Saturday NFL News and Notes

Saturday NFL News and Notes

WASHINGTON (2 - 0) at NY JETS (1 - 0) - 8/16/2008, 7:00 PM
Top Trends for this game.
NY JETS are 23-10 ATS (+12.0 Units) in games where the line is +3 to -3 since 1993.
NY JETS are 21-9 ATS (+11.1 Units) against NFC East division opponents since 1993.

Head-to-Head Series History
NY JETS is 1-0 against the spread versus WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
NY JETS is 1-0 straight up against WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


MINNESOTA (0 - 1) at BALTIMORE (1 - 0) - 8/16/2008, 7:30 PM
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
MINNESOTA is 1-0 against the spread versus BALTIMORE over the last 3 seasons
MINNESOTA is 1-0 straight up against BALTIMORE over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


MIAMI (0 - 1) at JACKSONVILLE (1 - 0) - 8/16/2008, 7:30 PM
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
JACKSONVILLE is 1-1 against the spread versus MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
JACKSONVILLE is 1-1 straight up against MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


INDIANAPOLIS (0 - 2) at ATLANTA (0 - 1) - 8/16/2008, 7:30 PM
Top Trends for this game.
ATLANTA is 26-13 ATS (+11.7 Units) in games played on turf since 1993.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


SAN DIEGO (1 - 0) at ST LOUIS (0 - 1) - 8/16/2008, 8:00 PM
Top Trends for this game.
ST LOUIS is 3-13 ATS (-11.3 Units) when playing on a Saturday since 1993.
ST LOUIS is 12-25 ATS (-15.5 Units) in non-conference games since 1993.

Head-to-Head Series History
SAN DIEGO is 1-0 against the spread versus ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
SAN DIEGO is 1-0 straight up against ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


HOUSTON (1 - 0) at NEW ORLEANS (1 - 0) - 8/16/2008, 8:00 PM
Top Trends for this game.
NEW ORLEANS is 2-11 ATS (-10.1 Units) as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points since 1993.
NEW ORLEANS is 8-19 ATS (-12.9 Units) in home games in dome games since 1993.
NEW ORLEANS is 8-19 ATS (-12.9 Units) in home games in games played on turf since 1993.
NEW ORLEANS is 2-10 ATS (-9.0 Units) as a home favorite of 3.5 to 7 points since 1993.
NEW ORLEANS is 8-19 ATS (-12.9 Units) in home games since 1993.
NEW ORLEANS is 8-19 ATS (-12.9 Units) in home lined games since 1993.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


ARIZONA (0 - 1) at KANSAS CITY (1 - 0) - 8/16/2008, 8:00 PM
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


GREEN BAY (0 - 1) at SAN FRANCISCO (0 - 1) - 8/16/2008, 9:00 PM
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


DALLAS (0 - 1) at DENVER (0 - 1) - 8/16/2008, 9:00 PM
Top Trends for this game.
DALLAS is 11-32 ATS (-24.2 Units) in all games where the total is between 35.5 and 42 points since 1993.
DENVER is 22-7 ATS (+14.3 Units) when playing on a Saturday since 1993.
DENVER is 30-16 ATS (+12.4 Units) in non-conference games since 1993.

Head-to-Head Series History
DALLAS is 1-0 against the spread versus DENVER over the last 3 seasons
DALLAS is 1-0 straight up against DENVER over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


CHICAGO (0 - 1) at SEATTLE (1 - 0) - 8/16/2008, 9:00 PM
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.

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Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes

Washington at NY Jets, 7:00 ET
Washington: 0-4 ATS off ATS loss
NY Jets: 23-10 ATS the line is +3 to -3

Minnesota at Baltimore, 7:30 ET
Minnesota: 3-0 ATS off SU loss
Baltimore: 6-1 Under as favorite

Miami at Jacksonville, 7:30 ET
Miami: 3-0 Under as road underdog
Jacksonville: 10-3 ATS vs. conference opponents

Indianapolis at Atlanta, 7:30 ET
Indianapolis: 23-7 Over Away in August
Atlanta: 13-4 ATS off road loss

San Diego at St. Louis, 8:00 ET
San Diego: 21-8 ATS off home game
St. Louis: 12-25 ATS vs. AFC

Houston at New Orleans, 8:00 ET
Houston: 6-0 Over on Saturdays
New Orleans: 8-19 ATS at home in preseason

Arizona at Kansas City, 8:00 ET
Arizona: 3-6 ATS L9 preseason games
Kansas City: 5-1 Under when the line is +3 to -3

Green Bay at San Francisco, 9:00 ET
Green Bay: 7-2 ATS vs. NFC West
San Francisco: 5-1 Under after a game with a turnover margin of -3 or worse

Dallas at Denver, 9:00 ET
Dallas: 10-23 ATS off Over
Denver: 30-16 ATS vs. NFC

Chicago at Seattle, 9:00 ET
Chicago: 6-1 Over after playing a Thursday game
Seattle: 3-10 ATS off road win

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Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes

6 Colts starters being held out of game vs Falcons
August 15, 2008

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) -Peyton Manning, Bob Sanders and Dwight Freeney will miss their third straight preseason game for the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.

A dozen players, including six starters, will sit out the game against Atlanta, the Colts said Friday after completing their final practice in the morning at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The announcement was no surprise since Manning, Sanders and Freeney have yet to practice, and Manning still has not been on the practice field as he recovers from knee surgery last month.

Coach Tony Dungy said Manning has started lifting weights and throwing.

The other starters on the team's injury list are linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, right guard Ryan Lilja and right tackle Ryan Diem.

Manning, Sanders, Freeney, Hagler and Lilja are still on the physically unable to perform list. Diem injured his shoulder during practice this week.

The Colts had set Friday as the target date for the return of Sanders and Freeney to the field, but Dungy decided to hold them out until the team begins sessions at its Indianapolis complex next week.

``I think they're pretty close to being ready to go,'' Dungy said. ``We toyed with the idea of getting them out there a little bit here, but decided to wait. I think we'll get some of the guys back next week.''

Also sitting out Saturday will be rookie linebacker Philip Wheeler, a third-round pick who recently had knee surgery, and rookie tight end Tom Santi, a sixth-round pick who had surgery to remove an infected bursa sac in his knee in June and has been on the PUP list since July 24.

Manning had the same surgery as Santi on July 14, and the Colts have been watching Santi's progress to establish a better timetable for Manning's expected return.

Santi started running this week, and Dungy believes he could begin practicing next week. The Colts figure he is two weeks ahead of Manning, but Santi has declined to answer questions about his rehab process.

Defensive back Melvin Bullitt (thumb), receiver Roy Hall (hamstring), defensive end Josh Thomas (groin) and linebacker Victor Worsley (hamstring) will not play against Atlanta, either.

The Colts did get some good news on the injury front Friday. Cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who bruised his right heel in Thursday afternoon's workout, is not listed as out.

``He's fine, he should be good to go,'' Dungy said.

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Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes

What bettors need to know: Chargers vs. Rams

San Diego Chargers at St. Louis Rams (-3, 37 O/U)

Stars Struck from Bolts Lineup

Philip Rivers figures to spend the better part of the Rams game watching from the sidelines alongside LaDainian Tomlinson (14 career preseason carries) and Antonio Gates (PUP list). Although Rivers has looked good so far, Norv Turner has indicated a reluctance to risk his starting QB’s surgically reconstructed right knee on the field turf surface of the Edward Jones Dome.

With the Chargers flashing superior depth at most positions, Turner may resist the traditional pattern of increasing playing time for all his regulars in the second preseason game.

“I want to continue to evaluate our young guys,” Turner told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Normally in the preseason you play the starters a quarter in the first game and a half in the second. I am flipping it a little bit.”

In-D-Cent Behavior

While the Rams have shown signs of improvement on defense and may have a chance to field a solid unit this season, there remain questions about the ability of an undersized front seven to handle the run.

These questions were only exacerbated when the team allowed an eye-popping 340 yards on the ground last week against Tennessee. Everyone from Vince Young and Lendale White to rookie Chris Johnson and backup Quinton Ganther had their way on the ground against St. Louis.

It was an embarrassment.

“We’re going to get it fixed this week in practice,” Defensive tackle Clifton Ryantold the St. Louis Dispatch. “I think you’re going to see a vast improvement in our run defense from this week to next.”

Baby Come Back

Steven Jackson’s holdout has now reached 19 days, the longest in St. Louis Rams history. With Jackson having missed 22 practices and about to miss his second preseason game, backups Antonio Pittman, Brian Leonard, and Travis Minor have handled running duties.

None has looked particularly impressive.

The team desperately needs Jackson in uniform.

The star running back and the team have been at a standoff since July 25 when his agent announced that the player would not report to camp without a new deal. The Rams responded by stating that there will be no negotiations until Jackson reports.

According to the St. Louis Post dispatch, however, “low key talks” have begun to take place.

While some Rams fans are getting antsy, the most likely outcome is that Jackson will return somewhere around the beginning of the regular season with a new contract - although probably not at the figure that he’s currently seeking.

Center of the issue

The only significant concern in an otherwise rosy Chargers camp has been the condition of center Nick Hardwick. Hardwick is recovering from off-season foot surgery and may miss a good part of the first month of the regular season. This is problematic because the team lacks quality depth at the position and because Hardwick is a fiery team leader.

“Nick means a lot to this team, with the way that he plays with his fire, his passion, and his communication,” said Philip Rivers. “Like anything, you put a different quarterback under center, and it can throw you off. The same goes for the offensive line. They get used to how guys make the calls. [Backup C Jeremy Newbury] and I are still getting used to each other, and the number one thing on my list in training camp is to make sure he and I are in synch.”

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Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes


Washington (2-0, 1-1 ATS) at N.Y. Jets (1-0 SU and ATS)

The Brett Favre-era begins for the Jets as they host the Redskins at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

On the same day they announced the acquisition of Favre, the Jets went out and upset the Browns 24-20 as five-point road underdogs, winning despite allowing 382 total yards and getting outrushed 107-59. New York is on a 12-5 roll in August (10-7 ATS), including 4-1 SU and ATS in the last five. Also, the Jets have won six of their last eight preseason games in Giants Stadium (4-4 ATS).

After whipping the Colts in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3, Washington came home last week and held off the Bills 17-14, coming up short as a 5½-point favorite. Despite winning their first two games this summer, the Redskins are still only 4-9 SU and ATS since the start of the 2005 exhibition season. They’ve also lost eight of their last 10 non-neutral-site road games in the preseason (3-7 ATS), and they’re 0-3 in this week of the preseason the last three years (1-2 ATS).

Favre has been with New York for just about a week and will take his first live snaps since the NFC Championship game last season when the Giants upset the Packers in Green Bay. Jets’ coach Eric Mangini said the future Hall-of-Famer will start and take between eight and 12 snaps in his New York debut.

There is a backup QB controversy brewing in New York as Brett Ratliff is pushing Kellen Clemens for the No. 2 spot. Ratliff completed 14-of-20 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns in Cleveland on August 7 while Clemens was just 4-of-6 for 31 yards. Mangini said Ratliff will see “significant” playing time against the Redskins.

Washington’s QB rotation is set with Jason Campbell and the first-team offense getting a couple of series, followed by veteran Todd Collins the rest of the first half. Derek Devine will play the third quarter and rookie Colt Brennan is slated for the fourth quarter, according to new coach Jim Zorn. Campbell has completed 80 percent of his throws in limited action this season for 132 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

These two squads met in the preseason in 2006 when the Jets got a 27-14 road win, easily covering as a four-point underdog.

The under is 4-1 in Washington’s last five in August. Conversely, the Jets, who topped the total at Cleveland, have gone over the number in each of their last three preseason home games, excluding neutral-site games against the Giants.


Minnesota (0-1 SU and ATS) at Baltimore (1-0 SU and ATS)

After getting outgained by 121 yards in the opening week of the preseason, the Vikings will be taking a long look at the starting offense tonight when they travel to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to take on the Ravens.

Minnesota coach Brad Childress said his starting offense will play the first half with QB Tarvaris Jackson under center. Jackson went 8-of-11 for 118 yards and a touchdown a week ago at home against the Seahawks, but backups John David Booty (9-of-18 for 82 yards and an INT), Gus Frerotte (4-of-7 for 60 yards) and Brooks Bollinger (1-of-2 for eight yards) didn’t do much. Expect to see Booty and Frerotte for about a quarter each, with Bollinger the odd man out.

Minnesota’s highly-touted defense was nowhere to be found in last Friday’s 34-17 loss to the Seahawks as a three-point home favorite. The Vikes are now 4-4-1 SU and 5-4 ATS in August since Childress took over as coach, but they have cashed in three of four preseason road games, all as an underdog. Additionally, they’re 4-1 ATS in their last five following a SU exhibition defeat and 2-0 SU and ATS in Week 2 since Childress took over.

Baltimore went to New England in Week 1 and surprised the Patriots 16-15 as a 4½-point road underdog, making a winner of new coach John Harbaugh in his debut. The Ravens have been a picture of mediocrity in the preseason the last five years, going 10-10 SU and ATS overall, 5-5 SU and ATS at home and 6-6 ATS as a favorite.

Harbaugh has anointed former Ohio State and Heisman Trophy-winning QB Troy Smith as the starter for this one with Kyle Boller getting about a quarter of work and rookie Joe Flacco cleaning up the fourth quarter. Harbaugh said there is no clear-cut leader for the starting QB position, as all three have spent time with the first-team offense. Smith went 5-of-12 for 74 yards in New England a week ago with Boller having a good night at 11-of-15 for 102 yards and an INT.

These two met in the 2006 preseason with the Vikings scoring a 30-7 home win and cover as 2½-point favorites.

The Vikings have topped the total in eight of their last 13 preseason games dating to 2005, including the last four in a row. On the flip side, during that same time frame, the under is 9-3 for Baltimore, including 4-2 at home.


Miami (0-1 SU and ATS) at Jacksonville (1-0, 0-1 ATS)

One result of the Brett Favre-saga is the arrival of former Jets’ QB Chad Pennington in Miami, and the veteran passer will get plenty of time under center when the Dolphins travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars.

The Dolphins’ putrid offense picked up last week right where it left off at the end of a miserable 2007 season, managing just two field goals and 198 total yards in a 17-6 home loss to the Buccaneers as a two-point favorite. Miami is 9-13 SU and 8-12-2 ATS in preseason action since 2003, including 4-6 SU and ATS on the road. However, they have gone 2-0 SU and ATS in Week 2 the last two summers.

New Miami coach Tony Sparano has divided his first-string practice snaps this week between Pennington and rookie Chad Henne (5-of-10 for 67 yards in the preseason opener). Expect to see Pennington start and play into the second quarter before giving way to Henne, who will take it to the fourth period when it’s unknown if Sparano will go with second-year pro John Beck (5-of-9 for 45 yards last week) or veteran Josh McCown (5-of-8 for 35 yards).

Jacksonville got a fourth-quarter field goal to defeat the Falcons 20-17 in Week 1, falling just short as a four-point home favorite. Since coach Jack Del Rio took over the Jags in 2003, the team has dominated summer games, going 15-6 (13-8 ATS), including 9-2 at home (6-5 ATS).

Unlike in Miami, there are no QB questions for Del Rio, who said the starter is David Garrard who will go the first quarter, followed by Cleo Lemon for the middle two periods and third-stringer Todd Bouman mopping up the fourth quarter. The Jags’ quarterbacks managed just 129 net passing yards on 30 attempts last week. Jacksonville is thin at WR as starters Jerry Porter and Reggie Williams will sit out tonight.

These two have met each of the last five preseasons with the Jags leading 3-2 SU and ATS, including a 27-17 win as 2½-point chalk last time the teams met in Jacksonville in August 2005. Miami got an 18-17 win as a 1½-point home underdog last preseason.

The under is 5-0 in the Dolphins’ last five preseason road games. Conversely, Jacksonville is 10-3 “over” the last three-plus years in August.


Indianapolis (0-2, 1-1 ATS) at Atlanta (0-1, 1-0 ATS)

The Colts are on the road for the third straight week, hoping to snap an ugly preseason slump when they visit the new-look Falcons.

Indianapolis’ preseason woes continued with last Saturday’s 23-20 overtime loss at Carolina. The Colts, who lost to the Redskins 40-16 in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3, have now dropped 13 of their last 15 exhibition contests since 2005, and even though they cashed as a four-point underdog in Carolina, they’re still only 4-11 ATS during this slump. Also, Indy is mired in additional preseason ATS funks of 3-5 on the road (1-7 SU), 2-7 as an underdog and 0-3 in Week 2.

Playing its first game under new coach Mike Smith, the Falcons went to Jacksonville last week and got a solid performance from rookie QB Matt Ryan (9-for-15, 113 yards, one TD), yet still came up a 20-17 loser, covering as a four-point underdog. Atlanta is 9-4-1 ATS since the start of the 2005 preseason, but it is just 3-4-1 ATS in its last seven as a chalk in August.

Career backup QB Jim Sorgi will start and play into the second quarter tonight, followed by Quinn Gray for a quarter and Jared Lorenzen finishing the game. With Peyton Manning on the shelf until the season opener, Sorgi will start each preseason game and see extended action, according to coach Tony Dungy.

The Falcons will start QB Joey Harrington but expect to see a lot of Ryan tonight as Smith takes a long look at the rookie. Chris Redman, who started last week’s game, and D.J. Shockley will split time in the second half. Smith said Ryan will start on Friday against the Titans as he tries to get each QB a preseason start.

These two met in the preseason back in 2005 with the Falcons getting a 27-21 win in Indianapolis as one-point ‘dogs. In last year’s regular-season matchup, the Colts got a 31-13 win in the Georgia Dome on Thanksgiving Night, cashing as a 13½-point chalk.

The Colts have topped the total in their first two preseason games, while the over is 4-1 in Atlanta’s last five summer contests in the Georgia Dome.


San Diego (1-0 SU and ATS) at St. Louis (0-1 SU and ATS)

The Rams look to bounce back from an awful Week 1 effort in Tennessee when they host the Chargers at the Edward Jones Dome.

St. Louis got outgained 495-241 in an ugly 34-21 loss at Tennessee last Saturday, never threatening to cover as a three-point road underdog. The Rams are just 3-6 SU and 2-7 ATS in August since coach Scott Linehan took over prior to the 2006 season, including 1-3 ATS at home and 1-3 ATS as a favorite. They’ve also lost three straight Week 2 games both SU and ATS.

San Diego opened up with an impressive 31-17 rout of the Cowboys, covering as a three-point home favorite. The Chargers are now 4-1 (3-2 ATS) in preseason play under second-year coach Norv Turner, including 2-0 on the road (1-1 ATS).

After allowing QB Philip Rivers and his starters to play longer than expected against Dallas, Turner said the first string will see very limited action today. When Rivers departs, backup Billy Volek will lead the offense, with third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst likely to see extended second-half action. Once again, though, the offense will be without star RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who hasn’t played in an exhibition game since 2005.

After getting whipped last week, Linehan said he expects to “play a significant amount of time with his starting unit.” He wasn’t specific beyond that, but Marc Bulger and the first-string probably will play at least the first half. Trent Green backs up Bulger, with Brock Berlin and Bruce Gradkowski possibly seeing action late.

These teams met last summer in San Diego in Week 2, and the Chargers rolled to a 30-13 victory as a 2½-point home chalk. Two summers earlier, San Diego cruised to 36-21 Week 2 road win as a five-point favorite.

The over is 6-1 in San Diego’s last seven exhibition outings, including 3-0 on the road, while the Rams have topped the total in each of their last three Week 2 preseason games, including the two games against the Chargers in 2005 and 2007.


Houston (1-0, 0-0-1 ATS) at New Orleans (1-0 SU and ATS)

The Texans and Saints, who had a series of joint practices this week, square off at the Superdome, with both teams looking to start the preseason 2-0.

Houston got a game-winning field goal as time expired to knock off the Broncos 19-16 a week ago, pushing as a three-point home chalk. The Texans are 6-3 (5-2-2 ATS) in the preseason under third-year coach Gary Kubiak after going 2-10 SU and ATS the previous three summers. Also, with Kubiak at the helm, Houston is 3-1 on the road in August (2-1-1 ATS) and 4-1 ATS as an underdog, and the team is 3-0 SU and ATS in Week 2 the last three preseasons.

The Saints’ offense looked in fine form in last Thursday’s 24-10 rout of Arizona as a three-point road underdog. New Orleans, which outgained the Cardinals 383-282, is 4-2 SU and ATS in its last six exhibition battles since the beginning of last year, but 2-8 SU and ATS at home and 1-7 ATS as a favorite going back to 2003.

New Orleans’ starters, who played two series last week, should get a longer look tonight, though Payton didn’t reveal specific plans. It’s likely that QB Drew Brees will start before giving way to backup Mark Brunell, who will then hand off to Tyler Palko. However, the Saints will once again be without TE Jeremy Shockey, and RB Reggie Bush also probably will sit this one out.

Kubiak said Matt Schaub and the first-string offense will be on the field for about 1½ quarters, but he added that the outing could be shorter depending on how they look. Whenever Schaub gets yanked, backup Sage Rosenfels will come in and play through the third quarter, with rookie Alex Brink mopping up. Fourth-string QB Shane Boyd will not play.

The under has cashed in six of New Orleans’ last eight preseason contests, including three straight at home, but Houston has topped the total in five straight preseason games going back to last year, and the over is 4-1 in the team’s last five August road affairs.


Arizona (0-1 SU and ATS) at Kansas City (1-0 SU and ATS)

After putting up 24 points in their exhibition debut against the Bears in Chicago last week, the Chiefs return home looking to keep their offense rolling when they host the Cardinals.

Kansas City jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead at Chicago, but fell behind 17-14 going into the fourth quarter before rallying for a 24-20 victory as a three-point road underdog. It was a rare August win and cover for Herm Edwards’ group, which went 0-4 SU and ATS in the 2007 preseason and is still only 3-10 SU and ATS in its lat 13 exhibition contests. Also, K.C. is mired in preseason slumps of 2-4 SU and ATS at home, 0-3 SU and ATS in Week 2 and 1-4 ATS as a favorite going back to 2005.

Arizona’s defense looked shaky in last Friday’s 24-10 home loss to the Saints, yielding 383 total yards, including 285 through the air. The Cardinals have lost all five preseason games under second-year coach Ken Whisenhunt (1-4 ATS), including a pair of losses and non-covers on the highway in 2007.

Kansas City will use the same quarterback rotation as last week, with starter Brodie Croyle playing through at least the first quarter. Croyle will give way to Damon Huard, with Tyler Thigpen, who was solid in Chicago, finishing up.

After sitting out the entire Saints game, veteran QB Kurt Warner is getting the start in this one. He’s expected to play most of the entire first half, followed by Matt Leinart, who remains first on the team’s depth chart. Brian St. Pierre and rookie Anthony Morelli, who are battling for the third-string job and who both played last week, would finish up.

These squads last met in the preseason in 2005, with the Cardinals scoring a 24-17 upset victory as a four-point underdog.

For the Chiefs, the under is on preseason runs of 6-3 overall and 4-1-1 at home. Meanwhile, Arizona has followed up a 5-0 “over” streak in the preseason by staying low in its last two.


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Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes

Green Bay (0-1 SU and ATS) at San Francisco (1-0, 0-1 ATS)

After a decent debut as the Packers’ new starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers leads Green Bay into San Francisco to face a 49ers team that looked dreadful in its preseason opener.

With all eyes glued to his every move, Rodgers acquitted himself well Monday night at home against Cincinnati, going 9-for-15 for 117 yards with one touchdown and one interception (which came on a deflection). However, even though Rodgers spotted the Packers a 10-0 lead, it didn’t hold up as Green Bay fell 20-17 as a three-point home favorite.

The Packers are now just 3-6 SU and ATS under coach Mike McCarthy since the 2006 preseason. They’re also 2-4 SU and ATS in their last six August road tilts and 1-4 ATS in their last five as a preseason ‘dog, but they are 2-0 SU and ATS in Week 2 with McCarthy at the helm.

San Francisco laid an egg in its debut last Friday, managing just two field goals and 269 total yards (70 rushing) in getting steamrolled 18-6 at Oakland as a one-point road underdog. The 49ers are 5-8 SU in preseason play under fourth-year coach Mike Nolan, but 8-5 ATS. Also, since Nolan took over, San Francisco is 5-1 SU and ATS at home in August and 2-0 ATS as a favorite.

Green Bay’s starters (including Rodgers) will get about 30 to 35 plays of action tonight. Rookie Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn will follow Rodgers, as was the case last week when Flynn (the listed third-stringer) easily outplayed Brohm. RB Ryan Grant and LB A.J. Hawk likely will not play for Green Bay.

Quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan, who opened camp as the third-stringer in San Francisco, will get the starting nod for the second straight week and play most, if not all, of the first half. Former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith is slated to play the third quarter, with Shaun Hill leading the offense in the fourth.

The over is 6-2 in Green Bay’s last eight preseason games overall (2-1 on the road) and 3-1 in San Francisco’s last four August contests at home.


Dallas (0-1 SU and ATS) at Denver (0-1, 0-0-1 ATS)

After a week of testy scrimmages against one another, the Cowboys and Broncos get it on one more time under the lights at Invesco Field, with both teams looking to respond from Week 1 losses.

Denver was on the wrong end of a 19-16 loss in Houston last Saturday, pushing as a three-point road underdog when the Texans drilled a game-winning 25-yard field goal as time expired. The Broncos are still 20-10-2 ATS the last eight-plus preseasons under coach Mike Shanahan, including 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight following SU defeat.

Dallas limited the Chargers to just 213 yards of total offense, but committed two turnovers en route to a 31-17 opening-week loss in San Diego as a three-point underdog. Although the Cowboys are still 16-8-1 (16-9 ATS) in the preseason since 2002, they have lost all three road games (0-3 ATS) since coach Wade Phillips was hired before the 2007 campaign. They’re also 0-2 ATS as an underdog under Phillips after going 5-1 ATS as a preseason pup from 2002-06.

One positive for Dallas: It has won and covered in Week 2 each of the last three summers, including a 31-20 rout of the Broncos as a five-point home chalk in 2007.

Most of the Cowboys’ starters will play the entire first half tonight, with the exception of QB Tony Romo, WR Terrell Owens, RB Marion Barber and TE Jason Whitten, all of whom are likely to be on the field for just a quarter. Romo figures to be followed by veteran Brad Johnson, with third-stringer Richard Bartel finishing up.

Shanahan didn’t disclose his playing-time plans for this contest, but expect starting QB Jay Cutler to get a longer look than last week when he was on the field for just two series. Patrick Ramsey serves as Cutler’s backup, followed by Darrell Hackney.

In preseason action, the over is on runs of 4-0 for Dallas overall and 4-0 for Dallas on the road. However, the under is 3-0 in Denver’s last three summer games at Invesco Field.


Chicago (0-1 SU and ATS) at Seattle (1-0 SU and ATS)

Two teams that experienced opposite results in Week 1 clash at Qwest Field in the Pacific Northwest, where the Seahawks, who will likely be without starting QB Matt Hasselbeck, host the Bears.

Seattle throttled the Vikings 34-17 as a three-point road underdog eight days ago, piling up 419 total yards while outrushing Minnesota 162-52. Since the beginning of last year’s exhibition slate, the Seahawks are 4-1 SU and ATS in August (2-0 SU and ATS at home), and the straight-up winner is 13-0 ATS in their past three-plus preseasons.

Chicago’s much-maligned offense produced 362 total yards last week against Kansas City, and the Bears outrushed the Chiefs 175-83, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a 24-20 setback as a three-point home favorite. On the bright side, the Bears did go 2-0 SU and ATS on the road last August, and they’re 5-2 ATS as a preseason underdog under coach Lovie Smith, 3-1 ATS in their last four after a SU preseason loss and 3-0 SU and ATS in Week 2 going back to 2005.

Hasselbeck missed four days of practice with a back injury and probably will sit this one out. Third-stringer Charlie Frey, who took every snap with the first-team offense on Thursday, will probably start under center. Senaca Wallace would replace Frey, with Dalton Bell possibly finishing up.

The Bears’ quarterback battle resumes in this one, with Rex Grossman getting the starting nod after Kyle Orton led the No. 1 offense last week. Orton went 7-for-10 for just 56 yards against the Chiefs, while Grossman was 4-for-8 for 44 yards and one TD, but third-stringer Caleb Hanie (9 of 16, 101 yards, one TD) outdid both of them. Grossman and the starters should play the entire first half and possibly into the third quarter. Orton will follow under center, with Hanie once again finishing up.

The over is 9-4 in Seattle’s last 13 preseason games, but only 3-3 at home, while Chicago has topped the total four times in its last five summer affairs since the start of last season. The over is also 4-1 in the Bears’ last five exhibition road tilts.


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Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes

NFL Preseason QB Rotations & Lineup Notes


Washington Redskins - QB Rotation: Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Derek Devine, rookie Colt Brennan (see below).

QB Jason Campbell will open the game with the first-team offense. Backup Todd Collins will follow and play most of the first half. In a change, Derek Devine will start the third quarter and Colt Brennan will enter in the fourth and finish the game.

This is the third game for the Redskins, after playing in the Hall of Fame Game (8/3).

Jim Zorn is the new head coach.

Coach Jim Zorn expects several players to return for Saturday's game against the Jets, such as WR Devin Thomas (hamstring). Thomas is coming back from nearly a 2 1/2-week absence because of a hamstring problem. Starting wide receiver Antwaan Randle El (hamstring, wrist) is a game-time decision.

Reserve tackles Todd Wade and Stephon Heyer will each miss at least two weeks with injuries.

Starting free safety LaRon Landry (hamstring) is likely to miss Saturday's exhibition.

Injuries have mounted since camp began. Defensive ends Phillip Daniels and Alex Buzbee suffered season-ending injuries on the first day. Linebackers H.B. Blades and Rian Wallace and starting defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery also have had surgery.

Wide receivers Anthony Mix (ribs) and Malcolm Kelly (knee), linebacker H.B. Blades (knee), and offensive linemen Todd Wade (ankle) and Stephon Heyer (knee) are not practicing and likely to miss at least this week.

Greg Blache is the new defensive coordinator, while Sherman Smith is offensive coordinator after OC Al Saunders left. Smith previously served as assistant head coach-running backs with the Tennessee Titans for 13 seasons.

NY Jets - QB Rotation: Brett Favre (will start), Kellen Clemens, rookie Erik Ainge, Brett Ratliff.

The Jets added QB Brett Favre last week. Eric Mangini named Favre as the Jets' starter against Washington.

QB Ratliff has performed so well that speculation has arisen that he's pushing Kellen Clemens for the No. 2 QB spot. He finished 14-of-20 for 252 yards and the two TDs, and has been impressive in practices. He will get significant playing time against the Redskins.

The offense is in the third year of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's high-tech scheme that features an array of shifts and motions.

Minnesota Vikings - QB Rotation: Tarvaris Jackson, Gus Frerotte, John David Booty, Brooks Bollinger.

Lots of passing: Vikings coach Brad Childress tried something different when the offense ran 10 consecutive passing plays in the opener. No doubt Childress was preparing his team for the seven-and eight-man fronts they faced last year and will again this year as opponents try to stop running back Adrian Peterson.

The Vikings spent Sunday looking to add help at defensive end after learning Jayme Mitchell will miss the season because of a knee injury. With backup right end Brian Robison expected to miss at least another week after having surgery, the Vikings are extremely thin at the end spot.

Safety Madieu Williams could six weeks because of a neck injury. It's a setback for a pass defense that finished last in the NFL in 2007 and was counting on having a top-notch cover safety in Williams, a big free agent signing, for all 16 games. Rookie safety Tyrell Johnson will be called on to fill in for him.

Childress has dramatically altered his approach with this team. Rather than overwork his players with day after day of hitting, Childress has allowed his team to practice in shorts and shoulder pads early in camp, unlike the last two years.

Baltimore Ravens - QB Rotation: Troy Smith, Kyle Boller, rookie Joe Flacco.

QB Smith has looked good in camp and will start this game. Flacco is still up and down.

John Harbaugh is the new head coach, the former Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach. Harbaugh has never been a head coach during his 24 seasons.

Harbaugh said no one has taken the lead in the team's quarterback race. Throughout training camp, Kyle Boller, Troy Smith and Joe Flacco have rotated with the starting offense.

The QBs will be operating behind a makeshift offensive line and without running back Willis McGahee, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this week. Baltimore's injury list includes offensive tackles Jared Gaither (ankle) and Adam Terry (ankle) and tight end Todd Heap (calf).

Harbaugh has been running the players hard, a physical practice. One team official estimated that Harbaugh has had more full-contact plays in his first week than Billick had in his entire camp last year.

By the end of Thursday's practice, almost half the starters on offense - WR Derrick Mason (knee), tight end Todd Heap (calf), RB Willis McGahee (knee) and offensive tackles Jared Gaither (ankle) and Adam Terry (ankle) - were sidelined with injuries. While all these players are expected to be ready for the regular season, it's unknown whether the offense will be.

Miami Dolphins - QB Rotation: Josh McCown, John Beck, rookie Chad Henne, Chad Pennington.

Newly acquired QB Chad Pennington practice for the first time Monday and coach Tony Soparano said that he will manage his four quarterbacks based on feel. Pennington and Henne have been taking the most snaps.

How much new Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington will play Saturday is still up in the air. From the division of practice snaps, it is obvious Saturday will feature mostly the two quarterbacking Chads, Pennington and rookie Henne. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano also made noises -- wanting to see more of safety Jason Allen, wanting to see WRs Derek Hagan and Ted Ginn Jr. on more consecutive plays -- that translated as the Dolphins' first teamers playing much more in the second exhibition game, as is typical.

The offensive line will certainly see its share of shake-ups, which likely will cause some considerable changes to the depth chart throughout the preseason. Justin Smiley is currently listed as the starter at left guard, and Trey Darilek is listed at right guard. Given Smiley's recent struggles on the left side and Donald Thomas' recent emergence on the right side, there's likely to be some different combinations used before anything is settled at that position, too.

Linebackers thin. Dolphins LB Kelvin Smith is out and might miss the season. They hope LB Joey Porter will return to practice this week after tweaking his back last week.

Tony Sparano is the new head coach, a former assistant with Bill Parcells in Dallas. He is a proponent of a balanced offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Rotation: David Garrard, Cleo Lemon, Todd Bauman.

Coach Jack Del Rio indicated there's no competition for the backup quarterback job. He said Cleo Lemon is the backup, and Todd Bouman is No. 3.

Saturday's home preseason game against Miami Dolphins is "just another game" to Jaguars backup quarterback Cleo Lemon, who started for Miami last season.

Jacksonville has a new defensive coordinator in Gregg Williams, who was with the Redskins last fall under Joe Gibbs.

Because of injuries to Jerry Porter (hamstring) and Reggie Williams (knee), there's a chance that Dennis Northcutt could take on the role as the Jaguars' No. 1 receiver for the second consecutive season. WR Troy Williamson is practicing, but he's not going full speed.

Offensive line is a weakness. The Jaguars will be without center Brad Meester for eight to 10 weeks.

Indianapolis Colts - QB Rotation: Peyton Manning, Jim Sorgi (will start), Jared Lorenzen, Quinn Gray, Adam Tafarlis.

This is the third game for the Colts, after playing in the Hall of Fame Game (8/3).

Manning won't play, having minor bursa knee surgery in July. The recovery time is 4-6 weeks, so he is out of the preseason action.

QB Peyton Manning, safety Bob Sanders, defensive end Dwight Freeney and left guard Ryan Lilja are expected to be healthy by Indy's Sept. 7 season opener against Chicago.

Defensive line thin with the retirement of Quinn Pitcock, creating a void at defensive tackle. Raheem Brock, a 27-game starter at tackle the past two seasons, has been moved to left end in the base defense and apparently will remain there even with Pitcock's decision.

LBs thin. They added LB Dedrick Harrington this week. Harrington's addition followed that of Brandon Archer's last week, and again was out of necessity. Injuries continue to deplete the position.

Atlanta Falcons - QB Rotation: Joey Harrington, Matt Ryan, Chris Redman, D.J. Shockley.

QB Joey Harrington will start. Rookie QB Matt Ryan should replace him and get extended playing time. Redman and Shockley seem likely candidates to play in the second half against the Colts.

With Atlanta wanting to see how Ryan handles NFL pressure, it wouldn't be shocking to see him play early and for a prolonged period. Ryan also appears to be in line to start against Tennessee Aug. 22 at the Georgia Dome. That would leave D.J. Shockley to start the preseason finale at Baltimore Aug. 28. Should Ryan start against the Titans, it could be an indication that the rookie will start the regular-season opener.

The Falcons have spent a lot of time re-tooling the running game. Tailbacks Thomas Brown and Jason Snelling should have a battle for the No. 3 job.

The new head coach is Mike Smith, with Mike Mularkey taking over as offensive coordinator. Smith was the defensive coordinator of the Jaguars and faces his old team here.

A young secondary: The Falcons could start Chris Houston (second year) and Brent Grimes (second year) and use Chevis Jackson (rookie) as the nickel back.

Centers thin. Alex Stepanovich, the Falcons' backup center, suffered a back injury at practice Monday and was taken off the field on a cart. Stepanovich started the exhibition season opener against Jacksonville Saturday in place of center Todd McClure, who has been out with a lower-back injury since July 28.

San Diego Chargers - QB Rotation: Philip Rivers, Billy Volek, Charlie Whitehurst, Casey Bramlet.

Norv Turner said QB Philip Rivers was not the only player he will limit Saturday in St. Louis after playing many starters the bulk of the first half against Dallas. "I want to continue to evaluate our young guys," Turner said. "Normally in the preseason you play the starters a quarter in the first game and a half the second. I am flipping it a little bit."

Defensive line thin, with Luis Castillo (back), Shawne Merriman (knee) and Jamal Williams (knees) not 100%.

Antonio Cromartie worked on the side as well a day after tweaking his ankle. Shawne Merriman returned to his regular work on a side field to strengthen his knee. Neither is likely to play at St. Louis.

St. Louis Rams - QB Rotation: Marc Bulger (1st half), Trent Green (3rd Q), Bruce Gradkowski (4th Q), Brock Berlin (mop up).

Marc Bulger will play most of the first half, and regardless of the pass protection or other circumstances, needs to do better than his three-for-nine performance against Tennessee. Trent Green is scheduled to finish out the second quarter. Bruce Gradkowski will open the second half, with Brock Berlin closing out the game.

The Rams have a new offensive coordinator in Al Saunders, who ran high scoring offenses in K.C. under Dick Vermeil.

After seeing his troops pummeled 34-13 by the Titans, coach Scott Linehan is placing considerable importance on the outcome. Enough so that he plans to "play a significant amount with our starting unit." "I don't know what that means; when we're done, we're done," Linehan said. "But we want to play a great game on Saturday." Emerging victorious in St. Louis, where ticket sales are lagging, "is very important," Linehan added. "I don't discount the importance of any game, preseason or not. There's not a whole lot of good that comes out of losing a game."

RB depth a concern with star Stephen Jackson holding out. Backups Antonio Pittman and Brian Leonard already have gotten enough reps to last a couple of training camps. Pittman's workload tonight might be limited by a thigh injury.

Secondary woes: Starters Oshiomogho Atogwe (hamstring) and cornerback Fakhir Brown (shoulder) are out with injuries. With backup safety Jerome Carter expected to miss tonight's game with a groin injury, and rookie cornerback Justin King (toe) out for the season, the depth of the secondary will be tested.

Upgrading the O-line is a key: Ram QBs were sacked 48 times last season and the running game was 25th.

RG Richie Incognito is in a three-way tussle with Brett Romberg and Mark Setterstrom for two starting slots: center and right guard. Romberg (center) and Setterstrom (right guard) opened camp as first-teamers, but both have missed time. When Romberg had a sore hand and couldn't snap the ball for several days, Incognito put in time at center. And with Setterstrom out now with a strained muscle near his knee, and Romberg back at center, Incognito is back at right guard. 

Houston Texans - QB Rotation: Matt Schaub, Sage Rosenfels, Shane Boyd, rookie Alex Brink.

Quarterback Matt Schaub is expected to play 1.5 quarters against the Saints tonight. Sage Rosenfels will replace him and play until the fourth quarter. Rookie Alex Brink, the seventh-round pick, will play the fourth quarter.

With Ahman Green out, the Texans will mix up their running back rotation tonight. Chris Brown will start the game, and likely play at least through the first quarter. Chris Taylor will then enter the game. Steve Slaton will play after him, and Darius Walker will play with the final group.

The new offensive coordinator is Kyle Shanahan, as 2007 offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is the new head coach at Texas A&M.

RB depth a concern. Newly acquired RB Mike Bell continues to nurse a hamstring. Gary Kubiak didn't want to push RB Chris Brown Monday in his first practice back after almost a week. Ahman Green will get some carries against the Broncos.

Veteran cornerback Jimmy Williams is getting a scope done on his knee, and coach Gary Kubiak said he likely will be out for a significant amount of time.

New Orleans Saints - QB Rotation: Drew Brees, Mark Brunell, Tyler Palko.

Saints running back Deuce McAllister could play in Saturday's preseason game. Asked if McAllister will play, Sean Payton said: "Yeah, right now the plan is. We'll see where he's at. I want to make sure he gets enough carries in either this preseason game, No. 2, or No. 3 before we move on." McAllister has not played since Sept. 24, when he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament against the Tennessee Titans. Barring setbacks, the Saints' plan likely will involve following McAllister's performance in the second preseason game with a fuller load in Game 3.

Running back Reggie Bush might miss Saturday.5?s game against the Texans. Bush missed practice Thursday because of swelling in his left knee.

Payton also said he expects receiver Marques Colston, receiver Devery Henderson and rookie cornerback Tracy Porter to play Saturday. "I think you're going to see a number of the guys that we didn't see in Week 1 up for Week 2, barring any injury right now, " Payton said.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey (hamstring) won't play Saturday.

To help the defense, the Saints paid particular offseason attention to the line, adding free-agent defensive end Bobby McCray and drafting defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis with the seventh overall pick. They also added cornerback Randall Gay via free agency.

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Re: Saturday NFL News and Notes

Arizona Cardinals - QB Rotation: Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner, Brian St. Pierre, rookie Anthony Morelli.

After not playing in last week's preseason game against the Saints, quarterback Kurt Warner is expected to start Saturday's game in Kansas City. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he is leaning toward that decision.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is handing off most of the offensive play-calling duties for the upcoming season to coordinator Todd Haley.

WRs thin. WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring) is not 100% and WR Early Doucet (hamstring) is ailing.

O-line concerns: Cardinals starting center Al Johnson underwent surgery on his left knee last week, and the team is hoping he can return by the first or second game of the season. The Cardinals have taken two serious hits at center. Third-team center Scott Peters suffered a severe knee injury and is out for the season.

Backup Lyle Sendlein is a capable starter, but there isn't much depth. Coaches discussed the possibility of moving guard Elton Brown to center but decided Brown is young and needs the work at guard.

Secondary thin. CB Antrel Rolle (left-ankle sprain) probably won't play Saturday. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (left-ankle sprain) in not 100%.

K.C. Chiefs - QB Rotation: Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Damon Huard.

Coach Herm Edwards said the Chiefs are likely to have the same quarterback rotation Saturday as they did last Thursday against Chicago. Brodie Croyle started and played two series, and Damon Huard replaced him for the rest of the first half. Tyler Thigpen played the second half. Edwards said he'd like Croyle to play in some 2-minute situations.

Rookie defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the centerpiece of their rebuilding effort, injured his left knee in practice. Dorsey probably won.5?t play Saturday night when the Chiefs continue their preseason against the Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium. But he could return to the starting lineup next week.

LBs thin. Injuries have prevented Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris from practicing for several days, and neither will play in Saturday's game against Arizona. Starting MLB Pat Thomas was mostly a bystander in practice because of a sore finger. That left eight healthy linebackers and one, Aden Durde, is with the Chiefs as a special European exemption because he was assigned by the NFL.

The Chiefs spent the offseason overhauling the line, but with rookie left tackle Branden Albert likely out for the preseason because of a sprained foot, the team won't be able to build the continuity coach Herm Edwards wants. With Albert out, veteran guard Brian Waters has to hold down the left side.

Green Bay Packers - QB Rotation: Aaron Rodgers (30-35 plays), rookie Brian Brohm, Matt Flynn.

HC Mike McCarthy said most starters would play between 30 and 35 plays Saturday.

Green Bay is reshuffling the offensive line.

Defensive line health is a concern. Nose tackle Daniel Muir was the latest defensive tackle to go down, leaving the team pretty thin. There are four defensive tackles out and two defensive ends. The tackles are Muir, Ryan Pickett (hamstring), Johnny Jolly (hip flexor) and Justin Harrell (back). The ends are Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee) and Jeremy Thompson (neck stinger).

McCarthy said the players who were sidelined for practice Thursday: receiver Brett Swain (thigh bruise), Grant (hamstring), safety Charlie Peprah (hamstring), linebacker A.J. Hawk (chest), linebacker Desmond Bishop (Achilles tendon), tight end Tory Humphrey (Achilles.5? tendon) and receiver Greg Jennings (knee), would "most likely" not play against the 49ers. Cornerback Al Harris appeared to still be bothered by a stiff back, so his status could also be in doubt.

This Green Bay camp has been heavy on blitzing and it will be interesting to see whether defensive coordinator Bob Sanders will turn loose his squad right away. If he's going to blitz more this season, he's going to have to practice it a lot because timing and execution are so important.

San Fran 49ers - QB Rotation: J.T. O'Sullivan (1st half), Alex Smith (3rd Q), Shaun Hill (4th Q), Drew Olsen.

J.T. O'Sullivan will start against Green Bay. A solid performance against the Packers would clinch O'Sullivan's status as the 49ers No. 1 quarterback. Against the Packers, he will play most of the first half. Alex Smith and Shaun Hill will finish up over the final two quarters.

Mike Martz is the new offensive coordinator. Martz is intent on making TE Vernon Davis a focal point of the offense.

QB J.T. O'Sullivan looks like the most game-ready QB, thanks to the head start he had from working as a backup in Mike Martz's offense last year in Detroit.

WRs thin: Arnaz Battle strained his hamstring in practice Tuesday. WR Bryant Johnson is still out with a right hamstring. WR Ashley Lelie (calf) and Jason Hill (groin) are both nicked up, and Isaac Bruce is still pacing himself into playing shape. Youngsters Hill, Morgan, Cam Colvin and Dominique Zeigler saw a lot of action.

With the retirement of defensive tackle Bryant Young and with defensive tackle Marques Douglas signing as a free agent with the Buccaneers, the 49ers have looked to Justin Smith and rookie Kentwan Balmer, who was the team's first-round pick out of North Carolina, to shore up the defensive line.

Dallas Cowboys - QB Rotation: Tony Romo, Brad Johnson, Richard Bartel.

The majority of the Dallas Cowboys starters will play the first half of tonight's preseason game at Denver, coach Wade Phillips said. The only starters who will not play the entire first half will be quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten, running back Marion Barber and wide receiver Terrell Owens. That group will likely play only one quarter. The Cowboys will give backup quarterback Brad Johnson some extended time behind the first-team offensive line.

WR depth thin.

Secondary thin. With Terence Newman out with a torn groin muscle, rookie Mike Jenkins will start at left cornerback.

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips is calling this "Camp Marshmallow." It's been the school of soft knocks in training camp when it comes to hitting, but Phillips wanted it that way. He didn't want to overwork his team or get players hurt. He feels he got the needed work and has a fresh team steadily building toward the Sept. 7 opener at Cleveland. Phillips believes the team accomplished the mission in camp without full contact or wearing full pads very often.

Denver Broncos - QB Rotation: Jay Cutler (1st Q), Patrick Ramsey, Darrell Hackney (2nd-4th Qs).

Backup QB Patrick Ramsey missed practice to be with his expectant wife. It's unclear whether he'll be available tonight, and Darrell Hackney and Jay Cutler, who'll likely play only about one quarter, are the only quarterbacks on the roster.

LBs thin.

Center Tom Nalen missed his fifth consecutive day with pain in his left knee.

10-12 plays are likely how long Dewayne Robertson will be on the field tonight in his Denver debut. The Broncos have treaded lightly with the free-agent defensive tackle in hopes he holds up physically on the balky left knee he has been dealing with since 2001. Shanahan said Robertson likely will play more in the Aug. 22 preseason game against Green Bay.

For the Broncos, LB Boss Bailey (ankle), center Tom Nalen (knee), and LB Louis Green (neck) will not play in Saturday's preseason game. Cornerback Champ Bailey (hamstring) may be limited.

The Broncos are shaking up the logistics of their play-calling this year. First-year receivers coach Jedd Fisch will be up in the coaches' box, discussing plays with both Mike Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who will be on the sideline. Bates then will relay the call to quarterback Jay Cutler.

Chicago Bears - QB Rotation: Rex Grossman (first half+), Kyle Orton (3rd Q), Caleb Hanie.

Grossman gets the starting nod this week, with Orton following. Bears coach Lovie Smith said his starters may play into the third quarter.

O-line concerns: Rookie 1st round pick left tackle Chris Williams has a back problem and is probably out. His continued absence threatens to alter the Bears' plans for him this season.

Williams was drafted No. 14 overall in the belief he would step right in at left tackle, with John Tait shifting to the right side. John St. Clair has been working with the first team at left tackle, but odds were he'd start the season at left guard instead of Terrence Metcalf.

Injuries have hampered the offensive line from the start of camp. Center Olin Kreutz missed some time with a sore Achilles' tendon. Then Williams went down.

Seattle Seahawks - QB Rotation: Matt Hasselbeck, Seneca Wallace, Charlie Frye, Dalton Bell.

QB Charlie Frye took 100 percent of the practice time with the first-unit offense on Thursday so he is likely the starter on Saturday. Quarterback Matt Hassebeck returned to practice on Thursday after missing the past four days because of a tight back. He's unlikely to play.

The team is trying to find a halfback rotation with Maurice Morris and new additions Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett. The passing game is looking for someone to fill the flanker role while Deion Branch is recovering from a knee injury. Rookie John Carlson is trying to work his way into being a factor at tight end.

The offensive line has been reshuffled with the addition of Mike Wahle and a back injury to Chris Spencer has the team turning to Steve Vallos, a college tackle in 2006, to play center.

Secondary dinged up. CB DeMichael Dizer tore an ACL and will need surgery.

WR concerns: WR Bobby Engram will miss six to eight weeks with a cracked bone in his right shoulder. WR Deion Branch is six months into what is typically a nine-month rehabilitation following reconstructive knee surgery. He likely will not be ready for the season opener. 

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