During the past couple of weeks, NFL headlines have been dominated by the return of former Pro Bowl quarterbacks Brett Favre (Vikings) and Michael Vick (Eagles). Sure, their stories are compelling and have caused much debate on sports radio.
But as we move closer to the 2009 NFL Regular Season starting in September, there are other storylines worth covering.
1. T.O’s arrival in Buffalo
In trying to ignite a passing offense that only generated 14 touchdowns last season, the Bills turned to VH1’s favorite reality TV star.
The Bills are Terrell Owens’ fourth team in the past seven seasons and T.O., who turns 36 in December, saw his reception, yardage and touchdown totals decrease last season.
But that didn’t bother Bills fans as they flocked to St. John Fisher College (over 4,000 a day) for a glimpse of the their new star. With thoughts of bringing back the “No-Huddle” offense, expectations are rising in Western New York, despite T.O battling a toe injury that will keep him out of the Bills’ third preseason game against the Packers.
Also let’s not forget the new breakfast sensation “T.O’s,” which are a wholesome cereal.
2. Injuries taking their toll
This time of year every team only wants to get their starters and key people through the preseason with good health for the regular season. I know every team in the NFL has to deal with injuries on a daily basis, but lately some units and teams have been decimated by them.
The Philadelphia Eagles are missing four out of five starting offensive linemen due to injuries (OT Jason Peters – quad, OG Stacy Andrews – knee, OT Shawn Andrews – back, and Todd Herramins – foot). The Birds also lost starting MLB Stewart Bradley – ACL and TE Cornelius Ingram – ACL for the season.
The Eagles are not the only team with injury woes as the Steelers are worried about QB Ben Roethlisberger after the starter hurt his foot/ankle when offensive lineman Max Starks rolled on him.
Other high profile players dealing with injuries are Washington Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth (knee – Day to Day), Seattle Seahawks OT Walter Jones (knee surgery), Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglass (ACL - season), Houston Texans backup QB Rex Grossman (hamstring – 4 to 5 weeks), Indianapolis Colts SS Bob Sanders (knee surgery), Oakland Raiders WR Chaz Schilens (broken foot - 4 to 6 Weeks), and others.
3. Denver Broncos and WR Brandon Marshall’s relationship going south
Marshall, after two Pro Bowl seasons in a row, wanted a new contract and threatened a holdout. In the 2008 season, Marshall despite missing games including a couple for a suspension put up numbers of 104 receptions, 1265 yards and six TDs.
The Broncos under the leadership new head coach Josh McDaniels turned a deaf ear to Marshall’s demands as he was under contract for another season and he had another tumultuous off-season.
To make matters worse the Falcons extended disgruntled former holdout receiver Roddy White (six years, $50 million).
Then, after Marshall was found “Not Guilty” of misdemeanor battery charges by a jury in Atlanta, there was more drama to come. Reportedly, upper management instructed a PR staffer to coach players not to express excitement over Marshall’s not-guilty verdict.
Marshall has demanded a trade and the New York Jets are apparently interested, but don’t expect the Broncos to do anything extreme to help him.
4. Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable allegedly punches the “lights out” of an assistant coach
After you think Al Davis’ dysfunctional franchise cannot sink any lower, they surprise you again. Allegedly Cable had a confrontation with defensive assistant Randy Hanson that ended with the poor assistant in the emergency room with a fractured jaw.
Usually this sort of thing would be swept under the rug, but there was the little matter of a police report. The entire Raiders organization has been issuing quick “No Comments” about the situation.
But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has his eye on this situation and there is talk of an NFL investigation. Could Cable be suspended and/or fined under the league’s personal conduct policy?
5) Holdout Talk
Every year holdouts are a part of training camp and this year is no different.
The Houston Texans are trying to get disgruntled franchised player CB Dunta Robinson to report after a training camp long holdout where he has refused to sign a franchise deal. Robinson wants the Texans to promise not to slap the tag on him again after the ’09 season.
I figure he will report right before the regular season starts. Also the following players: Jets RB Leon Washington (reported and negotiating), Browns WR/KR Josh Cribbs (reported, but is threatening to sit once the regular season starts), and Marshall are in the middle of squabbles.
Also, rookies seemed to be taking longer than usual getting into camp and with the start of the regular season approaching Bengals OT Andre Smith, SF 49ers WR Michael Crabtree, and Bills DE Aaron Maybin remain unsigned.
Crabtree’s management team, led by his bail bondsman cousin/advisor David Wells are looking to get more than No. 7 overall pick Oakland Raiders Darrius Heyward-Bey (5-years, $38.25M real/$54M max; $23.5M guaranteed) and have threatened a ridiculous season-long holdout.
Giants QB Eli Manning gets a new contract and everyone questions is he worth it; ‘Wildcat’ Craze continues as every team seems to be trying to find a player to run it; NFL player jurisprudence as several more players have gotten into trouble during camp and you can include former Giants WR Plaxico Burress pleading guilty; Position Battles (Detroit Lions QBs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QBs, Giants WRs, Dolphins Secondary, etc); the investigation and possible distractions caused by allegations against Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger; Rookies and no-name players emerging (Bills DB Ellis Lankster, Eagles DE Jason Babin, Titans WR Kenny Britt, Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski, Chiefs ILB Corey Mays and others); Coaches on the hot seat trying to stay alive (Wade Phillips, Jim Zorn, Marvin Lewis)
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)Posted in 2009 NFL Season, 2009 NFL Training Camp Top Stories, Brandon Marshall, Brett Favre, Michael Crabtree, Michael Vick, Terrell Owens Tagged: 2009 NFL Season, 2009 NFL Training Camp Top Stories, Brandon Marshall, Brett Favre, Football, Michael Crabtree, Michael Vick, NFL, Sports, Terrell Owens