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Volume 6, Issue 84 (Monday, July 11th)

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Tonight's update brought to you by:
EA SPORTS FANTASY FOOTBALL

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Hi Folks,

Thanks to our Mark Wimer for rounding up these stories tonight. I hope you have a great Tuesday. Let's get to it.

Joe Bryant


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. PHI - WR Owens Says "Hoping to Be Back" With Eagles - Leg "90%" Healed
2. DAL - TE Campbell Looking to Help Offense in '05
3. NYJ - Rookie Nugent to Handle PK Duties
4. MIA - TE McMichael Arrested for Allegedly Beating Wife... Again
5. NFL - EA QB Challenge on CBS Saturday, Sunday; Then on NFL Network Monday
6. ARZ - RB Arrington to be a Big Part of Offense
7. NFL - TV Analysts, Studio Package Shuffle in 2006? (Commentary)

1. PHI - WR Owens Says "Hoping to Be Back" With Eagles - Leg "90%" Healed

Clipped from: Philadelphia Daily News article by Les Bowen, 7/11/05

Owens repeatedly mentioned how adulation from the fans "pumps me up" on the field, and recalled the huge crowds that flocked to training camp at Lehigh last year.

"I'm hoping to be back in a Philly uniform. We'll see how that plays out," he said.

Owens' comments yesterday, to the campers and in a couple of brief media interviews, were his first to Philadelphia-area reporters since his charity weekend in Atlanta a little more than a month ago. In interviews around that time, Owens emphasized that he didn't "have to play for the Eagles," a sentiment that didn't seem to play well with fans who were unmoved by Owens' contention that he needs to rework his Eagles contract after one season to "take care of my family." Owens made about $9.5 million last season, and will make about $3.5 million this season, but he apparently feels the $7.5 million in non-guaranteed roster and signing-bonus money he is due in 2006 might influence the Eagles to cut him then, at age 32.

Owens told the campers to have fun on the field, and then worked in a reference to Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, whose relationship with Owens has seemed strained since Owens back in April told ESPN.com that he wasn't "the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl" - a swipe at McNabb's performance on the Eagles' final scoring drive of the 24-21 loss to New England.

"I'm kind of a serious person," Owens said yesterday. "Donovan brings out the silly side of me."

As with the charity weekend in Atlanta, an Owens publicist would not allow reporters to ask T.O. about his contract or his dispute with the team...

Owens indicated no decision has been made on whether to report to training camp, if the Eagles continue to refuse to discuss his contract.

"Wait 'til July 29th," said Owens, referring to the date when rookies and select veterans are scheduled to report. Most veterans - including Owens, an Eagles spokesman said - are scheduled to report Aug. 1.

Owens skipped the Eagles' minicamps this spring. He made a joke about that causing him to drop a pass during his session with the youth players. "This is my first camp. I expected to be a little rusty," he said.

Owens' lack of offseason participation, since his amazing nine-catch, 122-yard Super Bowl performance, playing with his right fibula still held together by surgical screws, has angered Eagles management and undoubtedly played a role in the team turning down flat an overture from the Sacramento Kings for T.O. to play for their summer-league team, a little more than a week ago.

"I was looking forward to it," said Owens, who played varsity basketball at Tennessee-Chattanooga and played briefly for Adirondack of the USBL in 2002. "It was an unfortunate situation. The team asked for permission and we got denied, but it just shows you the talent I have for [the Kings] to even consider the possibility of me playing in the NBA. I know a lot of people thought it was a little far-fetched. I read some comment that some NBA coaches said me playing in the NBA was just a dream, and that's all it would be... I've never been a person to shy away from a challenge, and I just appreciate the opportunity."

Owens estimated his right ankle and leg were "a little bit more than 90 percent." He said if the contract issue were resolved, he would be physically ready for training camp.

"The last couple of weeks, I've gotten on the track, I've run a little bit, I've played basketball," Owens said. "That's not nearly as strenuous as football. The times that I've been on the track I've noticed that I've been really, really sore, as far as the hamstrings and joints and everything, because I haven't really sprinted since February, but I'm getting my timing down."

Owens said he recently was hand-timed at 4.41 seconds for the 40, laser-timed at 4.5 to 4.6. "That was positive for me... I'm just looking forward to getting back on the field," he said.

Of course, there is no guarantee that will happen this season, given the contract impasse.

"These are my new teammates this year," Owens joked as he gathered campers around him for an on-camera interview with Comcast SportsNet.

"I'm just looking for people to do the right thing," Owens said during that interview. "I've prepared myself just like I was [definitely] going to go into camp... I'm looking to score a lot of touchdowns and keep the crowd on their feet.

"Everybody knows what's at stake. If we can be grownups about it and get everything resolved, then that's what I'll do."

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

Owens' comments seem to be aimed more at appeasing the fans in Philly than management. Although I wonder how many Eagles fans laughed at the joke about the kids being his "new teammates" or the being rusty as this was his "first camp". We'll see if talks between Owens and the team get jump-started as training camp looms ever larger on the horizon - stay tuned.

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2. DAL - TE Campbell Looking to Help Offense in '05

Clipped from: Dallas Star-Telegram article by Mac Engel, 7/11/05

...now (TE Dan) Campbell is again a part of it.

Easily forgotten in the anticipation created by the off-season's free-agent signings and the two No. 1 draft picks is the return of one of the Cowboys' most overlooked blockers and most respected "in the room guys."

Campbell will never have the statistical impact of a Pro Bowler, but his absence last season created a hole that only he can fill. And his return makes everything on the offense a little bit better.

"He's a key to this team being successful," said first-year Cowboys cornerback Aaron Glenn, who is Campbell's friend and former teammate at Texas A&M.

"When I got here, coach Bill Parcells told me, 'We have two damn good tight ends.' That's big for Parcells to compliment you. Dan is a guy who wants everyone clicking. Every team doesn't have that kind of guy. They should; the good teams do."

Without Campbell, the Cowboys weren't good.

At the time Campbell was injured, the Cowboys were 2-1. No one is saying that Campbell's injury was the reason the Cowboys finished 6-10 in 2004. But no one believes the Cowboys would have finished 10-6 and made the playoffs in 2003 without him, either.

"He's not a yeller or a screamer, but everyone in this room respects that guy," fellow tight end Jason Witten said. "Not having him around, or his leadership abilities, made a difference."

Forced to watch games rather than play, Campbell wonders just how much of a difference he would have made.

"I would like to think I would have helped a little bit," he said. He shrugged and added, "But we lost Terry Glenn. We lost Darren Woodson. Julius [Jones] was out for a while. There were so many things."

Campbell won't remind anyone of Jay Novacek, but he makes Witten a likely Pro Bowler again and frees him up to be the third receiving option the Cowboys need.

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

Campbell is important as a run-blocker and pass-protector in the Cowboy's scheme. He won't rack up big fantasy points (as the article points out), but he'll help Julius Jones and Jason Witten do well during their 2005 efforts. The torn tendons in his foot are reported to be fully healed and he looks ready to contribute.

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3. NYJ - Rookie Nugent to Handle PK Duties

Clipped from: Star-Ledger article by Dave Hutchinson, 7/11/05

In just three weeks, when the Jets report to camp, all eyes in the Jets locker room will be on kicker Mike Nugent, selected -- amid controversy -- with the first of two second-round picks, the 47th selection overall. Nugent, from Ohio State, was the first kicker taken this year and the highest one chosen since the Oakland Raiders grabbed Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th pick overall in 2000. Nugent replaced postseason goat Doug Brien, who was released after Nugent was taken.

While the Jets' selection touched off a debate -- are kickers worth a high-round draft pick? -- it also brought to light another problem: Kickers, already seen as head cases, face even more pressure when selected with a high draft pick. Nugent will be trying to make it in the toughest sports media market, and he already has had a taste of the scrutiny here: At an earlier minicamp, media members charted each of his kicks.

"I've never had any concern with my confidence," Nugent said. "It has always been my goal that if we get to a certain goal line that we're going to get at least three points. My next step to get that confidence in everyone else -- my teammates, my coaches."

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

Nugent will be kicking in an outdoor, cold-weather stadium, and the Jets visit other AFC-East open-air stadiums, so factor that in. (Although to be fair, so does Adam Vinatieri...) Even so, it might be a little optimistic to expect a ton of points from him during your late season fantasy playoff run, especially if your league awards extra points for longer field goals (the only warm-weather game for the Jets from November 20th to the end of the season goes down December 18th at division-rival Miami). Week 16 the Jets play New England in the Meadowlands on Monday Night Football, so Nugent will have the deck stacked against him weather-wise during most league's fantasy championship game.

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4. MIA - TE McMichael Arrested for Allegedly Beating Wife... Again

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 7/11/05

Miami Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael is facing charges for the second time in 13 months for allegedly hitting his wife.

McMichael was arrested early Saturday morning in Columbia County after witnesses told police that he had given his wife, Cawanna, a bloody nose.

The 26-year-old McMichael was taken to the Columbia County Detention Center, where he was charged with simple battery and criminal trespass. McMichael was released just before 7 a.m. Saturday after posting a $2,200 bond, according to jail records.

According to the police report, McMichael acknowledged he had two glasses of wine and several beers before arguing with his wife, but he refused to take a field Breathalyzer test.

Cawanna McMichael, 22, told police the contact with her husband was an accident as he was throwing some of her belongings out of their 1984 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

Four witnesses told police they saw McMichael throw his wife from the car. One witness told police he saw the athlete throw his wife away from the vehicle several times, according to the report.

Cawanna McMichael was treated at the scene.

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

If the allegations are true (McMichael has a history here: he was arrested last year for assaulting his wife - when she was pregnant with his child - but the charges were dismissed), then McMichael could be in for some sort of suspension/league disciplinary action. Coach Saban dumped reserve DB Quintin Williams earlier this year for a DUI arrest (also, Q. Williams was allegedly drag-racing) - what will he do with the Dolphins' alleged domestic-abuser tight end? Stay tuned...

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5. NFL - EA QB Challenge on CBS Saturday, Sunday; Then on NFL Network Monday

Clipped from: ESPN.com article by Staff, 7/11/05

Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger are among the quarterbacks who will test their skills in the EA Sports challenge this weekend.

Detroit's Joey Harrington and Carolina's Jake Delhomme also will compete in four skill areas that include accuracy, speed and mobility, distance and "no huddle" offense.

The "no huddle" timed event involves passes to receivers Torry Holt (St. Louis), Joe Horn (New Orleans), Chad Johnson (Cincinnati) and Keenan McCardell (San Diego).

NFL greats John Elway, Boomer Esiason, Bernie Kosar and Dan Marino also will compete in a separate event. The two one-hour specials air Saturday and Sunday on CBS.

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

For those of us (this writer included) in desperate need of some sort of NFL action, the episodes air at 5-6 P.M. ET Saturday, July 16th and 2-3 P.M. ET Sunday, July 17th on CBS and will be rebroadcast from 8-10 P.M. ET on the NFL Network on Monday, July 18th . The 2004 QB challenge runs on the NFL Network from 4-6 P.M. on Monday as well. Thanks EA SPORTS

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6. ARZ - RB Arrington To Be A Big Part Of Offense

Clipped from: CBS Sportsline.com article 7/11/05

It also sounds like (WR Larry) Fitzgerald knows what to expect from Arrington in 2005.

"J.J.'s going to get the ball a lot," he said. "We've put a lot of stuff in (the playbook) for him so far in minicamps, so there are high expectations for him. ... J.J. will be a big part of (our offense) this year."

Arrington confirmed that while he has not heard anything about being a starter, he has been told to expect to see the football a lot.

"They said they were going to give me a lot of touches," said Arrington, who said he worked with both the first and second teams during offseason minicamps and OTAs and hopes to complete studying the playbook before training camp. He also appeared to have added a little weight to his upper body.

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

With many fantasy owners overspending on running backs early, Arrington is a guy that I want to watch very closely this summer. Most of our Experts currently have Arrington in the 20-25 range Real Time RB Rankings Here but that could change once we start to see more of him in camp. If you've played fantasy football long enough, you've likely been disappointed by a Cardinal, but there are absolutely some very intriguing players in Arizona this year worth watching closely. And Arrington is one.

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7. NFL - TV Analysts, Studio Package Shuffle in 2006? (Commentary)

Clipped from: Pro Football Weekly.com article by Staff, 7/11/05

With John Madden signing a six-year contract for a reported $24 million to be the lead color analyst of NBC's Sunday-night NFL package beginning in 2006, is his longtime ABC partner Al Michaels preparing to follow in his hefty footsteps?

That's one of many intriguing questions on the NFL's TV front - the primary focus of "The Way We Hear It" in this issue, since most of the league's teams have shut down for a spell and are currently making vacation time a top priority.

As far as Michaels is concerned, our sources tell us there's an excellent chance he will join Madden at NBC as the Sunday-night lead announcer.

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

While this piece is not directly fantasy related, the football broadcasters shape the weekly NFL experience for almost all fantasy owners - this article covers the likely additions and subtractions on the horizon for the various broadcast teams on networks that carry the NFL.

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

J

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