With change there comes an element of expectation and a dose of reality. In these early days of mini-camps, quarterback schools, and off-season workouts, many teams are taking the initial steps toward building toward the 2006 season.
losing standout offensive guard Steve Hutchinson in free
agency, the Seattle Seahawks appear poised to build upon their 2005 Super Bowl
appearance. Head coach Mike Holmgren is hopeful that the
combination of Floyd Womack, Tom Ashworth, and
rookie Rob Sims will help fill the huge gap. Hampering the plan
is that Womack has been forced to sit-out practice sessions due to his
surgically repaired left triceps tendon, and Ashworth - a converted tackle - is
relatively inexperienced at the position.
After securing the services of wide receiver Nate Burleson (Minnesota) in free agency, the Seahawks are excited about the potential and dynamics he should provide the Seattle offense. The team was disappointed they were unable to retain receiver Joe Jurevicius, but has quietly noted to Scout.com that Burleson provides improved speed and quickness and has the playmaking ability to ensure the offense remains consistent and explosive…………………
In San Francisco, the 49ers coaching staff has been hard at work
with the youthful roster. Their first-round draft selection, tight-end Vernon Davis, has impressed, but the early story in San Francisco is the confidence and
professionalism offensive coordinator Norv Turner has found in second-year
quarterback Alex Smith. After struggling mightily during his rookie campaign,
Smith has been quick to gain a solid understanding of Turner's offensive scheme
and the trust of the veteran coach. Kevan Barlow remains the starter for the
49ers at running back, but this may be short-lived, as second-year back Frank
Gore had a solid off-season in workouts and is an explosive talent. This
training camp battle may come down to which player displays the ability to hold
onto the football and gain yards after contact. Free agent wide receiver Antonio Bryant has been very professional and willing to learn the 49er way. Known as
somewhat of a malcontent, Bryant's attitude has been great thus far………………..
off a surprising playoff appearance last season, the expectations are high in
Chicago. The Bears are a hard-nosed, defense-first team, which
is evident with the lack of off-season moves to improve a questionable offense.
The team did go out and acquire quarterback Brian Griese, who
is recovering from knee surgery and is expected to be 100% in camp. Throughout
the early off-season, Griese has clearly been the best quarterback in mental
preparation, though Rex Grossman remains penciled in as the
starter on the depth chart. Look for this to change during training camp if
Griese can remain healthy.
Running back Thomas Jones remains upset about the demotion he sustained due to his lack of total commitment to the Bears' off-season voluntary workout sessions. Jones, coming off a career year, welcomes the opportunity to compete for the starting role handed to 2005 first-round draft choice Cedric Benson, or wants to get a look elsewhere, from what we have been told.
Look for cornerback Nathan Vasher to report to training camp on-time, but
voice his displeasure with the Bears' front office. Clearly the best cornerback
on the roster, Vasher would like the team to commit to him long-term with a
contract worthy of an All-Pro. The team has no desire to rework his contract,
which has created some uneasiness between the team and player………………..
The best thing to happen to the Detroit Lions during the Matt Millen era is the hiring of Rod Marinelli. Marinelli has immediately instilled accountability throughout the organization, all which was lacking under former head coach Steve Mariucci. The accountability within the Detroit organization hit home this off-season when dealing with oft-troubled WR Charles Rogers, WR Mike Williams, and QB Joey Harrington. Rogers was told during the off-season to work hard, be involved, and keep his nose clean.
The organization believes Rogers has the talent to succeed, and is giving him
one chance to prove his worth. Both Marinelli and offensive coordinator Mike
Martz like the physical ability of Mike Williams, especially his height and
strength, but the staff wants him to lose weight to improve his quickness.
Williams battled weight problems last season and is rumored to be 8-to-10 pounds
above the goal set by the coaching staff despite being dedicated this off-season
to the work-out room. As for Harrington, his departure was paved when he ignored
Martz during board sessions early in the off-season. The final straw was when
Martz asked Harrington to break down a set, which Harrington refused to
put, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made the
call on signing egomaniacal WR Terrell Owens. Head coach
Bill Parcells has gone along with the addition to the
organization, but has informed both Jones and the player that he will not put up
with any nonsense. At the first sign of Owens' disruptive nature, Parcells will
inform Jones he wants the receiver released.
While Owens should be expected to be a good soldier initially, there are danger signs ahead and Parcells could be in a precarious position if Jones does not support him. Despite overtures, the team did not entertain trading running back Julius Jones. The Cowboys on two separate occasions worked on draft-day deals for the questionably fragile running back. From what we've been told, quarterback Drew Bledsoe recently noted the addition of offensive linemen Jason Fabini and Kyle Kosier are as important as anything the organization has done during the off-season.....................
a deal between the New England Patriots and Denver
Broncos is stalemated, the primary players in the deal, tight-end
Daniel Graham and wide receiver Ashley Lelie
are on separate plains. The Broncos went hard after Graham, but the Patriots
have no desire to trade the player. At the same time, New England had no desire
to trade a high first-day draft-selection for the quick, but not so tough
From what we've been told, free agent cornerback Ty Law would like to rejoin the Patriots, but the Patriots have not offered a solid deal to Law. At the present time, the New England front office has no inclination to put the team in a potential salary cap situation by offering Law a deal which would pay the All-Pro 8-to-10 million dollars a season. The New England coaching staff has been working on some subtle adjustments with rookie wide receiver Chad Jackson to get off the line quicker…………………