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Volume 6, Issue 81 (Friday, July 8th)

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Tonight's update brought to you by: Phenoms Fantasy Football

Phenoms Fantasy Football offers some of the best prize pay-outs you'll find: 80% cash back for a $50, 12 team league up to 95% on a $500, 12 team league. You'll also get top-notch customer support, including live online and phone help on draft day should something go wrong. Phenoms FF offers a variety of league types, include slow and live drafts, live auctions, and contract keeper leagues.

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Free, detailed player projections are posted at See what the commissioner projects for 2005!

Hi Folks,

Thanks to our Chris Smith for rounding up these stories tonight. I hope you have a great weekend - Let's get to it.



1. CHI - Rookie RB Benson May Not Sign On Time
2. DEN - Diminutive RB Griffin Working His Way Back Into The Backfield Picture
3. ATL -WR Sharod 'Roddy' White Looks To Make Major Contribution As A Rookie
4. TEN - Rookie WR Jones May Start The Year As # 2 Receiver
5. JAX - 63 Players Taking Part In Jaguars' Conditioning Program
6. DAL - Q&A With Reporter Todd Archer About Different Topics
7. MIN - Center Birk Guarantees He'll Be Ready By Week One
8. OAK - WR Gabriel On Trading Block
9. DEN - TE Carswell Taking Snaps At Both Tackle And Guard
10. IDP - Buccaneers Likely Don't Have the Cap Space To Sign Free Agent CB Law
11. IDP: DAL - Cowboys Still Interested In Veteran Safety Damien Robinson
12. IDP: SEA - New DE Fisher Should Help Team Sack Total Increase For 2005

1. CHI - Rookie RB Benson May Not Sign On Time

Clipped from: Chicago Sun-Times article by Brad Biggs

Two weeks from today, the Bears will be in 11th-hour negotiations to get running back Cedric Benson to training camp on time. That is, of course, if a deal is not struck before then, but the chances of that happening aren't good for a number of reasons, the first being that the Bears' July 23 reporting date is earlier than any other team's.

Consider also that in many cases, contracts fall like dominoes, and as of Thursday, only two players drafted on the first day had agreed to deals, one of them Bears wide receiver Mark Bradley. Bradley, a second-round pick from Oklahoma, signed for five years at $4.28 million and will count $690,000 against the team's rookie pool of $4,297,580.

The players at the top of the draft are waiting to see what riches are bestowed upon quarterback Alex Smith, the No. 1 pick by the San Francisco 49ers, who don't open camp until July 28. His agent, Tom Condon, has talked at length with the 49ers, but there's no urgency for him to finish a deal. After Smith signs, Benson might want to see what Miami's Ronnie Brown and Cleveland's Braylon Edwards receive. The Browns don't open camp for three weeks.

Parker and the Bears have negotiated first-round deals in three of the last four years. All were ready to go on time except for wide receiver David Terrell, who was 11 days late in 2001. Like Benson, he was a top-10 pick.

Last year's fourth pick, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, missed two preseason games. Four of the last eight picks in the No. 4 slot have been late, with Rivers and Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James (1999) having the shortest holdouts at 25 days.

If the Bears push for a six-year contract with Benson, they'll also have the obstacle of being able to prorate the signing bonus over only five years because of the collective bargaining agreement. That also means an option bonus paid next year could be amortized over only four years. If this is the case, Parker and the Bears will need to find more creative ways to structure the deal with various bonuses, perhaps based on playing time or performance.

One motivating factor for Benson could be the battle he is expected to have with Thomas Jones for the starting job. That's one thing the club can dangle in front of him.

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

It will be very difficult for Benson to emerge as the opening day starter if he misses time during training camp. Thomas Jones did a decent job for the Bears a year ago and Benson could have a very difficult time beating him out for the job if he misses too much camp. Running with the ball is an instinctive skill and a running back can step right in and do a great job if he has the talent to do so which Benson certainly has. However learning the other aspects of professional football such as blocking schemes, pass protection, pass routes, etc. takes a lot more time and every day he misses of training camp will set him that much further behind. On a team with no other running back options, it wouldn't matter that much but the Bears can always stick with Jones to start with while easing Benson into their plans slowly which obviously would limit his fantasy worth. We'll keep an eye on this for you and let you know what's happening as it unfolds.

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2. DEN - Diminutive RB Griffin Working His Way Back Into The Backfield Picture

Clipped from: Denver Post article by Patrick Saunders

Running back Quentin Griffin, often overlooked in discussions regarding Denver's running back corps for 2005, said Thursday that his injured knee is nearly mended. And even though Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell appear to be locked in a battle for the starting tailback job, Griffin said he's determined to regain a prominent place in the offense.

"I earned my spot to play and I want to do the same thing - earn it again," Griffin said after minicamp practice. "I don't mind coming in under the radar."

Speaking to reporters for the first time since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while returning a kickoff in Denver's Oct. 25 loss at Cincinnati, Griffin vowed he has the right stuff to contribute this season.

"I think things happen, and you're going to get up or you're going to stay down," he said. "It depends what type of person you are. You'll see what I'm made of in a little bit. I'm either going to lay down or I'm going to triumph over this injury."

Griffin was a limited participant in the Broncos' team camp last month, but coach Mike Shanahan said Griffin is close to 100 percent now.

"He's practicing full speed and he's come back and he's come back well," Shanahan said. "Anytime you have an injury like that, it takes some time. But he's worked hard with the rehabilitation, and hopefully he's ready to go."

Griffin's frustrating 2004 season came to an end with his knee injury at Cincinnati and his rehabilitation was slow until he underwent arthroscopic surgery in April to clean out cartilage in his knee. Since then, he has made steady progress.

"I tore my meniscus, too, with my ACL," he said. "That was the hardest thing to get over. I think it's a lot better now. I needed that surgery, to get me over the hump."

Griffin is not a power runner. He relies on quickness, and a healthy knee, to make defenders miss. Can he regain the elusiveness that enabled him to rush for 3,756 career yards at Oklahoma?

"That question plagues me all the time," he said. "But every day I think I'm getting a little bit better."

Asked if he has the confidence to carry the ball 25 times a game, Griffin said: "It's the NFL, yeah, but I did it in college. It's all up in the air, really. I've always had some type of confidence. I feel pretty good.

Griffin's knee requires daily treatment and he has yet to take a hit. But, he said, he's getting close.

"You'll know when I'm back," he said. "You'll see it."

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

A follow up article to the Andrew Mason story from in last night's update. This may be the most crowded backfield in recent memory. Let's see. We have Tatum Bell who is young, quick and has great elusiveness but isn't the most powerful back in the world and has had a problem with injuries. He is likely the front runner right now. Then we have Mike Anderson who had one great season as a 27-year old rookie during the 2000 campaign when he finished as the 4th overall back in fantasy football. He has had a good spring and should have another season or two before his age catches up to him. Still he has less yardage in the last four years (1,321 rushing yards) than his rookie campaign (1,487 rushing yards). Then we can throw both Ron Dayne and Maurice Clarett into the mix as two former stud collegiate players who ran into difficulty. Dayne has never had the impact expected of him as a professional with his best season having been only 770 rushing yards. However he has potential and could emerge as a Craig 'Ironhead' Heyward who did nothing in his first six NFL seasons until emerging as a threat with the Falcons. Clarett has lots of potential despite his slow forty time and has enough quickness with power to be a starting NFL running back. His problem has been with his attitude and he'll have to put that behind him to have a shot. Now to top it off, little Griffin has made his re-appearance and he believes he has a shot at the starting job. He has unbelievable quickness but his struggles last season before his injury left a sour taste in everyone's mouth which he'll have to remove with stellar play.

As you can tell from reading the blurb above, this really has the potential to be a mess. Does Tatum Bell have top-ten talent? Yes he does but if you take him in round two or round three and he doesn't win the starting job, then it is a waste of a pick. Mike Anderson can be had in the final rounds of your fantasy drafts and if you do select Bell you should make certain you grab Mike Anderson and maybe even Griffin to have a good chance at securing the fantasy points for the Broncos' running back position.

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3. ATL -WR Sharod 'Roddy' White Looks To Make Major Contribution As A Rookie

Clipped from: article by Seth Polansky

He is one of the most electrifying players on the Atlanta Falcons roster, if not the NFL. His offensive skills are phenomenal. That's why he merits all the praise. But this isn't Michael Vick we're talking about. This is wide receiver Sharod "Roddy" White, the first-round draft pick that is about to change Atlanta from a running team to a passing team.

"Every day I go into practice and try to get better, and every day I try to bring a new energy to the team," White said. "I try to step my game up every day. It's been working for me so far."

The 27th overall pick this year had been flying up the draft boards ever since his final collegiate game, even though he didn't participate in February's combine. The reason why he started under the radar was because White attended Alabama-Birmingham, a school known more for a men's basketball team that seems to always pull off first-round upsets in the NCAA Tournament than its football team.

"This is amazing for me right now. It's my lifetime dream and I never thought it'd be accomplished, especially going to a school like UAB, where they're not known for having first-round draft picks. This is the spot where I felt I wanted to be at. I think I have the skills to be here; now I just have to fit in with everyone," White said.

White seemed to back up his draft hype. At the team's first minicamp, coaches and teammates were amazed at White's speed, agility and the way he didn't drop any passes. Apparently it didn't take long for White to get adjusted to the pro game. Holding onto a scorching pass from Vick is one thing, but it's another to block for him.

"I want to catch at least 60 passes this year and help out the offense any way I can," said White. "We want to get everything going on the outside so the inside can get even better. I'm looking forward to getting out there and competing. I want to strap my pads on and show everyone what I can really do.

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

If you are looking for the 2005 version of Michael Clayton or Anquan Boldin, perhaps you should look no farther than Roddy White of the Falcons who has no shortage of confidence and ability. What Clayton and Boldin have in common is they each played for a team that was desperate for a playmaking receiver to emerge right out of the gate and they both made the most of that opportunity to shine. White is in a similar spot to those two in that the Falcons really need a fast, consistent receiver to come forward and begin making plays for Michael Vick and White certainly has a lot of faith in his own abilities. We currently have his projected receiver numbers very low as he is a raw rookie but we'll keep an eye on him throughout camp and let you know how effective he has been. Without question, White is an intriguing player for the upcoming season and beyond.

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4. TEN - Rookie WR Jones May Start The Year As # 2 Receiver

Clipped from: Titans Radio article by Ward Poston

While he has only been with the Titans through mini camp, some observers think rookie wide receiver Brandon Jones could start for the Titans this fall.

"I mean I wouldn't say that's a true statement, I'm just going out there everyday and work like everybody else is," Jones said. "I mean I just go out there and work hard and learn from the vets and just try to do the best I can.'

Jones, a third round draft pick, was a solid receiver at Oklahoma despite playing in the shadow of Mark Bradley and Mark Clayton.

"Coach Sherman has helped out a lot. He's a great guy. I love playing for him," Jones said. "He keeps it fun out there and he keeps it fun in the meetings. He has helped me out tremendously and I appreciate him a lot."

Jones hopes that by the end of training camp he will have earned a secure spot on the roster by his consistency and performance.

"It's all about performing and catching the football and knowing what to do out there," Jones said. "I'm trying to be consistent in what I do. Catching the football and learning everything out there. I just want to be consistent all the way through."

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

It would be a surprise if Brandon Jones started the season as a starting receiver but with the departure of Derrick Mason, there is a giant hole to be filled at the receiver slot. If Jones can have a strong preseason, he will certainly be in the running to start for the Titans right out of the gate. We currently have him putting up solid rookie numbers (30 receptions, 450 yards and 3 touchdowns) but we acknowledge that he has a shot to exceed those expectations if everything goes his way.

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5. JAX - 63 Players Taking Part In Jaguars' Conditioning Program

Clipped from: article by Vic Ketchman

The Jaguars' offseason conditioning program will officially end next week. Fortunately for Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, the team is not offering incentives for 100 percent attendance.

That's what the Seattle Seahawks did for their offseason program. Players who achieved 100 percent attendance would receive camcorders. How many camcorders did Seahawks owner Paul Allen have to buy? Three.

"Wayne Weaver would have to buy 63," Jaguars Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Asanovich said.

Asanovich is the architect of the physique of coach Jack Del Rio's team, and Asanovich operates with a unique philosophy: "What's the least amount of work I have to do to be in the best condition?" Asanovich said.

You see, Asanovich wants to make sure the Jaguars save their best for game day. He wants the Jaguars to build their bodies up, not wear them down.

"We're looking for the least amount of exercise that'll give us the most effect. There is a point of diminishing return," Asanovich said. "The thing we want to achieve with every offseason program is to get stronger, to get more cardiovascular fit. We have players who buy into that system. We don't do a lot but what we do we do hard. The intangible you get from an offseason program is the chemistry you build."

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

It may not mean anything to actual regular season success but having the majority of your players show up for a volunteer camp showcases a professional attitude and a collective goal of improving the team's fortunes for the upcoming season. A team that lives, breaths, eats and sleeps together is going to have a bond and shared goals that other teams won't be able to match. Ultimately it always comes down to talent, but all things being equal. I will take the players willing to put the extra 10% effort in as a family than the players on a team that would rather do their own thing and accomplish their own goals. Only three Seahawks took the time to show up for 100% of the Conditioning camp? That is just sad.

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6. DAL - Q&A With Reporter Todd Archer About Different Topics

Clipped from: article By Todd Archer

Todd Archer chatted about the Cowboys on Thursday, July 7.

WillinNY: With all the young talent the Cowboys seem to have drafted, it seems like Parcells would want to stick around through the 2006 season. Seems like this team could be salty in '06. Whatcha think?

Todd Archer: His contract runs through 2006, but if the Cowboys don't win this year (however you want to define winning) then I could see a scenario in which Parcells calls it quits. I know he takes pride in the success the Jets have had, largely, with the players he signed and drafted and would like to see that happen here in Dallas.

Blue33: You've written a lot about Demarcus Ware. How many snaps a game will he get? What kind of season do you think he'll have?

Todd Archer: Ware will be one of the starting outside linebackers. He was pretty impressive in the minicamp, especially for a guy that has never played linebacker. He was in position to make a ton of plays. Now, he didn't always make the play but he was there. He'll need some time, but he has the work ethic, attitude and ability to be a very good one.

Karl, Pilot Point: How serious is Quincy Morgan's shoulder injury?

Todd Archer: Morgan will be ready for training camp. It's a setback because he needed all the work he could get this off-season.

Jerry Caliendo, Mesquite: Do Jerry and Bill have plans to bring in another veteran incase something unfortunate happens to Bledsoe? Or would Henson be the man to fill in should Bledsoe (knock on wood) get injured for an extended period of time?

Todd Archer: Well, Vinny Testaverde will be available if something happened to Bledsoe and we know Parcells' affinity for the veteran. But I just don't see them bringing in a veteran, unless Bledsoe is out for the year. But said veteran wouldn't be a starter. If Bledsoe goes down they have to take a look at Henson or Tony Romo. At some point you have to find out if these guys can play.

Robert Butler: What is the deal with Drew Henson, will he have a chance to play? How is he looking in minicamps?

Todd Archer: We only got to see one minicamp with Henson, and you could see a noted difference in the velocity of his passes. They tinkered with his motion a little and it seems to have helped. He definitely has a chance to play, and I believe not playing him late last season was a mistake. As far as being the starter, that only happens if Bledsoe goes down or has a Chad Hutchinson-like training camp. And I don't expect that to happen.

Bruce Budysz, Whitelaw, Wisc.: Any chance the Cowboys would take a look at wide out Koren Robinson? Maybe help him get his act together. The receiver corps has me worried a bit, both injury and age.

Todd Archer: In a word, no. Robinson has had some major off-field issues and he has difficulties catching passes. That doesn't sound like an upgrade, even if he was a first-round pick. Here's the deal: Parcells does not use four-wide receiver sets often, so what you'll see is Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, Quincy Morgan and Jason Witten on the field a lot. The Cowboys fourth and fifth receivers (Patrick Crayton, Terrance Copper) have to play special teams. They will address receiver next year in the draft. You're right they are older, but not Jerry Rice-old.

Ray, Dallas: Expectations for Julius this season?

Todd Archer: I don't think it would be fair to expect Jones to run for 1,700 yards, but he was impressive in the final half of the season. I'd see him in the 1,300-1,500 range with 10 or so touchdowns. Here's a prediction: he makes the Pro Bowl ... if he stays healthy.

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

It's always helpful to hear a reporter's thoughts on the team who follows the situation closely. Archer spends a lot of time around the Cowboys camp and he gets to see a lot of stuff first hand. The most interesting of the tidbits above is how the Cowboys will likely stick with Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Quincy Morgan at receiver as Parcells will rarely utilize more than a three receiver package and his expectations of Julius Jones making the Pro Bowl in a conference featuring Shaun Alexander, Deuce McAllister, Ahman Green, Kevin Jones, Tiki Barber and Clinton Portis.

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7. MIN - Center Birk Guarantees He'll Be Ready By Week One

Clipped from: Pioneer Press article by Charley Walters

Vikings Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, who six weeks ago underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, said Thursday he guarantees he will play in the season opener Sept. 11 against Tampa Bay at the Metrodome. Birk will begin running next week.

"I feel great; this right hip will not keep me out of the regular-season opener," said Birk, 28, who has been working out regularly at Winter Park. "That's 100 percent guaranteed. I'm like superhuman. At least that's what I tell myself."

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

A healthy Matt Birk is an important part of the Vikings offense and it would be a major plus for the team if he can play right out of the gate. The center is the leader of an offense and Birk has been doing it for years. He is the leader of the offensive line and is clearly one of the finest centers currently in the NFL when he is healthy. It certainly sounds like he will be ready in time but we won't really know until the season is upon us.

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8. OAK - WR Gabriel On Trading Block

Clipped from: USA Today article by Matt Pitzer

The Raiders are interested in trading Doug Gabriel, who some teams think could develop into a No. 2 receiver. He currently is slotted to be Oakland's fourth receiver.

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

Doug Gabriel has a lot of talent and could emerge as a good starting receiver. He isn't a can't miss prospect but he could certainly be picked up by a team if the price is right. He has yet to have a 100-yard receiving game and has two career touchdowns. A player to watch if he is traded but not a player you should give up too much for.

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9. TEN - McNair Watching Titans' RT Competition Closely

Clipped from: Rocky Mountain News article by Lee Rasizer

Dwayne Carswell is on the move again. After another brief trial at offensive tackle - and 11 years as a tight end - Carswell, one of the Denver Broncos' longest-tenured players, is taking snaps this week at right guard behind projected starter Cooper Carlisle. The coaching staff had discussed a possible switch before P.J. Alexander's season-ending left knee injury in late May firmed up those plans.

Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak called playing guard "a big- time mental task" because of the communication necessary with the center and various combination blocks used in the interior line.

"Putting him in there right away hopefully will help him," Kubiak said.

"They're trying me out a little bit of everywhere," Carswell said. "Everything will work out the way it'll work out. It's unfortunate P.J. got hurt and I'm in the mix now to back up or do whatever I can do to help the team out."

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

In terms of Carswell's career, it is a great thing to be so versatile and it is a nice luxury for the Broncos to be able to set him up in so many positions within the offense. In terms of possible fantasy production though, this pretty much closes the curtain on Carswell as his fantasy prospects were looking pretty bleak before being slotted into the offensive line rotation. If you are targeting the Broncos' tight end position this year in your fantasy drafts, don't consider drafting Carswell.

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10. IDP - Buccaneers Likely Don't Have the Cap Space To Sign Free Agent CB Law

Clipped from: USA Today article by Matt Pitzer

The Bucs' interest in free agent cornerback Ty Law is a mirage because they don't have the cap room to even sign their draft picks. Law's hometown Steelers, whom he's already visited, are looking like a better option.

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

Round and round the 'Law-Go-Round' goes. Where it stops, nobody knows. The fact is it will be very hard for Ty Law to find any team that will employ him if he isn't willing to temper his outlandish salary demands. He was once an elite cornerback but he is now both injured and older and it is very doubtful a team is going to shell out big bucks to see him. Even if the Steelers scoop him up, don't expect him to find the big salary he was after. He can still help a team get better but the price has to be right.

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11. IDP: DAL - Cowboys Still Interested In Veteran Safety Damien Robinson

Clipped from: Star-Telegraph article by Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Free-agent safety Damien Robinson worked out for the Cowboys on Thursday for second time this off-season in hopes of landing a contract.

The eight-year NFL veteran, who spent last season on the Seattle Seahawks' injured reserve list, played in high school at Dallas Hillcrest and said he would love to resume his career with the team for which he grew up rooting.

Robinson, who also has worked out for the Buffalo Bills, said the decision is now in the hands of the Cowboys and his agent, James Gould.

The Cowboys have been in the market for a free safety to start opposite strong safety Roy Williams. They signed veteran Izell Reese in June to compete with holdovers Keith Davis and Lynn Scott. They could add Robinson to the mix before training camp starts July 28 or bring him in if Reese, Davis or Scott don't pan out in the preseason.

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

Robinson should be considered a good 'depth' pickup but he isn't really the answer for a team looking for a starting free safety. He has had a solid NFL career and if healthy, he will be able to help a team by providing depth and veteran leadership coming off of the bench. It would be a surprise if he wound up starting for a team this year barring injuries.

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12. IDP: SEA - New DE Fisher Should Help Team Sack Total Increase For 2005

Clipped from: article

You can never have too much sacks.

The Seahawks thought as much when they signed free agent DE Bryce Fisher last March. Fresh off a career-high 8.5 sack performance in 2004 with St. Louis, Fisher rejoins former Rams teammate Grant Wistrom in anchoring the left and right ends for the Seahawks.

"I played behind him for two years in St. Louis, and he taught me a lot of good stuff," said Fisher. "When it came time for me to step in and be the starter, I just tried to continue the things he had done, because he was an icon in St. Louis. And we're trying to do some things here to get to that status in Seattle."

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

Bryce Fisher will certainly help upgrade the pass rush for the Seahawks in 2005. He and teammate Grant Wistrom should manage to get a strong rush going from the outside.

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


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