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Old 05-19-2008, 05:24 AM   #1
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Default Pro Football Weekly Whispers May 17, 2008

Whispers
May 17, 2008


One Dolphins insider remarked how ironic it is that troubled RB Ricky Williams has the full support of executive V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells, while Parcells has given the cold-shoulder treatment to consummate team leader Jason Taylor. Parcells subscribes to the “football comes first” mentality, something that Taylor has done throughout his distinguished career, whereas Williams has rarely demonstrated that commitment. However, Parcells’ differing treatment of the two players is a sign that the “What have you done for me lately” mantra is alive and well inside Dolphins headquarters. While Taylor has been mostly missing in action in Miami’s offseason program as he participates in the television show “Dancing with the Stars,” Williams has seemingly rededicated himself to football after having torn a pectoral muscle last November in his first game back from an 18-month NFL suspension.

If you’re looking for more evidence as to just how incredibly close the battle between Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens is to be the Jets’ starting quarterback, look no further than the fashion in which the coaches determined who would take the first snaps in the first drill in this past week’s organized team activities. “We flipped a coin,” coach Eric Mangini said. “Chad got to call it; he won.”

It seems almost humorous that a team as stacked as the Colts would heap such praise on an undrafted rookie, but team sources tell us the Colts are genuinely excited about what DT Eric Foster brings to the table. A third-team Associated Press All-American in 2006, the Rutgers product had a stellar collegiate career, but his small size (6-1, 273 pounds) scared off teams from drafting him. Quick, undersized tackles have a long history of thriving in coach Tony Dungy’s defense, which is predicated upon getting a strong pass rush from the front four, and Foster has a chance to be the next in line.

Jacksonville’s decision to extend DT Rob Meier through 2012 came as a bit of a surprise, considering he’ll be 31 years old by the start of the regular season, but one Jags source we talked to applauded the team for recognizing and rewarding the defense’s most underrated performer. With Marcus Stroud having been traded to Buffalo, Meier will assume starting DT duties alongside two-time Pro Bowler John Henderson.

The Texans are giving LB Chaun Thompson a look as a pass rusher. Thompson has 10˝ career sacks in five seasons, including five in 2005. Thompson is also working as MLB DeMeco Ryans’ backup.

One of the keys to the success of the Titans’ defensive line may be how quickly rookie DE William Hayes comes along. If the untested but talented Hayes can give the Titans useful snaps at defensive end, the D-line depth — which is something of a concern after the departures of DEs Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy — may turn out to be a team strength.

Texans rookie CB Antwaun Molden’s speed has been eye-catching in his initial work with his new club, a source close to the club tells PFW. Whether Molden can contribute in his first season remains to be seen, but he certainly has the physical tools needed to succeed.

It appears as though the Chargers’ first-round selection of CB Antoine Cason has caused second-year CB Paul Oliver to slide over to safety. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the talented but green Oliver, whose skill set lends itself better to safety, some team sources believe. Nevertheless, Oliver will still provide legitimate competition for Cason in the battle to be the primary nickel back, though Cason is the favorite to land the job.

Ex-Florida State QB Xavier Lee is getting a chance at tight end with the Ravens, who are looking for depth there after Quinn Sypniewski was lost for the season. “He would have a chance, athletically, to play tight end,” new head coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week. “They were right at Florida State. He could be a heck of a tight end. We’ve got to talk about it, but he looked pretty good today.”

Browns head coach Romeo Crennel indicated that C LeCharles Bentley, who missed the last two seasons with knee injuries and was not at the team’s voluntary workouts this week, might appear at the Browns’ mandatory June minicamp. “I’ve spoken with LeCharles, and he’s got one or two things that he’s got to work through as far as his treating physician and then being able to come and pass our physical,” Crennel told reporters. “He’s not here right now, and he might not be here until minicamp.”

The Ravens are in no rush to hear an answer from OLT Jonathan Ogden on his playing status, the way we hear it. The prospects of Ogden returning in 2008 are still dim, from all accounts, but they flicker a little brighter every day he doesn’t announce his retirement, according to a source close to the club.

The Steelers are high on rookie OLB-DE Bruce Davis, the way we hear it, and the expectation is that he will be a contributor in his first NFL season. Davis, the Steelers’ third-round pick, had 24˝ sacks in his last two seasons at UCLA.

Speculation is high at Halas Hall that the addition of Bears fifth-round CB Zackary Bowman, who made a nice impression in the team’s rookie minicamp with his size and athleticism, doesn’t bode well for veteran CB Ricky Manning Jr., whom many regular team observers expected to be shown the door by now, a la Adam Archuleta.

The early skinny on Bears undrafted rookie QBs Nick Hill and Caleb Hanie after the team’s rookie minicamp was that Hanie clearly had a stronger arm but that Hill appeared to be a better athlete.

We hear the Packers feel confident that second-round rookie WR Jordy Nelson will be able to effectively settle into the No. 4 WR role in place of the departed Koren Robinson. Packers WR coach Jimmy Robinson is well-known for getting on his receivers when they mess up, but rookie minicamp observers tell us Robinson never once got on Nelson’s case. We’re also told fellow rookie WR Brett Swain (seventh round) looked to be a very polished route runner.

The offensive star of the Giants’ rookie minicamp was not third-round WR Mario Manningham, but rather undrafted WR D.J. Hall, who remains mystified that he was not picked in the draft. Hall made a number of impressive catches and appeared to gain some notice with the coaching staff heading into OTAs.

With first-round picks RB Jonathan Stewart and ORT Jeff Otah sitting out while nursing injuries, we hear third-round FS Charles Godfrey was the most impressive youngster at the Panthers’ recent minicamp. Sources say the rookie played like he had been in the league for five years.

The Falcons took a pass on defensive tackles in April’s draft and have yet to sign any undrafted free-agent DTs, but we hear they could look to add a veteran at the need position. Former Falcons and Jaguars DT Grady Jackson is still available and could be added to the mix before training camp.

Many eyes will be on Bucs rookie WR Dexter Jackson at the team’s OTAs this weekend. Jackson was limited by a hamstring injury during Tampa’s rookie minicamp earlier in May, but he said he expected to go full speed during the next session of workouts.

The word on Cardinals rookie DE Kenny Iwebema at the team’s early-May minicamp was that the fourth-round pick looked deceptively strong. Team insiders are already speculating that the presence of both Iwebema, who was coached by Cardinals D-line coach Ron Aiken at the University of Iowa, and fellow rookie DE Calais Campbell, who is also capable of moving inside, has increased the likelihood that Antonio Smith, who’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2008 season, could be playing elsewhere in ’09.

It appears that Tim Castille, who has put on 20 pounds and is a big favorite of Cardinals RB coach Maurice Carthon, could be positioned to take over the starting FB job from veteran Terrelle Smith. It wouldn’t be a shock to team insiders if Smith, who hasn’t been a regular at the Cardinals’ offseason conditioning workouts, were released — a move that would save the team a cool $1 million.

There are plenty of interesting rumblings regarding the Rams’ offensive line, which was a mess much of the time last season. Team insiders tell us that both rookies John Greco (third round) and Roy Schuening (fifth round) are considered future starters and could respectively push ORT Alex Barron and ORG Richie Incognito for playing time sooner than later. Speaking of Incognito, we hear he’s not being ruled out of the battle for the starting center job. Incognito played the position at Nebraska, and the only problem sources envision with him in that role is his shotgun snaps, which might need some work.

Our Niners sources tell us that OLB Tully Banta-Cain appears to be in much better shape than he was a year ago, when he reported to the first minicamp tipping the scales at 290 pounds.

Niners minicamp observers say veteran Jeff Ulbrich appears to have the early edge on Brandon Moore and newcomer Dontarrious Thomas for the starting “Ted” LB role, based on the fact he was getting the majority of reps.

We hear Seahawks top draft pick Lawrence Jackson looked instantly comfortable at the team’s early-May minicamp, filling a number of roles on the defensive line (right end, left end, tackle in the nickel) with equal effectiveness.

Word is Seahawks sixth-round rookie LS Tyler Schmitt was right on the money with all his snaps in the team’s early-May minicamp. At 231 pounds, Schmitt is 15 pounds lighter than former LS J.P. Darche, who was let go, we hear, because he was too small. The upside, however, is that the lighter Schmitt might be more of a factor getting downfield to cover punts.
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Old 05-19-2008, 07:36 AM   #2
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Default Re: Pro Football Weekly Whispers May 17, 2008

Quote:
The Steelers are high on rookie OLB-DE Bruce Davis, the way we hear it, and the expectation is that he will be a contributor in his first NFL season. Davis, the Steelers’ third-round pick, had 24˝ sacks in his last two seasons at UCLA.
I would love to see Davis contribute this year. If he makes a big impact, Woodley hits his stride & maybe with a healthy Timmons hopefully producing as advertised, this year could be really exciting.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: Pro Football Weekly Whispers May 17, 2008

xavier lee at TE.. wow i would like to see that... i qb turned te..guess the ravens are that desprate
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