|08-21-2007, 03:22 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Keep your hat on, Nate
Mailbag: Keep your hat on, Nate
NFL mandating double chinstraps to ward off concussions
By Mike Klis
Denver Post Staff Writer
Mike - Why is it that Nate Webster seems to have so much trouble keeping his helmet on while on the field? It seems that every second or third tackle the dude makes, his helmet pops off. Or a teammate pops it off in celebration. Or Webster himself doffs it to let his dreads roam wild and free. What gives?
-- Kris, Grand Prairie, Texas
Kris - Webster is a rare guy who talks, laughs and whoops it up when he's on the field, but speaks softly off the field. That tells me he truly loves playing football, and losing the helmet corresponds with that. However, Webster will have to figure out how to keep it on because this year, the NFL can fine players for losing their helmets.
The league has taken major steps in addressing its concussion problems this year. One of them is mandating a double chinstrap on the helmets. There's no way a helmet should fly off if it's double-buckled. Webster's flair for the dramatic helmet pop may have been fun in the past, but it will be costly this year.
With all the injuries and weakness at wide receiver and the relative depth at tight end, why doesn't Mike Shanahan convert someone like Nate Jackson to receiver?
-- Neil, Arvada
Neil - I like a guy who goes right to a solution. Jackson, as you may know, was a receiver in college and early in his pro career but has since been converted to the "small" tight end, or H-back position. How about this for a solution: Keep Jackson at his "small" tight end position and throw to the tight end more. That's how the Broncos will adjust.
Jackson has spent the past two or three years bulking up for the tight end position, so he's not going to have the necessary first-step quickness to play receiver. Besides, the receiver position has become considerably stronger since the return of Brandon Marshall. If Javon Walker and Marshall stay healthy, the receivers will be fine no matter who the Broncos play at the No. 3 receiver.
Mike - Is it written in stone that starting quarterbacks have to play sparingly in preseason games? I thought ours was inexperienced and could use all the real reps he could get. I acknowledge the risk of injury. But that aside (this is football after all), is it just because everyone else does it?
-- Ike Holt, Monkton, Vt.
Ike - I, too, wondered if Jay Cutler would get a few more preseason plays, but there are two reasons why he won't. One, the offseason mini-camps keep these guys so finely tuned throughout the year that preseason games are now considered little more than necessary evils. And two, the exponential increase in compensation for the star player in recent years has magnified the notion these prized investments should not be unnecessarily placed in harm's way. Cutler is going to collect a little more than $11 million this year. If he gets hurt during the preseason, Pat Bowlen isn't going to be happy.
My son brought up a good point regarding "losing" Gerard Warren at this time. Aren't defensive tackles Sam Adams and Jimmy Kennedy "one-year solutions"?
-- Gary and Blake Kleppe, Boston
Gary and Blake - As I go through the mailbag each week, it seems like there are at least two answers to every question and yours is no exception. First, you can argue every acquired veteran player is a one-year solution. The NFL is a year-to-year business for all players, so Adams and Kennedy are no more "one-year" solutions than Warren, as he painfully discovered. Second, it's a little presumptuous to believe Adams and Kennedy will only spend one year in Denver. Adams has already made it 14 years. At 15 to 20 plays a game, why not 15 years, or 18 years? And Kennedy is 27. If he plays well, the expectation will be for him to play for the Broncos when he's 28. Jim Bates' defensive system calls for 320-pound-plus defensive tackles, and there aren't a bunch of them to choose from. So if he likes the ones he has, he'll probably keep them.
Mike - I was a shocked Broncos fan as I watched the first preseason game and noticed Mike Bell trotting onto the field sporting the No. 30 on his jersey. Isn't that number off limits? It may not be officially retired, but Terrell Davis is in the Ring of Fame for Pete's sake!
-- Jay Lundgreen, Portland, Ore.
Jay - I'll take your outrage a little further: Of the Broncos' three officially retired numbers, how can Frank Tripucka's No. 18 be one of them? For Pete's sake! (The others are John Elway's No. 7 and Floyd Little's No. 44.) But here's the story on T.D.'s No. 30.
Mike Bell wore No. 20 as a rookie last year, but that was Travis Henry's number in Buffalo and Tennessee. When the Broncos signed Henry, he paid Bell a few dollars for the right to No. 20. Bell took the money, then went searching for a new number. He was well aware that No. 30 belonged to Davis and admirably called the former Bronco great to ask permission. Davis once again showed he's not full of himself and granted permission without hesitation.
Can Marcus Thomas step into Gerard Warren's shoes?
-- Rex, England
Rex - Not right away. I don't think you'll see Thomas step on the field until the fifth or sixth game. He's not only a rookie, but also a rookie who missed most of his senior year at Florida for disciplinary reasons. So it will take Thomas a little while longer to adjust to NFL-caliber competition.
Hi, Mike. When will Shannon Sharpe become eligible for the Ring of Fame?
-- David Sarver, Basalt
David - Sharpe's final season was 2003, so he will be first considered following the 2008 season. I would expect Sharpe to be voted in during training camp in 2009.
Mike - Can you settle an argument? A draftee signs a four-year contract. He turns out to be a terrible player in training camp. The Broncos understand that they made a mistake. Would he get paid the full four years?
-- Paul Polichio, Reno, Nev.
Paul - In almost all cases, only the signing bonuses are guaranteed. Most first-round draftees get six- or five-year contracts, and second-round picks pretty much get five-year deals. So by four-year contract, you're talking about a guy who was likely drafted in the third round or later.
A perfect example to your scenario is Maurice Clarett, who the Broncos selected in the third round of the 2005 draft. Clarett surrendered all guaranteed money in return for several lucrative incentive clauses. So when Clarett turned out to be terrible as a player and a person in the summer of 2005, the Broncos cut their losses by waiving him. And their losses were essentially $0.