Training camp notes around the NFL

A surprise receiver in Dallas? A rookie playmaker in Carolina? Trade winds in Cleveland? A new starting linebacker in Kansas City? Training camp is definitely in full swing and we look at these rumblings and more in our tour through the NFL.

NFC

Arizona Cardinals

First-round pick CB Antrel Rolle has already moved up to the first-team defense and has shown improvement with his footwork and technique in camp. Rolle struggled a bit during their minicamp, playing in man-off coverage but he has also improved in that area in recent practices.

Carolina Panthers

Even when SLB Brandon Short (foot) comes back from injury, don't look for rookie Thomas Davis to give up the starting job there unless he struggles mightily. The team believes Davis is a playmaker who needs to be on the field as much as possible.

Chicago Bears

While third-year WR Justin Gage has the edge on the No.2 job, he hasn't had a very impressive camp. According to a league source, look for second-year WR Bernard Berrian to continue to push him and eventually take that job. Berrian is a better complement to No. 1 WR Muhsin Muhammad because of his ability to stretch the defense.

Detroit Lions

Second-year RT Kelly Butler got mixed reviews after his first start last week against the Jets. With that said, you could see backup OL Kyle Kosier get more playing time there as the weeks progress leading up to the season. Kosier has more starting experience there and is a good fallback should Butler not be able to handle the job.

Dallas Cowboys

One of the biggest surprises of camp has to be the play of backup WR Patrick Crayton. It was believed earlier this year that Crayton wasn't a lock to make the roster. As it has turned out, he's winning the No. 3 job over Quincy Morgan. Crayton runs good routes and has good hands and has gained the trust of head coach Bill Parcells.

Green Bay Packers

According to a league source, the team had had casual conversations with the Eagles about WR Robert Ferguson but it's unlikely he would be dealt at this point for a few reasons. Ferguson has four years left on the extension he signed a few years ago. His salary almost triples in 2006 ($1.4 million) which is way too much to pay a projected backup. Throw in the knee injury to rookie WR Terrence Murphy, which could keep him out until the early portion of the regular season and there's little chance Ferguson will get dealt at this point.

Minnesota Vikings

Unless he gets a lot more practice time in next week, starting C Matt Birk (hip) might not play in their third preseason game. Birk started doing limited work in practice recently but isn't at full speed yet. Backup C Cory Withrow is his capable replacement.

Philadelphia Eagles

Look for the team to acquire a veteran receiver before the final roster is set before the season starts. The team always is looking for speed so look for them to show interest in Cleveland WR Andre' Davis, who is on the trade block. The Eagles had already talked to the Packers about WR Robert Ferguson.

Washington Redskins

Quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave is working with QB Patrick Ramsey on his footwork. Ramsey, at times, won't get his feet set and his passes will sail as the one last week that Carolina CB Chris Gamble picked off showed.

AFC

Baltimore Ravens

What's interesting about the one-year contract that OLB Peter Boulware signed is it's about half the value that the team offered him when they tried to restructure his deal before he was released earlier this year.

It's believed the team offered him a salary of $2 million and up to $2 million in incentives, which he turned down. The deal that he was offered and signed this time around is believed to be $1 million with up to $1 million in incentives.

Cleveland Browns

It's a pretty good bet that the team will wind up trading WR Andre' Davis. When a team gives a player permission to seek a trade, that player is almost always released or traded. There should be plenty of interest in the speedy fourth-year player who is in the final year of his rookie deal ($481,250 in base salary). While some teams might want him to sign an extension, there will be some teams that will be willing to accept his low salary for this season and look at him as a one-season tryout so to speak. If he performs well, they could attempt to sign him to a new deal before the season ends. If he doesn't do well, they would just decide not to re-sign him. It's believed teams will be looking to deal the Browns a second-day conditional selection based on playing time.

Houston Texans

In no big surprise, starting LT Seth Wand lost his starting job to veteran OT Victor Riley. Keep in mind the team tried to secure St. Louis LT Orlando Pace earlier this season. Wand will back up at guard and tackle.

Kansas City Chiefs

There should be a decision on what the team will do with veteran MLB Mike Maslowski (knee) next week. According to a league source, as of now, the team is going in to the season with the plan that Kawika Mitchell will be the starter at that position.

Oakland Raiders

According to a league source, ILB Jay Foreman is slated to be a backup for his new team this season. Career backup LB Tim Johnson seems to be firmly secure in the starting job next to Danny Clark. Foreman was a starter for the Texans for three seasons but hasn't come close to winning the starting job with the Raiders.


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