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Volume 6, Issue 117 (Saturday, August 13th)

Footballguys Draftsheets Are Ready For Ordering
We've been buried with email from folks inquiring about the Draft Boards we did last season. We're glad to say they're back and better than ever. It's a 4 foot by 6 foot draft board with pre printed player labels (color coded by position) that you use at your live draft to track all the players selected. If you've ever seen these in use, you know how much better it makes the draft flow. All this for less than a 20 dollar bill INCLUDING Priority mail shipping (kit will arrive within 5 days of ordering). Draft Night is already one of the best nights of the year. Our Draft Sheets make it even better.

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


Hi Folks,

Training camps are rolling and we're here for you to plow through the mountain of news and bring you the key things you need to know. Thanks to our Footballguy Dave Baker for the help rounding up these stories tonight. Let's get to it.

Joe Bryant

SITE NEWS


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. PIT - WR Ward - Might Sit Out Until Close To Mid-Season
2. HOU - RB Back-Up Spot Behind Domanick Davis Up For Grabs
3. CHI - QB Chad Hutchinson Tabbed As Starter After Injury To Grossman
4. TEN - QB McNair Pleased After First Preseason Test
5. CAR - RB Shelton Looking For Opportunity To Shine
6. NYJ - QB Pennington's Injured Shoulder Now at 90-95%
7. CIN - RB Perry Now Showing It On The Field
8. NE - QB Cassel Makes Strides To Become Backup To Brady
9. MIN - RB Moore Showing Good Things In Preseason Game
10. BAL - TE Heap About Ready For Contact Drills
11. IDP: PIT Farrior's Back Remains Sore
12. IDP: CIN - LB Johnson Hurt; Could Miss Some Time

1. PIT - WR Ward - Might Sit Out Until Close To Mid-Season

Clipped from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Gerry Dulac, 8/13/05:

Despite their stance of not negotiating with players who are not in training camp, the Steelers continue to have discussions with the agents for holdout receiver Hines Ward and have talked directly to the four-time Pro Bowl performer.

Nonetheless, the Steelers are no closer to resolving their differences with Ward, who is seeking a contract extension, and are now being led to believe he eventually will report later in the season merely to play out the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.

Ward would have to report to the Steelers by the 10th week of the regular season and be on the 53-man roster for the final six games to be credited with fulfilling the final year of his contract.

Once he does that, he can become an unrestricted free agent and is free to sign with another team.

Ward's agent, Eugene Parker, could not be reached for comment.

A report on ESPN Thursday night said Ward is resigned to sitting out the first six games of the season before reporting. When asked yesterday about the report, coach Bill Cowher said, "I don't want to comment on that."

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

While it's too early to drop Ward drastically in your rankings, this is clearly a situation to keep your eyes on. It's a rare situation where a player actually sits out a large portion of the regular season in this manner. It's important to note that the Steelers and Ward's agent are in the midst of discussions and we believe something will be finalized prior to opening day. However, the possibility remains that Ward could play in only about the last half of the regular season in order to become a free agent next year. If your draft is near, make sure to keep this information in mind.

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2. HOU - RB Back-Up Spot Behind Domanick Davis Up For Grabs

Clipped from: Houston Chronicle article by Megan Manfull

Jonathan Wells, who replaced (Domanick) Davis when he was hurt last year, is splitting time between halfback and fullback. (Tony) Hollings and (Vernand) Morency are in one of the most high-profile competitions at Texans camp. Ideally for the Texans, a solid backup will lighten Davis' load.

Last year, Davis accounted for 63 percent of the Texans' rushing game with 1,188 yards. He was also the team's second-leading receiver with 68 catches for 588 yards.

"Domanick touches the ball so much as far as catching the ball out of the backfield and running the ball," quarterback David Carr said. "He touches it too much, in my opinion. If we can get another guy in there to take pressure off him, or two or three guys, it's going to help us a lot."

For the first time since the Texans selected Hollings in the second round of the 2003 supplemental draft, the 23-year-old is healthy. Now he must prove he can be relied on.

"Right now, I'm in an important stage of my career," said Hollings, who was converted from defensive back to running back during his final season at Georgia Tech. "Most of the first two years, I sat out with injuries. So going into my third year, it's time for me to get on the ball and get to rolling and show people I can play."

Hollings always has fared well in August. He holds the Texans' career record for preseason rushing yards with 286, but that means little. He wants those numbers to translate beyond the exhibition schedule. Over the past two regular seasons, he has combined for a mere 149 yards on 49 carries.

"This is the year you want to see him make a move as a player, and I think he will," general manager Charley Casserly said. "His feel for the game has improved with experience, which we thought it would. And he still has the speed. He's a pretty good pass blocker now, and his strength is better. We're anxious to see him in the preseason." When the Texans aren't watching Hollings, they will be focused on Morency, whose former Oklahoma State teammates are convinced the Texans will have a hard time keeping him off the field.

Morency spent two years backing up the Broncos' Tatum Bell in Stillwater, then rushed for 1,474 yards last year for OSU after Bell was drafted. "He's going to be a star in this league," said Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, another rookie out of OSU. "He's got exceptional quickness, and he can cut on a dime."

Morency's instincts, quickness and ability to change directions prompted the Texans to draft him in the third round. When Morency has demonstrated those qualities in training camp, he has reminded Carr of another quality back.

"He looks like Domanick," Carr said. "It's like his little twin. They look similar when they run the ball. They both have some fantastic moves after contact. It seems they both have good balance. Vernand has some nice little jump cuts, and he accelerates out of the break. It's nice to have two of those guys."

Morency is trying to get comfortable with the system. But after two seasons behind Bell in college and now watching Davis on a daily basis, Morency has picked up valuable lessons.

"Just sitting and watching players, you can learn a lot," he said. "The players don't even have to say much; you can just sit back and watch. I just look at backs in the NFL that I love, and I just try to take bits and pieces of those guys' games and try to mold Vernand Morency."

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

For those that are fans of handcuffing their starting RB with their back-up on their NFL roster, this is something to watch out for. Hollings was highly regarded coming out of college and there were some who thought he would win the starting job outright from Davis. But Hollings has suffered never-ending problems with injuries and is now in a fight just to retain the back-up job. At least partially because of Hollings' injury history, Houston made the move to draft Morency, who has looked good so far in camp.

While anything can happen, the early favorite might be Hollings because of his experience in the system, but Morency should not be discounted and the first couple preseason games could be telling for both of their futures in Houston.

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3. CHI - QB Chad Hutchinson Tabbed As Starter After Injury To Grossman

Clipped from the Chicago Tribune article by K.C Johnson

In news almost unfathomable to Bears fans and anyone close to the snake-bitten quarterback, Grossman suffered a broken left ankle on the play that occurred with 11 minutes 8 seconds left in the second quarter, his 19th play of the night.

The Bears said Grossman will undergo surgery and will miss three to four months.

That means missing at least eight games in a best-case scenario and at least 13 in a worst case. As if there is such a thing now that plenty of the hype and hope has been sucked out of this Bears season a full four weeks before the season opener in Washington.

General manager Jerry Angelo said after the game the team would stand pat with its quarterbacks and he and coach Lovie Smith affirmed Chad Hutchinson will assume the No. 1 role.

"We're going with the hand we dealt ourselves," Angelo said. "The good news is we have one month until the opener and [offensive coordinator] Ron Turner is here. We have confidence in him. [As for Grossman,] if we're contingent on one player we didn't built this team to win. It's a tough blow, but we'll get through it."

The ramifications of this injury can't be underestimated for a franchise desperately needing to right its fortunes. Quarterbacks Chad Hutchinson and rookie Kyle Orton now sit atop the Bears' depth chart.

Hutchinson finished 2-for-2 for 14 yards. Orton went 7-for-10 for 93 yards and an interception. Kurt Kittner had a potential touchdown pass that might have won the game with 1:55 left, but rookie receiver Mark Bradley dropped it.

"It's adversity, but I think we'll be able to respond well," running back Thomas Jones said. "Chad is a great quarterback. He proved himself last year and made a lot of plays, and we have some other young quarterbacks who are good too. When one guy goes down, another has to be able to step up."

Jeff George, Jeff Blake, Vinny Testaverde, Quincy Carter, Tim Couch, Shaun King-whom Angelo drafted in Tampa Bay-and Brock Huard are some of the unsigned veteran quarterbacks available.

Hutchinson replaced Grossman and promptly finished off the 13-play, 78-yard scoring drive to give the Bears a 7-0 lead. Running back Adrian Peterson scored on a 9-yard burst up the middle.

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

The Grossman injury was a disaster for Bears fans, as the team did not sign a veteran back-up in the off season. For the time being, the company line is that they feel confident in Hutchinson. But Hutchinson is unproven at best and has been inconsistent when he has been on the field in his brief NFL career.

The value of WR Muhsin Muhammad also took a blow with the Grossman injury and the thoughts of Hutchinson as the starter do little to change that. As for Hutchinson, unless he surprises everyone by making monstrous strides, even if he keeps the job through opening day, he loses it again upon Grossman's return. But stranger things have happened (remember Kurt Warner replacing Trent Green?) and in deeper leagues, any starting QB has value. Needless to say, there are better options out there for a starting QB though.

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4. TEN - QB McNair Pleased After First Preseason Test

Clipped from the Tennessean.com article by David Climer

McNair played two series and left the game before the end of the first quarter. His numbers were pretty pedestrian - 7-of-10 passing for 67 yards, one interception and two runs for 12 yards.

But numbers only go so far. Considering all that has happened since he last was on an NFL field, this was an important test for McNair. And he passed. Simply surviving and being healthy enough to return to practice tomorrow speak volumes about how far he has come since the impaired McNair of '04.

Along the way, McNair proved that he could take a hit and deliver one. He lofted one screen pass as he was absorbing a shot from blitzing linebacker Shelton Quarles.

No harm, no foul. Six plays later, he stepped out of harm's way and scrambled to his right, angling toward the sideline - but not before taking on Bucs safety Jermaine Phillips.

"He took one shot and then he delivered one on purpose," Titans Coach Jeff Fisher said. "He feels real good. He assured me if it had been anybody but a defensive back, he would've gone down."

Maybe, though, McNair had something to prove to himself. If, indeed, the ad lib scramble is again going to be part of the offense, McNair must know if he is up to it. Apparently so.

In situations like this, you wonder if the previous offensive regime, directed by Mike Heimerdinger, went too far in trying to turn McNair into a pocket passer. Sure, he was NFL co-MVP in 2003 but he is so very valuable to this offense when he is ready, willing and able to scramble.

That, though, is the key. New offensive coordinator Norm Chow has made it clear that his top priority is keeping McNair healthy for 16 games. To that end, Chow's offense features shorter drops, quicker passes. The fewer times McNair is touched, the better.

Just the same, it was important for McNair to get a dose of contact and live to tell about it.

If he had just turned and handed the ball off a dozen times, the questions about his rebuilt sternum would linger. Afterward, McNair proclaimed his chest "stronger than ever" and left the impression that he would continue to scramble, albeit with a degree of discretion. "I needed to take that first hit," McNair said. "I didn't want to go the whole preseason without taking that first hit. It felt good to go out and compete."

There were glitches. Aren't there always? After driving the first-team offense to the Tampa Bay 7, McNair threw into coverage in the end zone. His pass toward tight end Erron Kinney was intercepted. The previous possession ended quickly when Drew Bennett fumbled after catching McNair's third-and-7 completion.

"We did some good things," McNair said. "We had a couple of turnovers, but that's to be expected early in the preseason." Obviously, it is much, much too early to determine if McNair is back up to MVP speed or if the Titans have moved past their 5-11 funk of 2004. This is a rebuilt quarterback and a retooled roster.

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

A healthy McNair has been a successful McNair, and if he can maintain his health, look for a nice season from McNair. How nice, though, is the other question. With new OC Norm Chow now directing the offense, some wonder how his skills, which were so successful on the college level, will translate to the NFL.

The other question marks revolve around an uncertain group of WRs after the Titans let Derrick Mason go. They have some young and unproven receivers, including some rookies and the return of Tyrone Calico, and their development could go a long way in how much McNair excels.

But the first piece of business is maintaining McNair's health and the results after the first test are positive.

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5. CAR - RB Shelton Looking For Opportunity To Shine

Clipped from: Panthers.com article by Brett Borden

Eric Shelton was the man last season. The Panthers rookie running back scored 20 touchdowns for Louisville, including three in a victory at North Carolina, and rushed for 938 yards on just 146 carries.

Now he must adjust to life in the NFL, where almost every player was the man in college. Shelton's first chance to really show what he can do facing "live bullets" as the coaches like to say comes Saturday when the Panthers host the Washington Redskins at Bank of America Stadium in the preseason opener for both teams.

Is he ready?

"No doubt," he said Friday after the team's walk-through practice. "I can't wait."

Shelton has been the X-factor in training camp. No surprise there, since he was the X-factor on draft day, according to offensive coordinator Dan Henning.

"We picked Eric Shelton because he was big and strong, and ran smart and with toughness in college," said Henning. "We're looking for a big, strong power back who can take the ball 25 times a game.

"We are completely up in the air about Stephen Davis. We were in a darned if you do/darned if you don't position on draft day. If we hadn't have taken Eric or someone like him, then Stephen didn't come back, we would have been shorthanded. But if we DID take Eric and Stephen comes back, we could be longhanded there. We felt the latter was a better situation to be in, so that's why we took Eric Shelton in the second round."

"The only thing you can't tell in the transition from college to pro is whether a guy is going to be capable of carrying the ball 25 times a game," said Henning. "Somewhere along the line, we would like to see Eric become a featured back in the NFL. There is a lot of road that has to be traveled before we see that."

Head coach John Fox likes where that road is going so far. "Eric is a big, strong, physical back," said Fox. "That is why we drafted him. He's shown that thus far in our camp. He's a rookie who is learning our system. I like the way he is progressing."

For his part, Shelton is pleased with his progress, too, though there are some things he has learned he needs to improve on. "It's going pretty good," he said. "I feel like I've caught on to the offense and everything is rolling smooth. But I need to work on pad leverage, which helps as far as picking up extra yards and not taking a beating when I don't have to."

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

DeShaun Foster is the current starter for the Panthers, but his injury history, along with the fact that he's never really proven anything on the NFL level, means that his back-up should get a close look. In steps Shelton, who was considered one of the best RBs in the 2005 NFL draft and the Panthers scooped him up in the 2nd round.

Shelton is a big, strong RB, certainly more in the mold of Stephen Davis than Foster. With Foster ahead of him, along with the presence of Stephen Davis, nothing is guaranteed, but if Foster either gets hurt again or does not produce to expectation, look for Shelton to get his shot. And the Panthers RB has proven recently to be a very productive fantasy force, so a guy like Shelton is a nice late draft pick in your league.

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6. NYJ - QB Pennington's Injured Shoulder Now at 90-95%

Clipped from: Newsday article by Ken Berger

Though he didn't take a single snap Friday night, Chad Pennington made news. The Jets' starting quarterback announced that his surgically repaired right shoulder is "probably between 90 and 95 percent." That's an upgrade from the estimate of 85 percent Pennington gave when the Jets opened training camp two weeks ago.

"I'm excited about the next few practices and getting more and more reps and just engulfing myself with this offense and trying to learn as much as I can," said Pennington, who plans to face the Vikings on Friday "barring any setbacks."

Pennington made a somewhat surprising admission: It wasn't until a few days ago that he began to feel the full range of motion return to his shoulder. In the first week of training camp, he said, "I felt like I had to push the ball to get it there because I couldn't get my arm back far enough ... I just feel like my shoulder is getting back to the way it used to be with the flexibility."

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

It's hard to imagine the Jets having a successful season without a healthy Chad Pennington. And if Pennington is not 100%, that might decrease the value of players like Laveranues Coles.

It's more than interesting too to hear Pennington state that he's only had full range of motion for a few days now. Watch closely how Pennington performs in preseason before committing to him in 2005. If healthy, Pennington is a solid fantasy performer, but we like him more as a back-up than your starter.

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7. CIN - RB Perry Now Showing It On The Field

Clipped from: Bengals.com article by Geoff Hobson.

The coaches ran Chris Perry with the third team. They threw to him with the first team. They split him wide. They used him to block on third down.

And the Bengals do-it-all back didn't disappoint in Friday night's preseason opener with a flashy all-purpose night of 68 yards on 15 touches in his most work as a pro since last year's preseason finale.

"It's a step in the right direction," a happy and healthy Perry said. "I made it out of the game, that's a blessing. It felt good to be out there and make plays and not have any pain."

He's not in tip-top shape yet after two sports hernia surgeries in three months earlier this year, but there are also no signs of the deep abdominal muscle pull that wiped out his rookie season and all of the spring camps.

"I don't think I proved too much," Perry said. "I think I proved I can make one person miss. I didn't prove I can make two people miss. I proved I can get tired. I have a lot of work to do. Hopefully I can get take care of all that."

Perry got the tough guy seal of approval from head coach Marvin Lewis. Lewis likes the Jim Brown act. "He gets up like there's no way he can continue and then he runs back in there," he said. Perry appreciated Lewis gutting out his conditioning. Maybe Perry didn't make the second guy miss, but he had some pretty good defensive players talking to themselves. On his first touch, Perry took a flare pass from Carson Palmer, made a move on linebacker Willie McGinest, and got nine yards. On a running play, linebacker Roosevelt Colvin blew up the play in the backfield, but Perry spun out of his arms with a pirouette that lacked only ballet slippers for a four-yard gain.

"My thing is this," Perry said. "Making the first guy miss, he's easy. The second guy is where you make your money. I didn't make the second guy miss (after the spin) and take it to the house. That's the problem."

Perry thinks he can solve that by eventually being in better condition, which should happen by the start of the season. He's been able to go only full bore in strength and conditioning sessions for the past month or so.

"I want to make an impact," said Perry, when asked what role he would like.

So far, so good.

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

Well, we spoke yesterday about Perry being on the field more and now we're seeing some positive results. Again, it's not likely this diminishes the value of starting RB Rudi Johnson, but Perry's versatility, especially receiving, adds yet another weapon in what could become one of the better offenses in the league.

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8. NE - QB Cassel Makes Strides To Become Backup To Brady

Clipped from: Boston Herald article by Michael Felger

Take care, Rohan Davey. It was nice knowing you.

That's what fans across New England are saying this morning after rookie quarterback Matt Cassel played his first significant football in five years and led the Patriots to a 23-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last night in the preseason opener for both teams.

Veterans Tom Brady and Doug Flutie did not play, as coach Bill Belichick turned the evening into a showcase for the No. 3 job. It was a competition that Cassel won, as the seventh-round pick out of USC came into the game with four minutes left in the first half and led the Pats to a touchdown.

Cassel completed 6-of-10 passes on the drive for 60 yards and hit paydirt when he threw quickly against the blitz and receiver Jason Anderson sidestepped a defender for a 20-yard score. Cassel's next two drives also resulted in scores, and he finished 13-of-21 for 135 yards with no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 96.3.

Casell liked the fact that he started in the two-minute offense.

``It's good to start that way. You don't have time to have the jitters,'' Casell said. ``It was good to be out there and see for real what the game speed was like.''

On the flip side, Cassel had several passes that could have been intercepted and he was victimized by a strip-sack for a fumble in the fourth quarter. He also had two other fumbles that were nullified in the first half.

But if you accentuate the positive, it had to go down as a productive debut for a player who threw a total of 33 passes in college backing up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

``I thought Matt did some good things (but) there were a lot of things we won't get away with,'' Belichick said.

While Belichick said he liked Cassel's mobility, he'd ``rather see us run the plays the way they're supposed to be executed.'' Cassel was clearly excited to be back on the field, and his helter-skelter performance had Belichick shaking his head.

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

Obviously Tom Brady won't be riding the pine anytime soon, and even if he went down it looks like Flutie would step in, but Cassel might be a name to remember in the future. Many people are not aware that Cassel strongly challenged Matt Leinart at USC for the QB job and in fact it was surprise to some when Leinart won it. Once Leinart took off, he struggled to find playing time at any position though. Clearly, Cassel has talent and was just overshadowed by playing behind Carson Palmer and then Leinart.

Of course it's important to remember that we're only talking about the #3 job.

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9. MIN - RB Moore Showing Good Things In Preseason Game

Clipped from: Minnesota Star Tribune article by Judd Zulgag and Kevin Seifert

Everything might be coming together for Mewelde Moore.

The Vikings running back, who among other things has frustrated the coaching staff with his struggles to pick up blitzes and execute his blocks, put together a complete performance in the Vikings' 27-16 preseason victory over Kansas City on Friday night at the Metrodome.

Moore rushed for 62 yards on five carries, including a 50-yarder, and caught a 7-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. He also returned two kickoffs for 65 yards, taking one back 43 yards.

"He did an excellent job," running backs coach Dean Dalton said. "He made plays and did a good job in protection. The kid is a playmaker. He's very bright and coachable, and that shows."

Moore's night was not a complete success as he got poked in the eye when his helmet flew off in the second quarter. Moore said the fact he no longer wears his hair in braids actually caused the problem.

"Because I don't have the braids, I basically have my helmet the same size and everything, and my hair always used to get wedged and kind of fill in," he said. "But now I don't have that."

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

With Michael Bennett's injury history and the ability for Viking RBs to generate big fantasy numbers, it's wise to keep your eyes on Moore's progress. He showed excellent promise last year when he filled in. He might not have tremendous speed, but he's a smart player who is very versatile. The recent word from Coach Mike Tice was that if Bennett went down he would go with Moe Williams, but if Moore keeps showing improvement, it's hard to believe he would not be given a chance in such a situation.

Still, it remains a crowded backfield even without Onterrio Smith, with Williams, Moore and rookie Ciatrick Fason all fighting for playing time. But Moore has already shown he can produce when given the chance.

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10. BAL - TE Heap About Ready For Contact Drills

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Jamison Hensley

Todd Heap won't play in tonight's preseason opener, but he could take a few hits beginning next week.

The two-time Pro Bowl tight end has yet to practice in the first two weeks of training camp after undergoing offseason surgeries on his ankle and shoulder.

He said his ankle has held up strong recently while running routes. Now comes a test for the shoulder, which could include some contact drills with pads on. "I was thinking next week would be a good step for me to take after getting everything solidified this week and getting my ankle where it needs to be," Heap said. "Now, it's just a matter of getting my shoulder right."

Ravens officials had previously targeted Heap to come back for the second preseason game, next Saturday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We'll see how far along he goes," coach Brian Billick said. "Whether he shows up in that game or not, I don't know." Heap didn't seem concerned if his return is delayed until the third or final preseason game. "In my mind, you need some pad time," Heap said. "But as far as preseason time, you don't need a ton of that."

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

Todd Heap is a top tier TE in fantasy football when healthy, and owners are anxious to see if he can be 100% by opening day. But the current information appears that Heap should be ready to go soon. I want to see him in action as we've been teased there before.

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11. IDP: PIT Farrior's Back Remains Sore

Clipped from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Gerry Dulac

Pro Bowl inside linebacker James Farrior was hoping the heat and high humidity would help his sore back, but he did not practice for the second day in a row.

Farrior's back has been stiff since he developed spasms Tuesday night, despite ice treatments, electro-stimulation and stretching. "I need the heat," said Farrior, the team's defensive MVP in 2004.

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

If he is 100% healthy again and can find his skills that made him such a hot commodity with the Golden Gophers then Ben Utecht could be a pleasant surprise in 2005. He was considered one of the finest tight ends in America before suffering his injury and he has a great blend of speed and athleticism that could help him develop into an Alge Crumpler type of player. If he isn't capable of stepping into the job, it will likely be Ben Hartsock's job to lose this season due to his run blocking ability. If Utecht can develop into a pass receiving threat the Colts will be able to run the two tight end system to perfection and Peyton Manning is a quarterback who likes to spread the ball around.

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12. IDP: CIN - LB Johnson Hurt; Could Miss Some Time

Clipped from: The Cincinnati Post article by Kevin Goheen

Linebacker Landon Johnson left the field in the third quarter with Dr. Angelo Colosimo after injuring his left shoulder. Johnson, who had offseason surgery on his right shoulder, walked off of the field under his own power. He hurt the shoulder late in the second quarter but returned to make the first tackle of the second half, dropping New England running back Patrick Pass for a loss of three yards.

Johnson wore an ice pack on his left shoulder in the locker room but could not give any indication as to whether or not he'll be able to play next Friday at Washington.

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

Any missed time now has to hurt Johnson in his bid to start in the middle over heralded rookie Odell Thurman. But the injury appears minor and Johnson should play a vital role off the bench in the regular season. Owners of Thurman should be pleased with his ever increasing likelihood of starting opening day.

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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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