by Pigskin Paul Guillemette, Associate Editor/Chief Scout
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    August 22: One of the surprises in PANTHERS camp is the play of second year man WR/BRENTIN BERSIN. He's a grad of Wofford College, which just happens to be the alma mater of PANTHERS Owner JERRY RICHARDSON. In fact the two men share the career TD reception mark at the school. Think Mr. RICHARDSON has a big soft spot for the kid?! It also helps that he's a big target and seems to catch anything that gets near him. He's got a legit chance to make this team given the total retooling of the receiving corps going on.

    There is word coming out of CHIEFS Training Camp that the team is really liking the work of URFA/CAIRO SANTOS/K. If that is true then the team should start shopping around 5 year vet RYAN SUCCOP now. The former Mr. Irrelevant of the 2009 DRAFT had a slightly down season in 2013, but has been dependable with better than average leg strength for his career. There are some teams who could use kicking help and the CHIEFS could certainly use an extra late round pick for next May. Part of the fascination for m in watching the CHIEFS/PANTHERS game Sunday night was the fact that these are the two teams that I have targeted to NOT repeat as Play-Off teams for the 2014 season. They both lost way too many players to VFA and Salary Cap issues this past off-season. Although both teams look to be respectable and tough outs most weekends I did not see anything in their play that indicated either one will finish their season above .500.

    For those who think it is an exaggeration to refer to Coaches BRUCE ARIANS & TOM MOORE as the QB Whisperers out in Arizona how else would you explain the solid QB play from journeyman DREW STANTON as CARSON PALMER's back-up. STANTON has been around but looks like a solid option to keep the team afloat if PALMER goes down for a while. Now let's see how they do developing LOGAN THOMAS for the long term. On the other side of the coin, the serious knee injury to DE/DARNELL DOCKETT will be costly for the CARDINALS Defense. He is also considered to be a team leader and well respected by their younger guys.

    Watching the BROWNS management try to handle the JONNY MANZIEL phenomenon has been painful from Day One. All the excitement and publicity is a solid boost for the organization. But their crazy statements, like telling MANZIEL to act like a back-up, per Owner Jimmy HASLAM have been puzzling from the get-go. And now BRIAN HOYER has been named starter after 2 pre-season games, though no one in their right mind can say he outplayed MANZIEL. HOYER did a very poor job, IMO, stepping up to seize the moment. Clearly the BROWNS are on the verge of having a dominant Defense and it will be HOYER's job to manage the Offense, which he should be better at right now than MANZIEL. But let's be clear that a lot of air has escaped the balloon that was BROWNS fan MANZIEL-fever. That potential momentum is lost going into September. By the way, message to JOHNNY MANZIEL... now that you have shown how unready you are to play at the NFL level, please cool your jets off the field and act like a guy who has a lot to learn about his job and will give that effort all that he has from this point on, at the cost of the high life. By the way, I could clearly see the possibility that if HOYER really stumbles coming out of the gate it could be REX GROSSMAN getting handed the reigns to the team on an interim basis. SEXY REXY, as many called him in Chicago, is well acquainted with the KYLE SHANAHAN system and might indeed be a better choice than HOYER once he is settled in. On the other hand maybe HOYER can rise to the occasion now that the MANZIEL MONKEY seems to be off his back. The good news is that I think the BROWNS have a chance to have a solid running game his season. Their OL is above average, and I like the new RB tandem of VFA/BEN TATE and R/TERRANCE WEST. These two can tote the mail as long as the QB earns enough respect that opponents cannot stack the box with 7-8 every down. Hey RAY FARMER, you'd better be shopping for some WR help in the next few weeks as well, since you chose not to back in May during the NFL DRAFT.

    Watching Washington hang on against the BROWNS Monday night it seems possible to me that they could be the team in the NFC East to give the EAGLES a run for their money at the Division title. But getting RG3 back in a groove is big right now for JAY GRUDEN. It can't happen, unless GRIFFIN gets hurt, but for my money Washington's offense might run better with KIRK COUSINS on the field right now.  Teams needing receiver help should be watching roster cuts by the REDSKINS in the next couple of weeks. There may not be enough balls to go around for a receiving group that includes JACKSON, GARCON, ROBERTS, GRANT, HANKERSON(if healthy), MOSS, REED, PAUL, ROBINSON, PAULSEN. So chances are some decent receivers will be cut from that roster.

    Watching the VIKES play I do not think MIKE ZIMMER/NORV TURNER will face any early season criticism when they start MATT CASSEL over TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, at least not right away. BRIDGEWATER has shown flashes, but also made his share of beginner mistakes. CASSEL has been in control and impressive overall. CASSEL, unlike HOYER, has won the job with his play and made his coaches look good for now.

    If you are among the many football fans who are feeling violated by the number of flags being tossed around my NFL officiating crews this summer let me put your mind at rest that it is not your imagination at work. After 2 weeks, and a HOF game, here are the flag number from the folks at the ESPN stats department. Through 33 games here is how "Point Of Emphasis" has influenced the penalty calling by League officials.
    Defensive Holding 2013/20 penalties 2014/112Illegal Contact 2013/8 penalties 2014/55Hands to Face 2013/17 penalties 2014/71 Nope, it is clearly not your imagination that it has been raining penalty flags. And someone in New York had best get out the word to NFL officials to scale back this onslaught of "emphasis" flags.

    One of the biggest surprises of Training Camp and pre-season in upstate New York, both literally and figuratively, may be the play of BILLS Rookie OT/SEANTREL HENDERSON. Literally one of the biggest underachievers during his college career, the 6'7/330 lb. behemoth has now played 3 games as the starting LT and given the BILLS no reason to replace him with anyone else on the roster. He still has lots to learn, technique-wise, but his play and work ethic has been a pleasant surprise. Even though he may lack quickness he is tough to get around because he is so damn big. Would be he a $20 cab ride in today's NYC? If his mind is right he is certainly playing under a Head Coach in DOUG MARRONE who knows a thing or two about playing OT in the NFL.

    If it doesn't get toned down too much by HBO the next two episodes of Hard Knocks might get rather interesting. The FALCONS getting beat up by the TEXANS last weekend is not where the team was supposed to be headed. Special Teams were a disaster, and LT/SAM BAKER tearing up his knee means R/JAKE MATTHEWS will move to LT after all. I think he can handle it, but a highlight of the show was OL Coach MIKE TICE telling MATTHEWS on the sidelines in the 4th Quarter that starting the next morning he was the team's new LT. RODDY WHITE and JULIO JONES are not looking like anything close to the top WR tandem in the NFL thus far, which will be a real problem since the TE position is due to take a big production hit from the retirement of TONY GONZALEZ. Guess logic might dictate that the opening scene of next week's episode would be BAKER going under the knife for his surgical repair job. The TEXANS looked like a different team in that game, and I think some of it was created by DC ROMEO CRENNEL dialing up a few defensive surprises for such an early pre-season game. Winning that game, in front of the home crowd, was important for the TEXANS. It also helped things that Number 1 Draft Pick JADEVEON CLOWNEY/OLB had a couple of highlight reel plays in the backfield early on. However, S/D.J. SWEARINGER can shut his trash-talking mouth real soon for my taste. I will revel in watching the play this season when some other team gives SWEARINGER some very physical payback. One really has to wonder if THOMAS DIMITROFF is looking over his should at all with new hire SCOTT PIOLI working "under" him. They both go back to the BELICHICK training tree together and are considered buds, but if things go bad for the FALCONS again this season I have to wonder if ARTHUR BLANK, with a new stadium to fill very soon, might feel compelled to shake things up and make DIMITROFF part of the purge. Business men like BLANK always keep their options open and are not hesitant to shake things up if they think it will improve the bottom line. Nothing imminent methinks, but the situation could bear watching.

    It is way too early for anyone to hit the panic button, but the 49'ers look like a totally out of sync team through 2 pre-season games. To say their play has not been sharp would be a gross understatement, and they do have enough issues to deal with to make you wonder how they get things back on track. They clearly miss holdout OG ALEX BOONE. BLAINE GABBERT looks like a guy who is going to need major, long term therapy to undo the harm of starting his career as a tackling dummy in Jacksonville. Trying to find a new playing partner for WILLIS with BOWMAN out for probably half the season is interesting but painful at times. PHIL DAWSON/PK is closing in on his total number of missed FG from the entire 2013 season. It's probably not a coincidence that some of the chaos can be linked to the fact that the team has the longest "reserve list" of any team in the League.  Speaking of the ILB situation, the two inside playing partners right now, CHRIS BORLAND/R & MICHAEL WILHOITE are actually waging a battle to see who opens the regular season starting next to PATRICK WILLIS, even though they act as a tandem right now. From what I have noticed in 2 games the position is likely to be in good hands until BOWMAN returns. BORLAND is also impressing with his Special Teams work and can be expected to star there if/when he is relegated to a back-up role at ILB. It certainly became a highly quoted turn of phrase when American novelist THOMAS WOLFE penned his famous title and literary phrase "you can never go home again", but one Niner player is proving that to be a misnomer in his case. Back in 2003 the 49'ers made WR/BRANDON LLOYD their 4th Round Draft Pick. He's bounced around the NFL for 11 seasons and has landed back with his original NFL team. That circumstance is much to the delight of QB/COLIN KAEPERNICK, who has made LLOYD his favorite target of the pre-season. The WR position is a well stocked closet in San Francisco when everyone is healthy, but for now LLOYD looks like a favorite to make the team.

    It certainly looks like there is no dust on the arm or mind of PEYTON MANNING as the BRONCOS prep to return to the Super Bowl again this season. NO news here, but clearly MR. PEYTON is the Albert Einstein of NFL QB. If you look at the list top NFL QB, historically MANNING may rank near the bottom when it comes to overall athleticism and arm strength. But he takes above average tools and translates them to greatness because he can out think any defense he faces. It's a challenge for PEYTON to throw that perfect spiral anymore for more than 10 yards, but the ball is out so early and on target to the point that his receiving targets still have the advantage over the defenders almost every time. MANNING looks in mid-season form to me already. Why not another 50+ TD pass season?! The BRONCOS may need to score over 600 points again this season to overcome some defensive deficiencies. During the off-season two starting LB, WESLEY WOODYARD & SHAWN PHILLIPS, left the team in VFA. Now emerging star LB DANNY TREVATHAN may be lost until mid-season. That means some young and inexperienced guys will be trying to step up to fill some big shoes. Logic tells you the DL & secondary will be trying to cover for some more mistakes than usual from that LB crew. The situation bears watching closely.

    After missing some time early in Training Camp RYAN SHAZIER/ILB/R made his in pads debut for the STEELERS against the BILLS. And what a debut it was. Playing the entire first half SHAZIER looked like a young POLAMALU flying all over the field. He recorded 9 tackles and had an INT. Two tackles also came as par of Special Teams. That's exactly the kind of athleticism and ability the STEELERS thought they were getting when they took SHAZIER in Round One in May. The young STEELERS DL also looked good in this game. CAMERON HEYWARD finally looks like the force they thought he would be when they tabbed him four seasons ago. I describe him best s long and strong ala RICHARD SEYMOUR. VFA acquisItion CAM THOMAS was his usual stout, steady self. The STEELERS also had to be impressed with the wrk ethic and hustle of R/DE/STEPHON TUITT. I'm still not sure if he's athletic enough for the NFL but massive DL/R/DANIEL McCULLERS continues to dwarf others even at the NFL level. Let's just say he is 6'7 and 350+lbs. He was exposed as being stiff and playing way too high at the Senior Bowl, but he's huge and naturally strong. He can take up a lot of space in the middle of the line-of-scrimmage. Let's just call him a massive work in progress for veteran DL Coach JOHN MITCHELL.

    There are mild rumblings out of Cincinnati, none of them official, that the rest being given to R/QB/A.J. McCARRON's shoulder may be a long term thing, perhaps requiring him to be place on a reserve list for the 2014 season. As long as his wing is good for the future nothing wrong with that scenario from a BENGALS standpoint. They were not counting on much from him as a Rookie anyway. A Rookie who the BENGALS do like so far in Camp is FB/H-B RYAN HEWITT from Stanford. HEWITT is proving to be the same smart, efficient, versatile player for them that he was down on The Farm at STANFORD. His versatility and willingness to play Special Teams could earn him a spot on their regular season roster.  Through two games RUSSELL BODINE/R is the starting OC, and that could continue. He's not flashy and is still getting lots of hands-on coaching from OL Coach PAUL ALEXANDER, but his natural strength and aggressiveness marks him as a potential NFL starter. As is required of BENGALS OL candidates he never quits on plays and keeps his feet moving until the whistle.

    The JETS are certainly suffering from all the injuries in their secondary. Hopefully they can get some of their walking wounded back by the end of pre-season. The team is down to starting Safeties on the Corner right now. It seems pretty clear that KYLE WILSON/CB a former 1st Rounder is a bust and at best survives as a sub-package guy. Despite his speed and quickness his cover skills are marginal at best. He can't even get a start despite the rash of injuries. No doubt the JETS still want to run first and pass second, and even with IVORY & JOHNSON sharing carries I think the JETS best looking weapon in the backfield right now is BILAL POWELL who is a quick cut runner and really looks good catching the ball out of the backfield. He's an A-1 weapon for this team.

    August 18: In an attempt to get more coverage for more teams I am going to present to you notes that I took while watching pre-season game action. Some are organized by game, others are random thoughts that came to mind from out of the football clouds.

    JAGUARS coaches had better get it into their heads right now that given their OL and his individual lack of "speed" running sweep plays for TOBY GERHART very often is going to be a waste of time/downs. Getting to the edge is not his forte. Running north/south thru blocking creases, between the tackles is. Their attempts to run wide against DA BEARS were thwarted. JAGS coaches and fans should be impressed with the improvement of 2nd year CB DWAYNE GRATZ in his all-around play at CB. He is fearless in run support and is a sound tackler. He may not be a speedster, but he has enough to keep up with most wideouts. He may get challenged deep if the JAGS blitz their S personnel too often though. But overall the second year man is a keeper with good long range starting potential.

    I was impressed last summer with some of the things I saw in Miami from WR/BRIAN TYMS/#84. Now he has resurfaced in PATRIOTS Camp and is getting some attention. He's long and strong and shows good ball awareness. He may be raw, but his overall talent shows. The tall (6'3) guy could develop into a solid red zone and sideline "jump ball" catcher to compliment some of the PATS smaller receivers. On the other end of the spectrum URFA/ROY FINCH/RB is so quick and fast that he is making a strong argument that he deserves a roster spot in New England. FINCH got lost in the RB shuffle @ Oklahoma back in college, but he caught scouts' attention with that speed/quickness combo at the NFLPA All-Star game. Ball security might be the area where he needs to prove himself the most during the remainder of the pre-season.

    Speaking of URFA, one of the top franchises in terms of collecting those players in recent years has been the defending champion SEA HAWKS. Perhaps at the risk of being too cute and smug in their own ability to mine diamonds in the rough, more than a few such "projects" dot their roster again this summer. The team seems to provide OL Coach TOM CABLE with a pet project every Camp and this year it seems to be GARRY GILLIAM/OT/PENN STATE. CABLE seems to be enamored by the big guys footwork and overall athleticism. GILLIAM (6'6/305) played OL only a bit in college. But remember that two camps ago CABLE took draft  pick DT/J.R. SWEEZY and laid claim to him for his OL troops. He turned him into an immediate starter. GILLIAM looks more like a candidate for the Practice Squad this year, but they'll have to sneak him past some team hungry for OL help. GILLIAM shows flashes of being an NFL LT in time.

    Clearly the Big Easy is not too concerned about being Politically Correct when it comes to their Cajun cuisine. A primary pre-season sponsor is what appears to be a local cajun spices company with the dubious name of Slap Ya Mama. And the SAINTS depict a graphic of the red zone on their broadcasts with Slap Ya Mama super-imposed on the field of play. RAY RICE might feel more comfortable in a SANTS uniform... and he's not alone. Not trying to be a wise guy and/or insensitive, but watching ROB RYAN on the SAINTS sideline looking rather whalish I sincerely think brother REX needs to get into his ear about his weight and condition. ROB looks to be well past the 400 lb. mark and needs to start thinking about his health, and soon. He could stand to repeat the process that his brother has gone through recently. REX looks absolutely great these days.

    JUSTIN HUNTER/WR/TITANS looks ready to break out this year and be a very productive counter to the diminutive KENDALL WRIGHT. The biggest knock on HUNTER coming into the League last year was his length and lack of substance to his frame. He's still not massive by any means, but at just under 200 lbs. he looks and acts a lot more physical that the 6'3 guy who weighted under 180 lbs. last year. And he doesn't look to have lost any speed from what I have seen.

    The SAINTS may have found themselves a real keeper in 5th Round Rookie VINNIE SUNSERI/S/ALABAMA. SUNSERI has great ball awareness and plays with reckless abandon in pursuit of the ball similar to last year's Round 1 PIck KENNY VACARO. He also shows a very high football IQ (FBI) in diagnosing where the ball is going. He should be a solid Special Teamer while he works his way into some sub-package roles for ROB RYAN.

    The PACKERS dumped JEREL WORTHY (Round 2, 2012) to the PATRIOTS after tiring of his injury propensity and lack of progress on the field. Next man out of town, if the math makes sense is the oft-injured 1st Rounder from that same Draft, NICK PERRY. A pass-rush DE at USC he is said to have been resistant to a switch to OLB in the PACKERS 3-4 scheme, and has displayed a poor attitude in general. He appears to be an ideal fit for the PACKS new "elephant," DE/OLB hybrid spot, but the team went out & signed VFA JULIUS PEPPERS to fill that role short term. If the team can figure out a new home to trade him to, minimizing a potential dead $ cap hit, he could be gone before September as well. Last weekend against RAMS second team OL he was a non-factor generating any kind of pass rush. Meanwhile URFA/JAYRON ELLIOTT/Toledo continues to show lots of flash and energy in that department. The 6'3/255 Rookie led the MAC in sacks last season and has not missed a beat in PACKERS Camp this Summer.

    With the injury loss of WR/MARQUESS WILSON, DA BEARS, felt compelled to go out and get JAY CUTLER another veteran receiving presence. So they signed SANTONIO HOLMES, ex-JETS. This could be an interesting addition unless HOLEMS has been humbled by his recent unemployment. There is no way he takes catches away from the Big 3 of MARSHALL/JEFFERY/BENNETT. So barring injury, he'll be resigned to getting leftover balls thrown his way when the team goes to 3-wideout formations. Will HOMES be able to resign himself to that kind of role and accept the fact that his skills are declining with age? Stay tuned. By the way it should also be noted that DA BEARS Special Teams units are really missing DEVIN HESTER, and cut ERIC WEEMS to make room for HOLMES.

    On the defensive side of things the current COWBOYS look like an expansion team right now. Even ROD MARINELLI can't coach up this group enough to contend for a Play-Off berth. It is also official now that MLB/SEAN LEE is out for the season. Now ORLANDO SCANDRICK/CB is out for 4 games and the 6th Pick in the 2012 Draft MORRIS CLAIBORNE/CB still can't get healthy enough to get on the playing field. Guys like JUSTON DURANT/LB, BARRY CHURCH/S, NICK HAYDEN/DT, J.J. WILCOX are doing their best, but are not elite players to lead the charge. By the way has anyone seen BRANDON CARR lately?  Although I am skeptical of the immediate results, it is great to see AMOBI OKOYE/DT in uniform and trying to get out on the field of play. About a year ago this man was placed into a coma to battle a life-threatening disease. The former first rounder is still only 27-years old. Perhaps a non-football reserve slot is in his immediate future with a legit shot at laying again in 2015. On he brighter side the COWBOYS Offense looks pretty potent as long as TONY ROMO's back holds up to game action. Put me in the band wagon seat that DEZ BRYANT has become a monster WR in today's NFL, He reminds me a lot of former COWBOYS great MICHAEL IRVIN. On the field of play that is a high compliment.

    GERALD McCOY/DT/BUCS is looking absolutely dominant for DC LESLIE FRAZIER's Defense in Tampa. McCOY has been flying under the radar the past few seasons in the ill-fated SCHIANO regime, but the 26-year old is just hitting his prime. His penetration and surprising strength at the point of attack remind me an awful lot of a guy named SAPP who played for the BUCS once upon a time. He's playing in a pretty talented, if undersized, DL group this year and if healthy may post some huge numbers in TFL, Sacks & tackles for an NFL DT. The BUCS Offense looks like it may struggle all year and be a liability to that sound defense. The OL is very inexperienced and may feature 3 first time starters this season. And it is clear based on 3 weeks of Training Camp that MIKE EVANS/WR & SEFERIAN-JENKINS/TE thought talented are raw and immature. They have a lot of learning and growing to do right now. Their success this season will hinge greatly on their willingness to work harder and accept coaching every practice.

    Talk about guys who just don't understand how the NFL in particular, and life in general works, let's take a look at the LIONS NICK FAIRLEY/DT. The former Round 1 Pick who was supposed to team with MR. SUH to form an elite DT tandem has clearly not lived up to expectations during his first 3 seasons with the team. So much so, that the LIONS decided not to exercise his contract option for 2015. Thus he enters the 2014 season as a Free Agent to-be. So in a show of his maturity and determined attitude to succeed in his pro football career he shows up to Camp a reported 30 lbs. overweight at about 320 lbs. And then there is the other side of the coin in ANDY STUDEBAKER/DE/OLB/CHIEFS. STUDEBAKER, a 6th Round PIck out of WHEATON (IL) college back in 2008 by the EAGLES, is in COLTS Camp this summer and looking to play his 7th season in the League. He plays wherever he is asked to and does so with energy and FBI. He is a coaches delight and a great teammate. He has played in 81 total games, with 95 tackles, 2 sacks & 2 INT on his resume. Given his attitude and versatility I would suggest he makes the COLTS roster for the 2nd year in a row. His name will show up in multiple places on their depth chart.

    Speaking of the COLTS it is quite clear this pre-season that theirs is not a great run-blocking OL. That observation is not meant to excuse the lack of explosion and decisiveness that continues to be displayed by TRENT RICHARDSON, but it is a sad reality. Only if ANDREW LUCK continues to tear apart defenses with his passing and running ability when pressured, will the team have a chance to run effectively as defenses back out of the box to contain LUCK. A healthy AHMAD BRADSHAW is a must as the regular season starts, since the team chose to let DONALD BROWN their top runner last season escape via VFA. No GM is perfect in his judgement and clearly at this point the RICHARDSON trade last fall was RYAN GRIGSON's biggest error in judgement as COLTS GM. They simply cannot run the ball through two pre-season games.
    The LIONS may have a surprise, though minor, trading chip on their hands over the next couple of weeks. Their Rookie PK/NATE FREESE looks to me like he will win the kicking competition with VFA GIORGIO TEVECCHIO by a hair. But given that TEVECCHIO was also highly competitive last year in PACKERS Camp, if the LIONS play their cards close to the vest they might be able to get a late Draft PIck from some team without a compelling kicking candidate in Camp right now... like the TITANS. The 24-year old TEVECCHIO would seem to be a desirous candidate with the potential to fill that slot for a number of years to come for some needy team.

    By today's NFL standards the Oakland Colosseum is a mausoleum and a joke. Watching them play an exciting contest against the LIONS in Week 2, I kept waiting for some kind of serious injury to occur on the dirt infield right in the middle of the football playing field. This looks like, and is, the same stadium the RAIDERS of the AFL played most of their games in. There is no hope of a seriously improved stadium because the penny pinching, money ball A's are content to play in a relative dump as long as the rent is cheap and MLB continues to subsidize their cheapness with revenue sharing. If ever a team's facilities were a potential breeding ground for a major MRSA epidemic it would be this stadium where dugouts flood on a regular basis. REGGIE McKENZIE Oakland GM is plugging along in his massive rebuilding process for the RAIDERS. And even ROME was not built in a day. But I might accuse REGGIE and his pro personnel people of trying to rebuild in some areas by putting square pegs into round holes. The DL may be the best example of that. That unit has 2 DE & a pass-rushing OLB starting with only one true, full sized DT, PAT SIMS, in the unit. TUCK (268), A. SMITH (295) & WOODLEY (265) join the 325 lb. SIMS in the starting unit. This crew should be quite the unit to pound against with a solid running game attack. His weekend game injuries may slow down the process, but off what I have seen I would expect DEREK CARR to be the starting QB for the RAIDERS by the 2015 season if not later on this year. MATT SCHAUB still looks gun shy to me under pressure and the RAIDERS OL is clearly a work in progress with the team trying to play 4 OT all at once. Seems like the square pegs in round holes theory applies to both RAIDERS line units right now. I'll give SCHAUB the nod to start the season as No.1 QB, but the leash may be shorter than McKENZIE/GREEN have stated publicly. I feel compelled to eat a little crow and hand out some props regarding the NFL QB ability of one MATT McGLOIN. I thought it was a move born of absolute desperation when the RAIDERS signed him last year as an URFA. Then I was shocked when he made their roster and actually played some. He's too short, athletically limited and has a mediocre arm at best. But once again, you cannot discount a man's heart on the field of athletic endeavor. The guy is smart, a solid teammate and plays his ass off. He could be a third stringer for my team any day. His 4th quarter work in the comeback win over the LIONS  last Friday was inspiring. Way to go MATT McGLOIN!

    More notes to take and additional comments for you in the days to come.

    August 15:
    Time to get you some more notes from the first week of Pre-Season as we get ready to start Week Two already tonite. In the semi-monsoon that hit Nashville last weekend perhaps the best news was no news of serious injuries. Many top PACKERS did not participate including AARON RODGERS, in a smart move given the weather and the fact that there are 90 guys on the rosters, which need to be scaled down to 53 in less than a month's time. Clearly TITANS new Head Coach KEN WHISENHUNT has his QB safety net in place in the form of CHARLIE WHITEHURST who he coached last year in San DIego. WHITEHURST was the most impressive QB in the game overall and makes one think that should JAKE LOCKER bomb out, or get hurt again during the regular season, the team can fall back on WHITEHURST with reasonable confidence to remain mildly competitive and decide whether ZACH METTENBERGER has long range potential, or if the team needs to jump into the 2015 NFL Draft QB derby. Even without EDDIE LACY the PACKERS running game was impressive behind JAMES STARKS & RAIJON NEAL/R. Even though the PACK pretty much controlled the flow of the game they managed to cough up the lead late in the 4th Quarter. Tell me PACKERS fans, how many times under the CAPERS defensive regime, have you seen opponents march down the field with one of their primary attack weapons being their TE deep downfield, over the middle, with a PACKERS LB trying to cover man-on-man for over 20 yards. Don't tell me about mis-communication in the secondary again. Some of the blame surely has to rest on the defensive play book. Safety help has too be coming from somewhere that far down the field.

    Watching the CARDINALS  absolutely bury the TEXANS 32-0, I would conclude that the TEXANS horrible record in 2013 was not a fluke, but a clear indication of a team that is way shy on overall talent, and may need a serious character boost in that locker room as well. New Head Coach BILL O'BRIEN made no attempt to temper his disdain for the play of his charges. Wonder who they will target at the top of the 2015 NFL Draft?  The CARDINALS look to be rolling early with their second year Head Coach BRUCE ARIANS at the helm. And this is a team with some serious players who  aren't even back from 2013 injuries yet. My only initial concern might be that the CARDS were only able to grind out rushing yards at a 2.2 ypc clip. That number has to pick up as their rebuilt OL gains continuity. So how about a couple of impressive young guys from this game? Let's begin with an unknown who was an URFA in 2012 by DA BEARS names BRITTAN GOLDEN. The quick WR out of West Texas A&M is fighting for a job at the bottom of the WR depth chart. He's boosting his prospects by showing some good hands and elusiveness in the return game in Camp. He also caught 7 passes for 45 yards in the opening game. My guess is that if he can bust loose a return or two this pre-season he might just be the team's No. 6 wideout and play on all Special Teams units. Even more exciting for CARDS fans should be the work put in by LOGAN THOMAS/QB/R. THOMAS has been highly regarded for his potential and athleticism since switching from TE to QB at VA TECH. But the light never seemed to completely come on for him as a HOKIE, in part due to a mediocre supporting cast. But his performance against Houston was downright exciting for the CARDS long range QB picture. THOMAS looked poised and confident and ended the night going 11/12, 113 yards, 1 TD pass, 0 INT. He also scrambled out of a collapsing pocket on several occasions as well. With two QB Whisperers like TOM MOORE and BRUCE ARAINS working with him perhaps THOMAS will finally develop at the pro level and be ready to succeed CARSON PALMER as the team's QB in a couple of seasons. His development is certainly something to keep an eye on this year. In another interesting note Rookie PK CHRIS CATANZARO/URFA/Clemson, was perfect on the evening going 3/3 in both Field Goals and elongated PAT. The CARDS have a dependable veteran PK in JAY FEELEY, but FEELEY is now 38-years old, and as opposed to a Rookie likely to earn NFL Rookie minimum of just over $400,000, FEELEY is making over $1MM based on being a 12 year vet. You do the harsh math in a Salary Cap League! FEELEY would make the total of 3 minimum wage rookies on an NFL roster.

    The COLTS/JETS locked horns in the Big Apple, and IMO this was as boring a pre-season game as can be played. It is also clear to me that if you take away ANDREW LUCK the COLTS are easily a 10-Loss team, not a 10-Win club. MICHAEL VICK did make some nice plays for the JETS, but all the new faces on the JETS Offense look like they will need most of August to get acquainted as teammates out on the field of play. By the way, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between new COLTS WR/HAKEEM NICKS and folks watching his early work in Camp. NICKS says he's in the best shape of his NFL career, but looks lost and slow in his attempts to connect with his teammates in Camp so far. As an aside, I was pretty impressed with vet MATT HASSELBECK. For a 38-year old he can still spin it.

    The EAGLES/BEARS locked up in a lively, back & forth, duel in Chicago. Now and then an NFL pre-season game can be entertaining.  It looks for now like BEARS fans can rest easy over the departure of JOSH McCOWN to Tampa as a VFA. JIMMY CLAUSEN had a very impressive debut in his BEARS uniform in this one. It also looks like PHIL EMERY may be on his way to another successful retooling effort, this year along the DL. Even without VFA JARED ALLEN/DE Chicago's defensive front seven were very aggressive and put some serious heat on EAGLES QBs. A healthy STEVEN PAEA/DT led the way in stifling the EAGLES running game. On the EAGLES side of things it seems clear that DC BILLY DAVIS  needs to pick up the tempo with his Defense. His DL is undersized and his LB are not bringing the heat like they need to in a 3-4 scheme. If the EAGLES are going to look like a PAC-12 defense, then the O is going to have to be piling up points like a PAC-12 Offense. CHIP KELLY can probably crank up the Offense enough if he needs to, but even in today's NFL throwing offenses, most coaches don't want each week to play out like old time AFL shootouts.

    Has any one else come away with the impression that ELI MANNING has a lot of work to do getting comfortable with the more spread out, short passing game that new OC BEN McADOO is preaching, that I have after two fairly brief appearances. In the HOF Game the GIANTS had to keep ELI in until the Dallas second team defense took the field for him to actually complete a pass. In game 2 ELI was 0/2 in his brief stint out on the grass. Word is also coming out of GIANTS Camp that MARIO MANNINGHAM/WR/VFA is not the same guy who was a Super Bowl hero, and then took the money and ran to San Francisco only two seasons ago. He may be only 28, but some are saying his legs are gone after multiple injuries by the Bay. I thought that S/SHAMARKO THOMAS, who sat most of his red-shirt Rookie season for the STEELERS in 2013, is looking like a young TROY HAIR, with his hard tackling and range to roam the deep secondary. STEELERS fans who are hopeful that they won't miss VFA RYAN CLARK too much take heart. Word out of Old D.C. is that CLARK looks about used up early in Camp.

    An early star to watch among the 2014 Rookie class could well be TERRENCE FEDE/DE from tiny Marist. He's quick and wiry strong at 6'3/285. He has been hell-on-wheels to block in Training Camp practices in Miami and made his presence know on multiple occasions in the FALCONS game. He was credited with just two tackles and no sacks, but some FALCONS OL were very nervous trying to keep up with his quickness, strength & moves. MIAMI is already high on the pass-rush ability of OLIVIER VERNON/DE and of course vet CAMERON WAKE. FEDE may provide them with yet another pass rush presence. There can be no such thing as too many pass-rushers in today's NFL.
    The injury plagued DOLPHINS signed BRADY QUINN as a back-up QB. My oh my, how the world comes full circle over time. Seems like only yesterday that I was screaming at my TV set for the DOLPHINS to tab QUINN with the 9th Pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Instead they tabbed TED GINN to the chagrin of many of their fans and yours truly. Suffice it to say neither player was worthy of that slot. But such is the irony of life at times in the world of sports.

    About the only thing that we probably learned from the PATRIOTS/REDSKINS game last weekend is that RYAN MALLETT isn't likely to replace TOM BRADY, whenever, and R/JIMMY GARAPPOLO looks a lot more likely to actually develop into "that guy" in a couple of seasons. By the way, I will say that MALLETT didn't get a heck of a lot of support from his teammates, but he just does not look the part of an NFL starting QB... ever.

    August 13:
    Hope everyone happy to have NFL football back on their TV sets? Can we actually call the present product pro football? Not sure, is my answer to both, but overall it is great to be close to the real product that starts for real in September. Meanwhile fans are left to glean what they can from the fits and starts that we call pre-season games. 'Glorified scrimmages they are,' to paraphrase the words of Master Yoda. So here are my first observations, and questions, as my blood shot eyes run through recordings of 16 football games from last week.

    Hope springs eternal, but other than a promising first outing by BLAKE BORTLES/QB, the BUCS/JAGS contest pretty much established the sad reality that College Football is likely to be of higher quality in Florida than what the NFL is going to feature this season. I will concede that the JAGS are putting more talent out on the field than in the previous couple of seasons, but the road to respectability is long, at a low posted speed limit for this team. Watching CHAD HENNE, bumble and stumble his way through most of the first quarter it is clear this team makes little, or no, progress until BORTLES is eased into the starting QB job.

    I also believe that fans may be very disheartened over in Tampa Bay when the actually see the product about to be put on the field under new HC LOVIE  SMITH, who is being touted as some kind of coaching savant in central Florida. LOVIE is solid, and the team did bring in some promising new talent, but the overall roster is incredibly thin at multiple positions and as they demonstrated against the JAGS, their OL will struggle greatly to open running lanes and/or protect the QB. Looks to me already like JOSH McCOWN will be wishing soon he were still in Chicago, looking like a really good back-up option to the oft-injured JAY CUTLER. In Tampa, he's likely to become the oft-injured starter behind a talent poor OL.

    Best surprise performance in this game may have come from JAGS Rookie DL/DeANDRE COLEMAN. The big bodied, athletic guy looked dominant controlling the middle line of scrimmage and getting his long arms into the sight lines and throwing lanes of even the long, tall MIKE GLENNON. In a word, COLEMAN (6'5/315) was disruptive. He went undrafted in large part due to lackluster effort at times his final year at CAL.  By the way, I still see more good than bad from GLENNON when he is in games. He's not flashy, but seems to understand what is going on around him and is an accurate thrower much of the time.

    <> Watching the NINERS & RAVENS game it dawned on me that the 49'ers had best keep COLIN KAEPERNICK healthy because right now they do not have a back-up QB on that roster that can come in and keep that Offense moving. Based on Week 1, pre-season action, JIM HARBAUGH has not worked any magic yet with BLAINE GABBERT. GABBERT acted just like the scared rabbit in the pocket, that he looked like in Jacksonville. His throws were erratic and his mobility limited. The NINERS are also going to be hurting for a while on Defense in generating a pass rush without ALDON SMITH, JUSTIN SMITH & NAVORRO BOWMAN. SMITH should be back before September. CHRIS BORLAND and MICHAEL WILHOITE were very active and effective as an ILB tandem, but obviously don't compare as impact players to erstwhile starters BOWMAN/WILLIS. It also looks to me like they are in serious need of a true NT to anchor the middle of that line. Can SOPOAGA, be coaxed back at a reasonable price and might he have one season left in him on the Nose? Meanwhile, the RAVENS have issues of their own, and I'm still not convinced JOE FLACO is as good as he looked during their Super Bowl run back at the end of the 2012 season. But they also premiered some nice roster additions who should see more playing time as the pre-season advances. Acquisition JEREMY ZUTTAH looks like a positive addition at OC. Even tho he is undersized, he brings veteran savvy to compliment the better athletes around him up front. JAMES HURST/OT/UNC/R replaced MONROE early on and demonstrated technique and good athleticism. He looks like a starter in the making, maybe over at RT if RICKY WAGNER stumbles. No way this player doesn't get drafted but for his broken left leg in Bowl action, and he looked solid in this game.

    Given the mediocre productivity last season from the RB combo of RICE/PIERCE, it was a big lift for RAVENS fans to see the work of Rookie RB/LAWRENCE TALIAFERRO. The big back (230 lbs) is the pounder, with some burst, that the team needs to run between the tackles. But TALIAFERRO also has some straight-line speed and can get the corner at times. He looked just like the player I saw dominate much of Senior Bowl week back in January. On another quick note that I jotted down, while watching this game, TYROD TAYLOR/QB may now be one of the most exciting and productive back-up QB in the League.

    Based on the product out on the field for Week 2 it looks like COWBOYS GM failed to bring in any significant off-season talent to buffer his team, especially on Defense. But I will say that KYLE ORTON may not be missed a whole lot based on the play of BROWNS refugee BRANDEN WEEDEN. WEEDEN showed some mobility, good arm strength and overall good game management in a starting/extended role. The COWBOYS had 5 Round 7 Picks in the Draft and S/AHMAD DIXON was most impressive in his ball pursuit and hitting ability, which should come as no surprise. He did knock himself out of the game with one of his own hits in the second half. DEVIN STREET/WR/R made some nice catches and gained good yardage with his long-striding legs. He could be this years version of TERRANCE WILLIAMS. Overall, the COWBOYS Defense was miserable, and most of it is due to a lack of talent not coaching or effort. 

    The CHARGERS continue to look like a team on the upswing. MIKE McCOY clearly has this team in sync and well disciplined. KELLEN CLEMENS looked excellent in his playing time as the back-up to RIVERS. The jury is still out on the return to full playing health on WR/MALCOM FLOYD, but pay attention to a newcomer, from the CFL, in WR/DONTRELLE INMAN. The 6'3/205# receiver had no problem beating coverage to get open and showed very good hands. He's similar in style to KEENAN ALLEN, and could be a major, under the radar, get. I was highly critical of the early tackling efforts by the CHARGERS secondary, but the coaches must have gotten in some players' ears, because it improved after the first quarter. It's early, but these clearly look like two teams headed in opposite directions right now.

    The BENGALS @ CHIEFS was an interesting match-up for multiple reasons. We have two 2013 season Play-Off teams with some serious questions to answer  for the coming season. After multiple VFA losses, it is highly questionable if the CHIEFS are even close to an 11-Win product. One thing looks clear after the first week of August; DeANTHONY THOMAS, may be even more explosive than the departed DEXTER McCLUSTER. THOMAS wasted no time exhibiting his explosiveness with an 80-yard Punt return and TD early in the action. ANDY REID will find many more ways to get THOMAS the ball this season.   Rookie OG/ZACH FULTON is close to locking down the starting RG slot in place of the departed ASAMOAH. He got beaten at times, but showed enough in Game 1 to think he has a serious chance to win the job by September. DEE FORD may not be a perfect positional fit anywhere in the CHIEFS current defensive scheme, but he will force the team to find ways to put him out on the field and attack the pocket. He was explosive and productive against the BENGALS. Adding him to weapons like TAMBA HALI and JUSTIN HOUSTON can only mean weekly headaches for opposing QB. It looked to me like R/CB/PHILLIP GAINES is going to get a crash course in NFL CB101 this August, with the hope that he earns the starting position previously held by BRANDON CARR.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same. VFA back-up QB/JASON CAMPBELL looked like the same not ready for prime time player that he appeared to be in his first 9 seasons in the League. His panic under pressure and inability to read NFL defenses quickly led to 2-pick six INT in his first appearance in a BENGALS uniform. He also got banged around a bit and was injured during the game. A.J. McCARRON's arm is still sore and being held out. And you wonder why ANDY DALTON got a big contract extension? What other choice do you think this solid, play-off team had but to hang onto Mr. DALTON? Although I didn't notice anything exceptional about his play in this game R/CB/DARQUEZE DENNARD has quickly become a Coaches favorite in early Camp action. One of his biggest admirers seems to be HC MARVIN LEWIS, whose background is as a defensive guru. It never hurts to have the head Coach admiring your work.

    It is obligatory to include a BROWNS/MANZIEL oratory in any Training Camp/Pre-season coverage so let;s get right to the BROWNS/LIONS match-up. MANZIEL basically ran the team for Quarters 2 & 3. Given the situation, and talent around, I thought MANZIEL was better than average. I think he was particularly impressive in his mental grasp of the situations around him. He pointed out, correctly, at one point that game officials had failed to reset the play clock for the BROWNS offense. He was more aware than his coaches at one point that the defense had turned the LIONS over and he and his offense needed to get out on the field. He was also seen on multiple occasions pointing out what the defense was doing to his receivers. The team moved to multiple first downs on multiple possessions he commanded the O. I can't help but feel he might have thought (correctly I might add) that he had more overall talent around him back in Aggieland, but he never indicated as much. He stayed in the pocket as much as can be expected given the LIONS pressure. The BROWNS second unit OL that he toiled behind most of the time was downright poor, to no one's surprise. If MANZIEL is to develop he needs reps with the first team players. The talent drop off on this weak offensive unit from first to second string is huge in most cases. It also looked to me like OC KYLE SHANAHAN needs to incorporate more pocket movement for both MANZIEL and his overall offensive talent. 

    The LIONS played well enough to win a home pre-season game, but they are another team that is woefully thin, with not enough solid newcomers to strengthen every weak spot. They look dedicated to their running game and may be plenty deep at the RB spot with BUSH/BELL/LeSHOURE splitting the carries and catches. There was some slid play by a few newcomers, but none of the Rookies or VFA looked like game changers at tis point in time.

    It's quite clear that the annoying "point of emphasis" for officials this season will indeed be to stop the defenses from mugging potential receivers 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. I don't even want to know how many calls per game they made of that nature, but it was more than too much  for me while watching the games. Our hope can only be that by September defenders will have gotten the message and stopped grabbing and holding just about every play, and coincidental to that, the officials will back off just a bit on the ticky-tack calls. 

    Back to the game film, my notes and more opinions and info for you tomorrow.

    August 4: The NFL Pre-Season starts later today as I compose this. The sad, but expected injuries are already spreading around the League, oblivious of location or team status. I know Colin is keeping you well apprised of the activity as the injury bugs begin to wreak their annual havoc. It looks as those one team that has been selected for special infestation by the dreaded curse has been that of the 49'ers. It seems it only took about a week to deprive the  highly regarded Niners roster of 3 veteran players already, in GLENN DORSEY/DL, KENDALL HUNTER/RB/RS & LeMICHAEL JAMES/RB/RS. Stay tuned for more bad news on this front, I fear.

    The nicest aspect to the current state of the NFL under the 2011 CBA may be that virtually all players are in Camp and preparing for the 2014 season. Maybe more than injury reports, most fans used to hate the daily player hold-out reports, especially of unsigned Draft Picks. By the way the distinction for being the last Draftee to sign went to TAYLOR LEWAN/OT/TITANS.

    A handful of teams are already hitting it hard with VFA signings as they get their first look at the players on their Camp opening rosters and search for immediate reinforcements. The SEA HAWKS who were hit hard by VFA coming off of their Super Bowl campaign have already inked TERRELL THOMAS/CB & ERIC WINSTON/OT. Good news for fans is that with WINSTON landing on a roster we won't have to listen to the NFLPA whine about the President of the NFLPA (WINSTON) being black balled out of the League. Seattle did lose WR/SIDNEY RICE to retirement as Camp began. RICE had been plagued with injuries the past 3 seasons.

    The PATRIOTS once again have drawn the ire of many of their "haters" for merely playing by the rules, this past week. PANTHERS 6th Round Pick TYLER GAFFNEY/RB tore a knee up and the team chose to waive him injured. This process is like any other waiver situation and exposes the player to being claimed by another team. Sure enough, the PATS decided he was promising enough to claim and worth putting on IR, thus guaranteeing the terms of his Rookie contract. Do teams have short term memory loss in this day & age? It was only a few years ago that the GIANTS tried a similar move with injured TE/JAKE BALLARD. New England claimed him on waivers much to the outrage of the GIANTS organization. After a year on IR BALLARD returned to the playing fields only to be cut by the PATRIOTS. Let's not hear any wailing and gnashing of teeth by the PANTHERS. If they really felt positive about GAFFNEY long term they could have placed him on IR and paid him.

    The BUCCANEERS look to be totally prepared to roll the dice on a fairly young, mostly inexperienced OL for the upcoming campaign. I wonder if JOSH McCOWN expected this when he signed on as a VFA and their proclaimed starter for the 2014 campaign. The latest blow along the OL came the first day of practice. It was announced that the team and OG/CARL NICKS had parted ways. NICKS was a big VFA signing for the team a couple years ago and saw little of the field. He suffered a foot injury and then became victim to the nasty MRSA bacterial infection that swept through the BUCS facilities. Clearly, both parties want to put that chapter behind them. We'll see whether his career is over, or just his time in Tampa. 

    Clearly, TED THOMPSON/GM/VP of the PACKERS was not kidding when he told reporters at his pre-Draft presser that he was just getting started in Green Bay. The team has extended Whitey's contract pretty much to the end of this decade. It's hard to argue with the team's logic given the winning ways of the PACKERS since THOMPSON cleaned out the closets and roster from the MIKE SHERMAN regime. The team also clearly looks to be "all-in" for a serious Super Bowl run this season. By the way, speculation now runs high that MIKE McCARTHY/HC will be the next man getting a big contract extension in Green Bay. It's virtually raining dollars in North East Wisconsin. Just ask THOMPSON and JORDY NELSON.

    Don't forget fans that the HBO series "Hard Knocks" starts up again this coming Tuesday night. This year the FALCONS are the team make themselves available to the prying eye of the film camera. The team had declined a previous invite to be the subject team a few years back, but this time around the organization greeted HBO with open arms. Here's taking a guess that Owner ARTHUR BLANK, who has put a lot of his personal eggs, as well as those of the people of Georgia, into a brand new stadium building project is looking for all the hopefully positive pub he can generate prior to that facility opening. FALCONS players better be on their best behavior for the next month and a half.

    I'm looking at the BENGALS Training Camp roster and still trying to figure out what MARVIN LEWIS suddenly has against the idea of having a legit, experienced FB on his roster to help block for the running game, and his QB, especially in the Red Zone. Not long ago they had a guy named JOHN CONNOR (no relation to the sci-fi movie hero) on their roster as a FB. Then they cut him and moved TE/ORSON  CHARLES to the FB slot. Having remembered CHARLES as primarily a pass catching TE coming out of Georgia it gave me pause. The BENGALS were 18th in the League in rushing yards last season and their per carry number was even worse. CHARLES is now listed back with the TE group, but get this, the only listed FB on the current depth chart is NIKITA WHITLOCK. WHITLOCK is an URFA who was a helluva college football player at Wake Forest... as a DT. He may work out just fine, but it sure seems like a Play-Off team doesn't take those kind of calculated risks year after year on conversion players.

    The GIANTS are in retooling mode and they know it. KEVIN GILBRIDE/OC was allowed to retire. They allowed vets like JUSTIN TUCK, HAKEEM NICKS, KELVIN BOOTH to leave town as VFA. I count over 15 VFA additions to the team roster as well as a Rookie class being counted on to compete and strengthen the roster. The resurrection of ELI MANNING's career is primarily in the hands of new OC BEN McADOO, who learned his stuff under McCarthy in Green Bay. But the team suffered a serious loss when Camp opened and OG/CHRIS SNEE told the organization that his body was not up for NFL combat any more, and he was retiring. The vet SNEE was a solid player, and an even better leader, by example, along that OL. Count this as another major obstacle for the team to overcome.

    The RAIDERS are entering their reconstruction phase, per the words of Owner MARK DAVIS. REGGIE McKENZIE has the team emerging from Cap Hell and even has full sized Rookie groups coming into the RAIDERS Camp. But the team got bad news with the OAKLAND A's baseball team agreeing to a stadium lease extension on the decaying facility they share with the RAIDERS. The Money Ball A's make money every year by penny pinching and accepting big revenue sharing checks from MLB. As part of their way of doing business they don't care about having a new, fancy home to play in. Oakland isn't building anyone a new stadium, any time soon. This may create a showdown for the NFL, and DAVIS is taking the offensive. He is reportedly taking with San Antonio officials about the suitability of their city to house an NFL team. For my money, I say don't hold your breath on that one. No way, would JONES/COWBOYS or McNAIR/TEXANS want a third team in their state. And what those two owners want, they will get from Mr. GOODELL. To some of you I sound like a broken record, but this would seem like the perfect time for the NFL to make a push for a move to make the RAIDERS their return to Southern Cal candidate. If any team has a following in the L.A. area it is the RAIDERS. Now that DARTH DAVIS is out of the picture perhaps his son will be more amenable to a return there if the price is right. If MARK DAVIS plays his cards right, and doesn't rub all the other owners the wrong way he could be making a very lucrative franchise move before this decade is over.

    I am not sure which network/entity coined the phrase this summer. But the buzz phrase around Training Camps from the worst team, to the best is "Why Not Us?", in reference to being a participant in the next Super Bowl. I almost always figure if you can't beat them, join them. So in the coming weeks as we get some pre-season games under our belts I will start reviewing the various NFL divisions and address that question with progress, or non-progress reports on every NFL team