Re: For some NFL teams, being young bodes well for the future
AROUND THE NFL
■ Kevin Kolb will continue to start for the Philadelphia Eagles at quarterback in place of the injured Donovan McNabb. He earned that right after his 391-yard passing performance against New Orleans last week. But looming in the background is Michael Vick, who comes off NFL suspension and is eligible to play today against Kansas City. "He's in pretty good shape," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I'm not sure exactly how we will use him or if he'll play or how much he'll play. He put on a couple of pounds when he was out of football, but he's back down now. It looks like he's moving around pretty good."
■ The New York Giants will see an old friend in Tampa – RB Derrick Ward, who wears one of their Super Bowl rings from 2007. Ward was the No. 2 back in New York's three-back rotation the last two years along with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. But he bolted for the Buccaneers in free agency last off-season. He now splits the carries with Cadillac Williams and Earnest Graham. "I miss my old teammates and coaches," Ward said. "When you play somewhere for five years, you are always going to have mutual respect for them. I thank the Giants for giving me my start in the NFL and continuing to believe in me throughout those years. But I'm in a perfect situation here in Tampa."
■ The Washington Redskins are 1-1 and look like a tight football team. The Giants handled the Redskins quite handily in the opener, then Washington struggled for a 9-7 victory last week over hapless St. Louis. Another hapless team is on tap today – the Detroit Lions, who have not won a game since 2007. QB Jason Campbell is waiting to see the Washington team that expected to contend for a playoff spot. "What I want to see is us come and fight hard, play competitive, play with attitude and play like you really want it," Campbell said. "Play like you want to get to the next step, not just go out there running plays or just doing things for the sake of doing them and hope that someone [else] makes a play. Everyone needs to have the mentality that anyone can make a play at any given time."
■ The NFC's top two rushers square off in Minnesota today when Frank Gore (237 yards) and the San Francisco 49ers visit Adrian Peterson (272) and the Vikings. "It's a tremendous opportunity for us defensively to see where we are," 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. "He's a guy you have to contain every play. We've got our hands full."
■ The Tennessee Titans (formerly Houston Oilers) visit the New York Jets today in a game between two original AFL franchises. In 1965, the Oilers held the draft rights to Joe Namath. But when Oilers/Titans owner Bud Adams spoke with Namath, the Alabama quarterback said, "I'm a New York man. I want to play in New York where the lights are big and fast and everything. I don't know too much about Houston." In the best interests of the league, Adams traded Namath's rights to the Jets – and the rest is history. "I always said to myself I made the right decision because it gave us [AFL] the first victory over the NFL in Super Bowl III," Adams said.
■ The NFL schedule-maker did the Miami Dolphins no favors, giving them a September slate that included consecutive games against 2008 playoff teams Atlanta, Indianapolis and San Diego. The defending AFC East champion Dolphins are already 0-2 heading into San Diego today. "Oh-and-2 is 0-2," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "It stinks whenever you have it. Honestly, 0-2 last year coming off 1-15 smelled the same way 0-2 smells right now. It's not a good taste in your mouth. I don't love it, nobody in that locker room loves it. But we're beyond that. If we think about 0-2 too long, if we don't watch it we could be 0-3. We're not interested in that"
■ Matt Ryan returns to Boston today as quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons. He played his college ball at Boston College and broke Doug Flutie's season record for touchdown passes in 2007. The Falcons drafted Ryan with the third overall choice of the 2008 draft. "We saw him and we talked about him a lot," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "But when he came out, he wasn't really a factor for us in the draft, given where he was going and where we were picking." Ryan took the surprising Falcons to a wild-card playoff berth as a rookie and has them on a 2-0 start in 2009.
■ The Baltimore Ravens are 2-0 and atop the AFC North, one game ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Baltimore bandwagon is getting crowded. "That's the NFL," Ravens WR Derrick Mason said. "One week you're winning and everyone loves you. The next week you're losing and everyone hates you. One week Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever live. Now they're questioning whether he can lead the Patriots to victory. People's opinions change like the wind."