Sunday, December 31, 2006


How bad has it been for Miami this fall: the Hurricanes have been reduced to playing in the bowl game contested on blue turf! That goes tonight in Boise for those who didn’t get their fill of football earlier in the day....

Sunday, December 31

MPC Computer Bowl, Boise; 7:30 PM ET; ESPN

Miami (6-6) vs Nevada (8-4)

It is a testament to how far Miami has fallen this year that the Hurricanes were lucky just to get an invitation to the infamous ‘Blue Field’ bowl in Boise where nobody wants to wants to play. Indeed, the Hurricanes streak of having at least one player selected in the opening round of the NFL draft could be sorely tested this coming April. The Hurricanes do have a couple of players with near first round grades in FS Brandon Meriweather (#19, 6-0, 190) and junior TE Greg Olsen (#82, 6-5, 255) but neither are locks to be taken in the opening round. Meriweather in particular had a disappointing year that wasn’t helped when he was suspended for a game for his actions in that ugly brawl with Florida International. Meanwhile, DE Baraka Atkins (#98, 6-4, 265), RB Tyrone Moss (#30, 5-9, 225), DT Kareem Brown (#99, 6-3, 305), and oft-troubled WR Ryan Moore (#85, 6-3, 215) all have at least early second-day draft potential.

It is also something of a testament to Miami’s fall in that their unheralded ‘Blue Field’ bowl opponents Nevada may have just as interesting a 2007 draft class. The Wolfpack, for example, has a high-powered offense led by QB Jeff Rowe (#3, 6-5, 225), one of the top passers in the country nobody other than pro scouts has seen. And Rowe has plenty of weapons to work with including WR Caleb Spencer (#5, 5-11, 180), TE Anthony Pudewell (#83, 6-3, 240) and RB Robert Hubbard (#19, 5-10, 205). Meanwhile, the defense, which features CB Joe Garcia (#23, 5-11, 180), arguably the Wolfpack’s top prospect overall, SS Nick Hawthorne (#28, 6-0, 200), and DE/OLB J.J. Milan (#91, 6-5, 265), who had 9.5 sacks this fall.

The 2006 NFL regular schedule wraps up later today and by the end of the day most teams will know where they will be selecting in the opening round of this year’s draft. That certainly goes for Detroit and Oakland which still have to decide which of the two will have the #1 pick at this year’s draft. Both play on the road at 1 PM ET later today with Detroit at Dallas and Oakland playing in New York against the Jets. If they both lose – or both win – Detroit will almost assuredly end up with this year’s top pick. The Lions combined opponents have won 4 fewer games than those of the Raiders this year, a gap that is almost impossible to make up in one week given that the teams have several common opponents. Making it even more likely that the Lions pick ahead of the Raiders if the two end up with the same record is the fact that most of the Lions opponents are underdogs this weekend while the majority of those of the Raiders are generally favored. However, it works out this weekend, both Detroit and Oakland are assured one of the top two picks this coming April as each team has won but twice this fall while everyone else has won at least four games. Meanwhile, there is still plenty of sorting out to do later today in the remainder of the top 10. In fact, today’s ‘big’ game, at least from a draft prespective, is in Houston where the Texans, who would pick in the 6-7 slot were the draft held today hosts Cleveland which would pick third. And the Browns will be in tough given that they will have to go with 3rd stringer Ken Dorsey at QB because of injuries to Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson. Elsewhere, Tampa Bay, which is sitting on the 4th pick hosts Seattle while Arizona, which would pick 5th is at AFC leading San Diego. We’ll have the full, updated first round selection order after tonight’s season finale in Chicago where the Bears hosts Green Bay in what may, or may not, be Packers’ QB Brett Favre’s final game.....

Week Seventeen Team Reports

Saturday December 30, 2006




Saturday Update: If this is indeed Bill Cowher's last game as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers the candidates to succeed him will lineup quickly. Pittsburgh currently has two assistant coaches who both came close to landing head coaching jobs last year.

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm will be top candidates in Pittsburgh and elsewhere once the firings and resignations start pouring in. Both had interviews for head coaching jobs last year.

Friday Update:Starting QB Ben Roethlisberger (left shoulder-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting ORT Max Starks (knee) remains out with rookie OL Willie Colon starting again for him.

Starting C Jeff Hartings (knee-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting OLB Clark Hagans (knee) is out. Backup OL James Harrison (knee) is expected to start for him. He was upgraded to probable after practicing again Friday.

Backup ILB Clint Kriewaldt (neck-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to play.

Starting CB DeShea Townsend (hand-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Backup FS Ryan Clark (groin) remains out. Backup S Andre Lott (ankle-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to be available for the game if needed.

Starting SS Troy Polamalu (knee-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.


Saturday Update: Tomorrow#1 WR Chad Johnson will try to become the first player to win four consecutive receiving yardage championships.

Johnson has 1,316 yards, 24 ahead of Marvin Harrison (1,292) and 44 yards in front of Donald Driver (1,272). Reggie Wayne (1,240) is 76 yards behind Johnson.

Johnson started the season slowly and didn't have a game with over 100 yards receiving until mid-November when he went off for 260 yards against San Diego. Do you think Ocho Cinco would have had that kind of game ifOLB Shawne Merriman, who was suspended for that game, had played?

Friday Update:Starting C Rich Braham (knee) was placed on IR Friday. The club signed RBQuincy Wilson off of the practice squad Friday to replace him. Backup CEric Ghiaciuc will again start for Braham.

Starting LG Eric Steinbach (probable-illness), starting DT Sam Adams (probable-illness), and rookie LB A.J. Nicholson (probable-illness) all returned to practice Friday. Steinbach and Adams are expected to start.

Starting OLT Levi Jones (knee) was downgraded on Friday to questionable after missing practice again. The Bengals need a win Sunday to have a shot at the playoffs and if Jones can play he will but the team also isn’t going to mess around with a player they signed to a $40 million extension this past off-season. Rookie OL Andrew Whitworth would start if Jones can’t, which could mean trouble. Whitworth had troubles against Colt DE Dwight Freeney and Bronco DE/OLB Elvis Dumervil, both speed rushers, and Whitworth is sure to get a heavy dose of Steeler OLB Joey Porter if he is in there.

Starting ORT Willie Anderson (probable-foot) has been held out of all practices this week but is expected to start against the Steelers. Backup OL Stacey Andrews would start if needed.

Starting DE Bryan Robinson (probable-toe) was held out of practices this week week but is still expected to start.

Starting FS Madieu Williams (probable-bruised thigh) returned to practice Friday and is expected to start.



Saturday Update: Starting WR Mike Furrey's incredible season will reach new heights tomorrow when he cracks the 1,000-yard mark and over 90 catches. The fact that a guy who was the Rams starting free safety last year could change positions and excel at that level is amazing. The question now is will another team sign him as a wide receiver in free agency?

Furrey's finest year as a receiver came with the New York Dragons of the AFL when he had over 1,500 yards in a season.

Friday Update: The Lions placed starting CB Fernando Bryant (concussion) on IR Wednesday. He had returned to practice fully last week for the first time since being injured Dec. 3 but didn't play vs. the Bears as it was deemed too risky. Backup CB Stanley Wilson has started for Bryant the last three weeks and will do so again Sunday in Dallas.

Veteran TE Casey FitzSimmons (separated shoulder) is out for the season finale and didn't practice this week.

Starting LG Ross Verba (groin) was placed on IR Friday. He was injured two weeks ago and finishes his injury-plagued season with seven starts. With he and Bryant going on IR this week, that makes 16 players placed on IR.

Backup OL Stephen Peterman, who was promoted from the practice squad two weeks ago, and rookie OL Frank Davis will start at guard Sunday once again, leaving veteran OL Rick DeMulling to come in off the bench if needed.

To replace Verba on the roster, the Lions signed DE Claude Harriott from their practice squad. CB Dee McCann was signed off the practice squad Wednesday to replace Bryant on the roster.

Backup LB Teddy Lehman (hamstring) and KR/PR/WR Eddie Drummond (ankle) are both listed as questionable.

Lehman has missed the last four games but returned to practice each day this week for the first time since suffering the injury. Drummond, who didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, did work out on Friday, making it more possible that he can play Sunday. He was inactive last week and rookie WR DeVale Ellis took over his return duties, bringing back six kickoffs for 139 yards and four punts for 61 yards.

Veteran TE Marcus Pollard (hamstring-probable) returned to action last week after missing the game Dec. 17 and practiced fully this week and is expected to play.


Saturday Update: We found it interesting this week when his team was fighting for playoff position that starting WR Terrell Owens would take this opportunity to talk about how difficult it's been for him to play through injuries.

"You guys would have never known, so I'm not going to make an excuse about my finger," said Owens on Thursday. "My finger's jacked up, that's just the nature of it. It is what it is. If I was going to make an excuse, I would have had the surgery, then I wouldn't be sitting here talking about this."

If that wasn't enough Owens took it one step further.

"If it was anybody else gutting it out with the way my hand is, I'm guaranteeing you that they would be probably be saying that he's a warrior, he's sucking it up for the team," Owens said. "But just because it's me, that's not going to be the case. I understand that. Is it fair? No. But you know what, I have to live with that."

Sounds like Owens misses the attention he once received for breaking his ankle and making that super-human comeback in time to play and star in the Super Bowl.

If the Cowboys are going to get backup FS Tony Parrish involved, this should be the week. He's been inactive since signing with Dallas. Parrish has been a strong safety his entire career.

Friday Update: Backup DE Kenyon Coleman will likely see more playing time than usual as a nickel pass rusher. Their pass rush has been weak since starting OLB Greg Ellis was lost for the season.

Backup DT Jay Ratliff (shoulder-questionable) practiced Friday. His status is considered to be a game day decision.

Dime CB Jacques Reeves (elbow-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to be available for the game.



Saturday Update: The Browns injury problems started in their very first practice in training camp whenstarting C LeCharles Bentley suffered a season ending knee injury on the first play. Yesterday, the club placed starting G Cosey Coleman on IR bringing the list of players placed on injured reserve by the browns this year to 16.

Look for rookie WR Travis Wilson to finally see playing time on Sunday. Wilson has been inactive for 12 games this season and only has one catch. He impressed us with his performance during Senior Bowl week practices but he signed late and fell behind and never moved up the depth chart.

Friday Update: Starting QB Charlie Frye (right wrist-questionable) did some very light throwing on Friday. There's a chance that he dresses for the game but backup QBKen Dorsey is expected to start.

“It isn’t very likely," Frye said Friday about playing.

Starting TE Kellen Winslow (knee-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting WR Joe Jurevicius (concussion) missed practice again Friday and was downgraded to doubtful and isn't expected to play. Backup WR Dennis Northcutt (shoulder-questionable) didn't practice Friday because of his shoulder and now quadriceps injury. His status is considered a game-time decision. WR Kendrick Mosley was signed off of the practice squad Friday to provide some depth. Starting WR Braylon Edwards will play a lot on Sunday and will probably start due to the injury problems at the position. Edwards was late for a team meeting last week and didn't play until the second quarter. KR/PR Josh Cribbs will see extra reps at receiver and rookie WRTravis Wilson should see some playing time on Sunday.

Starting G Joe Andruzzi (knee) missed practice again Friday and was downgraded to doubtful. Starting G Cosey Coleman (ankle) was placed on IR Friday. Backup OL Lennie Friedman will start for Coleman and rookie OL Rob Smith may start for the Coleman.

Starting DE Alvin McKinley (shoulder) missed practice again Friday and was downgraded to doubtful. Backup DL Nick Eason (foot) practiced again Friday and was upgraded to probable and is expected to start again for him.

Starting ILB Andra Davis (concussion) missed practice again Friday and was downgraded to put. Backup ILB Chaun Thompson (thumb) practiced again Friday and was upgraded to probable from questionable and is expected to start for Davis again.

Starting CB Leigh Bodden (ankle) missed practice again Friday and was downgraded to doubtful. Backup CB Ralph Brown is expected to start again for him.


Saturday Update: So much has been made about the team selecting DE Mario Williams in the draft over some notable offensive talent but nobody has given the Texans their due for drafting MLB Demeco Ryans in the second round. He leads the team with 145 tackles and looks like he's going to be a stud. Ryans is a bit small for an inside player but he plays bigger than his listed size and has held up well physically this season. That's impressive when you consider he'll have played in 20 games this season which is much more than he played in any season in college.

Friday Update:Starting RB Ron Dayne (ankle-probable) returned to practice Friday and is expected to start.

Starting TE Owen Daniels (shoulder) missed practice again Friday and remains questionable to play. Backup TEs Mark Bruener and Jeb Putzier would fill in again if needed.

Starting DE Mario Williams (foot-probable) was able to practice some Friday and is expected to start.



Saturday Update: Starting FS Deon Grant (hamstring-questionable) practiced on Friday and expects to start.

"I opened it up (ran full speed) and it didn't pull on me, so I think we'll be all right for Sunday," Grant said.

Starting RB Fred Taylor (right hamstring) practiced but didn't test it the way Grant did.

"I haven't opened it up, but I feel confident about it," Taylor said. "It's feeling better this week than it felt the week leading into the Tennessee game (when he aggravated the injury)."

Friday Update: Starting RB Fred Taylor (right hamstring) remains one of nine players listed as probable heading into the team's regular season finale in Kansas City.

Taylor, who has 1,102 yards rushing this season practiced each day this week after sitting out last Sunday's game vs. New England and is on track to start barring a setback. He had aggravated a strain in his hamstring early in the game Dec. 17.

Taylor was replaced last week by rookie RB Maurice Jones-Drew (knee-probable), who did limited work Wednesday but got full days of work in on Thursday and Friday. Jones-Drew, who has 895 yards rushing and 12 TDs, has been hobbled of late also by a sore calf but had a big game vs. the Patriots with 19 carries for 131 yards and two scores, plus six catches for 41 yards. Jones-Drew is expected to handle his usual role on Sunday.

Jacksonville will be without backup OT Stockar McDougle (chest-out) vs. the Chiefs but the chances of having starting FS Deon Grant (strained hamstring) increased Friday when he practiced for the first time this week and was upgraded from doubtful to questionable. Rookie free agent S Jamal Fudge would get the start if Grant is unable to play.

Backup DT Tony McDaniel (hip-questionable) practiced each day this week but still might not be active. He's missed the last four games.

Among the other eight players listed as probable are starters QB David Garrard (hamstring), DT Marcus Stroud (right ankle), and FB Derrick Wimbush (ankle).

Stroud has rested at least one day in many of the last weeks (rested Wednesday and Thursday of this week) but hasn't missed game-time since October, while Garrard and Wimbush practiced fully each day this week and will be in their usual spots Sunday.

The others listed as probable are #3 WR Matt Jones (hamstring), dime CBAhmad Carroll (illness), P Chris Hanson (left hamstring), and backup OLB Jorge Cordova (hamstring) - all four practiced fully each day this week with the exception of Carroll, who was added Thursday when he sat out with the flu. He returned to practice Friday but remains listed on the injury report. All of those players are expected to be available for the game.

Starting CB Rashean Mathis (illness) was removed from the injury report on Thursday. He sat out Wednesday's session with the flu.


Saturday Update: Both of these teams head into Sunday as near misses for the playoffs. They both controlled their own playoff destinies before recent losses put them in a position where they need a win and a prayer to get into the playoffs. Nevertheless, head coach Herm Edwards did a good job in his first season, which was spent with QB Damon Huard as his starter for eight games.

With the Jags coming to town Chief fans are once again reminded that Kansas City traded up in the first round of the 2002 draft to take DT Ryan Sims, who has 7 tackles this year and 74 in his not so bright five year career. Three picks later the Jags took future Pro Bowl DT John Henderson.

Starting ORT Kyle Turley (shoulder) was placed on IR.

Friday Update: Backup RB Michael Bennett (ankle-questionable) missed practice Friday. His status will be decided on Sunday. #3 RB Dee Brown would fill in again if needed.

Backup TE Jason Dunn (back) missed practice again Friday and remains questionable to play.

Starting ORT Kyle Turley (shoulder) remains out. Backup OL John Welbourn starts again for him.



Saturday Update: Starting QB Marc Bulger cracked the 4,000-yard passing mark for the first time in his career last week and he should throw the ball all over the field against the Viking secondary tomorrow.

As Viking team insider, "tell your subscribers to start their Ram receivers and Bulger on their fantasy teams."

It will be interesting to see what the Rams do with #3 WR Kevin Curtis who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March. With starting WR Isaac Bruce finding a fountain of youth this season, the Rams can't justify placing their franchise tag on Curtis for him to come off the bench again.

Friday Update:Starting FB Paul Smith (neck-doubtful) missed practice again Friday and isn't expected to play. Backup FB Madison Hedgecock to start again for him.

Starting WR Torry Holt (knee-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting DT La'Roi Glover (ribs-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting DE Victor Adeyanju (forearm) was downgraded to questionable on Friday despite practicing. Backup DE Brandon Green would start if needed.

"We'll make the decision on Victor on gameday," said head coach Scott Linehan after Friday's practice. "He seemed okay with his cast. We downgraded him just because the cast he's had hasn't been very functional, but I think he's more comfortable with the way we have it now."

Starting DE Leonard Little (neck-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting MLB Will Witherspoon (knee-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.


Saturday Update: The 2006 Vikings met their Waterloo in week eight when they were thoroughly exposed by the New England Patriots in a 31-7 thrashing that would leave their offense reeling for the rest of the season. The biggest off-season decision that will need to be made is who will their starting QB be for 2007? Tarvaris Jackson gets one more chance to prove he should be considered for the job tomorrow. Viking fans won't be patient for another season. After all, this was a 9-7 team vying for a playoff spot in week 17 last year.

Friday Update: Starting QB Tarvaris Jackson (knee-probable) practiced some again Friday and is expected to start. Backup QB Brooks Bollinger (shoulder-probable) practiced some again Friday but is expected to handle the #3 role again.

Starting RB Chester Taylor (ribs-probable) practiced some again Friday and is expected to start.

FB Jeff Dugan (foot-probable) practiced some again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting WR Troy Williamson (hamstring-probable) practiced some again Friday and is expected to start.

Veteran TE Jim Kleinsasser (elbow-probable) practiced some again Friday and is expected to play.

Starting MLB Napoleon Harris (dislocated wrist-probable) practiced some again Friday and is expected to start.

Backup CB Charles Gordonis expected to start for CB Cedric Griffin (neck-IR).

P Chris Kluwe (hamstring-probable) is expected to start.



Saturday Update: The Panthers ran the ball 52 times last week and attempted just 7 passes. This week the offense will be much different and we expect them to try t get their passing game going with starting QB Jake Delhomme (right thumb-probable) returning to the lineup and playing in front of his hometown fans.

Friday Update: Starting QB Jake Delhomme (right thumb-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start. #2 QB Chris Weinke (chest-probable) practiced again Friday and will be available for the game if needed.

Backup RB Nick Goings (chest-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to play.

#3 WR Drew Carter (ankle-questionable) missed practice again Friday and likely won't play. Backup WR Keary Colbert is expected to be active Sunday to replace Carter again.

Starting SLB Thomas Davis (shoulder) missed practice again Friday and likely won't play. Rookie LB James Anderson is expected to start for him.


Saturday Update: While the Saints will rest many of their offensive starters tomorrow it will be interesting to see how many defensive players they sit. The Saints are coming off their best effort of the season, holding the Giants to seven points last week and never allowing them to run a play in Saints territory. They held New York to just 142 total yards.

We're told the following players will be inactive on Sunday: starting RBDeuce McAllister (rest), backup RB Aaron Stecker (hamstring-doubtful), backup WR Terrance Copper (foot-doubtful), starting TE Mark Campbell (knee), and starting SS Omar Stoutmire (knee-doubtful).

They'll get starting DT Hollis Thomas back for the playoffs but they haven't surrendered more than 17 points since he was suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The team is treating this game, we're told, like a pre-season game so look for Starting QB Drew Brees, rookie RB Reggie Bush, and starting WRMarques Colson to play sparingly. Probably between a quarter and a half at the most. Backup RB Jamaal Branch could get an extended looked in the game. Backup QB Jamie Martin could play a lot and backup WRs Devery Henderson and Jamal Jones are expected to see a lot of playing time.

The team waived backup K Billy Cundiff and re-signed backup RB Fred McAfee.

Friday Update: With the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs locked up, head coach Sean Payton is expected to give several starters rest in Sunday's gave vs. the Panthers. Payton isn't saying who will play how much, however.

One player almost surely not to play is starting WR Joe Horn (groin-doubtful). He hasn't played since a failed attempt to work into action Dec. 3 but has increased his running activities on the side in the last week and is expected back for the playoffs. Horn also missed the first two games of November with a strained groin but started in the next three contests after that span. Having him miss this week's game will give him an additional two weeks of rest.

The Saints have started in a three-receiver set in two of the last three weeks with #4 WR Terrance Copper and #3 WR Devery Henderson on the field alongside rookie WR Marques Colston. Copper (foot) is one of three players downgraded from questionable to doubtful on Friday. He didn't practice this week.

Jamal Jones is the only other true receiver on the roster, so he may be called on Sunday. Veteran KR/PR Michael Lewis can play receiver but he's more of a return specialist at this point in his career.

The three other players listed on the injury report are starting TE Mark Campbell (knee-doubtful), starting SS Omar Stoutmire (knee-doubtful), and backup RB Aaron Stecker (hamstring-doubtful). None of the three practiced this week and Campbell and Stoutmire were the other players downgraded Friday. Stecker was downgraded on Thursday, has been bothered by his hamstring for weeks but did play last Sunday for the first time in several games.

Campbell returned to the lineup last week and was joined in a two-tight end alignment to start the game by backup TE Billy Miller.

Stoutmire still hasn't practiced since getting hurt three weeks ago. Backup S Steve Gleason started Dec. 17 and backup S Jay Bellamy was in the lineup a week ago.



Saturday Update: How badly do the Raiders want the first pick in the draft? Well when you consider that they've owned the second pick twice in the last ten years and ended up with OLT Robert Gallery and the late Darrell Russell, you could see why they might be a little troubled about that spot.

OLT Orlando Pace was drafted ahead of Russell. QB Eli Manning was picked ahead of Gallery and WR Larry Fitzgerald and QB Philip Rivers were taken just after him.

Friday Update:Starting QB Aaron Brooks (neck-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting RB LaMont Jordan (knee) was placed on IR Friday. Backup RB Justin Fargas starts for him.

Starting FB Zack Crockett (heel-questionable) returned to practice Friday and is expected to start.

Starting WR Randy Moss (ankle) missed practice again Friday and was downgraded to doubtful and won't play with backup WR Johnnie Morant starting again for him. Backup WR Jerry Porter (hip) was placed on IR Friday.

Starting OLT Robert Gallery (neck-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting Kevin Boothe (elbow-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting CB Fabian Washington (shoulder-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

The team signed S Hiram Eugene and TE Derek Miller off of the practice squad on Friday.


Saturday Update: Starting CB Andre Dyson (knee-questionable) is not expected to play but starting RB Cedric Houston (calf-questionable) is expected to play. We'll confirm his status at least an hour before game time

It will be interesting to see what the Jets do about their running back position going into next season. Veteran RB Kevan Barlow has been a disappointment and while Houston has flashed some skills, it remains to be seen if he can carry the load for an entire season. Rookie RB Leon Washington hasn't shown yet that he can consistently carry the ball a lot.

Friday Update:Starting QB Chad Pennington (calf-probable) practiced again Friday and will start.

RB Cedric Houston (calf-questionable) was limited again Friday but should be able to play this week and likely will handle more than half of the carries. Backup RB Kevan Barlow's (thigh-questionable) status remains a game day decision. Rookie RB Leon Washington will handle the carries that Houston doesn't handle and he'll also see time in passing situations.

Starting FB B.J. Askew (foot-questionable) was limited on Friday but should play. Backup FB James Hodgins (questionable-knee) probably won't play.

Starting WR Laveranues Coles (head-questionable) was limited Friday but should be able to start. If not, backup WR Justin McCareins would start.

Veteran CB David Barrett (hip-questionable) didn't practice on Friday, but should be able to play a limited role, like he has all year. Journeyman CB Hank Poteat has been starting of late. But the Jets might need Barrett to play more this week with the injury to starting CB Andre Dyson (knee-questionable). Dyson hurt his knee in the second half against Miami, and needed help off the field. He didn't practice Friday and likely won't play.

Backup S Eric Smith (foot-questionable) didn't practice on Thursday, but will likely play. He is one of the Jets best special teams player, and is rotating in at safety. He played with this injury last week.

Starting SS Kerry Rhodes (knee-questionable) was limited all week but is still expected to start. Smith would start if needed.



Saturday Update: Backup WRs D.J. Hackett and Bobby Engram could be bigger factors tomorrow especially since the Buccaneer CB's are weak once you get past Ronde Barber, who should spend most of his time with starting WR Deion Branch.

Friday Update: Starting WR Darrell Jackson (turf toe-doubtful) missed practice again Friday and is not expected to play. The team opened up with a three-receiver set last week with backup WRs D.J. Hackett and Bobby Engram starting.

Starting C Robbie Tobeck (hip) was a surprise upgrade from out to probable on Friday despite not practicing. Tobeck has been cleared medically to play but since he's lost to much weight, he's unlikely to play. Backup C Chris Spencer will start again for him.

Starting G Chris Gray (thigh) missed practice again Friday and was downgraded to questionable. Starting G Floyd Womack will likely move over to start for him. Rookie G Rob Sims will start in Womack's LG spot.

Starting DT Rocky Bernard (foot-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Backup MLB Niko Koutouvides (Ankle) practiced Friday and is expected to be available for the game.

Starting CB Marcus Trufant (ankle-doubtful) has a high-ankle sprain and won't play this week and didn't practice at all. First-round pick CB Kelly Jennings will make his first pro start.


Saturday Update: 8 of their 10 draft picks made the roster this year and 4 of them have received starts. Unfortunately, one of those rookies was QB Bruce Gradkowski, who received too much playing time in a lost season. The pressure is mounting on head coach Jon Gruden and he'll need to get back to winning ways by next season or he will be looking for a new home. The Glazer's didn't expect their 11-5 team of 2005 to finish at 4-12 or 5-11 this season.

Friday Update:Tampa Bay placed rookies DL Julian Jenkins and CB Alan Zemaitis on IR Friday.

Jenkins played in 12 games this season, totaling nine tackles, along with one special teams tackle. He was drafted by the team in the fifth round (156th overall).

Zemaitis was a fourth-round selection (122nd overall) by the Buccaneers. A three-year starter at Penn State, he was a second-team All-America selection as a senior. He did not see action with the Buccaneers in 2006.

"It's been an ongoing injury that he's had. After further diagnosis, I think all the heads got together and decided the best thing to do was get this thing fixed as soon as we can so he can get back ready to roll in the off-season program," said head coach Jon Gruden in discussing Zemaitis' injury.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers signed RB Lionel Gates to the active roster. Gates was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 3. He entered the league as a 2005 seventh-round pick with the Buffalo Bills. He was released by the Bills prior to the regular season on Sept. 2.

Starting RB Cadillac Williams (foot-questionable) missed his sixth straight practice and is not expected to play. Look for backup RB Michael Pittman to start again for him with starting FB Mike Alstott and backup RB Earnest Graham backing him up.

"If he can play, he's playing. It he can't, he won't. Right now, it doesn't appear that he's ready to go," Gruden said.

Gates could even be active for Sunday considering the team's uncertain situation in the backfield.

"Given the injuries that we have at this point, we might need Lionel Gates," said Gruden. "You never know if someone's going to show up to the hotel sick (on Saturday night). Some emergency could happen, so you've got to cover your bases."

#2 TE Alex Smith (back) was able to practice Friday after missing the previous two days. He was subsequently upgraded from doubtful to questionable. Smith suffered his back injury against Cleveland.

Gruden said Smith is, "still very questionable."

Starting G Davin Joseph (knee-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Nickel CB Juran Bolden (quadriceps-questionable) and backup WLB Jamie Winborn (knee-questionable) both practiced Friday and are expected to fill their usual roles on Sunday.

Starting DT Ellis Wyms (ankle) and starting SS Jermaine Phillips (wrist) practiced again Friday. Though both players are listed as questionable, we expect both of them to start, barring a setback.

The roster stands at 52 players. The team could still sign a 53rd player on Saturday and have him be eligible for Sunday's season finale against the Seahawks.

"We're going to play the guys that give us a chance to win. We've got a lot of other guys that have a lot invested too. We need our best players to win. We're not our here for the hell of it," Gruden said.



Saturday Update: There have been way too many rumors in the media about head coach Bill Belichick possibly leaving New England after this season. Many of these rumors were probably started by wishful Giant fans who are tired of hearing the praise that's being bestowed on Belichick's protégé, Eric Mangini in the New York area.

Belichick is under contract with the Patriots past this season. If he is to leave for another team after this season the Pats would need to trade his rights…and why would they ever want to do that?

Friday Update:Starting QB Tom Brady (right shoulder-probable) practiced fully Friday. practiced fully today after missing most of Wednesday and Thursday's work. He's expected to start but how long he plays hasn't been made known. Last year in week 17 against the Dolphins, Brady played just one quarter and left after throwing an 11-yard TD pass to WR Deion Branch with a minute left in the first quarter.

Head coach Bill Belichick hasn't given any indication about playing time for this game, but last year in the regular season finale some starters came out relatively early and some played the whole game. That's a likely scenario once again.

#2 QB Matt Cassel, who took most of the first-team reps in practice this week, would be next off the bench.

Backup RB Kevin Faulk (knee-questionable) practiced Friday and should play.

#2 TE Ben Watson (knee) practiced some again Friday but remains questionable to play. Rookie TE David Thomas has filled in him since he got hurt.

Starting CB Chad Scott (back) practiced and but remains questionable to play. Nickel CB Ellis Hobbs (wrist-probable), who was one of three players to practice fully without missing a snap Thursday, backs up Scott.

Starting DT Vince Wilfork (ankle) saw some time in practice again Friday but remains questionable to play. Backup DL Mike Wright (shoulder-questionable) practiced and is ready to fill in again if needed.

Backup S Rashad Baker (thigh), backup WR Brandon Childress (ankle) and backup ORT Ryan O'Callaghan (neck) all practiced Friday but remain questionable to play. Backup OT Nick Kaczur has been starting for O'Callaghan since the mid-season point.

Starting DE Richard Seymour (elbow-probable) and starting SS Rodney Harrison (shoulder-probable) practiced fully again Friday and are expected to start.


Saturday Update: During the Titans current six-game winning streak, starting QB Vince Young has engineered four 4th quarter come from behind victories, the most recent last week in Buffalo when the trailed the Bills 29-20 entering the fourth quarter. Most head coaches would say that's the final test for a young signal caller. When your team is trailing can you lead them to victory. Young has proven he can, which is why Tennessee is one of the biggest surprises of the 2006 season. This is a team that nobody wants to play.

Friday Update:As its improbable march to a possible playoff berth continues, the team has seven players listed as questionable, including starting RB Travis Henry (ankle). He was also listed last week when he rushed 25 times for 135 yards. He rested Wednesday but got full days of work in on Thursday and Friday and is expected to start.

Also listed on the injury report are starting DT Robaire Smith (toe), #3 WR Bobby Wade (ankle), backup DT Tony Brown (ankle), starting TEBo Scaife (ankle), backup FB/TE Casey Cramer (neck), and starting DE Travis LaBoy (knee).

Brown injured his right knee in Wednesday's practice and was taken off the field. He sat out Thursday's session but returned to practice on Friday. If he can't play, rookie DT Jesse Mahelona would be active and see action.

Scaife practiced Thursday and Friday for the first time in almost three weeks and has a chance to play. Backup TE Ben Hartsock started for him the last two weeks.

Cramer and Wade worked Friday for the first time this week Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday.

LaBoy has missed days or practice from time to time of late but he didn't practice at all this week, as did Smith. LaBoy started last week.

Starting CB Reynaldo Hill (ankle) isn't listed on the injury report. He missed parts of practice last week but started Sunday and is practicing fully this week, as is starting WR Drew Bennett (knee), who has rested a day or two in recent weeks but hasn't missed any playing time. Bennett was limited on Thursday.



Saturday Update: The Bills have three difficult free agent decisions to make in the off-season.

Starters CB Nate Clements, DE Chris Kelsay, and MLB London Fletcher will all be free agents. Clements is in line for a huge payday, which usually means leaving small markets like Buffalo. Fletcher has led the team in tackles all five years he's been there but he's also a reason why their run defense has struggled this season. Fletcher is too small and turns 32 in May. He's unlikely to get a big free agent deal elsewhere.

Kelsay has been part of a very good three-end rotation that has combined for 25.5 sacks this year. He's the most likely to re-sign with the club.

Friday Update: Starting FB Daimon Shelton (concussion) was placed on IR Friday. Replacing him on the roster was WR George Wilson from the practice squad.

Starting S Donte Whitner (probable-toe) was able to practice Friday and is expected to start. If for some reason he couldn't play, backup S Jim Leonhard is his expected replacement.

Backup OL Aaron Merz was excused for family reasons, but is expected to make the trip this weekend.


Saturday Update: You can't say enough about the season that the Raven defense has had. They're the only NFL team that his given up fewer than 200 points this season and they have the best turnover ratio in the league at plus-15.

Friday Update: Starting WR Mark Clayton (back-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start. #3 WR Demetrius Williams (knee) was added to the injury report as probable but was able to practice Friday and is expected to play.

Backup TE Daniel Wilcox (back-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to play.

Starting OLT Jonathan Ogden (toe-doubtful) missed practice again Friday and since he can't run, he won't be able to play. Backup OT Adam Terry will start for him again.

Starting G Keydrick Vincent (groin-questionable) missed practice again Friday. Rookie OL Chris Chester would start for him if needed.

"We'll have to see," head coach Brian Billick said after Friday's practice. "He's moving along better. We'll see Sunday. He'll be a game-time decision."

Vincent has been bothered by groin problems at different points of the season.

"I'm feeling a little bit better. It sucks. I was able to do some stuff today. It's getting there," Vincent said after Friday's practice.

Rookie OL Chris Chester would start for him. Starting G Jason Brown (ankle-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting SLB Adalius Thomas (ankle-questionable) was limited all week in practice but is still expected to start.

Starting SLB Bart Scott (ankle-probable) was limited Friday but is expected to start.



Saturday Update: Head coach Nick Saban left the possibility that veteran QB Joey Harrington could still play tomorrow in relief of QBCleo Lemon who is set to make his first NFL start.

Starting MLB Zach Thomas was fined $7,500 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Jet WR Laveranues Coles last week. Coles missed the rest of the first half after the hit but returned to the game in the second half.

Friday Update: Starting RB Ronnie Brown (broken hand-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting WR Marty Booker (ankle-questionable) practiced again Friday and is likely to start. Backup WR Wes Welker would start again if needed.

Starting DT Keith Traylor (knee-questionable) missed practice again Friday and isn't expected to play. Backup DT Jeff Zgonina is expected to start for him.

Starting CB Travis Daniels (ankle-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start. The team is thin on depth because backup CB Eddie Jackson(knee) was placed on IR this week. Backup CB Michael Lehan will handle the nickel role.

Starting FS Renaldo Hill (wrist-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start. Backup S Travares Tillman (hamstring-questionable) missed practice again Friday and likely won't play.


Saturday Update: Starting RB Dominic Rhodes (wrist/ankle) was upgraded to probable on Saturday and is expected to start.

At this point, K Adam Vinatieri (left knee-probable) is expected to start.

Friday Update: K Adam Vinatieri injured his left knee during Friday's practice and was added to the injury report as probable. His status will be updated after Saturday morning's walk-through. The team has until 4:00 pm est to sign a replacement if needed.

Starting RB Dominic Rhodes (ankle-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

#3 WR Ricky Proehl (hamstring-questionable) missed practice again Friday as did starting FS Bob Sanders (knee-questionable).

"Ricky probably won't go and Bob Sanders is the same way. But we haven't ruled them totally out yet," head coach Tony Dungy said after Friday's practice.

Starting TE Dallas Clark (knee-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to see some playing time on Sunday. The coaches will make a decision closer to game time if he or backup TE Ben Utecht will start.

Starting G Ryan Lilja (knee-out) will be replaced by backup G Dylan Gandy.

Starting DE Dwight Freeney (shoulder-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting SLB Rob Morris (leg) was rested on Friday.

"He strained a muscle in (Thursday's) practice. And he feels like he is going to be okay. We wanted to rest him (Friday) just to give him one extra day of rest. But he's planning on going (against Miami)," Dungy said.

Backup SLB Gilbert Gardner (illness-questionable) practiced Friday and is expected to play.

Sanders should be replaced by backup DB Marlin Jackson again. Jackson was limited by the flu Thursday but he was able to practice on Friday.

Backup CB Kelvin Hayden (concussion-questionable) practiced Friday and is expected to play.



Saturday Update: Although there's a 100:1 chance the team can make the playoffs, this could be head coach Jim Mora's last game with the Falcons. A disappointing season filled with turmoil will end tomorrow. While Mora is a very good coach the personnel decisions made by this team eventually doomed them to failure. None of the high-priced free agents they brought in panned out and their choice of wide receivers in the draft absolutely killed them.

Backup CB Jason Webster (groin) was placed on IR.

Friday Update: Starting WR Ashley Lelie (out) will miss the regular season finale with a separated shoulder suffered in the third quarter Sunday while diving for a deep pass. #3 WR Roddy White will start for him with rookie WR Adam Jennings handling the #3 role.

Former starting CB Jason Webster's season is likely over as well, as he has been downgraded to doubtful this week after having the team expressed optimism last week that he may be able to see some time. He's been out since October with a torn groin muscle and can practice, but can't go enough at full-speed to play. Rookie CB Jimmy Williams is now starting.

Starting MLB Ed Hartwell (knee-probable) was added to the injury report Thursday when he sat out his second straight day but he was upgraded Friday after getting a full workout in. If Hartwell can't play, head coach Jim Mora said he would simply insert backup MLB Jordan Beck inside and keep starting WLB Keith Brooking, who has moved to MLB three times previously when Hartwell was hurt, in his normal position.

Starting SLB Michael Boley (hamstring-probable) was also upgraded from questionable Friday after he practiced for the first time this week. He had been downgraded from probable Thursday when he missed his second straight day of practice. Backup LB Ike Reese replaced Boley after he left last week's game and would start Sunday if Boley can't play.

The only other players listed are six probable starters - CB DeAngelo Hall (knee), RB Warrick Dunn (calf), DTs Grady Jackson (knee) and Rod Coleman (knee), TE Alge Crumpler (back) and ORT Todd Weiner(knee).

Crumpler was added Friday when he rested but he's expected to start.

Hall, Dunn, Jackson, and Coleman rested Wednesday but returned to practice Thursday and Friday, while Weiner only practiced on Friday this week.

Dunn was hurt three weeks ago but hasn't missed any game-time.

Rookie DE Paul Carrington started last week at RDE in place of John Abraham (torn ligaments in left thumb), who played in passing situations but was spotted in the rotation while recovering from surgery two weeks. Abraham practiced this week and isn't listed.


Saturday Update: The team reached a five-year contract extension late Friday night with starting LG Todd Herremans that will keep him in Philadelphia through 2013.

Herremans, a fourth round draft choice of the Eagles in 2005, becomes the eighth Eagles player to sign a long-term extension in the past six months. Also this year, the Eagles inked starting WR Reggie Brown (through 2014), starting DE Trent Cole (2013), starting DT Mike Patterson (2016), starting G Shawn Andrews (2015), starting C Jamaal Jackson (2013), starting FS Brian Dawkins(2008), and P Dirk Johnson (2011).

Herremans was projected to play tackle for the Eagles but moved to guard this season and it took him a while to get comfortable at the position which he had never played. He has steadily gotten better at the position and is one of the big reasons why their offensive line has become dominant of late.

The team tried to get him signed to an extension earlier this season but both sides were far apart. Herremans was told earlier this week that they team was interested in getting a deal done again and both sides were able to get a deal done late Friday evening.

Friday Update: Starting RB Brian Westbrook (virus-probable) missed his second straight day of practice with an illness on Friday, but head coach Andy Reid didn't seem too concerned.

Reid said he expects Westbrook to be fine by Saturday, when the team does its final walk-through in preparation for Sunday's game against the Falcons.

"He came in early today and met and got caught up on things, and it's just a matter of him getting rid of a virus that he has. He will be back tomorrow," Reid said.

Westbrook, who is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 6 yards per touch, participated in Wednesday's practice before becoming ill.

Westbrook should be in the starting lineup Sunday and could even line up as the punt returner on occasion..

Starting TE L.J. Smith (toe-probable) practiced for a second straight day and is expected to start. Smith sprained his toe in the win over Dallas Monday. He left the game but later returned and finished with 77 receiving yards. Backup TE Matt Schobel replaced Smith after he left the game. He did return later to make that big catch.

On defense, starting CB Lito Sheppard (back-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start. Sheppard was sidelined Wednesday because of back spasms.

Backup CB William James (calf), backup SS Michael Lewis (knee), and backup LB/special teamer Dedrick Roper (knee) remain questionable for Sunday. James and Lewis haven't practiced all week, and Roper practiced only on Thursday.

Reid did not appear optimistic about their status for the game.

"I think the three (James, Lewis, and Roper) will be a struggle (to be able to play)," Reid said..

James strained his calf in pre-game warm-ups prior to the Giants game and hasn't practiced since. Backup CB Rod Hood figures to fill the role of the nickel back on Sunday.

Lewis has yet to practice since suffering an MCL sprain in his knee against the Giants on Dec. 17. Backup S Quintin Mikell was solid playing in place of Lewis against Dallas.

Roper suffered an MCL sprain Monday night.

Five other players round up the team's injury report, including starting RG Shawn Andrews (collarbone), starting C Jamaal Jackson (ankle), backup CB/special teamer Bruce Perry (hamstring), backup WLB Shawn Barber (neck), and starting MLB Jeremiah Trotter (knee). All are expected to be available in their usual roles on Sunday after practicing Friday.



Saturday Update: Starting SS Mark Roman (ankle-probable), who won the job from Tony Parrish, was rewarded with a new three-year contract extension. Roman came into the league as a 2nd-round pick of the Bengals in 2000.

Friday Update:Starting OLT Jonas Jennings (shoulder) was downgraded to doubtful after not practicing again Friday. Look for backup OT Adam Snyder to start for him.

Starting MLB Derek Smith (hamstring) was downgraded back to questionable on Friday although he was able to practice. He was a little more limited in Thursday's practice. The team is calling his status now a game-time decision. Backup MLB/ILB Jeff Ulbrich would fill in if needed.

Starting SS Mark Roman (ankle-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.


Saturday Update: After a four-game losing streak ended their chances of competing for a division title, the Broncos have strung two wins together against weak defensive teams.

Tomorrow's test against San Francisco won't be much greater for Jay Cutler but it will be the final test for the young QB before he really steps up in competition in the first round of the playoffs. Cutler should get plenty of chances to throw the ball making him a decent fantasy starter in week 17. Cutler has a realistic chance to be a top-10 fantasy QB next year when you look at the talent around him and head coach Mike Shanahan is willing to let him throw the ball down field consistently which he wasn't willing to do with QB Jake Plummer.

Friday Update :Starting TE Stephen Alexander (ribs-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

K Jason Elam (left hamstring-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting C Tom Nalen (ankle-probable) practiced again Thursday and is expected to start.

K Jason Elam (left hamstring-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting MLB Al Wilson (back/thumb-questionable) practiced some Friday but his status remains a game-time decision. The weather conditions could play a factor. He'll try to loosen up his back during pre-game warmups. Backup MLB Nate Webster would start if needed. Backup LB/special teams ace Keith Burns (hand-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to play.

Backup S Steve Cargile (ankle-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to play.



Saturday Update: Starting CB David Macklin and PR/backup WR Troy Walters (ankle) were placed on IR. Three practice squad players (WRs Micheal Spurlock andTodd Watkins and QB Shane Boyd) were signed to the active roster. Giving three practice squad players a uniform as a reward for their hard work is a nice gesture by head coach Dennis Green.

Friday Update: Starting QB Matt Leinart (left shoulder) is out with backup QB Kurt Warner starting for him.

Starting WR Anquan Boldin (illness-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start. #3 WR Bryant Johnson (hip-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to play. #4 WR/PR Troy Walters (ankle-doubtful) missed practice again Friday and is not expected to play. Johnson is expected to return punts on Sunday.

Backup OT Oliver Ross (illness-probable) practiced Friday and is expected to play.

Starting MLB Gerald Hayes (ribs-doubtful) missed practice again Friday and isn't expected to play with backup MLB Monty Beisel starting again for him.

Starting SS Adrian Wilson (illness-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start. Backup S/special teams ace Hanik Milligan (knee) was added to the injury report as probable but is expected to play.

Starting CB David Macklin (hamstring-doubtful) missed practice again Thursday and isn't expected to play with nickel CB Eric Green starting for him. Starting CB Antrel Rolle (toe-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.


Saturday Update: Starting OLB Shawne Merriman has 16 sacks in 11 games but even though his stats dictate that he should earn Defensive Player of the Year honors, he won't get the award. That honor is likely to go to Dolphins DE Jason Taylor. The message alone will say enough. Players who test positive for an illegal substance or steroids are not forgiven easily.

Friday Update: Starting WR/PR Eric Parker (neck-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to play. #3 WR Vincent Jackson (hamstring-questionable) practiced Friday and is expected to play. Whether Parker or Jackson starts is considered a game-time decision.

Starting OLT Marcus McNeill (neck-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Backup G Scott Mruczkowski (knee-questionable) practiced again Friday and is expected to be available if needed for the game.

Starting DE Luis Castillo (ankle-questionable) missed practice again Friday and isn't expected to play with backup DE Jacques Cesaire starting again for him. Backup DE Derreck Robinson (foot-doubtful) missed practiced all week and isn't expected to play.

Starting ILB Randall Godfrey (hamstring-questionable) missed practice Friday and probably won't play. Backup ILB Stephen Cooper will likely start again for him.

Starting OLB Shawne Merriman (illness) was added to the injury report as probable Friday but is expected to start.

Backup FS Bhawoh Jue (knee-probable) practiced again Friday and is expected to play.



Saturday Update: To make the playoffs, the Packers need:

A win + Giants loss + Rams loss or
A win+ Giants loss + Panthers win or
A win + Giants loss + Falcons win or

Friday Update: Starting RB Ahman Green (probable-knee) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.

Starting WR Donald Driver (probable-shoulder) missed practiced again Friday but was not downgraded on the injury report and is still expected to start.

"He's fought through it for a month now," head coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday. "As we all know Donald, we anticipate him going and playing well and finishing the game."

With Driver out this week for practice, that gave extra practice time to the younger receivers.

"It's a combination, just giving Donald extra time to get ready, and to rep the younger guys, because we do have a lot of youth there with (backup WR) Carlyle Holiday and (backup WR) Chris Francies and so forth," McCarthy added.

#2 TE David Martin (questionable-ribs) practiced again Friday and should be able to play.

Starting C Scott Wells (probable-shoulder) was added to the injury report after he missed practice on Friday. He's expected to start.

"It's something that's just been lingering, and frankly just to get the other young guys work. With the extra day of practice, Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, I thought it was smart on our part," the head coach said.

Starting DT Ryan Pickett (probable-foot) returned to practice Friday and is expected to start.

"He had some orthodics done yesterday, and he's going to be fine," McCarthy said.

Backup MLB Abdul Hodge (questionable-shoulder) practiced again Friday and is expected to be available if needed for the game.

Starting CB Charles Woodson (probable-shoulder) practiced again Friday and is expected to start.


Saturday Update: We're told the team plans to play their starters similarly to last week's game. Probably about a half. Some starters will play a little more, some will play a little less.

Friday Update: The Bears will have starting DT Tank Johnson back from his one-game suspension Sunday but it's more likely that he'll return in a reserve role. Former starting DT Alfonso Boone and Ian Scott have played well in Johnson's absence and it's been reported that Johnson lost significant weight in the last two stress-filled weeks. Boone (toe) was added to the injury report as probable Thursday when he sat out practice, but was removed Friday when he worked fully. Smith was particularly complimentary of Scott's play this week, who is slated for unrestricted free agency and started the first four games of the year before making way for Johnson.

The only new injury the Bears suffered in Detroit last week was to starting FBJason McKie, who sprained his left ankle in the first half and didn't practice this week, prompting him to be downgraded from questionable to doubtful on Friday. The only other FB on the roster, rookie sixth-round pick J.D. Runnels has dressed for only one game all season, so #3 TE Gabe Reid could get the call if McKie isn't available, as he did vs. the Lions.

Also listed on the injury report are starting CB Charles Tillman (back-questionable), who didn't practice this week. He was replaced in the lineup last week by nickel CB Ricky Manning Jr., but isn't in any danger of missing any time in the playoffs even if he doesn't play Sunday.

Starting OLT John Tait (left ankle), starting RB Thomas Jones (ankle), and special teams LB Leon Joe (left hamstring-probable) were all removed from the injury report on Friday.

Tait has been replaced by backup OT John St. Clair the last two weeks but he returned to practice each day this week and could see some playing time to get the rust off from missing his first two games in several years.

Jones rested Wednesday but returned for full days of work Thursday and Friday. He's also been banged up with ribs and calf injuries the past few weeks. He left after their first offensive series in the third quarter last week and could see even less playing time this week.

Joe injured the hamstring on the game's opening kickoff in New England Nov. 26 and hasn't played since, although he began practicing again last Thursday. He also missed two games earlier in the season with a strain in his right hamstring.

Starting LG Ruben Brown (shoulder) was removed from the list Thursday when he returned to practice. He was listed as probable on Wednesday when he rested. He is one of the players likely to get an early exit Sunday with backup G Terence Metcalf probably the best bet to replace him.

Not listed on the injury report this week are starting CB Nathan Vasher (right hamstring) and starting SS Todd Johnson (right ankle). Each returned last week from being out for multiple games, although former starting S Chris Harris remained the starter ahead of Johnson.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


There are three pretty good college bowl games to help folks warm up for this weekend's final NFL regular season weekend.

Saturday, December 30

Meinke Car Care Bowl, Charlotte; 1 PM ET; ESPN

Navy (9-3) vs Boston College (9-3)

It will seem like old times for Boston College and Navy when the former Eastern Independents hook up in the Meinke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte early this afternoon. And playing in ACC country will be apropos for Boston College which tagged along with Miami and Virginia Tech when the three schools bolted the Big East for the ACC, but through the first two years of the deal, the Eagles have probably been the best of the trio. The Eagles should also be a player at the 2007 draft as Boston College features one of the best interior offensive linemen in the 2007 draft class in rugged OG Josh Beekman (#75, 6-2, 325), a prototype road grader, who figures to be off the board sometime early in the first day. Beekman in fact anchors a huge, nasty offensive front which also includes OTs James Marten (#70, 6-7, 315) and junior Gosder Cherilus (#77, 6-6, 325) who could ultimately be the unit’s best pro prospect. Indeed, the best is yet to come for the Eagles who best prospects are underclassmen including juniors such as DT B.J. Raji (#90, 6-1, 335), LB Brian Toal (#16, 6-0, 240), who also doubles as a very efficient short-yardage back, CB DeJuan Tribble (#27, 5-9, 190), and QB Matt Ryan (#12, 6-4, 225). Meanwhile, other BC seniors pro scouts will be watching today include FB Mark Palmer (#49,6-2, 245), CB Larry Anam (#9, 6-0, 195) and SS Ryan Glasper (#24, 6-0, 210). As one of the academies, Navy isn’t likely to have anyone drafted this year, but does have a number of players who may get some free agent consideration including OLB Tyler Tidwell (#45, 6-2, 225), CB Keenan Little (#4, 5-11, 195) and MLB Rob Caldwell (#57, 6-0, 230)

Alama Bowl, San Antonio; 4:30 PM ET; ESPN

Texas (9-3) vs Iowa (6-6)

Texas failed to defend its national championship this fall when the Longhorns stumbed a couple of times. However, Texas is loaded just about everywhere and should be one of the dominant teams at the 2007 draft where veteran OT Justin Blalock (#63, 6-4, 335) is a potential top 15 pick, while junior DT Frank Okam (#97, 6-5, 315), FS Michael Griffen (#27, 6-0, 205), DEs Tim Crowder (#80, 6-4, 270) and Brian Robison (#39, 6-3, 270), and CBs Aaron Ross (#31, 6-0, 195) and Tarrell Brown (#5, 6-0, 200) all should all get later first-day looks, while interior offensive line Lyle Sendlein (#62, 6-5, 315) and Kasey Studdard (#64, 6-3, 205) are solid second-day prospects.

At least on paper, this looks like a mismatch as Iowa lost 5 of its final 6 games to finish at 6-6 and barely qualify for the bowls at all. It will also be a mismatch at the 2007 draft where no Hawkeye is likely to be taken until the second day. Iowa, though, has some decent second-tier prospects in TE Scott Chandler (#87, 6-6, 260), OG Mike Jones (#76, 6-5, 305), OT Marshall Yanda (#73, 6-4, 305), OLB Ed Miles (#27, 6-1, 230), and safeties Marcus Paschal (#25, 6-0, 210) and Miguel Merrick (#15, 6-0, 205). The Hawkeyes will also be bidding farewell to long-time starting QB Drew Tate (#5, 5-11, 195), a wonderful college QB throughout his Iowa career, although he probably lacks the size and arm strength to play in the NFL but the Canadian league may beckon. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes best prospects overall may be juniors RB Albert Young (#21, 5-10, 210) and MLB Mike Klinkenborg (#40, 6-1, 240), although the latter likely won't play because of a foot injury.

Chick Fil-A Bowl, Atlanta; 8 PM ET; ESPN

Georgia (8-4) vs Virginia Tech (10-2)

Georgia had been expected to be a serious contender for conference and national honors, but struggled through an uncharacteristic four-loss campaign. And nothing may have been more representative of Bulldogs’ year than DE Quentin Moses (#94, 6-5, 255) season. The disruptive Moses had entered the season rated as potentially the top defensive prospect overall for the 2007 draft, but saw his stock drop appreciably after a very quiet year. Indeed, Moses was outplayed by fellow DE Charles Johnson (#99, 6-2, 265), a junior who is also thinking of entering the 2007 draft. The Bulldogs, though, can get after people with an aggressive defense which also includes MLB Tony Taylor (#43, 6-0, 240), OLB Danny Wheeler (#42, 6-2, 245) and undersized safety Tra Battle (#25, 5-11, 170). On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs have a solid running game featuring several good young backs led by junior Kregg Lumpkin (#6, 6-0, 215), while both TE Martrez Milner (#87, 6-4, 250) and RT Daniel Inman (#72, 6-7, 330) should get early second-day calls this coming April. The key for the Bulldogs though will be getting a consistent outing from true freshman QB Matthew Stafford (#7, 6-3, 225).

For it’s part, Virginia Tech is coming off a 10-2 season which may have been one of the quietest ten-win seasons on record. And Tech isn’t likely to make a whole lot more noise during the first-round of the 2007 draft, although several Hokies should attract plenty of attention early on the first-day. DB Aaron Rouse (#36, 6-3, 225), for example, is one of the fiercest hitters in college football, while WR David Clowney (#87, 6-0, 175) is one of the fastest receivers in college football. The Hokies also have several decent second-tier prospects in FB Jesse Allen (#37, 6-0, 245), OT Brandon Frye (#74, 6-3, 305), DE Noland Burchette (#96, 6-2, 260). For the most part, though, the Hokies best prospects are underclassmen like juniors OLB Xavier Adibi (#11, 6-2, 224), MLB Vince Hall (#9, 6-0, 235), and DE Chris Ellis (#49, 6-5, 250) and sophomore RB Branden Ore (#28, 5-10, 205).....

Texas junior DT Frank Okam said Wednesday that he plans to return to school for his senior season rather than enter the 2007 NFL draft. Okam, though, likely will still ask the NFL draft advisory committee for a projection on where he would be drafted if he did indeed opt to give up his final year. The 6-5, 315-pound Okam had been projected as a possible top 15 prospect at the start of the season but has seen his stock plummet as a result of some very ordinary production this fall.....

Florida State junior LB Lawrence Timmons has decided to skip his senior year and enter the 2007 NFL draft. The 6-3, 230-pound Timmons who has been timed in under 4.6 seconds for the 40, led the Seminoles with 18 tackles for loss this fall.....

Week Seventeen Practice Reports

Friday December 29, 2006




Both teams held their before the game walk-through's on Friday.

Starting TE Jeremy Shockey (ankle) was downgraded to out on Friday and he didn't make the trip to Washington with the team. Shockey hasn't played in a season finale since his rookie season in 2002. Backup TE Visanthe Shiancoe will start for him.

Backup OL Rich Seubert (shin) was also downgraded to out.


Backup MLB/special teams ace Khary Campbell (hamstring) was placed on IR Friday.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Friday will be the busiest day on the college bowl schedule other than January 1st with 5 games which will feature some interesting prospects for the 2007 draft and beyond.

Friday, December 29

Music City Bowl, Nashville; 1 PM ET; ESPN

Clemson (8-4) vs Kentucky (7-5)

They may want to call this one the ‘Future’ Bowl rather than the Music City Bowl as Clemson and Kentucky have as much young talent between them as any post-season game on this year’s schedule. That said, Clemson will be well-represented at the 2007 draft by DE Gaines Adams (#93, 6-5, 265), a relentless outside pass rusher who has a chance to be one of the first defensive players taken this year. The Tigers also feature a very experienced offensive line which includes seniors C Dustin Fry (#62, 6-3, 315), OG Nathan Bennett (#63, 6-4, 300) and RT Marion Dukes (#75, 6-4, 315), although the unit’s best prospect is junior LT Barry Richardson (#79, 6-6, 335) who has already stated he’s returning to school for his senior season. And the offensive front blocks for what is arguably the best young 1-2 combination at RB in sophomore RB James Davis (#1, 5-10, 210) and freshman CJ Spiller (#28, 5-11, 195). Clemson can move the ball through the air with veteran QB Will Proctor (#14, 6-2, 205) throwing to explosive WR Chansi Stuckey (#2, 6-0, 185), a first-day prospect for the upcoming draft, and underrated TE Thomas Hunter (#89, 6-4, 250).

It used to be that football season at Kentucky was just a warm-up for the hoops team. Indeed, it’s a major upset that the Wildcats are in the bowls at all this year, however, they’ll be singing ‘wait til next year’ in Lexington if all the Wildcats star juniors including emerging QB Andre Woodson (#3, 6-5, 240), do-everything RB Rafael Little (#22, 5-9, 200), big-play WR Keenan Burton (#19, 6-2, 205), TE Jacob Tamme (#18, 6-5, 240) and LB Wesley Woodyard (#16, 6-1, 220) all return for their senior campaigns. At the same time, though, Kentucky will have one of the thinnest 2007 draft classes of any BCS conference school although OT Michael Aitcheson (#72, 6-3, 305) and DE Durrell White (#9, 6-3, 260) should at least get late-round or free agent looks.

Sun Bowl, El Paso; 2 PM ET; CBS

Missouri (8-4) vs Oregon State (9-4)

This year’s first bowl on regular television should be a very competitive game between 8-4 Missouri and 9-4 Oregon State. The Beavers in particular will be looking to end a three-game losing streak by Pac-10 teams so far on this year’s bowl schedule. And Oregon State, which won 7 of its last 8 games, including a stunning upset of previously unbeaten Southern Cal may just be the team to get the conference off the schneid, although the Tigers won’t go quietly. In fact, there are a number of similarities between the two teams. Both have outstanding TEs with Joe Newton (#89, 6-7, 260), one of the top prospects at the position for the 2007 draft, headlining the OSU offense, while Missouri may have the best 1-2 combination at the position in the country in junior Martin Rucker (#82, 6-5, 245) and sophomore Chase Coffman (#45, 6-6, 230) who combined for 100 receptions this fall. The Beavers and Tigers also both have a solid second-tier DB for the upcoming draft in David Overstreet (#8, 6-0, 210) of Missouri and Oregon State’s Sabby Piscitelli (#24, 6-3, 225). Other Tigers to watch include veteran offensive linemen C Mike Cook (#55, 6-2, 315) and RT Joel Clinger (#74, 6-6, 315), WR Brad Ekwerekwu (#86, 6-3, 215), LBs Marcus Bacon (#15, 6-2, 225) and Dedrick Harrington (#33, 6-4, 240) and DE Xzavie Jackson (#48, 6-4, 275). Meanwhile, other Beavers pro scouts will be checking out include LB Adam Koets (#61, 6-6, 300), DT Ben Siegert (#97, 6-4, 295), and QB Matt Moore (#8, 6-4, 195). The Beavers also have a top junior prospect in RB Yvenson Bernard (#26, 5-9, 205).

Liberty Bowl, Memphis; 4:30 PM ET; ESPN

Houston (10-3) vs South Carolina (7-5)

If nothing else, this afternoon’s Liberty Bowl match-up between Houston and South Carolina will be fun to watch. Indeed, the the Cougars come to town with as much talent as any team outside the ranks of the BCS conferences. Today’s game, for example, will be a final showcase for QB Kevin Kolb (#4, 6-3, 225) who will be looking to prove to pro scouts he indeed has all the tools to be considered an elite level prospect at the position. And Kolb will have plenty of tools to work with including super quick WR Vincent Marshall (#17, 5-8, 175), along with battering ram RB Jackie Battle (#27, 6-1, 250). Meanwhile, LB Wade Koehl (#1, 6-2, 230), NT Marquay Love (#99, 6-0, 320) and CB Willie Gaston (#10, 5-11, 185) are solid second-tier type prospects on the other side of the ball. South Carolina could still have a major impact at this year’s draft if super sophomore WR Sidney Rice (#4, 6-3, 205), who is draft eligible after redshirting as a true freshman, opts to leave school for the NFL this winter, although Rice appears to be leaning toward staying for another year after something of a down year. Even if Rice stays in school the Gamecocks have a first-round prospect in emerging cover corner Fred Bennett (#8, 6-1, 200). Meanwhile, the other ‘SC’ will also have one of the more versatile prospects in the country in Syvelle Newton (#13, 6-0, 220) who has played QB, RB and WR in the past, but will get a look at safety at the next level, while TE andy Boyd (#80, 6-4, 270) is an underrated prospect at the position.

Insight Bowl, Tempe; 7:30 PM ET; NFL Network

Minnesota (6-6) vs Texas Tech (7-5)

There’s a major age (and experience) difference in the Insight Bowl match-up between the Big XII’s Texas Tech and Minnesota of the Big 10. in particular the Red Raiders are one of the more experienced teams around whereas the Golden Gophers find themselves in something of a rebuilding mold. The deep Texas Tech draft class is deepest at WR which features a trio fo draftable prospects in Jarrett Hicks (#88, 6-3, 210), Joel Filani (#8, 6-3, 220) and Robert Johnson (#9, 6-0, 220). Of the three, Hicks appears to have the most pro potential, although none of the trio is a real blazer. Tech also has a plethora of riches up front on an offensive line which will start four seniors including massive road grader OG Manual Ramirez (#63, 6-4, 340), one of the strongest players in college football, and rangy LT Glenn January (#69, 6-7, 290). For the first time in what seems like forever, the Red Raiders’ offense doesn’t have a senior QB to run the show; no problem, though, as sophomore QB Graham Harrell (#6, 6-3, 200) is an emerging star in his own right. And while not as talented as the offense, the Texas Tech defense has several decent prospects of its own including LBs Keyunta Dawson (#96, 6-2, 250) and Fletcher Session (#42, 6-0, 232), and NT Chris Hudler (#93, 6-3, 290), along with juniors LB Brock Stratton (#45, 5-11, 230) and SS Joe Garcia (#49, 6-2, 205).

As noted, Minnesota is nowhere near as experienced as Texas Tech and it got a little worse when it was revealed that TE Matt Spaeth, one of the top prospects in the country at the position, will not play because of a separated shoulder. The Gophers, though, still have a solid RT in Joe Ainslie (#78, 6-6, 310), while the defense will get a boost with veteran CB Trumaine Banks (#4, 5-11, 190) back in the lineup after he missed several games with a leg injury. Meanwhile, the only other Gopher likely to get much interest from pro scouts this year will be WR Logan Payne (#84, 6-2, 205). In fact, the Golden Gopher most worth watching tonight will be emerging sophomore DE Willie VanVanDeSteeg (#91, 6-4, 255) who can bring some heat off the edge.

Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando; 8 PM ET; ESPN

Purdue (8-5) vs Maryland (8-4)

A very busy day of college football bowl action wraps up with another pretty good match-up with Purdue battling Maryland in the Champs Sports Bowl. And pro scouts will be tuning in to this one to check out Purdue DE Anthony Spencer (#49, 6-3, 260) one of the top pass rushers in college field who had 10.5 sacks and 16 other tackles for loss this season. Spencer, in fact, will get some consideration both from teams looking to add a pure pass rushing DE as well as 3-4 teams looking for a disruptive OLB. Purdue LT Mike Otto (#65, 6-5, 305) will also be under pro scout’s microscopes, as will veteran MLB George Hall (#30, 6-2, 245). For the most part, though, the Boilermakers are a relatively young team led by juniors such as WR Dorien Bryant (#9, 5-10, 175), QB Curtis Painter (#12, 6-4, 230), TE Dustin Keller (#28, 6-4, 245) and OG Jordan Grimes (#66, 6-3, 335). There is a similar story for Maryland, which also features a young lineup, however, the Terrapins do get some veteran leadership from QB Sam Hollenbach (#14, 6-5, 220), LT Stephon Heyer (#70, 6-6, 320), CB Josh Wilson (#4, 5-9, 185) and DT Conrad Bolston (#95, 6-3, 285).

One top prospect who won’t be in uniform later today will be Minnesota TE Matt Spaeth who reportedly will not play in the Insight Bowl against Texas Tech this evening as he has a separated shoulder that will require surgery.....

Michigan junior RB Mike Hart is being quoted as saying he is 99% sure that he won’t be declaring for this year’s draft, but will be back at school next fall. Meanwhile, there is something of a buz that Penn State junior LB Dan Connor also will be back at school next fall. And speaking of Penn State, junior RB Austin Scott, who is redshirting this season, was sent home from the team’s Outback Bowl camp for unspecified reasons.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


A couple of teams that figured they deserved a better bowl fate highlight a busy Friday schedule in college bowl action. In fact, both California and Rutgers, each of which thinks it should be playing on New Year’s Day are loaded with top prospects for the upcoming draft and should give pro scouts plenty to chew on later this evening.

Thursday, December 28

Independence Bowl, Shreveport; 4:30 PM ET; ESPN

Alabama (6-6) vs Oklahoma State (6-6)
They might want to call this one the ‘were not really sure we want to be here’ bowl as the coach-less 6-6 Alabama Crimson Tide take on the equally 6-6 Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Independence Bowl. However, since both teams apparently are showing up something will have to give as Oklahoma State can put points on the board, but can’t stop anyone, while Alabama struggles to move the ball, but plays stout defense. And while neither Alabama nor State features any likely opening-round prospects for the 2007 draft, each team has at least one first-day candidate. The Alabama defense, for example, is led by OLB Juwan Simpson (#42, 6-3, 222) who overcame some preseason off-field woes to post 73 tackles, including 5 for loss and an interception. The Tide defense in fact is a veteran unit which also includes several second-round prospects in DT Jeremy Clark (#99, 6-2, 305), FS Jeffrey Dukes (#6-0, 195) and CB Ramzee Robinson (#1, 5-9, 190). Meanwhile, Alabama thought they had a potential first-rounder on offense prior to the season but RB Kenneth Darby (#34, 5-10, 205) had a very disappointing senior campaign. Darby will work out of the backfield with a pair of decent FB prospects in Le’ron McCLain (#33, 6-1, 255) and versatile Tim Castille (#19, 5-11, 235). Whether the Alabama offense can put up enough points to defeat Oklahoma State though may depend on sophomore QB John Parker Wilson (#14, 6-2, 205) getting the ball to junior WRs DJ Hall (#22, 6-2, 190) and Keith Brown (#6-2, 195).

A junior WR is also Oklahoma State’s key player. Indeed, junior WR Adarius Bowman (#12, 6-4, 215) is keeping his 2007 draft options open after hauling in 57 passes for over 1,100 yards this past fall. Bowman pairs with veteran WR D’Juan Woods (#84, 6-1, 210), a solid possession-receiver, to give sophomore QB Bobby Reid (#14, 6-3, 225) a pair of dangerous targets. And if Bowman should decide to stay in school for his senior season, the Cowboys may still get a first-day call this coming April as OT Corey Hilliard (#75, 310) who can play RT or OG, is one of the more versatile offensive linemen in this year’s draft field. The Cowboys are very young on defense, but do have some speed on the outside in DEs Victor DeGrate (#91, 6-3, 250) and junior Nathan Peterson (#13, 6-3, 250), while DT Ryan McBean (#6-5, 290) may get some looks at the next level as a 3-4 DE.

Holiday Bowl, San Diego; 8 PM ET; ESPN

California (9-3) vs Texas A&M (9-3)
With Southern California in something of a rebuilding mode this fall, the Bears had hopes that this might be their year. And while Cal technically shared the Pac-10 title with the Trojans, the Bears 9-3 finish resulting in an invite to the Holiday Bowl was not what they were expecting. California, though, may get some consolation at the 2007 draft where they should have a deep draft class than the Trojans. Junior RB Marshawn Lynch (10, 5-10, 225), for example, is a potential top 10-15 prospect after rushing for over 1,200 yards this fall, although overall Lynch’s season was considered a bit of a slump by his standards. And while Lynch was winning Pac-10 offensive player of the year honors this fall, CB Daymeion Hughes (#13, 6-1, 190) was taking defensive player of the year laurels. Hughes in fact has been one of the most productive defensive players in the country this fall but his lack of pure speed may cost him a first-round slot on draft day. Meanwhile, DT Brandon Mebane (#52, 6-1, 300) and MLB Desmond Bishop (#10, 6-2, 245) are also solid first-day prospects. The Bears also feature some excellent young talent including a track team of a receiver corps headed by sophomore WE DeSean Jackson (#1, 5-11, 160). and DT Brandon Mebane (#52, 6-1, 300)

Like California, Texas A&M finished 9-3 this fall, but while the Bears will be contenders at the 2007 draft, the Aggies will be mostly pretenders. A&M does have a couple of quality defensive prospects in MLB Justin Warren (#10, 6-3, 245) and safety Melvin Bullitt (#33, 6-1, 205). The Aggies could also have a sleeper at RB in RB Courtney Lewis (#25, 6-0, 205), a slasher with 4.45 speed who certainly has the tools to play at the next level but has been hampered by injuries. Indeed, Lewis doesn’t figure to get many carries against Cal with monster sophomore back Jovorskie Lane (#11, 5-11, 275) getting most of the touches. Indeed, the future is now for the Aggies who also depend on athletic sophomore QB Stephen McGee (#7, 6-3, 210) to run the show.

Texas Bowl, Houston; 8 PM ET; NFL Network

Rutgers (10-2) vs Kansas State (7-5)
Rutgers, of course, has fashioned one of the great stories in college football the past couple of years, rising from years of bottom feeding to national prominence. So figure the Scarlet Knights to be in a bit of a surly mood to be playing on December 28th after having missed out on a BCS bid by a whisker. Rutgers has fashioned its comeback the old fashioned way, that is with good players including at least a couple of top prospects for the 2007 draft in star FB Brian Leonard (#23, 6-0, 230), a Mike Alstott type who is a terrific receiver coming out of the backfield, and TE Clark Harris (#81, 6-6, 255) who isn’t quite as heralded as Leonard but might be the better overall prospect. Other veteran Scarlet Knights to watch with decent late round or free agent potential for the upcoming draft include speedy KR Willie Foster (#84, 5-10, 170), C Darnell Stapleton (#53, 6-3, 305), DT Ramel Meekins (#60, 6-0, 285), LB Devraun Thompson (#55, 5-11, 220) and CBs Derrick Roberson (#11, 5-10, 175) and Joe Porter (#24, 6-0, 200). The team’s best players, though, may actually be star sophomores RB Ray Rice (#27, 5-9, 200) and FS Courtney Greene (#36, 6-0, 185), while sophomore DE Jamaal Westerman (#90, 6-3, 255) is an emerging pass-rush threat.

They turned the page at Kansas State where Ron Prince replaced long-time Wildcats’ head coach Bill Snyder after a successful 17-year run which saw the Wildcats approach elite level-status. That didn’t always show up on draft day and it certainly won’t this coming April when the Wildcats aren’t expected to be major players at the 2007 draft. Indeed, the Wildcats don’t have any players likely to be taken on the opening day, but do have several second-day prospects including OLB Brandon Archer (#46, 6-2, 230), MLB Zach Diles (#52, 6-2, 230), DB Kyle Williams (#9, 6-1, 200), NT Quinton Echols (#56, 6-2, 305), and WR/KRs Yamon Figurs (#16, 6-0, 180) and Jermaine Moreira (#10, 5-11, 190), while TB Thomas Clayton (#5, 5-11, 220) could be something of a sleeper after slasher with reported 4.4 speed missed much of the year with an injury. In fact, the Wildcats best prospects are sophomore DE Ian Campbell (#98, 6-4, 240), a disruptive, tween-er edge rusher who had 11.5 sacks this fall, and freshman QB Josh Freeman (#1, 6-6, 240).....

UNLV has confirmed that junior CB Eric Wright will be entering the 2007 draft.....

Ohio State junior OT Kirk Barton reportedly will return to the Buckeyes for his senior season in 2007, passing up a chance to enter the NFL. Barton is one of four Buckeyes’ offensive starters who requested an evaluation from the NFL’s special draft advisory committee. Fellow juniors RB Antonio Pittman and WRs Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez have also requested evaluations of their respective draft potential.....

South Carolina red-shirt sophomore WR Sidney Rice reportedly plans to petition the NFL’s underclassmen advisory committee for an evaluation of his draft status, but mainly to determine the appropriate insurance policy to take out as protection against a career-ending injury at USC. Rice says, though, that he would consider leaving school early if he is projected as a top-10 pick in the April draft. In fact, the 6-3, 200-pound Rice was considered to be an early first-round selection prior to the season, but didn’t have a great season.....

According to media reports in both cities, Denver will receive Washington's 3rd round pick at the 2007 draft to complete the three-way trade last summer that also included Atlanta. Depending on this weekend’s results, the Broncos could still also get a fourth-round pick from the Redskins in 2008. The original language of the deal was rather vague and had left open the possibility that the Redskins and Broncos could end up swapping their first-round picks. Denver had wanted a high third-rounder when they parted with WR Ashley Lelie as part of the deal. And with the 5-10 Redskins guaranteed a top 10 pick this coming April, the Broncos will get their high 3rd rounder. Denver sent Lelie, who was holding out, to Atlanta in the three-way trade, while the Redskins got running back T.J. Duckett from Atlanta. The extra third-round pick will give the Broncos ammunition if they want to trade up. It was a high third-round pick that Denver packaged to improve its draft position and select quarterback Jay Cutler in April.....

Tampa Bay has confirmed that QB Chris Simms will remain with the Buccaneers. Simms, sidelined since the third week of the season after having his spleen removed, signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday and looks forward to trying to regain his starting job in 2007......

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Emerald Bowl

Florida State isn't used to playing their bowl games on December 27th, but after struggling to a 6-6 record this fall, the Seminoles are probably just happy to be playing in the post-season at all. And the Seminoles will be tested in tonight's Emerald Bowl by UCLA which can get after the QB as well as any team in the country.

Wednesday, December 27

Emerald Bowl, San Francisco; 8 PM ET; ESPN

UCLA (7-5) vs Florida State (6-6)

UCLA enters the Emerald Bowl on a huge high after knocking cross-town nemesis Southern California out of the national title game, upsetting the Trojans 13-9 on the final weekend of the regular season. And there was nothing fluky about the Bruins win over the Trojans; indeed, UCLA has one of the better pass rushes in the country featuring DEs Justin Hickman (#17, 6-1, 260) and junior tween er Bruce Davis (#44, 6-3, 230) each of whom had 12.5 sacks this fall. The Bruins also have a good one in junior DT Kevin Brown (#75, 6-2, 297). In fact, ‘junior’ is the key word for the Bruins as the defense also includes a couple more emerging junior types in CB Trey Brown (#23, 5-9, 190) and LB Christian Morton (#33, 6-0, 220). Same story on offense where the best prospect is junior OG Shannon Tevaga (#71, 6-3, 310). Indeed, other than DE Hickman, the Bruins’ best prospect for the 2007 draft is PK Justin Medlock (#7, 6-0, 185) who connected on 26 of 30 FG attempts this fall including 2 for 2 from beyond 50 yards.

Coming off a disappointing 8-5 mark in 2005, the Seminoles were supposed to reload this year, but instead staggered to through a miserable 6-6 season, arguably the worst in head coach Bobby Bowden’s career. And after dominating the early going at the 2006 draft where 4 former Seminoles were taken in the first 19 picks, FSU is likely to more of a bystander this coming April. Indeed, aggressive MLB Buster Davis (#7, 5-11, 240) is likely the only Seminoles’ senior with a legitimate chance to being taken on the first-day this year. Meanwhile OT Mario Henderson (#75, 6-6, 305), RB Lorenzo Booker (#28, 5-10, 195), WR Chris Davis (#5, 6-0, 180) and DE Darrell Burston (#92, 6-2, 240) should get some later round consideration. In fact, the Emerald Bowl represents a major opportunity for OT Henserdon to improve his stock as he certainly has NFL physical potential but hasn’t necessarily always been that productive. Going up against UCLA DEs Hickman and Davis, though, will give him a chance to shine. And whether the Seminoles ultimately actually have to start to rebuild next fall will depend to a large extent on the development of some great young players coming along including emerging junior OLB Lawrence Timmons (#83, 6-3, 220), along with sophomores like QB Drew Weatherford (#11, 6-3, 220), 6-6 WR Greg Carr (#89, 6-6, 200), and CB Tony Carter (#15, 5-9, 170), along with star freshman DB Myron Rolle (#3, 6-2, 215).....

After breaking the NCAA single-season touchdown record, Hawaii junior QB Colt Brennan says he prepared to return to school for his senior season unless an NFL team indicates it will select him with a high pick at the 2007 draft. Brennan broke the NCAA record for touchdown passes in a season with 58 in Hawaii's 41-24 victory over Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl on Sunday night. Brennan finished the game with five touchdowns on 33-of-42 passing for a school-record 559 yards, although he did also have a pick.....

Clemson junior OT Barry Richardon, a 345-pound road grader, has indicated he will be returning to school for his senior season. Tigers’ junior CB C.J. Gaddis, though, has at least petitioned the NFL draft underclassmen advisory committee for a gauge on where he might be selected if he turned pro early. The 6-0, 210-pound Gaddis, though, is still saying he’ll most likely stay for his final year of eligibility and will need to be graded out as a high pick to convince him to leave school early.....

There is an unconfirmed media report that UNLV junior CB Eric Wright will be entering the 2007 draft.....

Cleveland, which would have the 3rd pick overall were the 2007 draft held today, will have to start 3rd stringer Ken Dorsey in Sunday's season finale against Houston. Dorsey will replace Derek Anderson, who suffered a separated right shoulder in the Christmas Eve loss to Tampa Bay. Anderson had started three straight games after nominal starter Charlie Frye sustained a wrist injury earlier in December. With Frye and Anderson unable to play, the Browns likely will have to sign a quarterback before Sunday to serve as backup to Dorsey.....

As noted in yesterday’s report regarding the latest selection order for the opening round of the 2007 draft, Detroit would have the first round pick if the draft were held today because the Lions' combined opponents have won four fewer games to date than Oakland's. However, correspondent Scott Z has correctly pointed out that it because of a number of factors Detroit would actually need a ‘miracle’ to lose out on the #1 pick this year assuming that both the Lions and Raiders either lose their season-finales this weekend or both their final game. For starters, that four-win gap will be that much more difficult for Oakland to overcome because the Lions and Raiders have 5 common opponents on their schedules this season. At the same time, each has a number of opponents which play each other this weekend. For example, the Lions’ division-rivals Chicago and Green Bay wrap up the NFL regular season Sunday evening so whether the Bears or Packers win, the Lions will add two wins and two losses to their opponents’ combined W-L totals. Indeed, when these ‘pre-determined results are factored in, the gap between the Lions and Raiders’ combined opponents records actually increases to five games. Finally, it all that wasn’t bad enough (for Oakland) or good enough for Detroit depending on one’s perspective, the majority of Detroit’s opponents’ this weekend are substantial underdogs, while more of Oakland’s are at least favored. Of course, all these calculations will be thrown out if either Detroit or Oakland (but not both) pulls off an upset this weekend. Both are in tough, though, with the Lions playing at playoff bound Dallas which is still battling for post-season position, while Oakland will be at the New York Jets, whom like the Cowboys are still fighting for playoff position.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


With just a week to go in the NFL regular season, the #1 pick at the 2007 draft is still up for grabs between Detroit and Oakland. Both teams are 2-13, but Detroit's 16 opponents this year have won four fewer games than those of Oakland meaning if the draft were held today the Lions would have the top pick. Here’s the full, updated ‘if the draft were held today. Meanwhile, as advertised, there was some shuffling of the rest of the teams with top picks. As a result of losing to Tampa Bay, for example, Cleveland moved up from the 6th spot to the 3rd pick were the draft to be held today, while Tampa Bay dropped a spot to #4 and Arizona slipped to #5 after upsetting the 49ers. At the same time, Houston and Washington are in a virtual statistical tie for the 6-7 spots. However, should Washington and Houston end up with the same winning record for their combined opponents, the Texans will get the higher pick as they lost to the Redskins earlier in the season....

Motor City Bowl between CMU's Chippewas and Middle Tennessee State. Here’s a quick look at who to watch in tonight’s bowl action....

Tuesday December 26

Motor City Bowl, Detroit; 7:30 PM ET; ESPN

Central Michigan (9-4) vs Middle Tennessee State (7-5)

Under normal circumstances a match-up between Central Michigan and Middle Tennessee State wouldn’t even make it to regional television. These is nothing normal about these circumstances, however, as pro scouts will be trooping to Detroit tonight to check out a couple of solid Central Michigan prospects in DE Daniel Bazuin (#93, 6-3, 275) and OT Joe Staley (#73, 6-5, 295). Bazuin, for example, had 16 sacks in 2005 but slumped somewhat this fall although he remains one of the better two-way DEs in the country. Meanwhile, Staley, a converted TE with 4.7 speed, is one of the most athletic LT prospects in the 2007 draft class. Other Chippewas who should get at least free agent interest this spring include rover Isaac Brown (#6, 5-11, 205), another exceptional athlete who has also played RB and FS at CMU, LB Doug Kress (#46, 6-1, 240), WR Damien Linson (#3, 5-11, 185) and C Drew Mormino (#78, 6-3, 305). And for future reference, the Chippewas also have a terrific future prospect in sophomore RB Ontario Sneed (#34, 5-11, 205), while red shirt freshman QB Dan LeFevour (#13, 6-3, 215) has done a nice job leading the offense since taking over on the second play of the season.
For its part, Middle Tennessee State isn’t likely to have any players selected at the 2007 draft, but have do have a number of free agent type prospects in QB Clint Marks (#17, 6-2, 205), RB Eugene Gross (#20, 5-9, 210), RT Germayle Franklin (#73, 6-4, 320), a big, albeit not particularly athletic road grader type, LBs J.K. Sabb (#25, 5-11, 225) and Justin Rainey (#1,5-10, 215) and P/PK Colby Smith (#46, 5-9, 185). The Blue Raiders best player though may be junior DB Damon Nickson (#5, 6-0, 180), an All-America safety who picked off 5 passes this fall, but is somewhat undersized.