by Robert Ferringo - 08/23/2005
The NFL preseason is nearly half over and there are plenty of interesting storylines and underlying currents on each of the league's 32 teams. Here at Doc's Sports we've been keeping our eyes and ears on every subplot that's been manifesting itself - no matter how seemingly trivial - throughout the league. Below is a quick rundown of some of the comings and going in the AFC that have occurred before Preseason Week Three's games.
Buffalo Bills - Willis McGahee was sidelined for two days last week with an unknown leg injury. He's been seen limping around the Bills complex at St. John Fisher, but looked fine over the weekend against Green Bay. Roscoe Parrish, the Bills' second-round pick and projected slot receiver, has also been sitting out with a mysterious wrist injury.
Miami Dolphins - Even though he admits not knowing the names of everyone on the team, Gus Frerotte has taken over the tenuous position of Dolphins starting quarterback. Based on strong camp and his showing in the preseason games (84.6 passer rating in two games, third best in the AFC). "No matter if you're one, two, or three you gotta go out there and perform," Frerotte said. Frerotte had the advantage of spending three years in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's system in Minnesota. Teammates have said that he has more command of the offense and is more of a leader in the huddle.
New England Patriots - Mike Vrabel suffered a lower leg injury against Cincinnati - on special teams of all things - that has caused Monty Beisel and Chad Brown to log more time at middle linebacker. The injury shouldn't cause Vrabel to miss any regular season games, but it could slow him down this year. The Pats continue to add depth to the receiving core, trading a future fifth-round pick for ex-Cleveland receiver Andra Davis.
New York Jets - Inking Ty Law was a much-needed improvement to a secondary that, at best, can be described as shaky. However, it's pretty much a given that Law won't be 100 percent for the Jets season opener on Sept. 11. The big buzz around the Jets this weekend was over an incompletion. Against the Bengals, Chad Pennington overthrew a 50-yard bomb to Justin McCareins. Still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, the toss put at ease some rumors about his poor arm strength.
Pittsburgh Steelers - Linebacker Joey Porter underwent surgery on his knee and should be out until at least the second week of September. The Steelers let Kendrell Bell walk this spring, and weren't able to bring back Chad Brown this summer. Without Porter they're now a getting pretty thin at linebacker.
Cincinnati Bengals - David Pollack finally signed after a 20-day holdout. Coach Marvin Lewis had talked pretty tough about Pollack while the rookie was sitting out, saying that he would be starting the season with the fourth string. I highly doubt that. Trade rumors are still swirling around wide receiver Peter Warrick. Warrick is in the final year of his rookie contract and is slated to make $2.2 million this season. That's a little much for a No. 3 wideout. He finished 2004 on injured reserve, and took the field for the first time since Nov. 4 when he practiced this past week.
Baltimore Ravens - Peter Boulware passed his physical and will be teamed up with Ray Lewis once again. Boulware, who was drafted by the Ravens in 1997, is due a base salary of $6 million in 2005. I would be surprised to see him paid all of that this season. Concerns about his health (he hasn't played since December 2003) scared several teams away from giving him a long-term deal this summer. Kyle Boller had another poor game this weekend against Philly, and new offensive coordinator Jim Fassel is allegedly running out of patience.
Cleveland Browns - The big question surrounding the Browns this offseason was over who would start at running back. Reuben Droughns, whom Cleveland traded for, has been slowed by a sore hamstring that caused him to miss about a week. Lee Suggs has apparently looked very good, but has a sore ankle that required attention earlier last week. William Green, who rumor has it is being shopped around, led the team with 12 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown against the N.Y. Giants. The Brown also signed CB Ray Mickens on Thursday as an insurance policy for Daylon McCutcheon, who has missed most of training camp with severe headaches.
Indianapolis Colts - Dwight Freeney, the Colts' Pro Bowl defensive end who led the team in sacks last year, came off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list last week. Freeney missed two games last year and 17 practices this summer due to a left labrum (shoulder) injury that required surgery. Wideout Brandon Stokely is still nursing the shoulder he dislocated in Japan, but he should be ready by the Colts season opener.
Houston Texans - David Carr played only sparingly against Oakland last weekend in Houston's opening exhibition game. He is still suffering from a sore Achilles and isn't expected to see much time against Dallas this weekend.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Things have been pretty quiet in Jacksonville so far this camp. Rookie Matt Jones, the converted quarterback, has been impressive so far in two preseason games. He's caught five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. Fred Taylor, still recovering from offseason knee surgery, will see his first action of the preseason in the Jaguars' game against the Falcons on Thursday.
Tennessee Titans - Adam "Pac Man" Jones has already managed to piss off coaches, teammates and fans in Tennessee before playing a single down for the Titans. Jones held out this summer, and took some verbal shots at linebacker and badass Keith Bullock after Bullock has commented about Jones' situation. Not smart. Also, backup quarterback Billy Volek is represented by none other than little Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus has already met with Titans management requesting a trade for Volek. The Titans brass just laughed, and Volek apparently had some words with Rosenhaus about the "miscommunication."
Kansas City Chiefs - Do not be surprised if Freddie Mitchell is back in an Eagle uniform before the start of the regular season. Fred X has been out with a minor knee injury that he suffered early in training camp and hasn't had a chance to prove himself to the Chiefs coaching staff. Also, in one of the funnier stories from this preseason, kicker Lawrence Tynes had a run in with police after a bar brawl that he incited in River Falls. How would you like to be the bouncer that got his ass kicked by a kicker? Backup QB Todd Collins and DT Junior Savaii have also had run-ins with authorities last week.
Oakland Raiders - Well, Randy Moss just couldn't let his buddy T.O. steal all of the negative press this August. In an interview with HBO's Bryant Gumble Moss admitted that he smokes weed during the season. Apparently the NFL only tests for street drugs (pot, cocaine, etc.) once a year. I'm not sure if the league can still suspend Moss, but I'd bet that he'll be peeing in a couple more vials than usual this season and could end up back in the NFL substance abuse program.
San Diego Chargers - Besides the Antonio Gates saga, the Chargers have had a pretty quiet camp. Linebacker Donnie Edwards has been hampered by nagging ankle and knee issues, but appears to be fine. First-round pick Luis Castillo has also been slowed by injuries to his ribs and foot. Gates is back with the team, but will miss San Diego's last two preseason games as well as their season-opener against Dallas.
Denver Broncos - It looks like Maurice Clarrett's stay in the NFL could be about as long and as productive as his stay in his Ohio State classes. According to team sources, Denver's fourth round pick has been sandbagging it in practice since a right groin injury that he managed earlier in camp. He has struggled with the playbook, and hasn't been all that impressive running the ball. With the stable of backs that the Broncos already posses, he could be gone within weeks.
If you enjoyed Doc's AFC News and Notes article, check back throughout the week for more college football and NFL previews.
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