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Volume 6, Issue 138 (Saturday, September 3rd)

Hi Folks,

Again, our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to our many friends along the Gulf Coast suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It puts what we do with Fantasy Football into perspective. The Red Cross can definitely use your help. More info is here http://www.redcross.org/ or 1-800-HELP-NOW if you would like to help. I've had several folks tell me today that their local leagues were donating either part or all of their prize money to the Red Cross. That's a great idea.

On to Football. Things are moving fast here. Last week, Jeff Garcia was competition in Detroit. Today he looks like he may be put on IR. 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 Aaron Rudnicki for the help rounding up these stories tonight. Let's get to it.

Joe Bryant


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. DAL: Free Agent WR Price Signs With Cowboys
2. CAR: Rookie RB Eric Shelton Placed On IR With Broken Foot
3. CAR: RB Stephen Davis Appears Ready For The Season
4. JAX: WR Jimmy Smith Struggles; RB Fred Taylor Ready
5. DEN: RB Dayne Finds New Life With Broncos
6. DEN: RB Quentin Griffin Released
7. MIA: QB Frerotte Named Starter
8. PIT: HC Cowher, Teammates Worried About QB Roethlisberger
9. BAL: RB Lewis Disappointed With Lack of Contract Extension
10. BUF: Another Erratic Preseason Performance For QB Losman
11. CLE: Rookie QB Charlie Frye Seems A Lock For #2 Job
12. NYG: QB Eli Manning Expects To Start Opener
13. PHI: Eagles Working On Long-Term Contracts
14. PHI: Eagles Sign WR Darnerian McCants, Make Some Tough Cuts
15. KC: OG John Welbourne Suspended 4 Games For Steroid Use
16. DET: Lions Don't Know How Bad Garcia Is Hurt
17. MIN: Vikings Release PK Elling, Give Starting Job To Edinger
18. IDP: SF - 49ers Sign Free Agent DT Travis Hall
19. IDP: CIN - Bengals DL Clemons and Browns DB Jameson Get 4-game Suspensions
20. IDP: DAL - Cowboys Acquire LB Scott Fujita From Chiefs

1. DAL: Free Agent WR Price Signs With Cowboys

Clipped from: AP article by Jaime Aron posted by Yahoo.com, 9/3/05

Receiver Peerless Price decided Saturday to join the Dallas Cowboys, primarily because of the chance to be reunited with quarterback Drew Bledsoe.

Price signed a one-year deal, giving him a chance to become a free agent again next season when he'll have more time to look around. He landed on the market this week after being cut by Atlanta and teams wanted him to make his choice by the 5 p.m. Saturday roster deadline.

After visiting with Miami, New England, Dallas and the Saints, Price picked the Cowboys because he liked the idea of again catching passes from Bledsoe while being in a receiving corps that also features Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten and Patrick Crayton, a promising second-year player coming off a strong preseason.

"Drew and Peerless had a relationship and that's what it came down to," agent Tim McGee said.

Price had his best season in 2002, his only year with Bledsoe in Buffalo. Price then parlayed his 1,252-yard, 94-catch season into a $37 million, seven-year contract with Atlanta, but never lived up to expectations.

Bledsoe vouched for Price to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Bill Parcells. They also heard rave reviews from players who'd tried covering him. "I think he does have quickness," Parcells said Friday. "I think he is receptive to coaching and he has been productive in the league."

McGee said Price became less important to the Falcons because his role changed when a new coaching staff switched offenses. He knows the Cowboys are set in their ways under coach Bill Parcells.

"It's not just Drew and Peerless connecting," McGee added. "Please make sure this is clear: It was Drew selling Peerless on the combination of him, Keyshawn, Terry and (Crayton)."

A lot of receivers and only one ball can sometimes cause a problem. McGee said it won't because Price is focused on wins not catches. "Put it this way -- you got four guys and how many Super Bowls have they been to? One. I think it comes down to sacrifice," said McGee, himself a former NFL receiver.

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

Price struggled to make an impact in Atlanta for a variety of reasons. He was not physical enough to be a true #1 WR, Vick often struggled with his accuracy as a passer, and there were reports that Price had vision problems which were affecting his play. Reuniting in Dallas could be a great fit for him as he's already had his best season with Bledsoe at QB, and players like Keyshawn Johnson and Jason Witten should draw most of the defensive attention so he won't have to face top CBs or many double teams. When he is given time, Bledsoe still throws one of the best deep balls in the league so Price and Terry Glenn should make inviting targets if the offensive line can hold up.

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2. CAR: Rookie RB Eric Shelton Placed On IR With Broken Foot

Clipped from: Charlotte Observer article by Pat Yasinskas, 9/3/05

Third-round draft pick Attiyah Ellison and punter Tom Rouen highlighted the list of cuts Saturday as the Carolina Panthers got down to the 53-man roster limit.

Rookie running back Eric Shelton also was placed on the injured reserve list with a broken foot.

Also released were, Lorenzo Alexander, Joe Berger, Aaron Boone, Casey Cramer, Dan Curley, John Doty, Marcus Floyd, Eddie Freeman, Will Hampton, Charles Hill, Efrem Hill, Isaac Hilton, Eddie Jackson, Brian Knight, Hugo Lira, Ben Johnson, Tupe Peko and Sean Tufts.

The team also reached injury settlements with Marcus Floyd and Eddie Jackson. Justin Smith and Matt Hill also were placed on the injured reserve list.

Ellison's release means Jordan Carstens will be the fourth defensive tackle. Rouen's release means Jason Baker will be the team's new punter.

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

Many fantasy experts thought Shelton had a good chance to wind up as the primary RB in Carolina this year or at least as the goalline back. After a disappointing preseason and this season-ending injury, however, it appears those hopes will have to wait at least a year. This move is good news for the RBs who remain, but the Panthers backfield situation is still rather crowded.

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3. CAR: RB Stephen Davis Appears Ready For The Season

Clipped from: The Herald article by Darin Gantt, 9/3/05

It was only five carries. But apparently that's enough for the Carolina Panthers, and for Stephen Davis to know they're ready for the regular season.

Davis carried a handful of times for 17 yards in Thursday's preseason finale, his first and only action between going on injured reserve last November and his anticipated start of the regular season.

The veteran running back was all smiles during the game, and the only thing that bugged him afterward was being asked if he thought such a light workload was enough to prepare him for the Sept. 11 opener against New Orleans. "I've been playing 10 years man," Davis said. "I've had less than that in the preseason. That question you asked, it's irrelevant."

Davis meant in games, rather than entire preseasons. He carried 25 times in the 2003 preseason before lugging 318 times in the regular season. Once he won the starting job with Washington in 1999, he enjoyed other leisurely Augusts before taking a pounding the rest of the year.

Still, the Panthers have walked a fine line with Davis throughout his rehabilitation from last November's microfracture surgery on his right knee.

He's good enough (7,326 career yards) that he's their guy if well. But they can't know how long he can hold up until he's into the season and they see how his knee reacts to what could be a heavy workload. "It's like saying are we all as good as we're going to get this season?" Panthers coach John Fox said. "I hope we improve every game, him included."

Throughout Davis' recovery, the Panthers have drawn analogies to DeShaun Foster's recovery from the same surgery entering the 2003 season. Davis and Foster went through months of intense rest, followed by intense rehabilitation. Both went through a cautious training camp. Foster didn't carry the ball until the last game of the 2003 preseason, and then just twice.

The difference is, Foster only carried 21 times in the first four games of the regular season, while more will likely be expected of Davis.

Foster said if he had to, he would have been fine starting and carrying the ball 20 times from the start of that year. As it turned out, he got his chance a month into the season. In the Panthers fifth game of 2003 in Indianapolis, Davis went out with an arm injury and Foster carried 16 times for 85 yards, adding 54 more yards on two receptions.

It served as the first true sign that Foster had recovered. "I think so," Foster said when asked if he could have done that weekly from that point.

But the question remains a hypothetical one for the Panthers, and as the process has gone on, Davis has become a bit tired of the same questions -- though he's yet to answer them because he can't.

When he was stopped short of the goal line on his final carry of the night, a Pittsburgh defender hit him squarely on his right knee, the same one that has been the subject of much consternation since last year. "When I took that hit I'm like, 'OK, I'm fine,'" Davis said.

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

Many of the same experts who expected Shelton to get a chance to start in Carolina had completely written off Stephen Davis for this year. While it is still too early to move him ahead of Foster on your rankings, this news is certainly encouraging. Keep in mind that he's not even a full year removed from microfracture surgery and is probably a higher risk to re-injure his knee than Foster was due to the age difference, but Davis is much more proven and the team will likely rely on him as much as they can.

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4. JAX: WR Jimmy Smith Struggles; RB Fred Taylor Ready

Clipped from: Jaguars.com article by Vic Ketchman, 9/3/05

Jimmy Smith has been the biggest part of the Jaguars' passing game since the second season in team history, but Smith finished a preseason littered with dropped passes with, yet, another drop and Del Rio addressed the matter in his postgame press conference.

"You saw what you saw. It wasn't a reaction to the play," Del Rio said when asked if the dropped pass prompted the coach to take Smith out of the game, "but he did drop it. He's had too many drops. We expect him to catch it. For anybody on the roster, you've got to produce. It's not an ultimatum," Del Rio added. "We're in the production business. Now that our roster is stronger, we may rotate guys more freely."

The loss in Dallas capped a "Cinderella story" for undrafted rookie running back Derrick Wimbush, who broke loose on a 55-yard run and turned in another stellar performance on special teams. Wimbush was used at running back and at fullback and is thought to have locked up a roster spot. "He's been a very pleasant surprise," Del Rio said of Wimbush.

The major disappointment in the loss to the Cowboys was the play of the second-team defense, which was flattened by the Cowboys' number one offense. Drew Bledsoe threw for 91 yards and a touchdown and running back Julius Jones rushed for 75 yards on 11 carries.

One of the major stories of this offseason, training camp and preseason is running back Fred Taylor and his recovery from major knee surgery last January. Taylor's surgery was first believed to be minor in nature, but following Thursday night's game Taylor revealed that his recovery from that surgery has been the most difficult medical challenge he has faced in a career that is in its eighth season.

"This has been the toughest thing I've ever gone through," Taylor said, putting this recovery ahead of the severe groin injury that caused him to miss the final 14 games of the 2001 season. "With the groin, I had the time. With this, I have to go. I had days when I felt good and I had days when I wondered if this was the end for me," he added.

Taylor said he'll be ready to go against the Seahawks on Sept. 11, even though he had only four rushes and two pass receptions in the preseason. The big question is how will Taylor's knee react to a 20-carry afternoon? "I can do however many (carries) they give me," he said.

So an offseason of issues has come to a close for the Jaguars. Their star running back says he's ready to go. Their offense has a new coordinator, a new playbook and a new attitude.

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

Some good news and bad news for Jaguars fans. Jimmy Smith has been one of the most consistent and reliable WRs in the game for a long time so seeing him struggle like this during the preseason is somewhat worrisome. Fortunately, the other WRs on the roster like Reggie Williams and Matt Jones have had a strong season and could help take some of the load off Jimmy Smith this year. Additionally, the Jags look like they'll be getting more help from Fred Taylor than expected.

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5. DEN: RB Dayne Finds New Life With Broncos

Clipped from: AP article by Eddie Pells posted at Philly.com, 9/3/05

Ron Dayne takes the ball from the quarterback, scoots down the line of scrimmage, finds a hole and starts running. It looks as if he is running downhill. It looks like the way he used to run when he was a Heisman Trophy winner in college. "It seems like I haven't played football in five years," Dayne says.

Anyone who caught a glimpse of the Overbrook High School graduate during those five years with the New York Giants would certainly agree. A first-round draft pick in 2000, he was supposed to give the Giants a bruising, straight-ahead presence in the backfield. Despite his size - 5-foot-10, 245 pounds - he simply didn't run that way.

The results were disappointing: five seasons, a total of 14 starts. He was inactive the entire 2003 season, the result of a personality conflict with coach Jim Fassel. And when it was over, after new coach Tom Coughlin had given him a final look last season, Dayne had totaled just 2,067 yards on 585 carries in 62 games. "You'd have to ask them" what the problem was, Dayne says of the Giants. "I did everything they asked me. I did everything right."

Sometimes, though, the system really does matter. And thus far in the preseason, it's clear that's the case in Denver.

Coach Mike Shanahan said the Broncos always had Dayne ranked highly in their evaluations. His 6,397-yard career at Wisconsin, which culminated with the Heisman Trophy in 1999, was surely part of it. But so was the way Dayne ran in the Wisconsin offense, which is pretty much a copy of Denver's offense. "He finds holes, he's got quickness," Shanahan said. "He's had an excellent camp."

How much difference can a system make?

One way of judging that would be to look at Clinton Portis, the back who starred for the Broncos for two years before they traded him to Washington for Champ Bailey before last season. In 2003, running in Denver's system, Portis averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Last year, running in a more straight-ahead scheme in Washington, the average plummeted to 3.8 yards. "You're used to doing one thing, and you turn around and turn into a grinder - 3 yards a carry," Portis said earlier this summer.

Dayne may have been envisioned as a 3-yards-a-carry guy by the Giants, but so far in Denver, it's clear that's not his style. Through two preseason games, he is Denver's leading rusher with 143 yards on 29 carries for an average of 4.9 yards. More impressive was his performance in training camp. He caught the ball effectively out of the backfield, picked up on pass-protection schemes and, overall, pretty much looked like the Broncos' best back.

He is still listed fourth on the depth chart behind Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell and Quentin Griffin. But Dayne has outperformed Maurice Clarett - who has missed a good portion of camp with an injured groin - and he is looking like a good bet to make the roster.

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

While Dayne often looked lost and unimpressive with the Giants, he has been reborn with the Broncos so far. Clearly, this system is a much better fit for his running style as he was always miscast as a power back in New York. He's shown enough this year to earn a roster spot and could emerge at some point if the RB turnover in Denver this year is anything like it was last year.

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6. DEN: RB Quentin Griffin Released

Clipped from: AP article posted by ESPN.com, 9/3/05

Tailback Quentin Griffin, the opening-day starter for Denver last season, was the most surprising of the 19 cuts the Broncos made Saturday. The fourth-round draft pick in 2003 was released, along with receiver Triandos Luke, quarterback Matt Mauck and defensive linemen Dorsett Davis and Mario Fatafehi. Davis was a third-round pick in 2002 and Fatafehi was a starter last season who was injured through much of training camp.

Griffin rehabbed from knee surgery and was listed fourth on the depth chart this summer behind Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne. Many thought when the Broncos released Maurice Clarett, Griffin's spot was secure. But Denver kept Cecil Sapp, who can play both fullback and tailback, and the Broncos also chose to keep six receivers on the roster -- giving long-shot Todd DeVoe a spot after an impressive camp that saw him rise from ninth on the depth chart.

Griffin opened last season with a 156-yard game against Kansas City and started the first four games, but lost his starting job after hurting his ankle in the fifth week against Tampa Bay. Two games later, he tore ligaments in his knee and was lost for the season. "I was surprised, but it's part of the business," Griffin told the Broncos' Web site. "You've got to keep on moving."

Fatafehi started all 16 games at tackle for the Broncos last season, but he got caught up in a numbers game created when Denver brought in four veteran linemen from Cleveland, including Courtney Brown, and traded for 49ers end John Engelberger. All four of the former Browns made the roster, as did end Marco Coleman, who is going into his 14th season.

Luke, a sixth-round draft pick last year, had a poor training camp after playing 10 games in 2004. Mauck is a good candidate to make Denver's practice squad again if he clears waivers.

The rest of the cuts were: defensive backs Jeremy LeSueur and Curome Cox; defensive linemen Anton Palepoi and Aaron Hunt; running back Brandon Miree; linebackers Terry Pierce and Jashon Sykes and offensive linemen Tyson Clabo, Anthony Clement, Ben Nowland, Erik Pears, Chris Watton, Zach Wilson and Chris Myers.

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

Griffin had a great college career and got off to a great start in Denver last year, but his size was always going to leave him vulnerable. His release is more good news for Ron Dayne.

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7. MIA: QB Frerotte Named Starter

Clipped from: AP article posted at ESPN.com, 9/3/05

Gus Frerotte has won the Miami Dolphins' quarterback job -- at least for the first week of the season.

After none of the three quarterbacks emerged as an obvious choice during the preseason, new Dolphins coach Nick Saban said Saturday that Frerotte will start the opener against Denver on Sept. 11.

"Gus has the best understanding of the offense right now," Saban said. "We feel like he hasn't played his best football yet, but with his knowledge and understanding and leadership, we're hopeful that he can show continued improvement, and that we can make some improvement as an offensive team. We've had spots of doing those types of things, and hopefully we'll continue to be more consistent."

A.J. Feeley dropped to third on the Dolphins' depth chart behind Sage Rosenfels, who went 17-for-25 for 217 yards and two touchdowns in the second half of Thursday night's 20-17 loss to Atlanta.

Frerotte, a 12th-year pro who has played for Washington, Detroit, Denver, Cincinnati and Minnesota, was signed as a free agent to compete with Feeley for the starting job.

Neither was impressive in the team's five preseason games, throwing just one touchdown pass apiece. Though Frerotte's 60.2 rating was only marginally better than Feeley's 59.4, the 34-year-old veteran got the nod by making fewer mistakes.

"The No. 1 thing is we want somebody who is going to manage the game and give us the best opportunity to be successful," Saban said. "We were going to make the decision based on this position based on who we felt would give us the best opportunity to win, and managing the game is a really important part of that."

Feeley played himself out of contention for No. 1 by going 4-for-17 against Atlanta with an interception returned for a touchdown. "I wouldn't say that he has been demoted," Saban said. "The way I'd rather say it is that Sage Rosenfels has earned, through his efforts and consistency and performance through this preseason, the opportunity to compete for the number two position, and he's been put in a position to do that. I don't think anybody has been demoted."

Rosenfels has been Miami's No. 3 quarterback for most of the past three seasons. He made his only career start in the final game last year, going 16-for-38 for 264 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in a loss at Baltimore.

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

Both Frerotte and Feeley were given a chance to compete for the Dolphins starting QB job this preseason, but neither made enough plays to clearly separate themself from the other. It now looks as though Frerotte has backed his way into the starting job thanks to a dreadful 4 for 17 performance from Feeley in the preseason finale. Frerotte has struggled to make plays in the preseason, and this Dolphins offense is not looking very promising for 2005. Don't be surprised if all 3 QBs get a chance to start at some point during the season. Saban also announced plans to bring Ronnie Brown along slowly and will give him about 12-15 touches in the season opener, so we could be looking at some form of RBBC in Miami this year as well.

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8. PIT: HC Cowher, Teammates Worried About QB Roethlisberger

Clipped from: NFL News Wire article posted by ESPN.com, 9/3/05

Finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers are acknowledging what's been evident for weeks: Their starting offense, most notably Ben Roethlisberger, looks confused and unpolished, a worrisome prospect with the opener barely a week away.

That worry, however, doesn't extend to the quarterback who didn't throw a touchdown pass or lead a TD drive during four exhibition games. Roethlisberger said he is convinced that the Steelers' problems, including his own, are easily repairable before they open Sept. 11 against Tennessee.

The rest of his teammates might need some convincing of that. "We're going to put together our first game plan and, hopefully, come out and execute it," Roethlisberger said following the Steelers starters' latest misadventure during a 21-17 victory over Carolina on Thursday night. "The big thing is, we want to work on the little things. If we can put the little things together, the big picture will come together and, hopefully, it will be pretty nice."

Coach Bill Cowher wasn't as upbeat as his quarterback after the starters played the first quarter and into the second without scoring, continuing a trend in which they've produced only three points in the preseason. Certainly, it didn't help that the top three running backs were out, but Cowher is concerned about the lack of rhythm in the passing game, the numerous overthrown and underthrown passes and the inability to sustain a drive. Several times during the game, an angry-looking Cowher could be seen shaking his head in frustration during the frequent offensive breakdowns. "I don't think in the past couple of weeks we have played at the standard we need to be at," he said. "We have some work to do."

Or, perhaps, a lot of work to do. "We have to stay away from the negative plays," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "The third-and-longs, those are hard to overcome. We overcame a couple of them last year but last year we were a great team with second-and-short, third-and-short."

That success was partly the result of having the NFL's best running game, an asset missing most of the preseason as Duce Staley (knee) and Jerome Bettis (calf) were hurt and No. 3 running back Willie Parker was limited to one carry in the final two games to prevent him from being injured. Also, the skill-position starters got relatively little on-field time together after Ward ended his two-week holdout, so Roethlisberger often found himself matched with sets of receivers that won't be together much during the season.

Roethlisberger is certain that once he gets more than a couple of series or a couple of drives to get settled in with Ward, Antwaan Randle El and Cedrick Wilson the timing in the passing game will quickly return. Also, the Steelers kept first-round draft pick Heath Miller all but invisible, though he had a 29-yard reception among two catches for 37 yards Thursday. No doubt offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt wasn't about to showcase for opposing defensive coordinators the various wrinkles he has planned for the 255-pound Miller, who will play a much bigger role in the passing offense than any Steelers tight end of recent vintage.

Roethlisberger's poor play (16-of-36, 145 yards, two interceptions) also might have partly resulted from conservative play-calling designed to keep him from rolling out or trying to create plays in meaningless exhibition games. "We haven't run a lot of plays that fit me getting out of the pocket," Roethlisberger said. "Once we start game-planning, that's to our strength and our advantage."

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

The Steelers 1st team offense has struggled all preseason, but this article provides some reason for optimism. The team has been without their best player (Hines Ward, who is a great blocker) and their top two RBs for much of the preseason, which has limited the effectiveness of the running game. The Steelers are at their best when the running game is working, because that can open up the play-action passing game and give Roethlisberger more time in the pocket. So, if the running game gets going, look for Roethlisberger's play to improve as well.

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9. BAL: RB Lewis Disappointed With Lack Of Contract Extension

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Mike Preston, 9/3/05

Ravens star running back Jamal Lewis expressed disappointment Friday that the team had not offered him a contract extension as promised in the preseason, and left open the possibility that he might not return for the 2006 season.

Lewis, 26, has one year remaining on the original six-year, $35.5 million contract he signed in July 2000 when he was the team's top draft pick, and the No. 5 selection overall.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has publicly admitted he promised Lewis a new contract after the former University of Tennessee star rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003, but negotiations came to a halt when Lewis was indicted on federal drug charges in February 2004.

During training camp nearly two weeks ago, Lewis said he accepted a plea bargain with federal authorities to serve a four-month prison sentence because team officials guaranteed that the short term would not affect his new contract offer.

According to Lewis and his agent Mitch Frankel, the Ravens have not entered negotiations. Frankel presented the Ravens with a proposal at the start of training camp that would make him one of the highest-paid players in the league. The Ravens have offered no counterproposal, according to Lewis, but Newsome said there has been opening dialogue.

"The most disappointing thing is that they haven't had any discussions with us. My agent can't even get a telephone call," Lewis said. "They made a promise to us, and I would not have accepted the plea bargain if I knew I wasn't going to get a new deal. Instead, I went to the bottom of my life, I took a deal and served a sentence for something I didn't do," said Lewis, who spent four months of the offseason in a federal prison in Florida and two more in an Atlanta halfway house after pleading guilty to using a cell phone to try to set up a cocaine deal. "I would have fought the charges because there was a lot of he-said, she-said accusations. It was out of character for me not to fight it, but the organization said they were behind me."

According to two team sources, the Ravens are strongly considering designating Lewis as their franchise player for next season, denying him the right to become a free agent. The Ravens would have to pay Lewis the average salary of the top five players at his position in the league. The Ravens are concerned about Lewis being a risk because a new, multi-year contract would require a large signing bonus. If Lewis is assigned the franchise tag, his salary is guaranteed just for one season, and there is no upfront money.

Entering his sixth season the Ravens, Lewis has had major knee and ankle surgeries and two violations of the NFL's substance and alcohol abuse policy. If the Ravens don't sign him before the season opener, Lewis doesn't foresee a new contract agreement until after the regular season. By then, it might be too late.

Lewis said the negotiations will have no impact on his play this season, and that he'll be close to 100 percent Sunday night against the Colts. Lewis missed three preseason games, but played in the first quarter of Thursday night's 26-20 win against Washington. Lewis had 15 yards on six carries.

"People in Baltimore know what I'm about," said Lewis, who has 5,763 career rushing yards with the Ravens. "They know I play hard every week, and what kind of effort I give. I'm a hard-nosed guy ready to go. I'm not the type of player that is going to come in here wanting a new deal every year. I just want to get paid what I have earned.

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

If this doesn't get worked out soon and it certainly doesn't look like it will - Lewis could be entering this season with even more motivation to have a big season. As we saw with Edgerrin James in Indy and Shaun Alexander in Seattle this year, however, the teams hold most of the leverage because they can force a player to play on a 1-year contract by using the franchise tag on them. This shouldn't have too much of an impact this year, but it certainly has the potential to turn ugly in the future as the Ravens are also trying to lock up defensive player of the year Ed Reed to a long-term contract extension.

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10. BUF: Another Erratic Preseason Performance For QB Losman

Clipped from: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle article by Sal Maiorana, 9/3/05

Normally, the end of the preseason is cause for celebration around the National Football League. It's good riddance to the mundane and meaningless exercises that exhibition football games are, and football fanatics from coast to coast can finally answer a resounding yes to the age-old question, "Are you ready for some football?"

The Buffalo Bills are certainly glad to be done with the preseason. But there wasn't much to celebrate Friday night, and as for the question of whether they are ready for some football, well, based on their sloppy 21-7 loss to the Detroit Lions in front of an announced crowd of 53,713 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, that's debatable.

"I think we're all ready to move on," said coach Mike Mularkey. "It's time to start the ride." The ride begins in eight days, when the Bills open the regular season against the Houston Texans, and it might take that long for Mularkey and his staff to weed through the mistakes his team made against a Lions team that looked pathetic in a nationally televised Monday night loss to St. Louis earlier in the week.

Most disturbing - on a night when there was a lot to be disturbed about, including 13 penalties for 99 yards and a shoulder injury suffered by cornerback Nate Clements, the severity of which is unknown - was the continued lackluster play of the J.P. Losman-led offense.

Mularkey defended his quarterback, saying, "My initial reaction is I thought he made some very good throws. We didn't make some plays on other throws, one resulting in an interception. I'm pleased with J.P."

For the second game in a row Losman was erratic with his throws, and on this night it proved particularly costly as he suffered his first two interceptions of the summer, which led directly to a pair of Detroit touchdowns.

The first one came when he overthrew Sam Aiken on the left sideline and the ball sailed into the arms of cornerback Dre Bly, who ran 24 yards before lateraling to Terrence Holt, who galloped the final 11 yards to the end zone midway through the opening quarter.

Losman's second interception wasn't his fault. He tried to hit Aiken on a quick slant from the left. The ball glanced off Aiken's hands and popped into the waiting arms of Bracy Walker, who returned it 37 yards to set up ex-Bill Shawn Bryson's 9-yard touchdown run just before the end of the first half. "Things never go as planned. You have to roll with it," Losman said. "I didn't think it was all that bad, one bad throw."

Losman played the first two quarters and completed 11 of 19 passes for 123 yards. In addition to his two picks, he was sacked twice and compiled a hideous quarterback rating of 37.7.

Losman finished the preseason 38 of 70 for 352 yards with 1 TD and 2 interceptions.

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In a game that also law Lions QB Jeff Garcia break his leg, the Bills should be somewhat grateful that Losman escaped the game without injury after playing for nearly the entire first half. Unfortunately, however, Losman and the offense weren't able to find the rhythm they were looking for and Losman actually seemed to regress a bit. The team has committed to him as their starter for now, but this is a team talented enough to contend for the playoffs so Holcomb could get a shot if Losman doesn't show some improvement once the season begins.

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11. CLE: Rookie QB Charlie Frye Seems A Lock For #2 Job

Clipped from: Cleveland Plain Dealer article by Mary Kay Cabot, 9/3/05

Browns rookie quarterback Charlie Frye is expected to be the No. 2 quarterback for next Sunday's opener against Cincinnati and could be one play away from playing in an NFL game.

"I'm ready to help the team out in whatever way that is, whether it be one play away or two plays away," said Frye. "You never know. I've seen crazy things happen in this league. I've always prepared myself like I'm going to play, whether I take 20 snaps or zero snaps."

Frye almost certainly beat out Doug Johnson for the No. 2 job with his scintillating, surprise start in Chicago, where he went 12-of-14 for 186 yards and a superb 118.8 rating. Johnson, who had expected to play, did not take a snap in Chicago.

But coach Romeo Crennel made it clear that Trent Dilfer is still the starter. "I foresee that [Dilfer] will start the Cincinnati game, unless something happens during the week," Crennel said. Asked if Dilfer was healthy, Crennel said, "Perfectly healthy. He needed a little rest, so I rested him."

Why the surprise start for the rookie then? "Because if he can handle it, then when Cincinnati throws a blitz at him, he might be able to handle that also," said Crennel.

Cincinnati? A reporter asked Crennel, tongue in cheek, if he had just named Frye the starter. "No, I didn't," said Crennel. "But if he goes in [as the backup] and a blitz comes, he's got to be able to handle it. So throwing that at him [Thursday night] in a preseason game when it doesn't count, I thought that was a good thing."

Frye passed the test, putting 10 points on the board on his five series. It would've been 13 points had Phil Dawson not missed a 41-yard field goal attempt. "Charlie did a pretty nice job for not knowing he was going to start," said Crennel. "His quarterback rating was [118.8]. That's not bad for a young guy to go and be able to win on the road."

Overall this preseason, Frye has completed 34 of 50 attempts for 348 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception for a team-high 92.8 QB rating.

Much of his work before Chicago came against second-team defenses, but in his 14 series overall, he produced four TD drives and one field goal. Two other field goals were missed by Dawson, meaning Frye nearly put points on the board every other drive. He also demonstrated that he could escape pressure, scramble effectively and bounce back from bad plays. At times, he was electrifying, such as in Detroit when he hit Braylon Edwards with the game-winning 7-yard TD pass.

"He didn't play like a scared rookie," said receiver Antonio Bryant, who caught a 48-yard pass from Frye in Chicago. Added running back Reuben Droughns: "He was real confident and poised in the huddle, and you don't see that from a first-year guy too much."

Frye has been like a sponge to Dilfer and Johnson, but learned so much so fast that he almost certainly relegated Johnson, a sixth-year pro, to No. 3.

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Frye had a great career at Akron and hopes to continue the success of former MAC quarterbacks Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich, and Ben Roethlisberger. Dilfer has a solid grip on the starting job and is probably a bit undervalued for this season, but he's a stopgap and Frye is likely the QB of the future in Cleveland. Playing as the #2 QB this year will also ensure that he gets a decent number of practice snaps each week and should help him in his development.

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12. NYG: QB Eli Manning Expects To Start Opener

Clipped from: NY Post article by Mark Everson, 9/3/05

Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a New Orleans native, will fly with his brother, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, to Louisiana today to bring aid to their Hurricane Katrina-ravaged hometown. The brothers will leave from Indianapolis at 10 a.m. (EST) for Baton Rouge on a plane sponsored by Peyton Manning's PeyBack Foundation. The flight, which is expected to arrive at noon (CDT), will be carrying 31,000 pounds of nonperishable items including diapers, baby formula, pillows, water and Gatorade that will be delivered to the American Red Cross.

Archie and Olivia Manning, the quarterbacks' parents, evacuated the family home before Katrina struck. Eli Manning said yesterday that his family is "fine," but added that they don't know the status of their home, since no one has been back to see it.

Knocked out of the Giants' final two exhibitions by a sprained right elbow, Manning plans to resume practice Tuesday and start the opener against the Cardinals at Giants Stadium a week from tomorrow.

"I'm excited about being out there with the first team and practicing again," he said. "I threw at the game [the Giants' 27-3 exhibition triumph at New England on Thursday], and I threw again today. It feels fine."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin says he won't cut his young quarterback much comeback slack. "We'll have a count in the back of our heads about how many throws per day, but I don't see it as any [gradual] buildup," Coughlin said. "We have to go. We have to get ready."

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Just a quick update that Eli should be healthy to practice this week and ready to play in the season opener on Sunday. Sounds like the elbow injury is behind him, and hopefully there aren't any setbacks this week. Look for the Giants to rely heavily on Tiki Barber and the running game early on this season until Manning gets back up to speed.

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13. PHI: Eagles Working On Long-Term Contracts

Clipped from: The Times article by Mark Eckel, 9/3/05

With over $12 million of salary-cap space, the Eagles' front office is busy trying to extend the contracts of some of its younger players whose contracts have two or fewer years remaining.

Sources close to the Eagles revealed the team is in talks on a long-term deals for Pro Bowl safety Mike Lewis, nickel cornerback Rod Hood, starting weakside linebacker Keith Adams, and, as first reported in The Times, kicker David Akers. Of course, the team has been and still is trying to get a long-term deal done with running back Brian Westbrook.

Also, don't be surprised if quarterback Donovan McNabb is not in line for a new deal soon, even though his current pact runs through the 2010 season.

Lewis, who was voted to his first Pro Bowl last year, has two years remaining on his five-year rookie contract. He will earn $455,000 this year and $545,000 next year. The team attempted to get a new deal done with him last year when they extended the contracts of his draftmates Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown, but Lewis resisted. It was probably a smart move on his part, because his play warranted him an even bigger payday now.

Hood, an undrafted free agent who has exceeded all expectations and has become a very good nickel back, is in the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He will earn the minimum $380,000 this year. If a new deal is not worked out, the Eagles can simply tender him during the offseason. But the team would rather avoid that mess and get him to sign a long-term deal now. The team might also be forced to give him at least the middle tender, since he was undrafted; the low tender would result in no compensation. There are more than a few teams in the league where Hood would be a starting cornerback and demand starting money.

Adams has played on one-year deals each of the past two seasons. He was a restricted free agent in 2004 and signed the team's one-year tender of $565,000. This year, as an unrestricted free agent, he visited a few places, but signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Eagles which included a $400,000 signing bonus and a base salary of $600,000.

Akers' saga has been well-documented. He has three years remaining on his current contract, but ranks in the middle of the league among highest-paid kickers.

Westbrook, who held out at the start of training camp, is currently playing for the one-year restricted tender of $1.43 million. The team has offered a long-term deal with a nice signing bonus, but he wants more money in the first three years than the team is willing to pay.

Now, with more cap space after the release of defensive tackle Corey Simon, the team could offer roster bonuses instead of signing bonuses. The difference is the roster bonus counts entirely against this year's cap, while a signing bonus gets prorated over the life of the contract.

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The Eagles have some added cap space available now that Corey Simon is no longer with the team, and it looks like they are putting it to good use by trying to lock up some key players to long-term contracts. Not mentioned in this article is the Terrell Owens situation, which could flare up if he sees other players getting paid before him.

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14. PHI: Eagles Sign WR Darnerian McCants, Make Some Tough Cuts

Clipped from: AP article posted by SI.com, 9/3/05

The Philadelphia Eagles bolstered their depleted receiving corps, signing wideout Darnerien McCants to a one-year contract on Saturday.

The NFC champions also released popular defensive end Hugh Douglas, former starting fullback Jon Ritchie and veteran punter Sean Landeta to reach the roster limit of 53 players.

"Releasing players that have worked their tails off for the team is one of the toughest days for me," coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "It's even tougher when you release veterans such as Hugh and Jon. They have contributed a great deal to the success of this team over the past few years and we appreciate their efforts on and off the field."

McCants was cut by the Redskins last week after four seasons in Washington. He has 53 catches for 687 yards and eight touchdowns in 29 games. The Eagles lost starting receiver Todd Pinkston to a season-ending injury the first week of training camp, and reserve Justin Jenkins also will miss the season.

Douglas went to three Pro Bowls with the Eagles before leaving for Jacksonville following the 2002 season. He spent just one season with the Jaguars and returned to the Eagles last year after he was cut in training camp. The 34-year-old Douglas has 80 sacks in 10 seasons with the Jets, Eagles and Jaguars. He's well-liked by teammates and was one of the leaders on defense throughout his career in Philadelphia.

Ritchie, a seven-year veteran, missed most of last season with a knee injury. He caught 17 passes in his first season with the Eagles in 2003 after five years in Oakland. Josh Parry, a converted linebacker who took Ritchie's spot last year, is the only fullback on Philadelphia's roster.

Landeta, the leading punter in NFL history, signed with the team earlier this month as insurance in case Dirk Johnson couldn't recover from surgery for a sports hernia. Johnson was activated from the physically unable to perform list.

McCants joins a group that includes disgruntled All-Pro Terrell Owens, rookie Reggie Brown and third-year pros Greg Lewis and Billy McMullen. Excluding Owens, the Eagles' other four receivers have career totals of 80 catches for 991 yards and eight TDs. Owens, unhappy because he wants a new contract, had 77 catches for 1,200 yards and a team-record 14 TDs in his first season with the Eagles last year. Lewis will start opposite Owens, with Brown slated as the No. 3 receiver. McCants, 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, should get increased playing time once he's more familiar with Philadelphia's version of the West Coast offense.

A fifth-round pick from Delaware State in 2001, McCants had his best season with the Redskins in 2003. He caught 27 passes for 360 yards and tied for the team lead with six TDs. McCants was rewarded with a three-year contract when Joe Gibbs replaced Steve Spurrier as Washington's coach last year, but fell out of favor because of his questionable practice habits and lack of value on special teams. He was inactive for 10 games last season and finished with five catches for 71 yards.

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McCants adds some experience to the Eagles WR group and has proven to be a reliable red zone target from his time in Washington. If the young players Greg Lewis or Reggie Brown struggle, he should be able to step in and do a decent job once he gets familiar with the system. Although Hugh Douglas and Jon Ritchie didn't contribute much on the field last year, both provided solid depth and veteran leadership that will likely be missed.

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15. KC: OG John Welbourne Suspended 4 Games For Steroid Use

Clipped from: AP article posted by SI.com, 9/3/05

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman John Welbourn has been suspended for four games for violation of the league's steroid policy.

"John has been suspended," coach Dick Vermeil told The Associated Press on Saturday. "We are moving forward. I really can't say any more than that right now."

Welbourn, a reserve guard acquired from Philadelphia in 2004, played in Friday night's exhibition loss to St. Louis. He will not be eligible to practice during the suspension and may not play until the Oct. 16 game against Washington.

Vermeil said Friday night that Welbourn lost an appeal of his suspension.

"It doesn't matter if it was taken accidentally or something was in something he took that wasn't marked on the bottle," the coach told the Kansas City Star. "It doesn't matter. There's no tolerance and we'll have to live with that."

Eric Warfield, a starting cornerback, already has been suspended for the first four games for violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

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This suspension will limit the depth on the Chiefs offensive line, and could be problematic if the back problems that have been bothering Pro Bowl G Will Shields flare up again. The Chiefs offense enters the 2005 season with more uncertainty than usual thanks to a number of minor injuries which have prevented the first string offense from playing many snaps together thus far.

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16. DET: Lions Don't Know How Bad Garcia Is Hurt

Clipped from: AP article by Larry Lage posted by Yahoo.com, 9/3/05

The Detroit Lions need more time to know how long Jeff Garcia's broken leg and injured ankle will keep him out.

Detroit's backup quarterback was hurt in their preseason finale.

"He had an MRI, but it was not definitive," team president Matt Millen said Saturday. "We need more information, so we're going to have him take more tests. It's probably going to be a couple of more days before we know for sure what's going on."

The Lions expected Garcia to miss at least six weeks after he started and was injured in a 21-7 exhibition victory Friday at Buffalo. Coach Steve Mariucci said X-rays revealed Garcia broke his fibula, but he also feared the veteran might have severely hurt his ankle.

Detroit signed Garcia to compete with Harrington, who didn't play Friday because of a minor groin injury.

"A lot of people wanted to make it out as a butting heads of a battle, and it's been nothing of the sort," Harrington said. "He's been incredible and more helpful than I would have thought. I feel terrible for him."

Without Garcia, Detroit has two untested quarterbacks behind Harrington: rookie fifth-round pick Dan Orlovsky and rookie undrafted free agent Todd Mortensen.

"You always want two quarterbacks," receiver Roy Williams said. "Not saying there's anything wrong with Dan, but putting a rookie in against, say, Chicago, Green Bay or Carolina with Julius Peppers coming around the end, you're going to think about it."

Garcia was hurt on the final play of the first quarter. It happened at the end of a 23-yard run when his left foot caught on the turf as he was hit across the neck by cornerback Terrence McGee. Garcia, who scampered into a wide-open hole, was just beginning to slide when he was hit.

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While initial reports had Garcia expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks, it sounds like they could wind up being even worse. We'll keep you posted if anything changes, but it looks like rookie Dan Orlovsky will be the #2 QB for the time being.

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17. MIN: Vikings Release PK Elling, Give Starting Job To Edinger

Clipped from: AP article posted by ESPN.com, 9/3/05

Aaron Elling was among the final cuts for the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, ensuring that Paul Edinger will be the team's kicker this season.

The kicker position was one of the most hotly contested battles on the team in the preseason, but an injury to Elling's hip made coach Mike Tice's decision much easier than he initially anticipated.

Just over a week ago, Tice declared that he was "baffled" with his kicking situation because both players were performing so well. But Elling strained his hip flexor in pregame warmups before the team's third preseason game against San Diego, and Edinger, who signed as a free agent from Chicago in the offseason, essentially won the job that night after kicking four field goals.

Elling was unable to kick in Friday's preseason finale at Seattle, and Edinger cemented his spot by making the game-winning field goal in the 23-21 victory.

The Vikings also placed backup defensive tackle Steve Martin on the injured reserve list, meaning he will miss the season, and traded offensive lineman Nat Dorsey to the Cleveland Browns for guard-center Melvin Fowler. Martin sprained his left ankle against the Seahawks on Friday.

Fowler's versatility will be an asset for the Vikings, who lost four-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk for the season after he decided to have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip.

Birk's decision forced the Vikings to reshuffle their offensive line. Backup Cory Withrow was promoted to starter at center, starting left guard Adam Goldberg was moved to the top backup at both guard spots and center, right guard Chris Liwienski was moved to left guard and rookie Marcus Johnson was named the starter at right guard.

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Now that this battle has been decided, Edinger becomes a pretty valuable kicker. After a brutal year in Chicago, he should benefit from playing his home games inside a dome, and the Vikings offense should give him plenty of FG opportunities.

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18. IDP: SF - 49ers Sign Free Agent DT Travis Hall

Clipped from: InsideBayArea.com article by Roger Phillips, 9/3/05

The San Francisco 49ers are expected to reach their 53-man limit today, revealing a reasonably close approximation to the roster that will open the regular season in eight days against the St. Louis Rams. But the 49ers actually made their first move Friday, agreeing to terms with 11th-year defensive tackle Travis Hall. The 33-year-old Hall spent his first 10 seasons with Atlanta but was released by the Falcons during the off-season.

To make room for Hall, the 49ers cut rookie free agent defensive lineman Scott Scharff of Stanford.

Coach Mike Nolan said the 6-foot-5, 295-pound Hall will provide needed depth at both end positions in the 3-4 defense. Nolan said he hopes Hall will be an "upgrade" over defensive end Chris Cooper, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury. "(Hall is) an unselfish player," Nolan said. "I think he understands the work ethic. I think he'll add something to the group."

LINE IT UP: Nolan said center Jeremy Newberry's right knee held up well to the stress of Thursday's visit to San Diego, his first game action in nearly a year.

If Newberry can play in the opener, Nolan made it sound as if he would be joined on the starting offensive line, from left to right, by Jonas Jennings, Justin Smiley, Adam Snyder and Kwame Harris.

Nolan said he is considering penciling in Eric Heitmann as the backup center because of Newberry's tenuous health. Otherwise, Heitmann is a candidate to battle Snyder for the starting job at right guard. As for rookie guard David Baas, who made his preseason debut Thursday after being sidelined with a torn right hamstring, Nolan said he played well in San Diego but tired because of conditioning. "He's going to be a good player," Nolan said.

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At 33 years old Travis Hall may not have much gas left in the tank, but he's still good enough to make a contribution. He's had a quiet but very solid career with the Falcons, and his experience with the 3-4 defense should come in handy with the 49ers. The return of Newberry to the offensive line is also great news for the 49ers offense, but we'll have to wait and see if his knee can hold up for long.

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19. IDP: Bengals DL Clemons and Browns DB Jameson Get 4-game Suspensions

Clipped from: NFL Ticker article posted by Yahoo.com, 9/3/05

The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns each will have a defensive player on the suspended list when they meet on September 11.

On Saturday, the NFL suspended Bengals defensive end Duane Clemons and Browns safety Michael Jameson for the first four games of the regular season without pay for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

The 31-year-old Clemons, who had lost his starting job during training camp despite recording 12 1/2 sacks the previous two seasons, is the first member of the Bengals to be suspended four games by the NFL since Tremain Mack in 1999.

Clemons has recorded 47 1/2 sacks in seven seasons with Minnesota, Kansas City and Cincinnati. He posted career highs of 47 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks in his first year with the Chiefs in 2000.

Jameson played in all 16 games with the Browns last season, making a career-high 15 tackles, including 12 solo. He recorded the only interception of his career in his rookie season of 2002.

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Clemons is a decent all-around DE who wasn't expected to make too much of an impact this year after getting benched in favor of 2nd year player Robert Geathers at the RDE spot. Carl Powell will likely take over his role as #3 DE in the rotation. Meanwhile, Michael Jameson has primarily made his impact on special teams for the Browns and his suspension shouldn't have any impact on fantasy leagues.

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20. IDP: DAL - Cowboys Acquire LB Scott Fujita From Chiefs

Clipped from: NFL Ticker article posted by Yahoo.com, 9/3/05

The club did announce one newcomer -- linebacker Scott Fujita, who was acquired from Kansas City for a sixth-round draft choice in 2006 and a conditional pick in 2007.

Fujita has started 41 of the Chiefs' last 43 games on the strong side and led the team in tackles the last two years. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has been concerned about depth at linebacker as the team converts to a 3-4 formation.

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Fujita has been a very productive OLB and fantasy LB for the Chiefs despite playing on the strong side of the formation. He may not be big enough to play OLB in a 3-4, but he will bring needed experience to the OLB position in Dallas and could compete for a starting job once he gets familiar with the Cowboys system.

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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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