Marcus Stroud's return from suspension could help Jags' struggling D-line Print
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Monday, 03 December 2007 15:24
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 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud rejoined the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday after completing a four-game suspension for violating the league's steroid and related substances policy.
The Jaguars (8-4) went 3-1 without the 6-foot-6, 310-pound defensive linemen, but his return was a welcome sign for a team that has struggled to pressure quarterbacks without blitzing.
Jacksonville sacked Indianapolis' Peyton Manning once and hit him a few more times in Sunday's 28-25 loss, but the defense didn't do enough to prevent the Colts from converting 10 of 13 times on third down and scoring their first three touchdowns on the crucial down.
``I didn't think we played smart enough,'' coach Jack Del Rio said Monday. ``We had too many penalties and too many breakdowns, in particular in our secondary, where we got them in third-and-14, third-and-16, third-and-10 and allowed them to have big plays, in some case touchdowns, and really let them off the hook.''
Stroud has 33 tackles and three sacks in eight games. And given four weeks to rest his troublesome right ankle, the one that required micro-fracture surgery in the offseason, the Jags expect him to be rejuvenated.
``He'll be hungry because of the time he missed,'' Del Rio said. ``His body ought to feel great because he had a little bit of a break. I'm sure he'll be anxious to get back and get back to work.''
Stroud was not available for comment Monday. He was suspended four games without pay Nov. 4, nearly a week after reports surfaced that he had tested positive for banned supplements.
Stroud said the supplements were part of his rehabilitation following the surgery, but said he didn't know they contained banned substances. He accepted responsibility for the positive test and didn't appeal the suspension.
Dolphins
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) - The grumbling in the Miami Dolphins' locker room hasn't reached the ears of coach Cam Cameron, who on Monday brushed off comments that some veteran members of the winless team made after their latest loss.
``We're in this thing together,'' Cameron said. ``None of us want to be in this position, but we have control over it. There are some things we do have control over, and the one thing you can't do in these situations is give in. You can't give in to negativity.''
Too late.
After the Dolphins' 40-13 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, nose tackle Keith Traylor accused unspecified teammates of selfishness and defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday said the loss felt different from Miami's other 11 this season.
``I'm sure there's a level of 'Why?,' and that comes up in the locker room after a game like that, but I don't sense any of that,'' Cameron said. ``This is a character group. The locker room has been outstanding. But we're being tested. And that's part of what we're going through.''
Cameron, still searching for his first win as an NFL head coach, said the team remained united, despite their string of injuries and close losses this season. Miami has lost five games by three points this year. On Monday, Cameron said the Dolphins lost safety, Cameron Worrell, to a torn ACL and the team is still evaluating the status of Jesse Chatman, who aggravated an ankle injury Sunday and missed most of the second half of the game.
Cowboys
Note to Jon Kitna: Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bradie James can't wait to see you Sunday.
That would be No. 56, which is how the Detroit quarterback referred to James instead of by name in some disparaging remarks last January. Those came after the Lions finished a three-win regular season with a victory over the playoff-bound Cowboys.
``It has been circled on my calendar the whole year and here we are and I'm looking forward to it,'' James said Monday. ``I thought it was classless. ... Yeah, they beat us, so what? It was over with. He was at home and we were still playing.''
Kitna's comments came the week after he threw for 306 yards and four touchdowns in the Lions' 39-31 victory at Texas Stadium last season.
``We didn't feel like their interior linebackers were very effective,'' Kitna said during an interview with a Seattle radio station. ``There were some times that we were watching on film before we played Dallas that we really felt like No. 56, sometimes I don't know that he knew where he was at.''
It wasn't until February that someone called James and told him about Kitna's comments.
``He didn't say nothing before the game, then all of a sudden, we hear him saying something,'' James said. ``I don't know him and don't want to know him, but he's going to get to know me. I'm going to talk before and back it up.''
Titans
After going 1-for-9 inside the 20 the past three games, the Tennessee Titans scored touchdowns on all three trips to the red zone against the Houston Texans.
They also scored a touchdown from beyond the red zone, too.
``Our numbers have been a little on the rougher side,'' said wide receiver Justin Gage. ``I think more than anything it builds some confidence for us, knowing that if we get in the red zone we can definitely score touchdowns when we need to.''
The Titans hadn't scored more than three touchdowns offensively in a game this season.
``I think we've been going, we just haven't been able to convert and score points,'' running back LenDale White said. ``We've been moving the ball pretty good the last couple weeks, we just couldn't score points. Sunday we got in the red zone. Coach Fisher said no field goals.''
Bears
The Bears have allowed more than 100 rushing yards in each of their last eight games and are giving up 130.8 yards rushing per game. A year ago, they finished sixth in the league at 99.4 yards rushing per game en route to the Super Bowl.
``It seems like we've talked about that quite a bit, whether it's missed tackles, just not getting off the blocks, getting out of our gaps, it was a combination of all of those things,'' Smith said. ``We have to be able to play the run a little bit better or teams will continue to do that against us.''
Penalties also disgusted the Bears coach. The team committed 10 Sunday for 71 yards, eight flags fewer than the Giants.
Terrence Metcalf's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for kneeing took the Bears out of a possible touchdown and they settled for a Robbie Gould 41-yard field goal when their third-quarter lead could have been 20-7 with a TD.
``It seemed like every one was a big play that really set us back,'' Smith said about the penalties.
A Thursday night game means little time to correct their mistakes in practice. The Bears will practice Tuesday and then fly to Washington Wednesday. Wide receiver Devin Hester, tight end Greg Olsen and safety Adam Archuleta missed Monday's practice to attend Taylor's funeral in Miami.
``It's just a warrior mentality the guys have to have,'' tackle John St. Clair said.
Vikings
NFL officials got a pretty clear answer Monday to their questions about support for public financing of a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium: Not in 2008.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller sent that message in separate, private meetings with league officials at the Capitol. The team enlisted the NFL in its quest for a new $954 million stadium complex on the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis.
``Unlikely,'' said Kelliher, the most powerful Democrat in the House.
State leaders have their own worries right now, with a $373 million deficit projected by mid-2009 and gnawing questions about the state of Minnesota's transportation infrastructure after the fatal Interstate 35W bridge collapse in August. They're also getting complaints about rising property taxes and school funding.
``While there are competing priorities, they thought this was an important initiative and they were ready to spend some time and effort on it,'' NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman said.
The proposal from Vikings owner Zygi Wilf includes a retractable roof stadium and a sweeping redevelopment of the downtown area surrounding the Metrodome. Wilf has pledged about $250 million for the new stadium and more to redevelop the surrounding area.
The team's Metrodome lease is set to expire in 2011, and the Vikings have long lamented the lack of revenue generated by the drab facility. Previous owner Red McCombs started banging the drum for a new stadium almost 10 years ago and sold the team to Wilf after being unsuccessful in securing public support.
 

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