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Volume 6, Issue 67 (Friday, June 24th)

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Hi Folks,

14 news stories here. Let's get to them.



1. JAC - RB Taylor's Knee Injury Was Worse Than Team Let On
2. KC - TE Gonzalez Rehab On Schedule
3. KC - Parker In Line To Be #2 Wideout
4. OAK - QB Collins Optimistic For Second Season
5. KC - OG Shields Back For 13th Season
6. BAL - Operation Boller Underway In Baltimore
7. TB - RB Garner Accepts Minimum Salary
8. TB - K Bryant Has Leg Up For Job
9. SF - Niners Sign WR Hunter
10. IDP: JAC - CB Law Has 'Good Visit' With Jags
11. IDP: WAS - S Taylor Faces Arraignment
12. IDP: MIA - S Williams Waived
13. IDP: MIA - S Schulters Talks With Dolphins
14. IDP: WAS - CB Hawkins Signs With Redskins

1. JAC - RB Taylor's Knee Injury Was Worse Than Team Let On

Clipped from: Times-Union article by Jeff Elliott 6/24/05

Admitting publicly for the first time what many had already assumed to be the case, Fred Taylor revealed on Thursday that the knee injury he suffered in the Green Bay game last December was more serious than what was stated and that the Jaguars kept it under wraps.

Speaking to co-host Pete Prisco on The Frank Frangie Show (WZNZ, 1460 AM), Taylor offered candid comments about that injury and a groin injury that caused him to miss the final 14 games the 2001 season.

"It was a lot worse than initially thought," Taylor said about last year's knee injury. "How that came about, I don't know. It definitely was. They kept that under wraps.

"I had an MCL [medial collateral ligament] and PCL [posterior cruciate ligament] combo [tear]. The thing that I heard was that it was just under the severity of an ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] -- not as bad, but just below it because of the combination of the two.

And that's what people failed to understand. Every time people saw me, they were thinking, 'Why are you still on crutches? Why aren't you walking correctly now?'

"But that was only three weeks out of my surgery and I had a full cut surgery instead of a scope. Everybody thought I had [arthroscopic surgery], but it was worse than that."

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

Uh-oh. Time to get out the eraser and move Taylor down your lists. In fact, you might want to move him as far down as we already had him, at #22. This is the exact kind of injury that can scare potential owners away. What at first sounds like simple rehab eventually gets worse and worse and worse until finally we hear that it was never all that simple to begin with. Does the name Michael Bennett ring a bell with anyone? Taylor already suffered a severe drop-off in production last year, and despite his valiant efforts in recent seasons to play every game, the wear and tear is most definitely getting to him. Let's also not forget that he turned 29 in January. Not incredibly old for an NFL back, but still not exactly a pup, either. We think that in Taylor's case, the risk of drafting him heavily outweighs the reward he may provide, especially at his current ADP (Average Draft Position). Unless you can get great value on him, we suggest taking a pass and not putting yourself into a situation in which you need to rely on him on a weekly basis.

2. KC - TE Gonzalez Rehab On Schedule

Clipped from: article by Bob Gretz 6/24/05

Both Gonzalez and Eddie Kennison are coming off the best seasons of their career. Gonzalez was able to rack up his record setting numbers despite the foot problem that led to off-season surgery. His rehab is on schedule and he'll be ready for the start of training camp.

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

Good news here. Many owners were scared off by Gonzalez last preseason, but he showed once again why he is one of the best to ever play his position and a surefire Hall of Famer. While it may be tough at the outset trying to recover from surgery, it's good that Gonzalez had the problem taken care of so soon after the season ended. We once again expect big things from Gonzalez in 2005, for obvious reasons, and you shouldn't hesitate to make him the first tight end off the board (or at worst, the second one).

3. KC - Parker In Line To Be #2 Wideout

Clipped from: article by Bob Gretz 6/24/05

Samie Parker has returned for his second season and displayed a grasp of the offense, the ability to run proper routes and he's catching the football. Those flashes he showed at the end of last season have continued and there seems little question he will get the bulk of the snaps as the No. 2 wideout.

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

Number two right now…next step…? With Johnnie Morton out of town, Eddie Kennison has slotted into the spot of WR1 with the Chiefs. But there are many who feel Kennison is better suited to be a complimentary receiver, a WR2. While we aren't about to go telling you that Parker should be drafted ahead of Kennison (he shouldn't be), it's not beyond the realm of possibility to see Parker benefit greatly from an increase in playing time and post stats that are at least close to on par with Kennison. After all, even coming off a season that saw him catch just nine passes, we already project Parker to haul in 42 in 2005 (just 18 fewer than we see Kennison grabbing).

4. OAK - QB Collins Optimistic For Second Season

Clipped from: AP article posted on 6/24/05

Kerry Collins came into Oakland Raiders' training camp last season with the tough task of learning a new system and unsure if he'd even get to play as the backup to Rich Gannon.

After an early season injury sidelined Gannon, Collins got the chance to show why the Raiders wanted him. The results were mixed at best but Collins expects the experience will pay dividends this season.

``Even though there were rough stretches last year it really will help me for this year,'' Collins said in a conference call Thursday. ``Having been in the offense and run it, I've seen what worked in what coverages. Experience like that is so helpful. I've had a full offseason to work on things and really hammer in on the details of what this offense has to offer. It's going to help me a lot. I felt like I was learning a lot on the run last year.''

More than the experience he gained in coach Norv Turner's offense, it's the players the Raiders added that offer the biggest reason for optimism in Oakland following a 5-11 season.

The biggest acquisition was the electrifying receiver Randy Moss, one of the NFL's best big-play threats during his seven seasons in Minnesota. Moss will team with re-signed Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry to form a potent receiving corps.

Collins said he knew about Moss' athleticism but has been most impressed by his feel for the game and his ability to be a vocal leader. Collins doesn't expect it to take long to get fully in sync with his new receiver.

``For me it's really easy with Randy because he's a good route runner and he's easy to pick up because he's so big and tall,'' Collins said. ``From my standpoint, it is as easy as it can get and will get even better.''

Collins will also benefit from an improved running game led by free agent LaMont Jordan, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry in four seasons as a backup with the New York Jets.

The Raiders struggled to move the ball on the ground last season with Amos Zereoue and Tyrone Wheatley as their top two backs. Their 75 first downs rushing were the third fewest in the league and they had just 10 touchdowns on the ground.

The lack of a solid running game allowed defenses to key in on Collins and left the Raiders in long-yardage situations on third downs, where their 35.5 percent conversion rate was 21st in the NFL.

``I think we can be an efficient offense,'' Collins said. ``I think we can be positive in the running game. I think bringing a guy like Randy in and re-signing Jerry and the threat they will bring form a passing standpoint will make it harder for teams to load up in the box. That in itself will help the running game.''

It should also help Collins, who struggled at times in his 13 starts finding his comfort zone in a new offense. He lost his first five starts with Oakland and his quarterback rating was just 62.0 in that span before topping 90 in each of his last two months.

For the season, he completed 56.3 percent of his passes, his lowest rate since 1998, and his 20 interceptions were tied for the most in the NFL.

Collins said the biggest changes in the playbook this season will be some tweaks to the red zone and third-down offense and a few special plays to take advantage of Moss' athleticism.

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

Collins thinks the Raiders can be efficient. We disagree. We think they can be explosive. Whether they will or not, of course, remains to be seen. But seeing as how we have Collins projected to be the #5 fantasy QB when he's only been in the top ten once (#8 in 2000), that speaks volumes about what we are expecting from this bunch in 2005. Nearly all Raiders skill position players are rated near the top at their respective positions, and are worthy of starting status in most any fantasy league setup. It would be more than a bit surprising to see this unit not be one of the league's best for producing fantasy points. A lot of that rests with Collins. While he has never been the best decision-maker or most accurate QB in the league, just the fact that he is surrounded by so many weapons offensively, it'd be tough for him not to have a productive fantasy season.

5. KC - OG Shields Back For 13th Season

Clipped from: Associated Press article in Topeka Capital-Journal 6/24/05

Chiefs Pro Bowl guard Will Shields confirmed Thursday that he would play a 13th season this year. Speaking at a charity golf tournament he hosts, Shields said his body felt healthy enough now that he feels up to playing. A 10-time Pro Bowl player, Shields had been noncommittal in previous public comments about his intentions, saying that he was inclined to play but would leave open the possibility of retirement.

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

Good news for Priest Holmes owners. Or owners of any Kansas City Chiefs, for that matter. Any time you can keep a solid offensive line together, we see that as a good thing. This won't affect your cheatsheets in a big way from where they already are, but it helps to solidify Holmes, Green, Gonzalez, and several others as viable fantasy options.

6. BAL - Operation Boller Underway In Baltimore

Clipped from: article by Paul Attner 6/24/05

Because he doesn't perform with the ease of his peers and hasn't duplicated their successes, he quickly is dumped onto a list with journeymen -- a list where guys who just don't play well enough reside. There's no middle ground for him or them -- no area for possible development and maturity. The judgment is quick and inflexible. Just ask Drew Brees.

Of course, it's the definition of "can't play well enough" that becomes the problem. Should Boller be dismissed after only two seasons because he hasn't produced the statistics of his elite peers -- or because he possibly never will be their equal? Does that mean he simply won't ever be good enough to lead a playoff team -- or a Super Bowl winner?

If so, then the problem becomes bigger than Boller. If he's not good enough, then the Ravens' offense itself will be stuck in perpetual inefficiency. If he's not good enough, the team itself faces a future of uncertainty -- and the blame must reside with coach Brian Billick and general manager Ozzie Newsome, the architects of a lopsided, defense-first roster that produced one of the NFL's most underachieving teams last season.

That's why this offseason has become a franchise-turning time in Baltimore. The Ravens finally are attempting to become balanced, finally applying attention and resources to fix their long-neglected offense, finally trying to accelerate the growth of Boller by surrounding him with upgraded coaching and talent. They are giving him a chance to have a Brees-like epiphany and direct them into the postseason -- something they are convinced he can do. Most strikingly, this means the Ravens finally are giving an overdue heave-ho to the worn-out winning formula left over from Super Bowl 35 -- a formula that asked their offense to make occasional plays but otherwise not mess up their defensive dominance.

"We will be going through a transition here," Newsome says. "Our defense won't be as strong as it once was -- it wasn't last year -- and Kyle hopefully will be the person who will provide the transition for us. He will be able to win three or four games because he is the quarterback."

But for him to do that, the offense has to cease being what Billick bluntly calls "the bastard stepchild" of the defense. That's why the Ravens have made an expensive commitment to spark the turnaround and why Jim Fassel is the new offensive coordinator, Rick Neuheisel is the new quarterbacks coach and former Titan Derrick Mason and rookie Mark Clayton are the new wideouts.

It was painfully apparent last season that when the defense faltered, the offense wasn't able to help out, especially after tight end Todd Heap was hurt and Boller was left throwing to one of the worst groups of receivers in the league. Opponents would gang up on running back Jamal Lewis, figuring Boller couldn't beat them. Moving forward, the Ravens no longer could live in the past.

Not everyone outside the organization thinks Boller can emerge as a legitimate starting quarterback. Two NFL personnel men agree they haven't seen enough accuracy, consistency or know-how from him to be convinced about his future. New 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who was the Ravens' defensive coordinator last year, had lengthy conversations with Boller on most Tuesday nights during the season. Nolan calls him "an untapped talent. The guys love to play with him. He's unselfish, resilient, and he doesn't mope, which is important for a quarterback. He just needs some early success. And he has to understand he doesn't have to do it all. Just be part of getting it done."

In the second half of last season, despite a treacherous schedule that included four road games against playoff teams, Boller showed encouraging progress, throwing 10 of his 13 touchdown passes and just five of his 11 interceptions.

"When he started as a rookie, we were saying, 'Hey, we really don't need you; this team can carry you,' " says Newsome. "We really haven't asked Kyle to play quarterback. We've just asked him not to screw it up. Now we are giving him a chance."

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

It's basically put-up or shut-up time for Boller in Baltimore. Long gone are the days when a team could put up with numerous seasons of mediocrity from its quarterback before finally seeing the big payoff (see: Simms, Phil). The thought process is that working with Jim Fassel (believe it or not Giants fans, but he has a reputation as a QB guru) will enable Boller to reach that next step. Up to this point, he hasn't made a ton of strides but we need to keep in mind that not every QB comes out of college as Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning. The job is made that much more difficult when you are throwing the football to guys like Randy Hymes and Travis Taylor. The Ravens have made significant improvements to the passing game this off-season (not to mention a hopefully healthy Todd Heap), and Boller has had another year of experience in the system. While you don't want to go into the season relying on such an unproven commodity, Boller is well worth a late-round flyer. Right now, we have Boller projected to be the #25 fantasy QB, making him a borderline #2 guy. We'll be certain to keep tabs on his progress this preseason, however, because the upside is certainly there.

7. TB - RB Garner Accepts Minimum Salary

Clipped from: Petersburg Times article by Rick Stroud and Frank Pastor 6/24/05

Running back Charlie Garner, recovering from season-ending knee surgery, agreed to take the minimum salary for a chance to continue his career in Tampa Bay. Garner missed the entire offseason workout program but is on schedule to participate in training camp.

"We're not discounting Charlie Garner coming back and playing, either," Gruden said. "Here's a very good player, when healthy. ... If he's ready to go, he'll be in the mix."

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

This is fantasy relevant more for what won't happen than what will. With Garner around, and Michael Pittman filling a role, it'll be tough for Cadillac Williams to post stud stats in his rookie season. Garner won't be a threat to Williams' job, nor will he even fill a third-down role in all likelihood. It's just that if he's on the team, it likely won't be just as a cheerleader. Gruden is very loyal to "his" guys, and Garner is no exception. Gruden will probably find just enough touches for Garner (and Pittman) to take just enough from Williams to put a crimp in his stats. Which is probably too bad, too, for fantasy purposes, because Williams appears to be in the best situation of any of the rookie runners (Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, and J.J. Arrington the others) for an immediate impact.

8. TB - K Bryant Has Leg Up For Job

Clipped from: Herald Tribune article by Tom Balog 6/24/05

Until a winner is declared, Matt Bryant, 30, and first-year kicker Todd France, 25, are battling to replace Martin Gramatica, who was cut Nov. 30, leaving the Bucs to finish last in the NFL in field-goal percentage (62.5) for the second straight season.

"I think it's an open job, and hopefully one I can get," said France, who made 70 percent (24 of 34) of his field goals, including a 54-yarder, for the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europe, where he was allocated by Tampa Bay after being signed Jan. 14.

Bryant has been the most impressive of the two through offseason workouts and the mandatory mini-camp which ended Thursday.

"If Bryant continues to strike the ball the way he is now, we'll get him his own locker, his own jersey and we'll give him a lot of money as soon as we have the ability to," said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. "He's a solid kickoff man, he's a good team man, he's a solid person, stable guy and he has talent. Yeah, health has been a problem for him, as it has for others, but this is a new year."

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You know what's a good sign? When the head coach is basically openly campaigning for you to win the job, then goes on to mention wanting to give you a lot of money. That's usually something to be taken as a very very good sign as far as job battles go. This particular job battle may not seem like much, but a kicker who plays for a warm weather team and a solid offense around him could well provide some fantasy help. We'll keep you updated on how this job shakes out, but at this point consider Bryant the early (and heavy) favorite to win the job.

9. SF - Niners Sign WR Hunter

Clipped from: Detroit Free Press article 6/24/05

The San Francisco 49ers signed wide receiver Javin Hunter (Birmingham Detroit Country Day, Notre Dame) to a two-year contract.

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

Hunter will provide depth in the receiving corps but will not challenge for a starting job. He is not someone to give any thought to on draft day unless your league has 80-man rosters and 24 teams in the league. (Which we hope for your sake that it does not.)

10. IDP: JAC - CB Law Has 'Good Visit' With Jags

Clipped from: Times-Union article by Vito Stellino 6/24/05

Coach Jack Del Rio said the Jaguars' staff had dinner with Ty Law on Wednesday night before he worked out today.

"We had a good visit and we'll continue to monitor the situation,'' he said.

Del Rio declined to comment on the condition of Law's foot injury that sidelined him the second half of last year.

"He's not even our player, so I don't think it's right to speculate,'' he said.

Law is represented by the Poston brothers, Kevin and Carl, and neither returned a phone call Thursday.

Law, who was waived by New England at the end of the season, was due to make $9 million this year, but it's uncertain how high the bidding will go for him on the free agent market because he's coming off an injury.

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

So Law has gotten around to showing teams the goods…it's about time. If he can demonstrate that he is fully recovered from his injury, Law can certainly help out any defense in the league - especially one that is perhaps already on the cusp of joining the league's elite units (as Jacksonville is). It should be fairly easy to project where Law is going, because as a client of the Postons it is pretty likely that he'll go where the green is. And we're not talking uniform colors.

11. IDP: WAS - S Taylor Faces Arraignment

Clipped from: Washington Times article by David Elfin 6/24/05

Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor is scheduled to be arraigned this morning in Miami on two felony counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and a first-degree misdemeanor charge, stemming from a June 1 incident.

Taylor, 22, would face a minimum of three years in jail under Florida's "10-20-life" law if convicted in the wake of the incident, during which he supposedly pointed a gun at two people who he believed had stolen two of his all-terrain vehicles.

Taylor supposedly then assaulted one of them while an associate, Charles Elwood Caughman, chased the other with a baseball bat. A second phase of the incident, in which shots supposedly were fired at Taylor in retaliation, remains under police investigation.

Taylor, who turned himself into Miami-Dade police and was released on bail June 4, gave a voluntary statement to assistant state's attorney Michael Grieco on Tuesday. Taylor's attorney, Edward Carhart, is hopeful the state will drop the case.

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Much like the Jamal Lewis story last summer, it appears that this will drag for some time. We'll keep getting updates like this every once in awhile, but there likely won't be much to report on until the trail actually begins. The timing of the beginning of the trial is supposed to be near the beginning of the NFL season, which doesn't bode well for Taylor even if he does eventually beat the case. Distractions, missed practices, etc. - it's a lot to overcome, as we saw with Lewis last year. As for the Redskins defense as a whole, they will make alternate plans for a worst-case scenario in case they will be without Taylor for any substantial length of time. Since we really haven't been given any specific details on the case or any statements from Taylor, speculating on a possible outcome at this point would be irresponsible on our part.

12. IDP: MIA - Dolphins Release S Williams After DUI, Arrest

Clipped from: CBS Sportsline wire reports 6/24/05

The Miami Dolphins cut Quintin Williams on Friday, just one day after the second-year safety was arrested on DUI and drag racing charges.

The 22-year-old Williams failed a roadside DUI test and was charged with DUI, racing on a highway and unlawful speeding, Lt. Bill Ferrell said. Williams was released from jail Thursday.

"This is not the kind of behavior we expect from our players," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said Thursday after learning of the arrest.

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No big shockers here. Anytime a player gets into trouble with the law, it doesn't bode well for that player's chances of remaining with his current team. When that player is already marginal to begin with and won't really be missed, it makes the decision to let him walk that much easier. Especially when there's a possible Plan B. Read on.

13. IDP: MIA - S Schulters Talks With Dolphins; Others Interested

Clipped from: Falcons Insider article by Dean Legge 6/23/05

The Miami Dolphins have scheduled the first in-person interview for the NFL's top remaining free agent safety.

Lance Schulters, who was cut last week by the Tennessee Titans, was in Miami tonight to meet with Nick Saban and staff. The Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Loins and his former team - the San Francisco 49ers- have been hot after Schulters as well. Schulters was cut by the Titians after the two sides could not work out a restructured contract. Schulters missed 13 games last season with a foot injury, but reportedly is healthy now.

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

Well, the Dolphins have wasted no time in trying to replace their recently-released safety, Quintin Williams. And Lance Schulters isn't a bad guy to replace him with! Schulters could be a big boost to any defense he chooses to sign with, provided he is completely recovered from his foot injury. We'll keep tabs on his situation when it appears teams are getting close to making him serious offers.

14. IDP: WAS - CB Hawkins Signs With Redskins

Clipped from: Associated Press article on 6/24/05

The Washington Redskins signed cornerback Artrell Hawkins on Thursday, giving the team another potential nickel back.

Hawkins was cut by the Carolina Panthers in March to save money under the salary cap. He failed to challenge seriously for a starting spot in his only year with the Panthers, losing out to first-round draft pick Chris Gamble after hurting his knee in training camp.

Hawkins previously spent six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He has played in 102 games with 76 starts and 10 interceptions in his seven-year career.

Lack of depth in the defensive backfield was a concern for the Redskins after last weekend's minicamp. The team pursued R.W. McQuarters, but he signed with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday. Cory Hall was signed last month, but he left the team two days later after deciding he didn't want to continue his NFL career.

The Redskins also need alternatives in case safety Sean Taylor isn't available for the season. Taylor faces an arraignment Friday in Miami on a felony charge involving a firearm.

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

Expect the Redskins to continue bringing in extra secondary help, just in case Sean Taylor is unavailable for an extended period of time (such as 3-5 years). Hawkins is a decent veteran who can provide depth and help out in the nickel package, but he won't make anyone forget Fred Smoot and Champ Bailey. Still, it's important for Washington to get warm bodies in place as they prepare for the worst and hope for the best with their superstar Taylor.

That'll do it for today, Folks. Have a great Saturday and we'll see you tomorrow with the update.


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