Arizona, adding some beef along the offensive line was a priority of the Arizona Cardinals this off-season. The acquisition of running back Edgerrin James is
quickly solidifying the status of this organization as a playoff contender.
While the Cardinals were becoming an explosive passing offense in the 2005
season, adding James to the mix should enhance a below-average rushing game.
"Edgerrin (James) will add an element to the offense which was inconsistent last year. We were young at running back with J.J. Arrington, so getting a player the quality of James made sense for us," head coach Dennis Green said. "We have some questions at a couple positions on the line (offense) which we are looking at, but we have added some size and experience that should really help us.
While the offense appears solid heading into training camp, the questions on the defensive side of the ball remain. Cornerback and safety are two areas of the defense which struggled last season, the return of 2005 first-round draft selection should provide an immediate improvement.
"Losing Rolle last season was a blow, but we had some guys step in and get us through it. For us to become a better team in 2006, the defense will have to play better, which includes Rolle and the other guys back there (David Macklin, Robert Tate), Green said.
The Cardinals had been rumored to be in the running to acquire All-Pro cornerback Ty Law this off-season. Law, a standout cornerback has yet to agree to a deal with a team, but is expected to sign somewhere prior to the end of July.
"When a player of his caliber (Law) is available, you tend to take a look, keep an eye open. Right now, we are not in the process of doing anything with them (Law or his representatives), Green concluded.
Contract discussions have been lukewarm between the team and first-round draft pick, quarterback Matt Leinart. We've been told the talks will heat-up now that second-round pick, guard Deuce Lutui, is in the stable, but the team remains in more of a wait-and-see mode for players around the 10th selection, where Leinart was selected to agree to terms.
Francisco second-year quarterback Alex Smith continues to show improvement
during off-season mini-camp and in quarterback school settings. Offensive
coordinator Norv Turner has spent a considerable amount of time with the young
quarterback, notably working with Smith on his recognition and his tendency of
running with the ball too soon, sources tell this column.
The heat is being turned up at the wide receiver and running back spots heading into training camp, with Frank Gore and Arnaz Battle being at the center stage. Gore, a speedy and decisively strong rusher is expected to push Kevan Barlow and potentially take over the starting role.
"If it weren't for the injuries and injury issue, Gore would be hands down the starter out there (in San Francisco)," one NFC Player Personnel Director tells scout.com. "He has the speed, quickness, and ability in the passing game to be an outstanding back, the problem is his durability. You just don't know when he is going to break.
With a new look at the wide receiver position, the San Francisco coaching staff is hopeful Battle will have a break out season, along with Smith and free agent wide receiver acquisition Antonio Bryant. Talk within the staff has been the potential Bryant and a healthy Battle could provide to this offense under the direction of Turner.
Contract talks with 2006 first-round draft pick, Vernon Davis have gone nowhere. This could change in the next few days with new representatives in place for the quick tight-end out of Maryland.
Cleveland Browns are getting down to business, now that the holiday has passed
and with training camp on the horizon. According to those close to the
organization, contract talks with inside linebacker Leon Williams, offensive
guard, running back Jerome Harrison and cornerback DeMario Minter are
Contract discussions with second-round selection D'Qwell Jackson haven't been as promising of late. According to a source close to the Jackson negotiations, the Browns are offering an increase of between 7-to-10 percent to Jackson, according to how the salary is manipulated.
Tight-end Kellen Winslow's recovery from multiple injuries has made him a modest man. Winslow, arguably one of the hardest working players on this roster this off-season is committed to becoming more than just a player hitting the field on Sunday.
"Sure, the injury and accident have changed the way I think about things. I've been humbled, to appreciate things, one is being able to be here today and have the opportunity to play," Winslow said. "I am getting close to where I need to be, I am stronger to day than I have ever been and that will only help me on the field."
When asked had the team talked to him about lining-up at wide receiver in the absence of 2005 first-round draft pick Braylon Edwards, Winslow added, "I've been lining up everywhere, it's all about doing what needs to be done. And, Braylon's (Edwards) is coming, he is out there working and running, we'll be alright."
The countdown to cornerback's Ty Law's decision on where he will line-up for the 2006 season could come at any time. Rumors and speculation have placed the All-Pro anywhere from Detroit to Arizona, and many places in-between. Through all the haze, there has been a constant: the Kansas City Chiefs.
As first noted by WarpaintIllustrated's Nick Athan and again in this column a few months ago, the race for Law appears to be coming down to the Chiefs and his former team, the New England Patriots.
When talking to Law early in the off-season, he noted some desire to return to New England, where he is familiar with the defense and comfortable with the area and head coach, Bill Belichick. During the off-season, Law has talked to Belichick on a handful of occasions, but these discussions have not led to a contract offer, much less a deal.
As for keeping in touch, Law and new Kansas City head coach Herman Edwards maintained a very solid relationship while Law was a member of the New York Jets last season. Throughout the off-season, Edwards and Law have talked, with Law noting on numerous occasions publicly that he wouldn't mind playing in Kansas City.
While some in the media and alike have played Law into a player looking for the last dollar, this portrayal isn't entirely accurate. His representatives (the Postons brothers) are known for their tough negotiation tactics and have found a way to keep the name of the player tied to numerous teams.
At this time, we have been told Law will either land in New England or Kansas City, with the Chiefs looking like the likely landing pad…… (thanks for the contribution, Nick)