Saturday NFL News and Notes
Saturday NFL News and Notes
NFL Preseason Preview - Houston (0-1) at Arizona (0-1)
(Sports Network) - Ken Whisenhunt is set to make his first appearance on the home sideline at University of Phoenix Stadium Saturday night, when the first- year head coach and his Arizona Cardinals play host to the Houston Texans in the second preseason tune-up for both clubs.
Whisenhunt, who came to the desert after serving as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, presided over a 27-23 loss at Oakland in his initial preseason contest as a head coach.
Quarterback Matt Leinart was not terribly sharp, completing just 5-of-11 passes for 50 yards before yielding to backups Kurt Warner and Shane Boyd. Warner may have had the most productive night of any of the three signal- callers, completing both of his passes including a 58-yard touchdown strike to Bryant Johnson.
The loss to the Raiders was damaging to the Cardinals from a physical standpoint, as a pair of starters - tackle Oliver Ross (torn triceps and outside linebacker Chike Okeafor (torn biceps) - were believed lost for the season. Okeafor recently announced that he would attempt to return to the field this season, but it seems unlikely that Arizona would carry him on the roster during what could be a four-month rehabilitation period.
Arizona fans will get their first live look at rookie tackle Levi Brown, the No. 5 overall draft pick out of Penn State, in Saturday's contest.
Houston also comes off a loss in its preseason opener, as Gary Kubiak's squad dropped a 20-19 home decision to the Chicago Bears.
Offseason acquisition and quarterback Matt Schaub played sparingly in his first appearance in a Houston uniform, finishing 3-of-5 passing for 25 yards in the game.
Another new face, former Packers Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green, was limited to seven yards on three carries in his Texans preseason debut.
Guard Chester Pitts (back) will be among the notable Houston players not expected to appear against Arizona.
The Texans and Cardinals will be meeting for the first time in a preseason game. Houston won the only regular season between the clubs, a 30-19 home triumph during the 2005 campaign.
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NFL Preseason Preview - Detroit (1-0) at Cleveland (1-0)
(Sports Network) - Brady Quinn is expected to make his first appearance as an NFL quarterback on Saturday night, when Quinn's Browns play host to the Detroit Lions in the second preseason game for both teams.
Quinn, the No. 22 overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Notre Dame who began training camp with a long holdout, was present but did not play in the Browns' 16-12 home victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last Saturday. Quarterbacks Charlie Frye (12-of-15 passing, 122 yards), Derek Anderson (7-of-16 passing, 76 yards), and Ken Dorsey (6-of-9, 52 yards) all took snaps in the game.
Quinn should appear some time in the second half of this week's contest according to head coach Romeo Crennel, though the extent of his playing time remains undetermined.
In addition to the work of Quinn and the offense, Crennel will be closely monitoring the play of a defense that surrendered just 200 yards of total offense and did not surrender an offensive touchdown against the Chiefs. A continued strong effort could be contingent on the injury status of a few questionable players, including cornerback Leigh Bodden (ankle) and linebacker Andra Davis (ankle).
Another linebacker, Willie McGinest (back) has been ruled out for the remainder of the preseason.
Like the Browns, the Lions will be attempting to build on a win in its preseason opener. Detroit rallied to defeat Cincinnati (27-26) last Thursday, a game which marked the initial NFL appearance of No. 2 pick and wideout Calvin Johnson.
Johnson, the former Georgia Tech star, caught two passes for 45 yards in a game that saw three Detroit quarterbacks combine for 489 passing yards.
Wideout Shaun McDonald may have upstaged Johnson's debut, as the former Ram caught five passes for 146 yards including an 83-yard touchdown pass from J.T. O'Sullivan in the second quarter.
Ex-Broncos running back Tatum Bell carried six times for 19 yards in his preseason debut with the Lions.
Fellow Detroit RB Kevin Jones (foot) will remain out for Saturday's contest.
Saturday's game will mark the 39th preseason battle between the Lions and Browns, with Detroit holding a 19-18-1 edge. Cleveland won a 20-16 home decision prior to the 2006 season.
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NFL Preseason Preview - New Orleans (0-2) at Cincinnati (0-1)
(Sports Network) - The New Orleans Saints will try to avoid an 0-3 start to the 2007 preseason on Saturday night, when Sean Payton and company play host to the Cincinnati Bengals in the third tune-up for the pride of the Crescent City.
New Orleans was a 13-10 home loser last Friday night against Buffalo, a result that came just five days after the Saints dropped a 20-7 decision against Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame Game.
Quarterback Drew Brees, who was just 1-of-6 passing versus the Steelers, looked much sharper against the Bills. Brees was 12-of-14 passing for 118 yards in the loss.
The defeat to Buffalo was also notable for the play of wide receiver and 2007 first-round draft choice Robert Meachem. Meachem, the No. 27 overall selection out of Tennessee, had two catches for 20 yards including the team's only touchdown of the night on a two-yard pass play from backup signal-caller Tyler Palko in the fourth quarter.
Saturday figures to be a big night for a pair of New Orleans defenders, who will make their return to a city they once called home. Linebacker Brian Simmons came to New Orleans after being released in the offseason following nine productive seasons in the Queen City, while safety Kevin Kaesviharn left Cincinnati after six years during the most recent free agency period.
Like the Saints, the Bengals will also be trying to secure their first win of the 2007 preseason on Saturday night. Marvin Lewis' squad opened up with a 27-26 loss at Detroit last Thursday, a game that had negative ramifications beyond the vagaries of the final score.
In the setback, rookie running back Kenny Irons was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The injury was doubly damaging for a Cincinnati club already expected to be without running back and former first-round pick Chris Perry during the early stages of the season.
Those looking for positives out of the home team on Saturday will be closely monitoring the work of rookie cornerback Leon Hall, who is set to make his live debut at Paul Brown Stadium. Hall, the No. 18 overall Draft pick out of Michigan, is being counted on to bolster the secondary this season.
The Saints have a 4-1 edge in their all-time preseason series with the Bengals, including a 31-23 victory in the last such meeting, prior to the 2002 campaign.
New Orleans and Cincinnati also met in Week 11 of the 2006 regular season, with the Bengals earning a 31-16 victory at the Superdome.
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NFL Preseason Preview - Tampa Bay (1-0) at Jacksonville (0-1)
(Sports Network) - Quarterback play will be among the primary issues at ALLTEL Stadium on Saturday night, when the Jacksonville Jaguars welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second preseason tilt for both clubs.
The 2007 preseason is an important one for Jacksonville starter Byron Leftwich, who is trying to prove his worth as a starter after four inconsistent, injury-laden seasons as a pro. Leftwich got off to a strong start last Saturday in Miami, completing 7-of-10 passes for 78 yards with a touchdown in a 18-17 loss to the Dolphins.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is attempting to finalize its depth chart behind front- runner Jeff Garcia. Backups Luke McCown, Bruce Gradkowski, and Chris Simms are all vying for backup duties behind Garcia, with McCown starting strongest out of the gate. In a 13-10 win over the Patriots last Friday, McCown was a perfect 7-of-7 for 68 yards and the team's only touchdown of the night.
Garcia was just 1-for-4 for four yards in limited action, Gradkowski 6-of-11 for 50 yards, and Simms, who is recovering from a ruptured spleen, did not see any action.
Jaguars fans in attendance on Saturday will also be taking a long look at the non-quarterbacks on the roster, particularly the wide receivers. Jacksonville is attempting to identify two starting candidates out of a large group, with former first-round picks Matt Jones and Reggie Williams currently occupying backup spots on the depth chart behind the likes of Ernest Wilford and Dennis Northcutt. The work of first-year player Charles Sharon, who caught two balls for 21 yards against Miami, has also been impressive.
Defensively, Jags supporters will get their initial live look at safety Reggie Nelson. Nelson, the number No. 21 overall pick out of Florida, is expected to win a starting job.
Secondary storylines for Tampa Bay include the first preseason appearance of 2007 for new middle linebacker Barrett Ruud. Ruud, who has been bothered by a knee injury during training camp, is attempting to replace the departed Shelton Quarles at the heart of the Bucs defense.
The Jaguars lead the all-time preseason series with the Buccaneers, 3-2, breaking a deadlock in the series with a 29-18 home victory prior to last season.
Jacksonville and Tampa Bay will also meet in the 2007 regular season, with the Bucs playing host to the Jags at Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 28.
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NFL Preseason Preview - Seattle (1-0) at Green Bay (1-0)
(Sports Network) - The Green Bay Packers will make their first appearance at Lambeau Field since last December on Saturday, when Mike McCarthy's team welcomes old friend Mike Holmgren and the Seattle Seahawks to town.
The Packers, who won their final four games of 2006 to finish 8-8, opened their preseason with a 13-9 win at Pittsburgh last Saturday. Top offensive starters such as Brett Favre (2-of-7 passing, 7 yards) and Donald Driver (one reception for three yards) saw only limited time in the victory, but Green Bay handed extended time to its young players and backups in the victory.
Most notable were the performances of backup QB and former first-round draft pick Aaron Rodgers, who completed 18-of-27 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown in the victory, and rookie running back Brandon Jackson, who wore a Packer uniform for the first time and finished with 57 yards on 16 carries.
Saturday night will give the Lambeau faithful their first opportunity to monitor the work of Jackson and other high-profile rookies like defensive tackle Justin Harrell. Harrell, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2007 Draft and University of Tennessee product, is being counted on to help bolster the defensive line corps.
On the injury front, running backs Vernand Morency (knee) and DeShawn Wynn (quadriceps) will not appear against the Seahawks.
Seattle is also looking to build on a victory in its preseason opener, as the Hawks scored 17 fourth-quarter points to take down San Diego, 24-16, at Qualcomm Stadium last Sunday.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (4-of-5 passing, 65 yards, 1 TD) and running back Shaun Alexander (2 carries, 4 yards) were among the Seahawks that played only brief time in San Diego, but both should see more extensive action in the club's second preseason game.
Offensive linemen Walter Jones (shoulder) and Sean Locklear (knee) are among the notable Seattle players who will not be in attendance on Saturday.
Holmgren will once again be returning to Green Bay, where he served as head coach from 1992 to 1998 and led the Packers to two Super Bowl appearances. The head coach guided the Pack to a win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
Seattle holds a 2-0 edge in its all-time preseason series with Green Bay, including a 21-3 road win in the last such meeting, prior to the 2004 campaign.
The clubs also met in Week 12 of the 2006 regular season, a 34-24 Seattle win at Qwest Field.
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NFL Preseason Preview - Denver (1-0) at Dallas (1-0)
(Sports Network) - Two teams looking to maintain their preseason momentum will meet at Texas Stadium on Saturday night, when the Dallas Cowboys host the Denver Broncos in the second preseason tune-up for each team.
The Cowboys were 23-10 winners over reigning Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis last Thursday night, looking generally sharp in their first appearance under new head coach Wade Phillips.
Quarterback Tony Romo completed 10-of-11 passes for 93 yards in the victory, and his backups, Brad Johnson (3-of-4, 15 yards) and Matt Moore (7-of-9, 88 yards) were almost letter-perfect as well.
The Dallas defense also got in on the act, with backup safety Keith Davis intercepting a third-quarter pass and returning it 41 yards for a touchdown.
Terrell Owens, who caught one pass for eight yards in the Indy win, is expected to play on Saturday despite being late to a morning practice on Thursday. Owens reportedly apologized to Phillips and his teammates.
Phillips will be facing a Denver team for which he served as head coach in 1993-94, compiling a 16-17 record.
On the injury front, outside linebacker Greg Ellis (heel) is the most notable Cowboy who won't be available on Saturday.
Denver, meanwhile, will be seeking to build on a 17-13 win at San Francisco no Monday night.
The Broncos posted 182 rushing yards in the win, including 51 on 10 carries from Mike Bell and 27 on five totes from fellow starting candidate Travis Henry, but the Denver passing game left a little to be desired.
Quarterbacks Jay Cutler, Patrick Ramsey, and Darrell Hackney completed a combined 8-of-17 passes for 89 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the night, including a 1-of-2 effort for 24 yards in limited time for the starter Cutler.
The receiving corps was hampered by the absence of veteran wideout Rod Smith (hip), who is expected to miss the entire preseason. A pair of rookies, defensive end Tim Crowder (ankle) and offensive lineman Ryan Harris (back), are also expected to miss Saturday's contest.
The Broncos hold a 6-5 edge in the all-time preseason series with the Cowboys, including a 20-6 win in the last such meeting, prior to the 2001 campaign.
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NFL Preseason Preview - San Diego (0-1) at St. Louis (1-0)
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Rams will be eager to display their talents before the home fans on Saturday night, when Scott Linehan's club plays host to the San Diego Chargers in the second preseason game for both clubs.
The Rams began their preseason schedule on the road last Friday, outlasting the Vikings in a 13-10 affair from Minnesota. St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger was reasonably sharp in the victory, completing 6-of-7 passes for 42 yards in limited work but also tossing an interception.
The most notable offensive performance in St. Louis' preseason opener may have been turned in by rookie Brian Leonard, however. The second-round draft pick out of Rutgers put on a Rams uniform for the first time and rushed nine times for a game-high 36 yards and the only offensive touchdown of the contest, also catching five balls for a team-best 30 yards. With starter Steven Jackson (two receptions for eight yards against Minnesota) unlikely to see a wealth of action for precautionary reasons, Leonard should have an opportunity to shine again on Saturday night.
Rams supporters will also get their initial live look at defensive lineman and first-round choice Adam Carriker (Nebraska), the No. 13 overall pick in the April draft.
The Chargers did not get off to a winning start in the first preseason game of the Norv Turner era, dropping a 24-16 home decision to the Seattle Seahawks. Most of the damage in the game was done against San Diego's deep defensive reserves, who surrendered 17 fourth-quarter points versus the Hawks.
Starting quarterback Philip Rivers completed 5-of-7 passes for 71 yards in his brief appearance, and running back LaDainian Tomlinson was held out of the game as has become a preseason custom for San Diego. Backup running backs Darren Sproles (7 rushes, 63 yards) and Michael Turner (4 rushes, 27 yards) did a bulk of the ground work for Turner's squad.
Chargers first-round draft choice and wideout Craig Davis got his first opportunity on an NFL field, catching one pass for 11 yards in the loss.
The all-time series between the Chargers and Rams is tied, 17-17, with San Diego evening the series by virtue of a 36-21 home win prior to the 2005 campaign.
The teams also met in Week 8 of the 2006 regular season, a 38-24 Chargers win at Qualcomm Stadium.
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NFL Preseason Preview - Pittsburgh (1-1) at Washington (1-0)
(Sports Network) - The Washington Redskins will try to maintain their preseason momentum on Saturday night, when Joe Gibbs' squad welcomes Pittsburgh to FedEx Field in the second tune-up for the Skins and third for the Steelers.
The Redskins were 14-6 winners over Tennessee last Saturday, scoring all of their points in the fourth quarter to beat the Titans. Reserve cornerback Byron Westbrook, the brother of Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, pounced on a Tim Rattay fumble in the end zone to clinch the win just seconds after the Redskins had gone ahead on a one-yard run by reserve running back Marcus Mason.
The starters did not fare as well for the Redskins, with quarterback Jason Campbell (6-of-14 passing, 104 yards) completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes and running back Ladell Betts (4 carries, 6 yards) not finding much running room in a limited amount of play.
The club's other high-profile running back, Clinton Portis, sat out with a knee injury and is not expected to be in the lineup on Saturday.
Among the top storylines on Saturday will involve the work of backup quarterbacks Mark Brunell (4-of-9 passing, 46 yards against Tennessee) and Todd Collins (5-of-5, 56 yards), both of whom are vying for No. 2 signal- caller duties behind Campbell.
Also looking for a strong performance will be Washington wideout Antwaan Randle El, who will face his former mates for the first time since leaving via free agency after the 2005 season. Randle El starred as a wideout and kick returner for the Steelers from 2002 through 2005, throwing the team's only touchdown pass on a trick play in Pittsburgh's Super Bowl XL victory over Seattle.
Pittsburgh comes off a 13-9 home loss to Green Bay Saturday, a setback that arrived six days after the Steelers defeated the Saints by a 20-7 count in the Hall of Fame Game, from Canton, OH.
Luminaries such as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (2-of-2 passing, 14 yards) and wideout Hines Ward (1 reception, 5 yards) played only briefly against the Packers, while running back Willie Parker sat out his second straight game as a precautionary measure.
Parker is expected to see his first action of the preseason on Saturday night, with all of the team's starters set to play more snaps.
The Redskins hold a 12-3-1 advantage against the Steelers in preseason games all-time, including a 17-10 Washington home victory in the last such matchup, held prior to the 2005 campaign.
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NFL Preseason Preview - Oakland (1-0) at San Francisco (0-1)
(Sports Network) - The annual preseason battle between the NFL's two residents of the Bay Area will be on tap at Monster Park Saturday night, as the San Francisco 49ers host the Oakland Raiders in the second preseason tune-up for both clubs.
After both suffering through miserable stretches in the past few years, the Niners and Raiders are each hoping that strong preseasons might launch them to a return to glory.
The 49ers did not get off to a glorious start to their preseason, however, dropping a 17-13 home decision to Denver on Monday night.
On the bright side, all of the team's points were scored in the first half when players most likely to make the active roster were on the field.
Quarterback Alex Smith completed 4-of-5 passes for 58 yards in the loss, and probable No. 1 wideout Darrell Jackson contributed an 18-yard catch in his first game with San Francisco after seven productive seasons with Seattle.
Running back and 2006 Pro Bowler Frank Gore missed the Denver game with a broken hand, and will not play against the Raiders.
The Raiders, meanwhile, will be trying to build on a promising 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals last Saturday.
Starting quarterback candidates Josh McCown (5-of-9 passing, 42 yards), Andrew Walter (8-of-11, 50 yards, 1 TD) and Daunte Culpepper (5-of-12, 78 yards) all had their moments in the victory, and should all see extensive playing time this week as well.
Walter is expected to start on Saturday before yielding to Culpepper and then McCown.
The other player expected to join the QB battle at some point, No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell, remained embroiled in a contract holdout as of Friday afternoon.
One person who will be in the house at Monster Park is Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin, who was hospitalized earlier this week with what is believed to be a bout with mononucleosis.
The 32-year-old Kiffin, the youngest head coach in NFL history, has reportedly lost 11 pounds while battling the illness.
Similar geography has made the Raiders/49ers matchup one of the most played preseason rivalries in NFL history, with Oakland holding a 18-16 edge in the all-time series. The Raiders won last season's installment, 23-7, at home, though they were 34-20 road losers when the teams met in Week 5 of the regular season.
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Brady Quinn expected to play against Lions
August 17, 2007
CLEVELAND (AP) -Brady Quinn is still hanging around and waiting for the Cleveland Browns to call his name - on game day.
The high-profile rookie, who stayed on the sideline in Cleveland's exhibition opener last week, is expected to make his NFL debut - probably a brief one - on Saturday night for the Browns, whose quarterback competition is nearing a conclusion without him even in the conversation or debate.
Quinn will likely get his first action late against the Detroit Lions, who considered picking the Notre Dame quarterback in April's draft before selecting wide receiver Calvin Johnson at No. 2 overall.
Quinn, though, slid to Cleveland at No. 22, and although the Browns mortgaged part of their future to get him - trading a 2008 first-round pick to Dallas - they're in no hurry to rush him onto the field.
For at least another week as the Charlie Frye-Derek Anderson quarterback challenge pushes on.
Following an 11-day contract holdout, when he missed 16 training camp practices, Quinn didn't take a snap in last week's preseason win over Kansas City. And, he's going to have to wait his turn before he faces the Lions.
``I might give him a few snaps in the fourth quarter to see what he can do,'' was all coach Romeo Crennel would say.
Quinn is still way behind in learning Cleveland's new offense, and hasn't moved out of the No. 4 spot on the depth chart. Crennel was asked if the 22-year-old will enter the competition if he ``wows'' the Browns.
``Well,'' Crennel said. ``He's got to wow us first.''
During practice this week, Quinn took some snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense but worked primarily with the reserves. He's eager to do more.
``All quarterbacks are greedy,'' Quinn said. ``We want every rep, and we want to get in there and play all the time. It's tough, especially coming from the situation I was in (at Notre Dame). But you have to realize you've got to earn everything you get here.
``I've got to show the guys I've got a strong grasp of the offense, the concepts, and am ready and willing whenever they want to call my number.''
Cleveland's starter for the Sept. 9 opener against Pittsburgh will be Frye or Anderson, a competition that is still too close to call. But it's a race that could be settled in the next few days.
To be fair, Crennel tossed a coin last week to decide his starter. He's not planning another flip, but said he'll again wait until Frye, who played the first series against the Chiefs, and Anderson are in the locker room on Saturday before telling them when they'll play.
Crennel is using the element of surprise in his evaluation.
``I think it's important that a guy has to react on his feet, you can see how he does,'' Crennel said. ``If a guy gets hurt, he might have to go in unexpected and you can see how he'll handle it. This is a competition and sometimes if you know ahead of time, you have a little edge. If you don't know ahead of time, but you can handle it and show that you handle it, I think that sends a message also.''
While Quinn may not be a factor early in the season for the Browns, the club has been impressed with two of its other top picks: offensive tackle Joe Thomas and cornerback Eric Wright.
Thomas, selected No. 3 by the Browns, who may have taken Johnson if the Lions had not, held his own against the Chiefs last week. He was flagged for two holding penalties, but Crennel was pleased with Thomas, whom the Browns are hoping can anchor the left side of their line for years.
Wright was tested by Kansas City quarterback Brodie Croyle early and broke up a deep sideline pass on the Chiefs' third play. Against Detroit, Wright will likely be matched up with Johnson, who had two catches for 45 yards last week in a 27-26 win over Cincinnati.
The Lions had 489 passing yards against the Bengals. Wright, who will start at left cornerback for the injured Kenny Wright, expects Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna and backup J.T. O'Sullivan to challenge him.
``I expect all the teams to test me,'' said Wright, a second-round pick. ``Being a rookie, you're going to be tested. As the young guy, I expect them to come test me early and often.''
The Lions will be without wide receiver Roy Williams, who has a sore hamstring.
Coach Rod Marinelli has set simple goals for his club, hoping that if the Lions can reach them bigger things will follow.
``I want to win each snap we play. There's a purpose,'' he said. ``I want to play our defense better, tackle, the basics. I want the tempo of our team playing faster. We've got to be a heck of a road team. But if we play one snap at a time and we really understand that, it shouldn't matter where we're at.''
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Cowboys and Broncos both ready for game
August 17, 2007
IRVING, Texas (AP) -The Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos are done practicing against each other. Now they have a preseason game to play.
So can there really be any surprises Saturday night after the teams banged against each other during four workouts over two days this week?
``It will be pretty much the same. We're looking at the basics,'' Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. ``We know what they're going to do, they know what we're going to do. We're not going to game plan anything.''
At least the game at Texas Stadium won't be scripted like the practices were.
Most starters are expected to play at least a half Saturday night, more than they did in preseason openers that both teams won.
That means a few extra snaps to watch:
- Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens going against the Broncos cornerback duo of Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly. The last time T.O. went head-to-head in a game against the seven-time Pro Bowler Bailey, Owens had the longest touchdown of his career - a 91-yarder in his final game for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005.
``Nah, I wouldn't say I own him,'' Owens said with a smile. ``It's going to be challenging.''
- Tony Romo and Jay Cutler, the young quarterbacks who became starters in the second half of the 2006 season. Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe in the Cowboys' ninth game and got into the Pro Bowl, while Cutler matched Hall of Famer Dan Marino as the only rookies to throw at least two TDs in each of his first four starts after he replaced Jake Plummer.
- Denver's starting defenders, minus tackle Gerard Warren, continuing to adjust to new coordinator Jim Bates' scheme designed in part to better stop the run. The Broncos still had some problems in their 17-13 preseason-opening victory when San Francisco averaged 4.1 yards per carry.
The Broncos are trying to trade Warren, and if they can't make a deal will likely release the seven-year veteran who got a new seven-year contract before last season. Warren didn't go to San Francisco and wasn't in Texas this week with the team.
- Cowboys offensive tackles Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo, who both sat out the opener while recovering from arthroscopic knee operations.
Wade Phillips' second game as Cowboys coach comes nine days after a 23-10 victory over defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis. It's against the team that gave Phillips his first full-time head coaching job. He went 16-16 with a playoff loss in two seasons with the Broncos before Shanahan replaced him in 1995.
``There wasn't any bitterness after I left,'' Phillips said. ``We had a lot of injuries. We went to the playoffs the first year I was there, and the second year (John) Elway was out the last three games. That kind of hurts a little bit.''
Denver went 8-8 in Shanahan's debut season, then won back-to-back Super Bowl titles after the 1997 and 1998 seasons with Elway.
``It just worked out well for (Shanahan). He's done a great job and is a great coach,'' Phillips said. ``But they went 8-8 the next year. They didn't go to the Super Bowl the next year, so I don't feel bad that all of a sudden I couldn't coach the team at all.''
Phillips was Buffalo's defensive coordinator for three seasons before going 29-19 with two playoff losses in three seasons as Bills head coach.
Phillips was then defensive coordinator in Atlanta and San Diego before Dallas owner Jerry Jones picked Phillips over nine other candidates to coach the five-time Super Bowl champion Cowboys, who haven't won a playoff game in 10 seasons.
Despite practicing together in triple-digit heat, the Cowboys and Broncos said they got plenty of good work. And there weren't even any significant fights among opposing players.
``There have been some intense, good practices. ... It's been very productive,'' Broncos safety John Lynch said.
``It was a good two days of work,'' Owens said. ``It gets a little grueling, kind of thudding up a little bit, but on (Saturday) you get to actually pad it up and really go after it.''
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Bucs' young offensive line gets test vs. Jaguars' stout defense
August 17, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Jacksonville's first-team defense was nearly flawless in the preseason opener, playing two series at Miami, allowing no first downs and forcing two punts.
Now, the Jaguars want more.
``How about two turnovers?'' defensive end Reggie Hayward said. ``Let's get a pair of turnovers. Let's hit someone hard, cause a fumble or get a nice interception and take it back for a touchdown. That's how you improve on going three-and-out twice.''
Hayward and the Jaguars (0-1) would like better results Saturday night against Tampa Bay (1-0). It could happen, considering the Buccaneers' young offensive line.
Jacksonville's defensive front mostly manhandled the Dolphins last weekend. The first- and second-team units allowed 31 yards in the first six series. They forced four punts, a fumble and an interception. Miami finally got things going late in the half and drove for a field goal.
By then, the Jaguars had seen exactly what they had hoped for from a defense that ranked second in the NFL last season.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden knows what to expect from Jacksonville. The teams have played every preseason since Gruden took over in 2002, and the Jaguars have won three in a row.
``Let's be honest. They have physically taken it to us,'' Gruden said. ``Their defense has been more physical than we've been offensively in the last two or three outings. ... This team is at the forefront in football at being physical.''
The Bucs' offensive line features rookie left guard Arron Sears, a second-round draft pick from Tennessee, and two second-year pros, right guard Davin Joseph and right tackle Jeremy Trueblood.
They will be matched against three-time Pro Bowl tackle Marcus Stroud, two-time Pro Bowler John Henderson and speedy ends Bobby McCray and Hayward.
``It's a great test to play those guys,'' Gruden said. ``It's a great amount of fun to prepare for them because they bat balls down, they can reach across the formation. They've got arms that are 70 inches long, it looks like at times.''
Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia and the first-team offense played two series in the opener against New England, and both drives were three-and-outs.
Gruden said Garcia might play a little longer in the second preseason game, but he also would like to see backups Luke McCown, Bruce Gradkowski and Chris Simms.
McCown strengthened his case for the No. 2 spot over Gradkowski by completing all seven passes and producing 10 points against the Patriots.
Simms, fourth on the depth chart after having his spleen removed and missing most of last season, didn't get off the bench.
He's been throwing since December, but is struggling to regain his form and challenge for the starting job he held for much of 2005 and the first three weeks of the 2006 season. Simms also has been hampered by a sore elbow.
Jacksonville also has quarterback issues, but the first two spots are locked down. Starter Byron Leftwich and backup David Garrard were sharp during training camp and in the preseason opener.
The No. 3 spot, though, is up for grabs between incumbent Quinn Gray, former top draft pick Tim Couch and undrafted rookie Lester Ricard. Gray has sat out most of camp with a sprained ankle, and Couch missed practice this week with a sore back.
Del Rio said he might consider keeping just two quarterbacks.
``There are plenty of teams in the league right now that have gone to two quarterbacks,'' Del Rio said. ``We like our guys. We don't think that'll be the case here, but there are other teams that are doing that, taking that approach, so it's something you always consider.''
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Rebuilding by the Bay: Niners host Raiders in annual preseason meeting
August 17, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Darnell Bing spent last season with the Oakland Raiders before joining the 49ers just in time for training camp, so the second-year safety has intimate knowledge of both shores in San Francisco Bay's less-than-fierce NFL rivalry.
And though the 49ers seem significantly ahead of the Raiders in their efforts to regain respectability, Bing actually sees few differences in the training camp approaches of the two teams meeting in Saturday's annual preseason Battle of the Bay.
``The biggest difference is we have fans out here at the practices who get loud and enjoy it,'' Bing said Friday at the 49ers' training complex in Santa Clara. ``They can actually be a part of practice and see our game plan and how we do it.''
San Francisco coach Mike Nolan has stressed communication and a large degree of openness - by NFL standards, anyway - during his three seasons. The 49ers show it in everything from their public camp practices to Nolan's decision to keep his assistant coaches constantly available to reporters, unlike many clubs.
The Raiders don't open their practices in Napa, and Bing - who spent his rookie season on injured reserve - is still waiting to hear why Oakland released him shortly before its first training camp under new coach Lane Kiffin. Bing spent three years at USC while Kiffin was an offensive assistant, yet the defensive back never really got to know him.
``He wasn't a very talkative guy, so it was like, 'Hi and bye,''' Bing said.
Bing got a little more attention from Kiffin during the offseason when he convinced the Raiders to move him back to safety after attempting to use him at linebacker last season. He thought the transition was going fine until he got his pink slip, and now he's hoping to catch on in San Francisco as Michael Lewis' backup.
``I'm just going to go out there and compete,'' he said. ``If you worry about the stuff that goes on off the field, it makes you not focus on what you have to accomplish.''
The annual meeting allows the NFL neighbors to test each other on the field, even if they don't socialize much during the season. Nolan still hasn't met Kiffin, the Raiders' precocious new coach.
So was Nolan ready to run an NFL team at the tender age of 32?
``Thought I was, but no,'' Nolan said. ``He's a better man than I. A better coach, too.''
Kiffin returned to camp this week after missing two days with a viral infection. He has plenty of work to do, particularly in choosing a starting quarterback to run an offense that reached historic depths last season.
Andrew Walter, who struggled along with his teammates last season, gets his turn for a preseason start at Candlestick, to be followed by Daunte Culpepper and Josh McCown. With No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell still unsigned, any of the three quarterbacks in camp could emerge as the starter, and all three were fairly solid in last week's exhibition opener against Arizona.
``I did like the decisions that were made in the red zone by both Josh and Andrew,'' said Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who held the same job in San Francisco under coaches Steve Mariucci and Dennis Erickson.
``Then with Daunte, what I liked seeing was that he overcame some adversity early on. The first snap wasn't great, the second drive wasn't great, but he led us to two fourth-quarter field-goal drives.''
Other offensive positions also need plenty of work. Running back Dominic Rhodes will start, but LaMont Jordan will play as much as possible after missing last week's game with a sore back.
``He needs a lot of work, especially in these next two games,'' Kiffin said of Jordan. ``He needs to see this zone (blocking) system. This is not something he's used to. He's got to see what he can't see in practice, to see ... how the holes open up.''
Nolan's offensive starters will get 24 plays, and he plans to let them work into the second quarter after getting just two series in Monday's 17-13 loss to Denver. The 49ers will remain delicate with their defensive veterans, holding three projected starters out of the lineup with minor injuries: Defensive end Bryant Young, Pro Bowl cornerback Walt Harris and nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin.
The 49ers hope to fill every seat at Candlestick with an influx of Raiders fans, yet that's not always certain in the laid-back Bay Area. In San Francisco's 34-20 regular-season victory over woeful Oakland last October, there still were obvious patches of empty seats.
``I've always been a Niner fan, but I admired the Raiders,'' said new 49ers linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, a Silicon Valley native. ``When I was growing up, there was always a game on in our house, either the Niners or the Raiders. It's not a rivalry like Cal and Stanford, but it's still an important game.''
Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes
Redskins look for points in preseason game against Steelers
August 17, 2007
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -Enough already.
The Washington Redskins have a streak of six preseason games without their first-team offense scoring. No matter how much the games really mean, the starters are tired of putting on their baseball caps for the night with a ``0'' on their side of the scoreboard.
``At this stage,'' receiver Santana Moss said, ``with this offense, with this team, it's almost like now or never.''
The Redskins will try again Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coach Joe Gibbs played most of his offensive starters for an entire half last week against the Tennessee Titans - quite a bit for a first exhibition game - and the plan is to do roughly the same this week.
``Last week, we had parts of our team that looked good, parts that didn't,'' Gibbs said. ``And so you're hoping to improve on the parts that didn't.''
Pittsburgh's approach couldn't be more different. This is the third game for the Steelers - they had an extra one because they played in the Hall of Fame game - and new coach Mike Tomlin has been easing his starters along. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has played only three series, although he lobbied for more last week, and he anticipates getting ``maybe a quarter'' this week.
Roethlisberger's appearance should be more exciting than the preseason norm because the Steelers have been working on the no-huddle offense, which they plan to use as a mid-game change of pace this season. Roethlisberger was in hurry-up mode for both of his series at home against Green Bay last week.
``I'm sure we'll do it again this week on the road,'' Roethlisberger said. ``And it'll be a good test for us.''
Running back Willie Parker, who rushed for 1,494 years last season, will play for the first time this preseason after sitting out the first two games with an inflamed left knee.
A swollen knee has also slowed Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who has been out for more than two weeks. Portis and Rock Cartwright (hamstring) aren't expected to play, leaving Ladell Betts to get the bulk of the carries with the starters.
The Redskins want to see more progress from third-year quarterback Jason Campbell, but the biggest focus will be on a starting offensive line that allowed two sacks last week. Mike Pucillo will get a chance to show that he's the answer at left guard as he replaces Todd Wade, who has struggled in his move from tackle and also has a shoulder injury.
Also, rookie free agent Stephon Heyer is expected to get another start at left tackle despite a nagging hamstring injury. He's been replacing Chris Samuels, out with a sprained knee.
``We want to keep guys off Jason, and we want to get a better average rushing,'' right tackle Jon Jansen said. ``We want to get the ball moving a little bit more. If we do those two things, the ball's going to go into the end zone.''
The Redskins starters last saw the end zone in a preseason game on Aug. 26, 2005, coincidentally against the Steelers. They didn't score in the final exhibition that year and were blanked in all four games last year, as well as in last week's 14-6 win over the Titans, when all the points were scored by backups.
Tomlin summed up the Steelers' attitude toward preseason when he said: ``We have to try to master the things that require no talent'' - referring to intangibles such as playing hard, playing fast and knowing assignments.
The Redskins want those things, too - but with a touchdown or even just a field goal to show for it.
``That's kind of the objective,'' center Casey Rabach said. ``If we move the ball up and down between the 20s, we'd feel pretty good about that, but the ultimate goal is to get in the end zone, and you kind of go home unsatisfied if you can't get in there.''
Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes
Simmons, Kaesviharn come home; Bengals' battered offensive line gets tested
August 17, 2007
CINCINNATI (AP) -Same practice field, same players lined up in striped helmets on the other side of the ball. For two of the New Orleans Saints, it was a bit much.
Linebacker Brian Simmons and safety Kevin Kaesviharn had a few flashback moments this week when the Saints came to town to practice against the Cincinnati Bengals in preparation for their preseason game.
``It was a little weird,'' Kaesviharn said. ``But it was nice to see some old teammates, see how they're doing.''
Simmons and Kaesviharn are still trying to find a niche with their new team as they prepare to play the Bengals on Saturday night. Simmons, who was released, and Kaesviharn, allowed to leave as a free agent, are trying to fit in on a defense that strives to complement a high-powered offense.
Sort of like Cincinnati.
Simmons and Kaesviharn were part of a Bengals defense that ranked last in the league against the pass last season. Coach Marvin Lewis started another overhaul in the offseason, trying to fix the part of the team that keeps dragging it down.
Heading into their second preseason game, there is a new concern.
The Bengals won't be fixated on how their defense stands up during the first quarter Saturday, when Drew Brees will be running one of the NFL's most versatile offenses. They're also going to be watching to see how their injury-depleted offense fares.
Cincinnati had a notable setback when rookie running back Kenny Irons tore a knee ligament in the preseason opener at Detroit, sidelining him for the season. He was placed on injured reserve Friday.
There was more dismaying news when Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson returned from a medical exam in Atlanta wearing a protective boot on his aching right foot. Anderson hasn't practiced during training camp.
``I spent a week in Atlanta and they found out something else than what we thought,'' said Anderson, who declined to go into more detail because of Lewis' ban on players discussing injuries. ``I'm in the healing process now. Hopefully, I'll be ready to start the opener.''
Left tackle Levi Jones has been slowed by his comeback from knee surgery, setting up the possibility that the Bengals might have to open the season without their bookend tackles.
``I'm worried about not having Willie's leadership,'' quarterback Carson Palmer said, after seeing him wearing the boot. ``He doesn't get beat. He doesn't lose.''
On defense, the Bengals will be curious to see how their revamped secondary holds up against New Orleans' versatile attack.
``They've got more than Reggie Bush,'' said rookie safety Chinedum Ndukwe, who has impressed so far in camp. ``They've got lots of other guys who can make big plays, and a Pro Bowl quarterback. It'll be a pretty good test.''
The Saints are a lot more settled, especially on offense, where the biggest uncertainty involves the No. 3 receiver spot. The defense is another matter.
At safety, Kaesviharn is competing for time with Josh Bullocks. The Saints signed Kaesviharn as an unrestricted free agent, giving him a four-year deal that was more than the Bengals were willing to offer.
He's still trying to figure things out.
``You've got to learn a new defense,'' Kaesviharn said. ``You've got to learn new teammates, let them get to know you. Learn the city. So there's a lot of things you've got to learn. I think things are going well.''
Simmons is competing for Mark Simoneau's spot at linebacker. The Bengals released Simmons, who had spent all nine years of his career in Cincinnati, in a money-saving move last February.
No one enjoyed the Saints' visit this week more than Simmons, who spent a lot of time catching up with friends.
``That's the one thing you're always going to keep, your relationship you have with your teammates,'' Simmons said. ``That's something that's always going to be there. Any time you get a chance to see them, you're going to talk and giggle with them.''
Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes
2007 NFL Preseason Notes
SATURDAY'S GAMES 8/18/07
Houston Texans - QB Rotation: Matt Schaub (30 snaps), Sage Rosenfels, Bradlee Van Pelt, rookie Jared Zabransky (4th Q).
QB Matt Schaub will take 30 snaps at Arizona on Saturday and play almost three quarters in the next game against the Cowboys. QB Zabransky is slated to play at least the fourth quarter against the Cardinals.
30-year old RB Ahman Green won't play much. The bulk of the carries likely will be split between Wali Lundy and Samkon Gado, who are battling for the No. 3 job.
Coach Gary Kubiak said Steve McKinney again will start in place of Chester Pitts at left guard against Arizona on Saturday. Pitts, suffering from a lower back injury, will have to get in some makeup work against Dallas and Tampa Bay in the last two preseason games.
The Texans have lost starting strong safety Glenn Earl for the entire 2007 season. Starting free safety C.C. Brown will move to the strong safety spot. Von Hutchins and Jason Simmons will work at free safety, and veteran CB Dexter McCleon will get snaps at safety.
New offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is putting in a plan for more balance to the offense this fall.
Arizona Cardinals - QB Rotation: Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner, Shane Boyd.
The starters are scheduled to play well into the second quarter Saturday, with backup quarterback Kurt Warner taking over for Matt Leinart for a couple of series before the half. Coaches don't want to play Warner behind the second-team offensive line.
The Cardinals won't have a game plan for Houston, but Whisenhunt, who calls the plays, will enter the game with a set number of plays that he wants to make sure to use.
Potential season-ending injuries to two starters have moved first-round draft pick Levi Brown into Arizona's starting lineup and triggered a battle for the outside linebacker job. Offensive right tackle Oliver Ross and outside LB Chike Okeafor were hurt Saturday and both might require surgery. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Brown, the No. 5 pick overall in this year's draft, would move to Ross' spot, with Darryl Blackstock and Calvin Pace competing for Okeafor's job.
Ken Whisenhunt, the 2006 Steelers offensive coordinator, is the new Cardinals head coach. Whisenhunt is going to call plays.
The new coach wants the Cardinals to be more of a run-oriented team.
Detroit Lions - QB Rotation: Jon Kitna, J.T. O'Sullivan, Dan Orlovsky.
The No. 1 offense will play well into the second quarter -- with Jon Kitna at quarterback. Gaining first downs -- the No. 1 offense had three in the exhibition opener -- and controlling the ball is a priority. J.T. O'Sullivan will be the first one to relieve Kitna again. Dan Orlovsky will play the fourth quarter.
QB Drew Stanton (knee) had arthroscopic surgery and is out for the year.
Three starters on the defensive line probably won't play Saturday: Kalimba Edwards (ankle), Dewayne White (groin) and Shaun Rogers (ankle).
Marinelli and defensive coordinator Joe Barry said starting jobs have not been settled. Fernando Bryant and Stanley Wilson have to work to remain the starters.
The Lions are increasing the amount of game-plan preparation for the last two exhibition games, but the emphasis is still on how they perform, not the opponent. Coach Rod Marinelli will spend part of the practice time preparing for the next two opponents -- at Cleveland on Saturday and at Indianapolis on Aug. 25 -- but the focus remains on the Lions executing their own assignments. "It's going to be on us," Marinelli said. "It's how we do our basics. Are we playing our gaps? Are we running our routes? Are we rerouting?"
Cleveland Browns - QB Rotation: Derek Anderson (1st Q), Charlie Frye (2nd Q), Ken Dorsey, rookie Brady Quinn (see below).
Coach Romeo Crennel said he's leaning toward starting Derek Anderson at quarterback. "I've been talking about being as equal as I can in this competition, so I might let Anderson start," he said. Crennel said no clear starter had emerged following Saturday's 16-12 victory over the Chiefs.
Crennel said Anderson and Frye will probably play the first half again and rookie Brady Quinn will see action in the second half. Quinn worked with the first-and second-team offense yesterday while Ken Dorsey ran the scout team. But Crennel would not concede that Quinn has been moved ahead of Dorsey.
Rob Chudzinski is the Browns new offensive coordinator.
Starting left guard Eric Steinbach, the Browns' blockbuster signing of the off-season, fell on his right knee in practice Tuesday and could miss up to two weeks. The line has been in flux with right tackle Ryan Tucker getting suspended the first four games of the season because of steroid use. That bumped rookie Joe Thomas up to the starting job at left tackle and moved Kevin Shaffer from left to right. Backup guard/center Lennie Friedman has worked in Steinbach's place.
Browns DE Orpheus Roye, a 12-year pro, will undergo arthroscopic on his right knee and be lost for the rest of the preseason. It's a blow to their 3-4 defense. While Roye is out, four players will try out in his place: backup NT Shaun Smith, J'Vonne Parker, Simon Fraser and Orien Harris.
Crennel said he expects CB Leigh Bodden to play Saturday against the Lions and their premier receivers Roy Williams, Mike Furrey and rookie Calvin Johnson. If Bodden is idle Saturday, rookie Eric Wright and Daven Holly will probably start.
New Orleans Saints - QB Rotation: Drew Brees (1st Q), Jamie Martin (2nd Q+), Matt Baker (second half) rookie Tyler Palko, Jason Fife (see below).
Sean Payton said most of the starters will play the entire first half Saturday. Drew Brees will call it a night after the first quarter so backup Jamie Martin can work with the first-string offense. Martin will start the second half before turning the game over to Matt Baker. QB Matt Baker will get a chance to audition for the No. 3 QB job when he plays most of the second half. Palko and Fife are not expected to play.
Third game for the Saints, after opening in the Hall of Fame Game (8/5).
Cincinnati Bengals - QB Rotation: Carson Palmer (1st Q), Doug Johnson, rookies Jeff Rowe and Jeff Smith.
Carson Palmer will play more this week against New Orleans than the two series he got in last week.
Second-round draft pick RB Kenny Irons is out for the season with a torn ACL. Irons was expected to provide depth behind Rudi Johnson this year.
Offensive tackle Adam Kieft is expected to play Saturday against the Saints, as are safety John Busing, WRs Tab Perry and Antonio Chatman, CB Johnathan Joseph and rookie LB Earl Everett.
Offensive line changes: Gone are center Rich Braham and left guard Eric Steinbach from 2006. Eric Ghiaciuc takes over at center, while either Stacy Andrews or Andrew Whitworth will play left guard. LT Levi Jones is rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. 12-year right tackle Willie Anderson has not been practicing. The Bengals will benefit more if he doesn't have to take all the rigors of a normal training camp.
Depth on the defensive line is a concern.
Tampa Bay Bucs - QB Rotation: Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Bruce Gradkowski, Chris Simms.
QB Chris Simms (elbow) won't play.
Jeff Garcia's presence has prompted Coach Jon Gruden to consider the shotgun as a legitimate option for his version of the West Coast attack. Gruden is eager to expand his playbook in terms of rollouts and bootlegs to capitalize on Garcia's mobility.
Defensively, the Bucs are considering new packages in an effort to disrupt timing and generate more heat on opposing quarterbacks. Last season, QBs feasted against Tampa Bay's defense, posting a cumulative 91.0 rating.
The Bucs were still tinkering with their defensive-line rotation when camp ended Thursday. The reason is simple. They have yet to figure out a way to generate the kind of pass rush they need to make their defense potent. This is a task that could go on all year.
Gruden has been preaching for an aggressive team. "We've got to be a more physical football team," Gruden said. "That was an area that got away from us a bit last year. This year, I want to see us hit in most every practice. And I want us to hit hard."
Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Rotation: Byron Leftwich (first half), David Garrard (3rd Q), Quinn Gray, Tim Couch, Lester Ricard.
Del Rio said the starters will likely play the entire first half on Saturday against Tampa Bay. So far in the preseason, Byron Leftwich and David Garrard have combined to complete 73.1 percent of their passes while hitting 13 different receivers.
With Quinn Gray (ankle) and Tim Couch (back) missing Wednesday's workout, Byron Leftwich, David Garrard and Lester Ricard took all the repetitions for the Jaguars.
Jacksonville has a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, the former Boise State and Arizona State pass-happy coach.
Jaguars center Brad Meester broke a bone in his right foot and will be sidelined at least eight weeks. Meester has started 108 games for Jacksonville in seven years.
Free agent safety Sammy Knight joined the team this week. Jacksonville replaced starters Deon Grant and Donovin Darius in the offseason. The Jaguars drafted safety Reggie Nelson with the 21st overall pick, and he has played well. Strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh has also been impressive, but the team's backups have mostly struggled.
Pittsburgh Steelers - QB Rotation: Ben Roethlisberger (20 snaps), Charlie Batch, Brian St. Pierre, Bryan Randall.
The first teams will play longer against the Redskins, a normal progression as the Steelers go deeper into the preseason. "Tentatively we're going to play our first groups a lot longer than what we've done at this point," coach Mike Tomlin said. "But, like always, we're going to be prepared to play it by ear. But it's our intention to play guys more in this game."
Coach Mike Tomlin said yesterday Parker will play with the rest of the starters, who are expected to get about 20 snaps against the Redskins.
Mike Tomlin made two more moves this week to his starting lineup: Bryant McFadden replaced veteran incumbent Deshea Townsend at right cornerback, and WR Santonio Holmes moved ahead of Cedrick Wilson at split end. "We're still shopping, if you will," Tomlin said. It's likely McFadden and Holmes will start Saturday.
Third game for the Steelers, after opening in the Hall of Fame Game (8/5).
Outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (groin), the team's No. 1 pick, continued to do light workouts in uniform, but has not participated in any contact drills.
HC Mike Tomlin, the former defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, was hired by the Steelers. He is just their third coach in 38 years.
The Steelers plan to zone block more often this season.
The Steelers will break out their no-huddle offense soon in a preseason game. The Steelers also used it last season in the preseason against the Vikings.
Washington Redskins - QB Rotation: Jason Campbell (first half), Todd Collins (will follow), Mark Brunell, rookie Jordan Palmer.
The starters will play similar to last week, about a half. QB Todd Collins will be the second QB into the game.
RBs thin: RB Clinton Portis missed 2 days of practice with knee tendinitis. RB LaDell Betts (neck) and Derrick Blaylock (ankle) are hurting, so they signed RB Dee Brown this week.
OT Chris Samuels (knee) is out a few more weeks. Journeyman Mike Pucillo will start at LG Saturday in place of injured Todd Wade.
Backup Mark Brunell is coming off shoulder surgery, and the Redskins want him to get plenty of work to make sure he has recovered. That doesn't leave a lot of throws for the other QBs.
San Diego Chargers - QB Rotation: Philip Rivers (first half), Billy Volek, Charlie Whitehurst.
Starters will play the first half Saturday at St. Louis. Said Norv Turner: "Hopefully we'll look a lot more in sync. We need to play with more consistency. We're going to play a half."
RB LaDainian Tomlinson doesn't play in the preseason, so Michael Turner will start.
Norv Turner is the new head coach. He was the 49ers OC last year, and was fired by the Raiders in 2005 after going 9-23 in two seasons.
The Chargers will be without starting WR Eric Parker for as many as six games (toe surgery).
St. Louis Rams - QB Rotation: Marc Bulger, Gus Frerotte, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brock Berlin.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a cracked rib and is a game-time decision.
The Rams plan to use more two-tight end sets this season.
They have a revamped defensive front with Leonard Little at left end; former Detroit Lion James Hall at right end; La'Roi Glover and rookie Adam Carriker at tackle.
In five preseason games since Linehan became head coach in January 2006, the Rams' first offensive unit has yet to score a touchdown.
Denver Broncos - QB Rotation: Jay Cutler, Patrick Ramsey, Preston Parsons.
Patrick Ramsey's extended bench time the past two years is why Broncos coach Mike Shanahan had him play three quarters against the 49ers. More will be expected from Ramsey in the next preseason game, Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Four of Cutler's projected top five receivers - Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Stokley and Rod Smith - are banged up. Rod Smith is coming off hip surgery and out. The Broncos expect the No. 2 WR Brandon Marshall to play, but No. 3 WR Brandon Stokley continues to be bothered by a thigh injury.
Offensive line thin. Left guard Ben Hamilton has missed significant time with a concussion. Left tackle Matt Lepsis has been out with a pulled groin. Right guard Chris Kuper was replaced on the first-team Monday by Montrae Holland.
Lepsis' injury caused the Broncos to move Erik Pears from right tackle to left tackle one day, then back to right tackle the next. Adam Meadows has been playing whatever tackle position is opposite Pears, and Chris Myers has been filling in for Hamilton. Another backup left tackle, rookie Ryan Harris, hurt his back Thursday.
Denver Broncos first-round draft pick Jarvis Moss injured his left knee during 1-on-1 pass-rush drills and is out.
Mike Shanahan fired most of the defensive staff in the offseason, including DC Larry Coyer, and hired Jim Bates, whose M.O. is forcing turnovers by getting pressure on the quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys - QB Rotation: Tony Romo (first half), Brad Johnson, Richard Bartel and Matt Moore.
HC Wade Phillips said he plans to play his starters for the first half on Saturday against the Broncos.
WRs thin. WR Terry Glenn is getting arthoscopic knee surgery and will miss the first 2 preseason games and rookie WR Isaiah Stanback has shin splints.
Look for more blitzing: The Cowboys were a read-and-react defensive scheme under Bill Parcells, but Phillips and new DC Brian Stewart bring in more of an attacking, disruptive philosophy. They also want defensive players to take third-down conversions personally.
Phillips has tweaked the 3-4 defensive scheme, moving strong safety Roy Williams closer to the line of scrimmage and allowing outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware, and when healthy, Greg Ellis to blitz more.
Wade Phillips is the new coach (Chargers' defensive coordinator in 2006).
Seattle Seahawks - QB Rotation: Matt Hasselbeck (2-3 series), Seneca Wallace, David Greene, rookie Derek Devine (see below).
Matt Hasselbeck will start Saturday, but it won't be much more than the one series he got against San Diego. Mike Holmgren said he has to see No. 3 QB David Greene play.
RB Shaun Alexander, fullback Mack Strong, WR Bobby Engram, TE Marcus Pollard and right guard Chris Gray, all front-line players, will see a little more action than they did last week. None, however, will play past the first quarter, said coach Mike Holmgren. Coaches will spend most of the game evaluating backups and rookies.
Injuries and precaution will keep the following players from making the trip: LB Leroy Hill, defensive back Jordan Babineaux, tackles Walter Jones and Sean Locklear, tight ends Will Heller and Leonard Stephens, WR Courtney Taylor and defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs.
Defensive coordinator John Marshall is devising more blitz schemes, involving more players.
The Seahawks are playing without injured tight ends Will Heller and Ben Joppru, and possibly Leonard Stephens, and had only two healthy tight ends available. Facing an injury-depleted roster at tight end, the Seahawks signed TE Andy Stokes.
Green Bay Packers - QB Rotation: Brett Favre (25-30 snaps), Aaron Rodgers, Ingle Martin, rookie Paul Thompson (see below).
Coach Mike McCarthy said he is committed to starting Brett Favre against Seattle and Jacksonville. Favre's performance in those two games will determine how much, if at all, he is used at Tennessee. The plan is for Favre to play 25 to 30 snaps against the Seahawks.
RBs thin. Vernand Morency (knee) will miss the first two preseason games and RB P.J. Pope hurt his knee. Rookie RB DeShawn Wynn (thigh) also will sit out another game with a thigh injury that dates to Aug. 7.
Defensive tackle Justin Harrell is off to a sluggish start. The 16th pick in the 2007 draft is trying to play himself into shape after not having played football since mid-September because of a torn biceps.
Oakland Raiders - QB Rotation: Andrew Walter (1st Q), Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, Jeff Otis, JaMarcus Russell.
QB Andrew Walter will start. If Walter doesn't wow with the first-team offense, don't be surprised if Daunte Culpepper gets a crack next week, after which Kiffin is expected to make a final decision.
Strong safety Donovin Darius injured his left calf and does not know if he'll be able to play Saturday. Featured in the team's 4-2-5 defense, he has gotten some first-team snaps with the regular 4-3 defense this week.
Raiders coach Lane Kiffin was hospitalized Monday with mono. He's back in camp.
"No one of the three has emerged as the clear-cut guy by any means," HC Kiffin said. "We don't need to have a starter right now. We're going to let them play and do the best that we can."
Former USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, 31, is the Raiders new head coach.
San Fran 49ers - QB Rotation: Alex Smith, Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill.
Pro Bowl RB Frank Gore broke a bone in his right hand and might not play in the preseason. That means running backs Michael Robinson, Maurice Hicks and Thomas Clayton will take most of the pounding in camp and throughout much of the preseason.
"We'll just take it a day at a time," Nolan said. "We want Michael and Mo (Hicks), in particular those two players, to get the bulk of the first group's work while Frank is down." HC Mike Nolan said Gore could return as early as the final preseason game at San Diego. Nolan said Robinson could fill in as the third quarterback if an injury occurred.
Starting NT Aubrayo Franklin (knee) will miss the entire preseason. He is the centerpiece of Nolan's three-year scheme to install a true 3-4 defense in San Francisco. Isaac Sopoaga and rookie Joe Cohen will get the first chance to replace Franklin.
Cornerback Walt Harris is still recovering from a mild calf bruise, which is why he did not play in the game against Denver. He might miss another practice day or two, Nolan said. This is giving coaches a chance to look more closely at Shawntae Spencer.