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PFW: Whispers from around the NFL 1-6


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Whispers from around the NFL

Pro Football Weekly

Tuesday, January 6


Word around Redskins Park is that some of Steve Spurrier's assistants have really turned on their former coach after he failed to contact many of them following his resignation.

We hear the Bucs are pleased with the group of WRs Keenan McCardell, Joe Jurevicius and Charles Lee, but head coach Jon Gruden also plans to add a speedy wideout who can stretch the defense on third down and also provide a threat in the return game.

David Carr said that he wants to sit down with Texans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer. We hear that the high-character quarterback wants to open up the conservative Texans offense, which showed little creativity, especially in a Week 17 loss to the Colts.

A league source said last week that Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren put out a feeler on fired Bears head coach Dick Jauron to see if he would be interested in the defensive coordinator job should Ray Rhodes take a higher-ranking position elsewhere. Jauron coached on Holmgren's staff with the Packers.

We hear Panthers head coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney believe the team is a year ahead of where the duo thought it would be when the 2003 season kicked off. In other words, they never expected a division title could come so quickly.

Although Texans WR Andre Johnson has said that he hopes to improve his route running in the offseason, one source close to the team told PFW that he should work on his hands, which caught everything in practice but were a bit inconsistent during games.

Don't be surprised if the Cowboys make a few changes to the right side of their offensive line in the offseason.

It appears the league is on to Jerry Reese, the Giants' director of player personnel for the past two seasons, whom the team is very excited about. Reese will interview for the vacant general-manager job in Tampa Bay.

One player the Redskins would like to develop and give more experience to is QB Gibran Hamdan, who could end up playing in Europe.

Don't believe those rumors that Raiders senior assistant Bruce Allen is a candidate for a job with the Redskins -- it's simply not true according to sources close to the situation in Washington.

The one thing that could keep LB Jesse Armstead in Washington is if the Redskins hire Jim Fassel, who has remained close to Armstead.

Keep an eye on Redskins LB Clifton Smith, a player who the team wants to see develop. The team liked his productivity in the preseason and thinks he could develop into a starter two or three years down the road.

Some people around Redskins Park have soured on RB Ladell Betts' act, which has included missed meetings this season.

We hear 49ers unrestricted free agent CB Ahmed Plummer -- who lives in Ohio -- could have his sights set on playing for the Bengals.

Word is the Niners believe both Jed Weaver, who is eligible for free agency, and rookie Aaron Walker could make it difficult for the injured Eric Johnson to regain his starting TE role. Both Weaver and Walker improved as the season wore on and are considered better blockers than Johnson -- a pumped-up wide receiver with health issues.

AhanotuIf he's offered more than a one-year deal, look for unrestricted free agent DE Chidi Ahanotu to re-sign with the Niners.

With Cardinals offensive coordinator Jerry Sullivan having been given the heave-ho, don't look for second-year WR Bryan Gilmore, who was one of Sullivan's pet projects, to have much of a future in the Valley. Gilmore can flat-out move when he's healthy -- but that's seldom been the case.

According to published reports, Cardinals third-string RB Damien Anderson could face drunken-driving and assault charges after a one-vehicle crash early last Saturday left him and two of his brothers in serious condition. About an hour before the crash, someone reported that the same vehicle was being driven erratically.

Don't look for the market to be all that promising for Seahawks unrestricted free agent SS Reggie Tongue. Tongue led the Seahawks in interceptions, but he had his share of ugly lapses down the stretch.

Sources say the Falcons could replace all three starters on the interior offensive line because they weren't thrilled with the play in the middle this season.

Look for Falcons general manager Rich McKay to concentrate on getting a new coaching staff fully in place once he hires a new head coach before even worrying about any player personnel decisions that need to be made.

The way we hear it, Buccaneers QB Shaun King won't be back with the team next season because the team doesn't believe he has a future with the franchise. Brad Johnson is the starter for now and Chris Simms is the quarterback of the future.

We're told the Saints will spend all offseason working with S Tebucky Jones to try to get him to improve his tackling technique.

We hear there are mixed feelings in the Saints' organization about veteran C Jerry Fontenot. The front office would prefer to go bigger, faster and younger, but head coach Jim Haslett and his staff would like to see Fontenot re-signed for another year or two.

Some Panthers observers were surprised to see DE Mike Rucker get so much playing time in the team's regular-season finale considering that he was recovering from a strained knee, but we hear Rucker just wanted to get himself back into playing shape before the start of the playoffs.

How dynamic a leader is Ravens ILB Ray Lewis? A source close to the team says the Baltimore offense looks to Lewis for leadership.

According to a source close to the team, the Browns view WR Dennis Northcutt as a No. 3 wideout. Considering Northcutt, an unrestricted free agent, wants to be paid like a starter, we're hearing it's unlikely he will be back with Cleveland in 2004.

The Ravens will try to re-sign unrestricted free-agent C Mike Flynn in the next couple of months, according to a source close to the team.

Team observers believe the Bears' coaching staff will be made up of an entirely new cast of characters next season, with the possible exception of a few low-level assistants, such as DB coach Vance Bedford and QB coach Greg Olson. The initial thought was that defensive coordinator Greg Blache would be retained, which is still a possibility, but most coaches opt to assemble a staff they know and are willing to entrust their career security to.

Team sources say the Lions are looking to 49ers OL coach Pat Morris -- his contract expires this month -- to fill that vacancy in Detroit. Some say that Morris could be in line to become the league's highest-paid OL coach. The Lions are also considering using personnel man Charlie Sanders as WR coach. Sanders, a stud tight end for the Lions who appeared in seven Pro Bowls between 1968-77, coached tight ends and receivers under Wayne Fontes.

The Bears remain optimistic that 2002 first-round pick Marc Colombo will return to the field next season but progress, team sources said, has been "creeping forward." Colombo dislocated his left knee cap Nov. 18, 2002, and missed all of this season rehabbing the injury. He has been unable to build and maintain strength in the joint.

Raiders QB Rich Gannon recently indicated that, like normal, he would be willing to restructure his contract to help the team cope with the salary cap but is not at all interested in a pay cut. "If they ask me to take a penny less, I'd say no," said Gannon, whose contract jumps to a $7 million base salary next season. "I earn every penny I make." Meanwhile, the rehabilitation process for his surgically repaired throwing shoulder is ahead of schedule and could allow him to start light throwing in the next few weeks.

Travian Smith expects the Raiders to bring in some competition for the strong-side LB job this offseason. But he understands now the shape he has to be in to keep up in coverage after years as a backup and special-teamer and is adamant about staking his claim for the role next season, though the new coaching staff may want to experiment more with MLB Napoleon Harris on the outside.

A long-range concern has been raised in Denver with Ed McCaffrey's recent head injuries. The veteran leader and fan favorite has suffered concussions in two of the last four weeks and several more over the course of his career.

There were sizable expectations for 5-7 rookie RB Quentin Griffin, but he exceeded them the last few weeks and has really impressed the Broncos with his patience, decisive cuts and burst of speed.

The selection of QB Trent Green as the Chiefs' MVP was seen as a real tribute to how the team has rallied around his return from major knee surgery and his ascension as a top quarterback and leader. Green, described as "our heart and soul" by DE Eric Hicks, led the Chiefs to an NFL-best 484 points.

Although the Bills gave defensive coordinator Jerry Gray an interview for the vacant head-coaching position, we hear Gray was quite low on the list of candidates, behind such proven commodities as Jim Fassel and Tom Coughlin. Meanwhile, our sources are surprised that Dan Reeves' name has not been mentioned as a possible candidate, given his track record.

SmithOnce the Patriots' season ends, the team will have a seven-day window to decide the future of RB Antowain Smith. The team has an option to void the final years of Smith's contract and is expected to do so, letting go the disappointing back whose recent success isn't expected to save his job with the team. If Smith hangs on with the team, he'll earn a $500,000 roster bonus and his base salary will jump from $1.4 million this season to $2.4 million next year.

Some names that have been bandied about New York as potential candidates to fill the vacancies on the Jets' coaching staff are Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, Buccaneers LB coach Joe Barry and Buccaneers DB coach Mike Tomlin.

Having played in Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore's offense under Bruce Arians in Cleveland, we hear the Colts would have some interest in bringing in current Browns and former Colts QB Kelly Holcomb as a backup to Peyton Manning.

Although the Colts would like to upgrade the CB position, we hear they will draft too low to land a quality starter. As a result, team officials view Donald Strickland and Joe Jefferson as their cornerbacks of the future.

Despite some early-season criticism from Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, our sources expect offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave to retain his position.

Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio has said that he will bring in several players during the offseason to compete with PK Seth Marler. Marler finished a poor 20-of-33 on FG attempts. l Titans 44-year-old PK Gary Anderson has said that this season will be his last in

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The one thing that could keep LB Jesse Armstead in Washington is if the Redskins hire Jim Fassel, who has remained close to Armstead.

The other thing that could keep him here is his contract!

He's not a free agent until 2005. He could retire, and we've seen no signs of that, but otherwise he's not going anywhere.

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If the "rumors" surrounding Betts were true, I'd have to think the F.O. should send a message and cut him. Here is a rookie with potential that shows promise late in the year 02 to be the featured back, only to become perpetually injured in 03. Then... he's missing meetings? Jettison him and Canidate and start looking for a viable alternative in the draft (not necessarily a #1 pick but a 2nd round selection like Michael Turner, Carnell Williams, or the Houston kid from Tennessee.

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Spurrier talks to Ladell Betts during the season

Spurrier: "Uh Labida, the coaches done tell me you been missing meetings and carry'n on like you don't care 'bout things. What's up?"

Betts:" Coach I was just walking down the street smoking endo sippin on gin and juice...oh yeah...got my mind on my money and my money on my mind..."

Spurrier: "Huh? Oh...well that's ok I guess. Walkin's good cardio and juice has plenty of vitamins and what not in it. I got my mind on my money too. Heh heh."

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You mean to tell me that Spurrier didn't so much as call guys like George Edwards and Hue Jackson to talk to them after he quit? And still hasn't contacted them???

Well of all the dirty, rotten, yellow-bellied...that's pretty low mister. If I had a rubber hose, I'd...

What a spineless prick.

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Originally posted by MAPTASTIC

You mean to tell me that Spurrier didn't so much as call guys like George Edwards and Hue Jackson to talk to them after he quit? And still hasn't contacted them???

Well of all the dirty, rotten, yellow-bellied...that's pretty low mister. If I had a rubber hose, I'd...

What a spineless prick.

He told the coaches first. Even before he told Snyder. Hue Jackson mentioned it on the JT show last week, though he wouldn't tell anyone what Spurriers plans were, but said, it will all be known in a day or two.

PFW is wrong on this one

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Hey Chief,

He's home now, getting ready to head down to Florida for two months to work out, yeah he laughed all year long as they struggled with the run game. Him and Rock are really cool, so he was really pulling for him though. man I heard some crazy stories on Dillon this year, have to share them with you guys some time. Also got the real scoop on why Kevin Johnson was cut, this should come out eventually.....

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