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Volume 6, Issue 56 (Monday, June 13th)

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Note: Subbing for Joe Bryant, I inadvertently sent this to the subscriber list (instead of the free list). We apologize to those who did not receive the update.

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Hi Folks,

Believe it or not, there's other news going on besides the Michael Jackson circus. Thanks to our Mark Wimer for rounding up these stories today. Plus, we've got lots of new articles on the site for today. Let's get right to it.


Site News:

A. Looking Back At The QBs
Our Chase Stuart looks way beyond the raw data as he reviews the quarterbacks.

B. Basic Training Part 1 - Why Fantasy Football?
Our Mark Wimer and Chris Smith answer the age old question - Why Fantasy Football?

C. Basic Training Part 2 - Different Types of Leagues
Our Chris Smith continues the Basic Training series examining the different types of Fantasy Leagues.

D. A Look At NFLE Stars
Our Cecil Lammey looks to Europe for guys that might make an impact some day.

E. Peyton Manning Spotlight
Jason Wood and Mark Wimer take a detailed look.

F. Willis McGahee Spotlight
Jason Wood and Chris Smith dig deep.

G. Drew Bledsoe Spotlight
Jason Wood and Will Grant break it down.

H. Joe Horn Spotlight
Jason Wood and Mike Brown put the spotlight on Horn.


  1. CLE - New OL Looks Good to Coach Crennel
  2. CAR - WR Proehl Brings Veteran Presence, Is Appreciated by Team
  3. IND - RB James Needs to Be at Training Camp (Commentary)
  4. SD - Defense Aims to Pressure the Opposing QB in 2005
  5. TEN - Defense Needs Help All Over
  6. NE - Another Ring Ceremony
  7. IDP/DT - MIA S Tillman Tears Meniscus in Knee, Out 4-6 Weeks
  8. IDP - CHI DL Tank Johnson Arrested on Gun Charge
  9. IDP - NE LB Bruschi Uncertain About Future
10. IDP - BAL LB Lewis Excited About 46 Alignment
11. Ravens' Final Minicamp Marred by Absences

1. CLE New OL Looks Good to Coach Crennel

Clipped from: Akron Beacon Journal article by Patrick McManamon, 6/13/05

The Browns put the pieces of their revamped offensive line together in full-speed practices for the first time this week during their only full-squad minicamp.

Three-fifths of the line is new, and despite Ross Verba's claims to the contrary, coach Romeo Crennel thinks that adding L.J. Shelton and discarding Verba might be an upgrade.

"It's an even tradeoff, (and) we might be ahead of the game," Crennel said Friday after attending a news conference to announce the team's donation of $300,000 to Cleveland schools. "Because we got a bigger guy who has experience and who has played the position. It might help us more in the running game."

Crennel admits that Shelton is "not in ideal condition" but added that there's time before training camp. Shelton, penciled in as the new left tackle, missed three games last season with a knee injury.

Shelton joins guards Cosey Coleman and Joe Andruzzi on a line that Crennel and general manager Phil Savage almost completely retooled.

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

The Browns finished 23rd in rushing yards per game last year, so there is plenty of room for improvement on this front. We'll see how much better this year's edition is come regular season, but with a RBBC looming (Suggs and Droughns) and a lot of work ahead of the OL unit before they jell, we're leery of expecting much of an improvement in fantasy terms this year (Suggs is 32nd and Droughns is tied for 34th on our latest iteration of constantly-updated expert rankings).

2. CAR - WR Proehl Brings Veteran Presence, Is Appreciated by Team

Clipped from: Winston-Salem Journal article by Joe Menzer, 6/13/05

After 15 seasons playing wide receiver in the NFL, including the past two with the Panthers, Proehl was calling it quits. Or so he thought.

Already, (coach John) Fox and others such as quarterback Jake Delhomme and fellow wide receiver Steve Smith were working behind the scenes to see that it wouldn't happen.

"I think I got blindsided by Fox a little bit," Proehl said. "I called up and set up an appointment with Fox to retire. I think he had an idea of why I was coming, because I think Jake and some others had called him to give him the heads up.

"He didn't even let a word come out of my mouth before he said, 'Let me talk first.' "

Fox talked about how much the Panthers appreciated Proehl, about how much Proehl meant to the younger receivers on the team, about how close the team appeared to be to doing something special - and how he wanted Proehl to be a part of it. Proehl was stunned.

"At this point in my career, to be appreciated, to be wanted for the things that you do, it was humbling. In the prime of my career, I was told I was no good, we're going to trade you, we're going to cut you," Proehl said. "So it was something I had to rethink. I had to go back and talk to the wife."

Meanwhile, Smith already was talking to the wife.

Delhomme and Proehl say now that Smith's well-timed call to Kelly Proehl probably played the biggest role in assuring that Proehl would return to the Panthers for a 16th NFL season.

"I think we all tried to put the full-court press on Ricky," Delhomme said. "We had it working on him in a few different ways. I would call him at least every couple of weeks and throw a couple of hints in there. But Steve Smith, I think he may have had a biggest hand in bringing Ricky back. Steve Smith went to the brains behind the operation; he went to Ricky's wife."

According to the husband, the conversation between the brains and Smith, who is only 26, went about as follows.

"Is it true? Did he retire?" Smith asked Kelly Proehl.

"I don't know if he's made his decision for absolute certain yet, but he's seriously considering it," she replied.

"He can't retire," Smith pleaded. "Before Ricky got here, all I ever cared about was me: how many balls I was going to catch, how much money I was going to make. Ricky taught me how to be a team player."

When Ricky arrived back home after his meeting with Fox, already wavering, Kelly Proehl met him at the door.

"You've got to come back. You help this football team in more ways than just on the field," she told him.

It was all Ricky Proehl, 37, needed to hear.

"As a teammate, a player and a friend, that's very humbling and that's what it's all about - gaining the respect of your peers," Proehl said of learning of Smith's phone call. "Obviously you're making a difference on the football team, not only physically but emotionally and in what you bring to the team. That meant a lot to me. That had a great part in me changing my decision and coming back to play."

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

Some players, while not racking up huge fantasy numbers, are important enough to their teams that they help other players achieve top levels of performance. Proehl is obviously important to the team's psyche, and a big help to the younger receivers - Smith and Colbert are probably better players with him in the lineup and locker room than they would be without him. It's also nice to see a guy like Steve Smith growing up.

3. IND - RB James Needs to Be at Training Camp (Commentary)

Clipped from: Indianapolis Star article by Bob Kravitz, 6/13/05

The Indianapolis Colts' summer school is finished, but the Edgerrin James drama is just beginning.

There's no question he will show up in time for training camp; he has said as much himself. While he may not be happy with the franchise tag and a salary of more than $8 million next year -- and, frankly, who would? -- he's not going to hold out of next month's camp or make a stink about getting a trade or a long-term deal.

James understands his beef shouldn't be with the Colts; it should be with the NFL Players Association, whose bargaining brilliance provided owners with the opportunity to keep star players without providing them long-term security.

Still, it's disappointing and downright wrong that James didn't show up for summer school, choosing instead to stay in Miami and incur the $1,000-a-day fine.

I don't buy this "it's Edge being Edge" garbage, like he deserves special consideration. How many Super Bowls have Edge's teams won since he's been in the league? He owes it to his teammates and to the owner paying him those millions to make the same commitment as Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and everybody else who didn't miss summer school for an appointment with a court.

This summer, it's absolutely imperative that James travels with the team to Tokyo, and plays with the Colts' first-team offense during their preseason games. Even more, it's imperative that coach Tony Dungy, who wants Edge to play in the preseason, is backed up by team president Bill Polian, who in the past has let Edge do his thing.

When Polian lets Edge play by a different set of rules -- if he continues to let it slide when Edge gets one of his bogus, last-second hamstring pulls -- he thoroughly undermines Dungy's authority and makes him look like a powerless dupe.

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

Interesting commentary from Mr. Kravitz of the Indy Star. It's the first time in a major newspaper that I can recall James' injuries being labeled as "bogus" and "last second". Interesting. The bottom line reality is that this isn't anything new. From his rookie season when he held out most of camp and then excelled, he's got a track record of bumpy summers followed by solid production in season. We're not worried.

4. SD - Defense Aims to Pressure the Opposing QB in 2005

Clipped from: NC Times article by Jay Paris, 6/13/05

While the Chargers can puff out their chests about having the NFL's No. 3 run defense, their faces turn red when the topic is their pass defense. One could count the number of NFL defenses with a worse showing on one hand and have four fingers remaining.

"Without a doubt, our pass defense has to get better," said Foley, who had a team-high 10 sacks. "And that comes from getting more pressure on the quarterback."

If the Chargers, who had only 29 sacks, want to climb from the ranks of divisional winners to join the NFL's elite squads, it's imperative that their pass defense stiffens its resolve.

To do so, the pass rush needs to improve. But where it comes from is the question.

Top pick Shawne Merriman was supposed to deliver a dose, but he's absent. Luis Castillo, another first-round pick, might supply a push off the edge, but it's tough counting on a rookie.

David Ball, a fifth-round pick last year, still awaits medical clearance for his cranky back. Adrian Dingle had six sacks as recently as 2003, but his sore left knee isn't as willing as in years past.

Shaun Phillips could have an impact, but he needs to bulk up to earn more playing time. And Jamal Williams had four sacks last year, but his main contribution comes from stopping the run.

So where does that rush from the NFL's 31st-ranked pass defense come from again?

"There is an element that can be schematic," Schottenheimer said. "But I think it's more a matter of the individual components doing things in a technically sound way. That will give you the best shot of doing it on a consistent basis."

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

Keep an eye on how the Charger's defense jells once all the pieces are in place. If a bona-fide pass rusher emerges at DE or LB, players in IDP leagues will want to make a bid to pick up the player or players who look poised to rack up sacks (and fantasy points).

5. TEN - Defense Needs Help All Over

Clipped from: Nashville City Paper article by Terry McCormick, 6/13/05

Likewise, the Titans defense needs key players like defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, linebacker Peter Sirmon and safety Tank Williams on the field and able to make it through a 16-game season.

By the end of last year, it was apparent that many of the defensive starters on the field were in over their heads because of the on-the-job training.

The Titans are hoping some of that pays off in the way of lessons learned and experience gained.

Still, even factoring out the injuries, the Titans will need some younger players to step to the front at certain critical positions - namely at defensive end, strong safety and the nickel and dime positions.

Defensive end

Likely solution: The Titans added veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch, a decent run-plugger when healthy, to their trio of 2004 draft picks. The Titans are banking that defensive line coach Jim Washburn's tutelage and better health from the likes of Antwan Odom, Bo Schobel and Travis Laboy can help solve the pass rush problem. Washburn has raved about Vanden Bosch, and likes the direction Schobel and Odom are headed. LaBoy, again dogged by injuries, must get healthy and catch up to justify his being a second-round pick last year.

Still possible: The Titans will probably carry a fifth defensive end on the 53-man roster. For cap purposes sake, they would love for an undrafted players like Karlton Neal, Alton Wright or Kenneth Smith to emerge. If not, scouring the waiver wire or adding a cheap free agent is not so farfetched.

Probably not: Chances are this group will be improved over the 2004 edition, and a better pass rush is the key to an upgraded defense that must get off the field on third down consistently to have a chance at success. Don't look for any individual to post Jevon Kearse-like sack totals, but collectively this group needs to double the 13 sacks it produced as a unit last year.

Strong safety

Likely solution: The long-term answer, of course, is Williams' return to start alongside Lamont Thompson. With Williams still sidelined after knee surgery in November, Donnie Nickey is currently running first-team. Nickey and Justin Sandy might be battling to start the opener in Pittsburgh. Fourth-round pick Vincent Fuller is more a free safety type.

Still possible: There is still a chance Williams' rehab could have him back on the field by the time the season opens, though a 10-month timetable would seem rather optimistic. Williams managed to start in his rookie year after missing all of preseason, and his return would give the Titans a needed veteran presence in the secondary.

Probably not: It appears that Schulters' days as a Titan are all but over, as agent Brian Levy said so recently. Schulters, who could be let go as early as today, won't have any trouble finding work, but with the Titans needing cap space to make other moves, Tennessee won't have room for him.

Nickel and dime spots

Likely solution: Michael Waddell's baptism by fire last year appears to have made him stronger, at least early on. His competition for the spot comes from rookie fourth-rounder Fuller, who has showed good instincts in the May mini-camps. It could be that the loser in the nickel battle winds up as the dime back.

Still possible: Two other players could force the Titans' hand in the secondary with strong training camps. Rich Gardner still figures into the sub-packages mix at either the nickel or dime. If Tony Beckham proves himself to be one of the Titans' top defenders playing outside, the Titans could reluctantly push Andre Woolfolk back inside on passing downs.

Probably not: Scott McGarrahan was a viable and durable performer as the dimeback the past two seasons, but the Titans have not been in contact with him in months. A late return is not entirely impossible, but not as likely as in years past.

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

The Titans are in salary cap hell this year, and their defense is likely to be manned by a lot of "bargain" undrafted rookies and street free-agents. Don't expect them to be among the league's good (or even, mediocre) defenses during 2005.

6. NE - Another Ring Ceremony

Clipped from the article by Jerome Solomon, 6/13/05

With 124 diamonds, 20 more than the rings from the previous season, this year's rings are quite eye-catching. Twenty-one of the diamonds are around the Patriots logo, representing the team's winning streak that ended in the middle of last season, and there is a trio of Lombardi Trophies -- topped with marquise-cut diamonds on the centerpiece.

On one side of the ring, there is reference to each of the team's championships in '01, '03, and '04. On the other is the 24-21 score of the most recent Super Bowl victory over Philadelphia, as well as the team's 9-0 playoff mark since 2001.

According to Jostens, which has made 26 of the 39 Super Bowl rings, this year's is the heaviest ever at 4.06 ounces.

Before he got his jewelry, quarterback Tom Brady said he couldn't imagine the ring being any bigger than the previous ones. "If they get any bigger, you'd have to wear it on your belt," he said.

The smallest is a size 6.5 pinkie ring, while running back Corey Dillon and defensive tackle Keith Traylor, who recently signed with Miami, ordered the largest -- size 17s.

Dillon was all smiles when Kraft greeted him just off the red carpet and said, "It's been a long time coming, hasn't it?" The former Bengal played seven years in Cincinnati without appearing in a playoff game. "This one is nice, I can't wait to see what the next one will look like," Dillon said.

"You can never take this experience for granted," linebacker Ted Johnson said. "The rings are symbols of effort and accomplishment. Having three of those puts us in select company."

Former coordinators Charlie Weis, now the coach at Notre Dame, and Romeo Crennel, now the head man with the Cleveland Browns, also were on hand to celebrate the last gathering of the 2004-05 squad.

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

Ok, maybe this isn't huge fantasy news but it's pretty impressive. Reportedly disgruntled Richard Seymour put his contract issues aside and he was there to celebrate with his teammates. Also nice to see coaches Crennel and Weis there.

7. IDP/DT - MIA S Tillman Tears Meniscus in Knee, Out 4-6 Weeks

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post article by Jamey Eisenberg, 6/13/05

Dolphins safety Travares Tillman has a torn meniscus in his left knee and could miss up to six weeks, his agent said Sunday.

Tillman, who has been working with the starting defense, was injured in Saturday's afternoon practice and will undergo arthroscopic surgery.

Coach Nick Saban said Tillman would be out two to four weeks, but Tillman's agent, Ben Dogra, said five to six weeks is more likely.

Tillman should be ready for the start of training camp July 24.

"I don't think he has a bad injury," Saban said. "I don't think this is anything unless the scope shows something that the MRI and the examination didn't that would be a long-term issue."

Tillman, who signed as a free agent from Carolina, is a projected starter at safety along with Tebucky Jones. Tillman's health is important because there is not much experience at safety outside of veteran Chris Akins, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.

Saban likes the young players at safety, especially Yeremiah Bell, converted linebacker Tony Bua and rookie Abram Elam, a Cardinal Newman graduate.

"He's athletic," Saban said of Elam. "I think he's got some range as a safety. He has showed some toughness, and I like his competitive spirit. He just gets confused at times and makes some mistakes."

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

Another projected starter in the Dolphins' secondary has been felled by injury. While a torn meniscus (the plate-like piece of cartilage (there are actually 2 in the knee) that keeps the leg bones from grinding against each other) is not as serious an injury as a torn knee ligament, it is still a condition that requires time to heal - how far behind the learning curve this injury will place Tillman is an open question. He is scheduled to have arthroscopic knee surgery later in the week. One thing is certain - the Dolphins are losing veterans from the secondary and don't have experienced players to fill the holes.

8. IDP - CHI DL Tank Johnson Arrested on Gun Charge

Clipped from: Chicago Tribune article by Josh Noel, 6/13/05

Bears defensive lineman Terry "Tank" Johnson spent part of the weekend in Cook County Jail after police allegedly found a loaded handgun in his truck, court records show.

Johnson, 23, of the 400 block of North Delaney Road in Gurnee, was arrested at about 3 a.m. Saturday after a valet reported seeing Johnson move a black handgun from his lap to the center console of his GMC Yukon.

After finding a fully loaded 9 mm Ruger in the parked vehicle, police found Johnson at a downtown nightclub, records show.

Police seized three cell phones from Johnson and impounded his vehicle.

He was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun.

Johnson appeared by video Sunday before Cook County Circuit Judge Mary Margaret Brosnahan, who set bail at $10,000.

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

This is not a huge story, as Johnson was 264th in fantasy points per game during 2004 among fantasy DL - but some dynasty league owners need to know that this young DL has thrown up a red flag with the fire-arms related arrest.

9. IDP - NE LB Bruschi Uncertain About Future

Clipped from: CBS Sportsline Wire Reports, 6/13/05

Tedy Bruschi flashed his three Super Bowl rings, an honor achieved by few NFL players.

That doesn't help him accept that his health may keep him from trying for a fourth.

"Football to me, it's something I love and it's something I'll always want to do," the Patriots linebacker said Sunday night, "but I've got to think about my wife and my sons and just make sure things are right."

Bruschi suffered a mild stroke last February, 10 days after New England beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 for its third NFL championship in four years. He has attended team meetings and worked out in the Patriots' weight room but didn't practice during the three-day minicamp that ended Saturday.

On May 21, he said that one of his options was sitting out the 2005 season and returning in 2006. He shed no more light on that Sunday, as he stood in the huge backyard of team owner Robert Kraft's home after a private dinner and ceremony during which players received their Super Bowl rings.

"It's been a tough year so far," Bruschi said three days after his 32nd birthday. "It's been a roller coaster (with) my son being born, winning the Super Bowl, going through what I've gone through, having this stroke and so its been an emotional roller coaster.

"Coming here and then celebrating this tonight and celebrating the accomplishments of last year really makes me feel special."

Defensive end Richard Seymour also attended the event after sitting out the mandatory minicamp. He had previously complained about his contract, but declined to talk about that or whether he would attend training camp that starts July 24.

Bruschi spoke publicly for the second time about the stroke and his uncertain future. Coach Bill Belichick has declined to discuss that, referring all questions to Bruschi.

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

Given the possible consequences of returning to NFL action, we have to wonder if eventually Bruschi will hang 'em up. What more is there for him to accomplish? He would seem to have a lot more to lose than to gain by returning after suffering a blood clot in his brain and the stroke that went along with it. Time will tell of course, but if you have Bruschi on your IDP squad we suggest having a viable back-up plan.

10. IDP - BAL LB Lewis Excited About 46 Alignment

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post article by David Ginsburg, AP 6/13/05

No one is happier to be a part of the Baltimore Ravens' new 46 defense than middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who can't wait to again experience the freedom of hunting down running backs without the hassle of shaking off bothersome offensive linemen.

The scheme was originally devised by Buddy Ryan for the 1986 Chicago Bears, who won a Super Bowl behind the standout play of middle linebacker Mike Singletary. Ryan is the father of Ravens first-year defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, who has installed the high-pressure alignment in part to allow Lewis to attack the football without having to take on the kind of isolation blocks that at times limited his effectiveness last season.

"That's like telling your premier running back that you're going to make sure he's not going to be touched in a football game," Lewis said Monday after the opening session of a four-day mandatory minicamp. "To come into camp and have my defensive coordinator tell me I'm not going to be touched, I'm like a little kid all over again."

Playing last season in the 3-4 alignment of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who left to become head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Lewis led the Ravens with 200 tackles and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl for a seventh time. But his effectiveness was dependent upon his ability to battle through the isolation blocks of opposing linemen.

That shouldn't be a problem this season.

"We're excited about getting the bull's-eye off Ray Lewis," Rex Ryan said. "He doesn't need to be a nose guard this year. We should be in great shape against the running game. You don't have a blocker for Ray."

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

IDP owners of Lewis should be thrilled to hear about his role in the new alignment. As long as he stays healthy, his fantasy productivity should be among the league's elite LBs during 2005. Interesting to note that Ray Lewis has gone from one '86 Bears connection to another. For the last few years legendary Bears LB Mike Singletary was Lewis' linebacker coach (Singletary followed Mike Nolan to San Francisco).

11. Ravens' Final Minicamp Marred by Absences

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Jamison Hensley, 6/13/05

The only excused absences this week are: running back Jamal Lewis, who has to remain in Atlanta to complete his federal drug conspiracy sentence; linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is scheduled to go on trial today in Phoenix, Ariz., for two counts of felony aggravated assault; and kicker Matt Stover, who is missing for personal reasons.

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

Although the team would like to pretend that there are no distractions heading into the finale of OTA's, the fact remains that the absence of Lewis from the offense and Suggs from the defense is not ideal for team cohesiveness/preparation. The Ravens hope that Suggs beats the rap in Arizona, or they'll have to find a replacement for him in the alignments where he plays LB, and the alignments where he lines up at DE. He's a versatile player who won't be easily replaced.

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


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