Friday Football
    The picks for Week 6 are up. Thanks, as always, to Eric Mirl for gathering up all 34 of us. The Beach is back in second place, after a 9-5 week 5. I'd also like to point out that I'm picking Houston to win on Sunday night in Seattle. It's crazy, and it's probably a loser, but it's a statement pick. If you're still in a survivor pool, go with someone other than Seattle this week. I just have a feeling the Texans are going to give the Seahawks a game here. I am, however, the only one on the list to take Houston and in fact I'm going against 16 best bets. Sounds like a winner to me.

    Miami Dolphins
    Ronnie Brown continues to improve. He's running with a good burst and on one particular play in the second quarter he laid a great pass block on a Bills' DT who came in free off the snap. That play allowed Ferrotte to stay in the pocket long enough to hit Chris Chambers down the sideline for a nice gain. And on the Dolphins first TD drive, Brown had a really sharp looking 28 yard run that got Miami down to the two. Who knows what the plans are with Ricky back, but Ronnie Brown is just starting to get it and it would be nice to see what he can do. Still you've got to do the same for Ricky. Though situation.

    Gus Ferrotte had two INTs in the first half that came in Bills territory; one of which was picked in the end zone.

    The Bills played okay in this one, but Miami just killed themselves for three quarters with penalties and turnovers.

    On the final Miami drive, down 14-20, the Dolphins were moving the ball well. Buffalo kept blitzing and the Dolphins just took the easy throws and executed all the way down the field until Brown fumbled on the Buffalo 15. They could have easily won this game on that drive.
    Chambers- 9(4)
    Brown- 7(6)
    Booker- 5(3)
    Welker- 3(2)
    Diamond- 2(1)
    Evans- 2(2)
    McMichael- 1(1)
    Heller- 1(1)
    Morris- 1(1)

    Buffalo Bills
    Kelly Holcomb must have drawn the Dolphins off-sides about four times in the game's first twenty minutes. That's already something you can point to and say that Losman would have not done this season.

    Sam Adams received a red zone target on the first drive and it took a pass interference penalty to keep him from scoring on the play.

    Lee Evans is immediately worth a pickup now that Holcomb is playing QB. Evans will end up being a top tier WR sometime over the next two/three years. He's not as shifty as someone like Steve Smith, but Evans has that rare top end speed and understanding of the position combination.

    A couple games ago, McGahee was criticized by his head coach for his passive running style. Willis is doing a better job at hitting the hole now but he's still not making things happen on his own as much as one would like to see out of a #1 back. And Shaud Williams has been subing for McGahee on passing downs quite frequently of late.

    The Dolphins were 5 for 6 in stopping the Bills from scoring from the one yard line. So the third time Buffalo got down there, they put the ball into the end zone by throwing it.
    Moulds- 9(7)
    Evans- 3(3)
    Campbell- 3(3)
    McGahee- 3(2)
    Shelton- 3 (2)
    Reed- 2(2)
    Williams- 2(1)

    Carolina Panthers
    Like I haven't told you Steve Smith is good. Last year for the Panthers, Mushin Muhammad caught 93 balls for 1405 yards on 159 targets. Well, Smith is on pace right now for 105 catches, 1513 yards and 160 targets.
    Smith- 12(8)
    Magnum- 3(3)
    Proehl- 3(1)
    Gardner- 3(3)
    Colbert- 2(0)
    Foster- 2(2)
    Gaines- 1(1)
    Hoover- 1(0)
    Goings- 1(0)

    Arizona Cardinals
    The roles of Marcell Shipp and J.J. Arrington looked more defined in this game. Shipp was getting carries as the team's #1 back and the Cards were using Arrington more as a Brian Westbrook-like tweener. Arrington looked healthy and very comfortable when doing the things he's used to doing. I still think Shipp is and should be this team's first option, but it's good to know that Arrington is improving on his terrible start to the season. Regardless, this team still can't run the ball.

    Fitzgerald and Boldin were making plays all over the place. That's one thing Josh McCown allows his receivers to do. McCown will makes his share of errors, but he trusts his receivers and gives them a chance to make plays. Kurt Warner just held on to the ball way too much for this team. Arizona has two of the best receivers in the league and McCown is giving them a chance to make plays. Just think about that pass he threw to Nate Poole to end the Vikings' 2003 season. Take a look at the target stats below!

    Key play of the game: 13:21 left in the second quarter, the Panthers have 3rd and 10 from their own 20. The Cards show only three down linemen, dropping 8, and they end up forcing an incompletion. But Bertrand Berry jumped off-sides giving Carolina a free play, which they convert on a much easier 3rd and 5. The very next play, Steve Smith catches a pass 1 yard behind the line of scrimmage and beats rookie corner Eric Green for a 65 yard touchdown. You just can't give good teams cheap scores like this.
    Boldin- 17(10)
    Fitzgerald- 16(9)
    Ayanbadejo- 4(4)
    Shipp- 3(2)
    Arrington- 2(1)
    Johnson- 2(2)
    Lee- 1(1)
    Bergen- 1(0)

    Denver Broncos
    The Broncos never trailed in this game, and that's the recipe for success with this team. For the rest of the year, I'll probably be refering to my preseason write up on Denver and Jake Plummer. Basically, if you put Jake in a shootout, you're probably going to lose. And this week's game versus NE looks like it's going to be a shootout.

    I saw a stat this week in the print edition of Pro Football Weekly that said that the Broncos are 9-1 when Plummer throws for less than 200 yards. Weird. But I completely understand it.

    Ashley Lelie finally scored on that end zone fade they've been working on this year.
    Lelie- 7(1)
    Smith- 6(2)
    Adams- 3(2)
    Johnson- 3(1)
    Putzier- 2(1)
    Alexander- 2(0)
    Anderson- 2(2)
    Bell- 1(1)

    Washington Redskins
    I really feel bad for Clinton Portis. I don't know if it is as easy as the Redskins changing their blocking schemes, but on the few plays I saw Portis get a chance to run behind a line that zone blocks straight ahead, he looks like a 1600 yard runner. But when he has to wait for a guard and/or a fullback, well Washington might as well have Betts in there.

    It was nice to see David Patten play his first productive game of the season.
    Moss- 13(8)
    Cooley- 12(8)
    Patten- 11(7)
    Thrash- 3(1)
    Portis- 3(2)
    Betts- 3(2)
    Royal- 2(1)
    Sellers- 1(1)

    Cincinnati Bengals
    Perhaps Chad Johnson was crying because he missed his friend, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
    Johnson- 8(5)
    Walter- 6(3)
    Henry- 5(3)
    Schobel- 4(3)
    Washington- 3(2)
    Perry- 2(2)
    RJohnson- 2(2)
    JJohnson- 2(1)
    Kelly- 1(1)

    Jacksonville Jaguars
    Smith- 8(3)
    Williams- 5(2)
    MJones- 3(0) Wrighster- 3(2) GJones- 2(0) Wilford- 1(1) Brady- 1(1) Pearman- 1(1)

    New Orleans Saints:
    Hakim- 11(5)
    Conwell- 6((3)
    Stallworth- 5(1)
    Henderson- 3(0)
    McAllister- 3(3)
    Hilton- 3(1)
    Smith- 1(1)

    Green Bay Packers:
    Driver- 7(5)
    Fisher- 7(6)
    Ferguson- 4(3)
    Martin- 4(2)
    Chatman- 2(0)
    Henderson- 1(1)
    Lee- 1(1)
    Davenport- 1(1)
    Leach- 1(1)

Puck Periodic
  • For just about every minute of play so far this season, Tampa Bay has been lacking that winning intensity they showed over the last two seasons. They lost only 22 games in 03-04 and already after five games they are under .500. The Bolts finally did get their top two lines going last night, but there's nothing crisp about the power play and I don't think this Tampa team is going to benefit from shootouts. Still, last night was an improvement as long as Tampa continues to come out swinging every night.

  • Jes Golbez was watching the Tampa/Buffalo game last night:
    This Sabres/Lightning tilt is 3-3 in OT and has been a pretty exciting game. Two fast skating teams playing a back-and-forth game...

    Edit: Great...so a great 3-3 game is now ruined thanks to a stupid shootout. Why reward both teams with a point for fighting to an even draw when we can give away a bonus point for lucking out in a skills competition *fumes*

    Why do the announcers/PbP assume that all the fans in attendance love the shootout? If I were attending the game, I wouldn't suddenly start falling in love with the damn things.
    A group of friends that I attended this game with promptly left after the end of OT and just before the shootout. It didn't seem that they were too interested in the game to begin with, so their walkout was more indifference than organized protest. But after Thomas Vanek scored the winner, I found myself asking out loud how many people there wished we still had ties afterall. As it turned out, the murmors I heard on the way down the forum stairs were still one of satisfaction. The spectacle just witnessed was something they had not seen before, so to many it was a wowing to be able watch their team's stars skate in alone on goaltender Ryan Miller. Still, I reckon the fans' response more to one of someone who hear's a new pop song for the first time. And I wonder, after they've heard it played over and over enough times, if the novelty of shootouts will get old and eventually expose what they really are:a bad long-term solution.

  • Predators' Den on last night's victory:
    Nashville didn’t look good tonight - in fact, at times they looked downright awful. But they’re still undefeated and off to what is by far the best start in franchise history. As head coach Barry Trotz said after the game, “They don’t ask how, just how many.”
  • An interesting note about youth leagues adapting to the NHL's new rule enforcement, from the NY Daily News via Kukla's Korner.

  • Things are bad for the Flames. Just ask The Battle of Alberta. Calgary lost their home opener last night, 3-2.

  • Tonight's game info up later.
  • Michael Garnett will make his second consecutive start tonight for Atlanta.
  • It's suspected that Peter Budaj may not only start for the Avs tonight when they host the Blackhawks, but some think Budaj may be able to unseat David Aebischer as the teams' #1.
  • In the Oilers/Stars game, Johan Hedberg will go against Jussi Markannen.
  • Antero Niittymaki is probable for tonight against the Pens, with Esche going tomorrow night.

  • 10.13.2005
    Puck Periodic
    • The Sharks really came out and played well in their home opener last night. Of course, it didn't hurt them that they were facing a usually poor road team in Columbus, who also happened to be playing bad hockey to begin with. On San Jose's third and fourth goals, Jacket goaltender Marc Denis had made three consecutive point blank saves, on each, before the fourth shot found its way into the back of the net. I know the rules limit how well defensemen can clear out the front of the net, but on those two instances, the Columbus defense is to blame for the goals and not the new rules and certainly not Denis.

    • Nashville was impressive in their 5-4 comeback win in Denver. Marek Zidlicky pulled his best impression of a young Sandis Ozolinsh, giving up the puck to Steve Konowalchuk for a shorthanded goal in the first period. Zidlicky had a chase to defend the Avs veteran after he gave up the puck, but Konowalchuk stepped through a half-hearted hip check and went in alone to score on Vokoun. Zidlicky then went on to score a momentum changing goal late in the second period and also the game winner, a power play tally with 6.5 minutes left in the third period that found its way through about four bodies and into the net. Another test for the undefeated Preds tonight, as they are coming off an emotional win and are playing a Phoenix team that wouldn't normally be able match Nashville in talent.

    • Red and Black Hockey has an interesting comment about Eric Staal's fast start:
      Four goals in three games, and looking very good. We kept saying in 2003-04 "If he just gains about 20 pounds, he'll be a real force to be reckoned with." He gained the 20 pounds, and is playing with such confidence. It's pretty amazing. Obviously, he won't keep up the pace that he's keeping right now, but it's nice to see some production right out of the gate.
      Stall scored again for the Canes on Wednesday night and added three assists..

    • Joe Thornton will miss tonight's game in Florida.

    • Covered in Oil points out correctly a cause for concern in Edmonton:
      The first line is suffering without Smyth. Horcoff, Dvorak, and whoever were largely invisible outside the powerplay, and didn't seem to create anything for themselves. It really looks as if Ryan Smyth was the cog making that line work, and without him, it's starting to look, well, like our second line did last year: more or less non-existent.
    • Matt from Battle of Alberta makes a good point, in regards to Bryan Marchment's signing in Calgary:
      Regehr is back in about 10 games, which means barring further injuries, both Marchment and Montador will be watching most games next to Peter Maher and Roger Millions, but this still makes me uncomfortable. I wasn't too keen on calling up Eric Nystrom to give Lombardi a kick in the ass, either (can't the coach just kick him in the ass directly?).
    • I watched most of the Leaf's/Flyers on Tuesday night, and had I been able to post something yesterday, I would have talked about how Mikael Tellqvist looked strong, and much better than Ed Belfour has. But the Leafs leaky defense still should have resulted in another big Toronto loss. Meanwhile, via BofOntario, there's this too:
      Had it not been for some astonishingly inaccurate shooting by the Flyers, the game quickly would have become a blowout. The Flyers shot from every angle while the Leafs stood around looking shell-shocked and waiting for rebounds. Unless you're one of those unfortunate people who has to use Pearson Airport, you're never likely to see more white-shirted people standing around doing nothing.
    • More links and quotes, The Puck Stops Here has a good note about the Vancouver defensemen:
      In 2003/04, the Vancouver Canucks had one of the best group of defencemen in the NHL. Mattais Ohlund, Ed Jovanovski, Marek Malik, Sami Salo and Brent Sopel played most of the ice time. This summer, their depth was significantly reduced...

      Canucks coach Marc Crawford has only shown faith in the remaining big three defencemen from 03/04. A quick look at the stats at NHL (note that these stats will change as games are played so they may have changed when you click the link) shows that the three leaders in shifts per game in the NHL are: 1) Sami Salo 2) Ed Jovanovski 3) Mattais Ohlund.
    • Will update later with tonight's confirmed or probable goaltendig matchups.
  • The Rangers expect to have Henrik Lundqvist in goal tonight, in place of the injured Kevin Weekes.
  • The St. Pete Times says 'don't be surprised' if John Grahame starts again tonight for the Lightning.
  • The Coyotes will give rookie David LeNeveu another start tonight. They also sent down Steve Passmore.
  • Detroit News story about how Manny Legace is going to be the only Wings netminder for the near future.
  • The Kings have alternated goalies in each game this season. According to that trend, it should be Matthew Garon tonight.
  • All other games should feature their teams' #1, although if I had to guess, I'd say that Olaf Kolzig will sit in place of Brent Johnson and Chris Mason will go in the place of Tomas Vokoun.

  • 10.12.2005
    Wednesday Football
      Atlanta Falcons
      The Falcons lost this game purely because they have more weaknesses than the Patriots do. And while people are speculating whether or not Atlanta is better off with Matt Schaub or another traditional drop back passer (just because Schaub threw for 300+ yards) know that what Michael Vick does when he's on the field not only compliments the run game, but he also helps mask how poor the Falcons receivers really are. I mean, I really like Brian Finneran, but he should not be the most dependable pass catcher on any Super Bowl caliber team. And that's not to say that Matt Schaub is not a good quarterback, we found that out during his rookie season that he is, but I don't know if he can make all the throws yet. Schaub missed a number of deep passes on Sunday that championship quarterbacks, like tom Brady, make.

      Michael Jenkins had a terrible game in particular. He dropped a few, and failed to fight for the ball on a number of other occasions. Dez White dropped a few too, and he almost didn't get credit for his touchdown catch because it fell to the ground too. For the season, Brian Finneran is now one target behind Jenkins for the lead among Falcons WRs, and again, Finneran has been terrific.

      The Pats game was decided late by three plays in particular. With 8 minutes left and the Falcons driving near midfield, a line judge called Schaub out of bounds two yards before the first down even though Schaub was clearly more than a foot in bounds. The Falcons punted, and while they did soon get the ball back and score a tying touchdown, but New England was left with just enough time to win. And on that game winning drive, the Pats were facing 1st and 25 from their own 20. Kerney was call off-sides even though he was drawn by a false start and then on the very next play Allen Rossum interfered with Deion Branch on a ball that he didn't need to interfere with and the Pats got a free first down. Game over.
      Jenkins- 10(3)
      Crumpler- 9(6)
      Finneran- 6(5)
      DWhite- 3(1)
      RWhite- 3(0)
      Dunn- 2(2)
      Griffith- 1(1)

      New England Patriots
      This Patriots' offense is just rolling. Brady's 54 yard TD pass to Bethel Johnson was especially nice. He threw it off his back foot, with two Falcons in his face and hit Johnson with a perfect rainbow that fell perfectly into the receivers arms. Brady's ability to move within the pocket is helping out his rookie LT and LG. Daniel Graham obviously had a huge game, and he gets more playing time because he's a more complete tight end right now. But I still think Ben Watson has a big game in his near future. He picked up the first TD of his career on Sunday, and despite only having 3 catches on the year, he's been thrown to 13 times (2 more than Graham's 11). Deion Branch, after being almost forgotten last week, was heavily featured against the Falcons. And he picked up his 8 catches and 107 yards while matched up against DeAngelo Hall most of the time.

      On defense, tight ends vs NE have had some success this year. Gates picked up 108 last week, Courtney Anderson had 2 TDs in the opener, and Crumpler had 99 yards against the Pats. New England looked like they had linebackers on Crumpler to start the game and then swtiched to using more DBs to cover him. Neither technique was effective. And Chad Brown is being abused in coverage.

      The Pats also rushed rushed the passer much more than they did last week, showing perhaps less respect for Schaub than they did Drew Brees. This left a lot of Falcons' receivers in single coverage, but on too many occasions (for ATL, at least) Schaub either missed his throw or the receiver wasn't able to make the catch. The Falcons attacked down the field all game, they just couldn't come up with many plays. Against a team with a little better verticle offense, New England will have to go back to protecting their secondary with 7-8 men in coverage, and they won't be as effective against the pass. There are real problems here for New England.
      Branch- 8(8)
      Graham- 5(5)
      Givens- 4(2)
      Dillon- 4(2)
      Pass- 2(1)
      Johnson- 1(1)
      Brown- 1(1)
      Dwight- 1(1)
      Watson- 1(1)

      Pittsburgh Steelers
      Ben Burger showed on Monday night that he's making good progress as an NFL quarterback. He's finally becoming more than just a half field passer, it seems. I expected Willie Parker to be more of a force than he was in this game. For a guy who's never carried a full load before, it looked a little like he may have lost a bit already. Take for example the 14 yard run he had that ended as he was tripped and couldn't keep his balance. I can't help but think that a fresh Parker finds a way to stay on his feet there.
      Ward- 10(6)
      Miller- 6(4)
      Randel El- 4(3)
      Wilson- 2(1)
      Morgan- 1(0)
      Haynes- 1(1)
      Parker- 1(1)
      Bettis- 1(1)

      San Diego Chargers
      After getting just one pass thrown to him in his first two games, LaDainian Tomlinson has picked up a total of 18 targets in his last three. Antonio Gates is on pace for 75 catches this year (81 in 15 games last year), but his 341 yards through 4 games puts him on a 1279 pace for the season. He's had 33 passes thrown to him in '05. That's good for a pace of 124 for the year. He picked up 111 targets in 2004. Also of note, Keenan McCardell received another pass in the red zone, giving him 8 on the season. Gates has just 3 RZ targets so far.
      Gates- 11(5)
      Parker- 7(5)
      Tomlinson- 7(7)
      McCardell- 6(1)
      Caldwell- 1(1)
      Osgood- 1(1)
      Neal- 1(0)

      Indianapolis Colts
      Edgerrin James looks more decisive with his running as each week passes. He's not only giving a better effort than ever before since his knee injury, but James is also getting all the chances he can handle because of the way teams are playing Indy. The only problem is that he's still being taken out in the red zone way too often for his fantasy owners' likings. James also fumbled on the goal line against the 49ers. He's just finding ways to not score.

      The Colts don't seem to be doing anything new with their offense yet. The 49ers just didn't play the game like others this year have. And despite the score, the Colts were real sloppy in this match. They lost a fumble (as I mentioned, on the one yard line), Peyton threw 2 picks, and Indy had 10 penalties for 80 yards. Very uncharacteristic. But still they dominated. Harrison's injury seems to be limiting him right now.
      Wayne- 10(6)
      Stokely- 8(6)
      James- 5(4)
      Clark- 3(3)
      Harrison- 3(2)
      Rhodes- 1(1)
      Walter- 1(1)

      San Francisco 49ers
      I know he threw 4 INTs, but Alex Smith looked much better in the pocket than he has at any point I've seen him this season. He still has most of the way to go before he's a good QB, but at least Smith has made significant progress past that whole first year 'deer in headlights' thing. It seems he's always going to have that awful release though. It's the only thing about Smith that is slow. Oh, and Smith certainly earned every one of his INTs too. They were all ugly. Only one pass was completed to a WR (cato June had two INTs), and 13 of Smith's 23 passes went to either a back or tight end.

      Kevan Barlow is basically a head down, straight ahead runner at this point. Frank Gore has been running with much more explosiveness, but it's still the veteran who's getting most of the carries.
      Barlow- 4(3)
      Lloyd- 3(0)
      Battle- 3(0)
      Morton- 3(1)
      Gore- 3(1)
      Jackson- 2(0)
      Amey- 1(0)
      Bush- 1(1)
      Bajema- 1(1)
      Beasley- 1(1)
      Hetherington- 1(1)

    Puck Periodic
    • Three unbeaten teams going tonight. 3-0 Ottawa faces 3-0 Montreal and the 3-0 Oilers will be in LA tonight after beating the Ducks 4-2 last night.

    • Curtis Joseph has an injured groin, and rookie David LeNeveu will will make his second career start tonight in Dallas. Steve Passmore will be the backup.

    • Also in this link is a note that Geoff Sanderson will be in the lineup tonight for Phoenix.

    • Ty Conklin is expected to start tonight for Edmonton. Conklin is 2-0 lifetime versus LA, but he looked shaky in his first game and also had a rough preseason.

    • Ed Belfour has given up 12 goals on 84 shots so far this year (.857). It's still not known if he or Mikael Tellqvist will start tonight, but this story indicates that Mikael will go either tonight or Friday.

    • Sabres rookie Thomas Vanek has looked strong so far this season. Last night he picked up 20:53 of ice time, including 5:16 on the power play and 1:30 on the penalty kill.

    Tuesday Football
    • Mike Mularkey hasn't decided yet who will start at quarterback next week.
      Seriously, that's what it says.

    • Oh, Chad Johnson, no. Please don't.
      "Carson tried to get the ball to me?" said Johnson, who caught five passes for a season-low 52 yards against constant double-teaming by the Jaguars.

      "He tried? Does this mean all teams have to do is double-cover me, and I'm out of the game for the next 14 weeks? Is that all it takes? They get the ball to T.O. [Terrell Owens]. They get the ball to Randy Moss."
    • Don't forget, Ricky Williams is officially back.

    • Joe Horn should be back this week.

    • The same cannot be said for Nate Burleson. His knee is healing, but apparently Burleson has a shoulder injury too.

    • L.J. Smith's ankle injury was minor, apparently, and he should be ready to play after the Eagles' bye this week.

    • From this week's PFW's The Way We Hear It:

      • KC- Pro Bowl TE Tony Gonzalez was left frustrated by another lackluster showing (two catches for five yards) in a Week Four loss to the Eagles. QB Trent Green and the coaching staff insist the way teams are defending Gonzalez is the biggest reason for his drop-off in productivity, but Gonzalez countered Green’s opinion, saying defenses have hardly altered their approach. He has suggested it has more to do with not getting the opportunities, especially in terms of getting downfield. “I need to get the ball to help this team win,” he said. “... We’ve always found ways to get the ball in my hands before. I don’t know. I can’t tell you what’s going on.”
      • MIN- Many changes to the offense during the Vikings’ bye week were designed to impact QB Daunte Culpepper and the passing game. Culpepper has been sacked 20 times in 153 pass plays and threw 10 interceptions in Minnesota’s 1-3 start. Offensive coaches were stunned that one of every five pass plays called had resulted in a negative play, especially when you consider Culpepper’s Pro Bowl credentials. But offensive coordinator Steve Loney held the offensive line responsible for less than half of those sacks, and WR Travis Taylor piled more blame on Culpepper, making a public claim that tight coverage wasn’t leading to sacks. To adjust, the Vikings will limit Culpepper’s reads. His primary target, WR Nate Burleson on most downs, has to pick it up, especially if the Vikings go to a simplified approach that stresses efficiency over explosiveness. The idea is that WR Randy Moss made the team explosive. It’s Culpepper’s job to make it efficient.
      • SEA- Shortly before Jackson got the bad news on the severity of his injury late last week from Miami Dr. John Uribe (he had sought a second opinion on what was initially diagnosed as a bone bruise), our sources said they wouldn’t have been surprised if Engram, who was still having some trouble breathing, ended up being out longer than Jackson. We hear Engram should be considered very questionable for the Seahawks’ Week Six Sunday-night game vs. Houston.

    • And from Whispers:

      • Rookie WR Mike Williams was digging into Charles Rogers’ playing time even before Rogers was suspended for four games prior to Week Five. Williams is bigger, stronger and a better blocker than Rogers, who has been a huge disappointment to the Lions’ brass.
      • The Lions say QB Jeff Garcia (ankle) and FB Cory Schlesinger (leg) aren’t recovering as rapidly as originally suggested. Garcia might not play until Oct. 30. Schlesinger was jogging as of Oct. 5, but he’s still not ready for team activities.
      • The Raiders’ Kerry Collins has been making a concerted effort to throw the ball away as opposed to forcing the issue, which has been a bad habit throughout his career. After throwing 20 interceptions in 2004, he has yet to be picked off in four games this season.
      • Sources in Philadelphia say that Eagles TE L.J. Smith is handling success well, and the team believes he is playing at a Pro Bowl level this season. Smith admits that his herniated disc really hindered him last season, but now healthy, he is able to not only play pain-free, but he also has a better knowledge of the intricate offense.


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