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Old 06-07-2008, 11:31 AM   #1
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Default Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

ProFootballWhispers
June 7, 2008


The consensus among daily observers of the Cardinals seems to be that QB Matt Leinart’s mechanics and confidence appear noticeably sharper now, compared to a year ago at this time, particularly his footwork.

The Cardinals have been a bit coy about the condition of Jerheme Urban, one of a host of receivers in the mix for the team’s No. 3 WR job. Urban was limping around in a walking boot late in May, and some team insiders are wondering whether he might be nursing a stress fracture-type injury. Also on the WR front, we hear that Jamaica Rector, who spent last season on the practice squad, continues to be an intriguing sleeper who has displayed impressive quickness and change-of-direction skills.

Out of Earth City, Mo., we hear that Rams DT Adam Carriker continues to be way ahead of schedule in his recovery from the torn labrum he suffered in the 2007 season finale. At the same time, veterans OLT Orlando Pace and DLE Leonard Little, on the mend from season-ending shoulder and toe injuries, respectively, are proceeding very cautiously and carefully with their rehab efforts.

Sources tell us that although veteran free-agent LB Takeo Spikes remains on the Niners’ radar screen, there is no timetable to make an actual bid for his services. As for veteran OLG Larry Allen, although he hasn’t yet been ruled completely out of the ’08 mix, the odds remain strong that he won’t be back with the Niners.

Our Niners insiders don’t believe WR Arnaz Battle’s temporary hiatus from voluntary OTAs will negatively affect his standing with new Niners offensive coordinator Mike Martz. That said, it does appear that newcomer Bryant Johnson has shown the Niners enough from the get-go to jump right ahead of Battle into the No. 2 WR role. Regardless of whether Johnson deserves to be instantly proclaimed the No. 2 receiver, our sources believe the Niners might have erred in declaring him the starter so quickly before he really proved himself — a decision that clearly didn’t sit well with Battle, who has been a loyal and often productive player.

Although we’re told there is indeed some sentiment within Seahawks headquarters to redo the contract of disgruntled WR Bobby Engram, who continues to be conspicuous by his absence from team activities, we hear GM Tim Ruskell remains hesitant to accommodate Engram for fear of opening up a Pandora’s box with other players who are potentially unhappy about their contract situations. In the court of public opinion, meanwhile, team insiders seem to think the team’s fan base is pretty much split down the middle on the subject of Engram.

Our daily Bears observers tell us veteran John Tait, the starting left tackle last season, has looked right at home at right tackle, his new position in the starting lineup. At left tackle, top draft pick Chris Williams has yet to claim the starter’s role from John St. Clair, but our sources fully expect Williams to be the starting left tackle by the end of training camp. In the early going at left guard, veteran Terrence Metcalf has been handling the starting role, while Josh Beekman, another supposed top candidate for the job, has seen action mostly as the backup center so far this offseason, behind Olin Kreutz.

We hear the Packers’ Allen Barbre, who has been sharing the starting OLG job with incumbent Darryn Colledge, is certainly passing the eyeball test these days. Team insiders tell us that Barbre has added 16 pounds of muscle mass after participating in the team’s offseason workout program, which began in mid-March and ended in early May.

Panthers QB Jake Delhomme continues to draw rave reviews from observers in Carolina as he returns from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. WR Steve Smith recently told reporters it seems like Delhomme has a stronger arm than before he sustained an injury to his right elbow in Week Three last season.

One of the biggest surprises of the Falcons’ offseason has been the emergence of CB Brent Grimes as a leader in the race to replace departed CB DeAngelo Hall. Grimes, who appeared in two games in his first NFL season last year, is slightly undersized at 5-foot-10, but he’s extremely athletic and doesn’t play little, as head coach Mike Smith put it. Chevis Jackson and Von Hutchins are still in the running for a starting spot, but they are most likely headed for duty as nickel and dime corners, barring injury.

Jeff Garcia didn’t help his cause this week as he jockeys for a new contract from the Buccaneers. Garcia mentioned he might have to do something drastic if the team didn’t meet his demand for a new deal, which was perceived as a hint at retirement before the 2008 season. Later, the quarterback said he meant he would retire after the ’08 season. Of course, he’s not under contract after ’08, so if the Bucs don’t offer him a new deal and he plays out this season, they come away unscathed. His attempt at gaining leverage was executed very poorly, and it didn’t bring the two sides any closer to reaching an agreement.

We hear veteran Mark Brunell looks firmly entrenched as the Saints’ backup quarterback and the apparent No. 3, Tyler Palko — who spent last season on the practice squad — is still getting accustomed to the pro level and the team’s offense. Brunell has been a quick study, and his experience gives him an edge on Palko. The signalcallers are about the same size, and both are left-handed and have similar styles, relying on accuracy rather than great arm strength.

Bengals FS Marvin White has liked what he’s seen from rookie WRs Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson to date. “They’ve been really impressive,” White told PFW. “As far as Andre Caldwell goes, he comes from a passing offense. Jerome, he has big hands. I think he likes making spectacular catches.”

The way we hear it, the Bengals like the versatility of ex-Cardinals OLB Darryl Blackstock, who will compete for playing time in a new-look Bengals defense.

Second-year TE Matt Spaeth has impressed in the Steelers’ offseason workouts, the way we hear it. Spaeth is likely to get considerable playing time in the team’s two-TE sets.

A source close to the Steelers notes that Darnell Stapleton has a good shot at being one of the club’s backup centers. Sean Mahan and Justin Hartwig are the top competitors at the position, but it is possible that one of those players could also be in the mix at left guard, where Chris Kemoeatu rates an edge to replace Alan Faneca but will be pushed for the job.

Suddenly, the right side of the Patriots’ offensive line is shrouded in uncertainty. In addition to ORT Nick Kaczur’s ongoing legal situation regarding his involvement in a drug sting, ORG Steve Neal is a question mark given his recent absence at practice. Word we’re hearing is that the knee injury he suffered in the Super Bowl is more severe than initially believed.

Our moles in Miami have said that the surprisingly good QB play of both John Beck and Josh McCown this offseason is the biggest reason why the offense appears a step ahead of the defense. Additionally, we hear that the offense would be even further along if the receivers would catch the ball more consistently.

With the headache that Chris Baker’s ongoing contract squabble with Jets management is creating, it can be easy to overlook the strides that rookie TE Dustin Keller is making. Although everything that transpires in minicamp should be kept in perspective, it’s clear that Keller won’t be used as a traditional tight end. “I am lining up in different places, running all kinds of different routes, whether it is a short option or a deep down-the-seam route,” Keller said. “There are different options, and I think a lot of my strengths fit this offense.”

Whether it’s the incompetence of his players or perhaps his unrealistically high standards, new Bills offensive coordinator Turk Schonert has been agitated about the offense’s slow development. Particularly troublesome has been the players’ inability to master their basic pre-snap assignments.

Keep an eye on the health of the Texans’ guards. Guard was expected to be a position of strength this season, but OLG Chester Pitts has been bothered by a shoulder injury, while reserve OGs Charles Spencer and Fred Weary are coming off a career-threatening knee injury and a fractured tibia, respectively.

Texans CB Fred Bennett offered this early report on rookie CB Antwaun Molden: “He’s doing real well,” Bennett told PFW. “I think we found a good player.” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak recently said Molden, a third-round pick from Eastern Kentucky, is “further ahead” than Bennett — who started eight games as a rookie — was a year ago because of all the practice work Molden has been getting.

By trading FB Luke Lawton to the Eagles for a conditional 2009 draft pick Friday, the Colts sent a message that they’re reverting to their core spread-offense principles. The Colts experimented with Lawton as a traditional fullback in ’07, but it’s readily apparent that the team will employ two tight ends instead of a fullback when they want to power the football in ’08.

The announcement of RB Darren McFadden’s signing on Friday gives the Raiders more flexibility in their ongoing negotiations about what to do with RB LaMont Jordan, sources say. There was a sense that Oakland needed to hold on to Jordan until a contract with McFadden was in place, ending the threat of a lengthy holdout. Now that the deal is done, the Raiders can move to trade or release Jordan now, with a backfield of McFadden, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush in place. Head coach Lane Kiffin has held Jordan out of practices at minicamp while Oakland pursues trade offers for him.

http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW...pers060708.htm

Last edited by lamberts-lost-tooth; 06-08-2008 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 06-08-2008, 07:03 AM   #2
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

Good to hear that Spaeth is doing good maybe we can have a great one two punch at tightend this year.
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Old 06-08-2008, 07:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

Spaeth was impressive early in the season last year. I think Ben was enjoying what he brought to the offense. Didn't he get injured early on?
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Old 06-08-2008, 07:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

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Spaeth was impressive early in the season last year. I think Ben was enjoying what he brought to the offense. Didn't he get injured early on?
Wasn't it more Tuman that got injured that caused Spaeth to have to stay in and block more?
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Old 06-08-2008, 08:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

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Wasn't it more Tuman that got injured that caused Spaeth to have to stay in and block more?
You may be right. I know Spaeth started out strong.......then he sort of disappeared from the radar. Tuman had a TD early on, too, didn't he?
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Old 06-08-2008, 10:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

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Wasn't it more Tuman that got injured that caused Spaeth to have to stay in and block more?
You ARE correct sir
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Old 06-08-2008, 11:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

We had so many daggum injuries last year it's hard to remember them all.
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Old 06-08-2008, 12:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

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We had so many daggum injuries last year it's hard to remember them all.

I hear ya, maybe Tomlin won't have to be such a hard ass in camp this year. Hopefully cut back on some of the 2-a-days. Maybe that will help alleviate some of the injuries.
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Old 06-08-2008, 02:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

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We had so many daggum injuries last year it's hard to remember them all.
That's for sure. Here's to a healthier year!
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Old 06-08-2008, 03:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Pro Football Whispers June 7, 2008

well he is cutting some time off the pratices alrdy by cutting like an 45 to hr off of sp teams... hopefully tomlin learned from last yr that u don't need to go strong thru out all of pre-season
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