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Volume 6, Issue 94 (Thursday, July 21st)

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Hi Folks,

Thanks to our Maurile Tremblay for rounding up these stories tonight. We've got some big news as our 2005 Big Book of Stats is ready for order. Plus camp is just around the corner. I hope you have a great Friday and let's get to it.

Joe Bryant

SITE NEWS

A. Footballguys 2005 Big Book of Stats Ready for Order!
The 2004 version of our Stats Book was a big success with the hard core stat guys. It's an awesome reference for the guy that likes a hard copy of all the numbers that matter. I've got a stack of emails from guys who told me their dog eared 2004 Stat book with a zillion sticky notes was a key to their draft preparation. We're making it available again this year through lulu.com in both a book form and also in pdf form. You can check out some sample pdf pages by clicking here

Knock yourself out.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. IND - RB James To Attend Training Camp?
2. GB - Rosenhaus Says WR Walker Won't Report To Camp
3. CHI - Berrian Over Gage For Bears No. 2 WR?
4. TEN - Titans RBs Brown And Henry Happy Couple?
5. CAR - Panthers Interested In WR Gardner
6. JAX - WR Edwards Finds Self In Jacksonville
7. MIA - RB Williams Expected To Report To Camp
8. PHI - Situation With WR Owens Getting Ugly
9. TB - WR Clayton To Be Limited Initially As Precaution

1. IND - RB James To Attend Training Camp?

Clipped from: Associated Press article by Michael Marmot, 7/21/05

Colts president Bill Polian expects to see Edgerrin James at training camp next week.

James, a three-time Pro Bowl running back, signed a one-year deal worth slightly more than $8 million in March. But after campaigning through his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, for a long-term contract, there's been speculation he might not report with his teammates on Wednesday.

Polian believes that's not an option.

"He has a contract that he signed of his own free will, and we expect him to honor that contract," Polian told The Associated Press on Thursday. "For people to think that he can request a trade or something, is pure baloney. He has two choices: He can honor the contract or not honor the contract."

Polian acknowledged he has not spoken with James about his plans.

One day earlier, Rosenhaus said he knew James' intentions while declining to divulge them.

"Edgerrin recently said that he'd address that publicly at a later date and I'm going to honor that," Rosenhaus said.

If James holds out, Polian said he would be fined $6,000 each day he missed. James was fined an undisclosed amount for skipping the team's mandatory minicamp in May.

James is coming off his best season since tearing a ligament in his left knee in 2001. He rushed for 1,548 yards and nine touchdowns, caught 51 passes for 483 yards and had a career-high average of 4.6 yards per carry last season.

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

If James is planning to report to camp on time, it's odd that he won't say so. James doesn't need a full load of training camp and preseason games to prepare for the season, but a holdout should still cause fantasy owners some concern over the possibility that could last a few games into the season. James signed a one-year, $8 million deal in March, but would prefer to rework that deal into a long-term contract.

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2. GB - Rosenhaus Says WR Walker Won't Report To Camp

Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, 7/21/05

A letter agent Drew Rosenhaus received last week from Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson stating that the team would not address a contract extension for receiver Javon Walker or allow him to seek a trade solidified the Pro Bowl receiver's decision to boycott training camp.

Rosenhaus said Wednesday that after he received the letter from Thompson, he and Walker decided their best option was to continue to withhold the receiver's services from the Packers. Veterans aren't scheduled to report until Wednesday and take the field for the first time two days later, but Rosenhaus didn't see much hope for Walker being there on time.

"We were very disappointed with the team's decision and when they memorialized that with a letter, it basically limited our options to this point to either being traded or deciding what our other options are," Rosenhaus said. "For right now we don't intend to report to training camp."

Rosenhaus first made Walker's intentions known in an interview with HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel", which is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Tuesday. The interview came shortly after Rosenhaus had received the letter from Thompson and discussed various options with Walker.

It doesn't come as a huge surprise that Walker will boycott training camp considering he has skipped all of the team's off-season functions, including a mandatory minicamp, in an attempt to force the Packers into renegotiating his contract. Besides serving as a protest, Walker's holdout also limits his risk for injury and leaves him with the option of returning for the first week of the regular season when the first installment of his $515,000 base salary is due.

Walker has received considerable pressure from quarterback Brett Favre to give up his holdout and report to training camp, but Rosenhaus said it would not make sense to take the risk.

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

Another story on the Walker holdout. It's worth noting that Rosenhaus also masterminded the prolonged Mike McKenzie holdout last year that culminated in a mid-season trade to the Saints. It's possible that he's on the same track this year with Javon Walker, which would be a disaster for Walker's fantasy value. I normally do not downgrade veterans for threatening to hold out during training camp, but with the obstinate agent Drew Rosenhaus once again butting heads with the stubborn Packer front office, this could become an exception. Be careful.

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3. CHI - Berrian Over Gage For Bears No. 2 WR?

Clipped from: ChicagoBears.com article by Larry Mayer, 7/21/05

General manager Jerry Angelo answers email questions from fans exclusively on ChicagoBears.com

Q: How is the competition for the No. 2 receiver going? Who impressed you more during offseason workouts, Bernard Berrian or Justin Gage?

A: Bernard impressed me more than Justin. It's not that Justin didn't do well; he did. But Bernard showed his speed and big-play ability every day. He made some really nice plays throughout the OTAs. Justin really finished strong. He had a little bit of a hamstring problem and we gave him a week off, but he finished the last two weeks on a high note. That's going to be good competition. We're looking for that to be a position of strength.

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Berrian has been going undrafted in most fantasy drafts that have been held so far. If he wins the starting WR job opposite Muhsin Muhammad, however, he will be worth a roster spot. His speed and big-play ability give him more upside potential than Justin Gage, but Gage's good hands and solid route-running will force Berrian to earn the starting job: it will not be handed to him.

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4. TEN - Titans RBs Brown And Henry Happy Couple?

Clipped from: Nashville City Paper article by Terry McCormick, 7/21/05

The primary question regarding Travis Henry's arrival in Nashville Wednesday centered around one subject.

Would he and incumbent running back Chris Brown each get enough carries to co-exist happily in the same Tennessee Titans backfield?

One day into Henry's career as a Titan, that answer apparently is yes, as long as it helps the Titans win football games.

Both Henry and Brown, who spoke through statements released by Titans officials, indicated Wednesday that the most important number to them is the one under the win column, rather than the ones under rushing attempts or yards.

"It's a team sport first," said Henry, who was acquired from Buffalo Monday for a 2006 third-round pick, then signed a four-year extension. "I've got a role to play and Chris has a role to play. We've just got to come together and do what's best for the team.

"I really haven't gotten into detail [about how we will be used], but from my understanding, they're going to use both of us a lot in different packages."

Brown, who had 1,067 yards in an injury-plagued season last year, echoed similar sentiments.

"It certainly gives us more depth at running back. Anyone who helps us win, I'm down with that," Brown said. "It's up to the head coach as to who plays. I will respect whatever decision Coach [Jeff] Fisher makes. My job is to go out and play when my number is called."

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When Brown and Henry refer to football as a "team" sport, they are apparently putting the Tennessee Titans "team" ahead of the Redhots, the Commish Commandos, the Dirty D-Towne Dogs, the Twisted Missiles, and whatever other fantasy teams they belong to. If the Titans are successful in using both backs effectively, it may help THEM win games, but it will do nothing for the thousands of fantasy owners across the country who have invested draft picks these RBs. How selfish!

Seriously, Chris Brown was being taken as an early second-round pick before this trade occurred, but will now likely fall into the third or maybe even fourth round in many drafts. Being part of a running-back-by-committee severely limits the upside potential of any fantasy RB because, no matter how talented he is, he won't get enough carries to be top 10 at his position. Brown's and Henry's roles have not been defined yet - training camp hasn't even started, after all - but based on what people associated with the Titans are saying, RBBC is a distinct possibility.

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5. CAR - Panthers Interested In WR Gardner

Clipped from: Washington Post article by Jason La Canfora, 7/21/05

The Redskins are expected to release wide receiver Rod Gardner, which would create $2.1 million in cap space. Gardner, a former first-round pick, was granted permission to seek a trade shortly after the season ended. He did not train with the team and Coach Joe Gibbs has said he would not participate in training camp if still on the roster.

An NFL source said Carolina has expressed some interest in Gardner, but with most clubs expecting the wide receiver to eventually be released there have been no substantial trade offers.

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As a former first-round pick with a 1,000-yard season under his belt, Gardner will be snatched up quickly by another team if the Redskins release him. If he lands in Carolina, it would probably be as the third WR behind Steve Smith and Keary Colbert.

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6. JAX - WR Edwards Finds Self In Jacksonville

Clipped from: Associated Press article, 7/21/05

When the Pittsburgh Steelers made Troy Edwards their No. 1 draft pick in 1999, things didn't turn out the way he had envisioned.

"I wish now I could have meant more to them, but it didn't work out, either for them or me, but life goes on and you deal with it," Edwards said about those three years with the Steelers.

"At the time, I was immature in some of the things I said and did and they probably have second-guessed themselves about maybe picking me as early as they did."

Edwards was fresh out of Louisiana Tech, where he had a Biletnikoff Award-winning senior season catching passes from current San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Tim Rattay.

"I guess the Steelers thought that what I did in college could carry over right into the NFL, but the system and I didn't jell together and it just never worked out right," Edwards said. "But it made me a better person and player, I will tell you that."

Edwards is now firmly established with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He is currently listed as a backup wide receiver.

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Edwards had 50 receptions for 533 yards and a score last season, which is pretty good production coming off the bench as the team's third WR. It's not enough to make him a valuable fantasy asset, however, and with the development of last year's first-round pick Reggie Williams, as well as the addition of this year's third-round pick Matt Jones, it may be hard for Edwards to repeat his 2004 numbers. Look elsewhere to fill your fantasy team's WR slots.

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7. MIA - RB Williams Expected To Report To Camp

Clipped from: Miami Herald article by Jason Cole, 7/21/05

Barring a change of stance from the Ricky Williams camp, contract issues are not expected to keep Williams from reporting for the start of training camp with the Dolphins on Sunday.

What happens by the start of the season is another matter.

Williams' contract for the upcoming season will count as the veteran minimum of $540,000 when he reports. There had been discussion this offseason about whether agent Leigh Steinberg would press for Williams' previous base salary of $3.7 million, but a source indicated that is unlikely, for now.

''I really have nothing to say about his contract situation,'' said Steinberg, who confirmed Williams has been reinstated by the NFL after a year of retirement.

Steinberg has acknowledged on at least two occasions that Williams will not be playing for a minimum salary. That wage will be approximately $380,000 after Williams serves a four-game suspension to open the season.

''I think everyone understands that Ricky won't be playing for that,'' Steinberg said.

Steinberg is expected to contact the NFL Players Association and a contract attorney before making a final decision, but he also understands that making an issue of Williams' salary likely would be counterproductive at this time.

Not only must Williams demonstrate he is ready to play again, Steinberg knows being with the Dolphins and new coach Nick Saban likely is the best situation for Williams to get his career back on track. '

'Ricky has to go through proving that he's ready to play again, which I'm confident he will,'' Steinberg said.

From there, Steinberg likely will ask the Dolphins to work on some type of incentive package for Williams. That package could include a bonus for how many games he is on the roster, for how many carries he gets and/or how many yards he gains.

If the Dolphins don't agree to an incentive package, Steinberg might press the issue of whether Williams is entitled to his $3.7 million base salary. According to five attorneys with extensive background in contract law, there is a reasonable argument that Williams could be entitled to his old salary because he would no longer be in breach of contract.

The matter likely would go to arbitration.

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

While Steinberg insists that Williams will not play for the NFL minimum salary, he should also not expect the Dolphins to offer Williams a large base salary. Rather, any deal that the two sides agree on will likely be heavy on incentives. That way the team will be protected against the possibility of another flake-out, while Williams will have the ability to earn a fair amount if he can produce on the field. But even though Williams is planning to report to camp on time, that does not necessarily portend a smooth negotiation process.

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8. PHI - Situation With WR Owens Getting Ugly

Clipped from: Philadelphia Daily News article by Paul Domowitch, 7/21/05

It surely has dawned on Terrell Owens and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, by now that the Eagles won't budge an inch on the wide receiver's demand to renegotiate his 1-year-old contract. Which, to borrow a phrase from another sport, puts the ball back in T.O.'s court.

With veterans due to report to the club's Lehigh University training camp in only 11 days, Owens can show up in Bethlehem or he can stay home.

Right now, your guess is as good as Joe Banner's as far as which choice the five-time Pro Bowler will make.

"If we were dealing with somebody who was looking at this logically and was going to come to a common-sense conclusion, you'd say [he'll report to camp on time]," Banner said. "But you're dealing with two people here who, frankly, don't think in common-sense terms.

"Anything can happen. They're not going to necessarily do what makes sense."

According to Rosenhaus, Owens hasn't made up his mind about coming to training camp.

"There has been no decision," he said yesterday. "We're still discussing our options and trying to determine what the best move is at this point.

"I don't know when we'll make that decision, but Terrell and I pretty much talk about it on a daily basis."

Owens has said he wants a new deal so he can "take care of my family." The Eagles hope those same familial concerns will make him think twice about holding out. Because if he does, it will cost him money.

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Owens wants a new deal so he can take care of his family? What kind of family can't be taken care of with the $49 million contract he signed last year? Forty-nine million dollars buys a lot of shoes.

As the article implies, a holdout probably won't accomplish anything positive for Owens, but that doesn't mean he won't do it. I think when it's all said and done, Owens will be there on the Georgia Dome field for Monday Night in Week 1. And be ready to roll. But expect a lot of heated talk on the subject between now and then.

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9. TB - WR Clayton To Be Limited Initially As Precaution

Clipped from: St. Petersburg Times article by Rick Stroud, 7/21/05

The Bucs await medical updates on injured players who will be re-examined beginning Monday. Running back Charlie Garner (knee) and tackles Ellis Wyms (shoulder) and Damian Gregory (knee) likely will not be ready for the start of camp. Mark Clayton, who has not done much this offseason since knee surgery in February, is expected to be limited for precautionary reasons.

"Right now, he's scheduled to start training camp," Allen said of Clayton. "But with a number of our players, we're going to make sure we have the proper program for them. "We've been cautious, but yeah, it's a concern because (Clayton) is a starter and we're counting on him for 16 games. That being said, he played with the injury for most of last year. He's a pretty tough cookie."

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I don't believe there is much cause for concern here, but it's something you should know about. Clayton is coming off a terrific rookie year and will play a huge role in the Bucs' offense this year. His knee is not expected to slow him down, but it's something to watch as training camp progresses.

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

J

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