View Full Version : A little of this and that
05-31-2005, 06:51 AM
Alexander off road, out of bounds (5/27/05)
Guard injured in accident, not practice
By FRANK SCHWAB THE GAZETTE
ENGLEWOOD - Guard P.J. Alexander's major knee injury occurred in an off-road vehicle accident, not in practice May 20 as the Denver Broncos first indicated.
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said Thursday that Alexander, who was supposed to compete with Cooper Carlisle for the starting right guard position, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while riding a four-wheel offroad vehicle last weekend.
Alexander will miss the season.
"I don't know if he was going to tip over or something, but he put his foot down and tore his ACL," Shanahan said. "It had nothing to do with football."
Shanahan said he talked to the team about dangerous offfield activities last week, after Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was injured in a motorcycle accident.
"I did it three days before (Alexander's injury), to give you an idea how strong my speech was," Shanahan said.
In the standard NFL players' contract, activities that "may involve a significant risk of personal injury" are prohibited, and Alexander might have violated his contract when he rode the off-road vehicle.
Alexander is scheduled to make $380,000 in base salary this season, the last of his three-year deal.
Winslow might have to pay back some of his signing bonus because he violated his contract, but that won't be an issue with Alexander. Alexander didn't received a signing bonus when he signed with the Broncos in 2003.
Alexander's agent, Neil Schwartz, had no comment.
Running back Mike Anderson is back to 100 percent and doesn't want to concede the starting tailback job to Tatum Bell or anybody else this season.
"Every year, coming back and starting off the new year, I felt that (I could start)," Anderson said. "I feel that way today, I'm going to feel that way tomorrow morning when I wake up and it's going to keep going on."
Anderson spent last season on injured reserve after he tore two groin muscles in an exhibition game. He said he could have played late last season had he not been on injured reserve, and is completely healthy now.
"I feel like it's strong," Anderson said. "But honestly, it's something I don't go in that training room and want to talk to them about. To me, that's behind me."
Shanahan indicated that end Courtney Brown (foot), end Ebenezer Ekuban (shoulder, knee), cornerback Jeff Shoate (knee) and running back Quentin Griffin (knee), all of whom missed the Broncos quarterbacks camp the past two weeks, should be able to participate in next week's team camp, which starts Wednesday.
05-31-2005, 06:52 AM
Rice doesn't want fanfare even if this is a farewell (5/27/05)
By FRANK SCHWAB THE GAZETTE
ENGLEWOOD - Denver Broncos receiver Jerry Rice said this season probably will be his last in the NFL.
Rice, who is one of the greatest players in league history, had to be prodded for that answer.
"If you guys can keep this quiet, this probably will be my last little dance, OK?" said Rice, who signed Wednesday.
Rice wants to quietly slip
out the back door when this season is finished.
He's not asking for Rod Smith's jersey No. 80, which would have caused a small controversy. Rice is not making any predictions for this season, just that he wants to have fun.
Rice spoke about competing for a roster spot and playing time, just like some of the other backup receivers on the roster who were in grade school when Rice came into the league 20 years ago.
"There will not be a red carpet or anything like that," Rice said. "I'm basically going to come in and earn my job."
While his new teammates admit to being in awe of him, Rice said he wants to blend in.
"I really don't want to be a big story," Rice said, while a couple of dozen reporters at the team's headquarters listened to his teleconference. "I want to come in and I want to work and I want to contribute.
"I don't want to be the focus of attention. I've carried that load for so many years. I just want to come in and help that team win."
The chances of Rice becoming a forgotten man are slim. His first practice will be Wednesday at the team camp.
"I'm going to be as low key as possible," Rice said.
Rice will turn 43 in October. The Broncos will find out in training camp if he can still play and what role he'll have on the team.
The notion that Rice might not make the roster was laughable to receiver Ashley Lelie.
"He's Jerry Rice," Lelie said.
Rice left open the possibility that he could play past this year, saying he'll re-evaluate his future at the end of the season. No matter what happens this season, Rice said he wants to enjoy himself.
"It's not going to be hard for me to walk away from this game, but I want to get everything I can out of this game," Rice said.
05-31-2005, 06:53 AM
Opinion: Critics punishing receiver unfairly (5/26/05)
MILO F. BRYANT Gazette Sports columnist
Football is a violent sport that punishes its heroes for having birthdays.
Jerry Rice has had 42 birthdays, almost half of them while playing at football's highest level.
Rice made a living catching inside slant passes, then navigating through linebackers and defensive backs. He did that well, gaining 22,895 receiving yards during 20 seasons.
He will do it well for the Broncos, too.
Rice might not catch 100 passes. He might not gain 1,000 yards. But he is the best offseason acquisition the Broncos have made.
Still, folks with a Ph.D. (player hater's degree) in football say Rice will be the Broncos' fourth receiver at best, behind Ashley Lelie, Rod Smith and Darius Watts. Behind Lelie and Smith, that's understandable. But Watts, as much potential as he has, has yet to prove that third spot is his.
Not only is age punishing Rice, now there are sardonic and satirical pun- dits from newspapers to sports talk radio and fans adding to the spears being chucked at Rice.
Rice was the third receiver selected in the 1985 draft behind Al Toon, who went to the New York Jets, and Eddie Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown retired after the 1991 season, Toon after 1992.
Some folks wish Rice would do the same. They fear his accomplishments and legacy will be diminished if he hangs around too long, holding on to a lower-rung roster spot.
"It's not about stats," Rice said Wednesday on the NFL Network. "It's not about that. For so many years I had the weight on my shoulders, I was the focus of attention. Now it gives me an opportunity just to go in and watch those younger guys and help those guys.
"I don't think it's going to hurt my status. I think the status is already intact. What I want to do is go in and play and have fun. For so many years I had blinders on and I could not really enjoy the game. Lately I've had time to just reflect and enjoy."
That's great now. Let's see what happens if he doesn't get the ball as much as he would like.
The Broncos will be Rice's third team in two years. Rice spent 16 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, three years and some change with the Oakland Raiders and 12 games with the Seattle Seahawks.
People who have a problem with Rice continuing to play should understand one thing. Rice isn't playing for them or because of them.
If anything, Rice, like Michael Jordan, earned the right to leave the game when he is ready . . . unless no one offers a job.
We don't have a monopoly on our sports heroes. We cheer for them, bask in their glory, feel their pain and remember how great they were when they're gone.
Presumably, Rice maintains a fat bank account. So odds are his desire to play isn't about the money. As for status, no one will outrank Rice among all-time receivers for at least a decade.
Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss are the best receivers in the NFL right now. At their present rates, it would take Moss 10.5 years to gain as many receiving yards as Rice has now. Harrison needs 9.4 years.
"I know I'm not the player I used to be," Rice told the NFL Network. "But I can still play football."
Eventually, Rice will run out of teams willing to give him work.
But for now, he still does one thing better than many receivers in the league. Rice can catch the ball.
Rice, who was never extremely fast, is even slower now. He has not had a 100-catch season since 1996 nor a 1,000-yard season since 2002. He is a possession receiver now.
But if Broncos coach Mike Shanahan gives Rice the chance, Rice can be a very good possession receiver.
"What motivates him is he loves the game, loves being around the guys," Rice's agent Jim Steiner said, according to the Associated Press. "He has a passion for playing football. It's what he does and it's who he is. The more people say he shouldn't do it, that becomes a personal challenge."
If Rice is to continue being punished, folks should let football do it
05-31-2005, 06:54 AM
When will they learn?
Character issues don't stop teams from rolling the dice
By Hub Arkush (email@example.com)
May 30, 2005
It’s practically an unwritten rule in the NFL that you don’t gamble on character questions with a top-10 or top-15 pick in the draft. And on the rare occasions when a team does, such as the Chargers’ selection of Ryan Leaf (No. 2 overall in 1998) or the Bears’ selection of Cade McNown (No. 12 in 1999), those decisions have almost always ended in disaster.
It seems to me that a pivotal question as we all try to project how rookie players will fare in the NFL in these times of parity, free agency and a greater need than ever to be successful in the draft, is: Why risk any of your valuable draft choices on players who come to the game and the league with known concerns about their heads, specifically the parts they think with, not hit with?
As we head into the 2005 NFL season, it appears there are five poster-children candidates for the “remarkable talent but where did we go wrong?” award. I thought it would be fun to look at where they’ve come from, where they went wrong, just how predictable it might have been and how their final scouting reports will read.
Certainly Randy Moss is the headliner in this group and perhaps the all-time classic example of my hypothetical dilemma. Every NFL fan out there who knows anything about the game remembers the story of that 1998 NFL draft in which Peyton Manning went first, Leaf second and 19 teams passed on Moss, including the Bengals, who said “no thanks” twice. According to PFW, Moss was the 15th-best prospect in that draft, and the late Joel Buchsbaum wrote, “If you excluded his head and his heart, he would be an all-time prospect. However, he has had more than his share of problems off the field and acts like a spoiled star on the field too often.”
Will Moss fare any better in Oakland than he did in Minnesota when his NFL final grade is posted? No, his character has proven to be every bit as much a problem, if not more than what was feared and predicted when he was drafted, and even Hall of Fame type of production wasn’t enough to keep him from being practically ridden out of Minnesota on a rail when the Vikings family finally said enough is enough.
Kellen Winslow was tied with Robert Gallery as the best prospect in the 2004 NFL draft with an 8.0 grade. But Nolan Nawrocki wrote of Winslow, “Turned off scouts at the Combine with brash, surly demeanor.” He proved himself to be remarkably arrogant and abrasive in the weeks leading up to and immediately following the draft. Still, the Browns traded up a spot to take him sixth overall. It was not Winslow’s fault that he missed all but two games of his rookie season with a football injury, but it is most definitely his fault he will miss all of ’05 and his career may be in jeopardy as a result of a recent off-the-field recreational accident.
Can Winslow’s career and the Browns’ investment be saved? Only if Winslow’s latest dilemma scares him the way many obnoxious, gifted little kids sometimes need to be scared straight.
The Vikings will argue that they only blew a 2003 fourth-round pick on RB Onterrio Smith when he had late-first-, high-second-round grades, but I’ll still ask them, ‘Why’d you blow a pick at all?’ I don’t feel I’m out on a limb, even without making any all-too-easy, cheap Whizzinator jokes, that Smith is done. Prior to Smith’s selection, Buchsbaum and Nawrocki collaborated to write about him, “Character is a big concern. Great natural athletic ability, but his character will affect where he is drafted. He must stay out of trouble to have success at the next level.” As a result, the Vikings felt they could “steal” him. In the end, all they did was blow a valuable draft choice.
Finally, there are Ricky Williams and David Terrell. The Saints gave up their entire 1999 draft and first- and third-round picks in 2000 to get Williams, and then the Dolphins gave up two first-round picks to get him from the Saints. But neither New Orleans nor Miami had reason to suspect character was an issue with Williams. Many folks with very strong character have also had serious drug problems. And the fact is, Williams was the best player on his team in both New Orleans and Miami and was never considered a liability at any time until he walked away.
Terrell’s problems in Chicago allegedly were all about character. But there were no concerns about the young man coming out of Michigan. In fact, in his first 21 games, he caught 43 passes for seven TDs as the Bears’ No. 3 receiver before a stress fracture ended his second season after five games. Coming back in ’03, Terrell was badly misused by two different offensive coordinators who never trusted or understood his skills, and it was then that his “character” began to become a problem. Make no mistake, Terrell’s failure in Chicago is largely his own fault. But he is now the latest project of Bill Belichick in New England, and it wouldn’t shock me if a terribly immature young man who was poorly handled in Chicago still has some very good years in the NFL ahead of him.
05-31-2005, 06:57 AM
With plenty of capable bodies, there should be plenty of competition this summer for the nine or 10 roster spots reserved for the defensive line in Denver. New DE Courtney Brown will have one of those spots reserved for him, but his conditioning should be a focal point between now and the start of the season. One NFL scout who has studied the league’s defensive linemen regularly in recent years picked up on how injuries appear to have taken a toll on his play and perhaps even his psyche. Missing 33 games in five years has disrupted any rhythm he has tried to build, according to the source, and his overall conditioning has been severely hampered because of the fact he has been in nearly constant rehabilitation from his various injuries.
05-31-2005, 06:59 AM
Jarrett Payton shining in Europe
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Posted: 3 days ago
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Jarrett Payton prefers to skip the comparisons to his father. Besides, he's already doing a fine impression.
Payton, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton, is a running back with the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe, and he's trying to make it big on his own merits.
"My dad was the greatest, but I just want to be the guy who can play the game and not because of my last name," Payton said. "I was born into this and I've got to take it. I can't go out there and be like him. I've got to be myself."
Walter Payton, who died of cancer in 1999, played for the Chicago Bears from 1975-87 and was the league's top career rusher when he retired.
"It is something you've got to understand that is always going to be there," Payton said.
The 24-year-old Payton has rushed for 492 yards on 88 carries - an average of 5.6 yards - and scored a league-leading seven touchdowns to help the Admirals to a 5-3 record.
"I have some good yards, but that's not the most important thing. The biggest thing I'm happy about is that I'm playing consistently," Payton said.
The former University of Miami player is hoping to earn a spot with the Tennessee Titans, the NFL team that allocated him to Amsterdam.
"When I get back I want to have a role on the team. The things that Tennessee wanted me to do - I think I've done those things. As a player I feel that I can always play," Payton said.
Payton, who spent last season on the Titans' practice squad, will have to learn offensive coordinator Norm Chow's new system when he returns, but the Titans only have draft pick Damien Nash and a handful of rookies currently competing to back up Chris Brown.
"It is important that he is rested for training camp because he has basically been playing football for a calendar year, so we will ease him into training camp," said Titans coach Jeff Fisher, a teammate of Payton's father with the Bears.
"Jarrett will definitely be in the mix at the running back position, especially after the improvement he has shown with the Admirals this spring," he said.
The Admirals are on the verge of qualifying for a spot in the World Bowl - the league's championship game - for the second time.
"We're going to the World Bowl. I said that in earlier interviews and can't take it back," Payton said. "The Admirals are the best team and I'm not only saying that because I'm a player. Some teams only have one guy to go to, but on our offense we got guys that can catch and run the ball."
The Admirals, who are unbeaten at home, host the Hamburg Sea Devils on Sunday. A win could be enough to clinch a berth in the title game.
Payton, who visited the Netherlands as a teenager while playing for a youth soccer team, has drawn much of the attention since he arrived in Amsterdam.
"I was anxious the first time in the Arena," Payton said. "I never saw a group of people get so loud. And it was the first time that I played in a real game situation since college."
Off the field, Payton has to be wary of Amsterdam's renowned nightlife.
"For me, that isn't a problem. I know what comes first and that's football, that's why I'm here," he said.
05-31-2005, 07:04 AM
Redskins Team Report
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Paul Woody /
Posted: 1 day ago
Charles Howard showed well when he was brought in for a tryout during the rookie minicamp and earned a free-agent contract. He has continued to show well during the individual workouts in the organized team activity practices. Howard is exceptionally quick, has decent size, gets a good jump off the ball and plays with a high motor. He has a chance to develop into a pass rush specialist and could help the team this season. . . .
Sean Taylor's absence is becoming more and more vexing for the team. Questions now are being raised about whether he is a good fit for the type of team Joe Gibbs wants to build. For now, Taylor can get by on his exceptional athletic skills. When he follows his assignments, he makes everyone who plays in front of him better. Taylor can cover so much ground so fast that the cornerbacks can be used more in press coverage and linebackers can be sent more often on blitzes. But Taylor is missing a large amount of mental work, and eventually that will cost him and the team. . . .
There is plenty of depth at safety with proven players such as Matt Bowen, Ryan Clark and Andre Lott on the roster. Lott made perhaps the biggest improvement of any player last season and was playing well when his season was ended with an injury. He could provide the special teams boost that Hall might have given.
SCOUTING REPORT:Ray Brown will go into the season as a backup at guard, but chances are he will be on the field more than the team expects or actually wants. Brown has the confidence of the coaching staff, especially Gibbs and Joe Bugel. Brown seldom makes mental mistakes, his technique is solid and he takes excellent care of his body. At the age of 42, he no longer has a quick first step and struggles when he has to play on the edge with no help. If Derrick Dockery does not play up to the staff's expectations, Brown could get the call. He's not nearly as talented physically as Dockery -- even in his prime Brown might not have been has physically talented as Dockery -- but Brown's consistency and work ethic more than make up for that.
INSIDE DISH: Slowly but surely Joe Gibbs is getting people he trusts into scouting and front-office positions with the team. Hiring Don Warren as a pro scout is directly related to his long-term association with Gibbs and the Super Bowl years. Gibbs is a strong believer in surrounding himself with people he knows. Warren is unproven as a talent evaluator, but Gibbs thinks that Warren's work ethic will help him overcome that. And Gibbs would rather have a hard-worker who he knows and trusts than someone he doesn't know.
CORNERBACKS ANALYSIS: GRADE: B Shawn Springs gave a solid performance last season, and should continue to do so as long as he stays healthy. Depth is a strong point, with Carlos Rogers set to push Walt Harris for a starting job and several young players coming along nicely.
05-31-2005, 10:45 AM
What is it with these Miami players!?
Ray Ray, Edge, Ed Reed, Soulja, Sean Taylor...
Please God, keep D.J. Williams away from these pricks...
Then you have a Jarret Payton. There was an Eddie Payton in the NFL for a bit, but I think that was a nephew. Not sure. I hope the kid makes it...sounds like he's doing well over the pond.
Too bad my niece Lisa isn't a guy...she's a beast. Maybe she can make it to the WNBA if she can get her shots to drop. She will be a sophmore and again starting Point. She can handle the ball like a pro but can't shoot, or doesn't much, usually dishing. She also runs hurdles in almost record time as a freshman.
Too bad she didn't get into tennis.
05-31-2005, 11:44 AM
What is it with these Miami players!?
Ray Ray, Edge, Ed Reed, Soulja, Sean Taylor...
Please God, keep D.J. Williams away from these pricks...
It starts at Miami, Former plaers are always appearing before games to give the college players a pep talk then when they get to the NFL they all train together in Miami. They talk about agents, blow up each others opinions of themselves and then they take this great new attitude back to their team.
Miami players turn out to be good pros BUT I would think twice about drafting one. Hopefully Williams will stay away from them.