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Volume 6, Issue 128 (Wednesday, August 24th)


Tonight's Email brought to you by:
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Hi Folks,

If the Fantasy Football Season were a football game, this third week of the preseason games is without question, the Red Zone. You're gearing up and so are we. Many leagues are drafting this week and we'll continue to ramp up our coverage to bring you everything you need to Dominate Your League. From Training Camp Updates, to Player Spotlights, to Fantasy Articles to the latest in Cheatsheets and up to the minute Stat Projections. We'll keep you covered. Thanks to our Footballguy Will Grant for the help rounding up these stories tonight. Let's get to it.

Joe Bryant

SITE NEWS

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One of the best in season features we offer are our Game Recaps. You can check out a sample Game Recap here http://apps.footballguys.com/04gamerecapsplayoffs4.cfm For every game we have writers watching every play and bringing you all that you need to know. Several of our current Staff Writers got their start as Game Recap writers and we're hiring a few more. If you're interested, pick a game this week and submit a sample game recap to our Cathy Fazio at Fazio@footballguys.com. We of course pay for the in season work you do. Good luck!

B. (Premium Subscription) New Offensive Projections
We've got the latest stat projections factoring current news like Correll Buckhalter's injury and Bubba Franks signing. Let the other guys in your league work with rankings that are six weeks old while you have current data.

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D. (Premium Subscription) New VBD Excel App Version N1 Ready
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E. (Premium Subscription) 37 page Camp Update
Bob Henry reports on every team as if you attended each of the camps.


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. PHI - RB Buckhalter Has Surgery - Lost for Season
2. CLE - RB Suggs Ailing Again
3. GB - TE Franks Signs Long Term Contract And Reports To Camp
4. PIT - RB Staley Could Miss A Game Or Two
5. DAL - PK Cundiff, OL Rogers and Four Others Released
6. BAL - TE Heap, RB Lewis Ailing
7. CHI - RB Benson Selling House?
8. JAX - WR Matt Jones Moves to #3 Slot
9. NYG - QB Manning Feeling 'Better'
10. NYJ - IDP S Kerry Rhodes Should Start. DE Abraham Heading To Camp
11. TEN - IDP CB 'Pac-Man' Jones Will Return Punts
12. DEN - IDP S Brandon Browner Placed on IR
13. BAL - Defense Will Use Ryan's Famous '46' Defense This Season

1. PHI - RB Buckhalter Has Surgery - Lost for Season

Clipped from: ESPN.com AP article 8/24/05

Buckhalter, who missed nearly all of training camp, underwent surgery to repair a torn patella tendon in his right knee Tuesday. Last year, he had season-ending surgery on the same tendon after he injured it in a preseason game.

"He's a great kid," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. "He worked so hard in the offseason. He came back in phenomenal shape. We were looking forward to getting him back out there. He did some good things. For that to happen, your heart goes out to the guy."

Buckhalter was injured in practice on Aug. 5, but initial MRI tests were inconclusive. Dr. James Andrews, the same surgeon who operated on Buckhalter's knee last year, performed the surgery Tuesday in Alabama.

Rick Burkholder, the team's head athletic trainer, said Andrews called the injury "a freak thing."

"We're going to rehab him like he's going to play again," Burkholder said.

A fifth-year pro out of Nebraska, Buckhalter has been an asset when healthy but missed all of the 2002 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team's first minicamp.

Is the latest injury career-threatening?

"That's not fair to say and it's not my decision to make," Burkholder said. "My job is to rehab him as if it's his first time. He has an advantage because he's been through two long rehabs."

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

As we reported earlier today, Buckhalter will miss his second season in a row. It's hard to see how two long rehabs can be characterized as an 'advantage' to him making a comeback, but we wish him all the best. Ryan Moats and Josh Perry pick up the slack for Buckhalter this season. Starter Brian Westbrook is probably too small (5'8"/200 lbs) to carry the team the entire season. It's possible the Eagles may bring in a veteran backup to help share the load.

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2. CLE - RB Suggs Ailing Again

Clipped from: The Washington Times AP article 8/24/05

The bulky walking boot on Lee Suggs' right ankle couldn't do anything to help heal the pain he's feeling all over.

Suggs again finished a training camp watching from the sideline after sustaining a high ankle sprain during practice last week, and the Cleveland Browns' speedy running back doesn't know when he'll be back.

"The doctors haven't given me a timetable," he said. "I'll be out there as soon as I can. I just don't know when that is. I want to get back on the field and play."

It's the second straight year that Suggs, who rushed for 744 yards in 10 games last season, has been injured toward the end of camp. A year ago, Suggs had won the starting job but hurt his neck and missed the first three games of the regular season.

He also sat out three games later in the year with an injured toe. Suggs spent the first nine games of his rookie season on the injured list with a shoulder injury.

"It's kind of weird," Suggs said Wednesday, speaking for the first time since he misstepped and rolled his ankle in a drill last week. "I could ask, 'Why,' but it's not going to get answered."

Suggs was in a three-way battle with Reuben Droughns and William Green to be Cleveland's starter. But for now, he's having to bow out because of his latest injury.

The former Virginia Tech star said he planted his foot last week when it suddenly gave out.

"I couldn't do anything about it," he said.

With the season opener against Cincinnati quickly approaching, Suggs knows his chances of being the Browns' No. 1 back lessen with each day he has to stand around and watch. He wished he could have done more to secure the starting job, but he has already missed one exhibition game and will sit out Friday's at home against Carolina.

"This set me back a lot," he said.

Droughns, who rushed for 1,240 yards last week for Denver, said Suggs' injury underscores the need to have more than one dependable back.

"Injuries are such a big part of the game," said Droughns, who missed the preseason opener against the New York Giants with a sore hamstring. "With running backs, you can't ever have enough."

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

The biggest beneficiary from Suggs on the sidelines might be former 1st round pick William Green. When Droughns was signed during the off season, many speculated that Green had played his last down in Cleveland. With Suggs on the sidelines, Green lives to play another day. He leads the Brown in rushing this pre-season with 73 yards and a TD on 19 carries (3.8 YPC). Droughns is the main back for now, but we like what Green can do as well. Bottom line is that it looks like RBBC for the Browns this season.

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3. GB - TE Franks Signs Long Term Contract And Reports To Camp

Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.com article by Bob McGinn 8/24/05

Tight end Bubba Franks has a new lifetime contract with the Green Bay Packers, a source close to the negotiations told the Journal Sentinel this morning.

Late Tuesday night the two sides agreed on a seven-year, $28 million contract that will keep Franks in Green Bay through the 2011 season. The structure of the payout to Franks wasn't available.

Franks is expected to be on the practice field for the team's brief walk-through Thursday.

The deal averages $4 million per year, which had been Franks' target since the start of negotiations months ago. Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez ($4.785 million), Baltimore's Todd Heap ($4.58 million) and Atlanta's Alge Crumpler ($4.429 million) were the other tight ends with $4 million deals, although San Diego's Antonio Gates might have surpassed that mark Tuesday when he signed a six-year contract.

Without Franks, the Packers were trying to make do with David Martin, Ben Steele, Sean McHugh and two free agents. Martin missed extensive practice time during training camp with various injuries, Steele caught the ball inconsistently and McHugh labored as a downfield receiver.

On Monday, quarterback Brett Favre said of Franks: "I hope he's here soon."

The two sides had been far apart for much of the past month. As recently as July 22, the Packers were offering about $2.5 million per year compared to Franks' request of about $4 million.

In the end, leverage swung toward Franks when none of the other tight ends came through.

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

Good news for the Packer fans and Brett Favre. Franks has been a top 10 TE in three of the last four seasons, and should return to that level again this season. The Packers have their key offensive players back in the fold now and are ready to make some noise in the NFC North.

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4. PIT - RB Staley Could Miss A Game Or Two

Clipped from: The Post-Gazett.com article by Ed Bouchette 8/24/05

Both Cowher and Duce Staley said the halfback's rehabilitation from Aug. 8 knee surgery is right on schedule, but the coach might hold him out the first week or two of the regular season.

Cowher said the situation at running back should allow him to take it slow with Staley to make sure he is in top form when he returns.

"I like the fact that, with the situation we have at running back, we don't have to rush to get him back," Cowher said. "It's very important that we don't do that. We need him this season."

Cowher called the position "a very deep one, a very competitive one."

Staley said he feels good, and he wants to play in the Sept. 11 game against Tennessee at Heinz Field, "there's no doubt about that."

Jerome Bettis moved up to No. 1 after Staley's injury. Verron Haynes and Willie Parker not only are competing for playing time behind him, but also to become the third-down back. Herron is a halfback who also backs up starting fullback Dan Kreider.

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

Staley had just under 900 yards from scrimmage and one TD in his ten appearances last season. Even if Staley is healthy, Bettis is going to be the go-to back for the Steelers this season. He rumbled for almost 1000 yards and 13 TDS last season. Willie Parker and Verron Haynes are getting the bulk of the carries while Staley is out. At this point, either of them could fill in if Staley is lost for an extended period of time.

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5. DAL - PK Cundiff, OL Rogers and Four Others Released

Clipped from: DallasCowboys.com article by Nick Eatman 8/24/05

High draft picks usually get the benefit of the doubt, as do players who have won a few games for you in the past.

But players from both of these categories did not receive those benefits on Wednesday as the Cowboys trimmed six players from their roster before returning to the practice field here at Valley Ranch.

Jacob Rogers, a second-round pick last year, was waived/injured, and will receive an injury settlement for a right-knee injury he opted to undergo microfracture surgery instead of trying to manage the condition so he could possibly play this year after missing most of last year with shoulder and calf problems.

The Cowboys also cut kicker Billy Cundiff, who suffered a quadriceps injury Saturday, the last full training camp practice, and is expected to be out for at least a month, if not more.

Bad timing nailed Cundiff, who also figures to receive an injury settlement. With the Cowboys needing to trim the roster to 53 players in the next two weeks, Parcells said he couldn't afford to keep two kickers on the roster. The Cowboys for now will stick with Jose Cortez, who made all three field-goal attempts Monday night in Seattle, but Parcells said the team will explore all of its options at the position.

But even if Cundiff gets healthy by the start of the regular season or soon after, NFL rules prohibit teams from re-signing players who have been injury settled for another six weeks plus however many weeks of the regular season was included in the settlement. So if the settlement includes at least the first two weeks of the regular season, then the Cowboys would not be able to re-sign Cundiff until the ninth week of the season.

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

It hurts to see a kid like Rogers who just can't stay healthy. He has definite potential, but he just can't shake the injury bug. He only appeared in two games for the Cowboys last season, and probably won't have any fantasy impact on the other key Cowboy offensive players.

Cundiff had just 91 points last season and finished 23rd in total points for fantasy kickers. Journeyman Jose Cortez has the inside track for the starting job now in Dallas. He's a perfect 4-4 this pre-season.

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6. BAL - TE Heap, RB Lewis Ailing

Clipped from: Baltimoresun.com article by Jamison Hensley 8/24/05

Jamal Lewis is uncertain whether he will play this week after missing practice yesterday.

The Ravens had hoped the running back would be ready for Friday's preseason game against the Saints in New Orleans and planned to give him four or five carries. Lewis, who was a late scratch for last week's preseason game, said he would know if he can play by today or tomorrow.

"I'll touch the field when Jamal Lewis is ready," Lewis said. "If that's this weekend, that's this weekend. If that's next weekend, it's next weekend. I guarantee you I'll be out there Sept. 11 [the regular-season opener]."

The Ravens are taking a cautious approach with Lewis, who missed all the offseason camps because he spent four months in federal prison and two months in a halfway house. He first suited up for the Ravens on Aug. 9 and had not missed a practice until yesterday.

"We'll see how he progresses," coach Brian Billick said. "He is still in training mode, and I want to be careful how we proceed with him."

...

Todd Heap's biggest obstacle remains his shoulder. But the tight end isn't worried how it will hold up against contact.

"Everybody I've talked to has said the same thing, that taking hits is not going to be the big thing," Heap said. "I feel like the strength is back. It's the mobility. It takes some time because there's a lot of scar tissue built up in here, and it's something that needs to be worked out."

Heap was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list Monday. He had surgery on his ankle in January and had his shoulder repaired in April.

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

Lewis should be ready to go by the time the regular season rolls around. Don't be surprised to see a slow start from him though as he's missed a considerable amount of time this pre-season. Although we don't consider him a '1st round quality' RB this fantasy season, Lewis is still gong to put up some solid numbers and he's got a lot of upside.

Heap's recovery is better news. Although he's still working off the rust, he should be ready to go by the time the season starts. If he stays healthy, Heap should be a top five fantasy TE in most leagues, and will be a nice complement to the upgraded Raven offense.

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7. CHI - RB Benson Selling House?

Clipped from: Daily Southtown.com article by Phil Arvia 8/24/05

The average NFL career is a shade under four seasons. NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. The only money a player really knows is his is a signing bonus - and if you decide to retire early, the team will try to get that back.

So, in all probability, Benson has one shot to cash in. If he thinks what he's doing is the best way to maximize that shot, he should do it.

Oh, speaking of what he's doing, a Texas-based journalist is reporting that Benson has put a house he purchased in Libertyville shortly after the draft back on the market, and has had a pair of cars shipped back to his home state. Call those the counter moves to Jerry Angelo's ill conceived "final offer" press release.

Meanwhile, we wait and watch. Benson watches, too.

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

Ok, we reported this earlier today, and in the end, there is no real fantasy impact. But one thing is clear: at this rate, Benson isn't going to be in camp any time soon. This is not going to end well as neither side is willing to talk, and both sides are digging in. If you listen close, you can actually hear the sound of Thomas Jones' value rising by the minute. We'll keep you posted on this standoff as it continues, and let you know if either side blinks.

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8. JAX - WR Matt Jones Moves to #3 Slot

Clipped from: Jacksonville.com article by Bart Hubbuch 8/24/05

Fred Taylor isn't the only Jaguar set for an unveiling in Thursday night's preseason game against Atlanta.

No.1 draft pick Matt Jones, relegated mostly to second-half duty with the reserves the past two games, has been practicing with the first-team offense as the No.3 receiver this week and is expected to do the same against the Falcons.

As the third receiver, Jones is working out of the slot in three-receiver formations. It is the same role filled by Troy Edwards last season and by sixth-round pick Chad Owens in last week's preseason victory at Tampa Bay.

Coach Jack Del Rio was scheduled to speak to the media Tuesday but did not appear at the post-practice session with reporters.

"He's the first-round pick, and you've got to see what they can do,'' said Owens, who caught three passes for 37 yards against the Buccaneers. "As a sixth-round pick, I just felt privileged to be [the third receiver] last week.''

Jones, a 6-foot-6 quarterback at Arkansas who is converting to receiver in the NFL, is tied with Owens for the Jaguars' preseason lead with five catches. Jones has 93 receiving yards (an 18.6-yard average) and caught his first pro touchdown against Miami in the opener.

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

Jones has been impressive in camp so far, and it's not surprising that Del Rio wants to see what the kid can do. Jimmy Smith is still the go-to guy for the Jags, but Troy Edwards needs to watch out for this guy. Williams is having a solid camp, and continues to show that he has greatly improved on his lackluster rookie season. At this point, it will be hard for Jones to beat him out for #2. However, if Jones continues to shine this pre-season, he could start the season as #3.

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9. NYG - QB Manning Feeling 'Better'

Clipped from: The New York Times.com article by Bill Pennington 8/24/05

Eli Manning said his sprained right elbow was feeling better, but he has been instructed not to do anything during practices, not even drills involving handoffs. "They don't want me to bump it or something; they want me to take off the week completely," Manning said. "But it's hard for me to watch practice. I have never missed a practice in high school or college before."

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

'Better' is a relative term here for Manning. The Giants are treating him like glass, not even allowing him to do handoff drills. Tim Hasselbeck continues to get reps in Manning's absence, and if Eli Manning is your starter, you might want to consider Hasselbeck as a handcuff. We'll keep you posted on any developments for the Giants Camp.

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10. NYJ - IDP S Kerry Rhodes Should Start. DE Abraham Heading To Camp

Clipped from: NY Daily News.com article by Michael Obernauer & Rich Cimini

Jets Pro Bowl DE John Abraham, at home in Columbia, S.C., has told friends that he's heading to New York Friday, a person close to Abraham told the Daily News last night. That is a strong indication his 28-day contract dispute is nearing an end.

Abraham, rebuffed in his attempt to get a long-term contract, will sign a one-year deal for $6.7 million, the amount of his franchise tender. Presumably, he would sign in time to be on the practice field Sunday, when the Jets begin preparations for their final preseason game, Sept. 1 in Philadelphia.

Rookie safety Kerry Rhodes continued his impressive camp, making three interceptions over the Jets' two practice sessions. Rhodes played the strong side with the first unit, with Oliver Celestin at free safety, raising the specter of those two starting Friday night's preseason matchup with the Giants. Erik Coleman, who started all 16 games in his rookie season last year, took snaps with the second team.

Meanwhile, CB Ty Law sat out both practice sessions with a stomach ailment. "He's fine, nothing wrong, just sick," Herm Edwards said of Law, who is coming off a season-ending foot injury and has had just two days of practice since signing with the Jets. Edwards said he expects Law to be ready for the Giants game.

The projected regular-season starters in the secondary - Law, Coleman, CB David Barrett, and Rhodes/Celestin - have yet to practice all together.

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

Good news for NYJ fans. Abraham is a stud and his return to the DL means more pressure on opposing QBS. Abraham has 43 Sacks in 57 games for the Jets, and he has been dearly missed.

Rhodes was a 4th round pick for the Jets our of Louisville this year. He has great size (6'2", 209) and good speed. He was rough around the edges coming out of college, but he's come a long way this offseason and it appears that he may be starting when the regular season opens.

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11. TEN - IDP CB 'Pac-Man' Jones Will Return Punts

Clipped from: The Southern Standard.net article 8/24/05

Adam "Pacman" Jones didn't sign his contract quickly enough to join in special teams practice on Monday, but he had his chances Tuesday morning. He caught balls off a machine, then caught punts in a drill.

Jones immediately becomes the Titans' best option at punt returning after he averaged 14.6 yards per return in his junior season at West Virginia last year with one returned 76 yards for a touchdown. The Titans need him to help a unit that was last in the NFL in 2004.

Coach Jeff Fisher said Jones has natural instincts at catching the ball.

"We are going to try to improve it a little bit right at the catch. His run instincts are good, and he has got a good understanding. Now it is going to be a matter of getting back into it and getting used to things and making good decisions," Fisher said.

The Titans plan to give Jones as much practice with punts as possible over the next two weeks before the season opener Sept. 11 at Pittsburgh.

"The decisions that he makes are going to be his, and we are not going to second guess him. What we have to do is get him comfortable with making them," Fisher said.

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

The Titans finished dead last in average punt return yards (4.3 YPR) and 30th in average kick return yards (19.7). They did not have a TD return. Jones averaged 25 yards per kick return and 10.9 yards per punt return in college, and he should have an immediate impact for the Titans on special teams.

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12. DEN - IDP S Brandon Browner Placed on IR

Clipped from: ESPN.Com AP article 8/24/05

Denver Broncos rookie safety Brandon Browner impressed coaches with several interceptions and aggressive play in training camp and was a strong defender in goal line and Red Zone drills.

But the promising undrafted rookie from Oregon State suffered a fracture in his left forearm Saturday against San Francisco and went on injured reserve Wednesday, the second safety to be lost before the season starts.

Safety Chris Young went on injured reserve with a knee injury last week.

"Any time you lose a guy and two guys in the same position there is an impact," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. "You are depleted in depth at that position, two guys that we felt that could help us are Browner and Chris Young."

Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said Browner reacted to plays like veterans.

"I liked the way he reacted to reads and how quickly he came up to make plays," Coyer said.

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

Denver had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season, finishing 6th in passing yards allowed, 4th in passing TDS allowed and 4th in total yards allowed. However, if the injuries to the secondary continue to mount, they're going to have a tough time with some of the wide open passing in the AFC West. John Lynch and Nick Ferguson are the projected starters at Safety for the Broncos, but their depth is pretty limited after that.

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13. BAL - Defense Will Use Ryan's Famous '46' Defense This Season

Clipped from: cbssportsline.com article by Pete Prisco 8/24/05

Twenty years ago, the greatest NFL defense of all time -- no matter what the numbers say, this one was it -- led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl victory, not to mention a bad Super Bowl rap.

That defense played with a nasty attack style, foam coming from the players' mouths as they made opposing quarterbacks quiver. Buddy Ryan was the defensive coordinator and creator of the "46" defense, an intense man whose defense made hitting people in the mouth chic.

So when Ryan talks about defense, players usually will listen. Ryan spoke to the Baltimore Ravens defense earlier this summer at the urging of son Rex, the team's defensive coordinator.

"He didn't have a lot to say," safety Will Demps said. "He just kept telling me we were going to be great. He kept saying how excited he was, how great we would be. He didn't say much more than that. But it sure was nice hearing it from him."

The Ravens will use some of the 46 defense principles this season. That means blitzing up front with man coverage in the secondary. Linebackers will come. Safeties will come. Sometimes eight people will come after the quarterback.

Attack. Attack. Attack.

"It's a defense where you predict to the offense what you want to do, not react to what the offense is doing," Demps said. "It's a high-risk, big-reward defense. And we love it."

Under Rex Ryan, who takes over for Mile Nolan as coordinator, the Ravens will change from a 3-4 front to a 4-3 front with many of the 46 blitz packages built into the system. With the talent there, the thought of that style could be nasty for opposing offenses -- if it clicks.

Ryan intends to play defense just like his father did in Chicago and Philadelphia. That means the Ravens won't be sitting back on their hands waiting for the offense to make a move.

"We will come after the opponent," Rex Ryan said earlier this year.

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

It remains to be seen whether a '46' defense can work against current NFL systems that like to spread the receivers out and get the ball to the quickly. With eight people coming after the QB at times, a quick dump off can lead to big yardage. However, if used in the right situation, it can create havoc for unsuspecting QBS. The Ravens are already one of the toughest defenses in the league. If they can work the '46' into their arsenal, expect them to finish near the top of the defensive team list for 2005.

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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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