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 Detroit Lions receiver Roy Williams is sporting a new look, leaving a cube-shaped patch of hair just above his neck on the back of his bald head.
``I can't do a mohawk or dreds,'' he said. ``I'm working with what I've got.''
What the Lions got when they drafted Williams No. 7 overall in 2004 - their second of four receivers in a five-year stretch - was a standout who makes big plays, drops some balls and speaks his mind.
Williams isn't happy getting limited opportunities in Detroit's run-first offense under Jim Colletto after being in a pass-happy scheme the past two seasons with Mike Martz, who will face the Lions on Sunday as San Francisco's offensive coordinator.
``First week I had five balls come my way - caught three for 47,'' Williams said. ``This week I had six come my way - three for 48. So, keeping on my average.
``In Mike Martz's system, I would have had at least 10 to 12 balls come my way.''
Williams said if the Lions (0-2) beat Atlanta and Green Bay, he wouldn't be complaining.
``That's not fine when we lose,'' he said.
he league.
The franchise will be faced with an interesting decision after this season, choosing between giving Williams a lucrative contract, putting the franchise tag on him or letting him go elsewhere as a free agent.
``My mind-set is I'm not going to deal with it until the time is right,'' he said.
Williams said he's prepared to re-sign, but doesn't want to go to Matt Millen's second-floor office to ask him for a new contract.
``No, I don't go up there,'' Williams said.
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BACK TO SCHOOL: Nnamdi Asomugha is finally getting some notice for being one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. His work off the field has been going on for much longer.
Asomugha has been taking a group of Bay Area high school students on an all-expenses paid tour of colleges during the past few offseasons to make them aware of the value of higher education.
``This has been something I've been doing the last few years. I want to make sure these kids continue their education,'' he said. ``It's really gratifying when I see them do that.''
Asomugha took a group of six students last offseason to the campuses of Harvard, MIT, Brown, Boston University and Berklee College of Music. The students also got to see a Celtics game and do some sightseeing in Boston during the trip.
ducation. He was very open. He was not cocky or arrogant. He's a good person to be around. He spent more time with us than in the room with himself. I was surprised.''
Asomugha keeps in touch with the students throughout the year, getting tabs on their progress.
``I find out how they're doing gradeswise and stuff,'' he said. ``I've never had to crack down. These students are all pretty driven.''
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DEFIANT DAWKINS: Tired of hearing people question his coverage skills and wondering if he's lost a step, Philadelphia Eagles safety Brian Dawkins took offense.
``I'm 34 years old and proud of it,'' said Dawkins, who turns 35 on Oct. 13. ``I'm going to continue to play this game at a high level as long as I can. I'm going to protect my body, make sure that I'm out there on the field for my guys, and I'm going to play ball.
``I'm going to play ball at 34. I'm going to play ball at 35, and whatever else comes after that, I'm going to play ball. So if I give up a deep ball and if you want to say I'm slow, go ahead. Guess what? The next time, I'm going to try to make the same play again at 34 or 35 years old.''
llowed a couple of big plays in Monday night's 41-37 loss to the Cowboys, including a short TD catch by Terrell Owens in one-on-one coverage.
``I can run,'' he said. ``I can get to where I need to be in enough time to make the plays I need to make without thinking about cheating too deep and putting my teammates in an awkward position, so I can still do what I need to do.''
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WAITING GAME: Rams running back Brian Leonard, a second-round draft pick last year billed as a do-it-all type who could block for Steven Jackson and keep the chains moving when the feature back needed a breather, has been a gameday inactive the first two weeks.
Apparently, the status of the former Rutgers star has nothing to do with a shoulder injury sustained in the preseason.
Coach Scott Linehan said Leonard has yet to dress because the team is carrying three quarterbacks, one more than last season, and thus far has been compensating by using one fewer running back. Antonio Pittman moved ahead of Leonard as Jackson's backup during the preseason, leaving Leonard's chances of playing this week at Seattle based on special teams.
``I've told Brian both weeks it's really not indicative of how he's practiced or performed,'' Linehan said. ``Whether Brian's the odd man out or somebody else remains to be seen.''
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ooking better each time out. When the season started, everything changed.
The second-round draft pick from Coastal Carolina hasn't played much and hasn't caught a pass during Cincinnati's 0-2 start. It underscores how things change when the games count.
``He's still a young guy, still young-minded from the standpoint of seeing a whole different type of football, a whole different game,'' quarterback Carson Palmer said. ``Slowly, though, I think we'll try to work him into certain situations.''
The Bengals figured they'd have to go slow with Simpson in his transition from Championship Subdivision team to the NFL. So far, it's gone as expected. He had 11 catches for 157 yards in the preseason, when he could rely on his talent alone.
``Jerome's got a ways to go as far as understanding what to do, and for us to have some confidence in him being in the spots where he needs to be,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ``Then he can maybe earn some more playing time. He's played in each of the games, but he's got to be right all the time in practice.''
The Bengals need a No. 3 receiver to complement Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Simpson sounds a little frustrated and puzzled by his lack of time on the field.
``I work hard every day, so there ain't too much I can say,'' Simpson said. ``I've got great veterans in front of me. I mean, I don't know, man, to tell you the truth.''
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tball writer Barry Wilner and sports writers Larry Lage in Detroit, Josh Dubow in Oakland, Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia and R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis contributed to this story.

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