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Volume 6, Issue 87 (Thursday, July 14th)

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Tonight's update brought to you by:
The World Championships of Fantasy Football (WCOFF)

There are still a few spots left in this year's WCOFF, so please check out their website (WCOFF.com) if you're interested in competing for the largest grand prize in fantasy football history! More good news about the WCOFF...they now offer WCOFF online Satellite Leagues. For only $200, you can earn a spot in the 2006 WCOFF. That includes air fare and hotel accommodations. You can check out their Satellite Leagues by going to http://www.xpertsports.com/wcoff

Joe's Note: You've heard me talk about the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF.com) before. I was there last year in Las Vegas and it's an excellent event. One of our Footballguys subscribers has won the $200,000 grand prize in 2002, 2003 and 2004 - and I want to make sure it happens again in 2005.

Web Address: http://www.wcoff.com

Hi Folks,

Thanks to our Maurile Tremblay for rounding up these stories tonight. I hope you have a great Friday. Let's get to it.

Joe Bryant


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. WAS - Get The Ball To TE Cooley
2. PHI - Life Without WR Owens
3. JAX - RB Taylor's Workout Encourages Coaches
4. GB - WR Walker Holds Key To Receiving Mix
5. IDP: NYJ - CB Abraham To Retire
6. IDP: KC - Life Without CB Warfield
7. IDP: MIA - DT Wright Drafted By Dolphins
8. IDP: DAL - FS Position Up For Grabs

1. WAS - Get The Ball To TE Cooley

Clipped from: Redskins.com article, 7/14/05

Chris Cooley was among the pleasant surprises of the 2004 season. From the first days of mini-camp, when he admitted nervousness to lining up across from LaVar Arrington, to the last game of the season when he caught a team-high sixth touchdown pass, the soft-spoken Cooley was a refreshing presence on and off the field.

Cooley's six touchdown catches were the most by an H-back/tight end under Joe Gibbs. Cooley emerged as one of the team's most reliable targets, particularly around the goal line.

"I would never have expected something like that," Cooley said of his knack for catching touchdowns. "I feel really lucky to be in an offense where I have the chance to do that."

Cooley's toughness adds to his value on offense. He didn't miss a game last season and he always fights for extra yards after the catch. He finished with 37 catches for 314 yards.

"When you are looking for core group people who you are going to build around long-term, you want guys who line up every down," Gibbs said. "That's really important as a coach for you to decide that this guy is going to line up every down and you can count on him."

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

Cooley made most of his noise around the goal line last year, but the Redskins plan to give him a bigger role in the base offense this year. He is not a great blocker, but is working to improve in that area, and head coach Joe Gibbs has commented that he thinks Cooley has the ability to run after the catch if he gets the ball more often in the middle of the field. Cooley is not an upper-tier fantasy tight end, but he's in that huge tier of late-round TEs who have decent potential, along with Doug Jolley, Jerramy Stevens, Freddie Jones, Marcus Pollard, Jeb Putzier, etc. The availability of so many TEs with decent prospects in the late rounds is the reason many people do not like spending an early-round pick at the position.

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2. PHI - Life Without WR Owens

Clipped from: philadelphiaeagles.com article by Zach Berman, 7/14/05

Of course, the big question centers on Terrell Owens and whether No. 81 will end his prolonged attempt at a new contract and arrive at Lehigh University on time and ready for action.

If T.O. prefers to stay away, then his time away will certainly benefit some of the younger receivers, including second-round pick Reggie Brown, who saw additional reps in the spring camps that Owens missed.

The other starter is Todd Pinkston. While he's received criticism in the past, Pinkston is productive and fits his role.

Then things get interesting.

Freddie Mitchell, the team's No. 3 or slot receiver, was cut after four seasons, and the Eagles have a young group of pass-catchers vying to take his place.

Greg Lewis is the name most often floated around. The former undrafted free agent really emerged late last season, including his first career touchdown catch in the Super Bowl. He's the fastest receiver on the roster, and he seems to have a nose for the big play. But how will he handle increased action?

Brown is hot on Lewis' tail. Brown has the attitude you like in a receiver: he's confident and ready to make plays. He displayed that in the mini-camps, but how will he perform when the pads go on and the contact begins?

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

The Eagles have no shortage of receivers who could be decent #3 WRs, but aside from Owens, they may not have much in the way of quality starters. Pinkston makes some exceptional plays, but has been inconsistent throughout his career. Lewis and Brown are inexperienced and unproven. Billy McMullen and Justin Jenkins will also compete for playing time, but neither appears to be a threat to start.

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3. JAX - RB Taylor's Workout Encourages Coaches

Clipped from: jaguars.com article, 7/14/05

Jack Del Rio liked what he saw in Fred Taylor, but that doesn't mean the Jaguars have lost interest in trading for Buffalo running back Travis Henry.

"I was very encouraged; the fact that he's gaining strength and he's able to do the cutting and the acceleration he's going to have to do to be Fred," Del Rio said of his evaluation of Taylor's workout this past Monday.

Del Rio's family vacation in the Florida panhandle was cut short by Hurricane Dennis, but the Jaguars coach's spirits were buoyed by Taylor's workout. Taylor underwent knee surgery in January that forced him to miss all of the spring workouts while he rehabilitated the knee.

When spring practices ended on June 22, Del Rio told reporters he would observe Taylor in July before the start of training camp to determine what Taylor's availability would be for camp. Following Monday's audition, Del Rio has put together a plan for Taylor's training camp participation.

"My thought is he'll be on the field for the first shorts practice. We'll open camp with Fred but we'll practice him once a day and it'll be in shorts. We'll monitor him during that first week. We want to see his strength continue to improve. The big thing for Fred is to continue to increase the strength in that leg. He won't take part in the scrimmage but, leading up to the (preseason) game against Miami, we'd like to work him into the padded practices," Del Rio said.

"(Assistant trainer) Joe Sheehan has done a great job with the rehab and Fred has worked his butt off. I was very encouraged with where he is three weeks before camp; actually, two weeks now," Del Rio added.

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

Previous headlines involving Taylor this season have focused on how his injury was worse than was initially let on by the team. While this report has a much more positive spin, it is noteworthy that Taylor will not be ready for contact when training camp opens, and that the Jaguars are still interested in trading for the Bills' Travis Henry. If the Jaguars do trade for Henry, that severely hampers LaBrandon Toefield's value in dynasty leagues since Henry is only 26 years old.

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4. GB - WR Walker Holds Key To Receiving Mix

Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article by Rick Braun, 7/14/05

At some point between now and the beginning of the 2005 season, the Green Bay Packers will know the status of their wide receivers corps.

For now, the only two who know are Javon Walker and Drew Rosenhaus.

In his third season, Walker delivered a breakthrough year in 2004, pulling in 89 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. He became not only Brett Favre's favorite target, but his most reliable one. Simply put, Walker caught darn near everything thrown his way.

And when he caught it, he did plenty with it.

Problem is, Walker decided that his breakthrough season meant he should have a breakthrough paycheck. With two seasons left on his original five-year contract, Walker hired Rosenhaus as his agent, then went AWOL for the Packers' two minicamps.

So the question is: Will Walker be at training camp when veterans are scheduled to report on July 27?

If he is, the Packers should be looking at another big year for their passing game.

Walker, Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson formed a potent 1-2-3 punch, with Driver also topping the 1,000-yard mark in 2004.

Driver's 84 catches, 1,208 yards and nine touchdowns would have made him a No. 1 receiver on at least 20 other NFL teams. That he was No. 2 on the Packers made the Green Bay receiving corps among the top three in the league, along with Indianapolis and St. Louis.

Walker and Driver gave the Packers two 1,000-yard receivers for the first time since Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder turned the trick in 1999.

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

We would be very surprised if Javon Walker ends up holding out during the regular season. If it happens, though, Robert Ferguson would probably be the primary beneficiary. Donald Driver should get plenty of looks with or without Walker around, but Ferguson's value would receive a significant boost if he moves from the #3 WR into a starting role.

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5. IDP: NYJ - CB Abraham To Retire

Clipped from: Clipped from: ESPN.com article by Len Pasquarelli, 7/14/05

Nine-year veteran cornerback Donnie Abraham, who has wavered throughout the spring on his future and sat out much of the New York Jets' offseason conditioning program as he deliberated whether he wanted to return for 2005, has decided to retire.

Abraham, 31, informed Jets officials of his decision within the past few days. Reacting to Abraham's decision, the Jets on Thursday acquired third-year veteran corner Pete Hunter from the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2006 draft.

New York also is in discussions with free agent cornerback Ty Law, formerly of the New England Patriots, and the Jets might now be the front-runner to secure the four-time Pro Bowl performer. Jets officials have stayed in touch with Law and his representatives over the last few months and the level of discussions has escalated a bit. Law's agents are also speaking with other clubs, notably the Jacksonville Jaguars, but no team has yet offered a deal commensurate to what the 10-year veteran is seeking.

One of the NFL's classiest performers, Abraham is leaving the game on his terms, and at a point when he is still a very productive player. Abraham started all 16 games in 2004 and finished with 54 tackles, two interceptions and 17 passes defensed.

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

If Abraham had returned, he would have been a starter at CB for the Jets, so his retirement leaves them looking for alternatives, and they wasted no time in trading for the Cowboys' Peter Hunter. David Barrett will start on the right side, but the left side will now be an open competition between Peter Hunter, Ray Mickens, Derrick Strait, and rookie second-round pick Justin Miller.

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6. IDP: KC - Life Without CB Warfield

Clipped from: kcchiefs.com article by Jonathan Rand, 7/14/05

The Chiefs finally can stop guessing whether Eric Warfield will be suspended. Now that they know their starting left cornerback will be missing for the difficult four-game stretch at the start of the season, they can make their plans accordingly.

The Chiefs had assumed Warfield would receive this penalty for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy and bought insurance in free agent cornerback Ashley Ambrose. Now they can go ahead and designate a starting left cornerback at the start of training camp and have him as well prepared as possible for opening day. Among current Chiefs, the starter likely would be Ambrose or Dexter McCleon.

While it's obvious the Chiefs would rather not try to cover the likes of Oakland's Randy Moss and Jerry Porter and Philadelphia's Terrell Owens without a fully-loaded secondary, this is not really a crisis. The Chiefs should consider themselves fortunate if Warfield is the only starter they lose between now and September 11, when they open at home against the New York Jets.

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

Warfield's suspension increases the likelihood that the Chiefs will try to sign former Patriot Ty Law to a contract. Law is coming off serious foot injuries, however, and the Chiefs would probably want confirmation from their medical staff that Law will be ready to play at the beginning of the season when Warfield is serving his suspension.

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7. IDP: MIA - DT Wright Drafted By Dolphins

Clipped from: ESPN.com article by John Clayton, 7/14/05

The Miami Dolphins selected USC defensive tackle Manuel Wright in the fifth round of the NFL supplemental draft Thursday.

Wright, 22, was considered a potential first-round choice in 2007 had he stayed in USC. He was hoping to go in the first or second round. A disappointing workout Friday at which he weighed 329 pounds didn't help his case.

"We believe we have gotten great value from our supplemental pick by adding a player of Manuel's talent to our roster at the critical position of defensive line, "Dolphins coach Nick Saban said.

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

Wright was the only player selected in the draft. The Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Fialkov reported in this morning's paper that it was "highly unlikely" that the Dolphins would select Wright in today's draft. Highly unlikely things seem to happen fairly often in the NFL, however, and Wright may challenge for playing time as a rookie since the Dolphins are pretty thin at defensive tackle.

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8. IDP: DAL - FS Position Up For Grabs

Clipped from: DallasCowboys.com article by Rob Phillips, 7/14/05

The Cowboys got a taste of life without Darren Woodson when the veteran safety spent all last season recovering from the back surgery that ultimately ended his career.

But there is no potential comeback this time around. No need for the Cowboys to again hold out hope Woodson can suit up for a 13th season.

Life Without Woody officially starts this fall, and the Cowboys' secondary must hold up better than it did during last season's trial run sans their all-time leading tackler.

Woodson's retirement has left the Cowboys in search of a ballhawking free safety to complement Roy Williams, who took a step back last season after making his first Pro Bowl in 2003. Williams moved to free safety in Woodson's absence and struggled in coverage, while Tony Dixon and Lynn Scott split the strong safety duties. Neither demonstrated Williams' big-play ability.

The Cowboys don't want to conceal Williams' strengths again. The 226-pounder is better suited playing closer to the line of scrimmage where he's in position to blitz, support the run and make those famous bone-jarring hits.

Look for the Cowboys to stick Williams at strong safety on a more consistent basis, which leaves the free safety spot up for grabs when the club heads west to Oxnard, Calif., for training camp in two weeks.

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Lynn Scott and Izell Reese are the two free safeties on the team with starting experience, and Scott worked with the first-team defense during the Cowboys' May mini-camp. Keith Davis has more big-play ability than either Scott or Reese, and excelled on special teams last year. Rookie sixth-round pick Justin Beriault is also in the mix. It's impossible to predict a winner in this battle right now: that's what training camps and the preseason are for.

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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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