The Eastern Front: GM Jones Happy With Camp

The Eastern Front 05.15.06--The busy offseason continues around the NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Hot Topic

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones liked what he saw from the rookies at the recent mini-camp and can't wait until they line up with the veterans June 2-4.

Jones said all the draft picks performed as advertised. He expects first-round pick Bobby Carpenter to be an immediate starter at linebacker, as will second-round pick Anthony Fasano at tight end.

He also expects big-time contributions from third-round pick Jason Hatcher at defensive end and fourth-round pick Skyler Green on kick returns.

Hatcher is the most intriquing of the prospects because he came from Grambling State University and not many people knew about him in college. But the Cowboys feel he has the potential to be a big-time performer.

They compare him former Cowboys defensive tackle Leon Lett, who came from obscure Emporia State but grew into an NFL star.

Because he has only played defensive end for two years and didn't get the best of coaching at Grambling, there is a belief that Hatcher could be more dominant in the pros than he was in college. One thing that isn't in question is his athletic ability. He is 6-6, 290 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds.

"I'm definitely going to make an impact here," Hatcher said. "Hopefully, you'll see me in the rotation."

Player Notes

--Bill Parcells said he will take four quarterbacks to training camp this year: Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo, Drew Henson and rookie free agent Jeff Mroz. The Cowboys took only three to training camp last year.

But with Bledsoe up in age and Henson coming off a spring in NFL Europe, Parcells could use the extra arm.

--Parcells will have no more talk about Terrell Owens until training camp.

After answering 35 questions about Owens during the rookie mini-camp, Parcells said he will not talk about him at the veterans' mini-camp.

"I answered 35 questions on him the other day," Parcells said. "That will be the last one on him until we get on the field at practice in training camp.

"You won't hear anything else from me on that subject."

--Most of the rookie draft picks will return by May 16 in preparation for the June mini-camp. Top pick Bobby Carpenter, however, might not be available because an NFL rule prohibits players from returning until school is out.

Ohio State is on the quarter system, and the spring quarter began in late March and ends in mid-June. Parcells is hoping something can be worked out once Carpenter, who is taking one class, finishes his finals, scheduled for June 5-8.

--Free-agent outside linebacker John Saldi is living out a dream trying to make the Cowboys.

He is the son of former Cowboys tight end Jay Saldi, an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina who played for the Cowboys from 1976-82.

"This is a dream for me," said John Saldi, who played in college at Texas Tech.

"I definitely have to bulk up and get much stronger," he said. "I need to learn fast and the strength will come."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Two players who tried out during the rookie mini-camp have been signed to contracts: cornerback Quincy Butler and linebacker J.J. Horne.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--LB Michael Barrow was a late-season signee for depth purposes. He suffered a season-ending injury in his first game. He will not be back.

--LB Quinton Caver was a late-season signee for depth. He might get offered a contract to come to training camp but he had little impact in 2005.

--S Tony Dixon was a late-season signee for insurance purposes. He will not be back.

--LB Eric Ogbogu didn't see much playing time in 2005 and will not be brought back.

--T Marcus Price was a late-season signee. He didn't play and will not be brought back.

--S Lynn Scott was a late-season signee for depth. He is not a priority but might get a chance to come to training camp.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--WR Terrance Copper: Potential ERFA; $425,000/1 yr.

--WR Patrick Crayton: Potential ERFA; $425,000/1 yr.

--S Keith Davis: RFA; $2.95M/2 yrs, $1.2M RB; 2006 cap: $2.025M; Cowboys matched Saints offer.

--G/C Andre Gurode: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--LS L.P. Ladouceur: ERFA; $350,000/1 yr.

--P Matt McBriar: Potential ERFA; $425,000/1 yr.

--S Willie Pile: ERFA; terms unknown.

--FB Lousaka Polite: ERFA; $425,000/1 yr.

--CB Jacques Reeves: ERFA; terms unknown.

--LB Scott Shanle: RFA; $721,600/1 yr.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--LB Akin Ayodele: UFA Jaguars; $17M/5 yrs, $5M SB.

--LB Rocky Boiman: UFA Titans; $3.5M/3 yrs, $1M SB.

--S Marcus Coleman: FA Texans; $850,000/1 yr, $40,000 RB.

--OT Jason Fabini: FA Jets; $4.5M/3 yrs, $1.75M SB.

--TE Ryan Hannam: UFA Seahawks; $5M/4 yrs, $1.25M SB.

--OG Kyle Kosier: UFA Lions; $15M/5 yrs, $5M SB.

--WR Terrell Owens: FA Eagles; $25M/3 yrs; $5M SB/$3M RB '07-'08; 2006 cap: $6.67M.

--PK Mike Vanderjagt: UFA Colts; $5.5M/3 yrs, $2.5M SB.

PLAYERS LOST

--OG Larry Allen (released).

--DT Willie Blade (released; failed physical/leg).

--TE Dan Campbell: UFA Lions; 5 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Scott Fujita: UFA Saints; terms unknown.

--DT La'Roi Glover (released).

--WR Keyshawn Johnson (released).

--LB Dat Nguyen (retired).

--OT Jacob Rogers (released/failed physical).

--OT Torrin Tucker: RFA Buccaneers; $2.6M/2 yrs, $100,000 RB: 2006 cap: $1.3M (Cowboys did not match offer; no compensation).

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

New York Giants

Hot Topic

Somebody wandered past Eli Manning's locker in Giants Stadium the other day and saw him wearing a faded green T-shirt with "Williams Brothers, Philadelphia MS" emblazoned where his left breast pocket should be.

No one is quite sure what or who Williams Brothers does or is, but any time Manning is less than swarmed it's a good time to stop and talk.

A few others had the same idea, and one of them asked this: "Do you think your second-round choice is going to be a different target because he's so small?"

Manning calmly took a deep breath, didn't even giggle once, and said of Miami speedster Sinorice Moss, who is 5-8 and 185, "He's short but he is awfully fast. We have a lot of big receivers like Plaxico (Burress) and Amani (Toomer) and Jeremy (tight end Shockey) and they are pretty fast, but from what I know, this kid is faster."

His eyes sparkled at the thought.

So now the Giants have added yet another offensive weapon to an already stocked arsenal that includes Manning and running back superstar Tiki Barber.

"I'm going to have a lot of targets," Manning said, still smiling. "I know this is going to be a very explosive offense. But it's one thing to look at it written down on paper, on a depth chart, and another thing to actually put it to use. That's why I'm looking forward to mini-camps and training camp. We have a lot of work to do."

There are problems to be worked out, of course. There is no real backup behind Shockey. The next tight end is Visanthe Shiancoe, and he has been a disappointment since being drafted in the third round three years ago. There are questions along the offensive line, some of them concerning veteran left tackle Luke Petitgout, whose skills may be slipping and whose backup is 14-year veteran Bob Whitfield.

But the offense should be electric, and since this is Manning's third year in the league -- second as the starting quarterback -- much of the success depends on him. If he is going to be everything the Giants gambled he would be, this is the year to start proving it.

And if that happens, tall and short receivers alike will have plenty of chances to catch passes deep downfield.

Player Notes

--Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who wouldn't go as far as MLB Antonio Pierce and predict a Super Bowl for the Giants this season, did say this: "We are definitely a playoff team. I feel sure of that. And getting there is going to be fun."

Umenyiora and Michael Strahan, who both earned Pro Bowl honors, combined for 26 sacks, most by any two players on any team in the league last year.

--Middle linebacker Chase Blackburn, who rose from undrafted rookie to Pierce's backup at MLB and a starter in the next-to-last game, against Washington, before he also was injured, reflected on that moment. "I had a good shot at (tight end Chris) Cooley," he said, "and it was a perfect technique hit. But I heard something go and then I didn't feel anything."

He suffered a herniated disc, two bulging discs and five pinched nerves. "At first I couldn't feel anything on my left side," he said. "But on the way to the hospital I got a tingling in my leg, then about 8 that night I felt the same thing in my arm. I figured I'd be all right."

--"I have to think," QB Eli Manning said, "that we'll be better this year. I also have to think that I'll be better, too. All it takes is hard work and study, and we are all going to do that. We have a playoff game to forget (the 23-0 first round clobbering by Carolina)."

--The Giants conducted a rookie mini-camp Saturday and Monday, They will hold their one full-team mini-camp June 14-16.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--CB Terrell Buckley was signed on Dec. 7 and the 14-year veteran was more of a hindrance than a help, and saw action in the final five games of the season plus the one playoff game.

--RB Michael Cloud clocked his second tour of duty with the Giants, signing as a free agent Dec. 26. He had one carry for zero yards.

--LB Jay Foreman was signed as a free agent Dec. 27 to provide another body for the injury-decimated group of LBs. Played in the final two games (counting the playoff loss to Carolina).

--LB Roman Phifer had the worst luck of all. He was signed Dec. 19 and aggravated a knee injury in a practice session. He appeared -- minimally -- in two games before being placed on injured reserve.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

--CB/KR Lamont Brightful (not tendered as RFA).

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--WR/KR Willie Ponder (tendered at $721,600) seems to have fallen deep into coach Tom Coughlin's dog house and isn't expected to recover. Why? He fumbled two kickoff returns. That's tantamount to sharing the playbook with the opposition.

--TE Visanthe Shiancoe (tendered at $721,600) was a third-round pick out of Morgan State three years ago and while his athletic abilities never let him down, he just hasn't picked up the position.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--WR Tim Carter: UFA; $2M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB.

--QB Tim Hasselbeck: UFA; terms unknown.

--OG Lewis Kelly: UFA; terms unknown.

--RB/KR Chad Morton: UFA; terms unknown.

--WR David Tyree: RFA; $7.5M/5 yrs, $1.5M SB.

--CB Frank Walker: RFA; $721,600/1 yr.

--OT Bob Whitfield: UFA; terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--LB LaVar Arrington FA Redskins; $49M/7 yrs, $5.25M SB.

--CB Jason Bell: UFA Texans; terms unknown.

--S Will Demps: UFA Ravens; 5 yrs, terms unknown.

--S Quentin Harris: UFA Cardinals; terms unknown.

--CB Sam Madison: FA Dolphins; $7.4M/4 yrs, $2M SB; 2006 cap: $1.4M.

--CB R.W. McQuarters: UFA Lions; $6M/3 yrs, $2M SB.

--G/C Grey Ruegamer: UFA Packers; $750,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2006 cap: $465,000.

--LB Brandon Short: FA Panthers; terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

--S Brent Alexander (released).

--DT Kenderick Allen: RFA rights terminated/Packers; terms unknown.

--CB Will Allen: UFA Dolphins; $12M/4 yrs, SB unknown.

--DT Kendrick Clancy: UFA Cardinals; $8.1M/4 yrs, SB unknown.

--LB Barrett Green (released).

--LB Nick Greisen: UFA Jaguars; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

--OG Jason Whittle (released).

--S Shaun Williams: UFA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

Philadelphia Eagles

Hot Topic

Never has so much attention been paid to a draft pick selected so late.

Agent Gary Wichard represents two of the Eagles' selections in last month's draft -- first-round defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley and fifth-round wide receiver Jeremy Bloom. But the post-draft interview requests for Bloom have far outweighed those for Bunkley and the rest of the Eagles' draft picks combined.

"Doesn't anybody from Philadelphia -- or anywhere else -- want to talk about the first-round pick?" Wichard said jokingly.

Bloom hasn't played competitive football since 2003 and wasn't even the first wide receiver drafted by the Eagles. Fourth-rounder Jason Avant was.

But the kid has movie-star good looks and a great story to tell that includes finishing sixth in men's mogul skiing at the 2006 winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

"It's like representing a rock star," Wichard said.

Bloom already has earned more than a million dollars from endorsements from his skiing career, which is why he hasn't played football the last three years. The NCAA declared him ineligible.

While he could continue to make a lot more money on the slopes, it's his dream to play in the NFL.

"Jeremy is coming from Colorado where he has had cult-hero status," said his father, Larry, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion. "He has made a lot of money skiing and could have continued to, but he is playing football for the love of the game."

Bloom will be hard-pressed to see much playing time next season as a wide receiver. But the Eagles are hoping he can make an immediate impact as a punt returner. Last year's punt returner, Reno Mahe, actually led the NFL in punt return average, but he isn't the home run threat that Bloom is.

Bloom's first -- and perhaps most difficult -- job will be to blend in with the rest of the team's much less famous rookies.

"Jeremy's focus is on being a good teammate in Philadelphia," said Andy Carroll, the CEO of Icon Sports Group, the Utah-based company that handles Bloom's marketing, endorsements and promotions. "He doesn't want to be a distraction."

Player Notes

--The Eagles released center Dominic Furio this week. Furio was a seventh-round pick in the '04 draft. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve and last season on the practice squad.

--Safety J.R. Reed, who missed all of last season after suffering severe damage to the peroneal nerve above his knee in a freak accident 14 months ago, will take part in this weekend's mini-camp. As recently as four months ago, it seemed doubtful Reed would ever be able to play football again. But the nerve has begun to heal and Reed's ability to lift his foot has improved greatly over the past couple of months. Reed excelled as a kick returner and special teams demon as a rookie in 2004. It remains uncertain whether he'll be able to play this season.

--Hank Fraley, who has been the team's starting center for the last five years until he went down with a torn rotator cuff in the middle of last season, faces an uphill battle to hold on to his starting job. Jamaal Jackson, who replaced him after he got hurt last season and played pretty well, will go into training camp as the favorite to win the job. "Jamaal played really well when he was in there," Fraley said.

--Cornerback Sheldon Brown is very pleased with the off-season free agency and draft additions on defense. "You'll get nothing but smiles from me," Brown said. "We only got better on the defensive side of the football."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--LB Justin Ena is a good special teams player who also provides depth in the middle and on the strong side. Probably will be re-signed at some point.

--RB Lamar Gordon fumbles too much to suit Eagles coach Andy Reid and really wasn't all that effective as a short-yardage runner.

--P Sean Landeta was effective as a late-season replacement, but with Dirk Johnson healthy again, he won't be re-signed.

--TE Chad Lewis re-signed at midseason after recovering from a foot injury. But he doesn't have much left in the tank and won't be back.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--RB Reno Mahe (tendered at $721,600) led the NFC in punt returns last season and can be used as both a running back and wideout.

--S Quentin Mikell (tendered at $721,600) has been a competent backup to starters Brian Dawkins and Mike Lewis. Also can play some corner in a pinch and is a solid special-teamer.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--CB Roderick Hood: RFA; $1.573M/1 yr.

--P Dirk Johnson: RFA; $721,600/1 yr.

--WR Darnerien McCants: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--OT Jon Runyan: UFA; $12.5M/3 yrs, $2.5M RB; 2006 cap: $3.65M.

--DE Juqua Thomas: Potential UFA; terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--LB Shawn Barber: FA Chiefs; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--WR Jabar Gaffney: UFA Texans; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--QB Jeff Garcia: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--DE Darren Howard: UFA Eagles; $30M/6 yrs, $9.5M SB; 2006 cap: $2.58M

--DT Ed Jasper: UFA Raiders; $750,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2006 cap: $465,000.

--TE Matt Schobel: UFA Bengals; 5 yrs, $1.8M SB.

PLAYERS LOST

--LB Keith Adams: UFA Panthers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

--S Jack Brewer: UFA Cardinals; terms unknown.

--QB Andy Hall (released).

--OG Artis Hicks: Traded Vikings.

--DE N.D. Kalu: UFA Texans; $750,000/1 yr.

--QB Mike McMahon (released).

--WR Terrell Owens (released).

--DT Hollis Thomas: Traded Saints.


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