--Former Bills free safety Mark Kelso has rejoined the team as color analyst on their radio network. Kelso replaces Alex Van Pelt, who is jumping from the broadcast booth to the coaching staff as quality control coach. Kelso (1986-1993), an instinctive player who was always around the ball, started on all four of Buffalo's Super Bowl teams and ranks third in team history in interceptions with 30. "I have a passion for Buffalo," said Kelso, who made Buffalo his home after retiring. He has coached high school and college football in the area and is current director of development at St. Mary's High School. "The Bills and other professional teams in Buffalo have a major influence on the perception and morale of the city. I'm excited to become part of that tradition."
--Coach Dick Jauron dipped back into his past to sign RB Anthony Thomas as a potential backup to Willis McGahee. Thomas, a second-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2001 when Jauron was coach, was NFL Rookie of the Year that season. He gained 1,183 yards and helped spark a 13-3 finish. After a second 1,000-yard season in 2003, Thomas' career began to fade due to injuries and coaching changes. He played sparingly for New Orleans last season. In Buffalo, Thomas will need to beat out Shaud Williams and Lionel Gates for Buffalo's No. 2 job.
--T Brad Butler, Buffalo's fifth-round pick out of Virginia, gained some unwanted questions about his temperament when he was suspended for chop-blocking Boston College star DE Mathias Kiwanuka last fall. The Bills hardly viewed the incident as a negative on Butler. "I was actually at the game," said Doug Majeski, the Bills coordinator of college scouting when asked. "He clipped Kiwanuka. They were having a pretty good battle for the game and the school president suspended him. He's a competitor and I like that, personally. But he's not cheap, he's not dirty, he's just going to get after you."
--DT Kyle Williams of LSU, Buffalo's fifth-round pick, carries a single-digit handicap in golf and can drive a golf ball more than 300 yards. Where does he get his power? From his legs. Williams can squat 700 pounds of weight. "My highest at LSU is 705," he said. "You have to have that in order to hold up against 340-pound offensive lineman coming at you."
THEY SAID IT
"Well, for one thing, when you talk about history, that's a long time. Current history isn't the same. The game is evolving to a degree and safeties who can do a couple of things for you continue to be valuable. Without going into all the wideout formations and open sets and all the things defensive coordinators are faced with, safeties have to get into the coverage. They aren't the old walk-down-into-the-box safety. You need coverage ability and he has that. I know what you're saying, but that trend has been broken a bit." -- Bills assistant general manager Tom Modrak responding to the rare selection of a strong safety in the Top 10 (Donte Whitner).
--The Dolphins continue to augment the tackle position, agreeing to terms with free agent Mike Pearson on a one-year contract.
After starting 27 of his first 32 NFL games for Jacksonville, Pearson only appeared in eight games the past two seasons because of knee problems.
A 2002 second-round draft choice, the 27-year-old Pearson is the third tackle the Dolphins have added this off-season. The Dolphins signed L.J. Shelton away from Cleveland to become their new starting left tackle and re-signed Damion McIntosh. Pearson and McIntosh will likely be battling 2005 fifth-round pick Anthony Alabi for a backup spot.
--The Dolphins were unable to complete a trade with Detroit for Joey Harrington but the quarterback is still expected to wind up with the Dolphins. The Lions will have to pay Harrington a bonus of $4 million if he is still on their roster by June 15, which means his release his imminent. Harrington also has scuttled any attempts at a trade elsewhere by saying he will only play for Miami in 2006.
"We'd like to get that done, but we don't control that totally," Saban said. "I think sometimes you have to be a little patient so you don't do something that's foolish relative to what you give up. That's the issue right now that we're trying to deal with. We just have to see what happens."
--Jason Allen is the fifth defensive back taken in the first round in Dolphins history. The other five were CB Jamar Fletcher (2001), CB Troy Vincent (1992), S Louis Oliver (1989) and CB Don McNeal (1980). The only defensive back the Dolphins have selected earlier than Allen was Vincent at No. 7 overall.
--The Dolphins hope they get more yield out of Allen than linebacker Eddie Moore, another Tennessee product who was the first player selected by Miami in the 2003 draft. Moore, a second-round pick, has missed most of his three NFL seasons with injuries.
THEY SAID IT
"I had family all around and everybody asked, 'Do you know where you're going?' My answer was, 'If I knew, I would be there.'" - Jason Allen on what it was like to wait to get selected while attending a draft-day party with 150 friends and family members in his hometown of Muscle Shoals, Ala.
--With the conclusion of the draft, teams turn their attention to the undrafted rookie free agent market. For New England, the group has produced a pair of contributors in recent years in cornerback Randall Gay in 2004 and defensive lineman Mike Wright in 2005. Gay started nine games as a rookie out of LSU, including all three postseason contests on the way to earning a Super Bowl ring. Wright played in 13 games in a reserve special teams role a year ago after a non-descript, injury limited career at Cincinnati
Time will tell if the Patriots' 2006 crop of undrafted invitees produces another playmaker, but Wright has some advice for his incoming unheralded brethren.
"Any guy that comes in in my (undrafted) position, if you give it your all and perform and produce you put them in a position where they can't let you go," Wright said. "You could be that important to the team to help them out, whether it be on the field or off the field. I took it as they saw me working as hard as I could every day and they saw me taking advantage of the opportunities that were given to me. That's why I stuck around."
And Wright is well aware that a year into his career in New England he's still fighting for his professional life and there could be another undrafted type looking to take his very roster spot.
"I'm a little bit more comfortable with the people around here, but my mindset is that I'm a rookie free agent again and I have to prove myself again. I think if I stay with that mindset I'll head in the right direction."
"I can't believe that the Chargers would ever let him go," Brady said of his fellow team co-captain. "He's the best defensive player I've ever played with. When we beat the Eagles (Super Bowl XXXIX), Rodney Harrison was the MVP of that team, he was the MVP of that Super Bowl. I know Deion (Branch) won it and believe me there's nobody who loves Deion more than me, but Rodney Harrison, if you were a Patriots fan, you knew who the best player on the team was. It was Rodney Harrison, without a doubt."
And it's a safe bet that Brady is probably the only NFL quarterback hoping that Harrison is able to make a speedy recovery from the serious knee injury that cost him most of last season.
"I don't think there's any player on our team that works harder than Rodney and Rodney was out there the other day running and cutting," Brady said of Harrison's ongoing rehab from three torn knee ligaments suffered Week 3 2005. "It's been a tough injury for him but if there's one guy who can come back from that injury it' Rodney Harrison. He's a great leader, a great captain and he's a great person. I'm excited about his return and I'm excited about what he can bring back to our team. I know we could use him. We could have used him last year
--While there were plenty of rumors flying around before and during draft weekend that the Patriots were in the trade mix for then-Packers disgruntled wideout Javon Walker, Belichick debunked the reports in his press conference after New England's first-round selection.
"We've had a lot of media inquiries about Javon Walker and I will just say one thing. I have not talked to or seen Javon Walker. Other than that, I really don't have anything else to say about it."
Not long after Belichick's comments, Walker was traded to the Denver Broncos.
--The first question on the minds of many after New England selected running back Laurence Maroney with the 21st pick was how aging and irritable incumbent Corey Dillon might handle the situation. Surprisingly, Belichick said he actually called Dillon, who at age 31 is coming off a disappointing injury slowed season in which he ran for just 733 yards for a 3.5-yard average, to discuss the pick before it happened.
"I talked to Corey," Belichick said. "I've talked to him today and I think he understands and I explained to him what the situation was and all of that. We expect Corey to be ready to go. I'm sure that he will be. He's a professional. He's been a very productive player for us and we expect Corey to have major contributions for us this year as we do Kevin (Faulk) and Patrick (Pass). I think our backs are talented. I think they've been productive for us and I expect them to continue to be."
--Overshadowed amid all the draft hype was the fact that the Jets waived practice-squad tight end Corey Lamkin the day before the draft began. The previous regime had brought in the former Texas A&M-Corpus Christi basketball standout in hopes that he could be the next Antonio Gates, a physical specimen who could make the transition from basketball to football tight end.
Lamkin, however, had not improved as much as the Jets had hoped, and the new regime obviously didn't feel any loyalty to him. It will be interesting to see if another organization takes a chance on Lamkin.
--There is no truth to the rumor that the Jets will start putting buckeyes on their helmets as a reward for outstanding plays, though the Jets have dipped into the Ohio State talent pool again.
One year after they drafted Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent in the second round, they took Buckeyes center Nick Mangold in the first round and grabbed Mangold's teammate, LB Anthony Schlegel, in the third round.
"It's awesome," Schlegel said. "I talked to (the Jets) about Nick when I was on my visit and obviously, I know (Mike) Nugent really well. At Ohio State, the first thing we talk about is team and I think that's why we are successful. I think we present that when we talk to people and bring it to the organization that we go to and I think that's what they are looking for."
--It's been a rough off-season for Brooks Bollinger. First, the Jets traded for Washington QB Patrick Ramsey to compete for the starting QB job with the still-mending Chad Pennington. Now Bollinger had to watch the Jets draft Oregon's Kellen Clemens in the second round.
"We have four quarterbacks on our active roster," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said, "and this is not to say that one of them is on the block or we're going to cut this person. We now have better depth at the quarterback position. That's where we are right now."
Tannenbaum noted that the Patriots carried four quarterbacks in 2000, Bill Belichick's first season as coach. Still, it appears as if Bollinger's days in green are numbered.
--The Jets' fans, notorious for booing the Jets' first-round picks, cheered wildly when D'Brickashaw Ferguson's name was announced, and he appreciated.
"The New York fans showed me a lot of love," the Freeport, N.Y. native said. "I was very happy and emotional."
THEY SAID IT
"I feel good about what we have done today as an organization. Are we done? No. We have a long way to go still." - Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum