Sunday Football News 10/7

Sunday Football News 10/7

Steelers' Ward out for Week 5
October 5th, 2007

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward has been downgraded to out for this Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ward missed Week 4's loss to Arizona and has not been able to practice this week, because of a right knee injury suffered in a September 23 game against San Francisco.

Cornerback Bryant McFadden (ankle) has also been ruled out for Week 5. Safety Troy Polamalu (abdomen) and defensive tackle Casey Hampton (hamstring) are listed as questionable for the contest.

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Re: Sunday Football News 10/7

Texans' Green game-time decision
October 5th, 2007

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Houston Texans running back Ahman Green is expected to be a game-time decision for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins due to a knee injury.

Green missed last week's game against Atlanta, but was able to practice this week.

"I would say he is still a game time decision, but it was very encouraging," said Houston head coach Gary Kubiak.

If Green is unable to go he will be replaced by backup Ron Dayne, who ran for 62 yards on 15 carries in a 26-16 loss to the Falcons in Week4.

"He (Dayne) looked good," said Kubiak. "(He) had a real good practice yesterday (Thursday), practiced well today (Friday). I'm expecting him to come back and run the football well."

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Safety Darius to miss Dolphins-Texans game
October 6, 2007

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -Miami Dolphins safety Donovin Darius will miss Sunday's game against the Houston Texans with a calf injury.

Cameron Worrell will likely make his first NFL start in Darius' place for the Dolphins, who've endured a spate of injuries at safety so far this year. Yeremiah Bell tore his Achilles' tendon in Week 1 and will miss the rest of the season; Travares Tillman started in Week 2 and is currently sidelined by a knee injury.

If Worrell starts, he'd be the fifth different first-stringer at the position in as many weeks for Miami, following Bell, Tillman, Travis Daniels and Darius.

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GOLDBERG ON FOOTBALL: So many coaching blunders in the NFL last week
October 6, 2007

In what otherwise was a self-serving gripe, Larry Johnson inadvertently made a point two weeks ago about coaching. He claimed the same plays kids draw up in the dirt become rocket science to NFL coaches who work 18 hours a day for seven-figure salaries.

``Football is easy,'' Johnson said. ``It's not a chess game. It's checkers. When they're looking for the run, you pass. When they're looking for the pass, you run. When they put nine in the box, you pass. When they overload one side, you run to the other side.''

Johnson's point was graphically demonstrated last week by several losing coaches.

-Houston's brain trust, led by former NFL quarterback Gary Kubiak, pitched out to Ron Dayne (Ron Dayne?) on third-and inches-at the goal line in last week's loss in Atlanta.

-Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg, the coach and offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, left Winston Justice, a second-year tackle making his first NFL start, on his own against the Giants' Osi Umenyiora. Later, they suggested that ``only'' four of Umenyiora's six sacks were Justice's fault.

-Norv Turner, one of the NFL's best offensive minds, gave the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson only six times in the second half of San Diego's 30-16 loss to Kansas City last week after the NFL's 2006 MVP ran for 116 yards in the first half and the Chargers led 16-6.

-Minnesota's Brad Childress did the same with rookie star Adrian Peterson, who carried 12 times for 112 yards in the first half against Green Bay, then got the ball only twice after intermission.

How about some more specifics on last week's coaching foibles, starting with two games that pitted teams against coaches who worked for them as recently as a year ago and now work for their opponent?

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and top assistant Russ Grimm both were longtime Pittsburgh assistants and both were finalists for the job that went to Mike Tomlin.

So the Steelers, who were averaging almost 200 yards rushing per game, were held to 77 yards, 26 on scrambles by Ben Roethlisberger, last Sunday at Arizona. Willie Parker had 19 carries for 37 yards; take away one 20-yard run and he averaged less than a yard a carry.

``I think coach Whis knew some of the weak points of our offense,'' Pittsburgh wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. ``He was sending guys left and right, bringing pressure as much as he could to try to disrupt our offense. They did a pretty good job of it.''

Add in the grudge factor and ... Arizona 21, Pittsburgh 14.

In the night game at the Meadowlands, some more inside information was helpful.

Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants' defensive coordinator, was the linebackers' coach of the Eagles from 1999-2006 and was hired specifically to bring the aggressive schemes used by Jim Johnson up the New Jersey Turnpike. It didn't work for two games in which New York surrendered 80 points.

But it sure worked against the Eagles, who should have been prepared.

Still, it begs the question why Justice, a second-round pick last year who was inactive for all 16 games as a rookie, wasn't given a tight end or fullback to block Umenyiora. When in form, Umenyiora is one of the NFL's most dangerous pass rushers.

The ``help'' instead went to Jon Runyan against 35-year-old Michael Strahan, a strange choice given Runyan's experience combined with Strahan's age and rust after holding out for almost all of the preseason.

Even Strahan, who had one of the Giants' 12 sacks, saw the problem.

``That poor kid that they had over there,'' Strahan said of Justice, filling in for the injured William Thomas. ``Why didn't they help him? I felt, in an odd way, you could ruin the guy. It's his first start and that's what he gets. It's not a good thing.''

Reid later conceded, ``I could've done a better job there, with that part, giving him help.''

New York 16, Philadelphia 3.

Out in San Diego, after averaging 2.3 yards per carry in three games, Tomlinson finally broke out in the first half against the Chiefs, a team with about half the talent of the Chargers. In the second half, he disappeared as Kansas City outscored the Chargers 24-0.

That's because Turner depended on Philip Rivers, who hasn't been very dependable this season. He finished 21-of-42 for 211 yards with two interceptions and a fumble that led to 17 points. His passer rating was 44.8.

In Minnesota, Childress and the Vikings seem to be caught up in the ``don't make the rookie's head too big'' syndrome. So Peterson is not even Minnesota's nominal starter at running back, Chester Taylor is.

``I'm not so keen on that as him being a good teammate and contributing whatever way he can, like in those kickoff returns, because that can take its toll, too,'' Childress said. ``We're going to continue to change those guys up and put those fresh legs in there from time to time, whether it is Chester's fresh legs or whether it's Adrian's fresh legs.''

Sorry, Brad, but that's just plain dumb on a team that's deficient at quarterback and receiver and has a stud like Peterson.

For Houston, the dumb call probably didn't cost the Texans the game, because Houston was trailing Atlanta 26-16 with just over two minutes left. Still, the Texans could have closed to 26-23, and who knows what might have happened. Instead, on a third-and-goal from less than a yard away, Kubiak decided to pitch to Dayne, the ball clanked off his hands and went out of bounds at the 7. Then the Texans missed a field goal.

Anyone who's seen Dayne much knows he has bad hands, making him a risk on pitchouts. Anyone who's seen Dayne much knows that he's not a great short-yardage runner despite his 250 pounds. He's best off-tackle, but he's not good when you need a couple of feet. Quarterback sneak or pass or give it to anyone but Dayne.

It doesn't take a seven-figure coach to know what works. Larry Johnson can figure it out. So can the average fan.

Keep it simple stupid.


The top six and bottom six teams based on current level of play:

1. New England (4-0). Might have trouble at Dallas or Indy. Anywhere else?

2. Indianapolis (4-0). Give Bill Polian credit. He finds no-names to replace injured names.

3. Dallas (4-0). Give Jerry Jones credit. He signed Ryan Leaf and Drew Henson, but also stuck with Tony Romo.

4. Green Bay (4-0). Give Ted Thompson credit for drafting well enough to give Brett Favre a supporting cast.

5. Tennessee (2-1). Jeff Fisher is one of the NFL's underappreciated coaches.

6. Pittsburgh (3-1). Ran into a couple of angry alumni in Arizona.

27. San Diego (1-3). Blame Dean Spanos and A.J. Smith. At least Marty Schottenheimer can win in the regular season.

28. Chicago (1-3). Everyone blames the QBs. What about trading Thomas Jones and keeping Cedric Benson?

29. Atlanta (1-3). Joey Harrington plays pretty well sometimes. Not always.

30. New Orleans (0-3). Maybe a week off will revive them.

31. St. Louis (0-4). Injuries are one problem. But too few real players are another.

32. Miami (0-4). Has anyone suggested that Wayne Huizenga hasn't done a very good job at the crucial owner position?

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Redskins receiver Moss listed as doubtful
October 5, 2007

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss didn't practice Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against Detroit.

Moss hurt his groin in the final quarter of a loss to the New York Giants two weeks ago and has not practiced since. The Redskins were off last week.

If Moss doesn't play, the Redskins will have only one active wide receiver - Antwaan Randle El - who has caught a pass this season. Moss has 12 catches for 199 yards, while Randle El has 11 receptions for 238 yards.

Assistant coach Al Saunders said earlier this week that James Thrash would start if Moss can't suit up. The Redskins also signed veteran Keenan McCardell this week to add depth at the position.

Fullback Mike Sellers was limited in practice with a heel injury, but he is listed as probable. Running back Clinton Portis (knee), cornerback Fred Smoot (hamstring), safety Sean Taylor (knee) and receiver Brandon Lloyd (shin) all practiced and are listed as probable.

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Jets S Erik Coleman doubtful vs. Giants with concussion
October 5, 2007

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Jets starting safety Erik Coleman is doubtful for New York's game against the Giants on Sunday because of a concussion.

Coleman was injured during the Jets' 17-14 loss at Buffalo last Sunday, but didn't show symptoms of a concussion until after the game. He missed practice all week and was listed as doubtful, but not out, on the team's injury report Friday.

``It's something we're monitoring very closely,'' coach Eric Mangini said. ``We'll just gauge it each day. He's going through the normal preparation routine in terms of meetings, film work, that type of thing, like any injured player would or any player that's rehabbing would.''

Coleman, who wasn't in the locker room during media availability all week, started the Jets' first four games and leads the team with 35 tackles. Eric Smith would likely get the start if Coleman can't play, with Rashad Washington and Abram Elam filling in.

``I've really liked what I've seen from him since he got here and his approach,'' Mangini said of Smith. ``He's a very tough player. He has a nice combination of size and the ability to play in the deep part of the field.''

Smith, a third-round pick out of Michigan State last year, was pushing Coleman for the starting spot before injuring his right hamstring a few days before the preseason opener against Atlanta in August.

``That was real frustrating, sitting there watching practice,'' Smith said. ``In preseason games, I'm watching everybody getting on the bus to go to games and I'm still here getting treatment and doing all that stuff. Then, not being at the game and watching it on TV, that was probably the most frustrating thing of all.''

Smith said he's seen a bit more action with the first team this week in Coleman's absence.

``We kind of split the reps up anyhow,'' Smith said. ``We try to get everybody reps because you never know what's going to happen during the course of game, so we try to get everybody prepared.''

Smith had 16 tackles and two interceptions last season, working mostly in nickel and dime packages as well as special teams.

``Eric is a pretty stout guy and has done some really good things,'' defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. ``I know when we were looking at him in college, one of the things that was impressive was that he was a very good tackler.''

Smith, who has four tackles and a pass defensed, would give the Jets a bigger presence in the secondary against the Giants, who have a number of tall receivers. Smith is 6-foot-1, while Coleman is 5-10.

``We have a lot of confidence in Eric,'' Sutton said. ``He played a lot for us last year as a rookie. He's a guy that has really good range as a player, is a physical guy and does a really good job on (special) teams. He just has to get in there and play.''

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Bills WR Price likely to miss season
October 5, 2007

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -Buffalo Bills receiver Peerless Price's season is likely over after he was scheduled to have surgery Friday to repair a disc in his neck.

Coach Dick Jauron said the team will place Price on injured reserve, making him the eighth Bills player - and fourth starter - on the season-ending list five weeks into the campaign.

The announcement came as a surprise, because Price had not missed practice until Friday. He was noticeably stiff - unable to turn his neck - when he spoke to reporters at his locker Wednesday.

Jauron said the severity of the injury was revealed after tests Thursday.

He said he believed the neck problem developed over the course of Price's career and was not the result of a particular hit. In four starts this season, the nine-year NFL veteran had seven catches for 68 yards.

The team must make a roster move by Monday afternoon, when they're expected to activate defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who has completed a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

The Bills (1-3) are preparing to host the Dallas Cowboys (4-0) on Monday night.

Price's injury means the Bills will rely more on slot receivers Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed to take the focus off starter Lee Evans.

Buffalo's offense has lacked chemistry this season, with rookie Trent Edwards producing the team's first touchdown pass of the season - a 1-yarder to tight end Michael Gaines - in last weekend's 17-14 win over the New York Jets.

Edwards' 234 yards passing against the Jets was a season-high after the Bills combined for 352 yards in their first three games.

The third-round draft pick will make his second straight start Monday, filling in for J.P. Losman, who sprained his left knee.

The Bills did have some good news Friday. Jauron said linebacker Keith Ellison has recovered from a high ankle sprain and is expected to play Monday. Ellison, who won a starting job in training camp, has been out since he was hurt Aug. 30 during Buffalo's preseason finale.

Price is in his second season back with the Bills, who initially selected him in the second round of the 1998 draft out of Tennessee. Price spent his first four years with Buffalo and enjoyed his best career season in 2002, when he had 94 catches for 1,252 yards and nine touchdowns playing alongside Eric Moulds.

Unable to meet his contract demands, the Bills traded Price to Atlanta the following year, but the receiver did not duplicate his production.

The Falcons released him before the 2005 season, and he played seven games with Dallas before re-signing with the Bills last year.

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Texans' Mathis likely to miss rest of the season
chron.com

The Texans finally have pinpointed what is wrong with Jerome Mathis' left leg, and it's enough to likely sideline him for the rest of the season.

After almost two days of testing, team doctors found a ''hot spot'' in the lower part of his leg, which is causing excruciating pain for Mathis during and after running. The Texans are expected to place Mathis, 24, on injured reserve and sign wide receiver Harry Williams off the practice squad for the game against Miami on Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

''He has a stress-related issue in his lower leg,'' coach Gary Kubiak said Friday. ''Our issue right now is trying to make a decision of how long it's going to be before he can get back on the field. As you all know, we have tough, tough situations going on at wide receiver with a couple of other guys out. So now this is three."

The Texans are awaiting the return of Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones. Johnson (knee sprain) migtht miss two more starts. Jones (separated shoulder) likely will miss at least one more.

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Eagles deny rumors that Reid is resigning
phillyBurbs.com

While rumors about his future floated around town yesterday, Eagles head coach Andy Reid remained just that — the Eagles' head coach.

Speculation the last couple days on several local and national web sites, TV networks, radio stations and blogs has been that Reid, whose team is in last place and whose sons are embroiled in legal problems, may resign in the next couple days, while the Eagles take time off on their bye week.

The speculation took on a life of its own yesterday, with several news outlets speculating that a press conference could come today at which Reid would announce he's leaving the club.

However, Eagles public relations director Derek Boyko said last night the rumors are just that — rumors.

“Nothing to it,” he said. “Andy is preparing for the Jets, and it's just like any other week. I have no idea how this got so out of control. If there's a press conference, I'm not going to be there.”

The Eagles are 1-3 overall and 0-2 within the NFC East after a nationally televised 16-3 loss to the Giants Sunday night at the Meadowlands.

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Rams:  Bennett to start in place of Bruce

Rams wide receiver Drew Bennett will start on Sunday against the Cardinals in place of Isaac Bruce, who is out due to a hamstring injury, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Colts:  Harrison questionable


Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison missed a third straight practice on Friday and is questionable for Week 5's game against the Buccaneers, the Indianapolis Star reports. He is dealing with a bruised left knee.

Colts:  Addai to be game-time decision

Colts running back Joseph Addai missed a third straight day of practice on Friday and will be a game-time decision on Sunday, the Indianapolis Star reports. Addai is dealing with a bruised chest. Kenton Keith stands to start if Addai sits.

Jets:  Concussion may sideline Coleman

Jets safety Erik Coleman is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Giants due to a concussion. He suffered the injury in Week 4. "We take concussions extremely seriously," head coach Eric Mangini tells the New York Daily News. Eric Smith could start in place of Coleman.

Patriots:  Nothing new on Maroney

Laurence Maroney remains questionable on the Patriots Week 5 injury report with the same groin injury that kept him out of action a week ago. Maroney once again declined to talk to reporters about his injury, reports the Boston Herald.

Cardinals:  Boldin remains doubtful

Despite making "significant progress the last two days," coach Ken Whisenhunt told the East Valley Tribune that Anquan Boldin remains doubtful for Week 5.

Chargers:  Davis a game-time decision

If things weren't bad enough for the Chargers at 1-3, rookie wideout Craig Davis may miss Sunday's game with a sprained ankle. Davis is listed as questionable on the injury report, and Chargers coach, Norv Turner said he would be a game-time decision.

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St. Louis Rams sign ex-Cardinals center Nick Leckey to add depth to battered offensive line
October 6, 2007

ST. LOUIS (AP) -The St. Louis Rams added depth to their battered offensive line, signing center Nick Leckey on Saturday.
   
Leckey had been with the Arizona Cardinals, the Rams' opponent Sunday, since he was drafted in the sixth round in 2004. He played the first two games of this season and appeared in 44 games with Arizona, including 20 starts, before being released on Sept. 19.

Leckey made 11 starts last season.

The Rams cleared roster space by releasing defensive tackle Louis Leonard.

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Patriots release tight end Rivers
October 6, 2007

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -The New England Patriots released tight end Marcellus Rivers after safety Rodney Harrison's roster exemption was lifted.

Rivers signed Wednesday when tight end David Thomas was placed on injured reserve.

Rivers has played with the New York Giants and Houston Texans in five NFL seasons, most recently with the Texans in 2005.

Harrison was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, reportedly by using human growth hormone. He has played in 168 games for the San Diego Chargers and Patriots.

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Re: Sunday Football News 10/7

Where the action is: Sunday’s NFL line moves
COVERS.com

New York Jets at New York Giants: -3 to -3 ½

The Giants recovered from losing their first two games with wins over Philadelphia and Washington. There have been no signs of a similar turnaround with the Jets, and oddsmakers are expecting their struggles to continue.

“It looks like this has been down around 3 or 3 ½ all week, but we expect to see some movement on this closer to game time,” says Pete Korner, founder of the Sports Club in Las Vegas.

“There’s no home field advantage because they both play at Giants Stadium, so this line is based on how both teams are performing. On that front, it has certainly been the Giants so far this season.”

The Jets are coming off a 17-14 loss to previously winless Buffalo, while the Giants put together a convincing 16-3 win over Philadelphia.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos: - 1 ½ to 0

Denver running back Travis Henry suffered a knee injury in last week’s loss to Indianapolis and doubts regarding his fitness have had a big impact on this line.

“This has been a tough game to gauge. We originally went with -1 ½, but it quickly went back down to pick,” says Korner.

“We think the movement was caused by the news earlier this week that Travis Henry is doubtful because of a knee injury. Although it looks like he will play, he is unlikely to be 100 percent, and bettors are taking that into account.”

Henry rushed for 131 yards on 26 attempts against the Colts and leads the league with 433 yards on the ground. The Broncos are winless in two games and have not covered the spread in four outings this season.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints: -3 to -3 ½

This is already a crunch game for the 0-3 Saints.  They may have already gotten a break with the news that Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme is unlikely to play.

“This is a do-or-die game for New Orleans after a poor start to the season,” says Korner. “Although the line has held pretty steady so far, we expect to see a lot of movement before kickoff.

“So far it has been driven by the fact that Jake Delhomme is doubtful. If he is ruled out, we expect a lot of money on the Saints.”

Delhomme could be replaced by backup David Carr, who completed just 19-of-41 passes in his first start during last week’s 20-7 loss against Tampa Bay.

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