Sunday Morning Massacre

News & notes from the Vikings, the NFC North, and the rest of the National Football League. Scout praises McKinnie selection.

VIKINGS NOTES
Perhaps no one in the organization was more excited over the drafting of offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie in the first round than running back Michael Bennett, the club's first-round pick in last year's draft. Bennett was severely disappointed with his rookie season and has been pushing himself this offseason harder than he ever has in his football past. Bennett feels that McKinnie, an underrated run blocker due to his pass-blocking prowess, will give him just enough of an edge to push himself over his self-proclaimed goal for 2002: 1,000 yards rushing......
At least one AFC scout finds it laughable that the Bills, and several other teams, thought more highly of Mike Williams than Bryant McKinnie. "Buffalo, and every other team ahead of them [in last Saturday's draft] will rue the day they passed on McKinnie. Not only did we have him as the best [offensive] tackle in the draft, we had him as the best player, period. He is so talented right now but has the most upside of any top prospect I've seen in the last ten to fifteen years," the scout said......
NORTH-SIDE TIDBITS
Now that Correll Buckhalter has gone down with a season-ending knee injury, the Eagles will first turn their attention to a pair of veteran free agents to add insurance to Duce Staley's shaky injury past. Dorsey Levens and Ki-Jana Carter will both visit Philadelphia in the coming days, with Carter holding a particular interest to the Eagles as he will likely come at a much cheaper financial cost than Levens. As it stands now, former Eagle Ricky Watters, due to his perceived financial demands, is not on the Eagles' radar. Green Bay also have an interest in re-signing Levens as well as signing Carter, but now will face competition from at least Philadelphia for their services......
The Bears are expecting a fierce training camp battle between second-year player Bernard Robertson and rookie Marc Colombo for the starting left tackle position, with many inside the organization feeling that Colombo has the game to earn the job by the time the regular season rolls around......
The Packers could be facing the loss of fourth-round draft pick Najeh Davenport due to a foot injury suffered last season during his final year at the University of Miami. The fullback has undergone extensive medical testing in recent days and could require additional surgery, which would, in all likelihood, knock him out for his entire rookie season......
Bears starting quarterback Jim Miller is still recovering from a separated throwing shoulder and will not be 100 percent until at least the start of training camp. That's good news, in a macabre sort of way, to the Chicago coaching staff as it allows recent free-agent pickup Chris Chandler more reps to learn a new offense......
The contract restructuring agreed upon by defensive end Robert Porcher will save the Lions between $1.5 and $2 million against their 2002 salary cap. Porcher had his '02 base salary reduced to $750,000, with the remainder being paid in the form of a signing bonus.
LEAGUE-WIDE BAUBLES
Dolphins center Tim Ruddy has every right to be concerned about his future in Miami after watching the organization make a serious bid for free-agent center Olin Kreutz, and then using their first pick of last Saturday's draft -- a third-rounder -- on Texas A&M's Seth McKinney. Despite that, he realizes that it's merely the business side of the game of football rearing its ugly head. "Every year, there's competition for almost every job. That's just part of the game. After a while, you learn to accept it," Ruddy told reporters......
With glaring holes still clear to the naked eye at safety and defensive tackle, the Redskins are closing in on reaching agreements with running back Stephen Davis, defensive end Bruce Smith and defensive end Marco Coleman on restructured contracts. The cap space made available by the restructures would not only allow the organization to address the defensive needs, but also their lack of depth on the interior of their offensive line......
Having been shut out in the early portion of free agency, and after having their hopes dashed that Joey Harrington would fall to them in the draft, the Bengals will now turn their attention to a pair of second-tier free agents in their never-ending quest to solve their problems at the quarterback position. The Insiders has learned that Cincinnati has indeed made a formal contract proposal to Gus Frerotte, and, should they be able to reach an agreement with Frerotte, will then turn their attention to Shane Matthews......
Despite published reports, Jamir Miller and his representatives are not currently seeking a contract extension that includes a $12 million signing bonus. That is not to say, however, that the linebacker is not looking to be handsomely rewarded for a Pro Bowl season as a source close to Miller tells The Insiders that a new bonus in the $8-$10 million-dollar range "would be in the right neighborhood at this time."......
Free-agent linebacker Roman Phifer is still weighing offers from the Raiders and Patriots, but would like to make a decision in the next week or two......
As opposed to Butch Davis' stance on minicamps, which are voluntary in name only, Bills head coach Gregg Williams allowed most of his veteran players to skip the camp in order to give his younger players more reps. Included in that group of veterans are six of the eight free agents signed this offseason......
DRAFT LEFTOVERS
The same scout also found it hard to believe that former LSU wide receiver Josh Reed slipped from a potential top-ten pick at the start of the draft season to a second-rounder by Buffalo four months later. While he was particularly harsh on the Bills for their choice of offensive tackles, the scout lavished praise on their second-round selection, going so far as saying that the Bills "have found themselves their own Kevin Johnson."......
Yes, the Bengals would have selected quarterback Joey Harrington had he slipped to the tenth spot in the draft. In fact, a source told The Insiders, the organization briefly considered the notion of trading up in the draft to grab the Oregon signal caller, but that idea was nixed by owner Mike Brown......
Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier was adamantly against the selection of quarterback Patrick Ramsey in the first round of the draft, but the first-year boss was overruled by Big Boy owner Danny Snyder. Those close to Spurrier say that the former Florida coach would have been more than comfortable going into the season with Danny Wuerffel, Sage Rosenfels and Dameyune Craig as his signal callers.

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