Around the NFL: Truths and Rumors

The running back situation in Carolina is cloudier than many thought. Detroit continues to see what they can do with all their weapons. Seattle has a defensive tackle that appears to be a totally different player than a year ago. Will the quarterback situation in Baltimore be resolved by a short leash? A new running back is developing in Pittsburgh while a running back in Denver is not.

NFC Notes

Carolina Panthers

Many who follow the team closely feel veteran RB Stephen Davis is ready for a comeback this season. Davis, who began practicing with the team earlier this week, had the same procedure (microfracture) done on his knee that fellow RB Deshaun Foster had a few years ago. It remains to be seen exactly how they will use both backs but its pretty certain Davis will be in their plans as they get back to becoming the power-rushing team that got them to the Super Bowl two years ago.

Dallas Cowboys

Rookie OT Rob Petitti has been a pleasant surprise for the team. It's rare that a sixth-round pick could start on the offensive line as a rookie but it appears that he will. When you consider he was very out of shape earlier this year and fell from first day consideration, his maturation process has been pretty amazing.

Some college football observers saw Petitti as a sure-fire first day selection coming in to his final season at the University of Pittsburgh. But getting out of shape and disappointing scouts on tape dropped him out of being considered for the first three rounds of the draft. Not only did he fall out of the first day but he wasn't selected until the sixth round (209 player selected overall).

Detroit Lions

First-round pick Mike Williams is still trying to learn the offense so look for him to work his way up the depth chart and begin the regular season as the No.4 receiver. When the team goes to their spread offense (three or four wides), he'll see more playing time. The coaching staff believes Williams will pose very tough matchup problems for nickel and dime backs.

New York Giants

The Giants made an interesting move by moving long-time strong side linebacker Carlos Emmons to the weakside. Emmons is known as one of the best cover linebackers on tight ends and is a questionable fit. The team is very high on second-year LB Reggie Torbor who will slide in Emmons' usual strongside slot.

Philadelphia Eagles

Fourth-round pick OT Todd Herremans gave the team a preview of who their starting left tackle should be in a few seasons. Many saw Herremans as a project when he was selected by the Eagles in this past April's draft. He has put on a lot of upper body strength over the past several months and really opened eyes in camp. While he's still a work in progress, offensive line coach Juan Castillo has done a great job of helping Herremans improving his technique and footwork. Herremans's agent Joe Linta has a strong history of taking unknown offensive lineman from small schools and turning them in to solid starters on the pro level.

Green Bay Packers

It's highly unlikely that the team trades backup RB Najeh Davenport to Philadelphia for unsigned franchise player DT Corey Simon. The Eagles would have traded Simon to Baltimore prior to this year's draft but Simon wants way too much in a signing bonus. The team is unlikely to pursue a contract extension with Simon after he signs his one-year franchise tender as they're very happy with first-round pick Mike Patterson.

The team continues to juggle linemen in and out at right guard. Seventh-round pick Will Whitticker and journeyman G Matt O'Dwyer are the leading candidates for the job.

Minnesota Vikings

While head coach Mike Tice made it clear late this week that Michael Bennett (neck) will be the team's starting running back when he's cleared to play, don't count out second-year RB Mewelde Moore. Tice, who is on a one-year contract, simply cannot afford for the running game to sputter like it did last year. Tice claims that they will run the ball more (they ran it 160 times less last year than the previous season) and Moore offers more versatility than the oft-injured Bennett. If Bennett gets of to a slow start or gets hurt again, don't be surprised if Moore becomes the featured runner.

Seattle Seahawks

The team has been so happy with second-year DT and former first-round pick Marcus Tubbs's play in camp that it made veteran DT Cedric Woodward expendable. Tubbs, who came in to camp in very good shape, worked hard this off-season watching tape and studying opposing offenses and schemes. Those who have watched him practice say he looks like a different player than at this time last year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Look for veteran WR Joey Galloway to be much more involved in the passing game this season. Galloway took it easy during training camp, usually just practicing just once a day in order to get him as healthy as possible for the regular season. Look for head coach Jon Gruden to call more down field pass plays for Galloway where he can use his top-end speed to blow by slower cornerbacks.

St. Louis Rams

Because first-round pick Alex Barron is still way behind, the team still doesn't know who their starting right tackle will be. For now, they're going to try veteran lineman Rex Tucker there but he's better suited for guard.

AFC Notes

Baltimore Ravens

While he hasn't performed well, don't look for the team to demote third-year QB Kyle Boller from the top spot on the depth chart. The team has simply too much invested in him (they traded up to get him) and feel that he'll get great coaching from Rick Neuheisel and Jim Fassel so he'll eventually show enough improvement this season to get the job done.

Buffalo Bills

The No.2 running back job is still hotly contested between rookie Lionel Gates and second-year man Shaud Williams. Gates offers much more size and between the tackles running while Williams is much quicker getting to the edges. Because the team uses more of a power rushing attack on offense, some believe Gates has a small edge but it's way too close to call. Williams bulked up this off-season and had a very good camp.

Miami Dolphins

Look for the team to move at least one if not two of their veteran backs. Lamar Gordon, who was acquired last year from the Rams, has fallen on the depth chart. Sammy Morris offers the most versatility than Gordon or Travis Minor. Morris also a supreme special teams player and probably will get the team more in a deal.

Cincinnati Bengals

It seemed just last week that veteran WR Peter Warrick was going to be on the roster this season despite his cap number of over $2.2 million. However, he suffered a hamstring injury earlier this week and now is in jeopardy of being released. The team has been pleased with the development of third-year WR Kelley Washington as well as rookie WR Chris Henry but neither offer the experience that Warrick has in the slot which is a critical position in their passing offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The team is very high on second-year RB Willie Parker and he should get a lot of work in the final two pre-season games. Keep in mind the team declined trade overtures last summer for the speedy former undrafted free agent and they believe he can develop a bigger role over the next two seasons.

Denver Broncos

It will be interesting to see what the team does with third-round pick RB Maurice Clarett who has been a disappointment thus far. While many are speculating they will cut him, they could take a chance to place him on their practice squad. Remember this, when a team signs a player off another team's practice squad, that player must go on their active roster.

Oakland Raiders

The team has been so happy with the development of third-round pick LB Kirk Morrison that veteran LB Jay Foreman looks to be a backup this season. In fact, with Danny Clark and Tim Johnson listed as the current starters inside, Foreman looks to have a reduced role this season.

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