People don't look at pass rush," free safety Jerry Wilson said. "All
they see is pass yards, and (the criticism) is directed toward the
secondary. We know pass rush is just as key as coverage."

Still, the secondary knows there were too many breakdowns - long plays
on which coverage was missed, a bad angle taken here and there,
occasional overpursuing. And so they have worked with increased verve
this offseason.

"As they've matured and gotten a better understanding of what they're
being asked to do, you see plays being made that maybe weren't made a
year ago, particularly at this time a year ago" coach Marty
Schottenheimer said. " . . . They're starting to see a measure of
success. With that will come confidence."

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

The talent is certainly there for the Chargers to have one of the best
secondaries in football but only time will tell if they have made that
giant leap this season or not. One of the best points made within
this article mentions the lack of a legitimate pass rush and how it
has hurt the secondary and that is certainly a very valid point. The
team made moves to try and add some pass rushing ability to the mix
this season and if they were successful, the defensive backs will find
a lot more success in 2005. They will almost certainly be better than
they were a year ago.

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11. IDP: NE - LB Brown On the Complexities Of The Patriots Defense

Clipped from: AP article by Howard Ulman

Chad Brown may have found a shortcut to learning the New England
Patriots' complex defense - pick the brain of the man he could
replace. While Tedy Bruschi's playing status for the season remains
uncertain and he isn't practicing after he suffered a minor stroke
last February, the inside linebacker participates in team meetings.

"The defensive coordinator starts every meeting with about 20 minutes
of questions - not asking him questions, him asking us questions,"
Brown said Friday at the team's minicamp. "So Tedy's been able to
whisper in my ear and help me answer some of those questions."

Brown laughed, but he's serious when discussing the complexity of the
defensive system.

"I understood the terminology would be different but I thought some
stuff would carry over," said Brown, released after eight seasons in
Seattle in a salary cap move. "There's no carryover at all. It's a
whole new language."

Coach Bill Belichick said Brown is learning the system well. With
three Pro Bowl appearances and the most sacks by any active
linebacker, 78, he has the physical ability to contribute as a starter
even though he turns 35 on July 12 and is coming off an injury plagued
stretch in which he missed 19 games the last three seasons.

He studies with 26-year-old Monte Beisel, another free agent
linebacker who signed after spending four seasons with Kansas City but
starting only nine of his 55 pro games, all last year. "I think a
couple of times we both asked for the secret learning pill for the
Patriots' defense," Beisel said. "When you've got a veteran corps like
the guys that they have here I think our best learning tools are the
(line)backers that have been here in the past years."

One difference Brown noticed from his 12 previous NFL seasons - the
first four with Pittsburgh - is the Patriots coaches' "attempt to have
a definite answer for everything the (opposing) offense does.
Sometimes in the past we just said, `well, hopefully they won't run
that (play)' or `that's just going to be a tough play for us.' They
don't say that here. There's an answer for everything."

He doesn't see any signs of championship ego or euphoria on the
Patriots practice field. "They don't talk about being Super Bowl
champions," Brown said. "There's no discussion of the past. It's what
we do now, what we do today, that makes this that good."

Belichick said the Patriots might have signed Brown and Beisel even if
Bruschi hadn't suffered a stroke. But the availability of an
accomplished veteran like Brown was a big boost.

"It's huge," safety Rodney Harrison said. "You could never replace
Tedy Bruschi, but just to be able to go out and get a guy like Chad as
opposed to going in and putting a rookie in his place, that helps out
tremendously. He has a motor that doesn't quit," Harrison said. "He
throws his body around. He sacrifices everything he has."

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

Chad Brown may not have the impact that Bruschi has enjoyed with the
Patriots and at 35-years old is near the end of his career. However
he brings both experience and talent to the mix and Belichick is well
known for getting everything he can out of his veteran players. Brown
will try to fill the Bruschi hole if he indeed cannot play this season
and the Patriots train will continue to roll on.

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12. IDP: CAR - S Minter Signs Four Year Contract Extension

Clipped From: AP Wire

The Carolina Panthers signed eight-year veteran Mike Minter to a
four-year contract extension Friday, likely assuring the local
favorite will finish his career with the team that drafted him. Terms
of the contract were not immediately available.

"It's rare when a player can start and finish his career with the same
team, but we're glad that is the case with Mike," Panthers general
manager Marty Hurney said. "Mike has been a guy who has been a strong
leader in this locker room for a long time and an important member of
the organization and we're glad to reach an agreement on a long-term
deal."

Minter has started the last seven seasons at strong safety for the
Panthers, but there was some question about his future with the team
after Carolina drafted Georgia strong safety Thomas Davis in the first
round of this year's NFL draft. Head coach John Fox dispelled those
myths earlier this year when he declared Minter was a "valuable member
of the defense." Minter started all 16 games at strong safety in 2004
and had 94 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, fumble recoveries
and a team-leading 13 passes defended.

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

Good news for Panther fans. Locking Minter up gives stability to the
defensive backfield and will give the team some interesting options in
regards to rookie pick Thomas Davis. Minter is a solid safety who
should have another productive season.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

J

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