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Volume 6, Issue 123 (Friday, August 19th)

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

Are you one of those guys who has the stones and the skills to compete in the World Champinship of Fantasy Football (www.wcoff.com) -- but is running a little low on cash? Well, for only $200, you can join a WCOFF Satellite league, and win an entry into the 2006 WCOFF. I was at the WCOFF event in Las Vegas last year, and trust me, it is the place to be if your a fantasy football fanatic. If you want to join a WCOFF Satellite league this year, just go to wcoff.xpertsports.com. Or click on the link below!

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Hi Folks,

I hope you have a few hours blocked off this weekend as we're posting tons of content for our guys. We know many drafts are this weekend so we've got a new set of projections for you. Plus the Footballguys $20,000 Subscriber Contest is ready to roll. Plus the new 37 page Training Camp Update is ready for all Premium Subscribers. Details are in the Site News below. Preseason is in high gear 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 Chris Smith for the help rounding up these stories tonight. Let's get to it.

Joe Bryant

SITE NEWS

A. (Premium Subscription) Brand New Offensive Projections
Detailed stat projections for every player that matters. I know many drafts are this weekend so we've updated our numbers once again for you. Want to know how what stats we see for Terrell Owens now? We've got them (and you might be surprised…)

B. (Premium Subscription) 162 Cheatsheets Released
Don't have time to input your league parameters into our Draft Dominator or VBD App? No problem. We've taken 162 different league situations and created cheatsheets based on our latest stat projections for each one. Just pick the league close to yours and have at it.

C. Footballguys $20,000 Subscriber Contest is LIVE
Well over 2,000 of you guys have already signed up for the $20,000 contest that is FREE to our Premium Subscribers. Teaming with the FFTOC (www.fftoc.com), we have created a contest that is sure to be a hit with the subscribers. We are giving away over $20,000 in cash and prizes to our subscribers with $10,000 of it going to one big winner. Shouldn't it be you?

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It takes less than 2 minutes to register and less than a minute to set your roster each week.

Read about the contest here:

RULES - http://footballguys.com/05contest_rules.htm
FAQ - http://footballguys.com/05contest_faq.htm

Key deadline: You must register by 2pm ET on September 1st to play in this contest.


D. (Premium Subscription) Draft Dominator version 6.0j released
Go into your draft with the best software on the planet based upon the latest projected stats

E. (Premium Subscription) The Obsession of Fantasy Football
By Sandi Edmonds

F. (Premium Subscription) Personality Disorders of FF Owners
by Sandi Edmonds

G. (Premium Subscription) Dominate Your Dynasty Draft
by Sean Joy

H. (Premium Subscription) Defense Wins Championships in IDP Leagues
by Stanley Holditch

I. (Premium Subscription) Obsessed with Fantasy Football?
by Dennis Michelsenp>

J. (Premium Subscription) Working the Waiver Wire
by Bill Smathers

K. (Premium Subscription) The Art of Swapping
by Bill Smathers

L. (Premium Subscription) Too Many Eggs, Not Enough Baskets
by Joe Varrati

M. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - David Carr
by Jason Wood, Chris Smith and Message Board Gurus

N. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - J.P. Losman
by Jason Wood, Marc Levin and Message Board Gurus

O. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Jerome Bettis
by Jason Wood, Cecil Lammey and Message Board Gurus

P. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Chris Brown
by Jason Wood, Colin Dowling and Message Board Gurus

Q. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Duce Staley
by Jason Wood, Cecil Lammey and Message Board Gurus

R. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Terry Glenn
by Jason Wood, Mark Wimer and Message Board Gurus

S. (Premium Subscription) Player Spotlight - Jason Witten
by Jason Wood, David Yudkin and Message Board Gurus


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. CLE - WR A. Davis Given Permission To Seek Trade
2. SD - TE Gates Could Be Headed To Roster-Exempt List; Could Miss At Least One Regular Season Game
3. PHI - More Tests For RB Buckhalter
4. DAL - OT Jacob Rogers Officially Out For The Season
5. ARI - RB Shipp To Get First Real Action Since December 2003
6. DEN - RB Clarett Finally Returns To Practice But It May Be Too Late
7. STL - Rookie 3rd Round Pick, OL Richie Incognito May Sit Out Season
8. NYG - WR Burress Has Something To Prove
9. PHI - WR Owens Won't Play Against The Ravens This Week
10. DET - Healthy Lions End Camp On A High Note; Looking For Better Effort This Week Against Browns
11. GB - The Packers Appear Unsettled With The Season Fast Approaching
12. IDP: STL - CB Groce Has Been Named Starter in Butler's Absence
13. IDP: OAK - LB Williams Tears Knee Ligament
14. IDP: HOU - Texans Excited To Have CB Buchanon On Their Side

1. CLE - WR A. Davis Given Permission To Seek Trade

Clipped from: Beacon Journal article by Patrick McManamon

Trade rumors that have been swirling around wide receiver Andre Davis are now reality. The Browns gave Davis and his agent permission to seek a trade on Thursday.

Davis was the subject of trade rumors prior to camp when word broke that the Seattle Seahawks had called to check on his availability. The Browns did not seriously pursue a deal at the time, but during camp the Browns have told Davis that if other teams called to ask about him, they had to listen because wide receiver is one spot where the team has depth.

However, the Browns also told Davis that if he wasn't traded, general manager Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel considered him an important part of the team. The rumors and discussions seemed to bother Davis, though. He's had a camp that Crennel described as ``average,'' and he's carried himself as if he wasn't sure he was wanted. Crennel tried to tell Davis to ignore the outside talk and just do his best, but Davis has not had the kind of camp he had in the past.

One year ago, he left camp as a starting receiver but missed the final nine games with a sprained toe. It was the second year in a row he finished the year injured, and led to talk that he was a track star playing football.

Davis was the Browns' second-round draft choice in 2002, and he will be a free agent after this season. But Antonio Bryant's contract is up after this season as well, so that's not the only reason the Browns have given Davis permission to seek a deal.

The reasons include:

- The emergence of Bryant. He has probably been the team's flashiest player in camp.

- The drafting of wide receiver Braylon Edwards with the third overall pick. It's considered a matter of time before Edwards moves up the depth chart.

- The fact that Savage and Crennel both like wide receiver Dennis Northcutt.

- The fact that other teams know the Browns are deep at receiver. It's a position the Browns can move a player and gain a draft pick for Savage to use in future years.

- Davis' history of injuries, which fair or not tends to tag a player.

If he's traded, it's conjecture where Davis winds up.

The Seahawks (who released Koren Robinson) and the Philadelphia Eagles (who lost Todd Pinkston) need receivers, but the Browns might want to wait through this weekend's games to see if another team loses a receiver to injury before deciding on a deal.

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

WR Andre Davis certainly has talent and is capable of doing a good job on the field. However he has yet to make the transition into a dependable starting receiver on a weekly basis and it is easy to see why the Browns consider him expendable at this time. If he winds up in a place such as Seattle, Philadelphia or Atlanta, he may be able to immediately move into a starting role and put up decent fantasy numbers but it is a wait and see game at this point. At this point, it's just permission to start seeking a trade - as soon as something breaking happens, we will let you know.

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2. SD - TE Gates Could Be Headed To Roster-Exempt List; Could Miss At Least One Regular Season Game

Clipped from: San Diego Union-Tribune article by Kevin Acee

It appears the Chargers will play at least their season opener without All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates. Andre Colona, Gates' agent, declined to say specifically whether his client would meet the Chargers' deadline of 12:30 p.m. tomorrow for Gates to end his holdout or be held out. But Colona made it clear the team's threats would not diminish Gates' resolve.

"It doesn't change Antonio's and my plans at all," Colona said. "We are going to go forward with our game plan. That letter does not change what Antonio and I had agreed on doing up to that point."

The Chargers faxed Colona a letter on Saturday stating, in essence, that Gates will be put on the Roster Exempt List if he reports after tomorrow's deadline.

A player on the Roster Exempt List must miss three games after he reports. That means if Gates does not report by the day before the team's final exhibition game he will sit out the regular season's first three games.

While placement on the Roster Exempt List is not technically a suspension, it amounts to one. There is no other reason to keep Gates out for three games, and this is the Chargers' only way of penalizing Gates. He will not be paid while he is not on the active roster. In a further sign that closure is not imminent, the two sides have not spoken since before the letter was sent.

However, it is a certainty Gates will play for the Chargers this season. He has to be active at least six weeks to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, but his return is more likely to come sooner rather than later.

Colona declined to say whether Gates' holdout could last several regular-season games, but his comments indicate the plan is to play more than just a portion of the season.

"Antonio's goal is to be the best tight end in the league this year," Colona said. "He is going to try to improve upon what he did last year."

Gates could sign the team's one-year tender offer of $380,000, which is all the Chargers are required to give him as a third-year player. In that case, Gates would be able to negotiate with other teams in the offseason, with the caveat that the Chargers could match any offer Gates receives.

"He's going to get his market value at some point," Colona said.

That value and the duration of a multiyear contract are the points of contention.

Gates wants to be paid on par with Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez and Baltimore's Todd Heap. Gonzalez, a six-time Pro Bowler, signed a seven-year contract in 2002 that guaranteed him $10 million. Heap is entering his fifth season and has played in two Pro Bowls. He missed 10 games because of injury in 2004 yet signed a six-year extension in June that guaranteed him $11 million.

Smith believes Gates deserves more than $380,000. But he does not think Gates deserves "Gonzalez money" because he is "a one-year player."

Gates is willing to sign a three-year contract, which would make him eligible for free agency after the 2007 season. That does not appeal to the Chargers, who do not want to lose Gates that soon.

"We feel comfortable with where we are in our offer," Smith said. "And we are willing to negotiate up."

It appears the sides will agree on a six-year deal with concessions from both sides on the money, or they will not agree.

Colona reiterated he will not negotiate once the season begins.

"(Gates) doesn't want that," Colona said. "When the season starts he's going to be so focused on catching balls and getting his team to the championship."

Colona said he long ago readied Gates for the worst.

"I had to give him the history of how San Diego does business and how they have negotiated with other top players," Colona said. "This is not uncharacteristic. Therefore, Antonio has been prepared for this type of negotiation."

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

He has until Saturday to report so don't jump the gun. Just because an agent says something, it doesn't mean it's reality. There is a LOT of room between "Gonzalez money" and the $380,000 Gates is set to earn. There's no reason this can't be worked out. The Chargers best receiving option is TE Antonio Gates. QB Drew Brees knows it, Gates knows it, every opposing defense that goes up against them knows it and the Chargers brass knows it. That gives Gates some wiggle room when it comes to negotiations this season. But San Diego can be a tough negotiator and this might take a little bit to work out. Gates does realize though that it is in his best interest to report early on and to go out on the field with his best performance of his young career to drive his value up through the roof going into next season. Don't be surprised to see him report to the club soon but if a deal isn't done by the start of the season the Chargers can expect to pay big bucks to try and keep him next year when he'll be a smoking hot commodity on the free agent market. Obviously, this is a worry so let's see what he does Saturday.

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3. PHI - More Tests For RB Buckhalter

Clipped from Philadelphia Daily News article by Les Bowen

Running back Correll Buckhalter said he plans to visit Dr. James Andrews in Alabama again Monday.

Buckhalter said his right knee, repaired by Andrews a year ago, doesn't feel as if it's badly injured, but he can't get it feeling strong and stable. Buckhalter has been sidelined since taking a helmet to the knee early in camp. He visited Andrews last week and the surgeon found nothing structurally wrong, Buckhalter said.

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

Right now, it isn't looking good for Correll Buckhalter being ready to go by week one. The Eagles have the ultra-talented running back Brian Westbrook and an intriguing rookie in Ryan Moats to carry the load for the team but both are smallish backs who may not be suited for 20+ carry per game action. If Buckhalter doesn't improve soon, the Eagles may try to pick up another option at running back for short yardage situations. If anything this news should elevate Brian Westbrook up another notch or two within your rankings as he will get a lot of touches in 2005.

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4. DAL - OT Jacob Rogers Officially Out For The Season

Clipped from Dallas Morning News article by Jean-Jacques Taylor

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said late Thursday that right tackle Jacob Rogers will miss the entire 2005 season with a knee injury.

"It's a shame that he's gone," Jones said. "It's a disappointment."

Rogers is scheduled to have surgery a week from today. Earlier in the day, coach Bill Parcells had said he wasn't sure about Rogers' future. Rogers, the front-runner to earn the job after the first week of camp, injured his knee Saturday night in a 13-11 loss to Arizona after just two plays.

An MRI on Sunday revealed no structural damage. On Monday, Parcells said the injury "isn't too serious." Now, Rogers needs surgery.

That leaves rookie Rob Petitti and three-year veteran Torrin Tucker as the leading candidates for the starting right tackle job, unless the Cowboys want to add a free agent such as 11-year veteran Scott Gragg. The Cowboys spoke to Gragg's agent before the season and indicated they might have an interest in him at some point.

Parcells thinks Kurt Vollers is more valuable as a backup than a starter because he can play both tackle positions.

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

This is awful news for Jacob Rogers who had such an outstanding training camp for the Cowboys. The good news for the club is the rest of the offensive line is very solid and there are options to plug into tackle if need be. With Rogers though the Cowboys may have had one of, if not the strongest offensive line in the league this season but the unit will still be very good even without him for the upcoming season.

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5. ARI - RB Shipp To Get First Real Action Since December 2003

Clipped from: Arizona Republic article by Odeen Domingo

It would seem no one in the NFL wants to get hit more than Cardinals running back Marcel Shipp who hasn't played in a game since Dec. 28, 2003, the last game of that season. He missed all of 2004 after severely injuring his knee and ankle during training camp and then missed the first preseason game of 2005 because the team didn't feel his knee was ready for action. Saturday will be the first test.

"They're going to let me go out there and do my thing," Shipp said. "I need to get used to that contact. Being out for a year, it takes a toll on a person. It's a violent game. It's definitely something to get used to."

Shipp has worked tirelessly the past year. He has worked every day with trainers. He's just "a little bit" nervous.

"I'm anxious just to get back out there," he said. "This is what I worked so hard for. This is when it'll pay off. I can't wait to get out there, see how everything holds up. I hope I get a good amount of playing time. I think I need it just to get back in the groove of things."

Cardinals coach Dennis Green is just as eager to see what Shipp is capable of.

"He practiced well this week," Green said. "When he gets the ball, we want him to be able to hit the hole. We'll make sure he is making progress. The big thing is, it's the first time he has played football in a year, as far as the tackling part. Hopefully the whole thing will come together without him being too rusty."

Green has said that if Shipp is healthy, he will be the No. 2 running back on the depth chart, but right now, Shipp isn't worried about that.

"Just getting that initial hit," he said. "That's what I miss the most."

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

This will be an important preseason game to watch. If Marcel Shipp can play well and have no difficulties with his ankle or knee then he has some value in fantasy leagues as a late-round pick this season, albeit as the # 2 back behind rookie J.J. Arrington. Shipp has enjoyed only one good season in the NFL back in 2002 when he averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored 9 touchdowns. Unfortunately he hasn't scored a touchdown since. Arrington will likely get the bulk of the work but Shipp could average 7-10 touches per game if he is indeed back to 100%.

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6. DEN - RB Clarett Finally Returns To Practice But It May Be Too Late

Clipped from: ESPN Wire

After missing nearly two weeks with a groin injury, rookie running back Maurice Clarett returned to practice Thursday, the last day of training camp for the Broncos. Now, the question is whether his return has come too late to make the team as he hadn't practiced since Aug. 8 due to a strained right groin, an injury that, as recently as Wednesday, didn't appear to be making any progress.

Coach Mike Shanahan, however, has been blunt in his assessment of Clarett all week, not shirking from how hard it would be for a rookie, or any player, to make the roster if he's not practicing.

That might be what suddenly made the groin well enough for Clarett to return Thursday. Or maybe it really did get better. For his part, Clarett did not make himself available for comment after either of Thursday's two practices.

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

Whether or not Maurice Clarett was truly injured enough to miss two weeks of practice is speculation at best but often in life and in sports perception is just as important as reality and Clarett has upset both his teammates and his coaches by not practicing since August 8th. Clarett will have to do something very special to remain on the Broncos roster for more than the next couple of weeks as he is currently sitting far behind Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, Ron Dayne and Quentin Griffin on the depth chart. The past few weeks has proven yet again that it takes more than physical attributes to become a star at the NFL level. Clarett needs to improve his maturity to have a chance at the professional level or he may find himself a Hamilton Tiger-Cat in a short period of time.

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7. STL - Rookie 3rd Round Pick, OL Richie Incognito May Sit Out Season

Clipped from: Post-Dispatch article by Jim Thomas

Third-round draft pick Richie Incognito still hasn't signed a contract with the Rams and it may result in him missing the entire 2005 campaign. Incognito still is recovering from offseason kneecap surgery, and at minimum remains several weeks away from being able to practice. The priority for the Rams was signing their healthy draft picks. But with all the other 2005 draft picks signed and practicing, Incognito remains in a contract stalemate with the Rams. In fact, things have reached the point that Incognito's agent said his client might never show up.

"I would say it's a viable option for him to sit out the season and re-enter the draft in 2006," the agent, Jack Scharf, said. Incognito was chosen in the middle of the third round, but according to Scharf, the Rams are offering fourth-round money. "I'm not bashing the Rams. All I've wanted to do this whole time is get Richie a contract that's commensurate with his draft position."

The current market value for a player selected in Incognito's draft position is a signing bonus of around $525,000. Scharf wouldn't reveal the exact amount of signing bonus that the Rams are offering, but it's believed to be at least $100,000 lower than $525,000.

Two factors are working against Incognito: For one, after signing all their other draft picks, the Rams don't have enough money in their rookie cap to pay Incognito market value. For another, the Rams don't know for sure when Incognito will be able to play because of the injury.

"We didn't ask the Rams to draft him," Scharf said. "There were plenty of other teams calling the morning of the draft that were interested in drafting Richie Incognito. My whole argument is you knew what you were getting. You knew he was hurt. ... He did nothing to prompt this. He didn't hurt himself jumping out of an airplane. He didn't hurt himself riding a motorcycle. He's been working out and rehabbing eight hours a day, six days a week. Richie wants to be there. This isn't a holdout situation."

Incognito has been running and lifting at the Athletes Performance Institute in the Phoenix area. But Incognito could be doing that work in St. Louis if he were under contract, and could also be attending meetings and getting "mental reps" watching practice at Rams Park.

Even with the Rams unable to give Incognito a "market deal" because of their rookie cap limitations, Scharf would like to make up the difference at the back end of the contract. Incentives, escalators or void-able years could be used to help Incognito recoup that money later in his contract.

"If you don't have it now, let the kid come in and earn it," Scharf said.

The trouble is, the Rams don't like to include such features (incentives, escalators, etc.) in their contracts, especially if it's a draft pick chosen later than the first round. In fact, it's believed they have never included such features in a contract for a player selected after the first round. All indications are that they don't intend to change that policy with Incognito.

"The fact is, this is different," Scharf said.

Three weeks into training camp, the Rams don't share that opinion.

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

This is a situation in which both sides are correct. The Rams are right to express concern in regards to Richie Incognito's health and personal issues and certainly it makes sense for them to include those worries into the proposed contract. Especially so when they don't have the money to offer him 3rd round money. However Incognito's side is also correct when they say if the team is going to lowball him at the front end of the contract, he should have some incentives that he can achieve to earn that money back. The Rams may not like using incentive based contracts but that may be their only option if they want to keep Incognito on as a member of the team beyond this season. This is a fascinating contract battle and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

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8. DEN 8. NYG - WR Burress Has Something To Prove

Clipped from: Newsday.com article by Arthur Staple

Three weeks at a placid Giants training camp have not knocked the chip off Plaxico Burress' shoulder. If anything, it's grown, the way Burress talked yesterday about showing everyone - the Steelers, the NFL, the world - what he will do this season.

"I definitely have something to get off my chest," Burress said between practices. "For me, it's nothing contract-based. It's about proving something to myself ... I am going to have the type of season I think I can. I get to take the shackles off, run around a bit and have some fun."

Burress was slowed out of the gate by a couple of minor injuries, but he seems to be getting more in sync with Eli Manning every day. The two connected Saturday in Cleveland for a 20-yard touchdown, the jump-ball type pass that the Giants envisioned the 6-5 Burress hauling in over shorter cornerbacks.

Yesterday, Burress blew past Will Allen for a 70-yard scoring strike from Manning that drew cheers from the practice crowd at the University at Albany.

Burress, who signed a six-year, $25-million contract March 18 (he's due $11.4 million, guaranteed, over the next two seasons), got the deal done after hiring Drew Rosenhaus, agent to the star holdouts.

Burress said the success he guaranteed for this season does not necessarily mean he's already looking to renegotiate.

"I'm going to take what I'm getting, I'm going to make the best of it and let everybody sit back and watch," he said. "I'm going to go out and play, and let everybody else make the decisions about whether I'm underpaid or not. If you're not producing, it doesn't matter who your agent is."

Regarding another Rosenhaus client, Terrell Owens, Burress said he doesn't know if he would hold out, given the big dough Owens got last year. "I'd take that, go sail my boat down to the Bahamas a couple times a week, go fishing and be happy," Burress said.

His goal for the season is to make the other 31 teams unhappy, starting with the ones that passed him over when he hit the free-agent market. That includes just about everyone save the Vikings, the only other team Burress visited.

"When I was a free agent, everybody thought I couldn't play football. That's kind of the impression I got around the league," he said. "Now, everybody's going to have to worry about me. It all kind of comes back around to kick people in the butt. The teams that shied away from me are the ones I have to play against every Sunday."

The Steelers hold a special dark place in Burress' heart. He acknowledges that he grew as a receiver in five seasons there, but said he started thinking of moving on after 2002, when he had 1,325 receiving yards. He totaled only 1,558 the next two seasons as Pittsburgh's offense became more run-based.

"We came back [after 2002] and kind of scaled back the offense to hold me back, I felt," he said. "After that, I honestly felt they didn't want me to be successful as a player ... I played alongside a Pro Bowl receiver [Hines Ward], but I was the one going out every Sunday and getting double-teamed. That says a lot on its own."

So does Burress.

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

Nobody can deny that Plaxico Burress has the type of talent necessary to be an elite receiver in the NFL. He has great size and surprising athleticism which could help him dominate opposing defensive backs on a consistent basis. However Burress has suffered from maturity issues in addition to mental lapses throughout his NFL career and he needs to make giant strides in both areas to become a top receiver. It does appear that Burress is extremely focused this season and as he displayed in 2002, he can put up big numbers when everything comes together. He has a real opportunity to shine if he gives 100% on a daily basis and Eli Manning can continue to grow as a professional quarterback. Burress, Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey and Tiki Barber certainly give Manning a lot of talented players to get the ball to.

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9. PHI - WR Owens Won't Play Against The Ravens This Week

Clipped from: PhiladelphiaEagles.com article by Bob Kent

Terrell Owens will miss his second consecutive preseason game. T.O. is among 10 Eagles players that will not make the bus trip to Baltimore for Saturday's night game with the Ravens.

Though offensive coordinator Brad Childress indicated Thursday that Owens was preparing to play, Reid decided to err on the side of caution and rest Owens, who aggravated a groin injury in training camp a few weeks ago.

"He was hurt before he left and is still bothered by that groin," Reid said. "It's not near as bad as it was, but I don't want to take any chances. It would be non-productive. It tightened up a little bit toward the end of practice yesterday so I pulled him out of that second practice. Again, we are just being cautious with it."

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

WR Terrell Owens doesn't need to participate in a preseason game to be ready to roll in week one of the regular season. However every time an Owens story breaks now you can't help wondering if there is more to this than meets the eye. In all likelihood it is just a precautionary thing but at the same time you are hearing stuff in the media that Owens is ignoring his teammates and not putting forth 100% effort and you just don't know when this will end. At this time, it makes more sense to take Randy Moss, Torry Holt, Chad Johnson or Marvin Harrison ahead of the volatile Owens this season. Leave the headache for another owner to deal with.

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10. DET - Healthy Lions End Camp On A High Note; Looking For Better Effort This Week Against Browns

Clipped from: Detroit News article by Mike O'Hara

The Detroit Lions have had a week to work on weaknesses that surfaced in a 10-3 loss to the Jets in their exhibition opener. Scoring and generating a pass rush from the No. 1 defense will be areas of emphasis against the Browns. The Lions managed only a field goal in their loss to the Jets, and the No. 1 defense did not have a sack.

Quarterback Joey Harrington is looking for better production in the red zone, but he likes the way the passing game is developing. Harrington completed all nine of his passes against the Jets, and the receivers did not have a drop while he was in the game. But the Lions reached the Jets' 15- and 5-yard lines with first downs on their first two possessions and got only a field goal.

"We moved the ball last week," Harrington said. "We came out and did it for a couple of drives. The thing we didn't do well, we didn't score last week, which everybody saw. We didn't worry about it because we didn't have a real red-zone play. It's tough to take that as a goal because we aren't preparing for it like we would for a regular-season game."

The Lions end camp on one resounding positive note: There were few injuries or missed days of practice, unlike in recent seasons, when injuries hit them hard. The most serious injury was to fullback Cory Schlesinger. He will miss at least the first two regular-season games because of a broken right shin suffered in the loss to the Jets. Otherwise, the frontline players have practiced daily and are healthy.

"Knock on wood," said Mariucci, rapping his knuckles on the head of a radio sportscaster for emphasis. "This is the healthiest camp that I've been around. It's really been good that way. The guys are wired in. Every week they're getting better. We've had a few practices that were subpar. I grade the practices. They grade pretty well."

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

The Detroit Lions are a team to keep an eye on throughout the preseason this year. The offensive unit has the potential to be quite explosive if they can come together and elevate their play. Harrington did a lot of things right in the first exhibition game against the Jets but the Lions will have to become more proficient in the red zone for the Lions to become a good offensive attack in 2005. Getting through training camp is a victory onto itself as a season often begins to unravel once injuries stockpile. Watch the game against the Browns this Saturday to determine if (a) Joey Harrington has a strong grasp on the starting quarterback job and (b) if the Lions can convert chances into touchdowns. With a great running back and strong receivers on board, this team may score a lot of points in 2005.

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11. GB - The Packers Appear Unsettled With The Season Fast Approaching

Clipped from: Star-Tribune article by Mark Craig

Three thoughts came to mind as we flitted through Green Bay on Day 2 of our NFC North tour:

The three-time defending champion Packers look young (except for Brett Favre's gray hair), beat up and way behind schedule for a team that's kicking off the regular season at Detroit in 23 days.

"We still have three weeks, but that isn't much time," said new defensive coordinator Jim Bates, who is still mulling potential starters at as many as five positions. "So many players have had little or no work in this new system."

Safety, defensive tackle, outside linebacker and cornerback are among the positions still up in the air because of injuries and other uncertainties. Offensively, Bubba Franks, the only legitimate tight end on the roster, is unsigned, and both guard positions are still up for grabs heading into the second preseason game Saturday night at Buffalo.

One of the big surprises is rookie seventh-round draft pick William Whitticker, a 6-5, 338-pound guard from Michigan State. Whitticker has outplayed 11-year pro Matt O'Dwyer, who was signed this offseason after the team lost starting guards Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera in free agency.

"He's certainly answered the bell," coach Mike Sherman said of Whitticker.

At this point last season, the Packers were set at every starting position. This year, not only are there as many as seven starting position battles still going on, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel estimated that 19 of the final 53 roster spots are undecided.

Of course, new faces, even young ones, aren't necessarily a bad thing. Especially defensively, where the Packers ranked 25th in 2004.

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The Packers are in a state of flux at this time despite the reassuring presence of long-time starting quarterback Brett Favre still under the center. The offensive skill positions are in pretty good shape with RB Ahman Green, WR Javon Walker and WR Donald Driver in the prime of their careers but the news goes downhill from there. 3rd receiver Robert Ferguson is frustrated with his role within the offense, TE Bubba Franks is still holding out due to a contract dispute, the offensive line is as unsettled as it has been in ten years and the defense has numerous questions that still need to be answered. Any team that has a quarterback like Favre at the helm will have a shot to win a lot of games but one player cannot achieve victory on his own and the Packers may be in some trouble this season. The door is wide open for either the Minnesota Vikings or the Detroit Lions to jump up to first in the division this season.

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12. IDP: STL - CB Groce Has Been Named Starter in Butler's Absence

Clipped from: AP Article

DeJuan Groce, no stranger to getting called on to help the St. Louis Rams when another player is injured, will fill the role again for the team. Groce has been anointed the new starting cornerback to replace Jerametrius Butler, who will have surgery Monday in New York for a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and be out for the season.

Butler torn a right knee ligament on the first day of training camp on July 28.

Last year, cornerback Travis Fisher sustained a broken arm in the preseason, prompting Groce to start the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. That helped his mindset this season.

"Getting thrown into the fire last year gives me the confidence to do it this year," Groce said.

He has already shown his versatility. He plays in the nickel formations and also saw some time as a safety last season. Groce, a 5-10, 192-pound player drafted in the fourth round in 2003 out of Nebraska, played in 11 games, starting five. He also saw action in both postseason contests last season.

The team will not experience a drop in playmaking ability with Groce, Fisher said. In the past two seasons, Groce has played in 27 games, starting five times.

"He has consistency. He has been doing this (making plays and competing) since he got here," Fisher said.

Butler agreed. "He's ready," Butler said about Groce. "He's a tremendous corner, and he'll do a tremendous job. He's ready to play.

Rams coach Mike Martz was confident Groce can handle the pressure of being a starter.

"He's having the best camp of all the corners, by far," Martz said. "He just has been a standout all through camp. We look at him as a starter when we talk about personnel."

Groce said he is learning more about what it takes to play in the NFL and comfortable heading into his second year with defensive coordinator Larry Marmie's system.

"It's falling into place right now," he said.

Veteran cornerbacks Corey Ivy, Terry Fair, Kevin Garrett and rookie Ron Bartell are all competing for spots in the secondary.

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It was obviously a blow to the Rams defensive unit when Butler went down to a season-ending knee injury but having DeJuan Groce on the roster means the Rams starting cornerback positions will still be in good shape. Groce has enough talent to step in and do well for the Rams this season and he'll do a solid job for the club. Where the Butler injury likely hurts will be in the depth department as the nickel and dime positions won't be as strong with Groce leaving the nickel slot to take over Butler's job. The Rams may find themselves more vulnerable than they would like in nickel and dime defenses in 2005.

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13. IDP: OAK - LB Williams Tears Knee Ligament

Clipped from: ESPN Wire

Starting outside linebacker Sam Williams tore a knee ligament Thursday during a practice with the Houston Texans. Raiders coach Norv Turner said Williams tore an anterior cruciate ligament, but was unsure which knee was injured.

Williams, a third-year player from Fresno State, was in nine games last season and started four. He had 22 tackles and defended three passes. He was injured while trying to make a block in morning practice.

Grant Irons will likely start in his place.

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LB Sam Williams wasn't a star for the Raiders but he was listed as the starting outside linebacker going into the season and his loss is a blow to an already questionable defense. It appears that the Raiders squad will be in a lot of high-scoring affairs this season as the defense doesn't appear ready to stop many teams going into this season. In terms of fantasy relevance Williams was only the 100th linebacker overall in our projections so he wasn't on the radar to be drafted in any case.

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14. IDP: HOU - Texans Excited To Have CB Buchanon On Their Side

Clipped from: AP article by Kristie Rieken

Houston Texans cornerback Phillip Buchanon was traded from the Oakland Raiders after gaining a reputation as a disgruntled prima donna. Texans coaches and players have had only good things to say about him since he arrived in Houston in April. With the Raiders in town Thursday for practice with the Texans before Saturday's preseason game, Buchanon's new image didn't prevent him from having to confront his past. A swarm of mostly out-of-town media surrounded him after morning practice and peppered him with questions.

"Would I change anything? I would, but I can't," he said. "I had some good times in Oakland and some bad times, as far as the team aspect. Everything's different now. I'm in Houston, and I look forward to being in Houston."

Coach Dom Capers and general manager Charley Casserly have called the former first-round pick a hard worker and a tremendous athlete. It's a stark contrast to the player who showed up to training camp in 2003 in a limousine and a fancy pajama suit, or the man who berated the Raiders four days before their season finale in January.

He was upbeat during practice and chatted with several members of the Raiders' staff. The question of whether he worries about what his former teammates think of him elicited a chuckle.

"Some guys will love me, some will hate me," he said. "But it's whatever to me."

Buchanon had 50 tackles and three interceptions in 14 games last season. He has 11 interceptions in his three-year career - four of which he returned for touchdowns. He has returned three punts for touchdowns and has averaged 11 yards per return.

Longtime Raider Tim Brown, who retired in the offseason, spoke negatively of Buchanon last year after he took off his helmet and yelled at fans following a punt return. The antics drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. On Thursday, he still seemed upset by the barbs and grew a bit more animated when Brown was mentioned.

"Tim Brown said some things ... he could have came to me and said it like a man and just stepped to the side," he said. "I would never talk bad about my teammates. Remember that. I would never talk bad about my teammates."

He has gained a starting job at left cornerback with the Texans and probably will help with the punt-return duties. He joins Dunta Robinson in the secondary.

"He knows that we expect him to come out and be one of the best corners in this game," Robinson said. "And it starts with practice. He comes out every day, and he practices like he's one of the best."

To that end, Buchanon grabbed an interception on a pass that was intended for Raiders receiver Randy Moss on Thursday. He said he's not excited to face his former team and that he's just focused on getting better and helping the Texans make the playoffs.

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There is no doubt that Phillip Buchanon's physical attributes are among the best in the entire NFL. He has a tremendous mix of speed, quickness and strength and with in improved work ethic and maturity, he could become the shut-down, big play cornerback that all NFL teams covet. Only time will tell if his maturity will finally match up with his ability but if it does the Texans stole themselves a top cornerback. No matter what happens though, at least you know it will be entertaining to watch Buchanon do his thing on the football field.

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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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