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 ProFootballWeekly Whispers July 5, 2008

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Join date : 2008-07-03

PostSubject: ProFootballWeekly Whispers July 5, 2008   Sun Jul 06, 2008 3:09 am

ProFootballWeekly Whispers July 5, 2008

The foot injury to Chargers C Nick Hardwick might be more serious than originally thought. Although the team was hoping to get him back by Week One, we hear that his March foot surgery could sideline him into October, meaning heís a possible candidate for the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Despite rumors that the Chiefs might release QB Damon Huard prior to the season, our sources say heís a virtual lock to make the final roster. The teamís other two quarterbacks, Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen, come with very little experience, so K.C. will be forced to retain Huard as a safety net.

The way we hear it, massive Steelers OT Jason Capizzi showed improvement in offseason workouts. The 6-9, 315-pound Capizzi, cut by the Steelers last summer, spent time on the practice squads of the Jets, Buccaneers and Chiefs before re-signing with Pittsburgh in January.

According to a source close to the club, Browns WR Braylon Edwards, who has only two years left on his contract, is in line ahead of TE Kellen Winslow when it comes to getting a new deal. Winslow, whose contract has been the source of offseason speculation, has three years left on his rookie deal.

The way we hear it, one of the undrafted free agents who impressed in the Brownsí spring workouts was West Texas A&M TE Kolo Kapanui, who will vie to join an already crowded depth chart.

One of the positive signs from Bengalsí offseason workouts, according to a source close to the club, was that RB Rudi Johnson was back to hitting the hole quickly. Thatís a major key for Johnson, who is not known for his long speed.

Although Raiders DE Derrick Burgess is seeking a new contract, there are no indications he will hold out and miss any part of training camp. The eighth-year veteran has either led the team or tied for the lead in sacks in each of the past three seasons. Burgess has been seeking a new deal for more than a year but was left out of Oaklandís offseason spending spree.

Eagles rookie WR-RS DeSean Jackson has made a positive impression on the coaches so far, despite a few shaky minicamp practices. Rookie wideouts donít often make big impacts in Andy Reidís offense, but Jackson might carve out a role where he gets the ball a couple of times per game on offense in creative ways.

Having seen him perform in organized team activities this spring and summer, the Vikings feel even more confident that the addition of S Madieu Williams will have a big impact on their secondary. He has come in and shown better range and coverage skills than the man heís replacing, Dwight Smith, which should allow fellow S Darren Sharper to take more chances and not have to spend as much time in coverage.

We hear Packers LB Brady Poppinga, who is competing this summer with newcomer Brandon Chillar for the starting strong-side job that was his alone last season, looked a good step quicker in the teamís most recent minicamp.

Sources tell PFW the left side of the Falconsí offensive line is beginning to take shape. Itís likely that rookie Sam Baker will start at left tackle and second-year veteran Justin Blalock will hold on to his spot at left guard. Blalock was being considered for a move to right tackle, but with last yearís starting right tackle, Todd Weiner, expected back from knee surgery by training camp, talk of a shift has died down. Expect the Falconsí coaching staff to give Baker a lot of help anchoring the left side, setting tight ends next to him on many plays early in the year.

Although Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams was cast as a part-time back before ever getting a true shot as a starter, sources say he has been upbeat during OTAs and doesnít seem too concerned about sharing carries with rookie Jonathan Stewart.

Word out of New Orleans is that rookie CB Tracy Porter made a good first impression during OTAs and has already passed second-year CB Usama Young on the depth chart. Jason David and Mike McKenzie, if heís recovered from a torn ACL suffered late last season, are the presumed starters at corner, but David could very well lose his job to Porter or nickel back Randall Gay if he doesnít show better field awareness and he continues to get beat deep.

The Bucs reached an accord with RB Earnest Graham this week, inking him to a three-year, $10.5 million contract extension after he sat out voluntary offseason workouts during the negotiations. With that agreement in place, the team will now shift its attention to crafting a new contract for QB Jeff Garcia, who attended all of the OTAs but has been much more vocal than Graham about wanting a new deal. Garcia is slated to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Cardinals GM Rod Graves recently told team insiders that the most likely time for star WR Anquan Boldin to receive a new contract would be sometime this fall rather than this summer. Not only are new contracts for franchise ILB Karlos Dansby and QB Kurt Warner considered higher priorities, Graves also said he wants to be sure the team has enough cap space heading into the season to account for possible injuries suffered in training camp or early in the season. We hear the Cardinals are expected to have somewhere between $2 million and $4 million to play with come September.

Although Rams second-round rookie Donnie Avery, who was the highest-selected receiver in the 2008 draft, has received more attention from the media, we hear the teamís fourth-round pick, WR Keenan Burton, could end up making just as big an impact as Avery, if not bigger. The word is both Avery and Burton showed a lot of energy in the Ramsí OTAs and offered a collective breath of fresh air, in addition to a lot more speed than the teamís most recent No. 2 WR, the departed Isaac Bruce.

Niners starting C Eric Heitmann, who could get a run for his money from rookie Cody Wallace this summer, told team insiders that he feels much better physically than he did a year ago at this time, when he was still feeling the effects of the broken right tibia that ended his 2006 campaign in Week 15.

Because of newly acquired Niners OT Barry Simsí deficiencies in zone-blocking schemes, we hear the team might cut down a bit on its zone blocking and install more gap runs, where Sims would be assigned to block a specific defender.

Itís bad enough that Seahawks P Ryan Plackemeier is down for the count with a torn pectoral that is expected to keep him laid up all summer. Making matters worse, according to team insiders, is the fact that Plackemeier is also very down in the dumps because he canít play any golf, which is normally a major source of offseason enjoyment for him.
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