Newswire Items 9/07/06
The 2006 NFL Season officially kicked off as the defending super bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers beat AFC rival Miami Dolphins 28-17. In what was expected to be a close ballgame, the Steelers blew open the lead in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Charlie Batch hit tight end Heath Miller with a 87 yard touchdown strike. Batch took over for starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who had undergone emergency appendectomy surgery earlier in the week. When asked if Batch's performance surprised head coach Bill Cowher, he simply stated: "Charlie's performance, to be honest with you, is kind of what I expected
The Patriots Address Their Losses
With the start of the new season, the New England Patriots take the field in quest of yet another super bowl championship. During this decade the Patriots have won three out of the five super bowls that have been played. During the off season, the Patriots lost a handful of veterans to free agency. David Givens, Willie McGinest and Adam Vinatieri have left a void that the Patriots have tried to fill. A report in the Bangor Daily News discusses the challenge the Patriots had in putting together this season's 53-player roster. This challenge is answered by linebacker Mike Vrabel "I think we're very comfortable with the football team that we've got
you're practicing with guys and different people in and out
You're not going to play with the same guys throughout the course of a 16-game schedule and into the playoffs"
Patriot safety Rodney Harrison is ready for Sunday's inter divisional game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Last year, Harrison was sidelined with a season ending knee injury. After a lengthy and painful rehab, Harrison recently said: "I don't feel any restrictions. I don't see myself being limited in any capacity. I just feel like when I go out there I'm going to be ready to play." This is certainly welcome news to the Patriot Nation.
Bruschi And Jackson Practice
A couple of injured Patriots, linebacker Tedy Bruschi and wide receiver Chad Jackson, took the field and raised hopes that perhaps they might be ready to play in the Patriot's season opener against the Bills. Bruschi who suffered a broken wrist and Jackson rehabbing a pulled hamstring have been absent from the practice field. Head coach Bill Belichick gave no hint of their return to practice in a recent press conference.
The Buffalo Bills have concerns of their own after an offseason of changes. New coaching staff, a new GM, and plenty of new faces are in and around the Bills organization. One position in particular, the quarterback, remains unsettled with J.P. Losman assuming the reigns by default. Former Peyton Manning backup and last season's starter in Buffalo, Kelly Holcomb, is disappointed that he wasn't able to win the job. His coach, however knows that Holcomb is only one hit away from being the starter again and did his best to instill confidence in the veteran. "The last two exhibitions he played in I thought he played like Kelly Holcomb," Jauron said. "He looked confident. He handled the team. The team has confidence in him."
Aaron Schoebel is ready for the season. "The hard part is out of the way, now the fun begins," said Schobel, a six year veteran of the Bills defensive line. Schoebel and Bruce Smith are the only players in Bills history with more than one double-digit sack years. Schobel had 11.5 in 2003 and a career-best 12.0 last season.
Peerless Price is back in Buffalo and he's happy to be there this time. Instead of commenting on his financial reward, Price has focused on something more important, the game itself. "I was given a boatload of money but I was never given an opportunity," Price said of his time in Atlanta. Price is expected to be the Bills go-to guy now that Eric Moulds has moved on to Houston.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson, panned for bringing in a GM who may have seen the game pass him by in Marv Levy, feels the Bills still have a long way to go. Wilson has seen the rise of division rival New England tied to meteoric growth of their revenue from a new stadium and large market corporate support. He understands that while his stadium revenue cannot rival the Patriots, it's the players on the field that determine a team's success. "We've got to have better personnel," Wilson told the Buffalo News. Wilson also is a realist. It takes time for a new coach and GM to build a winning organization. "There's positions that we've got to improve on. I think Dick and his staff are working hard. I talk to Marv, I talk to Dick, and I get a sense we've got a good future. I hope people don't get their expectations too high."
New Bills center Melvin Fowler thinks that his training regimen will help him when facing some of the top defenders in the league. Fowler, a reserve in Cleveland, is the Bills starter and the Buffalo brass are excited at his potential. One thing Fowler realizes, that the competition in week 1 will be a good test as he goes against former first-round draft pick Vince Wilfork on Sunday. "He's very big, powerful and quick," Fowler said of the Patriots' nose tackle."He's definitely one of the elite defensive linemen in the NFL."
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