NFL Week 4: Pre-game notes

Heading into Week 4 of the NFL season, a number of teams realize that changes are needed. offers up some late-breaking items that will impact Sunday's games, including the 49ers' hope that quarterback Tim Rattay sticks a little better with the plays called from the sideline.


Not only is linebacker Jamie Winborn on the trading, block but the coaching staff isn't exactly pleased with quarterback Tim Rattay. Rattay called a ton of audibles during last week's disappointing 34-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and that privately incensed the team's coaches. Those close to the situation say Rattay was trying to act like he was Peyton Manning out there, calling audibles at the line in several situations that resulted in unsuccessful plays. The Niners are looking for their quarterback to have a little bit more "trust" in the game plan and stick with the play that's called more often.

Arizona Cardinals

Things have gotten so bad for their offensive line that former DE Fred Wakefield, who was moved to the offensive line in training camp, will replace starting RT Oliver Ross this week in the lineup. Ross had hand surgery this week. Journeyman offensive lineman Adam Haayer is starting at right guard.

Baltimore Ravens

The coaching staff will get first-round pick WR Mark Clayton more playing time in this week's game against the New York Jets. Clayton will split playing time with second-year WR Clarence Moore, whose playing has been slipping of late.

Houston Texans

You'll notice two distinct changes on defense for the Texans when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals. Being replaced at cornerback is the struggling Phillip Buchanon who played poorly in his two starts this season. Nickel back Demarcus Faggins will replace him. The coaching staff is hoping that Buchanon will be motivated to practice and play better after the move. The other move is at outside linebacker, where Jason Babin, who has struggled in coverage and with missed tackles, will be benched. Babin is also banged up and might not play in the game. Replacing him will be either Charlie Anderson or Shantee Orr.

Minnesota Vikings

While many have speculated that head coach Mike Tice is actually calling the plays, that's not actually the case according to a league source. Offensive coordinator Steve Loney, who moved up to the booth a few weeks ago, sends Tice the play and Tice relays it in to QB Daunte Culpepper's helmet. Tice does have the ability to change the play if he wants.

New England Patriots

With the team down to three healthy safeties at the present time, it's possible that rookie S Ray Ventrone is signed from the practice squad over the next few weeks. He had a solid training camp and we're told he's in the team's plans for the future despite being signed as an undrafted free agent.

New York Jets

Many fans have been clamoring for the team to trade for Tennessee QB Billy Volek. But, according to an NFL source, that's unlikely to happen for two reasons. The Jets don't have the cap space to take on Volek's salary and the Titans don't want to deal him because they want Volek to replace QB Steve McNair when he's done playing.

New Orleans Saints

The coaching staff plans to start rotating their linebackers because of continued spotty play by the starters. Look for veteran MLB Ronald McKinnon to replace starting MLB Courtney Watson more than usual. On the strong side, T.J. Slaughter will see increased playing time in back of starter Sedrick Hodge. On the weak side, James Allen will see an increase in playing time in back of starter Colby Bockwaldt. The Saints' linebackers are known as one of the worst groups of tacklers at their position in the league.

San Diego Chargers

Look for rookie LB Shawne Merriman to see increased playing time going forward. Merriman has put a preseason knee injury behind him and will come in on pass-rush situations.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The coaching staff attributes their improvement on defenses to more than one player. The return of good health of DT Anthony McFarland and MLB Shelton Quarles has been a big key in the improvement against the run as has been the addition of former Minnesota DT Chris Hovan.

Tennessee Titans

Look for rookie WR Brandon Jones to make his first NFL start Sunday against the Colts. Jones has outplayed incumbent starter Tyrone Calico and the coaching staff plans to reward Jones with his fine play so far.

Washington Redskins

Look for WLB LeVar Arrington to continue to come off the bench. Arrington still doesn't have his explosion back coming back last year's knee problems.

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