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Volume 6, Issue 57 (Tuesday, June 14th)

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Tonight's update brought to you by EA Sports

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Hi Folks,

Big news in that I think we've got the HTML formatting figured out on these emails. We'd struggled in the past getting HTML formatted mail through some ISP's spam blocking software (most notably AOL's) but my buddies David Dodds and Keith Overton have things rolling now. Keep your fingers crossed. The beauty of course is that you can click a headline and go right to the story. I know there were a few folks who missed last night's email (Vol. 6, # 56) as we tweaked the mail list. If you did miss it, last night's update will be posted on the www.footballguys.com website. (Under the green tab that says "updates" in the middle of the page) Thanks to our Mark Wimer for rounding up these stories tonight and let's jump to it.

Joe


SITE NEWS

A. Footballguys Magazines are in the HOUSE
At 228 pages, with a focus on strategy and draft preparation, we're proud to have the FBG name on them. We only have about 500 copies left and those will go fast. They will ship about 3 business days after we receive your order while supplies last. And one more thing - To show you guys how much we appreciate you being a part of what we're doing, we're offering a special price break on the shipping. Instead of trying to gouge you for Express Delivery, we're offering to send our magazines United States Postal Service Priority Mail for just $1. Just the postage alone for Priority Mail is $3.95. But we make a little more money on the magazine when we sell it as opposed to the newsstand and we felt like passing that savings on to you was the right thing to do. Thanks for supporting what we're doing there.

B. New Footballguys Ad
We threw out the Referee ad to you earlier. Here's a low resolution version of the next ad in the "We're Everywhere" series. It looks much better in the magazine. I'll post the others here soon and you guys can tell us which one you like best.


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. CLE - RB Droughns Will Not Hold Out
2. CLE - TE Winslow Admits Kidney, Liver, Knee & Leg Injuries
3. SF - QB Smith, Representatives Have Deal in Place
4. ATL - WR Price Expected To Earn Roster Spot
5. DAL - Backup WR Overview Heading into Training Camp
6. CLE - RB Green Still Fighting for Roster Spot
7. NYJ - QB Pennington Still Not Throwing at Full Speed
8. CAR - RB Shelton Still a Work in Progress
9. CAR - RB Goings Back to Being Backup at RB, FB
10. JAX - RB Jones Converted to FB
11. SEA - QB Wallace Making Run at #2 for Seahawks
12. BAL - TE Heap Gets 6-Year Extension
13. CHI - QB Krenzel Waived by Bears
14. BAL - QB Boller to Be the Offensive Centerpiece in 2005?
15. TEN - List of Walking Wounded and Their Injury Statuses
16. TEN - Offense to Use Lots of Motion
17. STL - Special Teams a Focus
18. IDP CAR - DL Rucker Vows to Rebound
19. IDP IND - MLB Rob Morris Re-signs With Colts

1. CLE - RB Droughns Will Not Hold Out

Clipped from the article by Jeff Walcoff and Zac Jackson:

Reuben Droughns thinks he made a mistake, and he says it won't happen again.

Despite earlier hints at a holdout, Droughns said Tuesday he will attend training camp and play the 2005 season under his current contract. He did not attend offseason workouts for much of April and May, but said should have been with his teammates all along.

"(My contract) is something I can't control," he said. "What I can control is what I do in this building. I'm trying to get around some of these players and around some of my friends on the team and work through the system."

Droughns has two years left on his current deal.

"Deep down inside the way I feel is that the way I get a new deal is to prove myself on the field and everything upstairs will take care of itself," he said.

Droughns, acquired in a March 30 trade with Denver, joins a crowded backfield that includes holdovers Lee Suggs and Williams Green.

"Anything I can do to help this team out to win, I'm more than willing to do it, whether it's going back to special teams, running back kicks, kickoff coverage or whatever it takes," Droughns said. "Even if I get two or three plays a game, whatever it takes to get the team to winning status, that's what I'm willing to do."

In his first season as a running back after five as a fullback, Droughns ran for a career-high 1,240 yards on 275 carries last fall, ranking sixth in the AFC in rushing.

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

This looks like the smart move for Droughns but it certainly doesn't make things any easier as we try to clarify the Browns' running back corps. We still see Lee Suggs as the primary guy there and you can check the breakdown here http://footballguys.com/currentproj-cle.htm Droughns obviously enjoyed great success in Denver but many question how much of that was the "system". We'll see. And don't forget William Green who looks to be making the most of his opportunity that coach Crennel is giving him.


2. CLE - TE Winslow Admits Kidney, Liver, Knee & Leg Injuries

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post article by Tom Withers, AP 6/14/05

Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. reportedly injured his kidney and liver while attempting stunts on his high-powered motorcycle last month. He will undergo surgery Tuesday on the right knee he tore up in the accident.

Winslow tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee when he crashed his motorcycle into a parking lot curb at 35 mph. The 21-year-old was hospitalized for nine days after being thrown over the handlebars.

In his first interview since the accident, Winslow told the Akron Beacon Journal that he lacerated his liver and kidney, bruised his right shoulder and cracked a bone in his upper right leg in the crash, in addition to the torn knee ligament.

He said all of his injuries have healed except for his knee. He added he was aware that riding a motorcycle is listed as a hazardous activity in his contract.

"I'm grown. I still have to live my life," Winslow told the newspaper. "I did know the circumstances behind it, but I'm still learning. I'm young. You think you're invincible. You think nothing's going to happen to you. It was a mistake."

On the opening day of Cleveland's minicamp, Browns coach Romeo Crennel said Winslow will miss the entire 2005 season - the first time the team has been allowed to reveal that information because of federal privacy laws.

"Hopefully he'll have a good repair," Crennel said, "and we'll get him back on the field at some point, whenever that is."

Wearing a brace on his knee and a backward Cleveland Indians' cap, Winslow watched intently from the sideline as the Browns practiced.

Now that he has missed a mandatory team event, the team can begin asking for a portion of the $4.4 million bonus he was paid in March. The Browns have not yet informed Winslow that they will ask him to return some of the money.

Based on his experience with other players, Crennel said Winslow will likely need nine months to recover from the operation. At the time of his accident, Winslow was still rehabbing a broken right leg that he suffered in his second game as a rookie.

"He is back to square one," Crennel said. "He'll be where he was last year, having to rehab an injury. Hopefully at this time next year he'll be back on the field. Hopefully we'll have a player then."

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

Talk about a luke-warm endorsement: "Hopefully he'll have a good repair"; "Hopefully we'll have a player then." Obviously, Winslow's accident was very serious, and the team has big questions about his future. It'll be this time next year before we know if Winslow is going to be able to live up to the potential he had coming out of college. Fellow TE Keith Heinrich also had surgery to repair a torn ACL today, making the Browns' starting TE either Steve Heiden or Aaron Shea (they combined to total 54 receptions for 539 yards and 9 TDs last season in Winslow's absence - Heiden had 28/287/5, while Shea snagged 26/252/4).


3. SF - QB Smith, Representatives Have Deal in Place

Clipped from: NFL.com article by Adam Schefter, 6/13/05

A deal between quarterback Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers has been all but agreed to. There still will be some minor haggling on language, and a little on numbers, but not much. Both sides are now very optimistic that a deal will be struck before training camp, and it will be a win-win.

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

Now, the QB derby in San Francisco can get underway without delay. We expect to see Smith under center sooner, rather than later, although Tim Rattay may start the season as the #1 QB. Time will tell, but the 49ers aren't going to pay Smith in excess of $54 million with a ~$20 million signing bonus to sit on the bench. Although a pretty highly touted #1 pick in San Diego rode the pine all last season. We don't think Tim Rattay = Drew Brees though so we look for Smith fairly early on. Detailed projections for SF are here.


4. ATL - WR Price Expected To Earn Roster Spot

Clipped from: Atlanta Journal Constitution article by Steve Wyche, 6/14/05

Peerless Price will not be released or traded before Falcons training camp begins July 25, but the wide receiver will have to earn a starting job --- and even a roster spot --- coach Jim Mora and president and general manager Rich McKay said Monday.

"I'm excited to give him a chance to compete to make the team and to improve along with the rest of the players," Mora said. "I know there's been speculation about Peerless and about his future here but, as an organization, we've decided that we want to see him compete and help this team be a better football team. That is the truth."

Price was not available for comment.

There were internal discussions about releasing the six-year veteran after two seasons in which he failed to perform up to expectations and the seven year, $42 million contract he was awarded after being acquired for a first-round draft pick in a trade with Buffalo in 2003. However, it was decided that his performance in minicamp and during organized team activities the past few weeks, along with a solid attitude, warranted his return.

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

Price hasn't lived up to expectations since arriving from Buffalo, but part of the blame has to lie at the feet of QB Michael Vick, who didn't throw more than 18 completions in any regular season game during 2004 (with only 7 completions week 7 vs. Kansas City and only 8 vs. Tampa Bay during week 10). The Falcons were 32nd in the NFL in pass completions last year (with 218), 31st in pass attempts (with 395) and 28th in passing TDs (with 15) - http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/atl2004.htm. Obviously, there is a lot of work that needs to happen in this phase of the game between Vick and his receivers.

5. DAL - Backup WR Overview Heading into Training Camp

Clipped from: Dallas Morning News article by Matt Mosley, 6/14/05

Trey in Austin starts us off with a question about the Cowboys' depth at receiver. "Do any of our second-year receivers jump out at you? Out of Terrance Copper, Patrick Crayton, Tom Crowder and Zuriel Smith, who fills in nicely should injuries strike one of the starting three?"

Well, Trey, the bad news is that one of the top three receivers, Quincy Morgan, banged up his shoulder during a practice earlier this month. He won't require surgery, but it's a bad sign for a receiving corps that was hit with injuries last season.

Copper sat out the last minicamp with a knee injury, but it's not serious. He has some speed, and he's a nice special teams player. Crayton has the best hands of any of those second-year guys, although he's not a speedster. Crowder might be the fastest guy on the team, but he has to demonstrate he can catch the ball. We won't know anything until he gets some opportunities during preseason. Smith is a third-year guy, and I don't know why they keep bringing him back. He returned punts and kickoffs his rookie season, but he wasn't particularly great in either department.

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

It's always worthwhile to know who the main backups on any given team are, given the frequency of injuries in the NFL. Hopefully, Quincy Morgan will be well in time for training camp - if not, the Cowboys will be very thin at WR to start off pre-season.


6. CLE - RB Green Still Fighting for Roster Spot

Clipped from: Cleveland Plain Dealer article by Tony Grossi, 6/14/05

If the Browns' final roster in September is his finish line, then William Green certainly isn't there yet.

But that he is still in the race rates as one of the biggest surprises in the team's tumultuous off-season of change.

Twenty players who made at least one start for the Browns last season have been traded, released or al lowed to sign elsewhere by the new regime of General Manager Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel.

Green was one of the earliest players given written permission to seek a trade. That was weeks before the team sought to acquire Baltimore's Chester Taylor and then traded for Denver's Reuben Droughns.

As with Gerard Warren, Green didn't seek permission. The club basically said, "Look, let's make this parting easier."

"I'm not looking for a trade. I haven't been looking for a trade," Green said Monday after the first workout of Crennel's mandatory minicamp.

"The trade is not going on right now. So I'm here, I'm a Brown and working like everybody else."

Actually, Green may be working like nobody else.

"William Green has been here every day. I mean, every day," Crennel said. "He's worked extremely hard. He's improved himself physically. He's stronger . . . he's in better condition. I think he'll be competitive when we get to training camp. I think he'll be in the mix."

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

The Brown's backfield is crowded with Green, Lee Suggs and Rueben Droughns, so unless there is a rash of injuries among the other backs, don't expect Green to have much of a fantasy impact during 2005. However, he might be a reserve player during 2005 - time will tell. Rashes of injuries do happen (Carolina in 2004 as an example at the RB position) - keep Green in the back of your mind as a possible waiver-wire move if Suggs and Droughns go down.


7. NYJ - QB Pennington Still Not Throwing at Full Speed

Clipped from: Newsday.com article by Ken Berger, 6/14/05

Although the Jets have shielded Chad Pennington from the media during their offseason practice sessions, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed yesterday that the franchise quarterback has thrown softly on the side after workouts.

One person involved with the team said Pennington lobbed the ball after practice as recently as last Wednesday. But with only 45 days before the first training camp practice July 29, Pennington has yet to progress to full-scale throwing in his rehab from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

The Jets, who do not allow the media to view offseason practices, have declined to make Pennington available to discuss his rehab and will not provide any information on his progress. Team spokesman Ron Colangelo would say only that Pennington did not participate in any OTA (organized team activity) practices, which concluded last week.

Coach Herman Edwards is expected to provide an update on Pennington's rehab at the end of the month, when it is believed the quarterback will be close to throwing.

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

The Jets are proceeding cautiously with Pennington, which makes it hard to get a read on how well his shoulder has healed after off-season surgery. Fantasy owners will want to

keep their eye on his progress as training camp unfolds - Pennington's status will impact the entire offense.

8. CAR - RB Shelton Still a Work in Progress

Clipped from: The Herald article by Darin Gantt, 6/14/05

As talented as the Carolina Panthers think Eric Shelton is going to be, it's hard to know when he'll get to show it.

If Monday was any indication, he's still a work in progress, although the Panthers think their second-round pick will eventually be quite good.

Shelton walked off the practice field sweating and irritated with his own mental mistakes.

"Today I got a little confused out there, a little frustrated," Shelton said after catching extra passes. "But it's just a matter of staying in the playbook and learning what's going on."

It may also be a matter of time, since he's part of a crowded room of running backs, at least two of whom are higher on the food chain.

DeShaun Foster's working with the starters since Stephen Davis is still recovering from knee surgery. If Davis continues to recover at this rate, a return during training camp wouldn't be unrealistic.

Since those two backs helped carry the Panthers to the Super Bowl two years ago, there would seem to be little left for Shelton, but Shelton's already shown he can do plenty with few chances.

He left Florida State after a year but landed in a talented backfield at Louisville, where he had to share carries three ways. He still managed to do enough to claim the 54th overall pick in the draft.

He got his hands on just 146 of the Cardinals' 534 rushing attempts but gained 938 yards. As important as his 6.4-per carry average was, his 20 touchdowns trumped it, establishing his credentials as a dangerous runner near the goal line.

"We had a number of backs who were all capable of contributing," Shelton said. "I was kind of in the same situation then."

He admitted that not being a featured back may have hindered his development in some areas. One of them was in the passing game, since he only caught six passes his junior season before deciding to leave.

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

Shelton is going through rookie growing pains, struggling to absorb a complex pro offense. That's normal for this time of year - but as the article points out, he's buried on the depth chart (don't forget RB / FB Nick Goings - article below), while Stephen Davis looks to be making a strong recovery from off-season micro-fracture knee surgery. Don't expect a fantasy bonanza from Shelton this year, and then you won't be disappointed - he does look like a solid pick in a dynasty-league context.


9. CAR - RB Goings Back to Being Backup at RB, FB

Clipped from: Charlotte Observer article by Pat Yasinskas, 6/14/05

For a different running back, with a different personality, there could have been all sorts of alternatives.

Demand a starting job. Ask for a huge contract. If all else fails, make so much noise you force a trade. It happens all the time in the NFL. For Nick Goings, there was only one option: Get back to work as a third-string running back and second-team fullback.

That's what Goings has done the past few weeks during the Carolina Panthers' offseason coaching sessions, and that's what he'll do in the fall when the season starts.

That's a big drop for a player who became Carolina's feature back the second half of last season and led the team with 821 rushing yards. But you're not going to hear Goings complain.

"I'm thankful for what happened last year," Goings said. "I got a lot of experience and confidence from it. Now, I'm just out here trying to help us win and I'll do whatever it takes. I'm fine with it."

Maybe that attitude comes from Goings' quiet nature. Or maybe he remains humble because he remembers from where he came. Before getting his chance last season, Goings had three pretty quiet years with the Panthers. He almost didn't even make it to the NFL. After dividing his college career between Ohio State and Pittsburgh, Goings wasn't drafted.

He stuck with the Panthers in 2001 as a backup running back, fullback and special teams player. That's the role Goings stayed in last year, until Carolina's running backs started falling ... and falling.

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

It's worth remembering that the Panthers have a deep stable of veteran running backs. Goings was solid in his 8 appearances (217/821/6 rushing, a 3.8 yards per carry average, with 45/394/1 receiving), and he was enough of a threat to keep defenses honest. The Panthers know that they have options if DeShaun Foster and Stephen Davis get hurt again during the 2005 season.


10. JAX - RB Jones Converted to FB

Clipped from: Times-Union article by Bart Hubbuch, 6/14/05

A new offensive coordinator and a new scheme has resulted in a dramatically new role for Greg Jones.

The former Florida State standout never dreamed about playing fullback, but that's where Jones finds himself -- and pretty much by himself -- in his second season with the Jaguars.

Jones has the prototypical fullback's body at 6 feet 1 and 250 pounds, but he always envisioned himself running through holes instead of trying to create them. The transition, says the sixth-highest rusher in FSU history, has been trying.

"If you're a running back, you're going to be disappointed'' about moving to fullback, said Jones, who will resume offseason practices with the Jaguars today. "I'm still working on it. There's still a lot to be learned about it.''

Ironically, Jones will try to play fullback this season at a much lighter weight than he played tailback last season. A second-round pick in 2004, Jones said he spent much of last season at more than 260 pounds.

Jones said he has gotten back down to his college weight of 250, mainly on his own volition instead of any prompting from the Jaguars or new offensive coordinator Carl Smith.

"I was a little too heavy last year,'' Jones said. "I needed to get in a little better shape, and I've done that.''

Jones' extra weight might have taken a toll on his rushing performance as a rookie. Given the chance to start the final two games at tailback in place of the injured Fred Taylor, Jones averaged just 2.7 yards on 25 combined carries against Houston and Oakland. His average for the entire season (2.6) was even worse.

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

Stick a fork in Jones' fantasy prospects while at FB - he's done unless he can produce like the player the article compares him to - Mike Alstott. We'll see, but his 2004 performance doesn't make us feel very excited about his prospects during 2005 as far as carrying the ball goes - you don't score fantasy points for good blocks. On the upside, Jones could emerge as the goal line guy and most of you old timers remember Fred Taylor's injury woes enough to like any player backing up Taylor.


11. SEA - QB Wallace Making Run at #2 for Seahawks

Clipped from: Seattle Times article by José Miguel Romero, 6/14/05

The throws were so good, they might have caught the receivers off guard.

Yes, the Seahawks dropped a few passes in practice yesterday, and coach Mike Holmgren had a few words for the offenders.

Don't blame Seneca Wallace, the quarterback who made those throws. He was good, as has been the case in many a practice since last summer.

Never mind the fact he's only 5 feet 11, considered by many too short to be an NFL quarterback. Forget that his speed and elusiveness led the Seahawks to try him out as a punt returner in practices this offseason, if for no other reason than to find some way to get him on the field. And try to put aside the fact that Wallace has never appeared in a regular-season game in two pro seasons.

These days, Wallace is sending the message to Seahawks coaches that he wants to be, and can be, Matt Hasselbeck's backup. As recently as last week, he drew praise from Holmgren for his efforts in the current minicamp. Yesterda

y, Wallace took all of the snaps with the No. 1 offense in the absence of Hasselbeck, who was tending to a personal matter.

If nothing else, Wallace has Holmgren in his corner. The coach proclaimed himself "a fan of Seneca's" after a practice last week.

"It builds your confidence, knowing that at least somebody out there is respecting what you do," Wallace said. "It helps you when you go out there and play, especially when it's the head coach."

The improvement from year to year, month to month, is visible.

"Seneca has great prospects to be No. 2," quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn said. "He's looked great in practice, but practice isn't the game. I don't have any doubt that Seneca will be exciting in a game because he's got some electric moves."

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

Matt Hasselbeck owners will want to pay attention to Wallace's development as pre-season goes along - he might be a solid "insurance" pick if you have room on your roster to carry your #1 QB's backup.


12. BAL - TE Heap Gets 6-Year Extension

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 6/14/05

Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap has agreed to a six-year contract extension.

Heap is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who was limited to 27 catches for 303 yards and three touchdowns during an injury-plagued 2004 season. He missed 10 games with an ankle injury that required surgery.

Heap is entering his fifth NFL season and was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2005 season. Financial terms weren't immediately available.

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

The Ravens must be confident that Heap will fully recover from his ankle surgery - they wouldn't have inked Heap for another 6 years if they weren't. This is good news for Heap owners who may have been concerned over his rehabilitation of the ankle injury.


13. CHI - QB Krenzel Waived by Bears

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 6/14/05

Craig Krenzel was waived by the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, seven months after becoming the first Bears quarterback in nearly 40 years to start his career with three straight victories.

Krenzel, a fifth-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, appeared in six games last year, starting five, and compiled a 3-2 record. On Oct. 31, he led the Bears to a 23-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers, and followed that effort by helping guide the Bears to consecutive victories over the New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans.

He injured his ankle against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day and his season ended when he was placed on the injured reserve Dec. 7. Overall last year, Krenzel completed 59 of 127 passes for 718 yards. He threw three touchdowns and six interceptions.

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

If Krenzel's ankle heals properly, he may get a shot with another club at #3 - after all, he has game-time experience. If the injury is an issue, though, then he'll have to find another line of work.


14. BAL - QB Boller to Be the Offensive Centerpiece in 2005?

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article by David Ginsburg, 6/14/05

The Baltimore Ravens have waited patiently for Kyle Boller to take charge of the offense and justify his stature as the 19th overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft. Now, as Boller prepares for his third NFL season, the Ravens are prepared to pattern their entire offense around his right arm.

During the four-day mandatory minicamp that ends Thursday, the focus has centered on getting Boller comfortable with the concept of supplanting star running back Jamal Lewis as the main man in the Baltimore attack.

"This is all orchestrated for Kyle: this playbook, this offense," coach Brian Billick said.

"He has to be successful, and we have every confidence he can be - not only with the people we brou

ght in, but the structure we've wrapped around him. I think he's very comfortable with what we're doing right now."

In an effort to improve a passing attack that last year ranked 31st in the NFL, the Ravens made Jim Fassel their new offensive coordinator, hired Rick Neuheisel as quarterbacks coach, signed free agent wide receiver Derrick Mason and made wide receiver Mark Clayton their #1 pick.

All that remains is making sure that Boller does his part. He flashed his potential at times last season, especially in a December game against the New York Giants, when he threw four touchdown passes in a 37-14 rout.

"I know I'm a big chunk of it. This year we have the talent around me," Boller said. "I'll put the ball in their hands and let them make the plays."

A year ago, Boller became the first Baltimore quarterback to start all 16 games since Vinny Testaverde in 1996. He threw 13 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and had a mediocre 70.9 quarterback rating.

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

The coaching staff is using the absence of Jamal Lewis to try and boost Boller's performance. Whether or not a career 54.4% passer can really be the centerpiece of an offense is another question - we don't recommend rushing out to draft Boller as your starter (he's the 23rd ranked QB on our constantly-updated expert rankings).


15. TEN - List of Walking Wounded and Their Injury Statuses

Clipped from: Nashville City Paper article by Terry McCormick, 6/14/05

Slowly but surely, the Tennessee Titans' walking wounded are trickling back onto the field.

In the May mini-camps, quarterbacks Steve McNair and Billy Volek were able to participate, as well as linebacker Peter Sirmon, who missed all of the 2004 season with a torn ACL in training camp.

When the Titans commence the first of their final six organized team activities today, a few more players could make their way back to the practice field.

Middle linebacker Rocky Calmus, whose 2004 season was ruined first by a lingering back injury that caused weakness in his leg, then a hamstring injury, was recently cleared by the Titans medical staff to return to practice.

Calmus was a spectator during all the May mini-camp work, but is expected to battle Brad Kassell to try and reclaim his old starting spot in training camp.

In addition, the Titans are hopeful that rookie first-round pick Adam "Pacman" Jones will return from a groin injury he tweaked during rookie orientation to finally get some work with his new teammates on the field.

Jones, the sixth choice overall in last April's draft, sat out the rest of the rookie orientation and missed all the May OTAs to allow the injury to heal.

Jones is expected to battle veteran Tony Beckham for a starting spot at right cornerback, the position formerly manned by veteran Samari Rolle.

The Titans' running back situation remains plenty cloudy as the June camps approach. Starter Chris Brown will have limited availability, if at all, during these six days of work over the next two weeks.

Brown hit his hand on a teammate's helmet during the May work, breaking a bone. He is, however, expected to be full go by the time training camp rolls around at the end of next month.

Rookie fifth-round choice Damien Nash is a question mark as well, after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to clean out an old injury. Nash had the procedure during the May work, and if both he and Brown are out during these workouts, it will at least give general manager Floyd Reese and coach Jeff Fisher opportunity to evaluate the likes of Walter Reyes, Terry Jackson and Charles Anthony before deciding if another veteran presence is needed.

Some key players the Titans are counting on for 2005 won't be ready to go this week, with some even questionable by the time training camp opens. Tight end Ben Troupe is recovering after suffering a break of the fifth metatarsal bone, leaving his availability by the start of the season in question.

Receiver Tyrone Calico, safety Tank Williams and offensive lineman Jacob Bell are all mending from ACL injuries, as well. Calico would appear to be farthest along of that group and the most likely to be ready to go by training camp.

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Tennessee, already thin at most positions due to salary cap woes, also have a long list of wounded veterans who may or may not be ready to go full speed by regular season - the situation during 2005 looks fairly bleak if you are invested in Titans' players.


16. TEN - Offense to Use Lots of Motion

Clipped from: Tennessean article by Paul Kuharsky, 6/14/05

When the Titans defense breaks the huddle and looks to line up in the most advantageous way against Norm Chow's offense this morning, defenders will have plenty of tracking to do.

On a large share of Chow's plays, receivers, running backs and tight ends start out in one spot but shift or motion to another before the snap. It's part of the new offensive coordinator's plan to maximize mismatches and make defenses work harder to cover the Titans' weapons.

"It's always a hassle," linebacker Peter Sirmon said of figuring out who's going where.

"It makes them have to be on their toes," fullback Troy Fleming said.

"Most defenses like to go to the line, line up and they're already set."

The Titans will get six more minicamp practices of non-contact work running and defending the motion in the next two weeks. The first of the six practices is today and the last is June 23.

For some Titans fans, the idea of increased motion and shifting brings back bad memories.

When Les Steckel was the offensive coordinator from 1997-99, pre-snap movement was a regular feature, primarily with tight ends and H-backs. In his final season with the team, Steckel's offense was good enough to get to Super Bowl XXXIV.

But the pre-snap movement often resulted in a crucial delay-of-game or illegal motion penalty or forced the team to burn a timeout. Under Steckel's successor, Mike Heimerdinger, the Titans shifted away from shifting.

Chow is confident the 2005 Titans will have the movement mastered and the wrinkles in the scheme will provide an advantage to the Titans, not the opponent.

"That's why we're trying it now," he said. "If we have clock problems or too many men on the line of scrimmage, I'm not dumb. If we can't work it we aren't going to force it, no way.

"No. 1 you've got to worry about the play clock, that's what I've got to get used to. No. 2 I think we want to show some stuff, because then it's, 'OK they can do this, we can do that' kind of deal. It's just playing chess."

Coach Jeff Fisher emphasized that under Chow plays with motion and shifting come with simplified wording and streamlined play calls.

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An interesting preview of the 2005 Titans offense - it sounds like the crucial element for the skill position players will be careful execution of the shifts and motion in order to avoid penalties. Time will tell how the players are able to assimilate Chow's vision.


17. STL - Special Teams a Focus

Clipped from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch article by Bill Coats, 6/14/05

What's a rarer sighting: a) an ivory-billed woodpecker, until recently thought to be extinct, or b) the same man occupying the second-floor office of the special-teams coach at Rams Park for more than one year?

Mike Stock, Bobby April and Larry Pasquale might well choose b). All were hired and fired as Mike Martz's special-teams coach over the past five seasons. Of the three, only April lasted more than one year in St. Louis.

Faulty special-teams play has been a constant on Martz's watch, and the stumbling and bumbling never were more evident than last season. The Rams, under Stock, ranked 31st in the 32-team NFL in punt returns (4.8-yard average) and kickoff returns (19.1). They didn't cover any better, finishing 30th in defending punt returns (11.9) and 32nd on kickoffs (25.5).

And they saved their worst for last: Atlanta's Allen Rossum set a league postseason record by piling up 152 yards in punt returns, including a 68-yard touchdown dash, in the Falcons' 47-17 drubbing of the Rams in the NFC semifinals on Jan. 15. Stock was dismissed five days later.

Nonetheless, Bob Ligashesky said job security wasn't atop his priority list when the following day he decided to accept Martz's offer to replace Stock. "I didn't really think about that," said Ligashesky, 43. "You really think about more that it's an opportunity to become part of a successful organization."

Martz and Ligashesky worked together from 1986 to 1988, as assistant coaches at Arizona State. Martz moved up to the NFL in 1992, as an assistant with the Los Angeles Rams. Ligashesky, a Pittsburgh native, stayed with college football, moving on to Kent State, Bowling Green and finally Pittsburgh from 2000-03.

His first, and only, pro experience came last year as an assistant to special-teams coach Pete Rodriguez in Jacksonville. In 2004, the Jaguars ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in most special-teams categories.

Martz said he hadn't kept in touch with Ligashesky and was surprised when his former colleague's name kept coming up as he asked others around the league about candidates to succeed Stock. "They said, 'There's this guy down in Jacksonville ... '" Martz said.

Ligashesky was given considerable opportunity during the recent three-day minicamp to drill his various units. According to Martz, he did so at a breakneck pace and yet with painstaking precision.

"He's high-energy," Martz said. "I think the approach and the way he goes about it, the attention to details, is very significant. It's a marked difference." Ligashesky said his frenetic behavior on the field comes naturally. "I don't really think about it when I'm out there," he said. "I just know that I'm trying to get to everybody in a small amount of time."

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We threw this one in for leagues that include a special teams position on the roster. St. Louis has nowhere to go but up in this department.


18. IDP CAR - DL Rucker Vows to Rebound

Clipped from: Gaston Gazette article by Steve Reed, 6/14/05

You don't need to remind Carolina Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker that last season wasn't the best of his six-year NFL career.

He knows.

He felt the frustration.

After recording a combined 31 sacks in his previous three seasons as a full-time starter, including a career-high 12 in 2003, Rucker stumbled a bit last season, fending off nagging injuries and an irregular heartbeat that sidelined him for parts of two games to finish with just 3.5 sacks.

"You can't tell me one athlete that hasn't had a slump, whether it be a hitting slump, a shooting slump or whatever," Rucker said. "It's just that last season wasn't the best year. But it gives me motivation to come back strong this year. I'm coming in this year looking at it as starting with a clean slate."

It wasn't that Rucker was horrible in 2004.

He still had 23 quarterback hurries - second most in his career - and 65 tackles and was a solid contributor during the second half of the season.

But for one reason or another, Rucker struggled with putting the quarterback on his back. "A quarterback can come out of his step and fall down and cats are diving for him and you might not get him before someone else," Rucker said. "You might have been a hair off. Does that mean you're not a good football player? Does that mean you're not doing other things good? No."

Although Rucker has been around long enough to know that sacks aren't everything when it comes to being a valuable defensive end, it still became a source of irritation as he answered questions about his dwindling sack total.

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Rucker's IDP owners hope that he can carry through on his vow to get back to sacking the opposing QB regularly. We'll see how he looks during pre-season now that team-mate Kris Jenkins is expected back from IR (as the article goes on to point out, Jenkins' return should result in fewer double-teams on Rucker).


19. IDP IND - MLB Rob Morris Re-signs With Colts

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post article by AP, 6/14/05

The Indianapolis Colts have re-signed free agent Rob Morris, their starting middle linebacker the past four seasons.

Morris, Colts' first-round draft pick in 2000, became an unrestricted free agent after this past season and signed on Tuesday.

Morris, who played primarily on running downs, was the Colts' third-leading tackler last season. While he was without a contract, he missed the team's minicamp in May and summer school workouts, which ended last week.

He is expected to compete with Gary Brackett, his backup the past two seasons, for the starting spot. Brackett worked with the Colts' first-team defense throughout the May and June practices.

"I think I made the fewest mistakes last year," Morris said. "I made a few plays, but I'd really like the opportunity to play a little bit more, so I'll work for that and compete and hopefully get that opportunity."

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Morris owners in dynasty leagues aren't out of the woods yet - he still has to beat out Brackett for his starting job - but at least he's under contract and will be in training camp. Keep an eye on this situation as it evolves if you are invested in either of the Colts' LBs.


That'll do it for today, Folks. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the new HTML formatting. Have a great Wednesday

J

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