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Eric in Denver: Hey Paul, Hope all is well. Couple of questions: 1. When teams bring veteran free agents (i.e. Holt) in for a visit, do they measure the athlete's 40 time, shuttle time, strength, etc.? Clearly, these metrics are invaluable in determining a prospects DRAFT status, but how are they used when trying to determine how much a veteran has "left in the tank?" 2. Can you comment on NFLPA union dues? I read players contribute up to 40%. Is that correct? Seems awfully high. Then again, if a player only plays a few years and expects life-long benefits, it may not be such a bad proposition. Thanks in advance for answering. Keep up the good work! Eric
Paul Kuharsky: 1) No. An established veteran isn't going to do a combine workout for a team. His resume is on film. Personnel people and coaches have to, and should be able to, evaluate off that. Now the medical people can pull and tug on a guy as much as they need and become a major factor in answering any lingering concerns about if a guy is healthy enough to do what he did on film, or recovered enough that he might match his 2007 film instead of 2008, etc.
On rare occasions, when a team has most of the leverage and a veteran player is trying to show he's recovered from an injury, there might be some sort of a predetermined workout. It still wouldn't likely include combine-type drills.
2) Player union dues are $10,000 annually.
Greg in Indianapolis writes: What do you think of the idea of the Colt's dropping the two tight end sets and getting a big, brusing fullback type player in the backfield to be primarily a lead blocker, but also get out in pass patterns? It seems to me, and maybe the new coach - Caldwell - that something like this needs to be done to make the running game more of a threat. How you heard of any thoughts about this?
Paul Kuharsky: I don't see it. It would be a change in their approach and I think they are pretty set in their approach. And they are already stocked with affordable tight ends beyond Dallas Clark with Gijon Robinson, Jacob Tamme and Tom Santi. They've run fine in the past without emphasizing a fullback -- they need the blockers to block better and the backs to run better. A true "big and bruising" fullback like you mention isn't likely to be very good at getting out into pass patterns like you would like to see.
Byron in Knoxville: Couple quick questions. The Titans have 5 preseason games this year instead of 4. Do the teams that get this extra game see it as a positive or a negative? Also, it looks as though we are going to be having either a 17 or 18 game season soon. Is there any talk about putting in another bye week in addition to more games?
Paul Kuharsky: They will spin it as a positive and the good part of it is that young guys get additional time to show what they can do. But fact is, a couple years ago it would have been good for Vince Young, now it makes things awfully long for older guys like Kerry Collins and Kevin Mawae. They won't play too much extra total -- Fisher will play hardly anyone in the finale considering it's only a week from that game to the Thursday night opener. But camp will open a week or so before the first game, which means a longer deal for everyone.
A longer season could well come with an additional bye week, yes.
Andrew from parts unknown: If a receiver like Nicks and a defensive tackle like Peria Jerry are available when the colts pick in the first round, which way do you think they will go? Will they give Manning another weapon to replace Marvin Harrison or address the team's biggest need?
Paul Kuharsky: I suspect a receiver, though I can't tell you which ones they like.
Jerry won't last that long, I suspect. I am guessing that Polian believes they can address defensive tackle sufficiently down the line.
Chase in Nashville: PK, If the Titans sign Torry Holt, that would give them a receiving corps with a combined 4 super bowl appearances and 2 rings. Holt - XXXIV (W), XXXVI (L) Washington - XLII (W) Gage - XLI (L) - On the roster, not sure how much PT he actually got. Anyways, this would be pretty impressive right? Are there that many teams in the league that could say this about their receiving corps?
Paul Kuharsky: It would be a nice aside -- I promise I'd do a big entry on it. But it wouldn't speak much to the Titans' passing game or how much it could improve with that cast.