Here's all you need to know about the 2004 Ram defense; the top five tacklers were defensive backs. O.K., so leading tackler Adam Lancisero moved from defensive back to linebacker for most of last year, but it still goes to show how horrible the front seven was against the run. Just about everyone returns with the hope that the injuries and inconsistencies of last year are gone. This isn't a big defense, but it's a fast and athletic one.These two teams met last year and Minnesota put up 360 rushing yards on 52 carries. That was in Colorado. Today they are in Minnesota and with FAU next on the Gophers' schedule, all eyes should be focused on today's match.
The Nebraska horror show is far from over. Beating Maine 25-7 at home has to be a low light for the Cornhuskers under Bill Callahan. The defense looks fine, but the offense continues to struggle. Against I-AA Maine, new QB Zac Taylor went 15-of-36 for 192 yards, with two interceptions. Things haven't changed much. Wake Forest lost a tough one to Vanderbilt in the opener, but don't underrate Vandy, which played a tough SEC schedule last year. Wake coach Jim Grobe knows how to get a team ready for a big game, and the Wake running game is one of the best in the ACC.
Ravens coach Brian Billick said starting running back Jamal Lewis and backup Chester Taylor will split time throughout the game, estimating their carries could be "fairly equitable."
Lewis, whose only preseason action was six carries in the finale, doesn't have the leg strength yet after recovering all offseason from ankle surgery.
"I don't think it's realistic to think that he should carry the ball 35 times right now," running backs coach Matt Simon said. "The great thing is we have a very capable football player in Chester Taylor.
“He's going to have to carry a little more than maybe he's ready for,'' Saban said. “We're very pleased with his development, but in the absence of Ricky, we're going to lean on him a little more than we would like to."
“In some ways, the Raiders are being like the Colts - explosive on offense, dreadful on defense,” adds [Covers Expert Dave] Malinsky. “Obviously their offense isn’t as good, but good offense and bad defense.”As we know, the Pats know how to play some defense, but you have to think that their offense will probably not put up 30 points in their first game without Charlie Weis. The above are among the reasons why I'm teasing the under in all ways in today's Coin Flip Challenge.
Seven times in the last nine years, the Raiders have had to pack luggage to begin their season. They did win once, in Kansas City in 2001.
The other six were losses:
1996—Baltimore 19, Raiders 14;
1997—Tennessee 24, Raiders 21;
1998—Kansas City 28, Raiders 8;
1999—Green Bay 28, Raiders 24;
2003—Tennessee 25, Raiders 20;
2004—Pittsburgh 24, Raiders 21.
[Atlanta] ranked 28th overall on defense -- No. 1 against the run and dead last against the pass.I have just one note to add, if Brandon Jones is a Ward look-alike, then I'd have to say Courtney Roby is a Deion Branch clone. Roby looked very quick, and showed very good balls skills in the games I saw him in. The Titans have a nice young group of receivers to rebuild with.
The Bills allowed only one passing TD in the 2005 preseason. New starter J.P. Losman completed 54.3 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Chris Perry averaged 4.0 yards per rushing attempt and led the team in receptions.
In a definite turnaround, [Cleveland] ranked 13th overall on defense (18th against the run; 14th vs. the pass). It was a balanced offensive attack with 121 passes and 125 rushes. Antonio Bryant averaged 21 yards a reception. William Green was a surprise running and catching the ball.
Jacksonville's leading rusher in the preseason was Alvin Pearman, who also is a top receiver.
Keep an eye on David Boston -- he might be a surprise.
[Minnesota] ranked seventh overall on defense (17th against the run; ninth vs. the pass).
The [Giants] ranked No. 1 overall on defense (16th against the run; first vs. the pass). David Tyree (22.1 yards per reception) had an outstanding preseason. Rookie Brandon Jacobs was the leading rusher. The Giants held opponents to a .488 completion percentage and a 42.3 passer rating.
The Jets passed 85 times; ran 117. New offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger likes to go for big plays in the passing game.
The [Raiders] ranked No. 3 overall on defense (12th against the run; fourth vs. the pass). One reason is because the offense had the ball for an average of 32:21.
Steven Jackson (6.7 yards per carry) was outstanding. Kevin Curtis scored three touchdowns and gained 21.3 yards per catch.
[San Diego] backup running back Michael Turner was impressive in the preseason. Rookie Darren Sproles adds to the return game and led the receivers in the preseason.
[San Francisco] ranked No. 32 overall on defense (31st against the run; 31st vs. the pass).
The [Titans] has three good rookie wide receivers -- Courtney Roby, Roydell Williams and Brandon Jones (a Hines Ward look-alike).
Clinton Portis should get more than 300 carries, and second-year tight end Chris Cooley could see a lot of passes come his way.
The signing of Koren Robinson tells me that Tice is either not satisified with Marcus Robinson (and, frankly, he didn't have that great of a preseason, dropping several balls he should have caught) or that Troy Williamson's development is not nearly to the point where the team would like or both.
We don't know the terms of the deal yet, but I imagine we got Robinson on the cheap, so it's probably worth the risk because if the guy can clean up his act, we could possibly have pretty decent receiver on our hands
Asked about the impact that smaller receivers would have on the offense, Gibbs said: "We've had Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders and Alvin Garrett, some very explosive smaller guys. What I've found in our receivers is that explosiveness and the ability to make things happen on the field has less to do with size."David Patten, who has come to Washington from New England, knows a little about winning with smallish receivers too.
"We were just a bunch of small guys that got a lot of production on the field," said Patten, New England's number two receiver for most of its championship run. "Everybody always focused on our size. A lot of time, we got overlooked as a corps. We felt like we had one of the best corps in the league. And you saw the end result."I agree that the NFL's reinforcement of illegal contact rules should help receivers who rely on their quickness more than their size. But even last year's Patriots focused on their taller targets inside the red zone. The TE combo of Grahame, Fauria, Vrabel, Weaver, Watson resulted in 24 red zone targets in 2004. WRs Branch, Patten, Brown, Johnson, combined for 20 targets inside the 20. Givens, the tallest of the Pats receivers last year, took in 14 targets alone. So when it comes to fantasy WRs, you have to be immediately concerned about the TD potential for any of the Redskins' receivers.
Washington's starting offense produced just two touchdowns in nearly seven preseason quarters, and Ramsey failed to curtail talk of an impending quarterback controversy by throwing just two touchdowns and four interceptions, while veteran backup Mark Brunell shined in all four games. The revamped receiving corps -- smaller and faster -- got downfield and caught some deep passes to improve on that part of the game, yet the Redskins still failed to regularly get in the end zone.Part of their recent struggles could be attributed to a slight redesign that occurred this off-season in order to take advantage of Clinton Portis' running style. His 3.8 yards per carry average last season was 1.7 yards under his career average going into 2004. One should expect Portis to finish this season closer to his career numbers. But one should also be concerned about the number of carries he's getting in Washington. Portis is not the type of back that Gibbs was used to during his reign in the 80s and the 343 carries Portis received in 15 games last season is troubling. His previous career high was 290. So while I expect Portis' yards per game to increase this year, I question whether or not he'll be able to play in all 16 games. If he misses time, look for Ladell Betts to become one of those impact running backs that someone picks up midseason and rides to victory for a few weeks.
And through it all, untimely and unnecessary penalties and miscues were a concern. Several potentially fruitful drives were derailed by the elementary procedural penalties that plagued the Redskins in 2004, Washington failed to protect the football (a minus-8 turnover differential, worst in the NFC), had occasional time-management issues and again lost replay challenges. Thursday's 15 penalties for 118 yards had much to do with the number of reserves on the field, but the Redskins still averaged over eight penalties per game in the preseason after committing 1,047 yards worth of penalties last season.
Right now, the Vikings have only four running backs on the roster, but Tice said Michael Bennett, Moore, Moe Williams and rookie Ciatrick Fason are all healthy and available for next Sunday's season opener against Tampa Bay.
Minnesota might be in the market for another receiver. Koren Robinson, who checked himself into a 28-day alcohol rehabilitation program last month, was in town for a visit. The Seahawks released Robinson in June after he was charged with drunk driving, the latest in a series of problems for the ninth overall pick in the 2001 draft who has never performed up to his ability. Tice said nothing was imminent, as far as signing Robinson.
RB Quentin Griffin
RB Jamel White
QB B.J. Symons
WR Reggie Swinton
RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala
LB Nate Wayne
RB Lamar Gordon
K Aaron Elling
WR P.K. Sam
WR David Terrell
RB Mike Cloud
QB Jesse Palmer
LB Jay Foreman
TE Teyo Johnson
DE Hugh Douglas
FB Jon Ritchie
WR Jerome Pathon
RB Jarrett Payton
WR Kevin Dyson
Paul Edinger is Minnesota's kicker.
The Broncos have kept Ron Dayne.
With Raiders releasing Johnson and Dudley, Courtney Anderson and Zeron Flemister are at the top of the TE spot on Oakland's depth chart.
The Pats wide receivers are: Branch, Givens, Brown, Davis, Johnson, and Dwight.
The Doplhins, perhaps feeling they did not have enough speed at running back, signed former Charger Jesse Chatman.
Jerry Rice still has a job, although it seems he's been demoted.
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