Many around the league believe defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast will be a head coach in the future. Some who have been around him say he has terrific leadership and management skills which are two key elements in being a head man.
Second-year pro Demorrio Williams won the strong side or "Buck" linebacker job over veteran LB Ike Reese. Williams has better side-to-side movement and pass rush skills than Reese who will play mostly on special teams and in nickel situations.
It will be interesting to see how fourth-year RB Deshaun Foster handles being the backup to Stephen Davis. Foster is in the final year of his contract and needs to not only stay healthy but put up big numbers if he's to get a new deal. Many around the league wonder if he really can be a featured back.
Rookie WR Mark Bradley looked like a long shot to have a solid role with the team this season after his minicamp performances. After that, he really put together a solid training camp and a great pre-season where he led the team in receiving yards. Those who follow the team closely say he's not far away from replacing third-year WR Justin Gage for the No.2 job.
A player to watch is rookie WR Chris Henry who impressed many team observers in training camp. Henry had a bad reputation coming from college as a malcontent and not being coachable. According to a league source, the exact opposite has taken place with the Bengals. In fact, some say he's been one of the hardest workers since he was drafted and has a great attitude toward taking to suggestions from the coaches and other teammates. The team believes they might have a steal on their hands and so far, Henry is proving the doubters wrong.
The team will continue to bring rookie WR Mike Williams around slowly. Williams has not adjusted well to the speed of the NFL game and has trouble getting off of press coverage at times. The coaching staff feels quite comfortable with WR Kevin Johnson in the No.3 role.
Many around the NFL are trying to figure out why the team signed free agent and troubled WR Koren Robinson. His signing could signify two things. For one, it gives them another No.1 option in the passing game should third-year WR Nate Burleson not be able to handle the role. The younger Robinson also could wind up replacing veteran WR Marcus Robinson who is clearly only a situational player at this point in his career.
While many are saying that rookie Brandon Jacobs won the No.2 running back job, a league source points out that RB Derrick Ward also would see ample playing time if RB Tiki Barber was out of the lineup. Ward is a better pass blocker than Jacobs and also has good size.
The move to bring back veteran DL Warren Sapp back inside was probably the biggest reason for the Raiders improvement against the run as shown against the Patriots this week. The area where they will be looking to improve in is their pass rush.
It may have got lost in the transaction page but the signing of WR Quincy Morgan could turn out to be a significant move. Morgan, at one time in his career, was seen as an up and coming talent who was on the verge of breaking out. While he never lived up to the expectations many had for him, he has good size and the ability to get deep. That element was lost when the team decided not to re-sign WR Plaxico Burress.
According to a league source, the team isn't overly concerned with RB Brian Westbrook's public displeasure with his contract situation and they're confident that they will reach a contract agreement with him soon. The Eagles believe that Westbrook is a special talent but they don't see him as a typical featured back. However, in their offense, Westbrook's side contends that because he touches the ball so much in the passing game and makes so many big plays in that area that he should be looked at differently. Westbrook points to his production and his big play ability.
Fourth-year WR Reche Caldwell enters this 2005 season on the final year of his contract. The former University of Florida star is also coming off of a serious knee injury but it's believed the coaching staff will elevate his status from the No.3 role to the No.2 role over Eric Parker at some point before the first half of the season. The coaches want to see Caldwell regain everything that he lost before he got hurt and those close to the situation say he's regained most of it (explosiveness and separation).