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Volume 6, Issue 130 (Friday, August 26th)

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

You've heard me talk about The World Championship of Fantasy Football ( A quick head's up that the WCOFF is down to a handful of spots for their 2005 event in Las Vegas (September 10). If you want to compete in the 2005 WCOFF, please pre-register right now on the web site -- and FedEx an application AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. At the current rate, it looks pretty certain that the WCOFF will be sold out by Monday morning. I was at the WCOFF last year, and can tell you it was an absolute blast. It's four days of non-stop fantasy football fun!... if you're going to be at the WCOFF in September, please stop by the FBGs booth and say hi. We're raffling off a Joe Montana/Jerry Rice AUTOGRAPHED Forty-Niners helmet!!

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Hi Folks,

It's here. I know that many leagues are drafting this weekend and we'll continue to ramp up our coverage to bring you everything you need to Dominate Your League. From Training Camp Updates, Drafting Software, to Fantasy Articles to the latest in Cheatsheets and up to the minute Stat Projections. We'll keep you covered. Thanks to our Footballguy Chris Smith for the help rounding up these stories tonight. Let's get to it.

Joe Bryant


A. Survivor Draft and Commentary
Check out the always popular Survivor Draft with detailed commentary

B. (Premium Subscription) Top 25 Seasons - What Happened Next Year?
by David Yudkin

C. (Premium Subscription) RB Fantasy Points Study
by Chris Smith

D. (Premium Subscription) Dark Phoenix 2
by Cecil Lammey

E. (Premium Subscription) The Big Picture
by Mike Herman. Everything you need to know - condensed to one webpage

F. (Premium Subscription) The Perfect Auto Pick Draft
by Mike Conrad


1. MIN - RB Bennett Won't Lose Job Due to Injury
2. JAX - RB F. Taylor Looks Strong In First Preseason Action
3. KC - Team Unhappy With Kicker Tynes: Other Options?
4. KC - RB Johnson Itching To Be Starting Running Back
5. BAL - Teammates Have Faith In QB Boller But He Needs To Be Better
6. CHI - Bears Have Lots of Questions On Offense Heading Into Bills Game
7. JAX - Jaguars Offensive Still Not Firing On All Cylinders
8. NE - WR Terrell May Not Make The Patriots Roster
9. MIN - C Withrow Named Starter With Birk Out Of Action
10. NYJ - Expect Balance From The Jets In 2005
11. GB - QB Rodgers Struggles May Drop Him To # 3 On The Depth Chart
12. PIT - RB Staley May Be Out Of Action Until October - Bettis Tweaks Calf
13. CLE - RB W. Green May Find Himself Starting In 2005
14. TEN - WR Calico And S Williams To Return To Action Tonight
15. JAX - Rookie WR Matt Jones Gaining Momentum
16. WAS - RB Portis To Get First Real Action Of Preseason Against The Steelers
17. DEN - Broncos Must Decide What To Do With RB Clarett This Season; Anderson Set As # 1?
18. MIA/TB - The Preseason Game Will Feature The Reunion Of The Auburn Backs
19. IDP: NE - Patriots Release Safety Edwards; Finally Stable At Safety
20. IDP - DEN - Broncos Secondary Fired Up To Face The Colts

1. MIN - RB Bennett Won't Lose Job Due to Injury

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

Vikings coach Mike Tice bolstered his commitment to running back Michael Bennett as his starter after the two met Wednesday morning.

"We are absolutely on the same page," Tice said. "Mike Bennett is a proven player and he is our starter, and the injury won't stop him from being the starter. I'm not playing any mind games or anything. But I have to have another plan if he can't play."

Tice explained to Bennett that the training staff initially said the running back would be out two to three weeks because of a neck injury, so Tice developed an auxiliary plan, naming Mewelde Moore the starter for Friday's exhibition game against the San Diego Chargers.

As a result, there was confusion at Winter Park. Bennett said he was satisfied after meeting with Tice. He insisted he would be ready for the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I don't know what the whole big hoopla was about," Bennett said. "My neck is a whole lot better."

Bennett plans to go through warm-ups Friday night and did not rule out the possibility of playing against the Chargers. He said he would rather be "safe than sorry."

Although he has been slowed by injuries, Bennett said he is not worried about this one.

"It's nothing that restricts anything," he said. "The season hasn't even started. I'll be ready to start against Tampa and throughout the whole season."

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

This isn't really a big surprise. Mike Tice appears to like Michael Bennett and will give him the first opportunity to prove himself this season. The question is can Michael Bennett do enough to continue starting throughout the season? He has blazing speed but his football instincts often appear to be lacking. Bennett's projections currently have him slotted in 34th overall so we don't see a lot of promise in him making a big impact in 2005.

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2. JAX - RB F. Taylor Looks Strong In First Preseason Action

Clipped from: Associated Press article

Running back Fred Taylor sprinted up the middle, avoided a defender with a 360-degree spin move and then got hit directly on his left knee. Taylor's first run in more than eight months provided a 13-yard gain for Jacksonville's offense and an even bigger boost for his confidence. The oft-injured Taylor carried four times for 18 yards in his preseason debut Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons. He added two receptions for 8 yards.

"It felt good," Taylor said. "It was a good start. It was a confidence builder. Physically, I felt OK and I didn't have any setbacks. It is a good sign, so far."

Taylor injured his left knee Dec. 19 against Green Bay and missed the final two games of last season. Labeled "Fragile Fred" after a series of injuries early in his career, Taylor had started 46 consecutive games before hurting his knee. He had surgery in January to repair two partially torn knee ligaments. He was limited to one practice a day during training camp and did not participate in any contact drills.

That changed against Atlanta. Taylor touched the ball three times on Jacksonville's opening series (two runs and a reception) and gained 20 yards.

Taylor said Wednesday that the preseason game against the Falcons was all "about me." He was admittedly nervous and cautiously optimistic. But more than anything, he wanted to prove to everyone, including himself, that he hasn't lost a step after seven injury-filled seasons. Taylor left the game after the first play of Jacksonville's third series, giving way to his backups.

He won't play again until the season opener Sept. 11 against Seattle. The Jaguars conclude the preseason next week at Dallas, but coach Jack Del Rio said Taylor will not play because the game is on artificial turf.

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

Fred Taylor is tough to get a read on this season but he could represent solid value in this year's draft if his knee can hold up throughout the season. It appeared during the Falcons game that his knee injury isn't holding him back too much but there is still a great deal of risk to picking up Taylor for the upcoming season. He's wearing a bulky brace but it doesn't seem to slow him down significantly. We have Fred Taylor sitting at 24th overall and considering he has dropped way down on some owners' radar screens, you may be able to scoop him up at a value this season. After his performance against the Falcons, it appears he will be ready to go in week one so consider selecting him if you are in need of a running back after round three.

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3. KC - Team Unhappy With Kicker Tynes: Other Options?

Kicker Lawrence Tynes is walking the tightrope. Last year Tynes hit 17 of 23 field goals but missed half of his attempts from beyond 40 yards. This preseason hasn't gone the way Tynes envisioned it. After the Vikings game, Tynes was arrested for assault for allegedly punching a bouncer in an altercation at a River Falls bar. Then, after missing two field goals against the Cardinals, head coach Dick Vermeil lashed out saying, "He's in the tank. You miss two field goals like that? Not in the National Football League." After those comments by Vermeil, it is becoming abundantly clear that Tynes will not be kicking for the Chiefs this season. But if the Chiefs cut Tynes, who else is out there? Warpaint Illustrated takes a look at some kickers who are available, or who may become available in the coming weeks, that the Chiefs will consider at place kicker for the upcoming season.

Paul Edinger/Aaron Elling, Vikings - The loser of this battle in Minnesota probably becomes the top candidate to replace Tynes if he is cut. Despite Edinger's struggles in Chicago, he is the favorite to win the job in Minnesota. That would make Elling, who has also been a kickoff specialist for the Vikings, a leading candidate to be the kicker in Kansas City.

Matt Bryant/Todd France, Bucs - There is another intriguing battle going on in Tampa Bay between consistent Matt Bryant and strong-legged Todd France. Bryant is the favorite to be the starting kicker for the Bucs come opening day. Bryant has hit a respectable 40 out of 50 kicks in his NFL career and he has the experience factor over France. France has never kicked in an NFL game and wasn't spectacular in NFL Europe, converting on 23 of 30 field goals.

Doug Brien/Nick Novak, Bears - If you are looking for a dark horse in this race, consider Novak. The former Maryland Terrapin converted 73 percent of his kicks as a senior. Novak has a rocket for a leg, hitting on 7 of 11 field goals from 50-yards and beyond over his college career. Novak is in the Bears' camp, but that job will most likely go to veteran Doug Brien.

Rob Bironas/Ola Kimrin, Titans - Both Bironas and Kimrin may be available for the Chiefs but for the wrong reasons. Neither kicker has been impressive with the Titans so far, and both could be cut.

Steve Christie - Christie is a solid veteran who could interest the Chiefs. While he hasn't been spectacular in recent years, Christie hit a serviceable 22 out of 28 field goals for the Giants in 2004.

Martin Gramatica - My how the mighty have fallen. Once considered one of the top three kickers in the NFL, Gramatica is now just looking to land a job somewhere. It appears Gramatica has totally lost his confidence. After going just 27 for 45 in his final two seasons with the Bucs, Gramatica converted only 11 of 19 field goals for the Colts last season while filling in for an injured Mike Vanderjagt.

After Vermeil's comments, it's clear that Tynes is living on borrowed time. The Chiefs will most likely wait and see how some of these kicking battles turn out. If the Chiefs do indeed cut Tynes, look for the loser of the Vikings kicking competition and the experienced Christie to surface as the leading candidates to replace the Chiefs' troubled kicker.

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

Lawrence Tynes was ranked very highly by many (including us) but it's looking like he's fallen out of favor in KC and may be out of a job very soon. You should avoid taking him at this time as there are many other kickers to target who are better choices for the 2005 season.

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4. KC - RB Johnson Itching To Be Starting Running Back

Clipped from: KC Star article by Elizabeth Merrill

RB Larry Johnson is growing. His teammates say so. Once dubbed a loner, and an occasional pouter, Johnson tears through tacklers, springs to his feet and is the first in the huddle. He'll be a major contributor to the Chiefs' offense, offensive coordinator Al Saunders said Thursday. He's blossomed, Saunders says.

After hearing the group lovefest late Thursday, Johnson, with a straight face, said he hasn't changed much at all.

"I've still got an attitude problem," he said. "I still feel the same I've always felt. I see the draft, I see guys like Cedric Benson, Carnell Williams, all those guys who have a chance to be starters on their teams. I'm just looking for my chance. I don't want to waste three or four years of my prime running behind somebody, period. I don't care who it is. I feel like I should start somewhere in this league."

That somebody Johnson runs behind is Priest Holmes, a three-time Pro Bowler who has 13 pages in the Chiefs' media guide devoted to him. Johnson is friends with Holmes and understands that the man who set an NFL record for touchdowns in a season needs to get his playing time.

Johnson has just spent two long years waiting for his playing time. It came in the second half of 2004, when Holmes was out for the season because of a knee injury. Johnson ran for 541 yards and nine touchdowns in the last six games.

When Holmes worked out just once a day during training camp, Johnson was back with the No. 1 offense. He has bulled his way over defenders and has sharpened his pass-catching skills. Externally, Johnson, a 2002 Heisman Trophy finalist, has tried not to show his frustrations.

"If I internally show it," Johnson said, "it's (in) how I run with the ball. I'm a hard runner. When I'm out there trash-talking and trying to run over people and fighting and all of that, that's my frustrations coming out.

"I'm ready to get my career on the road. There are some goals and things in my career that I want to shoot for as far as Walter Payton's yardage and Emmitt (Smith) and all those things they got a chance to do. I just want my chance to do it."

Saunders says Johnson will get his chances this fall. After starting 2004 as the No. 3 running back behind Derrick Blaylock, Johnson has solidified the No. 2 spot and will get significant playing time in Saturday night's third preseason game against Seattle.

He's been impressive in the first half of the preseason. Last weekend against Arizona, Johnson had 49 yards in nine carries. Johnson could always run. His senior year at Penn State, he led the nation with 2,087 yards rushing. But in Kansas City's offense, running backs are asked to do more. They're pass protectors and pass catchers.

Saunders says he's noticed a different focus in Johnson this summer.

"He's matured a lot, as everybody does," Saunders said. "He understands the system much greater. His work ethic has been outstanding. The way he has performed this training camp, we expect him to be a major contributor to this offense."

When asked what that meant, Saunders said, "It means he will contribute a lot."

His work, Saunders said, will depend on the opponent. Johnson said he'll do more passing routes and dabble at fullback. That's all in the game plan, he said. Johnson is just happy he's in the game plan.

He said he never blamed anybody, not the coaches, the front office or Holmes. He just blamed the situation. Guard Brian Waters said it was a tough situation for any rookie to handle. And that Johnson has grown from it.

"I've seen him since the first day he was here when he was a rookie until now," Waters said. "And he's a totally different football player. He's motivated, he's hungry, and he runs with passion."

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

RB Larry Johnson proved a year ago that he can handle the load if given the opportunity. With his excellent training camp and preseason this year, it appears he will have many opportunities to prove himself this season whether Priest Holmes gets injured or not. If you do draft Holmes this season, it is imperative that you target Larry Johnson in round four. We may begin to see a changing of the guard in Kansas City this year with Johnson perhaps earning more and more playing time as the season wears on. Holmes is still a top fantasy performer but the shrewd owner will go into the season with both Holmes and Johnson, guaranteeing lots of points at the RB slot.

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5. BAL - Teammates Have Faith In QB Boller But He Needs To Be Better

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Jamison Hensley

There was the interception on the first throw in Atlanta, the three turnovers against the Philadelphia Eagles and the chorus of boos throughout M&T Bank Stadium. These struggles have cast all-too-familiar doubts around Kyle Boller, quickly transforming the Ravens quarterback's preseason from a routine tune-up to a personal challenge.

The first three quarters of tonight's game against the New Orleans Saints - likely his last significant outing before the regular-season opener - could reverse his downward spiral or serve as another disturbing sign of what's to come.

"It's definitely not a panic mode," Boller said. "It's only our third preseason game. I think if you start forcing things and trying too hard like you think that you should, more bad things are going to happen."

Teammates and coaches have counseled Boller all week. Even owner Steve Bisciotti offered some encouraging words to him at the end of a recent practice. But there will come a time this season when Boller must give them reason to believe.

"Clearly, Kyle's ability to lead as a quarterback eventually will stem from his productivity," coach Brian Billick said. "Like any leader, that's what he'll be held accountable to. What we have to make sure is we're holding him accountable for those things he can control and holding others accountable for what is going on around him."

The coaching staff said the lapses in the preseason opener were the result of a handful of drops by receivers. In the second game, team officials pointed to faulty pass protection as the most troublesome error. What can't be argued is the lack of productivity of the Ravens' starting offense.

"Kyle is very confident in his abilities," Billick said. "Does he rush his mechanics? Yes, at times because he's a very hyper-kinetic individual. But I've never seen this young man panicked, and I've seen him in some pretty critical situations."

Backup quarterback Anthony Wright responded late last game, leading an 80-yard touchdown drive in the second half before failing to finish off a 76-yard series to end the game. Still, Wright's preseason statistics - 18-for-38 for 190 yards - aren't overly impressive.

The players insist there is no quarterback controversy.

"He's our quarterback, he's the leader of our offense," receiver Derrick Mason said of Boller. "No matter what went on the previous two games, I don't think we've lost confidence in him. I had confidence in him when I came here, and I still have confidence in him."

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

This Ravens team is primed for a Super Bowl run and there are no more excuses for QB Kyle Boller. He is surrounded with better talent at receiver, and the offensive line and running game is in good shape. There is no reason for Boller and the passing game to struggle this season and he will need to play much better this season than he has during the first two games of the preseason to keep the starting job. The team appears to like him but he must begin to put it together starting this weekend.

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6. CHI - Bears Have Lots of Questions On Offense Heading Into Bills Game

Clipped from: Chicago Tribune article by John Mullin

What normally would be an extended test drive for a Bears offense against a very good NFL defense has taken on additional significance. In their first home exhibition game this year, the Bears face the Buffalo Bills, who led the league last season in sacks and forced turnovers. The Bears, who have foundered for years because of quarterback problems, desperately need to find out if Chad Hutchinson can avoid sacks and interceptions.

Though it is all but assured that Hutchinson will be the Bears' starting quarterback for the early portion of the season, it is less certain he will be the quarterback to lead the organization out of a deepening rut.

"It's a challenge, but I wouldn't be out here if I didn't accept and revel in the challenge," Hutchinson said. "It comes with the territory. There are a lot of people who don't believe in me, but what matters is what I believe in myself, what my coaches and teammates believe."

If Hutchinson stumbles Friday, he will not lose the starting job yet. But he will be forgiven for only so many disasters and he already used one up last week in Indianapolis, when he was intercepted twice. Smith's history says he will not be reluctant to turn to Kyle Orton or Jeff Blake.

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There are two things to note here. First of all, Chad Hutchinson will have to perform well to keep the starting job. The Bears are more than unsettled at the quarterback spot and it is quite possible that Kyle Orton, Jeff Blake or both will see action this year if Hutchinson falters at all. More interesting is the blurb in regards to rookie Mark Bradley who is getting more and more positive press. Sure he makes rookie mistakes and his drops have been disheartening but he appears to have the most upside of all the Bears receivers and he may see more action than anticipated this year.

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7. JAX - Jaguars Offensive Still Not Firing On All Cylinders

Clipped from: Orlando Sentinel article by Kyle Hightower

This was supposed to be the game in which the Jacksonville Jaguars' offense finally offered an opponent a taste of its identity. The improved skills and dogged mettle that Coach Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Carl Smith have been promising were supposedly just under the surface. But after a stinging 23-7 loss to the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, there are only more questions about where this team is with just more than two weeks until the Sept. 11 opener.

Though quarterback Byron Leftwich had his best statistical game of the preseason, the Jaguars managed only seven points after scoring 47 points in their first two preseason games.

Leftwich was 11-for-20 for 179 yards, but couldn't find the end zone. Vick, playing only three series, was 5-of-10 for 44 yards passing with one touchdown. He ran for 30 yards on four carries. Still, Leftwich isn't ready to push the panic button.

"I think we did some good things," Leftwich said. "I think we're getting better. But there still is some things we've gotta work on and fine-tune to get ready for the season."

Though as a whole the offense struggled Thursday, there were other bright spots in addition to the return of Taylor.

Rookie wide receiver Matt Jones continued to impress and make his push to move up the depth chart. He electrified the crowd on a few occasions during the first half, the biggest coming on a leaping 48-yard grab to set up the Jaguars' only first half score: a 4-yard rushing touchdown by LaBrandon Toefield. Jones, the former Arkansas standout and the team's No. 1 draft pick, entered the game tied with Chad Owens for the preseason lead with five catches. He added two catches and 55 yards to that total.

"We've been waiting on something like that a long time," receiver Jimmy Smith said of Jones. He stepped in and did an awesome job. He is a playmaker."

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

Byron Leftwich has still struggled to get the ball in the endzone and the entire passing game has been out of sync for much of the preseason. While there is still some hope for optimism, don't over-project the Jaguars offensive chances this season as they may struggle to score touchdowns once again in 2005.

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8. NE - WR Terrell May Not Make The Patriots Roster

Clipped from: Boston Herald article by Michael Felger

After just two days of practice, receiver Andre Davis drew rave reviews from his new teammates for his football intelligence. That's important, because from a physical standpoint Davis has the tools to be an impact player.

As for which receiver could be on the outs after Davis' acquisition from Cleveland, veteran free agent David Terrell seems to be drawing the most mention. Terrell hasn't helped his cause by going down with an undisclosed injury three weeks ago and missing the Pats' first two preseason games.

Terrell sat out practice on Monday when the Pats were in full pads, but he returned to the field on Tuesday and Wednesday when the Pats held scaled-down workouts. It looks like Terrell at least has a chance to play tonight.

One thing to consider when it comes to cutting Terrell: The Pats gave the former No. 8 overall pick a $200,000 signing bonus on his one-year deal. While that's not a huge amount of money, it will still be worth noting whether the Pats at least take a look at him in the regular season before deciding to give up on the investment. Ideally, the Davis trade will motivate Terrell to a higher level.

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

This is an interesting development in New England. Receivers Deion Branch and David Givens are locks to make the team as is Andre Davis who has already made a positive impression. David Terrell was playing well during mini-camps but has fallen out of favor somewhat due to injury woes. He needs to get into the action and make a positive impression to have even a shred of fantasy worth this season whether he remains on the roster or not. Right now it appears that the Patriots top three receivers will be Branch, Givens and Davis.

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9. MIN - C Withrow Named Starter With Birk Out Of Action

Clipped from: News Services

The Vikings head into Friday night's preseason game against the Chargers needing to establish some continuity on the offensive line.

The questions surrounding Matt Birk's availability caused head coach Mike Tice to declare backup Cory Withrow the starter at center for the season opener against Tampa Bay on Sept. 11. He also moved Adam Goldberg from the starter at left guard to the backup at both guard spots and center, right guard Chris Liwienski to his natural position at left guard and named rookie Marcus Johnson the starter at right guard.

"We need to solidify what we're doing up front," Liwienski said. "We got the five guys, hopefully, in the five positions that are best going to help us win now. It's just a matter of everyone working together and coming together over these last two games."

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

We covered the Birk surgery yesterday in the Update and this little blurb let's us see the Vikings' gameplan going forward. Once a strength for the club, the Vikings offensive line will certainly miss the veteran leadership of Birk throughout the season and it appears this unit is in a state of flux that could disrupt both the rushing and passing games. There are two keys for the Vikings to continue their strong line play of years past. If rookie lineman Marcus Johnson can step into a new position (guard) and play well, that will help this unit hold together. However if he struggles to play well this season, it may be a long season for the Vikings. The team also needs veteran Mike Rosenthal back 100% healthy and it appears he is ready to play well this season.

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10. NYJ - Expect Balance From The Jets In 2005

Clipped from: Star-Ledger article by Dave Hutchinson

When in doubt, Jets offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger believes in throwing the ball. Taking a shot, as he's fond of saying. But that doesn't mean he's going to turn the Jets offense into the run-and-shoot. He knows Curtis Martin is on the team and he's the reigning NFL rushing champ.

Martin, who begged coach Herman Edwards for more work last summer, had 22 preseason carries en route to his record-setting season. He has only eight carries thus far this summer. That number is expected to increase tonight against the Giants.

Last week, the Vikings put eight men in the box to stop the run and the Jets decided to throw the ball during the three series played by the first-team offense.

"I'm not dumb enough to take the leading rusher in the NFL and not give him the ball," Heimerdinger said. "Our head coach still believes you win by running the ball. That's not going to change. This isn't going to be the Raider days of Daryle Lamonica throwing the ball 70 yards downfield.

"I'm sure not going to forget 28 (Martin) is on the football team. I didn't forget who (Titans RB) Eddie George was."

In Tennessee, Heimerdinger ran the ball 2,011 times and threw it 1,979 times in his first four seasons with George as his featured back. Last season, without George, he ran the ball 420 times, compared to 589 passes.

Heimerdinger said if running back Chris Brown had stayed healthy last season -- he had just 220 carries in 11 games -- the run-pass ratio would've been much closer.

"I'm not an idiot," Heimerdinger said. "I know in this league you have to be balanced. And if we can throw it deep, that should help Curtis Martin."

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

It's going to be a different type of offense for the Jets this season with less conservative passes and more deep balls thrown. That will likely drop Chad Pennington's completion percentage but should result in more big plays. However one thing is for sure and that is Curtis Martin will still be the workhorse for this offense. Offensive coordinator Heimerdinger isn't stupid and he realizes that the Jets need a healthy dose of Martin each week to have the best chance at winning. Martin is unlikely to match the huge numbers from last season but barring injury, he will have another strong campaign.

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11. GB - QB Rodgers Struggles May Drop Him To # 3 On The Depth Chart

Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article by Bob McGinn

When training camp opened four weeks ago - and even through the first two weeks of practice - it seemed unthinkable that Aaron Rodgers would not be the No. 2 quarterback for the Green Bay Packers this season. That might still turn out to be the case. The Packers drafted Rodgers in the first round to be Brett Favre's successor, and will do nothing to retard his development. Yet, Green Bay can hardly ignore the present.

After two lousy performances in exhibition games, Rodgers is in serious danger of falling to No. 3 behind Craig Nall, the forgotten man on the depth chart.

"Obviously, there's a question," Rodgers said Thursday. "I haven't done anything to separate myself from Craig in the games, obviously."

Rodgers will get a golden opportunity, perhaps his last of the summer, to win the top backup job when he follows Favre in an exhibition game tonight against the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field.

Nall, a four-year veteran, might not even play. If needed, J.T. O'Sullivan will finish up.

"We kind of know Craig," Packers offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said. "Craig's played well. But we need to play the other guy (Rodgers) and see what he can do."

In the Buffalo scrimmage and the two games, Rodgers hasn't done much of anything. Under Rodgers, the backup offense in exhibition play has gained merely 93 yards in 35 plays (2.7-yard average) over nine scoreless series that ended with eight punts and an interception.

If Nall does win the No. 2 job, Rodgers said he wouldn't be crushed.

"If I'm not No. 2, somewhere down the road I'm going to be No. 1," Rodgers said. "I understand that. I'm going to get an opportunity. Whether I'm 2 or 3, I'm going to make the most of my opportunities in practice so when my time comes I can step in and lead this team."

Rodgers scored 35 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. According to scouts, he was wonderfully schooled at Cal by head coach Jeff Tedford and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach George Cortez.

On the practice field, Rodgers has shown sufficient arm strength, a quick release and adequate accuracy. His high-water mark was the Aug. 4 evening practice against Buffalo.

"I think I've had a real good camp," he said. "I haven't done the things I've wanted to do in the game yet. I don't think people understand how difficult it is to really pick up this offense and be effective immediately."

It should be remembered that Rodgers was graduating from high school in June 2002. After one year of junior college, he went to Cal and became the starter in Week 4 of 2003. Rodgers isn't disappointed in himself at the four-week point of his first training camp.

"When you look at four weeks into Cal compared to the next season same time, I mean, there was two different players," he said. "I was totally in control of the offense that second year. I was a leader. That's kind of the way I look at this year. I mean, I want to definitely make good strides. But a year from now, I think you're going to be looking at a completely different player."

Alex Smith, the top pick in the draft, was having an awful time of it in San Francisco this summer before the 49ers went back to Tim Rattay as their starter.

"My buddy Alex is struggling with it just like I am," Rodgers said, referring to the West Coast offense. "It just takes a little bit to transfer what you're doing in practice to the games against different defenses."

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

While he may be struggling during the preseason action, it appears that Aaron Rodgers is in a good place mentally and he should continue to develop and improve over time. As stated in the article, the Packers offensive system is challenging to learn and the team didn't expect Rodgers to step in and dominate right away. With Brett Favre's legendary durability, it likely doesn't matter much whether he is slotted in at # 2 or # 3 this season anyways as he will be likely learning from the sideline no matter what. His fantasy worth for the upcoming season is marginal but he is still an intriguing pickup in dynasty leagues.

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12. PIT - RB Staley May Be Out Of Action Until October - Bettis Tweaks Calf

Clipped from: San Francisco Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Gerry Dulac

Coach Bill Cowher said he doesn't want to rush running back Duce Staley, who has missed the entire preseason, back into the lineup. And that could mean Staley won't return until Oct. 10 in San Diego.

"With the situation we have at running back, we don't have to rush to get him back," Cowher said.

"We need him this season."

Staley, was had surgery Aug. 8 to repair a torn meniscus, will probably not play in the season opener against Tennessee or the second game at Houston. With a bye week after the third game against New England, it's conceivable Cowher will not play Staley against the Patriots to give him another two weeks to let the injury heal.

Meantime, Jerome Bettis, who has carried just five times in two preseason games, should get a bigger workload against the Redskins.

Same with Willie Parker, who had six carries for 58 yards in the victory against Miami and is vying for more playing time.

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Note that Jerome Bettis left the game Friday with a calf issue. The team said they'd release more information as it becomes available. "At this point, we don't know any kind of diagnosis," Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said. "I'm not going to speculate or give you any kind of time frame until we get some kind of information." It appears that Bettis will attempt to have one more stretch of games this season in which he is the starter without his broken down body finally calling it quits. Last season's success was a big surprise but it is far from certain that he will be able to duplicate that success this season. However with Duce Staley likely back in early October, Bettis will likely be able to give the Steelers 20 carries per game throughout the first stretch of the season without seeing a drop of production. Willie Parker who has had a good camp may see lots of playing time as well this year to spell the venerable Bettis.

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13. CLE - RB W. Green May Find Himself Starting In 2005

Clipped from: Daily Sentinel article by Sean McClelland

Shop yourself around the league, the Cleveland Browns told fourth-year running back William Green back in the spring. Gauge interest.

The presence of Lee Suggs and Reuben Droughns supposedly made Green expendable, but as fortune would have it, Suggs is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain, Droughns only recently returned from a tight hamstring and Green enters tonight's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers as the only veteran running back to make it through training camp unscathed.

Sometimes the best trades are the ones that don't happen. That seems to be the case here as Green has impressed his new coaches with a work ethic that has him soaring to the top of the depth chart -by default to some degree, but also on merit.

"My whole thing was to come in here and talk to coach (Romeo) Crennel, let him meet me and let him know I want to be here," Green said.

So, who starts Sept. 11 against the Bengals? At this point, you might not go wrong predicting Green. Some high ankle sprains take a month or more to heal and the Browns have not attached a timetable to Suggs' recovery. Droughns is running hard again, but one hamstring tweak often leads to another.

Crennel said he's leaning toward starting Droughns tonight. Green started last week against the Lions, Suggs the week before against the Giants. Even at their healthiest, the three backs are about even, Crennel now contends, which means Green has made up serious ground over the past few weeks.

Green's personal history reads like a scared-straight story: Grows up in the Atlantic City projects. Loses both parents to AIDS while he's still a teenager. Gets suspended twice at Boston College for marijuana use. Lands in the NFL's substance-abuse program. Arrested for drunken driving. Stabbed by girlfriend.

"I heard some stories about what happened, but I wasn't with him at that time so I'm going to leave those in the past," Crennel said. "I'm only working from what I see. I think he's doing a good job. He's responsible and he's trying to do the best he can in every phase of the game."

Crennel harps on Green to lower his pad level and read plays better.

"But he's made improvement on that and he's a hard runner who will run it in there," the coach said. "I like what I see. Plus, he's a willing blocker. He'll step up and he'll block. I think running backs in the NFL have to run, block and catch, and he can do all of those."

Green looks leaner and might be quicker than ever after getting down to his college playing weight of between 210 and 214 pounds with the help of new strength and conditioning coach John Lott.

"This is the best shape I've been in," Green said. "Not to take anything from any of the strength and conditioning coaches we've had in the past, but it was just a different routine this year. He works out with you."

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The Browns running back situation is far from settled. Without question William Green, with his improvements physically and mentally could emerge as the # 1 threat to start the season. He is a great player to roll the dice on late in your draft as he may emerge as a true 'value' pick this season. Nice to see him turning both his career and his life around after a very rough start to his professional career.

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14. TEN - WR Calico And S Williams To Return To Action Friday

Clipped from: Tennessean article by Jessica Hopp

They affectionately deemed themselves the "Knee Unit."

A fitting title for the trio of Titans who spent the offseason together rehabilitating season-ending tears to their anterior cruciate ligaments.

Tonight those players - safety Tank Williams, wide receiver Tyrone Calico and offensive lineman Jacob Bell - are expected to return to the playing field as the Titans take on the 49ers in San Francisco.

Of the three who return tonight, Bell is the least far along, having torn his right ACL on Christmas. By that time, Williams had already been injured for a month and a half, and Calico for almost three.

There is a possibility Bell will not play tonight, having sprained his healthy knee in practice on Tuesday. If he does play, he's likely to get fewer snaps than Williams and Calico.

Regardless of Bell's status for tonight, Fisher is encouraged by the progress of all three players.

"It is quite an accomplishment to come back from what they did," Fisher said. "The credit goes to not only the players, but the staff. You have no idea how hard they have worked in there since the injuries."

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If Williams, Calico and Bell can return to the starting lineup 100% healthy, it will be a major plus for the Titans. Calico has a chance to step into the starting lineup and will certainly see playing time while Tank Williams is an important part of the Titans defense. We will know after tonight's game how healthy the injured players are and how effective they can be.

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15. JAX - Rookie WR Matt Jones Gaining Momentum

Clipped from: Times-Union article by Garry Smits.

Matt Jones made great use of his first chance in the preseason to perform with the Jaguars' first-team offense on Thursday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Jones, who played in the slot receiver position when the Jaguars went to three wideouts, made the most spectacular play of the night to set up the first touchdown of the season by the first-team offense in the Jaguars' 23-7 loss to the Falcons at Alltel Stadium.

His diving, over-the-shoulder catch for a 48-yard gain near the end of the first quarter gave the Jaguars a first down at Atlanta's 22-yard-line. Four plays later, on the second play of the second quarter, LaBrandon Toefield scored on a 4-yard run to cut into a 10-0 Falcons lead.

It ended a streak of 11 consecutive possessions without a touchdown for the first-team offense.

"That kind of got us going there," Jones said of his big play. "We were able to get seven points. We have to get points off it."

In last week's game against Tampa Bay, Chad Owens was the third receiver with the first-team offense. Jones, who has been expected to fill that slot all along, got his turn against the Falcons.

On that one big play, Jones displayed some of the reasons the Jaguars took their first-round gamble on him. He raced down the field, past the Falcons' Keion Carpenter, and then used his height and leaping ability to make the one-handed catch, and concentration to hold onto the ball as he tumbled head-over-heels.

"He's going to have some of those plays because the guy has unbelievable hands," coach Jack Del Rio said. "He had me smiling. I couldn't contain myself."

When Jones came down with the ball in his possession, the crowd erupted into the biggest cheer of the game, save, perhaps, for the ovation Fred Taylor got for a 13-yard gain on his first carry of the preseason.

Although Jones was tied for the team lead in receptions with Owens in the first two preseason games (five) and barely second to Owens in yards (98-93), it was Jones' most important play so far and the highlight of the game, which deteriorated after torrential rain hit the stadium area in the second quarter.

Combined with another catch for 7 yards later in the second quarter, Jones now has seven receptions for 148 yards in the preseason, for a per-catch average of 21.1 yards.

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This is not to say that rookie WR Matt Jones cannot have a big impact this season but rather just a reminder that the preseason is an entirely different experience from the NFL regular season. The defensive schemes get much more involved, the intensity goes way up and a receiver must be at the top of his game when it comes to all facets of the game and Matt Jones, being limited in experience as a receiver may find it a difficult transition at first. The good news is he is making plays right now and looks good. He certainly has a nice upside and he may surprise with a strong rookie season but don't raise him way up your draft board because he made a circus catch. After all, it is the preseason.

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16. WAS - RB Portis To Get First Real Action Of Preseason Against The Steelers

Clipped From: article by Gary Fitzgerald

RB Clinton Portis was in a joking mood following Wednesday's practice. Asked by a reporter how many carries he'd like to have in the upcoming preseason game against Pittsburgh, Portis replied, "About 20."

"You want 20 carries?" a reporter replied?

Then Portis gave a sly smile and winked.

All joking aside, Portis knows that to prepare for the start of the regular season on Sept. 11, he'll need to get some work in game conditions.

"You have to prepare," Portis said. "I don't think there's too much that's important about preseason games, but you have to get yourself ready. You have to get in shape. You need to get a feel and a rhythm with your offensive line. It's real hard to get in football shape without playing football.

"I'm going to try my best not to have any contact. If I don't get hit in the game, that means I did well."

Portis has one carry for four yards in the Redskins' two preseason games so far. He sat out last week's game against Cincinnati with a sore elbow, but returned to practice this week. He is expected to play against Pittsburgh on Friday night.

Said Gibbs: "I thought Clinton made a pretty good statement when he said, 'I don't think many veterans want to play in the preseason, but you have to play because you have to get ready.' I appreciate his attitude this week and he has had good preparation. I think he needs to get in there and he does, too."

Portis, 5-10 and 212 pounds, is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,315 yards on a career-high 343 carries. It was the fourth-most carries in a season by a Redskin.

Portis said he is ready for the challenge of playing against one of the NFL's top defenses this Friday night. The Steelers finished last season as the No. 1 overall defense.

In the Redskins' 16-7 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 12 last year, Portis has his worst game of the season, rushing for 16 yards on seven carries against the NFL's stingiest defense.

"We feel like we practice against one of the top defenses every day," Portis said. "The Steelers' defense is big across the board and they're aggressive. So that means was have to be aggressive as an offense. We can't back down. We just have to go out and have fun."

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This will likely be our only real chance to see Clinton Portis perform during the preseason. The offensive line should be more effective this year, the game plan better suits Portis and he is out to erase the memory of a disappointing first season in Washington. Don't put too much stock in what happens tonight but it will be nice to get a glimpse of him and the new philosophy of letting him use his unique skills to get past the defense.

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17. DEN - Broncos Must Decide What To Do With RB Clarett This Season; RB Anderson Set as # 1?

Clipped from: Denver Post article by Bill Williamson

There's a good chance the team will keep four tailbacks, which is unusual. Mike Anderson, who appears close to being set as the No. 1 tailback, Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne (who appears to be set for a resurgence) look to be locks.

However, the team also likes Quentin Griffin, who is expected to make his preseason debut Saturday. Don't be surprised if Denver shops a running back in the next week, with Griffin being the most likely candidate. If there are no buyers, the team could keep four tailbacks.

Then there is the case of Clarett. He has been practicing this week after missing almost two weeks with a groin injury.

If the injury worsens, Clarett could be headed toward the injured reserve or might be cut with the idea of putting him on the practice squad, but there's a risk of him being claimed from waivers. If the team wants Clarett on the 53-man roster, it's possible that just one fullback, Kyle Johnson, could be kept. That would put Cecil Sapp on the outside. However, Sapp is suffering from a hamstring injury, and he could be headed to the injured reserve if his healing doesn't progress.

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While it is still up in the air as to what the Broncos will do with Maurice Clarett this season, it is almost certain that he will have zero impact in this his rookie season. He is buried on the depth chart behind four decent running backs and there is no need to even consider Clarett in a redraft league this season.

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18. MIA/TB - The Preseason Game Will Feature The Reunion Of The Auburn Backs

Clipped from: AP article

The next 10 years or so will determine whether the Miami Dolphins or Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted the best Auburn running back in April. Saturday night's exhibition game will offer only a hint.

Cadillac Williams is expected to carry eight to 10 times for Tampa Bay. Ronnie Brown may be called upon even less than that in his first game with Miami. Still, the two backs will wage the sort of friendly competition staged while they divided playing time in the Auburn backfield.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he called me and put some kind of wager out there," Brown said.

"It will be different," Williams said. "I played with him for four years. But I'm happy for him and I'm sure he's happy for me. Now, it's time to lock up."

Williams was the more productive of the two at Auburn, rushing for 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns. But Brown was more versatile and was taken second in the draft, while Williams went fifth. They split carries without acrimony for the Tigers, leading them to a 13-0 record last season.

"It was a blessing for me to play with a guy like that," Williams said. "In most situations like that, things usually don't work out. There's a lot of animosity. So thank God for playing with a guy like that."

Williams signed a five-year contract worth up to $31 million before the first training camp workout, and less than a week later he was No. 1 on the depth chart. In two games he has carried five times for 13 yards.

Brown held out during the first three weeks of camp before signing a five-year deal for $34 million, including $20 million guaranteed. He has missed all three Miami exhibition games and is listed with the third team on the depth chart, but expectations remain high.

"The weight that everyone else kind of throws on me can't compare to the way that I criticize myself and the things that I expect of myself," he said.

As Brown did at Auburn, he'll share carries in Miami - this time with 2002 NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams. Although Brown has yet to play a game, Williams already raves about the rookie.

"He's going to be really good," Williams said. "He's big, he's fast, he's strong, and I think his best attribute is his mind is really sharp."

New Miami coach Nick Saban said he may line up Williams and Brown in the same backfield at times this season.

"I'd hate to have to play against it," Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor said. "That is two great running backs. They could do a lot of things together. That would be scary."

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It's only preseason but it will still be fun to watch the former Auburn teammates, Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams trying to outclass the other when the Buccaneers match up against the Dolphins this week. This will be our first real opportunity to check out Cadillac in action as he has only carried the ball five times so far. He should get a lot more touches in this game and it will help us get a gauge on both his talent and the offensive line's progress. Ronnie Brown probably won't play as much though he may convince the coaching staff to get him more reps to show up his buddy. Should be fun.

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19. IDP: NE - Patriots Release Safety Edwards; Finally Stable At Safety

Clipped from: ESPN News Services

The New England Patriots released safety Antuan Edwards after signing him as a veteran free agent in early June.

Edwards, who spent the first five of his six previous NFL seasons with Green Bay, played in both of the Patriots' exhibition games and made three tackles. The Patriots play at the Packers on Friday night.

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If you were counting on Antuan Edwards to start for you fantasy squad this season you were likely in trouble anyways but now he is unemployed and completely undraftable at this point. Scratch him off of your Cheatsheets as his fantasy worth is nil.

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20. IDP - DEN - Broncos Secondary Fired Up To Face The Colts

Clipped from: AP article by Eddie Pells

Both times Peyton Manning has gone crazy on them in embarrassing playoff losses, the Denver Broncos have responded by shaking up their secondary.

In 2004, they got Champ Bailey and John Lynch. In 2005, they used their first three picks of the draft on cornerbacks.

"I'm sure it's not a coincidence," Broncos third-round pick Domonique Foxworth said.

The teams meet Saturday in the third preseason game, which is traditionally the one the starters play in most. It means another meeting between Manning and the Denver defense, and given the way their last two seasons ended, there could be no better test for the Broncos.

In the 2003 playoffs, Manning threw for 377 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-10 victory. Last season, even though the Broncos had added Lynch and Bailey, Manning threw for 457 yards and four scores in an equally embarrassing 49-24 trouncing of Denver.

"We know where we stand and where we are," linebacker Al Wilson said. "Why bring it up? It's the past. That happened last year."

The Colts haven't played well this preseason, and it has become more than just a passing curiosity.

Including their trip to Tokyo where they lost to Atlanta, the Colts are 0-3 in the preseason. They have dealt with jet lag, injuries and, most notably, poor performances from their offense.

The Indy starters have gained 115 total yards, and the Colts are averaging a minuscule 1.2 yards per carry in three weeks. Manning has two touchdown passes, the Colts have one rushing touchdown and nine fumbles, and their top four receivers have combined for eight receptions - about what they mustered in a quarter in their playoff wins against Denver.

"The mistakes that are being made are correctable, and we'd like to see those get corrected so we have a better feeling going into the season," Manning said. "You'd sure like to see these things now when you can correct them."

The Colts are looking forward to the game with the Broncos because they think it will be much like their regular-season opener at Baltimore.

"It's a good challenge. I doubt they'll back off," linebacker David Thornton said. "Most of the time in the preseason, you want to establish chemistry, and they've been pretty successful doing what they're doing."

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Sure it is just preseason but both teams have something to accomplish in this one. The Colts need to put together a good effort after three subpar performances thus far while the Broncos need some confidence that they can stop a top offensive team like the Broncos after being decimated in each of the past two seasons in the playoffs. This may have more intensity than most preseason games.

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


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