Tuesday's NFL Blog: P.M. Update

January 9th, 2007 P.M. Update ... Peyton talks to the media ... Matt Hasselbeck is feeling lucky ... the future looks bright in Green Bay ... could Tony Gonzalez land in Minnesota? ... top draft pick projections for an AFC team ... and more!

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Lucky to be alive:  Scott Eklund at our Seahawks site shares some perspectives from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck as he reflected on last weekends game and the current state of the team. "I think we all realize how lucky we are to still be alive right now. That game very easily could have gone the other way," Hasselbeck said, referencing last weekend's one-point win over Dallas. "We know there are some things that we have to tighten up if we are going to continue to play." Check out what else he had to as the Seahawks prepare to play the Bears this weekend.

  "We know what we are going out there to face. They've been the best team in the NFL from start to finish this year. It's going to be tough, first of all playing away from home and secondly playing against such an explosive offense and a good defense. We have our work cut out for us." -- New England safety Artrell Hawkins, talking this week about the San Diego Chargers. Read more about the matchup from New England's perspective in this Scout.com subscribers feature at our Patriots site.

  Think your favorite team had injury problems this past season?  The Lions finished with 15 players on injured reserve and a 16th -- rookie OT Jonathan Scott -- who may need hip surgery. Five starters hit the list, including OG Damien Woody (foot), DT Shaun Rogers (knee), DE James Hall (shoulder), RB Kevin Jones (foot) and DT Shaun Cody (toe) .  Jones' Lisfranc foot surgery is the biggest concern as recovery time can be very lengthy, especially for a running back.

No quick fix: Denis Savage at our Raiders site takes a look at the team's quarterback situation heading into 2007 and says that, "Odds are good Oakland's starting quarterback is not on the roster. Aaron Brooks was 0-8 as a starter and has one year remaining on a two-year deal he signed last offseason. The contract contains a $5 million roster bonus."  Scout.com subscribers can read his analysis of the situation here.

Wisconsin OT Joe Thomas (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
Shoring up the lines: Our Browns site is reporting that Cleveland would love it if Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas is available when they pick in the draft this April. But they also need help at running back and defensive tackle. So if they're able to find offensive line help through free agency, they could use their first pick on Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson or Michigan defensive tackle Alan Branch instead. Get the complete update on the Browns' personnel and coaching situation here.

Quotable: "It's been 10 years now for me leaving here disappointed. I'll never get used to it, and I never want to. But after 10 years, you start to say to yourself, 'This is something that's got to change.' That's what they pay us for, to win games, to go to the Super Bowl. If we can't get it done, something's got to change. I'm looking forward to change this offseason." -- Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez, who could be a good match for Minnesota when he hits free agency this year. Take a look at what Tim Yotter from our Vikings site has to say about how realistic that scenario might be this offseason in this Scout.com subscribers feature.

By the numbers: Our Chargers site reports that if you look at the trends, San Diego has a tall task ahead of them this weekend when they host the Patriots. "Yes, the Chargers are gunning for their first playoff win since 1994 on Sunday. Yes, Marty Schottenheimer will try to break his five-game postseason losing streak on Sunday. And yes, they must do both against the New England Patriots, a team which has won three of the past five Super Bowls," they point out.

Shaping up:
Harry Sydney at our Packers site evaluates the job that GM Ted Thompson has done, pointing out the players he's added that make the future for Green Bay look much brighter. And he'll be able to add some more punch to that lineup since the team is roughly $30 million under the cap.  But Sydney points out that Thompson's real strength to date is how he's building the team for the long haul through the draft. "If you look at the 2006 draft class, anyone that knows football can see how bright the future is for this team," he says. "They went from a 4-12 record to 8-8 with a bunch of first- and second-year players that only will get better next season."  Scout.com subscribers can check out his analysis here.

Just two:  Since replacing injured starter Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia has thrown just two interceptions in seven starts. Last weekend against the Giants, despite sloppy playing conditions, he didn't throw any interceptions.

"I never got to see Johnny Unitas play, but I kind of knew how good of a player he was and how special he was because people always would ask my dad, ‘Who were your favorite players growing up?' He always said, ‘Mickey Mantle and Johnny Unitas.' That kind of shed the light of what an impact Unitas had on people, young people, and certainly this game. I realize we play in different cities, but I am proud to wear the same uniform that he wore. Anytime you get into some of these records that he had, I still just look at it like he's still way, way up."  -- Colts quarterback Peyton Manning during his Tuesday press conference. Scout.com subscribers can read the transcript at our Colts site.


No Hawaii for Holt?:  Reports out of St. Louis indicate that wide receiver Torry Holt could skip the Pro Bowl because of a minor knee injury that nagged at him in the closing weeks of the season. He may have surgery to correct the problem after he gets an MRI and talks to doctors. "By having an injury like this before, I would say it's cartilage," he said. " I think it's going to take some minor things to punch a couple of holes in there and straighten some things out and let me get back to playing football. I'm looking forward to making a decision, whatever it may be, and relaxing and enjoying '07 with some drinks and few cigars and just hanging out."

Slick in Seattle: Following Dallas quarterback Tony Romo's miscue that cost the Cowboys the opportunity to kick the go-ahead field goal in last weekend's playoff game, rumblings have surfaced that the ball may have been too slick. At his press conference on Monday, Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren talked at length about the rule changes regarding what footballs can be used in a game and the "K ball" used for kicking. "Balls would go to whichever stadium and then teams would do it with the kicking-balls, would do all sorts of weird stuff with them. Put them in microwave ovens. Put them in dryers. Deflate them. Mess around with the kicking-balls. It was common knowledge, it was bad," he said. Scout.com subscribers can read highlights from his press conference here.

Retired Baltimore Colts DT Art Donovan at a ceremony to retire his jersey in 1962. (AP Photo/stf)
Historic return: On December 24th, 1977, the Colts hosted their final playoff game in Baltimore against the Oakland Raiders before moving to Indianapolis in 1984. Although this weekend marks the third time the team has returned to Baltimore since the move, it's the first time they'll be the visiting team in a playoff game there. For some, fans and former players, such as Bruce Laird, who grabbed two interceptions as a safety for the Colts in that 1977 playoff game, emotions still run deep. "We got cheated out of our heritage," Laird said. "The Indianapolis Colts should have started their own history. What happened in Baltimore belongs in Baltimore, but the NFL is a huge business. It's a shame." Aaron Wilson at our Ravens site provides this unique perspective on Saturday's game here.

Quotable: "They're a little different and we're a little different. They weren't quite sure what kind of football team they were at that time and I think they know what kind of team they are now. And we're a little bit different just with the quarterback situation." -- Eagles head coach Andy Reid on this weekend's Philadelphia-New Orleans matchup. Scout.com subscribers can read his entire press conference at our Eagles site.

Odds are...  Dale Lolley at our Steelers site gives you the odds-on favorites and longshots as he evaluates the different head coach candidates that could take over in Pittsburgh.

No idea:  After suffering their sixth consecutive playoff defeat, the Chiefs were still struggling to come to grips with what transpired with their offense at the RCA Dome against the Colts last Saturday. "I have no idea. I'm puzzled too," Edwards said after the game. But one player, running back Larry Johnson says he wasn't surprised. "I knew what was going to happen," he said. Read more about it in this report at our Chiefs site.

Hits and misses: Craig Massei at our 49ers site gets fans ready for a big free agency splash in 2007 by taking a look at the 24 free agents the team has signed over the last two seasons and how they've fared so far. Scout.com subscribers can check it out here.

The wrong message: Rich Passan at our Cleveland site believes that the team has sent the wrong message to the fans by retaining head coach Romeo Crennel.  "By retaining Crennel, they are telling you they are headed in the right direction. They are telling you the 6-10 and 4-12 seasons Crennel put up are the right direction. They are telling you that the lousy football you've endured the past two seasons are aberrations," he says. "It has become abundantly clear that Randy Lerner, Phil Savage & Co. have lowered the bar."

Jets RB Curtis Martin (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Hanging up his cleats: Our Jets site is reporting that running back Curtis Martin knows that his bone-on-bone condition in his right knee is going to end his career.  "I've come to grips with the fact that my career is probably over," said Martin on Monday. "As I said, I'm grateful that I put in my all and I put my heart out on the field. I've done everything I can to help my team win games and at the end of the day, that's something I can leave the game with; no regrets." Get the full story about Martin and his plans here.

Lazy Ben? Jim Wexell provides Scout.com subscribers with a position-by-position look at the state of the team as they look towards free agency and the draft with some interesting insider insight. "Ben Roethlisberger ended his worst pro season by promising to work harder with his receivers this off-season and to have a better understanding of the offense," Wexell says. "That statement, following the last home game, was the first acknowledgement by Roethlisberger that rumors of his lazy work habits might be true."

The true cost of T.O. : Jerry Jones faces an interesting decision this offseason about the future of wide receiver Terrell Owens, who would be due a $3 million roster bonus in March. Jones becomes the latest owner who has now experienced the disruption that Owens can cause a team and must balance that against the the 88 catches and 13 touchdowns he contributed in 2006. After the Cowboys lost to the Seahawks last weekend, linebacker Bradie James shared his perspective, "It definitely took a toll on the team after a while ... Coming into training camp, it was like a zoo. You got some high-profile people on the team. All that went on. So much goes into that. It's been a long, long season. A long season."

Chargers - Patriots Preview:  Michael Lombardo at our Chargers site provides some preliminary analysis of this weekend's big matchup in San Diego.  "A quick look back at the last couple of meetings between these squads gives Chargers fans reason to be optimistic," he says. "In 2005, the Chargers won in New England 41-17, ending the Patriots 21-game home winning streak. The teams also met in 2002, when the Chargers beat the then-defending Super Bowl Champions 21-14 in San Diego. In those two games, Tomlinson ran for over 350 yards and scored four touchdowns." Scout.com subscribers can read his entire report here.

Jax looking to air it out:  In a move that clearly indicates that they will try to balance their offense with a more effective passing game in 2007, the Jaguars named Dirk Koetter the team's offensive coordinator. Koetter has spent the last nine seasons as a head coach in the collegiate ranks, including six with Arizona State where his team just made its third consecutive bowl appearance in 2006. But most importantly for the Jaguars, Koetter's Sun Devils averaged nearly 30 points per game over the last six seasons and was ranked in the top 20 in the nation in passing offense during five of his six seasons. The team also announced the hiring of Joe DeCamillis as special teams coordinator, who directed the Falcons' special teams from 1997-2006 and 19 years of experience coaching in the NFL.

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