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Whispers from around the NFL

Pro Football Weekly

 

 

• Our sources in Atlanta are not convinced RB Warrick Dunn will be the Falcons' starter next season. The team is still said to be interested in a big tailback, which would be a better fit for new head coach Bobby Petrino's system. We're told Atlanta is interested in RB Michael Bush, whom Petrino coached at Louisville.

 

• Don't be shocked to hear a little pushback from Bears RS Devin Hester in his reported shift from defense to offense. It's still a likelihood, especially since we hear the directive comes from on high, but the word is Hester envisions himself as a cornerback.

 

• Word is the Patriots are considering changing to more of a zone-blocking scheme to take advantage of RB Laurence Maroney's cutback ability. Last year's blocking scheme was better-suited to Corey Dillon's straight-line, off-tackle running style.

 

• Word from New York is that RB Curtis Martin will announce his retirement by June 1. Martin, a future Hall of Famer, missed last season with a knee injury that has prevented him from returning to the field.

 

• The key to the Bills' decision to trade OLB Takeo Spikes was the acquisition of DT Darwin Walker, whose pass-rush ability is expected to provide a big boost. Walker has nearly as many sacks the past five seasons (26½) as all the Bills defensive tackles combined (28) over that span.

 

• We hear that if the Dolphins had matched the money offered by the Jets for the services of valuable reserve DE David Bowens, he would've stayed in South Florida. However, the Dolphins let him go as they continue to rid themselves of players from the Nick Saban era.

 

• We hear that it's a good bet that WR Troy Brown will be back for his 15th season with the Patriots, despite the fact that he turns 36 in July and is coming off knee surgery. Coach Bill Belichick values Brown's versatility and dependability and has said he will find a role for Brown this fall.

 

• We hear the Falcons are planning to keep Jimmy Williams, their top pick in last year's draft, at cornerback, instead of switching him to free safety, and this could indicate that Atlanta wants to select LSU FS LaRon Landry with the No. 8 overall pick.

 

• We're told the Buccaneers covet WR Calvin Johnson and will trade up to land him, if necessary. Sources tell us the Buccaneers have an extra second-round pick -- acquired from Indianapolis in the Anthony McFarland trade last season -- that they would be willing to deal and, with a surplus of quarterbacks, Chris Simms or Jake Plummer could be available.

 

• Word out of Tampa is Saints DE Charles Grant, who was designated a franchise player by New Orleans last month, was invited to visit One Buccaneer Place because the Bucs wanted to get a jump on free agency for next year. We hear Grant met with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his staff, and the team showed off its new practice facility in an effort to recruit him for 2008, but that the team had no intention of working out a deal with New Orleans for him this season.

 

• Sources tell us Buccaneers MLB Shelton Quarles believes he is healthy enough to play in 2007, but the Buccaneers are trying to use his hip injury against him in an effort to force him out and replace him in the starting lineup with Barrett Ruud.

 

• Early word out of Charlotte is DE Julius Peppers, whose contract expires after the 2008 season, wants to become the highest-paid defensive player in the league with his next contract and if the Panthers don't offer it, he wants to hit the free-agent market.

 

• We hear the Panthers will not make a single move in free agency or in the draft at the RB position. In fact, our sources tell us the Panthers believe their backfield of DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams, with an increased workload for Eric Shelton, is a strength.

 

• A failed physical with the Giants in March nixed a trade for Broncos MLB Al Wilson and has left the five-time Pro Bowler in a difficult spot, as potential suitors now are showing more concern about his neck and back issues. If he ends up staying in Denver, he'll definitely do so at a lesser price than the $5.2 million base salary he's owed in '07. If he is dealt or released, SLB D.J. Williams would slide over to the middle and likely handle the nickel LB role, as well.

 

• A couple of NFL scouts were somewhat baffled by the Raiders' decision to sign former Colts RB Dominic Rhodes in free agency without first addressing an offensive line with plenty of holes. "LaMont Jordan had nowhere to go last year," the scout told PFW. "Nowhere. … You have to fix what's wrong up front first. You have to. I don't care if you have LaDainian Tomlinson back there, it's not going to make a difference. [The line] got beat every which way last year, and you've got to improve that situation because Jordan is a solid, solid back, and they're wasting him."

 

• Talk is swirling in K.C. about getting backup RB Michael Bennett more involved to keep Larry Johnson from wearing down, but the pressure will be on Bennett to prove he can stay healthy, which hasn't been easy. He has played in all 16 games just twice in his six NFL seasons.

 

• Confidence in Ty Law and Patrick Surtain, his two veteran corners, could lead Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards to go with a pair of second-year safeties in the starting lineup in Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard. SS Sammy Knight has already been released, and FS Greg Wesley is believed to be on thin ice in terms of his starting job because of his penchant for giving up big plays. Free-agent signee Jon McGraw also figures into the mix despite making only 13 career starts in five years.

 

• Some NFL insiders surprisingly view the hardworking Ronald Curry as the best offensive threat on a Raiders team stocked with talent at the skill positions, mainly because of his desire, athleticism and knowledge of the game.

 

• Word out of Oakland is that an extra big body at defensive tackle could be as big of a draft need as a defensive end to pair opposite Derrick Burgess. Oakland re-signed Terdell Sands and has versatile Tommy Kelly in a rotation, as well, but it wants to begin planning for life after Warren Sapp.

 

• Don't be surprised to see veteran ILB Randall Godfrey continue his career somewhere other than San Diego. Godfrey, an unrestricted free agent at presstime who looks to be putting off retirement for another year, would give way to Stephen Cooper should he return to the Chargers.

 

• The Bears were excited about LB Jamar Williams early last season and were impressed with his special-teams work before a chest injury ended his rookie season. Still, we're told it's far too soon to say the fourth-round rookie is ready to step in if WLB Lance Briggs does not return.

 

• Despite the additions of RBs Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett this offseason, Kevin Jones is still the Lions' guy, if healthy. Detroit needed the insurance, however, and Bell and Duckett add speed and power, respectively, two dimensions the Lions certainly lacked a year ago.

 

• Don't be surprised if the Vikings trade down from the No. 7 pick. We're told the recent Brady Quinn momentum is little more than a smokescreen.

 

• WR Troy Williamson is optimistic that a vision problem was at the root of his troubles reading and catching the football last year. The third-year wideout is working with the Vikings and crappy shoes from spammers to correct the problem non-surgically. We hear the team wasn't thrilled that Williamson's agent leaked the story and presented it as a cure-all for his client's problems.

 

• Although they're listed as the starters at defensive end on the Cardinals' depth chart heading into the team's first minicamp, sources close to the team are really starting to wonder whether both DRE Bertrand Berry and DLE Chike Okeafor will be in their familiar posts in September. Word is Berry, who has now missed major portions of the last two seasons due to injury, could be under particular scrutiny.

 

• Look for the Cardinals' defense to employ lots of three-safety sets that will not only get talented nickel safety Aaron Francisco on the field more but also take pressure off an undermanned LB corps, which the team may still try to bolster with the addition of a veteran free agent this offseason.

 

• With still more than $11 million in salary-cap cash after signing centerpiece RB Frank Gore to a four-year contract extension, the odds are against the Niners using a chunk of that money to re-up with OT Justin Smiley, as had been rumored late in the '06 season. We now hear the consensus seems to be that the undersized Smiley, whose contract runs out at the end of the '07 season, does not fit in the Niners' long-term plans.

 

• Although Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck is way ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder last January and is expected to be able to fully participate in the team's June minicamp, word is the Seahawks are thinking about exercising caution and keeping him out of the team's first two preseason games.

 

• Forget the consensus in league circles that Seattle free-agent addition Marcus Pollard is on his last legs. Our Seahawks sources tell us the team genuinely believes its new starting tight end could catch more than 50 passes this coming season, which would be a first under Mike Holmgren.

 

• Don't be shocked if Rams free-agent addition Chris Draft starts in Week 1 at weakside linebacker in place of regular starter Pisa Tinoisamoa, who broke both his hands and suffered a dislocated elbow last season. We hear Draft, who can capably play all three LB positions, will line up on the weak side in place of Tinoisamoa during most of the Rams' upcoming organized team activities.

 

• The bottom line in the ongoing Corey Simon saga? The way we hear it, the more the mystery lingers regarding the defensive tackle's status with the Colts -- team sources continue to remain completely in the dark -- the less chance there is that he will return to the team.

 

• Although the Giants' David Diehl has not been told by the team that he's going to replace Luke Petitgout at left tackle, team sources say Diehl is the guy, short of the team drafting a tackle in Round One, and that's not likely with other needs more pressing. Second-year project Guy Whimper is probably not ready to compete yet.

 

• The Cowboys signed former CFL star WR Jamel Richardson ahead of the Colts (who had a scout stationed in Saskatchewan) and think his size and playmaking ability give him a chance to make the roster, but Richardson's injury history is a concern.

 

• Though new Eagles LB Takeo Spikes best fits on the strong side and likely will start there, don't rule out some action in the middle, especially if Chris Gocong impresses in camp. Spikes is capable of playing in the middle, and Jeremiah Trotter is on the downside of his career. Omar Gaither also could factor inside.

 

• Free-agent G Zach Piller remains on the Redskins' radar after visiting March 22, but team sources indicate they are intrigued with the idea of using 6-foot-8 Todd Wade, a converted tackle, at Derrick Dockery's vacated LG spot.

 

• Though there had been talk about RB Chris Brown possibly returning to Tennessee following Travis Henry's departure, spies say there has been little, if any, recent contact between the team and Brown's camp.

 

• The way we hear it, the Steelers may be in the market for a 3-4 defensive end in April's draft, and perhaps as early as the draft's first day.

 

• The Steelers have had contract talks with LG Alan Faneca, but nothing is imminent. That said, a source close to the club believes there's still hope of getting a deal done at some point. Faneca, one of the top guards in the game, will be an unrestricted free agent after the '07 season.

 

• The Browns are confident ORT Ryan Tucker will play this season. Tucker left the team last season because of an undisclosed illness, but he has said he's ready to come back.

 

• The way we hear it, veteran Ron Dayne has the edge to be the primary backup to Texans starting RB Ahman Green.

 

• From all indications, the Texans' signing of Chiefs OT Jordan Black does not change their plans to pick an offensive tackle in April's draft.

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• We hear the Panthers will not make a single move in free agency or in the draft at the RB position. In fact, our sources tell us the Panthers believe their backfield of DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams, with an increased workload for Eric Shelton, is a strength.

 

Geesh. After last year's debacle at RB and Delhomme's regression, I will do my best to avoid that offense like the plague this year.

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Whispers from around the NFL

Pro Football Weekly

 

• We're told the Buccaneers covet WR Calvin Johnson and will trade up to land him, if necessary. Sources tell us the Buccaneers have an extra second-round pick -- acquired from Indianapolis in the Anthony McFarland trade last season -- that they would be willing to deal and, with a surplus of quarterbacks, Chris Simms or Jake Plummer could be available.

 

 

 

Didn't he retire? :D

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Didn't he retire? :D

 

 

Could be wrong, but I don't think he's actually filed the papers yet?

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Could be wrong, but I don't think he's actually filed the papers yet?

 

pretty sure he did

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Could be wrong, but I don't think he's actually filed the papers yet?

 

 

 

I heard that too. Perhaps he could be traded if playing in Tampa is the issue.

 

:D But then if Calvin Johnson is drafted he may change his mind.

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Whispers from around the NFL

Pro Football Weekly

• Word out of Tampa is Saints DE Charles Grant, who was designated a franchise player by New Orleans last month, was invited to visit One Buccaneer Place because the Bucs wanted to get a jump on free agency for next year. We hear Grant met with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his staff, and the team showed off its new practice facility in an effort to recruit him for 2008, but that the team had no intention of working out a deal with New Orleans for him this season.

 

Wait a minute...can they do that????? Isn't that tampering?

 

Thanks for the info Kings.

Edited by The Wolf

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Wait a minute...can they do that????? Isn't that tampering?

 

 

 

Not unless New Orleans approved it. They probably let him go out and look for a trade.

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Wait a minute...can they do that????? Isn't that tampering?

 

 

A player with a franchise tag can sign a contract with another team. If they do, and the current team decides not to match the contract, they would recieve 2 first round picks from the new team.

 

It never happens that way because no one is worth 2 #1's. If they (a franchised player) can sign with another team, I guess they'd be allowed to go meet with them.

Edited by charty

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A player with a franchise tag can sign a contract with another team. If they do, and the current team decides not to match the contract, they would recieve 2 first round picks from the new team.

 

It never happens that way because no one is worth 2 #1's. If they (a franchised player) can sign with another team, I guess they'd be allowed to go meet with them.

 

 

Well, there you have it. Thanks Charty.

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It never happens that way because no one is worth 2 #1's. If they (a franchised player) can sign with another team, I guess they'd be allowed to go meet with them.

 

Exactly, Grant is a free agent right now. He can meet with any team he wants. The problem is the 2 #1's the team has to give up.

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• Although Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck is way ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder last January and is expected to be able to fully participate in the team's June minicamp, word is the Seahawks are thinking about exercising caution and keeping him out of the team's first two preseason games.

 

• Forget the consensus in league circles that Seattle free-agent addition Marcus Pollard is on his last legs. Our Seahawks sources tell us the team genuinely believes its new starting tight end could catch more than 50 passes this coming season, which would be a first under Mike Holmgren.

 

 

Both of these items are comments from Mike Holmgren published in Mike Sando's blog at the Tacoma News Tribune a couple weeks ago.

 

Now that the Seahawks do not have the 5th preseason game in China, the plan for Matt's workload in pre-season is up in the air. Holmgren has mentioned that David Greene, entering his 3rd season in the NFL, is going to get a long look to see if he's got a future or not. Of course, David Carr was in town yesterday talking with the team about playing here next season, so that could all be moot come the end of July.

 

The 50 catch thing with Pollard is borderline ridiculous, given that no TE has approached that mark under Holmgren, and Pollard never reached that mark with Manning throwing to him. The one thing with Pollard is that he's the tallest target Hasselbeck will have to throw to (besides TE Will Heller). However, watch what the Hawks do in the draft with this position before getting all excited about him

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Geesh. After last year's debacle at RB and Delhomme's regression, I will do my best to avoid that offense like the plague this year.

 

 

You would be foolish if you make a statement like that. The problem with the Panthers last year was the OL was make shift, rag tag bunch with several big injuries effecting the line play. Fewer holes for the RBs, less time for Delhomme to react and deliver the ball to his WRs. They also didn't have S. Smith for the first two games and he still put up very nice numbers for 13 games (2 hurt and the Atlanta game when Weinke only threw 7 times completing 4) and he went without.

 

The Panthers have gradually improved their cap room with releases and restructured contract (Rucker, Morgan and Minter) and what I hear on the radio is they are gearing up to re-sign and extend both Smith and Peppers, the backbone of the team. I am glad they haven't signed guys for huge money on players I consider to be good players, but not of Pro Bowl caliber, as most of those guys will be cut within 2 or 3 years after the cap kicks in and performance does not merit the money doled out to these guys.

 

I heard Steve Smith on the radio just this week on The Morning Sports Page show here and they guys talked about the money guys like Drew Bennett and Wes Welker got and he is making mental notes as his current contract is well under the going rate for a top 5 WR and the Panthers know they will need to pay up. I also don't give my creedence of the Peppers blurb in the Whispers info as the Panthers know they need to pay up for Julius too. I would much rather see them spend zero money for any splashy FAs this year and take care of our playmakers JP and SS.

 

Q. Your team has been very quiet in free agency. Can you explain to the fans, who want to see dramatic moves, why you're taking this approach? It has nothing to do with the record last year. For several years now, we've made a commitment that we're trying to keep our core players together. There are essentially 22 spots on the team and, depending on whose point of view it is, six to eight of those are critical. You can't have 22 A-number-1 players. We have decided who our players are at different increments. We have the key players on our team under contract. We anticipated that there would be free-agency spending that was not likely to match with the free agents that were coming on the market.

 

A. The players out there were not players that we wanted to pay significant amounts of money when we know that Steve Smith is coming up for another contract, Julius Peppers is coming up and Jordan Gross is coming up.

 

Q. If you do sign Steve Smith and Julius Peppers to new deals, they'll probably be the biggest contracts in franchise history and two of the bigger deals in the NFL. Are you optimistic you can get them both done?

A. Very.

 

Q. Why?

A. We have the money to pay them. I have all indications they want to be on the team. I know from my point of view, we clearly want them on the team. Now, those two slots are going to go up and you've got a salary cap, so there will be more younger players playing with low contracts and it will be an on-going puzzle. But I have no reason to think that those contracts won't get done.

 

Full Q & A Jerry Richardson in the Charlotte Observer

 

 

Wait to see how the Panthers draft and reports from camp and this board before you just blindly take them off you list of players to choose in your FF drafts. If you want Panthers information Panther Dave and I can provide lots of it. I have season tickets and go to all the games, so if you want to know about a new rookie or things that aren't in print, just ask. :D

Edited by PSULions

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I heard Steve Smith on the radio just this week on The Morning Sports Page show here and they guys talked about the money guys like Drew Bennett and Wes Welker got and he is making mental notes as his current contract is well under the going rate for a top 5 WR and the Panthers know they will need to pay up.

He's making mental notes about Welker's five-year deal worth $18.1 million?

Doesn't he have better things to focus on in the off season?

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He's making mental notes about Welker's five-year deal worth $18.1 million?

Doesn't he have better things to focus on in the off season?

 

 

Actually, he just came back from a long trip Africa. Steve is a Christian and toured several countries to learn about the struggles that these countries have. He talked about some amazing kids that they met (he and several other players) during their trip and how it has changed his life. He plans to go back when he can, but it was pretty neat to hear him talk about the trip, so he is not just sitting around with nothing to do.

 

I think his agent is having talks with the Panthers now and it is hard not to have him pay attention about the big dollar deals that some of the average to above average WRs are getting. He knows he is going to get paid, but he would be a fool to monitor the WR market for his value.

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You would be foolish if you make a statement like that. The problem with the Panthers last year was the OL was make shift, rag tag bunch with several big injuries effecting the line play. Fewer holes for the RBs, less time for Delhomme to react and deliver the ball to his WRs. They also didn't have S. Smith for the first two games and he still put up very nice numbers for 13 games (2 hurt and the Atlanta game when Weinke only threw 7 times completing 4) and he went without.

 

All the rumors/whispers above say is they remain under the delusion that Deshaun Foster, Deangelo, and Eric Shelton form some sort of 3-headed rushing monster. How do you expect to close out games when the RBs you haphazardly put in the game either don't have the talent/ability (Foster, Shelton) or have the talent and don't get the carries (Deangelo, Goings)?

 

Have the Carolina offensive coordinators/personnel people been informed they can throw passes to their TE?

 

Throw in the inconsistency of a slinger like Delhomme and the offense is doomed for the muddled middle. It's truly a testament to Steve Smith's ability because if it weren't for him they'd look a lot like the Browns.

 

Also, I don't see how the additions of Drew Bennett and Wes Welker are going to suddenly change things.

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The 50 catch thing with Pollard is borderline ridiculous, given that no TE has approached that mark under Holmgren, and Pollard never reached that mark with Manning throwing to him. The one thing with Pollard is that he's the tallest target Hasselbeck will have to throw to (besides TE Will Heller). However, watch what the Hawks do in the draft with this position before getting all excited about him

 

Is it because he never had a Keith Jackson or Mark Chmura in Seattle (not that Pollard is as good as either of them)?

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The comments about the other WRs had nothing to do with the post other than Steve Smith is up for a new deal and I heard him on the radio and the big dollar deals that some of this lesser WRs have just signed has increased Smith market value. The Panthers know they need to re-do his contract and sign him to an extension. It was a side bar about the Panthers.

 

Davidson the new OC is looking to feature the TE more often in the new look offense, so even through we don't have a top flight TE, I think the Panthers will look to address that at some point in the upcoming draft. I also think that they will leverage more DeAngelo Williams into the playbook to take advantage of his skill and we will see a lot less of Foster, perhaps 65% / 35% (Williams / Foster), which will be a boost to the running game under an improved OL. All I was saying with my statement is don't write them off this early. The Panthers signed Carr to backup Delhomme this morning so even if Jake doesn't improve we now have a viable backup that could lead the team and keep the FF values of Smith / Williams / Keyshawn / Foster from dropping terribly if Jake struggles or gets hurt.

 

The Panthers do have some questions, but I think Fox feels a little pressure this year and Richardson is looking for a return to the playoffs, so I expect the Panthers to improve on last years dissappointing showing.

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Is it because he never had a Keith Jackson or Mark Chmura in Seattle (not that Pollard is as good as either of them)?

 

 

Maybe? Stevens was a #1 draft pick, so they were forced to develop him rather than seek someone else out.

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• Free-agent G Zach Piller remains on the Redskins' radar after visiting March 22, but team sources indicate they are intrigued with the idea of using 6-foot-8 Todd Wade, a converted tackle, at Derrick Dockery's vacated LG spot.

 

. . . are they planning on trading for Pillar? He already signed with the Lions, along with Ed Mulitalo.

 

Peace

policy

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You would be foolish if you make a statement like that. The problem with the Panthers last year was the OL was make shift, rag tag bunch with several big injuries effecting the line play. Fewer holes for the RBs, less time for Delhomme to react and deliver the ball to his WRs. They also didn't have S. Smith for the first two games and he still put up very nice numbers for 13 games (2 hurt and the Atlanta game when Weinke only threw 7 times completing 4) and he went without.

 

The Panthers have gradually improved their cap room with releases and restructured contract (Rucker, Morgan and Minter) and what I hear on the radio is they are gearing up to re-sign and extend both Smith and Peppers, the backbone of the team. I am glad they haven't signed guys for huge money on players I consider to be good players, but not of Pro Bowl caliber, as most of those guys will be cut within 2 or 3 years after the cap kicks in and performance does not merit the money doled out to these guys.

 

I heard Steve Smith on the radio just this week on The Morning Sports Page show here and they guys talked about the money guys like Drew Bennett and Wes Welker got and he is making mental notes as his current contract is well under the going rate for a top 5 WR and the Panthers know they will need to pay up. I also don't give my creedence of the Peppers blurb in the Whispers info as the Panthers know they need to pay up for Julius too. I would much rather see them spend zero money for any splashy FAs this year and take care of our playmakers JP and SS.

Full Q & A Jerry Richardson in the Charlotte Observer

Wait to see how the Panthers draft and reports from camp and this board before you just blindly take them off you list of players to choose in your FF drafts. If you want Panthers information Panther Dave and I can provide lots of it. I have season tickets and go to all the games, so if you want to know about a new rookie or things that aren't in print, just ask. :D

 

 

 

Well said, plus , if I've learned anything about the NFL...last year/season means squat. If anyone thinks this is not a PO team in the NFC??-c'mon now.

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