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Volume 6, Issue 142 (Wednesday, September 7th)

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.

On to Football. The regular season is here. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but for the last 142 nights, we've been hammering out these updates for you. As you know, these daily email updates end once the regular season starts. That means that this issue, #142, is the last one. They'll be replaced by tons more content that our Footballguys Premium Subscribers receive. If you'd like to keep this content rolling all season long, you can sign up at www.footballguys.com. Now let's get to the news. Thanks to our Mike Herman for the help in rounding up these stories tonight. And thanks to you for reading all summer long. I hope you've enjoyed receiving these as much as we've enjoyed writing them.

Joe Bryant


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. KC - QB Trent Green Practices With No Setbacks
2. DEN - WR David Terrell Added
3. MIN - WR Kelly Campbell Released
4. PHI - WR Terrell Owens Says He'll Speak to QB Donovan McNabb
5. CLE - RB Reuben Droughns Unofficially No. 1 for This Weekend
6. NE - WR Givens Questionable, QB Brady Probable, WR Branch Eager
7. MIA - RB Ronnie Brown Quietly Gaining Teammates Respect
8. TEN - OC Chow's Offense Will Keep Tight Ends Busy
9. TB - WR/PR Mark Jones Signed
10. BUF - Offensive Line Working Together
11. DEN - QB Jake Plummer Has Solid Preseason
12. IDP: CAR - DE Julius Peppers Back in Practice
13. IDP: CHI - CB Jerry Azumah Expects to Play Sunday

1. KC - QB Trent Green Practices With No Setbacks

Clipped from: Associated Press article by Doug Tucker

It was a sight to gladden the heart of every player and coach in Kansas City. There was Trent Green out there on the practice field. The Pro Bowl quarterback who underwent surgery on Aug. 30 to put a stent in an artery in his lower left leg seemed almost 100 percent. Although he missed all but a few plays of the final two exhibition games, everyone said he looked every bit like a quarterback who will be ready for Sunday's season opener.

Green said later in a radio interview that modern medicine "is pretty unbelievable." "It's been a pretty rapid recovery," he said. "They're still limiting me a little bit. But everything feels great. I haven't had any setbacks."

Green, whose career passer rating of 87.9 is higher than that of Tom Brady, Brett Favre or Dan Marino, had experienced numbness in the left foot and lower left leg. After the procedure, he was put on blood thinners. Monday's practice was restricted. "They just wanted to make sure I wasn't jumping into the deep end of the pool right away," he said. "So basically, that was it. Instead of going full force day one. On Wednesday I'll be ready to go and take everything. I felt ready to go today."

Coach Dick Vermeil said Green "looked very good."

Todd Collins, Green's backup who fractured his throwing hand in the first preseason game, practiced Monday on a limited basis. He will be the third quarterback against the Jets, Vermeil said. Damon Huard, who sustained head trauma while going 1-for-12 in an exhibition loss to Arizona on Aug. 20, will be designated No. 2.

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

Just a few more details in follow-up to yesterday's story. They told us immediately after the surgery that it was a very minor procedure and nothing to worry about. It appears they were correct.

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2. DEN - WR David Terrell Added

Clipped from: Rocky Mountain News article by Jeff Legwold

The Broncos were close to a deal Tuesday night with receiver David Terrell to fill the roster spot made available when Jerry Rice announced his retirement.

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Terrell was the eighth pick in the 2001 draft by the Chicago Bears and was released last weekend by the Patriots.

He injured his right foot in his second season - he played in only five games in 2002 - and wasn't able to meet expectations in Chicago, leading to his release in February.

He missed significant time during training camp this year because of an infection in the leg.

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

Terrell did in fact sign Wednesday with Denver. The best case scenario for David Terrell would probably be to work his way up to WR3 for the Broncos. Neither Darius Watts nor Charlie Adams has managed to firmly secure that job. For that to happen, Terrell would need to take advantage of the opportunity... something he was unable to do in his years with Chicago and his brief stint with New England this year. Until he proves otherwise, he has minimal fantasy value.

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3. MIN - WR Kelly Campbell Released

Clipped from: VikingUpdate.com article

There was plenty of speculation when training camp opened that the Vikings were going to likely release either Keenan Howry or Kelly Campbell. With the additions of Travis Taylor and Troy Williamson, it was believed that, among the training camp battles to be waged, one of those two would likely go.

That sentiment got more credence early on when Campbell went down with a quadriceps injury that kept him off the playing field and practice field all preseason. But, when the final 53-man rosters came out, both Howry and Campbell were on the roster and it appeared a bullet had been dodged.

That was until Tuesday. The Vikings announced the signing of former first-round pick Koren Robinson and, to make room for him on the roster, the team released Campbell. It's likely Campbell won't stay on the open market too long.

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

As speculated yesterday, Campbell was the casualty of the Robinson acquisition. His status as a deep sleeper fantasy player just got deeper.

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4. PHI - WR Terrell Owens Says He'll Speak to QB Donovan McNabb

Clipped from Associated Press article by Rob Maaddi

Terrell Owens is ready to end his feud with Donovan McNabb. Owens and McNabb haven't been on speaking terms throughout the preseason, but the All-Pro wide receiver said Tuesday in an interview on ESPN that he plans to talk to McNabb before Philadelphia's season opener at Atlanta on Monday night.

"It's not that I hate Donovan. I love Donovan. I don't hate him at all," Owens said, speaking publicly for the first time since he returned from a one-week exile from training camp three weeks ago. "I was just disappointed in a few things. I have the right to do that. "Everybody speaks out of emotion. Everybody speaks out of frustration. Everybody's done it. That means I'm human. If you want me to go in and say I was wrong, maybe I was. Maybe I wasn't."

Owens started the friction in April when he took a shot at McNabb, saying he "wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl." McNabb responded harshly, insisting he didn't get sick and wasn't tired in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 24-21 loss to New England.

After he was banished from camp last month following a heated dispute with coach Andy Reid, Owens again went after McNabb, calling the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback a hypocrite. Owens has changed his act since returning to practice, and now he's finally reaching out to McNabb.

Despite their icy relationship, McNabb and Owens had no trouble on the field. In their lone appearance together in the preseason, the two connected five times for 131 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage in a victory over Cincinnati on Aug. 26. Both players celebrated that score separately with other teammates and ignored each other throughout the game, but Owens said the silence won't continue.

"You guys will see. It's not going to be a yearlong thing," he said. "Leading up to this Monday night game, things will get worked out."

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

After numerous steps in the wrong direction during the offseason and preseason, Owens finally takes a step in the right direction. As we've noted many times in these updates, as long as Owens avoids doing anything dumb enough to earn him some bench time, he should have another big year.

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5. CLE - RB Reuben Droughns Unofficially No. 1 for This Weekend

Clipped from: Cleveland Browns.com article by Zac Jackson

The Browns released an unofficial depth chart Tuesday for the opener, listing Reuben Droughns as the No. 1 running back and Sean Jones and Chris Crocker as co-starters at safety. Browns coach Romeo Crennel said Monday he probably wouldn't announce his starting running back until Sunday.

The team returns to the practice field Wednesday. Stay tuned to ClevelandBrowns.com for the latest on the status of the team's three injured players: running back Lee Suggs, cornerback Gary Baxter and tight end Aaron Shea. Suggs and Baxter are listed as injured on the depth chart. Shea is listed as the second tight end.

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

Early indications are that Droughns will be the starter this Sunday against Cincinnati. Although we expect for Green to see work. Stay tuned to our Breaking Updates on Sunday for the late breaking announcements that you'll need for any last minute starting lineup adjustments.

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6. NE - WR Givens Questionable, QB Brady Probable, WR Branch Eager

Clipped from: Boston Herald article by Michael Felger

Receiver David Givens was added to the injury report late yesterday as questionable with a chest injury. Givens landed awkwardly catching a touchdown in Green Bay, although the Pats reported he just had the wind knocked out of him.

Givens missed portions of practice along with the rest of the Pats' injury list: Tully Banta-Cain (knee), Andre Davis (foot), Brandon Gorin (thigh), Jarvis Green (thigh), Bethel Johnson (thigh), Dan Klecko (knee), James Sanders (ankle) and Duane Starks (thigh).

Tom Brady, as he was all last season, was listed as probable with a right shoulder injury. He did practice.

Receiver Deion Branch is excited to play after sitting out the entire preseason. "I am not worried about me being rusty. The only problem I am going to have is maybe getting caught up too much in the game and maybe being out of breath," he said.

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

If Givens doesn't play on Thursday night, that could mean more targets for Troy Brown and/or Tim Dwight. Brady and Branch both appear to be ready to go, and are hoping to pick up where they left off last year.

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7. MIA - RB Ronnie Brown Quietly Gaining Teammates Respect

Clipped from: Miami Herald article by Jason Cole

Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown is standing in the middle of the lobby hallway in Don Shula's Hotel and Resort in Miami Lakes. Nobody is bothering him for an autograph. There's no entourage to bloat his ego. For a man who has been guaranteed $20 million (more than twice as much money as any Dolphins player in a single negotiation), Brown is flying so far under the radar that he should have the landing gear down.

Brown, who most fans barely knew a year ago, was the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. He is the foundation of how the Dolphins plan to rebuild their offense under coach Nick Saban. But he talks and acts with the arrogance of a backup offensive lineman. In fact, Brown was concerned Monday and Tuesday about doing any type of interview because he didn't want to do anything that might counter what Saban wants. "That's one of the main things I try to do is to stay grounded," Brown said.

Brown's actions have backed that up. After holding out for three weeks, Brown has been diligent about all of his work. Saban, for instance, has been happy with Brown's effort in blocking pass protection, a skill many young running backs haven't learned at the college level. "I think that [running backs] all can run with the ball, press the line and do things a little better to set up their blocks," Saban said. " . . . [Blocking in pass protection] is the kind of thing that if you are a responsible person you are going to pay special attention to."

Teammates are also duly impressed. "Before he goes in, he'll ask a question to make sure he knows what he's doing so he doesn't mess up," tight end Randy McMichael said. "He pays attention to detail very well," wide receiver Chris Chambers said. "For a rookie, he carries himself with a lot of confidence. A lot of quiet confidence."

"You're just a rookie, your presence should be seen but not heard," said defensive end Kevin Carter, who was the No. 6 overall pick in 1995. "They have expectations for you, and the team is looking at you to make sure you have professionalism. . . . He has kept his mouth shut and been good."

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

Brown will get an opportunity to cement his starting position during the first four games, while Ricky Williams serves his suspension. Those games are vs. Denver, at the NY Jets, vs. Carolina, and at Buffalo. It could be a tough test since all but Carolina in that group ranked in the top seven last year for allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.

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8. TEN - OC Chow's Offense Will Keep Tight Ends Busy

Clipped from: The Tennessean article by Paul Kuharsky

In Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow's system, the tight ends will run plenty of pass routes and catch plenty of passes. And so carrying four tight ends on the roster might not just be a stopgap while the Titans wait for injured Ben Troupe's return to action. It might be permanent.

The Titans have four quality pass catching tight ends: starter Erron Kinney, Troupe (who's still working his way back from a broken left foot suffered in May), sixth-round draft pick Bo Scaife and undrafted rookie Greg Guenther.

A reliable tight end has always been a key option for quarterback Steve McNair, however. Frank Wycheck led the Oilers/Titans in receptions for five consecutive seasons through 2000. Now, Kinney, Troupe, Scaife and Guenther are expected to flourish in Chow's get-rid-of-it-quick system. They will wander open seams down the middle of the field to attract defensive attention. They will shift to and from spots on the line, in the backfield and out wide. And they will be available for dump-offs on plays where McNair can't spot open wide receivers.

"It's been a productive group," Fisher said. "Erron has a real good understanding of what we are doing. I think you can see the production you are getting out of Bo and out of Gregg just shows how important the tight end is in the offense. We can all anticipate Ben's return and how productive he's going to be in this offense because of how the ball's going to be spread around."

Scaife missed the May and June minicamps as he worked his way back from a sports hernia, so he was a revelation though preseason. "He's really shifty. He's got good feet," Kinney said. "So he runs routes and gets open really well. With his feet he's really good at throwing his head in there and blocking and getting in good position."

Guenther was the final undrafted free agent the Titans signed this summer. Though he didn't join the team until July 25, he caught on quickly. He also played for Chow at USC, but not last season when he took a final stab at making it in basketball.

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

The talent level at tight end is good news for the Titans, but probably not quite as good from a fantasy perspective. We anticipate that Troupe and Kinney will end the year with similar totals, making them less valuable than a feature tight end that isn't competing for receptions.

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9. TB - WR/PR Mark Jones Signed

Clipped from: Tampa Tribune article by Katherine Smith

In the back of Mark Jones' head, he knew there was a possibility he would wind up back in Tampa. The Bucs released Jones before the start of the regular season last year and the New York Giants quickly snagged him. The wide receiver was relegated mostly to special teams duty, returning 34 punts for 227 yards and two kickoffs for 37 yards.

Now back with the Bucs, Jones might be the answer at the punt return position. Tampa Bay's prepared to start the season with wide receiver Joey Galloway handling the punt return duties, but Jones could find his niche as a return specialist. "I think I'll get a shot at that, when, I don't know," Jones said. "I'm still trying to learn the offense again and get used to the system and re-learn the terminology."

In signing Jones to the 53-man roster, Tampa Bay had to release rookie wide receiver Larry Brackins to make room.

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

The Bucs wanted to avoid using Joey Galloway as their punt returner and exposing him to additional injury risk, however he still appeared to be their best returner following preseason. Jones will probably allow them to keep Galloway on just offense.

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10. BUF - Offensive Line Working Together

Clipped from: Rochester Democrat And Chronicle article by Sal Maiorana

So much of the focus in the off-season and throughout training camp and the preseason has been on the development of young J.P. Losman as Buffalo's new starting quarterback. But while the Losman storyline has plenty of juice, the performance of the offensive line could be the key to the Bills either making their first playoff appearance of the new millennium or watching the postseason on their big-screen, high-definition televisions.

"It's been evident that they've worked together for a good period of time," said head coach Mike Mularkey of the five-man starting group that includes, from left to right, Mike Gandy, Bennie Anderson, Trey Teague, Chris Villarrial and Mike Williams. "Last year we went into camp with the unknowns. I feel much better about them (this year). I think they've played well in the games. We're better there and I think our offense is better because of it."

The Bills began 2004 with a line that consisted of solid Jonas Jennings at left tackle, unproven Lawrence Smith at left guard, veteran Teague at center, new veteran Villarrial at right guard, and talented but underwhelming - to that point - Williams at right tackle. With Villarrial trying to get used to playing with new teammates, Williams struggling all summer with personal issues, and a rotating door situation at left guard before Smith was given the job, the line was a source of angst for McNally early in his first year in Buffalo.

This season, the left side has been reworked. Gandy was signed in free agency to replace the departed Jennings, and Anderson also came in via free agency to solidify the left guard spot while Teague, Villarrial and Williams stayed put. And nothing has changed since the beginning of the organized team activities in March. The same five players have lined up as starters and have built continuity and familiarity along the way. "I think it's big," said Villarrial. "The communication is there, we don't have to make as many calls at the line. We can pretty much look at each other and know what's going on."

Of course, there is a different quarterback behind that line, and he's still learning about his protectors, but Losman said Monday he has grown comfortable with the group. "Way back in the spring that was the unit where I can say I wasn't as close with them as I was with the other guys, but we're very close now," he said. "We hang out all the time, on and off the field, and I feel real comfortable with those guys."

Ditto for running back Willis McGahee. "I'm not worried about them. I'm pretty sure we're on the same page," said McGahee, who may need superior performance from the linemen even more than Losman because the running game - i.e., him - will be the focal point of this offense.

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

Stability and cohesiveness upfront should never be underestimated. If the offensive line performs like a well oiled machine, the rest of the offense often follows. We've mentioned it many times this summer, and we'll mention it one more time, don't forget to pay attention to changes on offensive lines during the season. They don't directly score fantasy points, but they can definitely help (or hinder) the players that do.

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11. DEN - QB Jake Plummer Has Solid Preseason

Clipped from: Associated Press article

He didn't throw a single interception. Or a single pass with his left hand. More than that, though, Jake Plummer was effective, efficient and in control during his brief preseason appearances with the Denver Broncos. "Guys keep asking me about how comfortable I look and how comfortable I feel, so I figure I must look comfortable," Plummer said Wednesday as he prepares for Denver's season opener against Miami.

Of course, the regular season is where things really start to count, and it is those 16 games that will determine if Plummer is the same very good but erratic quarterback he's been over his first eight seasons -- or if he's ready to take the next step into the NFL's elite. Before training camp, Shanahan said the third year in a program should be a breakthrough year for any quarterback. This is Year 3 for Plummer in Denver. So far, Shanahan has no reason to believe Plummer can't take the next step. "Jake's played very consistently," Shanahan said. "You want to take care of the ball, to not turn the ball over, to manage the game well and to improve from the year before. I think he's made improvements each year, and this year, he's no different."

"I've put in a lot of work," Plummer said. "Going into my third year, I feel like I know what's coming from the press box and I can put it in there and make it work." So far, it has looked that way. Playing the equivalent of about one full game, Plummer went 23-for-35 for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the preseason. He didn't throw an interception. His passer rating was 123.6.

Nobody has doubted Plummer's ability to make throws and read defenses. It's whether he can handle the week to week pressure of the regular season without making the game-changing gaffe that remains the big question. "He had an excellent preseason. There wasn't much more we could have asked of him," Shanahan said. "Now, he's got to carry that over to the rest of the year.

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

We're also expecting Plummer to pick up where he left off last year from a fantasy perspective. From what we've seen this summer, he looks like that's what he's expecting as well.

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12. IDP: CAR - DE Julius Peppers Back in Practice

Clipped from: The Charlotte Observer article by Stan Olson

After missing two weeks of practice to rest a sore ankle, Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers returned Tuesday and is expected to be ready to play in Sunday's opener against New Orleans.

Coach John Fox wasn't saying that, of course. No sense giving an opponent what he likes to call "a competitive advantage" earlier than necessary. "We're not doing any injury updates or practice updates until tomorrow," he said.

Peppers' teammates, though, said he appears to be fine. He'll replace Al Wallace in Sunday's starting lineup, which is fine with Wallace. "I was just a placeholder for awhile," Wallace said, laughing. "We need him back. You have the best defensive player in the league; you expect nothing less than for him to get out there. I might be his biggest fan, watching him do what he's capable of doing."

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

Peppers is a must start if he plays. He is listed as questionable on the early injury report for their home game this week against New Orleans.

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13. IDP: CHI - CB Jerry Azumah Expects to Play Sunday

Clipped from: Daily Herald article by Bob LeGere

Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah went through practice Monday, although with limited reps, for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery on Aug. 3.

He plans to play Sunday in the Bears' season opener at Washington. How much he's able to practice as the week goes on will determine how much he plays Sunday.

Azumah could be used only in passing situations as the nickel corner. But he would like to do more, including returning kickoffs, which got him a Pro Bowl trip after the 2003 season.

"As far as I'm concerned, I should be doing it all," Azumah said. "I want to be on the football field as much as possible. They just have to give me the go-ahead. I know I'm going to be ready."

If Azumah doesn't play defense at all Sunday, inexperienced Rashied Davis would be the Bears' nickel corner and Nathan Vasher would start across from Charles Tillman. Rookie Mark Bradley will return kicks if Azumah doesn't handle that chore.

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

Keep an eye on Azumah's practices and status later in the week. If he's able to play a full role, he's a viable fantasy starter, particularly in leagues that include points for individual special teams play.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. And that puts a wrap on the Daily Free Email Updates for the 2005 season. Thanks for being a part of what we did this year. As I said above, we'd love to keep sending you detailed Fantasy Football information all year long. I know most of you have already subscribed but if you haven't, here's the link:

http://footballguys.com/amember/signup.php?price_group=1

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a fantastic 2005 season!

J

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