Preseason Week 4 Overview

(Philadelphia, Pa) —-This week’s games were usually dull affairs played on a Thursday or Friday that screamed, “Please start the regular season”. I attended the Thursday night battle between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field and I can tell you everyone in the pressbox was more interested in talking about the Phillies’ big win to sweep the Mets from earlier in the day.

Watching players that will either be on the practice squad or cut after the game is exhausting. I am just be glad that I am not a not a Steelers or Saints player or fan, because those two teams played in pre-season five games, starting with the Hall of Fame game. Teams can take solace in the fact that the Super Bowl Champion Colts finished 1-3 in the 2006 Pre-season including a bad 20 to 3 loss to the Bengals.  I truly believe that Commissioner Roger Goodell will stop the madness of the 4th pre-season game and shorten the pre-season schedule in 2008.  

Now that we are done the longest part of the NFL Schedule let the games begin !! I will have a full in-depth look at regular season week one games, starting with the Thursday September 6th game between the Super Bowl Champion Colts and the Saints.

Game BallsSince this week featured so many performances by end of the lineup guys in meaningless games, I am giving only one game ball.

DE CJ Mosely, Jets – At the game I attended everyone was talking about Mosely. Inspired by Jets Assistant Coach Bryan Cox, Mosely was a force constantly pounding Eagles quarterbacks including probably breaking Eagles quarterback AJ Feeley with a vicious hit. Mosely probably played his way onto the roster accounting for three sacks and two forced fumbles. Mosely said after the game, “I don’t think I’ve had (a game) like that in my life”.

Scoreboard and Game NotesSince everyone was just trying to get out of these games healthy and start the regular season, I thought it was meaningless to give a write-up of each game. I have included the game scores below.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Paul Brown Stadium

Colts (1-3)        6

Bengals (1-3)  14

Georgia Dome

Ravens (1-3)    10

Falcons (3-1)     13

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Qwest Field

Raiders (2-2)   14

Seahawks (3-1) 19

Qualcomm Stadium

49ers (1-3)       13

Chargers (3-1)  16

Invesco Field at Mile High

Cardinals (0-4)    3

Broncos ( 2-2)    21

Soldier Field

Browns (3-1)  19

Bears ( 3-1)    9

Bank of America Stadium

Steelers (4-1)   19

Panthers (1-3)   3

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

Cowboys (2-2) 14

Vikings (2-2)     23

Superdome

Dolphins (2-2)   0

Saints ( 3-2)      7

Edward Jones Dome

Chiefs (0-4)     3

Rams ( 2-2)   10

Raymond James Stadium

Texans ( 2-2)        24

Buccaneers ( 3-1)  31

LP Field

Packers (2-2)   14

Titans (3-1)      30

Gillette Stadium

Giants (1-3)   20

Patriots (2-2)  27

Lincoln Financial Field

Jets (3-1)      13

Eagles (1-3)   11

Jacksonville Municipal Stadium

Redskins (2-2)  14

Jaguars (3-1)    31

Ford Field

Bills (2-2)   16

Lions (2-2)  13

2007 NFL Rookie Impact Players (Offense)

More than ever teams are now looking for rookies to make an immediate impact in their first year. Long gone are the “redshirt” mentalities of most teams, because they expect rookies at all levels (high draft picks, middle and low draft picks, and undrafted free agents) to earn their spot and help the team from day one. This expectation is not as far fetched as in the past with college systems becoming more sophisticated and the learning curve between big time college football and the pros becoming less steep. Before the 2007 NFL Draft respected NFL talent evaluator Mike Mayok of NFL Network summed it up best by saying “NFL coaches now expect that their Day 1 draft picks (Rounds 1-3) will be able to step onto the field and compete in their first year”. He added “With the limited amount of players that can dress each week coaches are looking for draft picks that can help out everywhere, especially on special team where we saw the impact of Bears rookie Devin Hester on the NFL”.

The 2006 NFL Season showed that this trend is on the upswing as this draft class produced a record number of rookie impact players with 35 rookie starters in NFL lineups on opening day not counting punters and kickers. The impact rookies producing high marks in 2006 came from offense, defense, and special teams including: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young (Over 2,000 yards passing and Over 500 yards rushing), NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Houston Texans LB DeMeco Ryans (Over 100 TKLS), explosive Chicago Bears WR/DB/KR Devin Hester (NFL Record 6 Returns for Touchdowns), Jacksonville Jaguars RB/KR Maurice Jones-Drew (13 Total TDs), San Diego Chargers tough RT Marcus McNeil, New Orleans Saints RB Reggie Bush (88 catches), 7th round surprise New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston (Over 1,000 yards receiving) , and many others.

Here is a look at some of 2007’s offensive rookies that I believe will continue the trend of first year impact players.

  • RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings – Peterson is my number one candidate for rookie of the year in 2007. He has all of the requisite skills (size, speed, and vision) to be a solid NFL running back plus he will be running behind Pro Bowlers mammoth guard Steve Hutchinson and tackle Bryant McKinnie. The Vikings first round pick will probably spend some time splitting carries with incumbent RB Chester Taylor, but I believe Peterson will be too valuable for Vikings coach Brad Childress to leave on the bench. The tandem should capitalize on the NFL’s new trend of having two quality backs (Colts, Bears, and Chargers). Peterson left school as a junior and has a history of nagging injuries (Missed seven games in 2006 – broken collarbone), but he is productive when healthy. He left Oklahoma as their third all-time runner with 4,045 yards in three seasons.
  • WR/KR Ted Ginn, Miami Dolphins – With the early reports that I am hearing from Dolphins training camp, I think GM Randy Mueller and Head Coach Cam Cameron got this one right. Fans will always have want to use hindsight, but Ginn is an explosive player with game breaking speed. He will provide a speed compliment to possession type Marty Booker and fast but not blazing Chris Chambers. His ankle injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl is all healed and look for him to make immediate impacts on special teams (Will make you forget Wes Welker). He could quite possibly be this year’s Devon Hester (Raw, but Explosive Homerun Threat). In his last year at Ohio State, he caught 59 passes for 781 yards and nine touchdowns and as a returner averaged 11.1 per punt return, with one touchdown.
  • RB/FB Brian Leonard, St. Louis Rams – Leonard looks to me to be the second round steal of the draft. He has the speed, toughness, and versatility to be the primary halfback backup and a spot lead blocker at fullback when needed. Much like former Bears combo back Brad Muster from “back in the day”, the Rams will utilize Leonard in so many ways. With star RB Steven Jackson needing an occasional breather, he can fill the role of a “big” back in short yardage situations (45 TD’s at Rutgers) and expect to see, Rams Head Coach Scott Linehan and Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson throwing the ball a lot to Leonard (over 200 catches in his college career) on screens and shallow crosses. Leonard is also a “gamer” so also look for him to excel on punt and kicking teams.
  • WR/KR Jacoby Jones, Houston Texans – Jones is a small school (Lane College) explosive wide receiver who is quickly moving up the Texans depth chart. He was selected in the 3rd round and during pre-season he has show that he could be the complimentary receiver that the Texans and Pro Bowler Andre Johnson have needed. Jones may have solidified himself as a player in the Texans recent pre-season game versus the Dallas Cowboys. In the Texans 28-16 victory in the “Governor’s Cup”, Jones once again stood out including some highlight-reel plays. He returned a first-quarter punt 91 yards for a touchdown, the longest in Texans preseason history. Then he caught his first NFL touchdown, a leaping 19-yarder in the corner of the end zone, which made him the NFL preseason leader in TD’s with three. This guy will not only thrive as a special teams ace, but he’s going to be a much-needed weapon for new QB Matt Schaub.
  • WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions – In the past the Lions have been hit or miss with their wide receiver draft picks, but they seem to have gotten it right this time. It usually takes receivers two to three years to develop, but Johnson is a physical ‘freak” who will become an absolute nightmare for NFL defensive backs. He is a true difference maker with the size of T.O, but possessing better speed (4.35) and less attitude. Expect him to line up as the number two receiver, taking double teams off Pro Bowler Roy Williams and shifting WR Mike Furrey (BPR 69 and NFL second leading receiver) to the slot. In Mike Martz’s offense look for Johnson, Furrey, Williams, and Shaun McDonald in crazy four and sometimes five receiver packages. Johnson caught 76 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns this past season at Georgia Tech and had his best game in the Gator Bowl versus West Virginia narrowly losing 38-35. In the game he caught nine passes for a career-high 186 yards and two touchdowns.
  • WR Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts – Some may wonder “How can a rookie have an impact on the Super Bowl champs?”. Gonzalez unlike most rookies is stepping into a defined role and he will not be asked to “be the man”. He will provide the perfect slot 3rd wide receiver behind stars Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne for the Colts, who lost veterans Brandon Stokley and Ricky Proehl in the off-season. Gonzalez, who has deceptive speed will be quarterback Peyton Manning’s guy to look for on third downs and in the red zone. I like the tough Ohio State product’s sure hands and crisp routes and I could see him catching over forty passes with five touchdowns. He may not have the eye popping stats in year one, but look for him to grow as Harrison moves closer to ending his career.
  • TE Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears – If a tight end has ability they can make a lot of noise in their first year (see former Eagles TE Keith Jackson from ’88). I believe that late round first pick Olsen has the down the field pass catching ability to have a similar impact as fellow TE’s from the “U” Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow. Olsen is running a close battle with incumbent Desmond Clark, but expect him to supplant Clark by season’s end as quarterback Rex Grossman’s security blanket. Olsen has already shown in the pre-season that he is the real deal leading all Bear’s TE’s with 6 catches for 68 yards (11.3 ypc) and a long of 23 yards. He only scratched the surface of his ability in college posting 87 receptions for 1,215 yards (14.0 avg.) and six touchdowns in his career.
  • RB Tony Hunt, Philadelphia Eagles – For years Eagles fans have been clamoring for a “big” back to take some of the pressure off of mercurial running back Brian Westbrook. Birds’ fans got their wish as the Eagles in the third round grabbed Penn State’s 2nd all-time leading rusher (3320 yards). This year’s Senior Bowl MVP has a good forward lean and seems to be picking up the Eagles offense well enough to unseat Correll Buckhalter and emerge as the number two running back in Philadelphia behind Westbrook. Look for Hunt on short yardage and goal line plays as he has the desire and drive to punch it in from close. He is working on his pass catching ability and block assignments, so expect to see him in the regular season. He has impressed already in the pre-season with 2 TD’s against the Panthers.
  • Center/Guard Samson Satele, Miami Dolphins – Anyone who doesn’t believe that a center can make an impact as a rookie, take a look at 2006 Jets first rounder Nick Mangold. Mangold was solid in making all of the line calls as the Jets made the playoffs. I am not sure that Satele will have the same effect on the Dolphins, but he should be an anchor in the middle of their line for years to come. The second rounder from Hawaii is a thickly built (311 pounds) but athletic player that has a good pop coming off the line and has the ability to hold his own against bigger opponents by playing with great leverage. Started an NCAA-record 53 games and he will be looked upon to protect 37 year-old quarterback Trent Green.
  • QB Brady Quinn, Cleveland Browns – Football’s new “Golden Boy” from Notre Dame didn’t do himself any favors by missing most of training camp in a holdout, but he is now poised to take over as the Browns starter. With Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson playing uninspiring football this pre-season, Quinn has exceeded expectations by coming and impressing. In limited time, Quinn has thrown for three touchdowns, no interceptions, and completed over 64% of his passes. With Romeo Crennel on the hot seat look for Quinn to step in by week 4. Quinn may not produce a huge amount of wins in 2006, but he has the pedigree ( 46 collegiate starts, 95 touchdown passes and over 11,000 yards) to make an impact for years to come.
  • OT Jared Gaither, Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens may have made one of the best picks in NFL Supplemental Draft history by grabbing this large (6’8, 325) mauling offensive tackle in the fifth round this summer. Gaither was supposed to be in college, but he had several problems staying on the field (preseason suspension, injuries and academic troubles) and needed to go to the pros. With veteran Pro Bowl LT Jonathan Ogden being an injury risk (toe), Gaither will be looked to replace Ogden and not miss a beat. In 2006, the NFL saw the impact of rookie Marcus McNeil on the Chargers o-line and look for Gaither to have a similar impact. He emerged in 2005 as the Terrapins’ most talented lineman in his first season when he started eight games as a freshman at Left Offensive Tackle and did not allow a sack. Should be a cornerstone player for the Ravens for years to come.
  • OT/OG Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans Saints – With the Saints finding and inserting small college o-lineman Jhari Evans into their lineup in 2006 and the rookie having an almost Pro Bowl year, they were looking for a similar player in this year’s draft. They seem to have found another impact small college (Towson St) mauler in fourth round pick Bushrod. He is a big (6-4½, 315) tough developmental type who has the demeanor, speed (4.92), and footwork to play guard or offensive tackle in the NFL. With RT Jammal Brown nursing an injury, expect to see Bushrod somewhere on the Saints o-line. He should help in leading the way for McAllister and Bush.
  • Kicker Justin Medlock, Kansas City Chiefs – Everyone who knows me knows I am not a “kicker guy”, but Medlock impresses me. Chiefs Head Coach Herman Edwards believed enough in Medlock that he traded Chiefs long time kicker Lawrence Tynes to the Giants.  Medlock is working hard in training camp to be consistent, but I don’t think that will be a problem.  He is a left footed kicker who made 24 of 28 field goals last year for UCLA including a string of 14 straight halted at Notre Dame. He ranked first nationally in field goals (2.18 per game) and 10th in the NCAA and first in the Pac-10 in scoring (8.82). He could be this year’s version of Patriots kicker Stephen Gostowski. 

Preseason Week 3 Overview

(Philadelphia, Pa)—Week 3 of the NFL Pre-season was the last chance for end of the roster players to make a good impression before the “Turk” was coming for NFL Cut Down Day 1 on August 28th (75 player limit). The week featured several high profile matches including territorial “Bragging Rights Bowls“ Philadelphia-Pittsburgh, Baltimore at Washington , Dallas at Houston , and the New York Jets at the New York Giants. Teams used this week to implement their game plan and packages for the start of the regular season and most projected starters played well into the 3rd quarter rewarding fans that plunked down their hard earned money.

But the big news of the week belonged to Falcons suspended quarterback Michael Vick, who plead guilty to his federal dogfighting case on Monday August 27th. Vick’s proceeding overshadowed the ESPN Monday Night Football matchup of the Falcons and Bengals. However the game, which was the first home pre-season game for Atlanta was played and it showed that even without Vick that the NFL machine will continue to roll on toward opening night of September 6th.

The NFL will conclude its pre-season with meaningless week 4 games, which basically means off-season activities from the NFL Draft to OTA’s to Training Camp to Pre-season games are over and the real matchups can begin.

By the way “Commish”, can we please get rid of the 4th pre-season game because it is the ultimate “JV” game. Teams will probably sit their entire starting 22 players to guard against injury and fans will be paying to see guys struggling to make the practice squad.

Anyway there were some bright spot performances noted below that show some veterans and rookies are close to being ready for prime time in September.

Game BallsCardinals WR Anquan Boldin – In a game where he needed to show that he was ready for the regular season, Boldin produced. He seemed to immediately be on the same page with quarterback Matt Leinart catching throwing long and short. He saw a lot of action, recording five catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. Boldin seems to me to be playing the role of “Hines Ward” in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense (former Steelers Offensive Coordinator). Boldin should have a big year doing gritty work and trick plays.

Texans WR/KR Jacoby Jones – The Texans received everything they wanted and more from their 2007 3rd round pick from small school Lane College . Jones solidified himself as a “player” for the Texans this pre-season and the “Governor’s Cup” was his personal showcase. Helping the Texans defeat the Cowboys 28-16, Jones stood with several highlight-reel plays. He returned a first-quarter punt 91 yards for a touchdown, the longest in Texans preseason history. Then he caught his first NFL touchdown, a leaping 19-yarder in the corner of the end zone, which made him the NFL preseason leader in TD’s with three.

Giants DE Justin Tuck – The third-year defensive end out of Notre Dame is proving that he maybe a cheaper alternative to veteran holdout Michael Strahan. Tuck looked strong in the “ Battle for New York ”. He played in just one series, but recorded four tackles, including one sack. Since being inserted at Strahan’s starting right defensive end spot in the second preseason game, Tuck has played solid for the Giants’ first-team defense, which coincidence or not has given up just one touchdown (79-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage against the Jets).

 Scoreboard and Game Notes

Monday, August 27, 2007

Georgia Dome – ESPN

Bengals (0-2-0) 24

Falcons ( 1-1-0 ) 19

This Monday Night football matchup was supposed to be a somber occasion as Falcons star quarterback admitted his guilt on Monday morning, but there were plenty for Falcons fans to cheer about. Vick’s replacement Joey Harrington made a good first impression on fans by throwing for 13-of-21 for 164 yards and two touchdown passes in a 24-19 preseason win by the Falcons (2-1) over the Cincinnati Bengals (0-3). It was a much-needed bright spot for a franchise trying to get past the cloud of the Michael Vick dogfighting cloud. Harrington completed his first six passes, including a 28-yard touchdown to Adam Jennings. Harrington’s second touchdown was a 12-yard pass to RB Jerious Norwood for another TD. As for Vick, the Falcons aren’t likely to give him a second chance. The team will go through the process of trying to recoup $22 million in bonus money that they gave Vick as part of his record $130 million contract.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Heinz Field – NBC

Eagles ( 1-2-0 ) 13

Steelers ( 3-1-0 ) 27

In one of pre-season week three’s “Bragging Rights” bowls, the Steelers seemed closer to being ready for the NFL regular season than their instate rivals as they piled up 398 yards and 19 first downs on their way to a 27-13 victory. Usually the third pre-season game on team’s schedules are used to put the final touches on the team’s regular season week one game plan and if that is the case the Eagles (1-2) need to get out their tools to do some fine tuning before the September 9th opener at Green Bay. The game highlighted the two team’s different approaches in preparing for pre-season games. Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid was more focused on the regular season and that a bad pre-season is no cause for alarm. The Steelers (3-1 in pre-season) took a totally different approach with Head Coach Mike Tomlin game planning for the Eagles, which is something that most teams don’t normally do in the preseason. The planning paid off as the Steelers despite not scoring in the first quarter, looked dominant gaining 297 total yards to the Eagles 89 yards in the first half when both teams had their starters on the field. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sharp throwing for 247 yards (19 yards per catch) including a 38 yard strike to emerging TE Heath Miller and engineering three second-quarter scoring drives (a touchdown and two field goals). Steelers running back Willie Parker looked like he was ready for another Pro Bowl season rushing for 32 yards, including an electrifying 18-yard touchdown run plus he also had three receptions for 40 yards. Parker did have a bad football at the goal line and that was the kind of mistake that had Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger happy, but not overly pleased with his team’s dress rehearsal. Big Ben said of the performance “We missed a couple of things, some things could have been better, but I told some of those guys I’ll get better and I’ll be sure to hit them.”

University of Phoenix Stadium

Chargers ( 2-1-0 ) 33

Cardinals (0-3-0) 31

A game that was a shootout from the beginning ended with an anti-climatic Nate Kaeding 37-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in the game to give the Chargers a 33-31 victory over the Cardinals. The game featured strong pre-season ending performances by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who played in three quarters going for 20-of-29 for 282 yards and two touchdowns and Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin (See Game Balls). The Chargers controlled the tempo on both sides of the ball, but once the backups came in the game was sloppy. Despite the high score the game featured six combined turnovers with both teams fumbling away the ball three times.

Qwest FieldVikings ( 1-2-0 ) 13

Seahawks ( 2-1-0 ) 30

The Seahawks showed their depth and the Vikings showed that they have more work to do.  The game was never in doubt for the Seahawks and they took control for good when backup quarterback Seneca Wallace connected on an 87-yard touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu. The touchdown put the Seahawks up 23-13. Seahawks running back Sean Alexander got the through pre-season healthy which was his main objective, gaining 30 yards on eight carries and a one-yard touchdown run. Another highlight play was Seahawks cornerback Kevin Hobbs returning a Brooks Bollinger interception 39 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings had four turnovers, two interceptions by Bollinger, a fumble by quarterback Tavaris Jackson and a fumble by running back Mewelde Moore. A scary moment occurred when Vikings linebacker Cameron Siskowic was placed on a stretcher and taken off the field in an ambulance after a helmet-on-helmet collision.

Invesco Field at Mile HighBrowns ( 2-1-0 ) 17

Broncos ( 1-2-0 ) 16

This was a game that featured a stop of Broncos reserve running back Selvin Young on a two-point conversion attempt by the Browns defense that preserved a 17-16 Browns victory. The game also featured another good effort by 11-day holdout Browns quarterback Brady “Golden Boy” Quinn (7-11 for 81 yards and 1TD) and you have to think that Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel maybe looking to start the rookie over Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson. Despite getting stuffed at the goal line on his two-point conversion, Young still came through with 91 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. The Broncos rolled up 150 yards on the ground, as they rushed 31 times for a 5.1 yard-per-carry average. Quinn may have to wait, because Browns GM Phil Savage said after the game, “It’s unrealistic for Brady to be in the mix for the opener”.

Soldier Field49ers ( 1-2-0 ) 28

Bears (3-0-0) 31

Bears inconsistent and often maligned quarterback Rex Grossman came to play and completed 13-of-20 passes for 211 yards two touchdowns. He did an interception and fumbled once (recovered), but overall he inspired his teammates. The Bears looked motivated and were performing at a regular-season pace through the first half. The 49ers did score 15 points late in garbage time, but they never really threatened. Bears WR Bernard Berrian had another solid performance as he notched three receptions for 79-yards and a touchdown including a 25-yard strike in the second quarter. RB Cedric Benson still showed that he needed work to do as he managed only 33 rushing yards on 19 attempts. San Francisco backup Trent Dilfer played the best for the upstart 49ers, completing 8-of-11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Reliant Stadium

Cowboys ( 2-1-0 ) 16

Texans ( 2-1-0 ) 28

With Jacoby Jones starring (see game balls), the Texans knock off Cowboys 28-16 to claim the “Governor’s Cup”. After failing to throw for a touchdown in his first two preseason games, Matt Schaub looked good, completing 12-of-16 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked good throwing for 197 yards and seemed ready for the start of the regular season. Cowboys reserve receiver Sam Hurd made the most of his opportunity before cutdown day, catching four passes for 68 yards. Dallas ’ defense needs to sure up their run defense as they allowed 152 yards on the ground to the Texans. The Cowboys kicking battle seemed to be won by rookie Nick Folk as he connected on his only field goal attempt and veteran Martin Grammatica missed an extra point (wide right).

Giants Stadium Jets ( 2-1-0 ) 20

Giants ( 1-2-0 ) 12

This game was not only a territorial battle, it was a fight for control of Giants stadium by its two NFL tenants. The Jets showed why they are considered to have a better chance of making the playoffs than their neighbors, winning 20-12. Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens came in the game in the 3rd quarter and showed why he maybe pushing Chad Pennington soon for playing time with an efficient passing night of 6-8 for 122 yards with a rushing touchdown and an interception. The Giants should however be encouraged by the numbers put up by running back Brandon Jacobs, who recorded 43 yards on 11 carries. The Giants must also like what they have in Michael Strahan fill-in third-year defensive end Justin Tuck (see game balls). The play of the game was a great run after a catch on a 79-yard touchdown reception by Jets running back Leon Washington on the Jets’ first play from scrimmage. Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a solid outing, throwing 17-of-25 for 146 yards and a touchdown, but his real test will be in week one of the regular season.

FedEx FieldRavens ( 1-2-0 ) 7

Redskins ( 2-1-0 ) 13

In the battle for the Northern Virginia-DC-Baltimore area, the Redskins won a weather shortened game 13-7. The game was over when the lights went out, after the game was delayed for more than an hour initially due to lightning. The game only lasted for slightly more than a half with it being called early in the 3rd quarter. But Ravens starting quarterback Steve McNair showed that he was ready for the start of the season throwing for 14-of-19 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins star was kicker Shaun Suisham, who converted both of his field goal attempts including one from 45 yards out in difficult conditions. The will need to work on their concentration and composure as they racked up nine penalties for 49 yards in the shortened game with most of them coming on procedure calls. Redskins rookie linebacker Dallas Sartz out of USC made a good impression in his bid to make the team, returning an interception three yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Dolphin StadiumBuccaneers ( 2-1-0 ) 31

Dolphins ( 2-1-0 ) 28

In a battle for the State of Florida , Buccaneers’ quarterback Bruce Gradkowski led a Bucs comeback victory over their Miami Dolphins hosts 31-28. The game was a high scoring affair with the Gradkowski tossing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Paris Warren in the fourth quarter to give Tampa Bay the lead for good. The touchdown pass ended a nice 12-play, 61-yard drive for the Buccaneers. Bucs receiver Joey Galloway looked like he was ready for the season by catching two passes for 39 yards, including an impressive 26-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone. The game featured former Auburn teammates and 2006 disappointing running backs Tampa Bay ‘s Cadillac Williams (25 yards on four attempts) and Miami ‘s Ronnie Brown (18 yards on six carries).

RCA DomeLions ( 2-1-0 ) 10

Colts ( 1-2-0 ) 37

If there was any question that the former pre-season winless Colts were ready to defend their title, this game ended them. The Colts hammer the out-manned Lions 37-10 for their first win of the pre-season. The Lions were missing several players including most of their quarterbacks and it showed as they couldn’t muster anything against the Colts defense. On the other hand, the Colts were clicking on all cylinders as they opened up their aerial attack with quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Jim Sorgi combining for 404 passing yards and five touchdowns. Five different Colts receivers had touchdown receptions including Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Craphonso Thorpe, Dallas Clark and Aaron Moorehead. The Lions only quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan worked hard in the game, completing 24-of-34 passes for 232 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Friday, August 24, 2007

McAfee Coliseum

Rams ( 1-2-0 ) 10

Raiders ( 2-1-0 ) 20

Daunte Culpepper, who won one of my game balls last week again showed that he should be the Raiders starting quarterback. He threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Curry and looked sharp in his first preseason start, leading the Raiders to a 20-10 victory. “I feel like I have a lot to offer a club,” Culpepper said. “I feel like I’m a starter, but at the same time I have to do what’s best for the team.” The Raiders (2-1) seem to be ready to give Culpepper the go ahead, but Raiders Head Coach Lane Kiffin said that he needed to see the game tape from Friday and see Josh McCown start on Thursday. The Rams (1-2) again gave most of their playmakers the night off as running back Steven Jackson and receiver Torry Holt didn’t do much (Jackson played only one play for the second straight week and Holt sat the entire game). Rookie Brian Leonard (6 carries for 20 yards) impressed again at running back in the first half and he had the highlight of the game by hurdling Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington on a 15-yard run. In the game the Raiders went for it six times on fourth down, converting four.

Bank of America

Patriots ( 1-2-0 ) 24

Panthers ( 1-2-0 ) 7

After going to California to witness the birth of his son, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady showed why he is the “Big Daddy” of the NFL. Brady and the Patriots were nearly flawless in dominating the Carolina Panthers 24-7. Brady completed 17 of 21 passes for 167 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in helping the Patriots (1-2) pick up their first win of the pre-season. Brady threw touchdown passes of 6 yards to Marcellus Rivers and 8 yards to Heath Evans, before leaving with a 17-7 lead. For the Panthers, the game featured the return often injured linebacker Dan Morgan from multiple concussions. Morgan’s return didn’t overshadow another dismal performance by Carolina ‘s offense or their shaky secondary. Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme looked better going 11-of-18 for 162 yards and a touchdown and seemed to solidify himself as the team’s quarterback over David Carr for now. The game also marked the return of running back Laurence Maroney from off-season shoulder surgery. Maroney carried the ball on New England ‘s first seven plays and finished with 15 carries for 58 yards. In case you were wondering Patriots receiver Randy Moss did not play again as he as been out since Aug. 1 with a leg injury. The Patriots did drag veteran 43-year-old quarterback Vinny Testaverde out of moth balls, but he was 0-of-2 passing.

Ralph Wilson Stadium

Titans ( 2-1-0 ) 28

Bills ( 1-2-0 ) 17

In a game of two mid-level AFC team, quarterback Vince Young led the Titans to a 28-17 win over the Bills in Buffalo . Before Young left the field at halftime, he showed why he was the rookie of the year in 2006. In two quarters, Young completed 13-of-19 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown to Bo Scaife, plus another touchdown rushing. I believe Titans running back LenDale White solidified his spot as their number one running back carrying the ball 11 times for 51 yards helping the Titans grind out 127 yards on the ground. The Titans bottled up the Bills for the first half, with the Bills receivers as their bright spot (204 yards on 10 catches). Bills quarterback J.P. Losman looked tentative again going 9-of-20 for 180 yards and one interception. The game was full of penalties as the Titans were penalized 10 times for 75 yards and the Bills were flagged 6 times for 55 yards.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Arrowhead Stadium

Saints ( 2-2-0 ) 30

Chiefs (0-3-0) 7

This game was over before it started as the Saints destroyed the Chiefs in their house 30-7. The game played in front of HBO Hard Knocks cameras, featured Kansas punting on four consecutive possessions to start the game. The Saints were the total opposite, taking control of the game early behind Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees (17-19, 182) and building a lead that grew to 30-0. The game would have ended at that score, but the Chiefs scored a meaningless touchdown with less than two minutes. Chiefs starting quarterback Brodie Croyle probably played himself out of the starting job, going for only 5-of-17 passes for 45 yards and an interception Saints rookie running back Pierre Thomas impressed rushing for 90 yards on 11 carries and scoring two touchdowns. The Chiefs did have bright spot from the soon to be suspended defensive end Jared Allen, who had four tackles, one sack and an interception.

Lambeau Field

Jaguars ( 2-1-0 ) 21

Packers ( 2-1-0 ) 13

In a game that probably sealed the Jaguars starting quarterback job for David Garrard, the Jags traveled to Green Bay and won 21-13. Garrard was efficient completing 6-7 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown. He led the Jags backups to two scores, after their first unit was shut out with Byron Leftwich at the helm. Packers quarterback Brett Favre again showed that at age 37, he is not done completing 14-of-20 passes for 130 yards in limited action (No turnovers in the pre-season). However Favre did lose his number one target, Donald Driver as the Packers receiver left with a bad foot injury in the first half. Jaguars linebacker Tony Gilbert came to play, having six tackles and one sack.

Lloyd’s LeftoversHuard named Chiefs’ starting QB – Damon Huard, who has spent his career backing up some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, is finally first string. Coach Herm Edwards said on Saturday that the 11-year veteran will start for the Kansas City Chiefs. Huard went 5-3 last season as a starter in 2006 after Trent Green was injured in the season opener. Huard spent the summer battling the second-year player Brodie Croyle for the job and Croyle apparently played himself out of contention by throwing an interception in each of three preseason games. Huard threw for throwing for 1,684 yards with 11 touchdowns and only one interception for a 98.0 quarterback rating in 2006.

QB Kelly Holcomb Goes to Eagles ” Midwest – QB Kelly Holcomb Traded to the Minnesota Vikings for an undisclosed draft pick in 2009

Ex-Colts DT Simon signs with Titans – Defensive tackle Corey Simon agreed to terms Tuesday with the Tennessee Titans and will try to resume his career after not playing in 2006. Simon had been released by Indianapolis on Aug. 4 after he failed his physical with the Colts at the start of training camp. He had arthroscopic knee surgery but was placed on the non-football illness-injury list Oct. 5 with an undisclosed ailment a year after signing a five-year, $30 million contract. He was the sixth pick overall in 2000 by the Philadelphia Eagles and a Pro Bowler in 2003. If healthy, he could help a defense that ranked 30th in the NFL against the run last season, giving up 144.6 yards per game.

The “Turk” comes calling – First cuts (75 players) were on Tuesday August 28th and some notable cuts and roster moves were: Cut RB Kevan Barlow (Pitt), Cut QB Drew Henson (Vikings), Cut Former WVU QB WR Rasheed Marshall (Rams), Cut QB Ingle Marin (Packers), Former Eagles 1st Rd pick DE Jerome McDougle (I/R), Cut Former Redskins 1st Rd Draft Pick WR Rod Gardner (KC), Lions placed S Daniel Bullocks (I\R), Cut TE Jermaine Wiggins (Jags), Broncos Warrick Holdman (LB) Placed on IR (spinal cord contusion),Cut Former Atlanta Falcons WR Tim Dwight (NYJ), Cut Jonathan Ogden’s brother OT Marques Ogden (Titans), and Cut Former Eagles WR Todd Pinkston (Redskins). Next roster cuts will be on September 1st when teams have to get to 53 players.

Vick Starts Long Road Back: The Falcons QB entered his guilty plea today (August 27th)

A very contrite and capitulant Michael Vick appeared in federal court on Monday in Richmond, Virginia to enter his guilty plea in his federal dogfighting case.  Afterward Vick was finally apologetic and took full responsibility for his actions.

August 27,2007

As expected a remorseful Michael Vick came to court on Tuesday and entered his “guilty” plea in his federal dogfighting case, which Judge Henry Hudson accepted. After entering the plea, Vick started the very long hard road of repairing his tarnished image by apologizing to the NFL and his Atlanta Falcons teammates for “using bad judgment and making bad decisions” and vowed to redeem himself. Sentencing was set for December 10th and Vick will likely sent to prison (12 to 18 months reportedly).

Vick also spoke publicly for the first time and was remorseful when he held a news conference after entering his plea stating, “First I want to apologize for all the things that I’ve done and that I have allowed to happen”. He added, “I made a mistake in using bad judgment and making bad decisions,” “Dogfighting is a terrible thing.” He concluded by saying, “I offer my deepest apologies to everyone. And I will redeem myself. I have to.”  See the entire Vick Press Conference in its entirety courtesy of MSN.com

Though it is difficult to see a man that once had it all cut down by his own doing, it was good that Vick started the healing process. I don’t know if the public will ever fully forgive him for his dastardly actions (read his statement of facts), but maybe Vick has started a bridge that can lead him back to a place back to the public’s hearts and the NFL. Only time will tell, but one thing I do know for sure is that Vick will be the “forgotten man” as the NFL kicks into full swing on September 6th and it maybe for the betterment of the league, its fans and Vick that it is that way. For now I say, “Let the man be” as he finally gets it that he needs to grow up and he has many loose ends to tie up before December. Especially there is the big matter of the Falcons going after $22 Million dollars worth of his signing bonus from his 10-year 130 Million dollar contract from 2004, attorney wrangling, a private meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell if he will talk to him, and many other items.

Steelers Beat Eagles 27-13 to Claim Keystone State Preseason Battle

In one of pre-season week three’s “Bragging Rights” bowls, the Steelers seemed closer to being ready for the NFL regular season than their instate rivals as they piled up 398 yards and 19 first downs on their way to a 27-13 victory. Usually the third pre-season game on team’s schedules are used to put the final touches on the team’s regular season week one game plan and if that is the case the Eagles need to get out their tools to do some fine tuning before the September 9th opener at Green Bay. The game highlighted the two team’s different approaches in preparing for pre-season games. Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid was more focused on the regular season and that a bad pre-season is no cause for alarm. The Steelers (3-1 in pre-season) took a totally different approach with Head Coach Mike Tomlin game planning for the Eagles, which is something that most teams don’t normally do in the preseason. The planning paid off as the Steelers despite not scoring in the first quarter, looked dominant gaining 297 total yards to the Eagles 89 yards in the first half when both teams had their starters on the field. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sharp throwing for 247 yards (19 yards per catch) including a 38 yard strike to emerging TE Heath Miller and engineering three second-quarter scoring drives (a touchdown and two field goals). Steelers running back Willie Parker looked like he was ready for another Pro Bowl season rushing for 32 yards, including an electrifying 18-yard touchdown run plus he also had three receptions for 40 yards. Parker did have a bad football at the goal line and that was the kind of mistake that had Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger happy, but not overly pleased with his team’s dress rehearsal. Big Ben said of the performance “We missed a couple of things, some things could have been better, but I told some of those guys I’ll get better and I’ll be sure to hit them.”

Offensively, the Eagles numbers don’t look good compared with the Steelers and “yes” they do show that the unit has work to be done. Eagles Coach Reid, who is now 13-23 for his career in pre-season games, decided that he was more concerned with the health of his starters rather than exposing his key offensive veterans to undo injury. Reid was happy to come out of the game relatively injury free, but he understood that work needs to be done. He said, “We did some good things, and there are some things we obviously need to work on”. “Number one, we need to get everybody back in there at practice and ready to go. We need to cut down on the penalties and some of the alignment problems we had. There was some good and there was some bad.” Injuries played a role in the Eagles problems as they missed picking up the blitz without injured Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews (high ankle sprain) and LJ Smith still recovering from a groin injury. But expect problems areas (fumbles, drive killing penalties, pass coverage, tackling, drops, etc) to be their number one focus in practice in the next two weeks before the real games begin.

Reid played a very vanilla style choosing to run backup running back Correll Buckhatler (10 carries for 43 yards in first half) up the middle early and often, with starter Brian Westbrook touching the ball once on a 2-yard carry. But even with the conservative game plan and Westbrook mostly sitting, some offensive work needs to be done as three first-half drives started in Pittsburgh territory and only three points were put on the scoreboard. Fumbles also were a major factor in the Eagles offensive struggles as they had four fumbles losing three of them, including a game changing one by wide receiver Zac Collie that was recoverd by Steelers DB Jovon Johnson and then returned 77 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Donovan McNabb wasn’t able to re-produce his strong effort from the prior week when he dissected the Panthers, but he did show some guts in taking some hits and continuing to keep fighting despite some drops by wide receiver Reggie Brown. McNabb’s line for the game (5-for-11 for 60 yards, two sacks, three drops, and a 62.7 passer rating) was nothing to write home about, but he did show that he has command of the huddle, can take a hit (I had to feel for him when 340 pounder Steelers NT Casey Hampton landed on him), and threw the ball well. McNabb pretty much agreed with Reid that work needed to be done saying, “There were some good things we did but there’s work that needs to be done”.

Defensively, all eyes were on new middle linebacker Omar Gaither, who was making his debut as “the man” in the middle. Gaither contributed one tackle and two assists, but overall he had an unspectacular start. The Eagles looked like they were going to have a good night early when the Steelers’ first possession ended with a diving interception by DE Trent Cole. On the play SS Sean Considine (later left concussion) and DT Mike Patterson pressured Roethlisberger into throwing a head-scratching pass where no receiver was located. But after the offense didn’t capitalize on the turnover, the game became a series where the Eagles defense tackled poorly, let up big plays, and couldn’t get off the field. Sometimes the errors and big plays didn’t equate to points for the Steelers (turned it over 3 times), but the concerning part was the defense’s inability to stop the Steelers when it counted most (converted 4 of 7 third down attempts) and some sloppy tackling. “We made turnovers when we had to and, for the most part, except for one drive, we got off the field,” Eagles OLB Takeo Spikes said. Spikes added “The thing that we didn’t do so well was get off the field on third down.” The effort may have been due to the unit playing their first game without their former leader Jeremiah Trotter (cut last week). But defensive leaders safety Brian Dawkins first pre-season game) and CB Sheldon Brown were not happy with the units overall effort. Brown said unhappily after the game, “Obviously we have to go back and work on the tackling”. He added, “We missed a lot of tackles. They caught us with a couple good plays on screens, and they got us off balance a little bit. Overall, I think we need to work on tackling.”

With the NFL’s grim reaper the “Turk” on his way this week to ending several players’ NFL aspirations (Cut down to 75 players on 8/28), tough decisions will need to be made by both teams. One decision that will be easy will be that you will probably not see anyone of interest play for either team in the fourth and final pre-season game. The Eagles will take on the Jets at home on Thursday and the Steelers travel to Carolina on Friday. Friday’s game will end an extended preseason for the Steelers that included five games (Hall of Fame Game) and lasted seven weeks.

Lloyd’s Leftovers

  • Bloom looks banged up – The Eagles will need to take a long look at skier turned kick returner Jeremy Bloom in the Thursday’s Jets game. Bloom seemed to be a bit slower than normal and a toe injury maybe bothering him more than expected. Bloom averaged 19 yards a kickoff, had one catch for 22 yards, and was replaced on kickoff returned by veteran Correll Buckhalter. The Eagles may think about bringing in a backup after cuts on Tuesday as insurance.
  • The ‘Aussie Boomer” has the inside track – Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid didn’t come right out and say it, but the Eagles punting appears to be in the hands of former Australian-rules football star Sav Rocca. Rocca had a great first half including his first punt of the night landing at the 5-yard line, which was nullified by a penalty. After moving back 5 yards, he put the next punt down at the 9-yard line. A 59-yard booming punt that was fumbled by Steelers returner Willie Reid and eventually recovered at the Steelers 2-yard line highlighted Rocca’s night. While Rocca was having success veteran Dirk Johnson was on the sidelines finishing without a kick. Rocca also did a decent job holding on David Akers field goals and I am hearing that Akers has confidence in the big (6’5) punter.
  • Holcomb ready to hit the road – Barring injury to one of the Eagles’ other three quarterbacks, backup Kelly Holcomb is probably headed out of Philadelphia via a trade. Holcomb who can probably be had for a 6th or 7th round pick is getting looks from reportedly four teams including the Falcons and Vikings.

After Plea Bargain, NFL Sacks Vick

As expected, hours after learning that Michael Vick plead guilty in court papers that he bankrolled gambling on dogfighting and helped kill some dogs, the NFL indefinitely suspended Michael Vick without pay Friday.

In handing down his decision NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Vick’s admitted conduct was “not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible” and regardless whether he personally placed bets, “your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player.” Goodell also said the Falcons could “assert any claims or remedies” to recover $22 million of Vick’s signing bonus from the 10-year, $130 million contract he signed in 2004.

Vick can try and paint a prettier picture all he wants in his “summary of facts”, which he submitted on Friday. The summary included written statements “While Mr. Vick is not personally charged with or responsible for committing all of the acts alleged in the indictment, as with any conspiracy charge, he is taking full responsibility for his actions and the actions of the others involved,” and “Mr. Vick apologizes for his poor judgment in associating himself with those involved in dog fighting and realizes he should never have been involved in this conduct,” the statement said.

The NFL did the right thing by not buying the baloney that Vick only watched and bankrolled the operation while not participating. The NFL was well within their private association’s rights under the collective bargaining agreement to suspend him indefinitely. We all know that Vick will one day return looking for reinstatement, but I believe that Goodell will cross that bridge when he comes to it. The “Commish” will probably want to wait and see what public sentiment is toward the fallen star and how Vick’s rehabilitation progresses. My guess is Vick will be away from football for 3 years and he will have to find work as a thirty-year old outcast.

Vick will first have to navigate the on friendly waters of hoping his plea is accepted, sentencing, and then the hard cold reality that he will be in a cell for 12 to 18 months most likely. To Vick’s supporters, he had to take the deal because the evidence was piling up quicker than ants to a picnic and it would have been too damaging to Vick to go to trial and he knew he had to save his “a_s.

Vick remains on the Falcons’ roster so they can follow NFL guidelines around recovering the money under the league’s CBA. The team will not have to pay Vick’s $6 million base salary this season since he is on the suspended list. However Vick still counts about $8.5 million against the team’s salary cap for this season. We will have to see if the Falcons can recover from the loss of Vick, but I don’t believe Joey Harrington who flamed out in Detroit and Miami will be the answer. It will be interesting to see the turnout and performance of the Falcons on Monday Night football against Cincinnati at the Georgia Dome after all of Vick’s court proceedings that morning.

Again, I ask “where do we go from here?” The NFL will continue to move forward to their September 6th start date happily sans Vick, Vick will prepare himself to face U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson on Monday morning, and the Falcons will try to recoup their money from their fallen star.

Monday’s events should be interesting, because in the plea agreement, the government committed to recommending a sentence on the low end of the federal sentencing guideline range of a year to 18 months. However, the conspiracy charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, and the judge is not bound by any recommendation or by the guidelines. And that may be possible give that Judge Hudson is known to be a tough sentencing judge and don’t forget he is a dog lover too.

I can’t wait to see what Monday will bring in this summer’s biggest melodrama.  But remember the story won’t end with Vick’s plea or when the NFL season starts on September 6th. There still will be the little matter of Vick being sentenced probably in October or November, which will take a “bite” out of the NFL’s schedule and one the league’s biggest former stars.

Vick Finally Smells the Coffee: Falcons QB files plea agreement today (August 24th)

Well the news that Michael Vick was not going to sign his agreement and take his chances at a November 26th trial were drastically overblown (even by your truly, but sometimes sources are overzealous too). Vick finally realizing that he was facing an opponent bigger than mammoth sized Browns DT Ted Washington took his attorney’s advice and signed his plea agreement today (August 24th). The document was filed in federal court in Richmond, Virginia. The key component of the document was Vick admitting to a dogfighting charge and agreeing to being the “figurehead” of the enterprise including killing fighting dogs and gambling. However, according to the statement of facts that accompanies the plea, Vick did not place side bets and did not receive proceeds from purses from the fights.

In the plea agreement, Vick agreed to enter the plea because as it states “the defendant is in fact guilty of the charged offense” and will cooperate with the government’s investigation. He also knowingly agreed to waive his right to an appeal in exchange for concessions made by prosecutors. The plea is scheduled to be formally entered Monday in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia by Vick and his attorneys. In the agreement, Vick agreed to plead guilty to the first count of the indictment against him. The charges say that Vick was part of a conspiracy to operate a dogfighting ring across state lines and they are similar to the same charges that his co-defendants Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips, and Tony Taylor plead guilty to earlier. Vick’s legal team and the prosecutor agreed that due to aggravating circumstances from the facts of the case, including “the victimization and killing of pit bulls”, that prosecutors would go above the federal sentencing guidelines for the charge, but would recommend a sentence at the low end of the scale following that adjustment. The charges usually carry a potential sentence of up 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years’ probation, but everyone is expecting to Vick to receive a 12 to 18 month sentence. However there is a chance that any type of sentence can be changed or lengthened by Judge Hudson at the time of sentencing (later date), if he believes it is necessary.

By accepting the plea agreement including the caveat in the statement of facts that he didn’t directly gamble, Vick is trying to save his NFL career and avoid a lifetime ban from the league. But at this point he should not be worried about his playing career. The NFL already seems ready to push Vick out the door for a very long time and with special investigator Eric Holder gathering gobs of evidence to go along with Friday’s document, all signs don’t look good for the superstar quarterback to be in the NFL anytime soon. I am expecting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to take a look at all of the damming information including the plea documents and he will probably put Vick’s NFL career on ice for 2 years at the minimum. Expect after all NFL actions are completed, look for the Falcons to instantaneously release their former on the field leader ($6 Million cap hit in 2007 and $15 Million cap hit in 2008). Falcons Owner Arthur Blank, who called Vick “like a son” in the past, will let his “son” grown up and stand on his own two feet and work on his difficulties by himself. He will truly be a man without a team or league and can concentrate on his rehabilitation and possible comeback.

The big question is will Goodell issue the suspension right away letting Vick serve his suspension concurrently with his jail term or will he take out the former NFL “poster” player for even longer by having the suspension start once Vick is back in society. A couple factors may effect Goodell’s decision:

1) Is Michael Vick truly capitulant and remorseful about his role in the events that have pulled the whole league down.

2) Is Vick willing to apologize to fans, players, and especially the commissioner personally (lied to Goodell at the NFL draft in April about his involvement in the dogfighting operation)?

3) Public Sentiment – If members of the society including PETA, Animal lovers, NFL fans, NAACP, etc seem to have forgiven Vick then maybe (that is a big maybe) the “Commish” will have sympathy on him.

4) A team willing to sign Vick campaigning to sign him as a free agent. At first I thought this is not possible, but remember America loves a comeback story and if Vick is a changed man some team might give him a chance. He could also show the NFL that he has changed by playing and keeping his nose clean in the Arena Football league or in the CFL.

So the circus, that the NFL wants to go away, will still be coming to town in Richmond, VA on Monday (August 27th) after all. The events will probably have quadruple the amount of attention of Vick’s Falcons versus the Bengals at home on Monday Night football (would anyone really watch just to see Joey Harrington). Whatever the events on Monday you know I will be on top of the story. The only light at the end of the tunnel for everyone including NFL officials is once September 6th hits and the “real” games begin, Michael Vick will be on the back burner — that is until his sentencing, which is expected around November.