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Volume 6, Issue 68 (Saturday, June 25th)

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Hi Folks,

Hope you're having a great weekend. As you can see from the Site News below with SIXTEEN new articles posted today, we're working hard for you. Plus our Aaron Rudnicki has the news for tonight. Let's get to it.



A. Donte Stallworth Face-Off by Chase Stuart and Maurile Tremblay

B. #1 Miami QB Face-Off by Andy Hicks and Jason Wood

C. DeShaun Foster Face-Off by Mark Wimer and David Yudkin

D. Kevan Barlow Face-Off by Marc Levin and Cecil Lammey

E. Roy Williams Face-Off by Colin Dowling and Cathy Fazio

F. Marcus Robinson Face-Off by Marc Levin and David Yudkin

G. Michael Clayton Face-Off by Aaron Rudnicki and David Shick

H. Brandon Lloyd Face-Off by Chris Smith and Aaron Rudnicki

I. Alge Crumpler Face-Off by Cecil Lammey and Mike Herman

J. Tom Brady Spotlight by Jason Wood, Mike Anderson and Message Board Gurus

K. Daunte Culpepper Spotlight by Jason Wood, David Yudkin and Message Board Gurus

L. T.J. Duckett Spotlight by Jason Wood, Cecil Lammey and Message Board Gurus

M. Warrick Dunn Spotlight by Jason Wood, Cecil Lammey and Message Board Gurus

N. Edgerrin James Spotlight by Jason Wood, Bob Henry and Message Board Gurus

O. Doug Jolley Spotlight by Jason Wood, Chase Stuart and Message Board Gurus

P. Jimmy Smith Spotlight by Jason Wood, Will Grant and Message Board Gurus


1. 11 Young Offensive Players Who Should Have A Breakout Season In 2005
2. TB - RB Cadillac Williams Expects To Start
3. TB - A More Experienced QB Griese Prepares To Lead Buccaneers
4. CIN - Bengals Looking To Extend Key Players
5. MIA - How Will Fans Respond To Return Of RB Williams
6. ARI - Undrafted TE Adam Bergen Has Chance To Start
7. IND - WR Troy Walters Prepares For His Role In Colts Offense
8. DAL - RB Anthony Thomas Steps Into Familiar Role
9. IDP: WAS - S Taylor Charged With Aggravated Assault, Faces 3 Year Minimum
10. IPD: DEN - DE Ekuban Ready For Minicamp

1. 11 Young Offensive Players Who Should Have A Breakout Season In 2005

Clipped from: Sporting News article by Dan Pompei posted at, 6/24/05

The Sporting News' annual look at the 11 young offensive players - excluding rookies - who should have a breakout NFL season in 2005:

In his second season, Byron Leftwich arrived. In his third, he should take off. The Jaguars have tried to tailor their offense to Leftwich, one of the more perceptive quarterbacks in the league. For the first time in his NFL career, Leftwich will be allowed to use audibles. That will allow him the freedom to avoid bad play calls and take advantage of mismatches. The Jaguars also want to give Leftwich more opportunities to take shots downfield off play-action, which should highlight his big arm.

It took Kevin Jones a while to get his NFL legs. Once he did, he was one of the finest backs in the NFL. If Jones produces for 16 games the way he did for the last eight of his rookie season, he will rush for 1,812 yards and average 5.3 yards per carry. He's more prepared to put together a full season this year, having added six pounds in the team's off-season conditioning program. Jones also should be helped by the Lions' deep group of gifted receivers.

Several other running backs, especially Steven Jackson of the Rams and Julius Jones of the Cowboys, could be considered breakout candidates. But LaMont Jordan of the Raiders cannot be overlooked. He already has proved he can run in the NFL, with a 4.9-yard average per carry over four years. Now he just needs to prove he can carry the ball 25 times a game. He is certain to get a lot of handoffs with Norv Turner calling plays, and he's likely to see a lot of wide-open spaces with Randy Moss keeping the safeties from cheating up.

There isn't a more physically gifted receiver than the Lions' Roy Williams, and he seems ready to show more of that ability this year. Williams came to the Lions not really knowing how to apply himself by NFL standards. He has learned how to work and prepare, and his performance this season should indicate that.

Atlanta is a team that needs a No.1 receiver to emerge, and Michael Jenkins has the best chance of being that guy. A thin player who did not know how to play physically coming out of college, Jenkins gained 15 pounds in the Falcons' off-season program and is up to 220. He has put in extra time with quarterback Michael Vick in an attempt to improve their chemistry.

Tight end Ben Watson of the Patriots appeared ready to produce as a rookie before suffering a season-ending knee injury in practice the week before Game 2. When the rest of the team went home to celebrate for a month after the Patriots won the Super Bowl, the 2004 first-round pick stayed in Foxborough to work out. Watson is healthy now, and he's a weapon unlike any the Patriots have had.

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

We here at FBG have already been touting our 2005 breakout candidates for awhile now, but it's interesting to see what some other sources think. A few of these, like Kevin Jones and Roy Williams, seem fairly obvious considering how well they played as rookies. But, other players like Michael Jenkins or Ben Watson are less obvious since they did very little last year. Many fantasy owners get hung up on last year's stats and wind up missing some quality sleeper candidates. If you're interested in learning about some more sleepers, you should click here for the value plays article and click here for the sleeper article that we released recently.

2. TB - RB Cadillac Williams Expects To Start

Clipped from: Florida Today article by Glenn Miller, 6/25/05

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' running game has puttered along, ranking near the bottom of the NFL in most statistical categories. They ranked 29th in the league in rushing last year. Their average rank in rushing the past five seasons is 27th. They haven't had a 1,000-yard rushing season since Warrick Dunn totaled 1,133 yards in 2000.

Now, the Buccaneers bring a new make, new model and new year into their backfield in the form of Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. Williams, a former All-America running back at Auburn, was Tampa Bay's first-round pick in the 2005 draft. The team just completed a three-day mini-camp this week and so far, so good with the new back.

The opening of training camp is more than a month away and Tampa Bay's first regular-season game isn't until Sept. 11. Is it Williams' expectation to start that soon? "I definitely would be lying to you if I said it weren't," Williams said. "My expectation is to start. That's definitely my goal. Come in and start and contribute to the team early."

Veteran Michael Pittman has been Tampa Bay's starting running back since their Super Bowl season of 2002. He rushed for a career-high 926 yards last year, but also led the league with six lost fumbles.

Williams knows Pittman is a solid veteran, a fine receiver and tough runner. "There's definitely going to be some nice competition going on at training camp," Williams said. "I'm definitely looking forward to it. You've got Pittman, who's got great hands. He's big and explosive."

Pittman knows Williams will likely change his role, at least a little. That's been obvious in mini-camp. "I'm still getting a lot of carries, but what's changed is more of the type," Pittman said. "They've added more receiving routes for me and different things like that to add to my arsenal. . . . My role really hasn't changed. It's supposed to be me and Cadillac."

Bucs running backs coach Art Valero likes what he's seen of Williams. "He's working a lot with the first unit right now," Valero said. "The more reps he gets, the more comfortable he's going to become." Valero likes what he sees, but doesn't want to get carried away. The time to get carried away will be when, or if, Williams emerges as a standout NFL back.

"Tempered because we've been in shorts," Valero said. "When we get on pads, I think we're going to see his game really step up. From what we've seen out here in terms of his knowledge, being able to learn the system, being able to do some things athletically, it was everything we thought we would get."

Earnest Graham, who wasn't drafted out of Florida two years ago, certainly has noticed the new back who was selected with the No. 5 pick of the draft. "Cadillac is tough," Graham said. "I'm a big fan of running backs. I feel like I know good running backs when I see them. He's tough. Very, very instinctive. Great feet. Does a lot of stuff off reactions. He's an awesome runner."

Only once in their 29 seasons have the Bucs finished as high as fourth in the league in rushing. That was in 1998. They've never been one of the NFL's top three rushing teams in a season. Maybe Cadillac will help change that trend.

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Obviously, most rookies drafted as highly as Williams expect to start on opening day. Unless it's a position like QB where the player generally needs some time to develop, high draft picks are expected to contribute right away. Thus, this article isn't too surprising, but some of the quotes about Williams from his new teammates provide glimpse of how talented and special this kid could be. He doesn't have great size, but he's a natural runner and plays much bigger than he is. He could be a breakout candidate right away if he can establish himself as the feature back and limit Pittman to 3rd down duties. Williams is currently ranked #21 on our real time expert consensus rankings, which is the highest of all the rookie RBs.

3. TB - A More Experienced QB Griese Prepares To Lead Buccaneers

Clipped from: article by Mike Cobb, 6/25/05

A year ago at this time, Brian Griese was new in town and was wondering where, or even if, he fit in with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brad Johnson was the starter and Chris Simms was the "quarterback of the future." The Bucs picked up Griese last June as a veteran back-up after he was released by the Miami Dolphins.

In the NFL, situations can change drastically from one year to the next, which is exactly the case with Griese.

As the team prepares to head to training camp next month, Griese is now solidly entrenched as the Bucs' starter with Simms and Luke McCown as his back-ups.

He's had a year now in Jon Gruden's offense. He started 10 games a year ago and put up numbers that were among the best in the NFL. He completed 233-of-336 passes (69.3 percent) for 2,632 yards 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and that was in just 11 games. His 97.5 passer rating ranked sixth best in the NFL.

This year, Gruden expects more from Griese, not only in numbers but in leadership. "He's much further along not only as a performer but as a leader on the team," Gruden said this week during the Bucs' three-day mini-camp at One Buc Place. "He's a very impressive guy. He's deadly accurate. To throw for (almost) 70 percent in the NFL is a great achievement," said Gruden.

"He's much more in tune with what we're doing. Last year, he was taking 20 to 25 percent of the snaps. This year, he's taking almost double that." More importantly, he's spent this spring and summer in Tampa continuing to learn Gruden's offense and continuing to establish himself as the leader of an offensive unit that could be significantly younger and less experienced.

"The guys are working hard trying to learn the offense," said Griese. "There are some new guys from free agency and some young guys from last year that are coming back. We have a lot of potential on offense, but potential doesn't mean much if you don't realize it."

Potential is something that's followed Griese since he entered the NFL in 1998 as the back-up and eventual successor to Denver's John Elway. He became the Broncos' starter in 1999 and spent four years in that role before being replaced after the 2002 season by Jake Plummer. He spent 2003 with the Dolphins but started just five games and eventually lost the starting job to Jay Fiedler.

After being released, he began the 2004 season with the Bucs as the No. 3 quarterback. When Johnson was benched, Simms was promoted to the starting job in the Bucs' fifth game of the year with Griese as No. 2. Simms suffered a shoulder injury late in the first quarter, Griese replaced him and held on to the starting job the rest of the year. Simms did start the final game, a meaningless game at Arizona, because of an ankle injury to Griese.

Heading into the 2005 season, Griese has a lock on the starting job and a clearer idea of what to expect. "I have a better understanding of the offense and hopefully I can take it to the next level in helping other guys," he said. "I can get us in and out of the right plays on game days and hopefully get us back to the playoffs. That's my sole focus."

That and getting a little bigger and stronger. A year ago, he took a number of hits that eventually took its toll. In his 11 games, he was sacked 26 times and knocked down numerous other times. His offseason training regimen has included gaining weight to help him withstand the hits an NFL quarterback takes. He said he's put on about 10 pounds.

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Owners who focus primarily on end of year statistics and rankings might not realize how productive Griese was last year. In just 10 starts on a pretty bad team, he completed nearly 70% of his passes and threw for over 20 TDs. With 2nd year phenom Michael Clayton and the return of a healthy Joey Galloway at WR, Griese has a good chance to put up very good numbers again this year. Gruden's offensive system is very QB friendly, and Griese is currently only ranked as the #19 QB on our expert rankings so he could represent great value on draft day if you think he can sustain a similar level of productivity over a full season.

4. CIN - Bengals Looking To Extend Key Players

Clipped from: article by Geoff Hobson, 6/24/05

The Bengals have some key players heading into unrestricted free agency after this season, but no starters. With their entire offensive line on deals expiring after 2006, they could do some business with veterans when contract talks for the draft picks heat up in a few weeks.

The Bengals have made some noises about extending Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson, left tackle Levi Jones and defensive end Justin Smith, all up after 2006. Anderson's agent, Terry Bolar has met with Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn, and Blackburn has made a preliminary call on Jones, said agent Ken Zuckerman. Jim Steiner, Smith's agent, hasn't been called but said word had been given to his client that the club is interested in doing something.

No one is saying much of anything right now. Looming in the background is the stalemate over the collective bargaining agreement. If there is no extension of the CBA, there would be no salary cap in place in 2007, and presumably clubs wouldn't be able to retain the right of first refusal by putting the franchise or transition tags on their own free agents. Many believe an extension will be in place sometime this season, but it does underscore the importance of clubs getting some future deals done.

"It all comes down to what they think of the player and how they fit him in," said Steiner of doing a deal two years early. "We know they like the player. My ears are always open at any point." Steiner may not be in an ideal situation during the next few weeks, since he and Ben Dorga are going to be trying to get four first-round picks signed. But there is time.

Among players up for unrestricted free agency after this season are backup quarterback Jon Kitna, wide receiver Peter Warrick, running back Kenny Watson, tight ends Matt Schobel and Tony Stewart, and linebacker Marcus Wilkins.

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

The Bengals still have some time, but guys like Willie Anderson and Justin Smith and Levi Jones are key building blocks and it would probably be in their best interest to lock these guys up to a contract extension sooner rather than later. If any of them go out and have great seasons, the cost will increase substantially as the player will be that much closer to a big free agent payday. Anderson, in particular, is a huge asset on the offensive line and does a great job of springing holes for Rudi Johnson. The Bengals have the makings of a very productive offense, and the talent on the offensive line is a huge part of that. Bengals player owners in keeper or dynasty leagues would certainly love to see these linemen stick around.

5. MIA - How Will Fans Respond To Return Of RB Williams

Clipped from: Miami Herald article, 6/25/05

Now that Ricky Williams is poised to be a Dolphin again and supposedly back in South Florida for good -- ''for good'' in this case presumes both productivity and duration -- it is time to address the controversial, polarizing aspect of his imminent return.

Human nature mandates that fans' response to Williams' unretirement will fall into two distinct categories.

Many Dolfans will welcome Ricky back as a sort of wayward son who strayed from the family (globetrotting, smoking dope, living in hostels . . . did we mention smoking dope?) but has returned to the fold after finding maturity and humility in the course of ``finding himself.'' These conciliatory fans will be about evenly split between those who are just naturally benevolent and forgiving, and those driven pragmatically, those whose embarrassment over a 4-12 season is so profound they would welcome Michael Jackson onto the roster if his 40 time were right.

However, many other Dolfans -- most? -- will mark Ricky's return by booing loudly, burning No. 34 jerseys in effigy, waving torches and pitchforks, circulating petitions, and misspelling traitor with an ''e'' on handmade signs to be confiscated by stadium personnel. This passionate, principled vitriol toward Williams surely will last for as long as he plays in Miami, or until he does something really great like bust a 43-yard TD run, whichever comes first.

Williams will outrun the booing at precisely the same speed he outruns defenders. You'll boo Ricky at first, because it feels right -- because he deserves that aural blast of punishment for running out on the team and your hopes. For putting the Fish in selfish. But then you'll cheer him, because it feels good. And you know it.

Sports fans may be the most fickle subset of human beings on Earth, and it will be amusing to see that in action when Ricky Redux unfolds next month.

Same with his teammates. Any lingering ill will against Williams will dissipate if his renewed commitment is evident, his yards pile up and the team wins. (In the sports chemistry lab, winning is the formula that produces a happy vibe, not vice-versa. Similarly, losing has turned more locker rooms sour than any two-legged cancers).

With Williams' comeback assured to be one of the bigger sporting soap operas in South Florida history, what a delightful circus the buildup to this 40th Dolphins season shall be! Not in memory, if ever, has Miami's coming NFL training camp yielded so much various intrigue.

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

This article presents a pretty accurate depiction of the relationship that exists between professional athletes and their fans. Many fans will dislike Williams and boo him for leaving the team before last season, but as soon as he shows that he's able to help them win games, most of those boos will turn to cheers. Fans, and teammates, just want to win and they'll put up with a lot of questionable behavior as long as they are successful. Whether Williams will be good enough to quiet those boos remains to be seen, but this situation certainly does promise to keep us all entertained for awhile.

6. ARI - Undrafted TE Adam Bergen Has Chance To Start article by Len Pasquarelli, 6/24/05

It's rare when an undrafted college free agent earns a roster spot. It's all but unheard of, history indicates, for an undrafted player to be an opening day starter. But based on some flattering reports out of Arizona, tight end Adam Bergen, an undrafted free agent from Lehigh, has a shot at starting for the Cardinals as a rookie. Bergen, who was projected by some as a fourth-round pick but slipped out of the lottery entirely, has been getting snaps with the first-unit offense in offseason workouts. A two-time All-American at the Division I-AA level, Bergen has nice size (6-4, 265 pounds), solid hands, good enough speed (mid-4.8s) and is a willing blocker. In his final two seasons at Lehigh, he registered 124 catches, 1,474 yards and 14 touchdown passes.

Bergen has a couple things in his favor. For openers, as demonstrated last season, coach Dennis Green is anything but reluctant about starting rookies as he seeks to build the Cardinals into a contender. Second, it isn't as if the competition at tight end is particularly daunting for Bergen. Each of the four other tight ends on the roster - Eric Edwards, Bobby Blizzard, Aaron Golliday and John Bronson - also entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. That's right, the Cards don't have a single drafted player on their tight-end depth chart. Of that foursome, only Edwards has played in a regular-season game; he has five receptions for 51 yards in his career.

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The Cardinals were disappointed with the overall play of Freddie Jones and decided to let him walk (he signed with Carolina). Rather than bring in another veteran or spend a high draft pick on a TE, they appear to be ready to take their chances on an undrafted free agent who many fantasy owners have probably never heard of. Bergen comes from Lehigh, a small Div. I-AA level school, and he was rated as one of the better receiving TEs in this year's draft class. For whatever reason, many teams passed on him on draft day, but he couldn't ask to be put in a much better situation. If you're looking for a deep sleeper at the TE position, this could be the guy as long as he can prove that he's not a liability as a blocker.

7. IND - WR Troy Walters Prepares For His Role In Colts Offense

Clipped from: article by John Oehser, 6/23/05

Troy Walters, a Colts wide receiver who missed much of last season with a broken arm, is fully healthy with just more than a month remaining before the Colts open training camp in late July. The effect of practically missing most of one of the most productive offensive seasons in NFL history?

He's ready to play. Really, really ready. "Just seeing what happened on the field, what took place, I'm eager to get back this year and help out," Walters said recently.

Making it tougher for Walters last season was that he entered the season with high goals, less than a year removed from a career season.

Walters, a sixth-year veteran from Stanford University, played extensively in 2003 as the team's third receiver, filling the role much of the season because of an injury to third wide receiver Brandon Stokley. Walters caught 36 passes for 456 yards and three touchdowns in 2003, setting career-highs in all three categories.

With Stokley fully healthy entering last season, Walters said he didn't expect as large a role as the season before, but neither did he expect what happened. In the Colts' preseason home opener, he caught a long pass from Manning. Upon being tackled, Walkers sustained a broken arm. "I had high expectations for the 2004 season," Walters said. "Definitely, getting hurt was a step back, but I learned a lot through the injury, and I really think I became a better person because of it."

Walters missed the first 11 games of the season, and when he returned, the Colts' wide receiver rotation of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Stokley was firmly established. Each member of the threesome had 1,000 yards receiving, and each caught at least 10 touchdown passes.

In five regular-season games, Walters caught one pass for five yards, and in two post-season games, he did not catch a pass. He also returned seven punts for 40 yards and one kickoff for 16 yards.

Walters said he doesn't know for certain what his role this season will be. He does know he's anxious to learn it, and to fill it. He also said he knows the Colts' offense is more than versatile enough to give more than one receiver opportunity to succeed.

And even more than two or three.

"I'm the fourth receiver, so if we go four wides, my role is to step in there and make plays," Walters said. "I've got to be ready if one of them gets hurt. I'm a role player as a receiver, then I help out on special teams. Going into the 2003 season, that was my role - as a role player, to step in and make the plays when I was needed, when I was called upon."

"It's hard to know how often they'll go four wides. It will be dictated game-to-game. We did it last year a couple of times. I figure if I can go out in training camp and make plays, they want to get playmakers on the field. That's my goal, is to make plays. Hopefully, if I do that, they'll find a place to put me.

"My job is to be ready. You've got to be."

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Even with the Colts' success, Walters is likely under the radar of many fantasy owners this year, but as the #4 WR in Indianapolis he's just an injury away from playing a very prominent role in one of the league's best offenses. He's a small but quick player with great run after the catch ability. If you decide to spend a high draft pick on one of the Colts big 3 and you have an extra roster spot, it might not be a bad idea to grab Walters late to protect your investment. You can bet that if any Colts WR goes down with a preseason injury, Walters will become a very valuable commodity.

8. DAL - RB Anthony Thomas Steps Into Familiar Role

Clipped from: Star-Telegram article by Charean Williams, 6/24/05

Veteran running back Anthony Thomas has left behind the Chicago Bears for the Cowboys. But as much as things have changed, one thing remains the same for Thomas: He still is backing up a Jones. Thomas, who spent last season behind Thomas Jones in Chicago, signed a one-year, $950,000 deal May 2 with the Cowboys to back up Jones' younger brother, Julius.

The addition of Anthony Thomas could be as important to the Cowboys as the more ballyhooed off-season signings of quarterback Drew Bledsoe, cornerback Anthony Henry and guard Marco Rivera. Julius Jones was impressive as a rookie, rushing for 819 yards and seven touchdowns, but he missed eight games with injuries. The Cowboys declined to re-sign Eddie George, who averaged only 3.3 yards per carry, and they released Richie Anderson.

The departures of George and Anderson had left fourth-year fullback Darian Barnes, who made all 10 of his career starts last season, as the senior member of the running back corps. The four tailbacks on the roster, besides Thomas, have a combined two years' experience, 12 game appearances, seven starts, 875 yards and eight touchdowns. Thomas has appeared in 51 games, with 37 starts, rushing for 3,332 yards and 21 touchdowns.

"He's really been helpful," Julius Jones said of Thomas after working with him in the Cowboys' minicamps. "Anthony is a good back, and he's got the most experience out of all us back there. He can kind of tell us things we don't know. It's always good to have a guy back there who knows what to expect, because he's got a little more experience than you."

Thomas, a second-round draft choice of the Bears in 2001, had two 1,000-yard seasons in his first three seasons in Chicago. For that, the Bears signed Thomas Jones to a four-year, $10 million contract before last season.

The Bears never considered re-signing Thomas, with general manager Jerry Angelo explaining on the team's official Web site that "Anthony just didn't feel like we appreciated him. In the end, that was the bottom line. I could see where he could have gotten those feelings. He just didn't feel like he was the right fit here. Did we feel that way? No. We liked Anthony. We felt like he would have been fine. But in terms of his attitude, he felt that it was in his best interest to move on. We understood that, and we wish him well."

Thomas said he is the same back he was when he rushed for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie. Only better. "I'm a little older, a little wiser," Thomas, 27, said. "I think I've got a lot more knowledge now. I know how to go in and practice for a game and how to prepare myself for a game. I know a lot more. Now, I've just got to go out and do it."

Thomas has accepted his role in Dallas, having signed knowing Julius Jones is the incumbent. But the Cowboys would like to reduce Jones' carries from the 27.4 he averaged the last seven games, with Jones saying he hopes for "20, 22 a game."

That should leave plenty of work for Thomas.

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Thomas is about to find himself in the unique position of backing up two different brothers in back to back seasons. Julius Jones certainly looked like a future star in the second half of 2004, but he's got some durability concerns and the Cowboys would like to limit his workload if they can. Thomas is a strong runner between the tackles who will provide a nice change of pace, and should see plenty of action on short yardage and goal line plays. Parcells certainly loves to run the ball early and often so there should be enough carries for Thomas to be one of the more valuable backup RBs.

9. IDP: WAS - S Taylor Charged With Aggravated Assault, Faces 3 Year Minimum

Clipped from: Sun Sentinel article by Ihosvani Rodriguez

Washington Redskins safety and former University of Miami All-American Sean Taylor was charged Friday with aggravated assault with a firearm for his role in a confrontation earlier this month over a pair of stolen all-terrain vehicles.

Taylor, 22, was not present during the hearing when prosecutors announced the charges. Taylor's attorney said he mailed the court a "not guilty" plea on the player's behalf.

Authorities say that on June 1, Taylor pointed a weapon toward a group of men in South Miami-Dade and accused them of stealing his ATVs. During a second confrontation that evening, Taylor took a swing at one of the men, authorities said.

Taylor, son of Florida City Police Chief Pedro Taylor, faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years if convicted and a maximum term of 16 years. Taylor also is charged with a misdemeanor count of simple battery.

According to an arrest affidavit, Taylor and a friend drove to a home in Miami-Dade's West Perrine neighborhood and confronted two men standing outside. Taylor pointed the gun at the men and demanded to know where the ATVs were and then drove away without firing a shot.

But he returned about 10 minutes later with a larger group of friends and a street brawl broke out. Taylor tried to punch one man but missed, said police. He then grabbed the man, Ryan Hill, 21, and began fighting with him, police said. One of Taylor's companions, Charles Caughman, chased another man with a baseball bat, police said. Caughman faces one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a felony.

Taylor's Coral Gables-based attorney, Edward Carhart, said the football player recently passed a polygraph test in which he denies all allegations. Taylor also gave a statement to prosecutors earlier this week. According to Carhart, Taylor dropped off the ATVs at his friend's house for storage. The friend called Taylor several days later to tell him the ATVs disappeared. Taylor then learned that a group of men were hawking the ATVs in West Perrine.

Taylor and his friend drove to the house to "keep surveillance of the home," but a group of men in three cars surrounded the two, the attorney said. When Taylor returned with more friends, Carhart said, one of the men began pummeling him.

Taylor returned to his friend's house and planned to call the ATV dealer in Fort Lauderdale and report the incident to the police, said the attorney. While Taylor was inside, a group of men drove up and sprayed the house and Taylor's 2005 GMC Yukon with bullets. Nobody was hurt. No arrests have been made in that incident.

A tentative trial date is scheduled for Sept 12. Carhart said that unless the case is resolved soon, he would likely ask Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Mary Barzee to delay the trial until after the upcoming football season.

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Taylor was arraigned on Friday and this article provides a slightly more detailed description of the events that led to his arrest. The trail is tentatively scheduled to begin on September 12th, which is just 1 week before the regular season begins. If the trial is not delayed, Taylor seems almost certain to miss some time this season. Although a conviction seems unlikely at this point, this doesn't look like it will go away anytime soon and it is probably a good idea to drop Taylor a bit on your IDP rankings.

10. IPD: DEN - DE Ekuban Ready For Minicamp

Clipped from: article by Andrew Mason, 6/23/05

The most experienced of the three former first-round picks acquired from the Cleveland Browns spent the bulk of the offseason recovering from knee and shoulder surgeries, the result of playing the entire 2004 season with pain in both areas.

But Ekuban didn't miss a game last fall and posted a career-best eight sacks in the process, and now only two weeks separate him from being at optimum health for the first time since last season opened.

"When they had a quarterback school (in May) I didn't really do anything, so (at team camp) I worked in individual drills," Ekuban said. "Then by the mini-camp I should be good to go. I'd say by July I should be 100 percent."

He would have rather been at that level for the Broncos' team camp, which they completed two weeks ago. "You always want to be ready as soon as you can -- especially as a new player, so you can get adjusted to the play calling and you just get the vibe from the teammates, and get everything going," Ekuban said. "I definitely want to be ready for the team camp, just so I can get a heads-up on how everything's going to be when it goes full-speed at mini-camp."

When that happens, the process of building to his potential can continue. While Ekuban is preparing for his seventh NFL season, it's only his ninth as a defensive lineman; he played tight end for his first two seasons at North Carolina and was still regarded as something of a developmental project when the Dallas Cowboys utilized a first-round selection on him in 1999.

"When they drafted me, they knew that it was going to be an upside kind of thing where they would groom me the first couple of years," Ekuban said.

Only now does Ekuban feel comfortable at his position -- a condition that transferred over to his play last season, when the 6-foot-3, 275-pounder posted more sacks than he'd had in the previous three seasons combined while also setting a career standard with 54 total tackles.

"Through all these years, I feel like I'm starting to know everything now," Ekuban said. "Me coming to a new team and learning a whole new defensive scheme, that just broadens my knowledge about how the whole defense works and how I can become a better player. I think from the success I had last year in Cleveland -- the best year I've had -- hopefully that's a stepping stone for years to come."

Ekuban always possessed a quick first step as one of the league's fastest defensive ends. But it was his cerebral adjustments that helped him tap into his potential last year.

"Early on in my career, I focused on using my speed and athletic ability to make plays, whereas as I've gotten older, I realized that doesn't necessarily cut the cake," Ekuban said. "You have to use tips that offensive linemen give you. You have to use cues that a quarterback gives you, so I can get a jump on the ball or guess what play's coming my way, so I can be in good position to make those plays. I think a knowledge standpoint is where I've really accelerated my game."

It's just in time for Ekuban to capitalize. The end of Ekuban's career isn't in sight; with only six years and 76 games on his NFL resume he could be just entering his prime.

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

Ekuban had the best season of his career with the Browns in 2004, but is projected to backup Trevor Pryce and Courtney Brown in Denver this year. While in Dallas, he was generally a rather disappointing player, but as this article mentions, he may just be reaching the prime of his career. Courtney Brown has major durability issues so Ekuban could wind up playing a bigger role than expected. IDP owners should keep him in mind.

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


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