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Volume 6, Issue 95 (Friday, July 22nd)

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Hi Folks,

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

Joe Bryant


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. PHI - WR Owens Interested In Joining The Falcons But The Feeling Isn't Mutual; Owens May Report To Camp After All
2. MIN - RB Bennett Has Been Tremendous This Offseason
3. DAL - Cowboys Are Loaded At The Running Back Position in 2005
4. NOS - Contract Extension Getting Closer For RB McAllister
5. FA - WR Koren Robinson Continues To Unravel
6. PIT - Contract Extension In The Works For WR Hines Ward
7. ATL - Don't Be Surprised To See WR Michael Jenkins and rookie WR Roddy White As Starters This Season
8. IND - WR Wayne Is In Last Year Of Contract: May Be Tough To Keep Him
9. CHI - QB Grossman Is # 1 Quarterback But Backups Have Talent
10. IDP: TEN - No Usual Deal For CB Adam 'Pacman' Jones
11. IDP: MIA - DE David Bowens Signs One-Year Contract Extension
12. IDP: NE - Patriots Defensive Line Loaded Even Without Unhappy DL Seymour

1. PHI - WR Owens Interested In Joining The Falcons But The Feeling Isn't Mutual; Owens May Report To Camp After All

Clipped from: PhillyBurbs.com article by Reuben Frank and Scout.com article

Terrell Owens lashed out again at the Eagles' front office Thursday, asking the club to trade him if it won't rework his contract. Owens said if the Eagles won't rework the contract that runs through 2010 he wants to go to another team.

"Not to stir anything up, but I don't really have to play for the Eagles, to be honest," Owens said in the interview, broadcast locally last night by Comcast SportsNet. "I can go play with any other team and still be productive. This is business. They know how business is conducted. I've told them what I'm doing is for my family. ... If we're problems, then I feel like we can be adults about it. Trade me. Release me, and we can part ways like adults."

Owens earned $9.17 million last year on the first year of a seven-year contract worth $48.724 million. He's due at training camp at Lehigh University a week from Monday.

"If I've got to come there, it's not going to be a good situation," he said. "I just want something to be rectified, and we can just move on."

The Eagles have maintained since April that they won't change a single word in Owens' contract or release or trade him.

"If Joe Banner can give Drew Rosenhaus permission to seek a trade, who knows, Atlanta might be on the list of people that I could play for," Owens said.

But Falcons owner Arthur Blank said recently on Sporting News Radio that won't happen.

"We don't need those kind of distractions on our club," Blank said. "And I don't know of any club that really wants to deal with them."

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

UPDATE clipped from Scout.com: According to a report on ESPN Radio 920 in Philadelphia, it appears that star WR Terrell Owens might be reporting to training camp on time after all. The station, citing a source close to Owens, states that he will report to the team when the veterans report on August 1. One could surmise by the report that Terrell Owens understands that he has no leverage and has decided he can't win his battle to get a new deal and has decided to report.

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

Joe's Rule Of Thumb: Any comment that starts off with "Not to stir anything up", usually does. Let's see if the reports are correct about Owens planning to report. Then we'll see if it really happens. I find Mr. Blank's comments very interesting. Apparently, not every other team is chomping at the bit to snag Owens. I'm sure that came as a shock to T.O.. Bottom line is just what we've been saying, we think when the Eagles take the field in Atlanta for the Week 1 Monday Night game, we expect Owens to be ready to roll for Philadelphia.

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2. MIN - RB Bennett Has Been Tremendous This Offseason

Clipped from: St. Paul Pioneer Press article by Sean Jenson

In an interview within the St. Paul Pioneer Press, head coach of the Vikings, Mike Tice talked about his talented, yet fragile running back Michael Bennett. When asked about which player is on a verge of a breakout season, Tice responded with "I think Michael Bennett could be a player that could have a great year for us. He's had another exceptional offseason, and I anticipate that he could have the biggest year of his career."

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

Nobody will deny that Michael Bennett has the talent to put up really good numbers in any given year. However he has had a few training camps now that he has stood out yet hasn't performed once the regular season arrived and only time will tell if this will continue to be the pattern or he'll emerge with a solid year. No matter what though, it appears he has a really good opportunity to take the bull by the horns and emerge as the go to guy in the Vikings backfield. Thanks in part to the absence of Onterrio "The Whizzinator" Smith, Bennett will be given every chance to impress and emerge as the guy in 2005.

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3. DAL - Cowboys Are Loaded At The Running Back Position in 2005

Clipped from: DallasCowboys.com article by Rob Phillips

Head coach Bill Parcells has a reputation for building smash-mouth teams that run the ball almost exclusively. It's inaccurate but falsely pigeonholes him as a one-dimensional coach, although there's no question he prefers a strong running game. That's why the Cowboys didn't hesitate to add two solid backups for Jones, the second-round pick who exploded for 803 yards in the final seven games but will have to prove he can stay healthy for all 16. If he does, the Cowboys might produce a Pro Bowl running back for the first time since Emmitt made his ninth appearance in 2000. If Jones goes down again, fourth-round pick Marion Barber and former Bears starter Anthony Thomas are ready to step in.

"I am pleased with what our backfield situation, in terms of the running backs, looks like now," Parcells said. "That's much improved over any time since I've been here, without question."

When Parcells watches Barber he's reminded of a young Leon Johnson, the versatile back for the Jets who also handled kickoff and punt return duties. Barber gives the Cowboys a run-catch threat out of the backfield similar to Richie Anderson's role the past two years, and he might get an opportunity in the return game.

Thomas carried the load in Chicago for three seasons and reached the 1,000-yard mark twice. At 225 pounds, he's more of a straight-line runner but is ideal for short-yardage situations and would provide a nice complement to Jones if he makes the team. But running the ball would not be his only responsibility.

"He's got to venture out into the special teams area, which is something that he's not been asked to do in his past career much," Parcells said. "If he can't get into producing some on special teams, then there won't be enough jobs for him."

There isn't much room behind those three, but ReShard Lee's departure leaves a gaping hole on kickoff returns. That's where rookie free agent Tyson Thompson could crack the 53-man roster. The former Irving High School star impressed Parcells with his speed and versatility during the mini-camps and also worked with the kick and punt returners.

Thompson can run a little, too. He once racked up 525 yards in a high school game, but special teams will be his meal ticket here. That also goes for Erik Bickerstaff, a 230-pound "thumper" similar to Thomas who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Keylon Kincade, a practice squad player last year who rushed for 352 yards (3.4 avg.) and five touchdowns for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe this spring.

But the Cowboys' fortunes in the running game ultimately fall on Jones' shoulders, which look considerably larger after an off-season of restoring the upper-body strength he lost after the injury. Parcells wants Jones to develop into a better receiver and blocker, but he has clearly made strides as a runner. He knows not to give up on runs. He knows to take a six-yard gain and stretch it out for 10. He knows to stay on the safeties when he reaches the second level.

"Julius has a heck of a lot better idea what it takes to be a running back in the NFL today," Parcells said. "I see Julius doing things right now in practice that he would never do last year."

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

Bill Parcells football has to have a strong running game as the foundation and for the first time as the Cowboys coach, he'll have the luxury of a strong running game to rely on. Rookie Barber and veteran Thomas will provide plenty of depth and will give starter Julius Jones a breather when necessary. It sounds like Parcells really likes what Barber can bring to the table but not in the role of a 'traditional starter'. Still being compared to Leon Johnson and Richie Anderson is a great place to start for the former Gopher. It really sounds like Jones is ready to become a strong fantasy option if he can stay healthy this year.

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4. NOS - Contract Extension Getting Closer For RB McAllister

Clipped from: Times-Picayune article by Mike Triplett

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said the Saints are in good shape with the salary cap. They were $3.8 million below the cap Thursday, but that number will continue to fluctuate.

McAllister's new deal is expected to be the richest in franchise history; the two sides have discussed seven- and eight-year proposals. But a new contract could lower McAllister's salary-cap figure for the upcoming season.

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

It makes sense for the Saints both from a financial and from a production point of view to get McAllister signed to a long-term deal. It should give the Saints running game stability for years to come. It is unlikely he'll see anywhere near the 8th year of a contract such as this but it is nice to have the security of a multi-year deal.

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5. FA - WR Koren Robinson Continues To Unravel

Clipped from: Tacoma News-Tribune article by Mike Sando

Three days after pleading guilty to a DUI charge, former Seahawks receiver Koren Robinson was in jail Thursday for allegedly violating a court order to abstain from alcohol. Kirkland Police accused Robinson of being intoxicated when he showed up Wednesday morning to serve a one-day jail term on the DUI conviction.

Police confirmed Thursday night that they were holding Robinson in jail on a $25,000 cash bond, and that Robinson has an Aug. 4 court date in Kirkland Municipal Court.

Robinson denied the allegation Thursday in Kirkland Municipal Court, his attorney said. The attorney, Jon Scott Fox, explained that the Aug. 4 hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegation.

Two officers said they smelled alcohol on Robinson's breath when he reported to jail. If guilty, Robinson would likely face additional punishment. The DUI conviction carried a 365-day jail term, with all but one day suspended.

The Seahawks released the former 1st round draft choice, 25-year old Robinson last month following a series of off-field incidents.

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

Talk about a career unraveling in a hurry. Robinson is proof positive that you need more than potential and athleticism to be a top professional football player. He appeared on his way to stardom in 2002 when he caught 1,240 yards worth of passes but his lack of professionalism, work-ethic and questionable life choices has stopped his career dead in his tracks. He appeared to be a possible sleeper fantasy pick this year if he went to the right team and could get his head screwed on straight but that has long since fallen to the wayside. We thought he'd wind up somewhere but right now, he isn't worth even a sniff in a fantasy league at this point of the preseason.

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6. PIT - Contract Extension In The Works For WR Hines Ward

Clipped from: Pittsburgh-Tribune Review article by Mike Prisuta

The Steelers also consider investigating the possibility of signing wide receiver Hines Ward to a contract extension prior to the opening of camp a priority. The Steelers opened negotiations with Ward in late April but no talks are currently being conducted. Ward is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2005 season.

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

The Steelers would be smart to lock in Ward for as long as they can. He is an outstanding receiver who also blocks well and is without question one of the catalysts of the Steelers offense. He should have a good 2005 season and locking him in would give Ben Roethlisberger a legitimate # 1 receiver for years to come.

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7. ATL - Don't Be Surprised To See WR Michael Jenkins and rookie WR Roddy White As Starters This Season

Clipped from: NFL.com article by Adam Schefter

Don't be surprised if QB Michael Vick is throwing to a brand new pair of starting wide receivers when the Falcons open the season Sept. 12 against Philadelphia.

Many people around the league are expecting Atlanta's first-round pick in 2004, Michael Jenkins, will beat out Peerless Price, the receiver that cost the Falcons a first-round pick. They also are expecting this year's first-round pick, Roddy White, to beat out veteran Dez White, meaning the Falcons would have one of the youngest starting receiving tandems in the league.

Former Falcons first-round pick DeAngelo Hall has told some within the organization that Jenkins is going to surprise people this season with his speed, strength, toughness and production. Hall believes Jenkins is just waiting to explode.

As for White, the 27th overall pick in the April draft, he was one of the most electrifying players at the team's minicamps. He is aiming to catch 60 passes this season, and believes he can do it. And suddenly, the Falcons could be transformed from a running to a passing team.

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

This is an intriguing situation in Atlanta this season. Many individuals are writing off Michael Vick because he is in an ultra-conservative offense with a strong defense and no receivers but this article illustrates that there is hope on the horizon at the receiver position for the upcoming season. The Falcons will almost certainly have to throw more than 391 passes this season as the defense over-achieved a year ago and everything broke their way. Jenkins especially is a player to watch on offense as he does have the ability to make big plays this season. Dez White is a veteran that is capable of doing a solid job, Peerless Price is better suited as a # 2 or # 3 receiver anyways and could thrive in a role such as that and rookie Roddy White, while coming across as cocky at times since joining the club has the talent to make some big plays. Add it all up and you can expect more out of the Falcons passing attack this season.

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8. IND - WR Wayne Is In Last Year Of Contract: May Be Tough To Keep Him

Clipped from: NFL.com article by Adam Schefter

The only downside to the Colts' record-setting offense is paying for it. After re-signing quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receivers Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokley, and offensive tackle Ryan Diem, the Colts now face an equally large obstacle in trying to retain wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who is heading into the last year of his contract. Wayne is going to want frontline wide-receiver money, and the Colts already are paying it to Harrison. Wayne is one of the most well-respected players on the team and it's going to put the Colts in a challenging situation. They want to keep Wayne, but on a team desperate to bolster its defense, how do they find the dollars to do it? Sometime soon, the Colts and Wayne are expected to commence contract talks; there will be a lot of ground to cover. But skeptics doubted the Colts could work their salary-cap magic before. Now they're going to have to find a way to do it again.

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

This is going to be a big dilemma for the Colts. There is no question that Wayne will deserve a huge raise going forward but will lots of money tied up to both Manning and Harrison, it will be difficult to justify the cost of retaining Wayne. Harrison is six years older than Wayne and one could argue, they should put their focus more on Wayne for the future. But you just can't dismiss the guy in Harrison who has been the go-to guy in Indianapolis for six seasons now. Hopefully for both Colt fans and fantasy fans alike the team will find a way to keep both on the roster but that will not be easy.

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9. CHI - QB Grossman Is # 1 Quarterback But Backups Have Talent

Clipped from: Chicago Sports article by John Mullin

Aside from Rex Grossman's health, the real question about the quarterback this season is whether he is good enough to carry the Bears into the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and only the second time in 11 seasons. The Bears have taken great pains to alleviate their quarterback problems as they head into their first training camp practice Sunday, but that doesn't mean they won't have any. First, Grossman must show he's good enough to outplay backup Chad Hutchinson, the last of four starters in 2004. Hutchinson has returned willingly to his backup role, but he could play his way into a quarterback controversy. The coaches will give Grossman, who has been pronounced recovered from his torn right ACL, the benefit of all doubts.

"[Hutchinson is] a solid No. 2, no question about it," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "Rex is solid No. 1.We have a solid 1 and a solid 2, and the battle will be for No. 3."

Purdue rookie Kyle Orton is all but assured that job. Hutchinson had a better completion percentage and quarterback rating last season in his limited playing time than Grossman managed in his. The Bears lost their final four games of 2004 behind Hutchinson after an initial victory against Minnesota. But Grossman has suffered significant injuries in two of his last four games, and the Bears have lost three of his last four starts.

The Bears are a modest 3-3 in games Grossman has started, and encouragingly 3-1 in games he has finished. And he came within an end-zone interception of defeating Detroit in last season's opener. But Grossman's passer rating for his six games is a pedestrian 71.1 and his completion percentage is 54.5 percent. No team in either conference got to the playoffs with passer rating and completion numbers that low.

Turner is arguably his first true "pro" coordinator. Turner, the former head coach at Illinois, headed an offense that got the Bears to the playoffs in 1994 behind Steve Walsh. He then helped rewrite the franchise passing record book with Erik Kramer in 1995. Significantly, even with different quarterbacks, those two seasons still rank 1-2 in Bears history for completion percentage with 61.4 in 1994 and 60.2 in '95.

"Rex is our No. 1 quarterback," coach Lovie Smith has maintained. "We like what Chad Hutchinson was able to do this past year. It doesn't really matter who starts out No. 1. It's who starts out game day. We have a starting rotation with every position. Rex will be No. 1 on the starting rotation."

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

There is no doubt that Rex Grossman will get the opportunity to lead this team in 2005. However now is the time for him to prove he can both (a) stay healthy and (b) make the transition from a quarterback with potential to a productive quarterback. He has decent weapons surrounding him on offense, a very solid offensive line and he must make significant improvements this season to hold his spot as starter.

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10. IDP: TEN - No Usual Deal For CB Adam 'Pacman' Jones

Clipped from: Nashville City Paper article by Terry McCormick

Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese doesn't mince words when he says the contract for first-round pick Adam "Pacman" Jones won't be the usual rookie deal. Off-field issues involving Jones, including a July 13 arrest on two misdemeanor assault charges and one felony vandalism charge from an alleged incident at Club 615, could end up costing Jones in upfront money and will have the Titans taking measures to protect themselves in the deal.

"I think it will be difficult to negotiate and it'll be difficult to write," Reese said. "You're going to have to look at so many different things in this deal, and they're not gonna want any part of any of them."

Jones has an Aug. 11 court date regarding the charges, but the next obstacle for him is whether or not he can be in camp on time. The Titans report for training camp next Thursday, leaving only a narrow window of opportunity for Reese and Michael Huyghue to negotiate a deal, making a holdout a possibility. With so much controversy already surrounding Jones, Huyghue preferred not to elaborate on the negotiations of the contract in the media.

"I have asked Floyd that because there had been so much said and blown out of proportion about Adam, that it makes sense for to keep the negotiations out of the media," Huyghue said. "I think that's probably in everybody's best interest because we have such a short window to negotiate in before camp begins. It think it's fair to say that both parties understand what our objectives are, and the only thing we are focused on is signing him to a contract. Clearly, we believe the allegations were false and the record will determine that, but that's a process that has to complete itself. And we are anxiously awaiting that."

Huyghue indicated that the off-field matters and the contract are separate issues in his mind.

"The contract is a totally separate matter and we're working like any other player in first round to get that contract done," Huyghue said.

However, it doesn't sound so simple to Reese.

"I don't know exactly how it will happen. We've never put one together like this one," Reese said. "We've talked about it a little bit, and we're trying to decide best way to do it. Having never been through this, we've got to take our time and be sure we've got all our bases covered."

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

I know as an agent, Michael Huyghue wants the best contract possible for his client but he's delusional if he believes off field matters don't factor into a contract. If you are a player looking for a big contract and you can't keep yourself out of trouble, you deserve to have a contract littered with stipulations for an organization to protect itself over. Jones did this to himself with reckless behavior and not only do I not blame the Titans for taking this stance, I would refuse to sign this kid to a big contract if he is unwilling to negotiate an 'out' for the team for poor behavior. Let him sit.

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11. IDP: MIA - DE David Bowens Signs One-Year Contract Extension

Clipped from: ESPN Wire

Defensive end David Bowens signed a one-year contract extension on Friday that will keep him with the Dolphins through the 2006 season. He is coming off of a 41-tackle, 7-sack season a year ago, both of which are career-highs.

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

Good move by the Dolphins to lock up the underrated Bowens through the 2006 season. He isn't flashy but gets the job done and will provide solid play from the end position.

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12. IDP: NE - Patriots Defensive Line Loaded Even Without Unhappy DL Seymour

Clipped from: Boston Herald article by Michael Felger

It has to be one of the most unusual contract disputes the NFL has ever seen.

Apparently, Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour is unhappy with his salary and displeased with the Patriots for not restructuring his deal. There is no other explanation for his holdout from minicamp and the fact his arrival for full camp next week is very much an open question.

Yet Seymour still showed up at the home of Robert Kraft in June, received a hug from the owner and accepted a Super Bowl ring the very weekend he refused to take part in mandatory, on-field practices. He still has led the team in charity and promotional appearances. Take a look at the ads running on ABC to promote the season opener and there's Seymour wearing his Patriots colors and flashing a big smile.

But whether the acrimony shows itself or not, the bottom line is that Seymour wants more money and the Pats aren't meeting his price. No one would dispute that Seymour is one of the best defensive linemen in football. It's just that the Pats aren't about to pay him as the best. Tom Brady isn't the highest-paid quarterback, Bill Belichick isn't the highest-paid coach and Scott Pioli's new deal won't make him the highest-paid general manager. The Pats aren't about to break from policy.

If Seymour is willing to take a Brady-like discount, then a deal will likely get done. If he isn't, then it's just a matter of how much on-field activity Seymour agrees to take part in before his contract runs out following the 2006 season. To be credited with an accrued season, a player must be active for six games, so Seymour could take his holdout all the way past Week 10 if he chose to.

One question worth asking is how willing Belichick will be to put him on the field (and how many fines the coach will impose) if Seymour misses significant practice time. Seymour knows from firsthand experience (he lost a start in 2003 after attending his grandfather's funeral) that if you miss practice for the Pats, your playing time reflects it.

Whether Seymour shows or not, the Pats are stacked on the defensive line. In defensive end Ty Warren (No. 13 in 2003) and nose tackle Vince Wilfork (No. 21 in 2004), the Pats have a pair of big, athletic former first-round picks who are still very much on the upslope of the growth chart. And at Seymour's right defensive end spot, the Pats have Jarvis Green, who would start on most teams and who more than held his own during the playoffs last year when Seymour sat out with a knee injury.

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

There is no question that Seymour is one of the more gifted defensive linemen in the NFL and you can see why he wants to be paid along that line. However trying to squeeze money from the Patriots is akin to attempting to squeeze water out of a cactus as it is a very difficult chore and you'll likely end up getting hurt during the process. The Patriots, especially along the defensive line are deep and they can get along fine with or without Seymour if it comes down to that. We believe that Seymour will be there come opening day as he appears to still be very active within the Patriots' off-season program but you should at least put up a red flag when considering him for your fantasy roster.

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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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