NFL Huskies preparing for 2005 season

John Clayton is an encyclopedia of NFL knowledge and was able to talk with the Seattle-based ESPN football analyst and KJR-950 radio personality about some former Washington Huskies, what they are up to and where their careers stand with their respective teams.

Rick Neuheisel (Baltimore Ravens): "So far, so good. He's being groomed to be an offensive coordinator. (Ravens offensive coordinator) Jim Fassel is doing the coordination. (Neuheisel) is going to work with the quarterbacks. As time goes on - unless he gets a college job - he'll end up probably replacing Fassel, because Fassel figures to get a coaching job.

"So far it's going pretty well. He's keeping real quiet, not making much noise, which you kind of expected that. I know that (Ravens GM) Ozzie Newsome said he's a bright guy and shows a lot of good things and is getting re-adapted into NFL things. So far, so good. No major problems."

Roc Alexander (Denver Broncos): "With CB Lenny Walls getting hurt he had to play. That was something that in some ways made it a little bit tough. (Alexander) got picked on pretty hard and probably wasn't completely ready for it.

"Now he's going to face a real tough battle, because (Denver) took three defensive backs (in the NFL Draft) and all three can play corner. That might make it tough to make the roster.

"He showed he's tougher than they thought and that he has some good coverage skills. At least he showed he could play, but at times he was a little bit raw. He made the team so he has the chance to do it again this year."

Mark Brunell (Washington Redskins): "At this stage, he's the backup. I don't know how much confidence (Redskins head coach Joe) Gibbs has in QB Patrick Ramsey, so it's not out of the question for him to win back the starting job. That is one of the most underrated things. Ramsey is penciled in as the starter, but Gibbs hasn't signed off on how good Ramsey is. Obviously, they took (former Auburn QB) Jason Campbell and he goes in as the third quarterback.

"Brunell just struggled last year. When you complete only 50% of your passes, that's not good when you consider they have only possession receivers. He took a pay cut last year. He still has the chance to come out of training camp as the starter."

Rich Alexis (Jacksonville Jaguars): "Not too much. It's been pretty quiet in his case."

Chris Chandler (Free Agent): "I saw him at a golf tournament. He's almost in that retirement mode. If Seattle called, he would definitely look at that. For the most part, he is working on his golf game and spending time with his family, but if the right situation were to come along (he just bought a house in southern California) in the right area he would probably take a look at it. At this stage, he hasn't put in his retirement papers yet, but that's definitely on his mind."

Corey Dillon (New England Patriots): "He's great. He couldn't be happier. One of the thrills last year was getting a big hug from him in the Super Bowl, (seeing) how happy he was.

"He found the right situation and he's matured immensely. He's the guy who can carry the offense. He changed the whole dynamic of that team offensively, because he was able to run the ball so well. They never really relied on more than 16 carries a game. He gave them a different dimension."

Brock Huard (Free Agent): "Nothing going on. Seattle's not going to re-sign him. He's just sitting out there with guys like Kordell Stewart. There are a lot of guys out there with more playing time that aren't getting a chance. So I think it will be harder for him to get a chance."

Damon Huard (Kansas City Chiefs): "He's still in Kansas City, he's not the backup, but they have him working behind QB Todd Collins. They really like experienced veteran quarterbacks. With how smart he is, he still has a spot in the league."

Terry Johnson (Chicago Bears): "(The Bears) like him. They think their future at defensive tackle will be Tommie Harris and Tank. They like them both. Tommie came on at the end of the season and Tank did some good things.

"They think that the way (Bears head coach) Lovie (Smith) likes that defensive line, in one year they solved a lot of problems. They've got Tank, they've got Tommie Harris, and they've got (DE Adewale) Ogunleye and Alex Brown on the other side. They think that is the big turn from a big defensive line to a quicker defensive line."

Olin Kreutz (Chicago): "He's still one of the best centers in the league. He's starting to get to that stage in his career where he's fighting some injuries. He still goes to Pro Bowls. Like (New York Jets) C Kevin Mawae in the AFC, he's the equivalent over in the NFC.

"The only problem is there has been so much change around him along the line. They had a real good interior a couple years ago when they had Rex Tucker and Mike Gandy. They were one of the better ones. Overall he is still the anchor inside that offensive line."

Dane Looker (St. Louis Rams): "He just got a $300,000 signing bonus. He is becoming a lot like (former Rams and current Carolina Panthers') Ricky Proehl. They love him down there with the Rams.

"He's probably only the fourth or fifth wide receiver and that won't change because Kevin Curtis is coming on as the third wide receiver. (Looker) is valuable on special teams and he does some things in the passing offense. He's found a team that likes him and he's accepted his role and now they've rewarded him for it."

Omare Lowe (Seattle Seahawks): "Probably won't make the team. Maybe as a special teams player, but that's about it."

Lawyer Milloy (Buffalo Bills): "Starting to slip a little bit. But still, (Buffalo) finished 9-7…this is a big year for both him and this defense, because they have some age on it right now. He's still not the greatest cover guy, but when needed he can make some hits and help out against the run."

Benji Olson (Tennessee Titans): "Still really solid. He's one of the more powerful, strong guards. He survived the cut. (The Titans) had to release eight guys for cap reasons including Fred Miller at tackle and that was because (Titan General Manager) Floyd Reese really likes how strong (Olson) is.

"He's one of those guys who won't make the Pro Bowl because they are not going to be very good as a team. If he gets the right accolades he could slip into the Pro Bowl at guard. Not bad for a seventh rounder who was too big coming into the league and had a bad back."

Tony Parrish (San Francisco 49ers): "He's one of the better players they have on defense. He's still a good hitter with good range. He's just a real good player and it's just unfortunate he isn't on a very good team right now. He has great leadership abilities and came over from Chicago and took the leadership of (the 49ers) young defense."

Jerome Pathon (Seattle): "He's competing against Joe Jurevicius for the open split end position. He still has some speed. Obviously, with Koren (Robinson) gone it opens up a chance for him to start. He was waiting to get back up (to Seattle) so finally when it happened he jumped at it and you can see that it's turned out well for him."

Cody Pickett (San Francisco): "What he has to hope is that they will keep four quarterbacks on the roster. I know from talking to (49ers head coach) Mike Nolan, he has liked how (Pickett) has picked things up and some of the things he can do, but it will be pretty hard for him to be any better than third with the team taking QB Alex Smith and grooming him to be the starter."

Jerramy Stevens (Seattle): "He's a first round pick. At what point do you start him? At this stage he had the opportunity last year with (TE Itula) Mili being banged up. He had a great offseason, a great camp and then didn't do much during the season. Now sure, he's having another good offseason, but he's got to step up.

"It wasn't a sign of doom, but how important is this season with the team giving Mili a four-year contract? Now obviously some opportunities will be there for him because Mili showed up at 290 pounds. Stevens is in good shape, but at some point he's just got to play."

Larry Tripplett (Indianapolis Colts): "They like him but he hasn't become the big impact player. DT Josh Williams seems to be more of the impact player. It's kind of funny, because I thought that Tripplett was going to be more of the three-technique guy, but he's playing the nose (tackle spot).

"It's an important year for him because a lot of defensive guys don't get a second contract because of Indy's cap situation. He's really playing for the big contract."

Marques Tuiasosopo (Oakland Raiders): "I just don't see much happening. He's still the backup, but they took Andrew Walter out of ASU (in the draft). (Walter) fits better in (Raiders head coach) Norv Turner's offense.

"(Tuiasosopo) is the victim of being in his third system. (Current Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach John) Gruden took him and (former Raiders head coach Bill) Callahan liked him also as a west coast offense-type of quarterback. Unfortunately, they don't run the west coast offense anymore. It's more of a vertical offense and that's not Tui's game.

"He's going to have to play out his contract (which ends this year) and go somewhere else."

Reggie Williams (Jacksonville): "He's in better shape and his body fat is down. He's running a little bit better. What did he have, like 27 receptions? He looked like he struggled running. I don't know why. It was really weird. It looked like his gait was off. He also seemed to struggle catching the ball.

"He was also victimized because most underclassmen struggle like that their first year. He happened to be in one of the best wide receiver classes you could imagine. He was a little bit of a disappointment, but that's not a big surprise for the first year. However, he has to come on better this year or else he will be a big disappointment."

Clayton also took time to address the problems that players face when their school is on the quarter system and their transition to the NFL. The University of Washington is on the quarter system.

"It has a big effect," he said. "I think it's one of the reasons a lot of the Pac 10 players struggle so much. They literally are conceding two month of training to everyone else."

The rule, one the NCAA put in place several years ago, is that players can only attend team run workouts at the team's facility during the week following the NFL Draft. After that, they must wait until their class graduates, which is usually in the middle of June.

"I'm surprised more teams don't downgrade their players as a rookie because of that," Clayton added. "I think it costs them their entire rookie year."

Compounding the problem is the fact teams are training year-round making training camps less intense.

"Training camps are lighter now," Clayton acknowledged. "There's less work done in the training camps and less time spent in the training camps. Most of the work is done now during the two month period they're missing.

"It just holds a player back." Top Stories