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NFL- Truth & Rumors Sept 9, 2009


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September 9, 2009 |

Schaub's ankle OK?

Matt Schaub | Texans Top Email

One of the major question marks in front of the Houston Texans as they attempt to leap into the echelon of playoff-caliber teams in the NFL is: can quarterback Matt Schaub stay healthy?

As far as the Week One matchup against the New York Jets is concerned, that answer should be yes, as per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. "It's feeling good," Schaub told the paper. "It's getting better, just progressing. We're getting excited to go out there and start our season."

Of course, if Schaub suffers any setbacks, he'll be replaced by Rex Grossman, a prospect that has Jets cornerbacks licking their chops.

We asked the Outsiders if Houston can replicate last season's offensive success.

Football Outsiders

Good health could mean another leap

"The only concern about the Texans' offense heading into the season is the health of Schaub, who has missed time in each of his two seasons as the Houston starter with a dislocated shoulder and a torn MCL. Houston's quietly developed an above-average offense since Gary Kubiak's arrival, with an 11.0% DVOA last year that would have been higher had Schaub played in all 16 games. If Schaub can stay healthy, and nothing happens to Andre Johnson, they could move into the top ten this year." - Bill Barnwell

Westbrook's touches



Brian Westbrook | Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook faded down the stretch of 2008, and in order to prevent that from happening again, the team might be lightening his load this season.

As noted by the Eagletarian blog, Westbrook is receptive to getting just 18-22 touches a game, especially given the development of rookie LeSean McCoy.

"I hope that they mix it up a little bit," Westbrook said. "I still would love to touch the ball a lot. I think I can still do a lot of dynamic things with the ball in my hands. We just really have to wait and see how the game goes."

The Eagles -- and Westbrook's fantasy owners -- are surely hoping that the reduction in touches will translate to bigger plays when Westbrook does get the ball, and hopefully also keep him healthy for the entire season.

Football Outsiders

An improved run game may take time for Philly

"Although Westbrook gives the team an added dimension in the passing game (and opens up holes in the running game as a result), the bigger factor in the equation of 'Will the running game be good?' is the offensive line, not the back. Last year, the Eagles clearly weren't confident in their offensive line, and passed the ball more frequently than even they might've hoped. The new starters up front should give them more balance in their playcalling, but they'll take some time to get on the same page and have health concerns. Of course, so does Westbrook." - Bill Barnwell

Spring trade for Crabtree?



Michael Crabtree | 49ers Top Email

While NFL Insider Adam Schefter continues to paint a picture of doubt regarding the Michael Crabtree negotiations, Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat may have identified the new end game: a trade next spring for future draft picks.

Maiocco notes that there is a precedent in the NFL for a high draft pick holding out the entire season, then being traded. In 1987, the Cardinals used the sixth overall pick on Kelly Stouffer, who then sat out the entire season. In April, just prior to the 1988 draft, the Cards traded Stouffer's rights in exchange for a fifth-rounder that season and a first- and fifth-rounder in the 1989 draft.

We might've thought the Raiders would be the best bet for such a deal in April 2010, but they just traded their 2011 first-rounder away.

Mike Sando

Dilfer to Crabtree

"First-round draft choice Michael Crabtree's throwing sessions with retired quarterback Trent Dilfer took place three weeks ago and therefore do not foreshadow any immediate plans to sign a contract and report to the 49ers."

Major shift on Marshall



Brandon Marshall | Broncos | Interested: Jets? Top Email

ESPN's NFL Insider Adam Schefter is reporting that the Brandon Marshall situation may be taking a major shift.

In fact, the Denver Broncos are now exploring the possibility of giving a contract extension to Marshall, two league sources Schefter. Due to the fact he has been unable to get a long-term deal, Marshall has been clinging to the hopes that Denver would deal him. But now, in a new approach, the deal Denver might make is not for Marshall, but rather with Marshall.

The fact that they are even talking is an encouraging sign, sources said.

In Denver, there's still some conflicting opinions on whether or not a deal can get done, as per the Denver Post.

There's more. What about Marshall's role in the new offense if this works out? The Denver Post discusses that today, and there's an indication that Marshall might be a bit of a secret weapon against the Bengals in Week 1. The logic goes that because of Marshall's battle with the team, there's not too much video of him participating, so he could be lining up just about anywhere. As for his attitude adjustment, coach Josh McDaniels responded, "great," when asked to describe his troubled wideout's countenance since reinstatement.

Bill Williamson


"Frankly, I am shocked to see this news. I'd be less surprised if Denver traded Marshall, and I don't expect that to happen. Don't get me wrong -- I am not disputing Schefter's report. I believe it. I just didn't see it coming."

Added bonus of starting



Brady Quinn | Browns Top Email

Although the announcement has not been officially handed down to the media by Eric Mangini, all signs point to Brady Quinn starting for the Cleveland Browns this season.

As per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the announcement comes with an added bonus for Quinn: mas dinero.

As Schefter notes, "Quinn had a clause in his contract stating if he plays in 70 percent of the Browns' offensive plays this season, his 2010 salary escalates by $5 million and his 2011 salary escalates by $5.95 million. If Quinn failed to play in 70 percent of the Browns plays this year, he still could get the extra $5.95 million in 2011 by playing 70 percent of the plays next season. But the starting job puts him on track to earn an extra $5.7 million this season."

Eric Karabell

Cribbs wins if Quinn starts

"The big winner here, other than the information-craving media, Browns fans and well, the Browns themselves, is Josh Cribbs. If Braylon Edwards is the gamebreaker, I could see Cribbs carving out a nice role as the pseudo-possession receiver, but one who does more than just catch 8-yard slants. He's improved his route running and is capable of working downfield, certainly more so than Mike Furrey. Speaking of possession guys, don't forget what Furrey did for the Detroit Lions in 2006, when he hauled in 98 passes. Still, most indications are the Browns would like Cribbs to emerge."

Bulger OK to play?



Marc Bulger | Rams Top Email

A little more than three weeks ago, St. Louis Rams QB Marc Bulger broke the pinky on his throwing hand, an injury that made throwing difficult, and cast some doubt on his ability to start the season.

Some of those fears were allayed on Wednesday, as per Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, as Bulger was able to take snaps from under center with no problem.

Barring a setback, we'd expect to see Bulger starting on Sunday against the Seahawks.

Mike Sando

The turnover pinky?

"Bulger's recovery from a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand appears on track, but can he take repeated snaps from center without risking turnovers? The Rams' plan calls for Bulger to find out Wednesday. That's when Bulger plans to take direct snaps from center Jason Brown for the first time since an ill-fated exchange left Bulger injured Aug. 17."

Latest on Pierre



Pierre Thomas | Saints Top Email

More details have emerged regarding the cut to Pierre Thomas' right knee suffered over last weekend. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Thomas suffered the wound while rescuing his dog, who was caught in the neighbor's yard. Thomas tried to squeeze through a gate, and cut himself on the same knee that has a sprained MCL.

Apparently it's not the gash that may keep Thomas sidelined, but the MCL. If Thomas is unable to go, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush will both be picking up some of the slack.

Thomas posted a Twitter update on Wednesday night saying he was ready to go, but needed the "thumbs up" from the team. We're not sure he'll definitely get it.

Pat Yasinskas

Coach expects him to be ready

"Thomas sat out Wednesday's practice, but Payton made it sound like Thomas still is a possibility for Sunday's game with Detroit."

Randle El's spot in jeopardy?



Antwaan Randle El | Redskins Top Email

Within an update for the Washington Times, Ryan O'Halloran notes word from Washington Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith, who says that Antwaan Randle El is "first up" on punt returns for the team.

However, O'Halloran also notes that Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall were practicing for punt returns in practice on Wednesday. Could this be a sign that Randle El has a short leash as the team's returner? We'll see after the first few returns of the regular season what the plan is.

The Scott Van Pelt Show

Randle El: Skins will take next step

Walter out Sunday?



Kevin Walter | Texans Top Email

Kevin Walter -- who was amongst the top 20 fantasy WRs in 2008 -- has not been able to practice since suffering a hamstring injury against the Minnesota Vikings on August 31. According to HoustonTexans.com, he and Eugene Wilson are the Texans' two biggest injury concerns heading into Sunday's opener against the Jets.

"Obviously, for them not to be on the field today, on Wednesday, it's a day-to-day situation," Kubiak said. "But they're not here today, so yeah, there's some concern."

Andre Davis will be bumped into the starting lineup if Walter can't go, and tight end Owen Daniels might see a few more passes directed his way.

KC Joyner

Walter could have big Week 1

"I can't imagine that Rex Ryan would be crazy enough to do this, but even if he moves Darrelle Revis to cover Johnson, that leaves Sheppard up against Kevin Walter. Walter is more than capable of toasting Lito all game long, and that single weakness makes the Jets a risky start."

Favre has chemistry issues with WR



Brett Favre | Vikings Top Email

While the biggest quote that Brett Favre dropped on reporters on Wednesday was that his consecutive starts streak might end before the close of the season -- "I may not finish the year," he said, as per the Minneapolis Star Tribune -- he also said that he has yet to develop an on-field relationship with Bernard Berrian, the top receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.

This is not surprising. Berrian has been limited due to a hamstring issue, missing the last three preseason games while being limited in practice. Kevin Seifert of the NFC North blog notes that Berrian was limited again in Wednesday's sessions, but that "everyone expects him to play Sunday."

So, if Berrian plays, he might not see many passes thrown his way if you believe what Favre says. Then again, the "lack of chemistry" thing might be a ruse to throw off the Cleveland Browns' defense.

LB's physical health in question



Shawne Merriman | Chargers Top Email

While his off-field personal matter continues to percolate, Shawne Merriman's physical capacity to play football comes into question for Monday night's game against the Oakland Raiders.

As Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes, Merriman could be on a play count against the Raiders, and that number could be as low as 40 snaps.

Merriman hasn't played a regular season game since last September's knee surgery, so he keeps a long-term goal in mind. "We're in this for the long haul," Merriman told the paper. "As bad as I want to play 60 or 70 plays, it might not be the smart thing to do."

Fortunately, it is the hapless Raiders in town, who might be the best opponent to "ease back in" against. Unfortunately, after the Raiders, it's three straight 2008 playoff teams on the docket including the Super Bowl champs.

Both sides have leverage



Richard Seymour | Raiders Top Email

How can the Raiders get the disgruntled Richard Seymour to show up? Well, ESPN.com's Bill Williamson gives one option. "Really, I don't see any other resolution than Seymour being in uniform for the Raiders on Monday night against San Diego. Unless he wants to retire. And I don't think that's going to happen. Don't be shocked if the Raiders try to find a way to give Seymour a contract extension to convince him to come West."

Of course, NFL Insider Adam Schefter notes that both sides have some leverage in this fight. While Seymour could just continue to not show up, the Raiders can punish him for this financially. For each game the DE misses, he'll forgo his $216,764.71 game check. That's not an insignificant chunk of change, even to an NFL player.

The Scott Van Pelt Show

Tim Hasselbeck: This trade makes a lot of sense for the Patriots

Tillman returning?



Charles Tillman | Bears Top Email

On Monday, Charles Tillman -- one of the Bears' most important defensive players -- told the Chicago Tribune that the chances of his playing on Sunday night are about 50-50.

It's now Thursday, and as noted by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times, Tillman's status is still a mystery.

That's bad news for these Bears, because even with everyone healthy, they'll have a tough time handling the Packers' high-octane passing game, as noted by Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Reid: Leman is no spy



Philadelphia Eagles Top Email

There was some speculation after the Philadelphia Eagles signed former Carolina Panthers linebacker Jeremy Leman that the move was done to gain some insider info on the Week One opponent.

Not so, Eagles coach Andy Reid told a cache of reporters -- including NFC South blogger Pat Yasinkas -- via conference call.

"We mentioned to our media that Joe Mays isn't going to play, he's a middle linebacker so I brought in another middle linebacker. So, bringing him here was important so we can go through practice and/or a game. So, he wasn't brought here because he was a Carolina Panther, we brought him here because we thought he would fit in here."

Maybe so, but I'm sure Reid and his staff won't cover their ears and yell "LA LA LA" if Leman wants to tell them about the Panthers' schemes, either.

Market for Tyree?



David Tyree | Giants | Interested: Rams?, Chiefs?, Ravens? Top Email

Earlier this week, we noted the the Carroll County Times report that the Baltimore Ravens had conducted a preliminary discussion with David Tyree's agent.

As noted by Ravens Insider, coach John Harbaugh wants to reiterate that the team will "take it slow at this time" regarding a signing of the former Super Bowl hero.

"He's everything we thought he was," Harbaugh said, clearly misquoting Dennis Green. "We just got to make sure he's 100 percent and ready to go and get some of the little things healed."

The Rams and Chiefs have also been linked to Tyree in previous rumors.

Cook in question



Jared Cook | Titans Top Email

Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean has the latest on tight end Jared Cook, and it's not looking good.

While Cook is listed amongst the "questionable" players for tonight's opener against the Steelers, Wyatt notes that he's missed the last few days of practice as well as Wednesday's walk-through.

With Cook out, Titans franchise player Bo Scaife will shoulder more of the load, and Alge Crumpler will be used more as well.

Paul Kuharsky

Cook helps aerial attack

"[Nate] Washington and Cook are two of the Titans' three biggest additions for 2009. Along with first-round pick Kenny Britt, the trio is expected to help make Tennessee's passing game more dynamic and better balance an offense keyed around running backs Chris Johnson and LenDale White."

Market for Runyan growing?



Jon Runyan | Eagles | Interested: Chiefs?, Eagles? Top Email

Still without a football team for the 2009 season, offensive tackle Jon Runyan visited the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday for a tryout, as per Bill Williamson of the AFC West blog.

As Williamson notes, it's a great fit. The Chiefs need the help on the O-line, and Runyan has been searching for a chance to get back into the league following his surgery this past offseason.

The Philadelphia Eagles remain a suitor if Runyan does not sign with the Chiefs.

Jones' return accelerated?



Walter Jones | Seahawks Top Email

The health of Seattle Seahawks' left tackle Walter Jones has been a major concern as the team gets ready to begin the 2009 campaign. Some have said that his ability to stay on the field could be crucial in determining whether they can challenge for the NFC West crown.

For those folks, it must be encouraging to hear what 'Hawks coach Jim Mora told the Tacoma News Tribune yesterday. Regarding Jones and starting center Chris Spencer, Mora said, "I don't know if I want to look ahead because I'm talking about focusing on this game, but for your knowledge, there is a chance that both of those guys could be ready to come back next week."

This development could also soften the Seahawks' search for O-line help amongst free agents.

Branch's hammy issues



Deion Branch | Seahawks Top Email

Earlier this week, we noted that Deion Branch may be taking on an increased role as a return man for the Seahawks this season, based on what the Tacoma News Tribune was reporting.

Well, Branch has been struggling with a hamstring issue, and missed Wednesday's practice with the team. Regardless, notes the TNT's Ryan Divish, Branch is expected to play on Sunday.

That's good news for all the teams that are scouting him for a possible trade.

Bill Williamson

Chiefs eying Branch?

"It's been reported that Seattle would like to trade receiver Deion Branch. I wouldn?t be shocked if Kansas City showed interest."

Canty set to go?



Chris Canty | Giants Top Email

Earlier this week, we linked to what the Newark Star-Ledger's Mike Garafolo had posted on Twitter, that Chris Canty was back at practice and "looking pretty good."

He must've looked pretty good, because he was kept off of the initial injury list distributed to the media on Wednesday. But as per Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, Canty's injury is still a concern heading into Sunday's season-opener.

"We're going to build this up as we go and see how he is," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "I'll put [his name] on [the list] for you if it'll make you feel better. But we've got to watch this, obviously. Anybody that's done as little as he's done in the preseason, you have to be very careful about that."

The Giants possess a fairly deep defensive line, but they might need all hands on deck on Sunday against the running game of the Redskins.

Walker to the Skins?



Langston Walker | Bills Top Email

The Buffalo Bills dumped starting left tackle Langston Walker this week, and now he'll be looking to catch on with a new team. Initially, there were some who thought that the Washington Redskins might be a good fit.

But as Jason Reid of the Washington Post notes, you can probably scratch the Skins off the list. Reid got word from a few league sources who all agree that it's an unlikely pickup for the team.

Coach W's thoughts on Q



Anquan Boldin | Cardinals Top Email

On Tuesday, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was not ready to rule Anquan Boldin out, in spite of the receiver missing Monday's practice. "We'll see," Whisenhunt told the Arizona Republic, when asked to discuss Boldin's chances of playing Sunday. "I know it's going to be tough to keep Anquan out of this game."

Boldin missed practice again on Wednesday, but Whisenhunt still thinks the chances his wideout plays "are very good."

"I think we have a history with 'Q'," he told the Republic on Wednesday afternoon. "That's why I have a good feeling about him playing."

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