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papz 06-03-2005 07:51 PM

Around the league... Saints stuff in there too.
Around the league

There have been rave reviews coming from New Orleans about Saints first-round pick Jammal Brown, a right tackle who is already penciled in as the starter. Brown will upgrade the running game, something coach Jim Haslett wants to do this season. While Brown has been getting all the attention, second-round pick Josh Bullucks has also impressed the Saints staff. There is a chance he could be the opening-day starter at strong safety. The Saints re-signed Jay Bellamy to play there, but while Bellamy is a smart, heady player, he doesn't have great range. Bullucks has already displayed his ability to get to the football. He also can tackle. With free agent Dwight Smith already added to the roster, Saints coaches believe their safety play will be a major upgrade over last season. Cornerbacks Fakhir Brown and Mike McKenzie give New Orleans two quality man cover players, something the Saints plan to do more of in 2006.

Brown wants a new contract and has missed offseason workouts because of that, but the Saints have told him they have other contract priorities. Among them are getting running back Deuce McAllister and center LeCharles Bentley signed to long-term extensions. Brown was told by the team to be patient, and if he plays well early this season he could be in line for a new deal come November or December -- provided the Saints have addressed their other contract concerns. The Saints also brought in veteran receiver Az-Zahir Hakim this week for a visit as they continue to try and upgrade their receiving group. Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth are the starters and the team likes what it has seen so far from 2004 second-round pick Devery Henderson, but the staff is concerned about potential injury problems to those three. Henderson has the speed to become a big-play threat, but he didn't play at all last season as he spent the season watching and learning.

Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson has been one of the more underrated players in the league the past couple of seasons. Wilson has been inconsistent at times in his short career, but he had a big season in 2004. Cardinals coaches feel that the addition of veteran Robert Griffith should help make Wilson even better. Wilson has the athleticism, but Griffith should help him with his pursuit angles and in reading coverage better. Keep a close eye on Wilson. He should be a Pro Bowl player this season.

Former Seahawks receiver Koren Robinson is either a really dumb guy or a really sick man. Robinson, who has been in and out of trouble in Seattle, was recently arrested for driving under the influence. That's bad for any player, but for a player like Robinson, who has had so many problems, it's even worse. Robinson was on a short leash before this latest incident, and the Seahawks let him go Thursday because of his latest misstep. That had to be tough since Robinson was a top 10 pick four years ago. In discussing Robinson, I can't help but remember a story told to me by San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan McCardell. When he was with the Jaguars, he and Jimmy Smith went to talk with Robinson on the field before a game against Seattle. Robinson, then a rookie, acted like he was too good to hear any advice. If you're a rookie and you think help from veterans like McCardell and Smith isn't helpful, then you have issues. Now we know Robinson has plenty of them. Despite his troubles, you can bet some team will take a chance on him. There's too much talent there, even if he does drop too many passes.

The Colts released tight end Marcus Pollard for cap reasons, and he then signed with the Detroit Lions. When Pollard left, there was a big belief the Colts would suffer at the tight end position. That is far from the truth. With starter Dallas Clark emerging last season, the Colts have a top-notch pass catcher. But he is not alone. The Colts are excited about their other three tight ends as well. Second-year players Ben Hartsock, Ben Utecht and Bryan Fletcher have been impressive in the team's on-field work so far. Hartsock was a third-round pick that saw action last season, while the others were free-agent rookies who did not. All three have displayed catching ability, which is a must in the Colts system. Quarterback Peyton Manning and offensive coordinator Tom Moore love to throw to the tight end, so this is an important position for the Colts in terms of creating mismatches on early downs. With Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley, the Colts should again have a high-flying offense.

By the way, don't expect Colts coach Tony Dungy to go easy on Mike Doss after his arrest last week for firing a gun in public. Dungy is the one coach who doesn't tolerate that kind of thing. Doss is a starter for the team, but he isn't a great player and he is a liability in coverage who doesn't always play the right defense. Making an example out of him might not be out of the question.

If a team is looking for a quality defensive tackle, they should strongly consider Southern California's Manuel Wright in the coming supplemental draft. Wright, who made himself available for the draft because of academic concerns, is a big-time player. Some scouts are worried he wasn't as productive as he should have been at USC, but he played behind some good players, such as Eagles first-round pick Mike Patterson. Wright was a big-time recruit coming out of Long Beach Poly, but he had to go to junior college before enrolling at USC. He eventually worked his way in as a starter last season when Shaun Cody, a second-round pick this year, moved to end. Wright had a big sack against Cal late and he played well in the Orange Bowl. At 6-feet-6, 310 pounds, he is worth a second-round pick in the supplemental draft. Any team doing so would forfeit their second-round pick in next April's regular draft. He's worth the risk, although he has to get into a situation where the coach stays on him a bit.

Former first-round pick Akili Smith was hoping a stint playing in NFL Europe would jump-start his career as a quarterback. It can't help that he was benched. Smith, who was allocated to the overseas league by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lost his job to Kevin Eakin, who was allocated by the Jets. Eakin, a second-year player from Fordham, has been a pleasant surprise in Europe, even though his team isn't playing in the World Bowl. The two teams who will be are Berlin and Amsterdam, in case anybody is wondering.

Big props to Ravens coach Brian Billick for hosting a strategy session with his local media last week. Coordinators Jim Fassel and Rex Ryan showed diagrams of their systems and explained it to the media. That might seem odd in an era of paranoid coaches, but Billick's rationale is right. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing anyway. That's why Billick gets it. He may take a lot of grief around the league from the media because of his perceived arrogance, but I'll take his kind any day over the legions of closed-in coaches from the Bill Parcells tree.
David Boston and Ricky Williams might possibly be in the same locker room this fall. Does it get any weirder than that duo? Good luck, Nick Saban.

Taken from

papz 06-03-2005 07:55 PM

RE: Around the league... Saints stuff in there too.
Wow if that is how bad of an ego Koren Robinson has, then I wouldn't even bring the guy in for a visit period... not even at the league's minimum. The idea of considering Wright isn't so bad after all. I had my doubts about him at first but he's been getting some good reviews. And if our DT situation does not get better... Sullivan of course, then I would take a chance on a 6'6 310 pounder. From a physical stand point, he looks the part and coming from USC... he definately has to have some talent.

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