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Whispers from around the NFL

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; • Sources in Charlotte, N.C., tell us that there might already be tension between diva wide receivers Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson. We hear Smith said the two talented talkers are going to "agree to disagree." They are two larger-than-life ...

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Old 05-12-2006, 11:58 AM   #1
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Whispers from around the NFL

• Sources in Charlotte, N.C., tell us that there might already be tension between diva wide receivers Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson. We hear Smith said the two talented talkers are going to "agree to disagree." They are two larger-than-life personalities who can coexist on the field, but don't expect them to be good buddies off it.

Priest Holmes
Running Back
Kansas City Chiefs

Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
119 451 6 21 197 1

• At press time, Chiefs running back Priest Holmes had yet to take the necessary steps to gain medical clearance to play following the head and neck trauma that cut short his 2005 season at the midway point. Holmes is said to be taking his time with the decision to address his situation and will not attend the team's mini-camp in mid-May.

• Even with Chris Brown, Travis Henry and draft pick LenDale White on board, don't be surprised if the Titans add another running back in the next two months. The team would like a third-down, scatback type who can catch passes and handle blitz pickup.

• The Bears believe cornerback Ricky Manning Jr., who signed a five-year deal that includes around $7 million in bonus money this year, will be cleared of wrongdoing in the incident that led to charges of assault with a deadly weapon last month. Manning was a restricted free agent who was signed to be Chicago's nickel cornerback.

• The Seahawks really like what they've seen so far of wide receiver Nate Burleson. Said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck of the Seattle-area native who was signed as a restricted free agent from the Vikings: "He's a really good kid. He's been in there [for workouts and conditioning] every day at 7:30 in the morning, buying into our program."

• The Eagles were impressed enough with Todd Herremans' four starts at left tackle last season to swing a draft weekend trade of Artis Hicks and pencil in Herremans at Hicks' former left guard spot as a starter. The club loves Herremans' smarts and athletic ability and doesn't worry about him being one of the tallest guards in the league at 6-foot-6.

• The Jaguars never were serious contenders for outside linebacker LaVar Arrington. Though head coach Jack Del Rio pushed for the signing, management was unwilling to meet Arrington's asking price, based on the team's payroll and Arrington's past knee problems.

• Word out of Denver is that David Terrell, a disappointment to this point in his career, will move up to the No. 3 wide receiver job in Denver if Ashley Lelie's trade demands are met, as expected. Terrell showed up to the offseason workout program in great shape and has shown a better understanding of Denver's complex offense after riding the pine last season.

• The Cowboys have special plans in mind for two of their second-day draft picks. Free safety Pat Watkins, who stands 6-foot-5, will be used occasionally as a red-zone receiver. And receiver/return specialist Skyler Green, who lined up all over the place at LSU and was a high-school quarterback, has been told by Bill Parcells to get his arm ready before reporting to training camp.

• The Giants are excited about the potential of little-known defensive tackle Jonas Seawright, who has added 15-20 pounds of good weight this offseason and, according to Tom Coughlin, has been "virtually unblockable." Seawright could vie to start at either one of the defensive tackle positions.

• It was last June 1 that Redskins safety Sean Taylor allegedly brandished a firearm, leading to three charges and a simple count of battery, but the court date was delayed again following the replacement of the judge in the case. It's possible that Taylor's case won't be heard until the fall. He could face up to 46 years in prison.

• We hear that veteran free agents wide receiver Ricky Proehl and center Jeff Mitchell would like to return to the Panthers this season. But we're told the two longtime Panthers aren't wanted because the team wants to give playing time to their younger replacements.

• Word out of Atlanta is that unrestricted free-agent kicker Todd Peterson, who converted 23 of 25 field-goal attempts for the Falcons last season, likely won't be back with Jim Mora's squad in 2006. We hear the Falcons, who are close to the league's salary cap, are looking to groom a young kicker and pay him the rookie minimum instead of re-signing the higher-priced veteran.

Dwight Smith
New Orleans Saints

Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
73 63 10 2 1 2

• After losing out on cornerback Charles Woodson in free agency -- he signed with Green Bay -- we hear the Buccaneers have turned their attention to Saints free safety Dwight Smith to add depth to their thin crop of safeties. Smith left Tampa Bay before last season to sign a free-agent deal with the Saints, where he started 16 games. Smith's brash confidence and swagger haven't meshed well with the new coaching staff, and our sources confirm that he is on the trading block. The addition of free safety Roman Harper in the draft and free safety Bryan Scott in a trade with Atlanta has created a logjam at the position in New Orleans, meaning at least two veterans need to be let go.

• Word out of Tampa, Fla., is backup quarterback Luke McCown has really responded to quarterback coach Paul Hackett and that McCown has created even more distance between himself and No. 3 quarterback Tim Rattay. We also hear that rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski impressed head coach Jon Gruden with his high completion percentage in college and could challenge Rattay for the No. 3 spot.

• New strength and conditioning coach Mike Morris hasn't endeared himself to the players attending Tampa Bay's offseason workouts. We hear Morris' intense workouts, including having quarterback Chris Simms push the blocking sled, have caused some grumbling from Buccaneers players.

• We're told new Saints quarterback Drew Brees said his recovery from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder is ahead of schedule and that he will be ready when training camp opens in July.

• Our sources in New Orleans think the Saints are taking a big gamble by moving Jammal Brown, a first-round pick last year, from right tackle to left tackle and penciling in Jon Stinchcomb as the starter at right tackle. Stinchcomb missed all of last season with a serious knee injury and has never started in the NFL. Besides drafting tackles Jahri Evans and Zach Strief, the Saints addressed their thin offensive line corps by acquiring center Jeff Faine in a draft weekend trade with the Browns. Faine, a first-round pick in 2003, will replace two-time Pro Bowler LeCharles Bentley as the starter.

• We hear the Bills are afraid that tight end Kevin Everett, who is being counted on as a pass-catching threat in the team's new offense, is one of those guys who might never be healthy. Everett tore a knee ligament in the rookie mini-camp last spring and missed the entire season. A pulled hamstring has sidelined him this offseason and hampered his development.

• Word is Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes is recovering faster than expected from the torn Achilles tendon that shelved him for 13 games last year. There is even a chance that he could be back on the field prior to the opening of training camp.

• The Jets' new brain trust proved in the draft that character is a big issue for them as it concentrated on selecting role players and leaders who aren't necessarily overwhelming athletes. Some of its free-agent acquisitions prior to the draft -- Matt Chatham, Brad Kassell and Anthony Clement -- fit that same mold.

• Somewhat surprisingly, the Jets didn't address the running back position in the draft until selecting undersized Leon Washington with the 117th overall pick. As a result, we hear that 33-year-old Curtis Martin, coming off late-season knee surgery, will enter training camp atop the running back depth chart.

• Word is the Patriots believe they selected a seventh-round steal in Baylor cornerback Willie Andrews, who played out of position as a senior and flew under the radar of many teams. His biggest contribution, at least initially, could come on special teams.

• The Lions are unsure when defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson will make a final decision on his retirement plans, but the coaching staff expects him to delay quitting football for another year. Wilkinson is the only true nose tackle on the roster and won't be easy to replace if he has a change of heart in the coming months. Detroit passed on nose tackle Haloti Ngata, drafted 13th by Baltimore, with the expectation that the position was less of a need than linebacker.

• We're told by sources in Detroit not to be surprised if cornerback Fernando Bryant isn't a starter out of the gate. Bryant was slowed by injuries in two straight seasons with Detroit and will have to fight off three youngsters -- Keith Smith, Stanley Wilson and Dee McCann -- for the left corner job.

Ahman Green
Running Back
Green Bay Packers

Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
77 255 0 19 147 0

• The Packers believe running back Ahman Green, who signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal to return this season, remains ahead of schedule in his rehab from a torn quadriceps suffered Oct. 23 at Minnesota. Green has been working out vigorously, but the Packers don't want him doing "field work" for at least another month. Najeh Davenport, recovering from a broken ankle, has encountered a few hurdles in his rehab and isn't a sure thing for the beginning of training camp.

• The Packers are concerned about their depth at defensive end, where second-year right end Michael Montgomery is the top reserve, and will look at any veterans who may come available after June 1.

• Minnesota expects an intense training-camp battle to develop at multiple positions. Right offensive tackle Marcus Johnson knows the spot is his to lose, with veteran Mike Rosenthal trying to reclaim the post. There are some who believe strong-side linebacker Napoleon Harris can win a starting job after serving as mostly a backup in 2005, when his knees were apparently a bigger issue than he let on publicly.

• The Chiefs might have surprised some people by not taking a cornerback in the draft until Marcus Maxey in the fifth round, but it's worth noting that free agent Ty Law remains in the Chiefs' sights. The two sides are still a ways apart in regard to money, and the Titans and Seahawks are competing for Law's services as well, but Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson appears more interested in Law now than he did in the early stages of free agency. Former Bronco Lenny Walls and Julian Battle, among others, will square off for the cornerback job opposite Patrick Surtain if Law signs elsewhere.

• Sources in Denver say the Broncos believe they got a steal in seventh-rounder Greg Eslinger out of Minnesota, who could be the eventual replacement for longtime center Tom Nalen and fits the system perfectly with his smarts and agility.

• After the Broncos showed interest in Jamal Lewis in free agency and admitted they would've taken Minnesota running back Laurence Maroney with the 15th pick had they not traded up to get quarterback Jay Cutler, it came as a mild surprise that the Broncos didn't add a runner in the draft. But the team likes the potential of Cedric Cobbs, who sits behind Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne on the depth chart, and Denver, with more weapons in the passing game, will likely open up the offense a bit more under new assistant head coach Mike Heimerdinger. Look for more three-wide receiver sets to be worked into the system.

• Quarterback Jake Plummer on the Broncos' decision to trade up to select Vanderbilt's Cutler with the 11th pick: "I talked with Mike [Shanahan], and I think I would have made the same pick. Especially with this organization, when are you going to get a chance to pick that high again? Hopefully not in a long, long time. So when you have a chance to get a guy like that, you've got to jump on that."

• With Robert Gallery moving to left tackle, Barry Sims is expected to either be released or moved inside to guard. Elsewhere on the line, Jake Grove will play center exclusively after splitting time at guard and center last year.

• The Raiders' lack of depth at running back is a little disconcerting, considering the expected workload for starter LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas' lackluster showing to this point in his career.

• The Texans have moved left offensive tackle Chester Pitts back to left guard and will give third-year tackle Seth Wand yet another chance at left tackle. A source close to the club believes Wand rates an edge over rookie Charles Spencer, who likely has to slim down to be a factor.

• The Texans made waves by cutting 10 veteran players in the week after the draft. One of the most notable cuts was fullback Moran Norris, who started five games last season. The Texans are looking for more of a pass catcher at the position; Norris has 12 receptions in 62 career games.

• If the Ravens don't sign Titans quarterback Steve McNair -- and they looked to be the team most interested him at press time -- expect Kyle Boller to remain the starting quarterback, since the Ravens don't believe there's another signal-caller on the market who can beat him out.

• The Browns' second-day selection of running back Jerome Harrison is a clear signal Lee Suggs' time in Cleveland is just about over. There's a sense the Browns have tired of Suggs' inability to stay healthy. Look for Suggs to be on the trading block in training camp.

• The Browns' selection of wide receiver Travis Wilson in the third round shouldn't be a surprise, with general manager Phil Savage hinting wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who's recovering from knee surgery, could face an uphill battle to be medically cleared for the start of the season.

• If Bengals right offensive tackle Willie Anderson, a free agent after the '06 season, wants to re-sign with the club, there's a growing sense he will have to take the "hometown discount" to do so, and that's an option he may not want to take, given that he figures to draw interest on the market.

• The way we hear it, the Steelers likely had interest in taking USC running back LenDale White at the end of Round 1 had receiver Santonio Holmes not slid down the draft board. The Steelers traded from No. 32 to No. 25 to secure Holmes, while White was drafted by the Titans in Round 2 (45th overall).

Antrel Rolle
Arizona Cardinals

Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
28 26 2 0 0 1

• Cardinals corner Antrel Rolle missed 11 games last year with an injury to his left knee and recently indicated he might have to undergo arthroscopic surgery because of continued irritation in the knee. Although the former first-round pick said his latest knee problem is "very minor," our sources have their doubts.

• There could be more changes in the Cardinals' front office in the wake of pro personnel staffer Rod Newhouse's recent firing for undisclosed reasons (we hear longtime scout George Boone could also be on thin ice). However, our sources believe vice president of football operations Rod Graves, whose contract expires at the end of the month, remains a strong bet to stick with the team.

• We hear Niners tight end Eric Johnson, who has missed two of the past three seasons with injuries, has gone out of his way to let the Niners know he wants to stay in San Francisco and has backed up his words by being a constant presence in the team's offseason program. If Johnson continues making a strong impression in the Niners' early mini-camps, the word is there's a good chance a two-tight end set featuring him and first-round pick Vernon Davis could be the team's main offensive formation.

• Although the Niners' recent draft received rave reviews from most experts, including PFW's Nolan Nawrocki, team insiders unanimously agree the team did little to shore up its secondary, which remains a major issue at both safety and cornerback. The Niners did select defensive backs Marcus Hudson and Vickiel Vaughn in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively, and considering the shaky state of their defensive backfield, both players figure to get a shot at making an early impact.

• Look for the Rams to scan the waiver wire throughout the summer for a veteran tight end who specializes in blocking to back up rookies Joe Klopfenstein and Dominique Byrd.

• After reportedly showing up for offseason conditioning drills weighing just shy of 350 pounds, Rams second-year left guard Claude Terrell might want to consider a crash diet, with newly acquired Todd Steussie looking over his shoulder.

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