With the reigns turned over to rookie quarterback Vince Young, the Titans are on the verge of adding the reigns of the rushing attack over to rookie Lendale White. While hardly knocking the socks off the Tennessee coaching staff, White has practiced hard and warrants an opportunity in the Titans fragile backfield. A hard-runner, White could provide the Titans with a running game to take some of the pressure off of Young, who does not appear poised to be a significant factor at this time.
-- The Jacksonville Jaguars looking to add punch and stability to the receiver corps are expected to line-up running back Maurice Drew often in the slot. With the inconsistency of Reggie Williams and unknown status of oft-injured Matt Jones, Drew could provide the Jaguars with a speedy presence in the passing game, matching up against linebackers and safeties. Additionally, the Jaguars are expected to provide quarterback Byron Leftwich additional opportunities in the passing game in coming weeks. Known as a rather conservative offensive team, the Jaguars coaching staff is confident Leftwich will handle the added responsibility.
-- Linebacker Dan Morgan continues to insist his career is far from over. Prone to concussions throughout his professional career, Morgan says he is feeling fine and itching to get back on the playing field. The Carolina Panthers medical staff has mixed feelings regarding Morgan's return to the field and has been steadfast in refusing to grant the player clearance to practice The Panthers are expecting the Browns, their week-five opponent to attempt to take a page out of the New Orleans Saints playbook and attack the defense through the air. The Carolina coaching staff blames average execution by the team defense and a very solid New Orleans game-plan as the reason for the Saints' passing success. All which the Panthers' staff doers not believe will occur against the Browns.
-- Those close to the New York Giants believe the team made a grave error in judgment in signing linebacker LeVar Arrington to a multi-year deal over the off-season. According to numerous scouts and team personnel evaluators, Arrington has his explosiveness and is slow in reacting to the play. Once his strength, Arrington's lack of speed and quickness has left the former standout a mere shadow of the player he was prior to knee woes.
-- The Chicago Bears have scrapped plans to ensure running back Cedric Benson receives 10-touches per-game, as was previously planned. Starting running back Thomas Jones has shown to be a more efficient back in the Bears' system and is very popular with the players and staff. Additionally, Jones is a legitimate threat coming out of the backfield and rarely misses blocking assignments. All which cannot be stated about Benson, who could be hurting his opportunities for playing time with a less than desired attitude Quarterback Rex Grossman's solid play can be attributed to his intense study time with offensive coordinator Rod Turner. Turner and Grossman spend a significant amount of time doing film-study, and it doesn't hurt that Grossman is healthy and gaining on-field experience.
-- Look for the San Francisco 49ers to bench starting right tackle Kwame Harris once guard Larry Allen returns from a knee sprain. Harris has been inconsistent and victimized on numerous occasions early in the 2006 season. Adam Snyder figures to step into Harris' starting spot upon Allen's return, which is questionable at best this week.
-- As the offensive deficient Oakland Raiders continue to struggle moving the football, the team remains steadfast regarding their decision to let capable receiver Jerry Porter sit. During the off-season, Porter requested to be traded after not seeing eye-to-eye with new head coach Art Shell. A couple additional trade requests were made, but the team refuses to listen to representatives for the former West Virginia product. With the state of the Oakland passing game, the lack of production from Randy Moss, the Raiders desperately need someone to step-up and assume the responsibility, but it will not be Porter, as the team has no desire to play him .The usually impatient Al Davis has been quiet regarding the state of his Raiders. Realizing the errors over the past few seasons will not be quickly repaired, Davis is only looking for gradual improvement, something which has been occurring on the defensive side of the ball.
-- The Cleveland Browns enter a tough game against the Carolina Panthers this week without their starting cornerbacks, Gary Baxter and Leigh Bodden. Baxter nursing a pectoral muscle injury and Bodden a high ankle sprain leave the Browns very thin at the cornerback position. Facing standout receiver Steve Smith, the Browns defensive backfield will be in for a significant challenge .Much of the Cleveland lack of success in the running game and pass protection can be attributed to the less than expected play of the starting guards, Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman. Neither player has been quick off the ball, is limited in space, and has become rather immobile. Free agent acquisition, left tackle Kevin Shaffer has been average at best and continues to struggle against quicker pass rushers Lining up against one of the league's better pass rushing team in Carolina, the Browns will need to run the ball effectively, as quarterback Charlie Frye regularly holds onto the ball too long and is sacked often.
-- Not many people in and around the NFL believed the New York Jets would be a very competitive team in the 2006 under the direction of first-time head coach Eric Mangini. With numerous changes amongst the roster, a change in philosophy, and attitude, the Jets were deemed a team in a full-rebuilding mode and shouldn't be expected to be anything more than the door-mat team in the AFC East division. The return of a mostly healthy Chad Pennington at quarterback, some spirited play along the offensive line, and a defense which is focused on the fundamentals, the Jets have been competitive and may be the surprise team of the 2006 season. While the resurgence of Pennington has been key, it is the attitude and preparation of Mangini which has been the refreshing look the Jets needed.