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Volume 6, Issue 69 (Sunday, June 26th)

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Hi Folks,

Let's get started on a new week. Thanks to our Mike Brown for rounding up these stories today. Let's get to it.

J


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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. TEN - RB Brown Has Been Limited, RB Henry Still a Possibility
2. BUF - RB Henry Will Likely Hold Out If Not Traded
3. WAS - Redskins Building Around Portis' Speed
4. WAS - WR Patten Wants To Be Team's #1 Option
5. PHI - All Quiet On WR Owens Front
6. MIA - Dolphins Need Houck's Help With Offensive Line
7. ARI - Nothing Yet On WR Boldin Contract
8. SF - Niners Have Shakiest WR Corps In League
9. CAR - Panthers Go To Training Camp Set and Ready To Go
10. CLE - Browns Moved Quickly To Sign QB Johnson
11. IDP: NE - LB Bruschi Retiring, Or Returning?
12. IDP: MIN - S Chavous, CB Williams Expected Back
13. IDP: SEA - DT Tubbs Looks To Make Big Difference

1. TEN - RB Brown Has Been Limited, RB Henry Still a Possibility

Clipped from: Tennessean article by Jim Wyatt 6/26/06

Good: No one has jumped in front of the Titans and grabbed Travis Henry yet. With Chris Brown's absence due to a broken hand, the Titans have had a chance to look at their young backs. Undrafted fullback Robert Douglas has impressed and should be a factor in camp once his leg injury heals.

Bad: Brown has been limited. Fifth-round draft pick Damien Nash has missed time because of a knee injury and personal reasons.

Conventional wisdom: Buffalo will finally cave and give up Henry for a fourth-round pick, it just may take a while.

Wyatt's take: Don't take any chances and grab Henry now. And look for second-year pro Troy Fleming to play a big role this fall.

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

These quick cuts from the Tennessean represent beat writer Jim Wyatt's take on the Tennessee running back situation. Wyatt seems to agree with most that Tennessee is dragging its feet a bit on the Travis Henry trade talk situation, and needs to get something finished sooner rather than later. Then again, perhaps they are being rewarded for showing patience, as Henry's trade value continues to drop further and further. Read on.


2. BUF - RB Henry Will Likely Hold Out If Not Traded

Clipped from: Times-Union article by Vito Stellino 6/26/05

Another player who might not show up for the start of training camp is running back Travis Henry of the Bills.

Henry wants to be traded because Willis McGahee has won the starting job and the Bills are willing to trade him for a first-day draft pick -- at least a third-rounder.

When coach Mike Mularkey was asked if he thinks Henry will show up for training camp if he's not traded, he told Buffalo reporters, "He's required to be here. We'll see what happens.''

Of course, it doesn't help his value when he's threatening to become a holdout.

Three AFC South teams, the Jaguars, Titans and Texans, have all been mentioned as teams that could make a run at him and it'll be interesting to see if one of them pulls the trigger.

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

The Bills wanted to hang onto Henry last season, and have now all but boxed themselves into a corner with him. After failing to trade him prior to the draft this past April, they now are basically dealing only with Tennessee. And obviously, with the threat of a holdout, the Titans have more and more leverage as each day passes. We expect something to get done before the season opener, though all a trade would do at this point really is just muddy the rushing situation in Tennessee. Still, at this point it's pretty apparent that Henry needs to be moved before it causes the team any distractions. You can't blame him for wanting out, because he hasn't really done anything to warrant a demotion, and he's far too talented (and costly) to continue backing up Willis McGahee.


3. WAS - Redskins Building Around Portis' Speed

Clipped from: St. Petersburg Times wire services 6/26/06

As Clinton Portis left here in January after his first season with the Washington Redskins, his coaches hinted at tweaking the playbook for 2005.

In the weeks after he nodded, then shrugged off the whispers, the Redskins' staff overhauled the offense, every move with one goal in mind.

"They asked me what I felt about some things," Portis said during the team's June minicamp. "But when I got back, we had a changed offense."

Coaches pledge, and their star tailback seems certain, that the Redskins will be different in 2005, and everyone points to Portis as the new offense's fulcrum. The team signed smaller, faster receivers, and the coaching staff designed wider formations, all to take advantage of Portis' speed and cutback skills.

Almost anything would rank as progress over 2004, when Washington ranked 30th in yardage and 31st in points among the NFL's 32 offenses. Portis, acquired in March 2004 from Denver for cornerback Champ Bailey, had the poorest season of his three in the league. The former University of Miami star averaged 3.8 yards a carry, 1.7 fewer than the average for his first two seasons, and scored five rushing touchdown, compared to a total of 29 in his first two years.

"Sometimes you have to adjust," said Joe Bugel, the Redskins' assistant head coach for offense. "We're used to a 235-pound, 240-pound back. So we opened it up, tried to create running lanes for him. He's quick as a cat."

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

Imagine that, building the offense around the best player's strengths. In all seriousness, Portis was a mild disappointment to his owners last year, many of whom spent a top-five pick on him. He still finished as a RB1 (11th overall), but most expected him to vault into the absolute elite of the league. Instead, he finished with a career-worst YPC (3.8) and failed to score at least 14 touchdowns for the first time in his career. With the changes in philosophy coming into this season, and Portis' natural abilities, we expect a return to his 2002-03 levels, and have him projected to finish as the #7 RB in the league in 2005 on a fantasy point basis Click here for running back projections


4. WAS - WR Patten Wants To Be Team's #1 Option

Clipped from: Boston Globe article by Nick Cafardo 6/26/05

David Patten was emotional, leaving a three-time Super Bowl champion to pursue his own dream of being a No. 1 receiver, with the Washington Redskins.

Patten, who will turn 31 Aug. 19, makes no apologies for taking a big contract (five years, $13 million, with a $3.5 million signing bonus) to make sure his family is taken care of. He said he told Bill Belichick he would leave New England only for an extraordinary financial deal and a larger role. That's what he got.

Patten always felt he could be a No. 1 receiver. He is a burner and has a knack for making big plays. Getting separation from his defender is what impressed Redskins scout Louis Riddick.

''For me, it's been a long eight years waiting for something like this," said Patten, who will team with Santana Moss as a potentially explosive receiving tandem. ''This is sweet. I feel so energized. I feel like a rookie again. My body feels like I'm 25 years old. I feel like I could lead the league [in receiving] and that what separates me from Marvin Harrison or Terrell Owens is opportunity. Throw me 10 balls a game. Why not feature me? Why not try? I've always felt I had the ability to be a No. 1 receiver. I've always wanted to be an All-Pro."

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

Wanting to be the number one receiver and actually BEING the number one receiver are two very different things. The Redskins probably don't share the sentiment that Patten will be their number one receiver. Not because they don't like Patten, mind you. Just that they almost certainly hope that newcomer Santana Moss grabs the reins as the team's top receiving threat. We also see Moss as the team's top wideout, though we don't project him to see all that much more action than Patten. In either case, Patten isn't someone you want to rely on for your fantasy roster unless injuries hit Moss (a good possibility) and the Redskins passing game makes enormous strides (a slightly less likely possibility).


5. PHI - All Quiet On WR Owens Front

Clipped from: Times-Union article by Vito Stellino 6/26/05

Not much is expected to happen in the Terrell Owens controversy until the start of training camp.

That's when Owens will become a holdout if he doesn't show, and the issue will become big news again.

Still, that hasn't stopped his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, from trying to keep the issue alive.

"I called Andy [Reid] and talked to him,'' Rosenhaus told the Philadelphia Daily News last week. "I mention this because I think people have the sense that I don't have a professional dialogue with him. It's not like he and I don't have a dialogue.''

The Philadelphia Inquirer then quoted Eagles sources as saying that the conversation lasted "seconds.'' Their version is that Rosenhaus called Reid's cell phone and that Reid didn't realize who the caller was until he answered the phone.

The Eagles have made it obvious they're not talking or negotiating with Rosenhaus on Owens' contract.

The problem for Rosenhaus and Owens is that they have no leverage.

There's no pressure on the Eagles to upgrade Owens' contract. They put single-game tickets on sale last week and they sold out in just under 15 minutes, according to the Inquirer.

An Inquirer reporter tried to call 200 times and got a busy signal each time.

The Inquirer reported that the Eagles have 60,000 fans on the waiting list.

They also won two playoff games without Owens and lost the Super Bowl with him playing well.

No matter how many times Rosenhaus places a phone call, none of that is going to change.

Of course, Owens could get his freedom next spring when he's due a $5 million roster bonus. He'll become a free agent if the Eagles decide not to pay it. Until then, the Eagles hold all the cards.

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

Another day, another update on the T.O. saga. This one with the cell phone call is at least a little interesting. The rumor circulating is that when Andy Reid realized it was Drew Rosenhaus on the phone, he hung up. An Eagles official said the conversation lasted "a matter of seconds." Regardless of what really happened there, the Eagles don't look to be softening one bit from their hard line stance. Expect this to drag out a little, some noise to be made, and for Owens to be on the field for Philadelphia and ready to go.


6. MIA - Dolphins Need Houck's Help With Offensive Line

Clipped from: Orlando Sentinel article 6/26/05

The key guy for the Miami Dolphins this season may not be Nick Saban, Ronnie Brown or even Ricky Williams.

It could be Hudson Houck, a longtime NFL offensive line coach who was hired away from San Diego to work with one of the league's worst group of linemen. If his guys don't come through, it won't matter how talented the backs behind them are.

New offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is a good one, and he says all the right things about opening up the offense and throwing deep. But with Gus Frerotte and A.J. Feeley as the quarterbacks, it's obvious the Dolphins are going to have to rely on the run. And, that fits what Saban wants to do: win with defense and a ball-control attack.

Houck, 62, is entering his 23rd season in the NFL. Eleven of his linemen have combined to go to 43 Pro Bowls, and six guys have won rushing titles running behind his lines. But Houck doesn't exactly have a ton of talent to work with in Miami, and he knows it.

"I am not a miracle worker, no," he replied to a question from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Last season, the Dolphins gave up 52 sacks and managed 3.5 rushing yards per attempt.

"I'd just as soon not talk about last year," Houck said to the Sun-Sentinel. "That's somebody else.

"I really don't know what they were doing."

You know, he ain't the only one.

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

If anyone can turn this OL around, Houck can. He hasn't got a ton to work with, but it's difficult to think the team won't improve at least somewhat. And hopefully there will be a lot of improvement is Houck can work more magic. The rushing combo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams should also enable the line to play better, because they'll take pressure off the passers and also find some of those running lanes that Lamar Gordon and company couldn't seem to find. We don't think Miami's offense is back just yet, but they are at least making positive strides, with Houck being one of them.


7. ARI - Nothing To Report On WR Boldin Contract - Yet

Clipped from: East Valley Tribune article by Darren Urban 6/25/05

V.P. of football operations Rod Graves said there was nothing significant yet on the contract extension talks between the team and receiver Anquan Boldin "but stay tuned," he added.

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

Front office-types don't normally add a "stay tuned" unless something is already in the works. That little snippet leads us to believe that something is probably being worked on as we speak. Boldin is a great bounce-back candidate for the upcoming season if he can prove he's fully recovered from his knee injury, and another 1,000+ yard season is certainly within reach. The contract stuff will likely sort itself out sometime before the season opener.


8. SF - Niners Have Shakiest WR Corps In League

Clipped from: Orlando Sentinel Staff Reports 6/26/05

There's no question San Francisco has the shakiest receiving corps in the league. Want proof? The starters are Arnaz Battle and Brandon Lloyd. The 49ers moved to change that with the signing of Johnnie Morton, who was released by Kansas City earlier this month. But it's ludicrous to think Morton would be anything other than a No. 3 or even No. 4 receiver on a legit contender. On the Niners, though, he'll likely be the leading receiver.

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

In other news, the earth is round. We still like the talent of Brandon Lloyd, but with a rookie QB throwing to him, a very shaky o-line, a suspect running game, and no one else to serve as a legitimate threat to take pressure off, we don't see much opportunity for fantasy success in the barren wasteland known as San Francisco.


9. CAR - Panthers Go To Training Camp Set and Ready To Go

Clipped from: Herald article by Darin Gantt 6/26/05

Here's how deep the Carolina Panthers have made themselves -- with the possible exception of one offensive lineman, they'll enter training camp with all their starting jobs locked down.

There will still be competition -- one of coach John Fox's favorite buzzwords -- but the fights will be for backup jobs and roster spots, an indication of the talent they've added over the course of four years.

In past years, they've gone to camp not quite knowing who was going where. Last season, they were looking for starters at cornerback and free safety, didn't know whether Mark Fields was going to be ready to start at linebacker and had question marks at both guard spots.

This year, the only starting job up for grabs is right guard, and healthy incumbent Tutan Reyes figures to go in with a significant advantage over rookie Evan Mathis.

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

It's very impressive that the Panthers have nearly all of their spots set. That can benefit everyone, because one thing players like to know is what their roles will be. Of course, this situation could change drastically between now and the season opener due to any of the 3 I's: Injury, ineffectiveness, or incarceration. But for now, it's a great sign for Carolina that the off-season is going so smoothly.


10. CLE - Browns Moved Quickly To Sign QB Johnson

Clipped from: Bernie's Insiders article 6/26/05

After watching rookie Charlie Frye and second-year player Josh Harris in passing camp and minicamp, Coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Phil Savage became convinced the Browns needed an experienced quarterback behind Trent Dilfer. They settled on Doug Johnson, a former backup with the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans.

Crennel talked about waiting to see how Frye and Harris performed in training camp, but the more he and Savage thought about it, the better it seemed to sign Johnson early before some other team decided it needed another quarterback.

"The bottom line is they don't feel real comfortable having rookies as their backup," Johnson said. "All rookies struggle, except the guy in Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger). Peyton Manning struggled as a rookie. John Elway did. Everybody does."

The chances of Johnson playing at some time during the season are strong. Dilfer is fit and ready to go, but he has not played a full season since 1998.

The Browns took a look at Johnson during an invitation-only tryout in May, anticipating Frye and Harris would not be ready. They decided he has the right temperament to play behind Dilfer without rocking the boat.

"I have experience as a starter and I'm ready to step in if they need me," Johnson said. "In Atlanta, I had a great relationship with Michael Vick and I can see that's how it's going to be here."

Johnson is behind because he was not signed until after minicamp. By then the veterans were on a six-week vacation leading up to the start of training camp July 29. He is spending his time in cram sessions with the offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon so he can learn the offense.

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

The fact that the Browns felt that needed to act so quickly to sign Doug Johnson, of all people, speaks volumes about the status of their QB situation. Teams aren't exactly clamoring for Johnson, yet the Browns almost couldn't wait to get their hands on him. Particularly telling is the quote "he has the right temperament to play behind Dilfer without rocking the boat". That can be loosely translated to mean, "We had to get someone, and at least this guy won't complain when he sits all season. Johnson will help in that he has some game experience, but if the Browns ever need to rely on him, the season will be a long one.


11. IDP: NE - LB Bruschi Retiring, Or Returning?

Clipped from: Boston Globe article by Nick Cafardo 6/26/05

I once thought Tedy Bruschi would never play football again. I'm not so sure now. Considering that doctors have said he's OK, how good he feels after his workouts, and the fact that he loves the game so much, we may not have seen the last of him. The Patriots must use a designation on Bruschi by July 29, so that will be a good indication of where he is.

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

Nick Cafardo, the writer of this article, has a good pulse on the goings-on in New England. If he is mentioning the possibility that Bruschi may return, that's something you'd do well to take note of. That said, Cafardo isn't saying Bruschi WILL return; merely, that there is a chance. As mentioned in the article, that July 29th deadline will be very telling as to Bruschi's future.


12. IDP: MIN - S Chavous, CB Williams Expected Back

Clipped from: VikingUpdate.com article 6/26/05

Two holdover faces were missing from developmental camps - Corey Chavous and Brian Williams. Williams has dropped to nickel back with the signing of Fred Smoot. Chavous, who is under contract, held out claiming he should be paid more.

VU has been told that the holdouts are expected to end before training camp with Williams signing his one-year offer that would make him an unrestricted free agent in 2006 and Chavous showing up on time for the start of training camp.

With all the changes expected on both sides of the ball this season, the team has made it imperative that all players be in camp when it starts as the team prepares for what it believes is the its best shot at a Super Bowl since 2000. That will include Williams and Chavous and, as of now, there is every reason for team officials to believe that their holdout periods are nearing an end.

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

Good news here for the Vikings. While it doesn't help cohesiveness to have two key members of the defense sitting out of team activities, at least it happened now and not in July and August. With so many new faces on the Vikings' defense this year, it'll be key to have everyone involved and active in making a smooth transition. The status of these two, if assumptions are correct, bodes very well for the team.


13. IDP: SEA - DT Tubbs Looks To Make Big Difference

Clipped from: Seahawks.NET staff 6/26/05

During the Holmgren Administration, Seattle's first-round picks have been equal parts bust and bounty. On the bubble in 2005 is DT Marcus Tubbs, who endured personal strife and inconsistent production in his rookie year. Now, Tubbs appears to be refocused and ready to make a big difference.

Seattle chose the former Texas defensive tackle with the 23rd overall choice last year. He didn't sign until a week into training camp, then battled injuries and personal strife while making only 13 tackles in 11 games as a rookie. The Seahawks' defense followed suit, finishing with a No. 26 ranking that marked a career low point for coordinator Ray Rhodes.

A big second season from Tubbs could help turn things around. Recent minicamps were encouraging to all parties. Tubbs reported in better physical condition, flashing improved quickness and endurance. "We challenged him," coach Mike Holmgren said. "He is a good football player, very strong, who had an average rookie year at best.

"That is kind of a pattern you see with guys that come into camp late, it happens. That happens. He is a good player and we expect him to be a big, big contributor this year. If anything less took place I would be disappointed."

Tubbs, 24, struggled last season as his mother suffered through the final stages of a four-year battle with breast cancer. She died in December. By then, Tubbs was trying unsuccessfully to come back from an ankle injury. The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder missed the final five games, counting playoffs.

"I can say right now that my mind is probably as clear as it's been in four years, since everything started," Tubbs said. He said he draws strength from his mother's memory, which comes with him on the field in the form of a rubber "breast-cancer awareness" bracelet.

"Who am I to give up when she fought for four years?" Tubbs said. "I can't go 100 percent or 110 percent on this play? When you look at it that way, there's nothing I can't do right now.".

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

We don't see Tubbs making an enormous impact at this point, mostly because of the tough year he is coming off of. But as we can see in this article, there are very valid reasons for his struggles, between the death of his mother and a painful ankle injury. So while we aren't seeing Tubbs making a fantasy impact, there are at least good signs from this article that Tubbs can begin erasing the memory of his disastrous rookie season. The Seattle defense isn't exactly a pillar of strength, so any help they can get would be a huge boost.


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

J

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