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Thursday NFL News and Notes

Thursday NFL News and Notes

Thursday's NFL Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

While we’re not going to put all of our eggs into one basket in betting preseason football (at least that’s the approach this writer is taking), Thursday should conjure up some warm feelings of a new NFL season on the cusp of taking flight.

A five-game card is on the docket and this means your choice of betting sides, spreads and/or totals should be abundant. Will some or all of these contests resemble what came to fruition during the Hall of Fame Game in the sense of going ‘over’ the total and Washington covering the spread six-point spread? Only time will tell.

N.Y. Giants at Detroit – 7:00 p.m. EDT

As my colleague Chris David was discussing in the office the other day, the ‘over’ can be a huge bread winner based on the condition of teams’ secondary squads. When we say condition, we’re talking more about the second and third squads behind the starters. How will these players perform against a possible pass dominant play book in any given contest? But, in some cases, we need to know our depth charts if we want a chance at shooting for the financial stars during the preseason.

The Giants’ secondary became a surprise story during the run to a Super Bowl victory last season. With cornerbacks Sam Madison, Aaron Ross and veteran safety Sammy Knight helping to lead the charge, Big Blue registered a sufficating 207.3 YPG allowed through the air. What’s impressive about ranking No. 11 in the league in passing defense? Well, it was only in 2006 that New York was ranked 28th worst by allowing an unfathomable 228.1 YPG through the air.

What’s more important when wagering on this Thursday contest is that the Giants look to have some depth in the secondary with rookie full safety Kenny Phillips, cornerbacks R.W. McQuarters, Corey Webster and Kevin Dockery all expected to receive sizable playing time as the game progresses. With the exception of Phillips, all of these players mentioned have NFL experience on their side.

Detroit finds itself attempting to improve on last season’s abomination of allowing a second worst 258.2 YPG through the air, while allowing a league worst 27.8 PPG when opponents' quarterbacks found the end zone. While adding CBs Leigh Bodden, Brian Kelly and free safety Dwight Smith are considered improvements in the secondary, who’s going to play behind the starting core?

What could be more of a factor then the secondary resides in the pass rush. Defensive end Dewayne White returns from a decent ’07 season, but the lack of additions to the ‘D’ line has the Lions heading in the same direction, no where.

With the Stanley Wilson’s and troubled Kalvin Pearson’s of the world waiting to receive playing time (in Pearson’s case, legal troubles may derail those plans), Detroit is expected to continue floundering.

Since 2002, the Lions have surrendered an average of 20 PPG, while struggling to keep its head above water by finding the end zone for 16.7 PPG in preseason play. The Giants have had a closer point difference of +0.2, scoring 18.7 PPG and allowing 18.5 PPG during the same six-year period (all in preseason play).

New York is 4-1 on the ‘under’ in its last five preseason road games, while Detroit is 4-2 on the ‘under’ in its last six preseason home games.

The home ‘dog is 5-2 ATS in the last seven Thursday contests.

Before we move onto the next featured game in this tip sheet be aware that the Lions continue juggling around the ideas of penciling QB Dan Orlovsky into the No. 2 spot (at least during the preseason). As for the Giants, veteran first round draft pick David Carr and 32-year old Anthony Wright are sure to share playing time early on. But latest reports indicate that the G-men would rather insert Carr into the lineup if Manning was to suffer an unexpected injury during the regular season. has installed Detroit as a three-point home favorite, with a total sitting at 33 points.

New Orleans at Arizona – 8:00 p.m. EDT on ESPN

While the following trend is too generic for handicapping any individual game its worth noting for the purpose of playing totals: the entire league has gone 52-38-1 on the ‘over’ in the last eight years.

For starters, the Cardinals are 5-2 ATS in the last seven Game One’s and are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 first home games during the preseason. Complimenting these trends is the Saints 1-6 SU and ATS record in their last seven preseason Game One’s and a 4-1 record on the ‘under’ in their last five preseason Game One’s.

With Arizona installed as a small two-point home favorite by most book, it should be noted that the club is 17-10 ATS in its last 27 preseason contests. The ‘over’ has been a successful wager with the Cards going 5-1 in the last six preseason games.     

And then we run into a huge 28-18 ATS record in the last 46 preseason games when the Saints are listed as ‘dogs. The most recent trend which could cause for deeper investigation is New Orleans 1-6 ATS in its last seven preseason Game One’s. has set the total of Thursday’s contest at 36 and in Marc Lawrence’s latest “Playbook”, a trend of 5-1 on the ‘over’ in the last six games when the total is set at that exact number (36) could conjure up some total betting interest. However, a 16-15 record on the ‘over’ with a total of 36 points set with the home team favored isn’t the most stabile of trends.

While this preview has focused more on preseason trends in both the ATS and totals department the depth chart is sure to play a major role in this evening contest.

New Orleans is expected to sit out starters Marques Colston (WR), newly acquired Jeremy Shockey (TE) Devery Henderson (WR) and injury plagued running back Deuce McAllister. Anticipate second and third tier players (especially on offense) to receive major playing time right off the bat. In-fact the latest report coming out of Saints’ training camp is that at least nine regular starters will be taking a seat on the bench without pads.

The Cardinals could be looking at a leg up on their opponents in the QB position. With slinger Matt Leinart looking to take limited snaps, expect veteran Kurt Warner to finish at least the first-half of the game. Remember that Warner finished ’07 with an 89.8 QB rating, throwing for 3,417 yard with 27 TDs.

Stay tuned for continued coverage of preseason action heading our way this weekend.

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Re: Thursday NFL News and Notes

Get in the Game
By Paul Bovi

The preseason schedule is in full swing and while the majority of pro football gamblers will sit on the sidelines until the Sept. 4 battle between the Giants and Saints, other serious players are already wagering – and winning too.

Squares, as unsophisticated bettors are often referred to, are the bookmakers version of Steve Urkel, only with a fat wallet that is ripe for the pickings.

Known to shy away from football’s version of the grapefruit league, they interpret the practice aspect of the games as a risky wagering proposition.

Astute bettors, or ‘sharps’ as they’re known, understand that the preseason presents distinct advantages over the regular season when it comes to turning a profit, in large part due to the coaches overall attitude to balancing winning versus entering the regular season void of any serious injuries.

There are exceptions to every rule. During the nineties, Vikings head coach Dennis Green was notorious for placing a heavy emphasis on winning, while Super Bowl coaches Marv Levy and Jimmy Johnson were known to ‘mail it in’ during the preseason.

Sharps are able to exploit the coaching dynamics of the preseason to their advantage by understanding the factors that play essential roles in determining the outcome of these contests.

More importantly, sharp bettors study the depth chart, particularly at the quarterback position. Third and fourth-stringers routinely see action and a lot of it too, mainly because most coaches are overly protective of their main signal caller for regular season action.

The Saints enter the preseason with the immobile Mark Brunell backing up QB Drew Brees, followed by former Pittsburgh Panther Tyler Palko and undrafted Montana State product Travis Lulay, who managed a season on the bench with the Seahawks.

Coach Sean Peyton has compiled a mediocre preseason record of 4-5 in his first two seasons as Saints head coach, and it stands to reason that he will not be overly exposing his All Pro signal caller.

Considering Brees has sustained two devastating injuries during meaningless contests, the first a torn Labrum in his throwing shoulder as he dove for a fumble in a the season finale versus Broncos in 2005, and the second a dislocated elbow in the second series of the 2006 Pro Bowl. Figure owner Tom Benson not to do much boogeying this preseason, at least not on the strength of Brees’ performance.

The Browns are another squad that merit special consideration here as head coach Romeo Cornell is carrying only a trio of QBs into the season, his third stringer being journeyman, Ken Dorsey, who serves as understudy to Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, both of whom promise to wage a spirited battle for the starting call on opening day.

Dorsey’s numbers have been less than stellar since he entered the league in 2001, but due to his experience rates a clear advantage over Erik Ainge, Brett Ratliff, Anthony Wright, and Andre Woodson, third and fourth string quarterbacks for the opposing Jets and Giants teams that the Browns face in the first two weeks of preseason.

In the NFC, the Buccaneers enter the preseason with the monster quartet of Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Brian Griese, and Chris Simms, all four who have been starters at one time or another in the league.

Compare that to Dolphin QBs Josh McCown, John Beck, Chad Henne, and the recently signed Quincy Carter as the Bucs visit Miami for their inaugural pre season clash.

Practice makes perfect but it also makes for profit.

Don’t be square. Get in the game. 

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Re: Thursday NFL News and Notes

By Indiancowboy

Giants vs. Lions

The breakdown here is roughly half, with the Giants getting a bit more love at 50%, nothing against the Giants here, but the Lions have consistently look to win their home openers as they need to celebrate something and give their fans something to look forward to, similar to what the Redskins did against the Colts who could care less about the preseason, heck, last season the Colts didn't even win a preseason game if I am not mistaken, but more importantly, the Giants have nothing to prove this game, while the Lions would love to give their fans a little boost here, based on that, a lean on the Lions to win in front of their home crowd and the Giants will look to work more on their depth. I always love fading the Super Bowl Champs from last year as well in the first few games of the following year.

Jets vs. Cleveland

Cleveland is more than a 2/3rds favorite coming into this game, but keep in mind this was a 10 win team last year that did not make it to the playoffs, in fact, it is one of the few times that that has happened. The Jets still have some gaping holes of experience to fill, and the Browns were a playoff caliber team last year that has been chomping at the bit to play again and it would not surprise me if they went on to win this game big. Remember, Holcomb always has to feel like Quinn is over his shoulders so I expect him to be sharp and then I expect his backup to be sharp as well. I just hate to see 66% of the public on the Browns here, but I don't think in preseason that truly makes a dent with the books, similar to WNBA betting when it comes to public percentages.

Baltimore vs. New England

I typically do not favor home teams that the public backs over 66%, but what more can be said about the Jets who are still young and their offense is lacking and they need to be able to rush the ball, and after all, the Jets offensive line is extremely young as they gave up a lot to draft these newcomers and they need some time to grow, so that is why I favored Cleveland who is the veteran team at home in the dog pound and even if it's a preseason game, it's still the dog pound. As per this game, I have never been a fan of the Ravens or their questionable offense, but I am a fan of all of New England's players including their backups who were stellar last year and don't for one minute think that New England does not plan on winning this game and winning this game big as they would love to bounce-back from the Super Bowl loss, sure, one can say it's the preseason and it doesn't matter for Bill B, nonsense, every game and every play matters for B.

KC vs. Chicago

Roughly 60% favor the Bears here, and I have never been a fan of the KC offense, but if anything, I do favor the under here a bit as I don't like either offense too much and frankly, I think the Bears defense was overrated last year considering the love they were getting from the public at times, as per the Chiefs, my Alabama alum Croyle finally takes the helm it seems, but I believe he will struggle early and often but he does have talent, if anything, I favor the under here, but likely just staying away, I just feel odd about taking the Bears here as I think it will be low scoring and based on that, I wouldn't be surprised if KC indeed won this game outright, no thanks.

New Orleans vs. Arizona

The public is gladly taking the points here with New Orleans it seems as the are backing them at a rate of 55%, Arizona might be one of the most improved teams this year as they have the coaching and the veteran leadership in many ways. The Arizona weather seems to have revitalized Warner as this team put up 102 points in their last 3 ballgames and it is quite evident that Warner in a reduced pressure filled role, is playing much better. This team still has the threat of Boldin, Fitzgerald and of course James on the ground this year. Regardless, I think the public might be over inflating the Saints here as the Cardinals are still a very good team at home regardless of preseason or not. They have this massive stadium and you better believe the ownership wants to win some games in it as they didn't do that too much last year. Besides, I still that New Orleans has some big problems on defense they need to address as their backups are very questionable in reliability and don't forget, Leinart has a thing or two to prove as well, so I think the offense likely reigns here all night long.

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Re: Thursday NFL News and Notes

Marching Into Arizona: Saints vs. Cardinals

The New Orleans Saints' top two priorities in the offseason were:

• Improving the defensive line with an emphasis on getting more pressure on the quarterback
• Finding cornerbacks who weren’t going to finish the season burnt to a crisp (somewhere Jason David is still getting torched).

Tonight’s preseason opener at Arizona provides the Saints’ defense with the perfect opportunity to show off any improvement in these areas – or at least build some confidence against an injury-riddled Arizona Cardinals offense.

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt has watched three offensive linemen go down since the start of training camp. Despite the rash of injuries, the second-year coach plans on leaving his starting O-linemen in the game a little longer than normal.

Whisenhunt says the extra reps will provide quarterback Matt Leinart, who hasn’t played since last October, some extra time. The added series for Leinart will come at the expense of backup Kurt Warner, leaving the Cardinals with NFL neophytes Brian St. Pierre and Anthony Morelli to take on the Saints’ veteran-laden reserve units.

Once Arizona’s starters leave – likely sometime in the second quarter – Whisenhunt will be forced to scour the bowels of the depth chart for serviceable blockers. The sophomore coach, whose team went 1-3 ATS last preseason, acknowledged things could get ugly in the second half.

If the Saints’ enhanced defensive line isn’t living in the Cardinal backfield by halftime, hot-seat defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs should be very concerned.

Arizona’s offensive line isn’t the only injury-plagued unit. Wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Early Doucet are out with hamstring injuries, and starting cornerback Rod Hood is questionable.

But the Saints aren’t exactly injury-free either. Nine regulars will miss tonight’s game.
New Orleans coach Sean Payton has said his starters won’t play more than a quarter, with quarterbacks Drew Brees and Mark Brunell splitting the first half and promising third-stringer Tyler Palko expected to run the offense throughout the second half.

Compared to St. Pierre and Morelli, Palko is a preseason All-Pro. The Saints’ second-year quarterback moved the team effectively in four preseason games last year, but has shown a tendency to throw interceptions.

Game Breakdown:

New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (-2 ½, 35)

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt: 2nd year, Preseason record: 0-4, 1-3 ATS

New Orleans coach Sean Payton: 3rd year, Preseason record: 4-5, 4-5 ATS

2007 Week 1 Preseason Results: Arizona lost at Oakland, 27-23; New Orleans lost at Pittsburgh, 20-7.

2007 Cardinals-Saints Regular Season Game: Drew Brees picked apart the Cardinals, completing 26 of 30 passes in a 31-24 victory.

Arizona injuries:

OUT: Center Al Johnson (starter), center / guard Scott Peters, reserve guard Carlton Medder, wide receive Anquan Boldin (starter), wide receiver Early Doucet, defensive tackle Gabe Watson (starter), linebacker Monty Beisel.
QUESTIONABLE: Defensive back Rod Hood (starter).

New Orleans Injuries:

OUT: Running back Deuce McAllister (starter), tight end Jeremy Shockey (starter), wide receiver Devery Henderson (starter), wide receiver Marques Colston (starter), defensive tackle Bryan Young, linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee), safety Josh Bullocks (starter), cornerback Mike McKenzie (starter), cornerback Tracy Porter.

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Re: Thursday NFL News and Notes

Let The Games Begin!
Big Al McMordie

Football is king and August kicks off the 2008 football season. Yes, exhibition football is largely meaningless for the players and coaches, with starters sitting more than playing. Yet, there are plenty of wagering angles and insights available to help identify soft betting numbers.

Teams have made offseason changes, bringing in new personnel on the field and on the sidelines. The Ravens, for instance, have a new coach in John Harbaugh. Former coach Brian Billick had a reputation for taking it easy on his players in August, yet the new coach has a very different approach. Baltimore players are calling it "Camp Hardball," and several of the players are hurting, frustrated and tired.

Harbaugh has the players practicing in old game jerseys, instilling the philosophy that you should play like you practice. "We're going to be ready for anything," center Jason Brown said. Harbaugh's practices are pad-thumping and helmet-cracking, clearly designed to add some discipline and toughness to what was a soft, underachieving Ravens team in 2008. That's something to keep in mind in the preseason: Are the Ravens taking the exhibition games seriously and hitting hard for their new coach?

The opposite approach is being taken in Minnesota. Coach Brad Childress has dramatically altered his approach from the previous two years. Rather than overwork his players, Childress has allowed his team to practice in shorts and shoulder pads early in camp. We will see if the milder approach has any preseason effect.

Herm Edwards has a decent preseason record at 16-12 SU, 15-13 ATS. He has revamped the KC defense for this season, getting younger all around. However, the centerpiece of their rebuilding effort, top pick rookie defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, injured his left knee in practice Saturday. Edwards described the injury as a sprain. "He's probably going to be week-to-week," Edwards said. Keep close tabs on Dorsey, as rookies often see more action in August than veterans.Tank Tyler, a third-round draft pick last year, will replace Dorsey in the starting lineup, perhaps slowing Edwards’ rebuilding plan.

One betting angle to remember is that the defending champs have been awful (or overvalued) in preseason, at 2-10 SU/ATS the last three years. Part of it is that there’s only one defending champ each year and opposing teams are more likely to want to stick it to the champs, especially at home. Any type of extra motivation, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is essential when examining August exhibition lines. That label falls on the NY Giants this August. It's interesting that after veteran Eli Manning, the Giants have new QBs in David Carr, Anthony Wright, and rookie Andre Woodson.

One team that is in bounce-back mode for 2008 is the New Orleans Saints. After reaching the NFC Championship game two years ago, the Saints were a flop in 2008, starting 0-4 SU/ATS and failing to reach the playoffs. They've added TE Jeremy Shockey, and also hope to have a healthy RB Deuce McAllister back. Additionally, speedy WR Robert Meachem is playing after being inactive for all 16 games last season. He was a first round pick in 2007.

The defense also added talent, with free-agent defensive end Bobby McCray and 7th-round draft pick defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis coming on board. They also added cornerback Randall Gay via free agency.

Since QB play is so important in preseason, notice the Saints have veterans Drew Brees and Mark Brunell, plus Tyler Palko. All three are mobile.

For those of you who put a lot of emphasis on backup quarterbacks in preseason, take note of the San Francisco 49ers situation. J.T. O'Sullivan is listed as the No. 3 QB behind Alex Smith and Shaun Hill, but he's having a great camp because of a head start. Mike Martz is the new offensive coordinator in San Francisco, and O'Sullivan played with Martz last season in Detroit. Martz has a complicated playbook, but O'Sullivan has looked the most game-ready thus far, perhaps giving a small edge to the 49ers in the second half of the first few preseason games. After all, small edges can mean significant paydays at the betting window! Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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Re: Thursday NFL News and Notes

Week 1 NFL Pre-Season Odds

New York Giants @ Detroit Lions: The Giants are 4-16 ATS L/20 on turf. The G-Men are 3-9 ATS L/12 against conference opponents. Giants have failed to cover 8 of their 12 as a road underdog of 3 points or less. HC Coughlin of the Giants has gone over in 9 of their L/10 exhibition games against conference opposition. The Lions are 3-10 ATS L/10 as home favorites of 3 points or less. Detroit have gone over in 6 of their L/7 home games with a total of between 32.5 and 35 points .

New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns:  The Jets are 23-10 ATS in their L/33 with a line of +3 to -3. New York are 9-4 ATS as 3 point or less underdog since 1993. Cleveland has gone under in 7 of the L/8 conference opponents. Browns are 16-7 ATS L/23 home pre-season games.

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots:  The Ravens have covered 11 of their 18 as pre-season underdogs. Baltimore has gone under in 6 of their L/7 games with a line of 35 or less. The Patriots are 14-6 L/22 as home favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points. Pats have gone under 3 straight times, against AFC north division opposition. New England has gone under in 14 of their L/17 in their first two games of the pre-season since 1993, with the average combined score ringing in at 29.1 PPG.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears:  Kansas City is 2-10 ATS L/12 as road underdogs of 3 points or less. Chiefs have gone under in 6 of their L/7 pre-season games. Chicago has gone under in 5 of their L/6 preseason games against AFC west foes. Bears have failed to cover 12 of their L/20 as favorites.

New Orleans Saints @ Arizona Cardinals:  Saints are 16-4 ATS L/20 in a road game with a total of 35.5 to 38. points.New Orleans is 22-10 ATS L/32 on the road. Arizona is 11-8 ATS L/19 against conference opposition. The Cardinals have failed to cover 5 of their L/8 exhibition tilts overall.

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Re: Thursday NFL News and Notes

Matty's NFL Preseason Betting Notebook
by Matty O'Shea

Here are a few brief tidbits that might be worth betting from various sources on tonight's preseason NFL action.

Best of luck on your NFL picks tonight!

New York Giants at Detroit Lions: The world champions will be in town, but the Detroit Lions' starters won't be seeing much of them.  Coach Rod Marinelli said his offensive and defensive starters will be on the field for about 10 plays - likely two series - when Detroit begins preseason play Thursday at home against the New York Giants.  Starting quarterback Jon Kitna and receivers Roy Williams and Mike Furrey saw limited action in practice Tuesday as the staff gave most of the team's younger players more time on the field. Some of the first-team guys might play a little more, Marinelli added, singling out defensive tackle Dan Cody, who has been with the second unit for most of training camp.  Thursday will be the first professional outing for second-year Lions quarterback Drew Stanton, who missed all of last season after undergoing knee surgery. The 2007 second-round pick suffered the injury three days into his rookie training camp and has not taken a snap against live competition since the last game of his senior season at Michigan State. He'll be the third signal-caller off the bench behind Dan Orlovsky, whom Marinelli said will take over for Kitna late in the first quarter. Stanton is expected to enter the game midway through the third period. (from the Holland Sentinel)

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets have played some legendary games. They launched "Monday Night Football" in 1970. Then there was that 1986 double-overtime playoff game won by the Browns. Stakes are considerably lower tonight, Aug. 7, as the Browns and Jets christen the preseason at Cleveland Browns Stadium. But the curiosity factor is great where these Browns are concerned, and an enthusiastic turnout is expected. In addition, a Browns exhibition game that isn't nationally televised is on in Dayton for the first time in decades. (from Dayton Daily News)

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots: Hundreds of rookies will debut this weekend, but none will be on the spot like Ray Rice. The former Rutgers running back will start for the Ravens against the defending AFC champion Patriots, whose last game was the loss to the Giants in the Super Bowl that prevented their undefeated season. Still, new Ravens coach John Harbaugh thinks Rice has a chance to make a splashy debut after a college career that included 910 carries and a lot of highlight-reel runs during the Scarlet Knights' resurgence. "He's a rookie, but gosh he's had a lot of carries his whole career. As a running back, he's a veteran," Harbaugh said. "It will be new for him playing against an NFL defense, particularly that defense. It will be interesting to see how he'll do, but I would be surprised if he's not up to it." (from the Associated Press)

Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears: Excepting selected veterans like Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson, KC head coach Herm Edwards indicated most starters could expect extended playing time, which he didn't define. All of their new components, particularly on offense, demand it, he said. On offense alone, the Chiefs have a new coordinator and system, a quarterback beginning his first full season as a starter, an offensive line featuring three new starters and a fourth in a different position, a new starting wide receiver and a new fullback. (from Kansas City Star)

New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals: Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt said earlier in the week Matt Leinart's and Kurt Warner's playing time would be determined by how well the first-team offensive line played. If Warner sits out, that will give reserve quarterbacks Brian St. Pierre and rookie Anthony Morelli a nationally-televised platform in which to make their cases why they deserve the No. 3 spot behind Leinart and Warner. Several Cards wide receivers will also get a shot to prove they can pick up where last year's third receiver, Bryant Johnson, who was lured away by the San Francisco 49ers in March, left off.  Steve Breaston, Jerheme Urban and Jamaica Rector, among others, have their eyes set on being the third option behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.  First-round draft pick Early Doucet is also in the mix, but he will miss today's game due to a hamstring injury.  The health and welfare of the team's quarterbacks falls to an offensive line which has already lost starting center Al Johnson (knee), guard Carlton Medder (broken elbow) and center-guard Scott Peters (knee).  Johnson had surgery last week and is expected to back on the field by the start of the regular season. Medder's expected to be out for four weeks, but Peters is gone for the season. (from Arizona Daily Sun)

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