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Thursday NFL News and Notes

Re: Thursday NFL News and Notes

K.C. Chiefs -   QB Rotation:  Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Casey Printers, rookie Jeff Terrell.

Damon Huard, who is nursing a sore calf, went through a full workout with his teammates Monday. But he still isn.5?t sure whether he'll play in the preseason finale at St. Louis. Herm Edwards has named Huard the starting quarterback over Brodie Croyle.

RB Larry Johnson said he intends to play in Thursday's preseason finale against St. Louis. The more likely scenario, coach Herm Edwards hinted, is that Johnson will only be in for a few series.

Edwards wants to see plenty of QB Brodie Croyle. "Brodie's going to get more snaps in the preseason," Edwards said. "Because he's a young quarterback, and Damon's a veteran. He doesn't need as many snaps."

Cornerback depth a concern. Veteran starters Ty Law and Patrick Surtain are fine, but the pickings are slim after that.

St. Louis Rams - QB Rotation: Marc Bulger, Gus Frerotte, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brock Berlin.

Many of the starters expected to sit out the exhibition finale against Kansas City. The starting offense has yet to score a touchdown in the preseason.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a cracked rib and is unlikely to play. Brock Berlin gets another opportunity to impress the bosses.

RB Brian Leonard got in "just a couple of plays" at fullback vs. the Raiders. Leonard, who bruised both hands in the game, skipped contact drills Sunday. RB Steven Jackson has suited up, taken the field for the opening series, and then exited after one play in each of the past two exhibition games.

The Rams plan to use more two-tight end sets this season.

WR Torry Holt admits he isn't completely healthy. Holt had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. Six months later, he says the joint is "about 70, 80 percent."

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.

Pittsburgh Steelers - QB Rotation: Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Brian St. Pierre, Bryan Randall.

Mike Tomlin will stick with the same starting lineup as the one that opened Sunday's game against Philadelphia. That means the offensive line with Willie Colon at right tackle and Sean Mahan at center and the secondary with Deshea Townsend at cornerback and Ryan Clark at free safety.

WR Hines Ward has a broken nose and is likely out. Tight ends Heath Miller (shoulder) and Jerame Tuman (back) are hurting.

Fifth game for the Steelers, after opening in the Hall of Fame Game (8/5).

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.

Carolina Panthers - QB Rotation: Jake Delhomme, Dalton Bell, David Carr (see below).

Undrafted rookie QB Dalton Bell from West Texas A&M will likely get most of the snaps Thursday. Bell has had a lot more work the past two practices as the Panthers have lost Brett Basanez (wrist) for the season. Bell's quarterback coach last year at West Texas A&M was Ryan Leaf.

QB Brett Basanez suffered ligament damage in his right wrist and will sit out the season. Backup QB David Carr is playing with a broken small toe on his right foot.

The Panthers are using zone-blocking schemes this season, a dramatic change for a system that's been built around a power-running style.

Offensive line shuffling. Fox has been saying since the start of camp he wanted to experiment with different combinations. Former second-teamer Geoff Hangartner slid into the first team at right guard, with Justin Hartwig moving back to center. Right tackle Jordan Gross, left guard Mike Wahle and left tackle Travelle Wharton stayed in the spots they've been in most of camp. But it's clear the Panthers haven't made any long-term decisions at center and right guard.

They opened camp with Jeremy Bridges working with the first team at right guard and Hartwig at center, but Bridges has been suspended for the first two games of the season. They put rookie Ryan Kalil at center and shifted Hartwig to right guard.

They have a new offensive coordinator in Jeff Davidson, who is revamping the Carolina offense from a year ago, when it was run by Dan Henning.

Miami Dolphins - QB Rotation: Trent Green, Cleo Lemon, rookie John Beck, Gibran Hamdan.

Although Cameron said last week he won't use any starters in the final preseason game against the Saints, he said there's a chance some could get in the game. Just don't expect any of them to be players like QB Trent Green or defensive end Jason Taylor.

Instead, the playing time could be reserved for guys who still are fighting for first-team jobs. "If any, very few will play," Cam Cameron said. "What we're going to do Thursday is predicated on how we practice Wednesday. We're still an improving team, and if we go out and shut it down for two days, there'll be a lot more guys playing Thursday night than we would anticipate."

They have a revamped offensive line.

Cam Cameron is the Dolphins new head coach, after being offensive coordinator of the Chargers in 2006.

Dolphins outside linebacker Joey Porter underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. He should miss all the preseason.

New Orleans Saints - QB Rotation: Drew Brees, Jamie Martin, Matt Baker, rookie Tyler Palko, Jason Fife (see below).

Drew Brees won't play. Sean Payton said it's likely he'll keep other front-line players on the sideline as well. "I'm probably going to start Jamie Martin and give him a good half's worth of work, and go with Tyler Palko in the second half," Payton said. "There's a good chance I'll sit a number of guys."

Fifth game for the Saints, after opening in the Hall of Fame Game (8/5).

WRs thin: Saints WR Marques Colston (sore right knee) has missed two straight games and Devery Henderson (hamstring) is ailing.

First round pick WR Robert Meachem appears tentative. His progress during camp has been slow. Meachem has gotten his share of first-team reps, but he can't seem to make a breakthrough. When Devery Henderson and David Patten were out with injuries at the beginning of last week, Moore was running with the first group. Don't look for much from Meachem this season.

Arizona Cardinals - QB Rotation: Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner, Shane Boyd, Lang Campbell.

Ken Whisenhunt revealed said that the three biggest jobs up for grabs have been awarded: free-agent signee Roderick Hood will start at one corner opposite Eric Green; Calvin Pace will start as the strong side outside LB in place of injured Chike Okeafor; and another free-agent signee, Terrence Holt, will start at deep safety alongside Pro Bowl strong safety Adrian Wilson.

None of the decisions really came as a surprise. CB Antrel Rolle, the former first-round draft pick, has looked lackadaisical a little too often and his play have not impressed the new coaching staff.

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 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.

After an impressive performance in the first preseason game, the Cardinals defense has yielded more than 400 yards and 30 points combined in the first halves of the past two preseason games.

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.

Denver Broncos - QB Rotation: Jay Cutler, Patrick Ramsey, Preston Parsons.

The first team is not expected to play in the preseason finale.

RBs thin: RB Travis Henry has a sprained left knee and backup RB Mike Bell strained his left hip. Henry was able to walk without help to the locker room, and the MRI revealed he should return before Bell. Tests on Bell's hip delivered news he will be out two weeks, the rest of the preseason. Denver signed tailback Cedric Cobbs last week.

The Broncos have proved to be a running machine regardless of whether Chris Myers or Ben Hamilton is at left guard, Erik Pears or Chad Mustard is at right tackle, or Travis Henry or Selvin Young is at tailback.

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 by Montrae Holland.

Starting LB Ebenezer Ekuban suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is out for the season. That means more work for first-round draft pick Jarvis Moss.

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.

San Fran 49ers - QB Rotation: Alex Smith (12 snaps), Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill (see below).

Mike Nolan said his first units will play "12 snaps or the first quarter, whichever comes first."

Pro Bowl RB Frank Gore (broken right hand) will not play.

That has meant running backs Michael Robinson, Maurice Hicks and Thomas Clayton have carried the load throughout the preseason.

RTs Kwame Harris and rookie Joe Staley will rotate every second series once again as the 49ers Thursday in San Diego.

The 49ers haven't sacked a starting quarterback this summer, and against the Bears the pass coverage was horrendous.

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.

The first-team defense, still playing without starting nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin and left end Bryant Young, surrendered all 31 points in the first half last week.

San Diego Chargers - QB Rotation: Philip Rivers (10 plays), Billy Volek (one quarter), Charlie Whitehurst (see below).

The starters will be in for about 10 plays. QB Billy Volek again will follow Philip Rivers at quarterback, but only for about a quarter, leaving the rest of the game to Charlie Whitehurst.

RBs thin: LaDainian Tomlinson will not play in Thursday's exhibition finale. Michael Turner would have carried a few times but now will not play. Turner suffered a high ankle sprain Saturday, though they injury was not major.

Norv Turner is the new head coach. He was the 49ers OC last year.

The Chargers will be without starting WR Eric Parker for as many as six games (toe surgery).

Oakland Raiders - QB Rotation: Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, Andrew Walter, JaMarcus Russell (see below).

QBs Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper will continue to split reps with the Raiders' first offense in practice. Both will also share time in Thursday's preseason finale, with McCown starting and Culpepper coming in as his backup. The rest of the starters will play about one series.

"It's become a two-man race," HC Lane Kiffin said. "We'll let both guys play in this game. I don't have the exact reps (but) we'll play it by ear. We're still going to evaluate the two of them for the starting job."

The Raiders traded for Broncos defensive tackle Gerard Warren on last week.

Former USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, 31, is the Raiders new head coach.

Seattle Seahawks - QB Rotation: Matt Hasselbeck, Seneca Wallace, David Greene, rookie Derek Devine.

The starters should play just one series. The starting lineups on offense and defense are set for the Seahawks, so the emphasis in the last two exhibition games is determining who will round out the depth chart on the 53-man regular-season roster.

"We have some very competitive battles for the depth positions on the team, and in games three and four [of exhibition play] it's absolutely essential that we allow those young guys to play, to allow them to try and make the team," coach Mike Holmgren said last week. "That's my number one thing in games three and four."

Defensive coordinator John Marshall is devising more blitz schemes, involving more players.

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