|Testaverde draws Peyton Manning's praise|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 October 2007 08:36|
Yes, Manning respects the league's elder statesman quarterback as much as any other in the league. But playing at age 43 for Carolina, as Testaverde is doing, is a little surprising to the Super Bowl MVP.
``That's something,'' Manning said. ``Vinny's a guy that, from what I've heard, has always kept himself in great shape. He's a big-time workout and conditioning guy, so it's a real credit to him for his durability.''
Testaverde has been around so long that some Colts starters weren't even aware of all the teams he'd played for.
Take starting cornerback Marlin Jackson, who remembers Testaverde playing with the Cleveland Browns. When informed that Testaverde had actually spent six seasons in Tampa Bay, the team that took him with the No. 1 pick in the 1987 draft, before joining Cleveland, Jackson responded: ``He played for Tampa Bay? I didn't know that. He is pretty old then. I remember him with the Browns.''
Testaverde also has played for the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. He holds the NFL mark for consecutive seasons with a touchdown pass, 21.
Manning, who has started all 150 games in his career, wasn't sure he could last that long in the NFL. He is 31.
``I haven't really thought much about it, but playing that long is quite an accomplishment,'' he said.
HALL OF FAME BALL: Titans kicker Rob Bironas now has a reason to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and sometime soon. The football he used to kick his NFL-record eighth field goal already is there.
The Titans shipped the ball to Canton after a request from the Hall of Fame. That's fine with Bironas, even though that was the only souvenir he kept from his NFL-record performance in last weekend's 38-36 win in Houston.
``They gave it to me right after the game,'' Bironas said of his winning 29-yard field goal. ``I threw it back to them and said, `Keep this and give it back to me when we get back to Tennessee.'''
Bironas doesn't mind not keeping something to remember the day he was a perfect 8-of-8 on his field goal attempts. Instead, he thinks it's pretty cool where the ball is now.
``It's going to be up there for a lot longer than I'd be able to keep it or pass it to my family. It's definitely an honor to have something in the Hall of Fame,'' Bironas said.
DE TO LB: When the Bengals gave Robert Geathers a huge contract extension in January, he figured he would be a fixture at defensive end for years to come. Two months into the season, he's not even on the line anymore.
The Bengals' problems at linebacker prompted them to move Geathers to a new position. He has started the last two at strong-side linebacker, a totally unfamiliar position.
``I've never played linebacker at any level,'' Geathers said. ``It's my first time.''
So far, not bad.
Geathers had five tackles in a loss to Kansas City and three in a victory over the New York Jets. He's still a little uncomfortable in the transition from chasing the quarterback to covering a receiver.
``I'm getting there, slowly but surely,'' he said. ``A lot of the older guys have been helping me. (The toughest part) is seeing everything and being able to read my keys and get to where I need to be in my coverage responsibilities.''
The fourth-year pro led the Bengals with 10 1/2 sacks last season, the most by a Bengal since 1983. The breakout season earned him one of the biggest contract extensions for a defensive player in team history. Geathers got a six-year deal that pays him $14 million this season in salary and bonuses.
The Bengals moved their best pass rusher to linebacker after injuries left them with only two healthy linebackers in a 34-13 loss to New England in their fourth game. It has turned out to be more than a one-game fix.
``I didn't think it was going to be a permanent move, but when I heard it I was up for the challenge if it was going to help us as a defense,'' Geathers said.
Middle linebacker Ahmad Brooks is still sidelined by a groin injury and linebacker Caleb Miller is still limited by a sore back, so Geathers will stay in his new spot.
``He's a linebacker now,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ``Permanently right now. As permanent as right now can be.''
DRAFTING EFFICIENCY: Saints coach Sean Payton, whose team found a handful of regulars in the 2006 NFL draft, but only one part-time defensive back in 2007, said he has no complaints that the NFL shortened the time between picks in the first two rounds next spring.
The new rules, approved at league meetings this week, reduce the time between first-round choices from 15 minutes to 10, and the time between second-round picks from 10 minutes to seven.
The other rounds will allow five minutes per pick.
The change was meant to make the draft, a huge spectator event in itself, more fan-friendly. But the change also could make it more challenging for teams trying to negotiate draft-day trades, which were a huge help to the Saints in 2006. That year, New Orleans acquired starting center Jeff Faine from Cleveland in a trade of second-round picks, and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas in a fourth-round deal.
``I think it's fine. I don't have a real strong opinion on it,'' Payton said. ``They've done a real good job in regard to the marketing of the event. It's become popular. It's clear and away the most popular draft when you look at all the sports. It's the one that's paid the most attention to, so they're doing something right.''
AP Football Writer Barry Wilner and AP Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Michael Marot in Indianapolis and Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this story.