NFL Nation: Owners Meeting 2010

I didn't spend much time discussing the Sage Rosenfels trade rumors last month because I doubt Minnesota will do anything at quarterback before Brett Favre makes an official decision about his future. But if you want to know why Rosenfels might not have a future in Minnesota, you should check out how Vikings coach Brad Childress addressed it last month at the NFL owners meetings. Asked what he wants to see from Rosenfels this season, Childress said:
I just want to see him progress through further than he came last year. He made a jump being there the first day of OTAs as he went to training camp and made another jump. I just think it can't hurt you to know our culture a little bit more and know how we do business. Everybody's got a little different rhythm, a little different schedule, a little different whys and what fors. I just want to see him grow in our system. ...

Childress voiced what many of us suspected during the season: Rosenfels struggled to integrate into the Vikings' version of the West Coast offense even after playing in a similar scheme with the Texans. He tumbled to No. 3 on the depth chart after Favre's arrival, so it's only natural to assume he and the Vikings might look to part ways this offseason.

But as it turns out, Rosenfels is in a similar situation as he was last year at this time. He could compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job if Favre retires, or he could have no chance to get on the field. That crossroads probably won't come for a while.

Falcons still high on Abraham

March, 29, 2010
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Still working my way through the tape recorder and notebook after last week’s owners meeting in Orlando. Just came across some interesting stuff from Atlanta’s Mike Smith that came up during the NFC coaches breakfast.

We all know that the pass rush was an area where the Falcons struggled last season and they probably will address it in the draft. But it sure doesn’t sound like the Falcons aren’t anywhere near ready to give up on John Abraham. He had 16.5 sacks in 2008, but that number dropped to 5.5 last season.

Abraham
I asked Smith for his assessment of what happened.

“His numbers were not nearly as good last season,’’ Smith said. “We watched the tape and spent time evaluating him. We felt like John still had some very effective rushes. The sacks just did not come last season. You can look at it historically. John has gone through and had a down year every third or fourth year and he has bounced back. We really anticipate that he will bounce back. We watched and analyzed everything very closely. His hurries and pressures were high. We missed some pressure up the middle when Peria Jerry went down in Week 2. [Jerry] was coming along and we felt like he could win some one-on-ones. What ended up happening was peopled turned the protections to John and we weren’t able to take advantage of the one-on-ones on the inside.’’

I also asked Smith about Jamaal Anderson. He began his career as a defensive end and never reached his potential. The Falcons moved him inside at times last year and he looked a little better at tackle. But it doesn’t sound like there’s any plan in the works to keep Anderson inside on a full-time basis.

“I thought Jamaal made big strides in terms of defensive end play in our base defense,’’ Smith said. “Then, he moved inside the majority of the time in our sub packages. That’s the plan right now to have him play left defensive end in our base package and then to move him inside in our sub package. He ended up playing about half his snaps last year reduced down in playing three technique.’’

AP Photo/John AmisFalcons owner Arthur Blank (front) and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are looking for more than their third consecutive winning season in 2010.

The absolute best thing you can say about the Atlanta Falcons these days is their vision is very clear.

They have a positive and realistic grasp of where they are and a positive and realistic outlook on where they want to go from here. Listen to owner Arthur Blank, coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff for just a few minutes and it becomes instantly obvious they’re on the same page. For perhaps the first time in franchise history, you don’t need to put on a pair of heavy-duty, rose-colored glasses to see that something good could be on the long-term horizon for the Falcons.

Instead of just randomly going through life and hoping for good things, the Falcons are methodically preparing for great things.

“Being average in this league is not acceptable,’’ Blank said Tuesday during a break at the NFL owners meeting. “It’s not acceptable to me as an owner. It’s not acceptable to our organization. And it certainly is not acceptable to our fan base.’’

Wow, mediocrity is not acceptable to a team that’s basically defined the word for over four decades?

“I view our team as an ascending team,’’ Blank said. “I think the most important thing about the back-to-back winning seasons and breaking that 44-year hex or jinx is that, symbolically, it represents where this team is. That’s the most significant part of it. I’m excited about that.’’

Blank should be excited about where the Falcons are and where he wants them to go. They’re shooting for the stars -- years of winning and winning big while doing it on a platform they hope gets bigger. Do that and the Falcons can become something they have never truly been -- a huge part of Atlanta’s overall fabric.

They’ve made a splash every few years and had occasional flash with Deion Sanders and Michael Vick. But listen to Blank, Dimitroff and Smith and it’s obvious they’re shooting to make the Falcons more than they’ve ever been. They want this team to be good year in and year out.

You know what? They just might be well on the way. After a stunning 11-5 season and playoff berth in Smith and Dimitroff’s first year, the Falcons went 9-7 last year -- their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history.

“That’s a nice accomplishment and it’s significant because of the history of the franchise,’’ Dimitroff said. “But our goal every year is to be in the playoffs. That didn’t happen this past season.’’

It’s pretty clear the Falcons celebrated their back-to-back winning seasons for all of about three seconds. Maybe the Falcons jumped ahead of “the process’’ Smith likes to talk about in 2008 and maybe last season was a bit of a reality check. Maybe, in the third year of Smith/Dimitroff, the process is exactly where it should be.

Blank might be right on target when he talks about the Falcons as an “ascending’’ team.

“If you look at the talent on the team, other than a couple of positions, it’s all young,’’ Blank said. “Thomas and Smitty have done just a fabulous job the last couple of years in the draft.’’

It all starts with quarterback Matt Ryan, Atlanta’s first-round pick in 2008. The common perception among fans is Ryan had a great rookie year and took a little step back last season. That’s not what the people in the Falcons’ building think at all.

“I think Matt improved from Year 1 to Year 2 and I think there will be significant improvement from Year 2 to Year 3,’’ Smith said. “I think he has improved on and will continue to improve on the two traits that all the great quarterbacks have. No. 1 is their decision making and No. 2 is their accuracy with the football. I think that Matt has really improved in his decision making in terms of what he can see and where to go with the football. His accuracy has improved as well. Matt is a guy that we’ve given more to. We’ve opened up the playbook more from Year 1 to Year 2, especially in our no-huddle offense. I think we’ll be able to continue to expand what we want to do offensively.’’

It should be noted that Ryan dealt with a toe injury that cost him two games and he limped through some others. An ankle injury also severely limited running back Michael Turner for about half the season. Ryan, Turner and receiver Harry Douglas (knee injury) all are expected back at full health next season and the parts all seem to be in place on offense.

“We love our young quarterback,’’ Blank said. “It doesn’t mean he’s perfect, but he’s getting better. Twenty-two touchdown passes last year versus 16 the year before. He’s learning more about the NFL and more about who he’s working with on his team. He’s one of these young men that’s first to work and last to leave. Great leadership on and off the field and he’s earned the respect of the players. I think he’ll continue to ascend to that role as a stronger leader in the years to come.’’

Blank likes to say he doesn’t cross the line into the football side, instead focusing on what he can do to help the football people succeed. But he is scheduled to have dinner with Ryan in a couple of weeks. One of the subjects on the agenda is leadership. The Falcons believe Ryan has done a great job in that area in his first two seasons and Blank wants to remind him that expectations grow every year.

“We’ll talk about his role and his responsibility,’’ Blank said.

Expectations are greater everywhere with the Falcons right now. After signing cornerback Dunta Robinson, the Falcons feel much better about their defense. They’d still like to improve the pass rush and it’s likely an attempt to do that will come in the draft.

Throw in a pass-rusher, project all the injured guys back as healthy and there’s really no reason to think Atlanta can’t string together three consecutive winning seasons. But Blank, Dimitroff and Smith are thinking about more than just that. They’re looking ahead and imagining a long string of winning seasons… and a new stadium.

As much as Ryan, a new stadium is part of the overall plan for this franchise right now. Blank has taken a proactive approach and the Falcons have been making noise about their desire to get a new facility to replace the Georgia Dome. They’re working with the Georgia World Congress Center and hoping they can get a new facility on the same ground, or surrounding ground. There’s encouragement on that front because there is a bill in front of the state assembly to extend a tax on hotels and motels that would largely finance a new building. Staying close to where they’re at is the priority, but the Falcons also are looking around the Atlanta area for other potential sites. So far, Blank and the Falcons have been relatively patient about this, but they’re not sitting still. Team president Rich McKay spends most of his time working toward a new stadium.

“There is some haste about this,’’ Blank said. “When you look at the planning, the designing, the construction and all the elements that go into a new stadium, there is a timetable of seven or eight years. The clock is ticking. We need to move forward on this. There are 25 stadiums in the league that have been built or significantly rebuilt and upgraded since 1992 when the Georgia Dome was opened up. We want to make sure that our fans have the very best NFL experience that we can offer them and make sure that we’re competitive on that front.

“You’re competing with somebody sitting at home watching a 52- or 56-inch screen television, kicking back and drinking a cold beer and saying, 'let’s just stay home.' The burden is that we’ve got to create an even better in-game experience for them.’’

No doubt a flashy new stadium would help. But there’s also no doubt that continued winning will help build a new stadium and make the in-game experience the best it’s ever been in Atlanta.
People ask me all the time to predict how the NFC South will shake out next season. I’m hesitant to do it because it’s only March and lots can change between now and September.

Smith
Smith
But I’m always open to hearing other opinions. And I got one that I respect very much Wednesday morning at the NFC coaches breakfast at the owners meeting. I asked Atlanta coach Mike Smith to break down the NFC South.

Smith provided a scouting report. Here it is:
I think arguably the NFC South is the toughest division and I think that has played out over the last five years. With the Saints as the defending Super Bowl champs, they have to go into the season as the favorite. Offensively, they’re very dynamic with Drew Brees and the weapons that he has like Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem. They’re a very powerful offense. Defensively, last year, they were probably the most opportunistic defense in the league. They do a great job of attacking the football and creating turnovers.

Carolina, every year, John [Fox] has that team playing well and playing hard. I think everything sets up around their two running backs. They’re going to run the ball and they’re always going to play strong defense with John and Ron Meeks. I played against Matt Moore when I was in Jacksonville one year and Jake was injured. I think he’s got a very good skill set. He’s got the height and the arm strong. He doesn’t have the experience yet, but I think he’s got a chance to be a very good quarterback.

In Tampa Bay, with Raheem [Morris] in Year 2, I think you’re really going to see big strides. I really like the big quarterback, Josh Freeman. He can not only throw the football, but he can run. He can extend a play. We played both our games with them in the second half of last season and I saw quite a bit of improvement, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They were really flying around and attacking the offense.’

And what about the Falcons? We’ll have more on them -- through the eyes of Smith, Arthur Blank and Thomas Dimitroff -- later today. I’ll be posting a column on the Falcons this afternoon.

Did Reid make the right pitch?

March, 25, 2010
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Donovan McNabbJody Gomez/US PresswireMight quarterback Donovan McNabb be on the move? The Eagles are said to be entertaining offers.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you were hoping the Donovan McNabb era would officially end in Philadelphia, Tuesday and Wednesday provided watershed moments. Andy Reid, perhaps McNabb’s biggest defender, said he’s all ears if someone wants to trade for the veteran quarterback.

Reid’s statement after the season that McNabb would be his starting quarterback in 2010 was left dangling in the wind, although we’re reviewing tapes to see if his fingers were crossed. I’ve had the sense for the past two months that club president Joe Banner and new general manager Howie Roseman were leaning toward moving McNabb, but it was hard to imagine Reid getting on board.

On Tuesday in a Ritz-Carlton restaurant, Reid sounded the retreat. He told a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist the Eagles were “entertaining” offers on all three quarterbacks, but McNabb was obviously the headliner. Despite the infamous ’08 benching in Baltimore, Reid and McNabb have remained close over the past decade. But apparently someone in the building has convinced Reid that he should at least be open to the idea of moving McNabb while he still holds some trade value.

On Tuesday afternoon, while other head coaches rushed off to tee times, I saw Reid, owner Jeff Lurie, Banner and Roseman huddle for several minutes in a breezeway outside the hotel. About 30 minutes later, Reid was uncharacteristically spilling his guts to a Philadelphia newspaper. At 7 o'clock the next morning, Reid attempted to temper some of his remarks.

“I'm listening," said Reid. "I'm not saying I'm doing anything, but I'm keeping my ears open, which we do on every player. This is no different. ... I mean, Donovan's our No. 1 quarterback, and Kevin [Kolb]'s our No. 2 quarterback, and Michael [Vick]'s our No. 3 quarterback. That's how I feel.”

So this is no different than, say, trading for linebacker Will Witherspoon during the regular season? No, this is way different than any trade Reid’s been involved with. He’s openly admitting that the one player his coaching career is most intertwined with is being shopped. And the point that some folks are missing is that Reid’s also showing immense trust that the 25-year-old Kolb can hit the ground running as the franchise quarterback. (Try not to think about the fact the Eagles will enter 2010 with major questions at center and right guard, Kevin.)

(Read full post)

Some random reflections on the owners meeting that ended Wednesday in Orlando.

I know John Fox caused a bit of a stir in some circles when he spoke highly of Tim Tebow. I’m telling you right now, calm down. Let’s put this one in perspective. Fox always praises players on other teams, available free agents and every member of the year's draft crop that he’s asked about. He also never closes the door on anything. Remember last summer when everybody was sure the Panthers were going to sign Michael Vick just because Fox wouldn’t publicly close the door on that possibility? It never happened. Look, I know Fox better than any other coach in the NFC South. If the man is going to make a move that likely will shape the rest of his career, he’s probably not going to reveal it over breakfast with the media.

I agree with New Orleans coach Sean Payton on disagreeing with the changes to the overtime rules. I also respect him for having the courage to voice his displeasure with how it was handled. The owners pretty much pushed this one on the coaches. Payton’s got every right to be mad about it -- for maybe another day or two. After that, he’s got to let it go. Payton’s a big voice in the NFL right now (as he should be), but he’s not bigger than the owners. They sign the checks.

While talking with Atlanta’s Arthur Blank, Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith, I got the impression that they’re really expecting a big leap forward by quarterback Matt Ryan in the upcoming season. I’ll have more on this in a column that’s scheduled to run Friday afternoon. But I also think the Falcons have to tweak a few things in their offense to really allow Ryan to make the next step.

Nice of Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer to step forward and talk to the media. Glazer explained why the Bucs are building through the draft and said his family’s ownership of the Manchester United soccer team has no impact on how the Bucs are run. I know there are tons of fans who doubt that. But why waste your time? As long as the Glazers own the Bucs, they’re going to operate the franchise the way they want.

Jets' playoff miracle not NFL's preference

March, 25, 2010
3/25/10
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The New York Jets certainly didn't have a problem with it, but the NFL does.

The league is looking into ways to ensure playoff-bound teams field honest lineups in the final weeks of the season. The Jets slipped into the postseason last year when their final two opponents, who'd clinched their divisions, kept their best players on the sideline.

In his closing remarks at the NFL owners meetings, commissioner Roger Goodell noted changes are afoot to keep late-season games from turning into charades.

"It is still an issue, and I spoke to the competition committee about it on Sunday," Goodell said. "One of the key things we are doing in the short term is in our scheduling. We are trying to schedule it so that potentially Week 17 will be all division opponents and maybe even a large part of Week 16 games.

"We think that will address this to some extent. It will not necessarily eliminate the issue, but the competition committee knows, and I've stressed to them, that we need to continue to look at this because it's important for the quality of what we do and for the integrity of our game."

The eight-man competition committee includes prominent figures in the Jets' miraculous wild-card berth: Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian and Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.

The Colts and Bengals were incredibly gracious in ushering the Jets into the playoffs. The Jets had to win their final two games, and both opponents benched starters.

In Week 16, the Colts pulled quarterback Peyton Manning in the third quarter. The Jets came back to win 29-15.

In a do-or-die Week 17 games, the Bengals scratched some starters and pulled many others, including quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Chad Ochocinco, at halftime. The Jets blew them away, 37-0.

Are Bills making a play for McNabb?

March, 24, 2010
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid reiterated Wednesday that Donovan McNabb is his starting quarterback.

Reid, however, declined to engage in a semantics joust with reporters who wanted to know if that's a statement of fact for the here and now for the 2010 season.

The Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders have contacted the Eagles about trading for McNabb, according to Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Ashley Fox and Yahoo! Sports writer Charles Robinson. Fox reported the Eagles have lowered their asking price to a second-round draft choice.

Reid admitted he was entertaining calls from teams he didn't identify, the coach measured his words while speaking at the NFL owners meetings.

The Eagles are jammed at quarterback with McNabb, apprentice Kevin Kolb and veteran Michael Vick.

"I can say it again," Reid said, speaking slowly for emphasis. "Donovan is our No. 1 quarterback, and Kevin is our No. 2 quarterback, and Michael is our No. 3 quarterback. That's how I feel."

Would Reid say that McNabb will not be traded?

"I'll tell you Donovan's our starter, our starting quarterback," Reid said. "I can't make it any clearer. We can get into semantics, but Donovan is our starting quarterback."

A reporter followed up that statement by asking what Reid meant precisely. For today? For the season? For how long?

"I guess we're all living for the day here, but, to answer your question, yeah, today he is our quarterback," Reid said.

Bills general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey repeatedly have stated they'd be willing to add another quarterback. They have an open competition as it stands now, with no obvious favorite among Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm.

Gailey said Tuesday he would like to have his quarterback situation settled by the draft.

Farewell, Orlando

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- It's time for us to skedaddle from the Grande Lakes resort and head back to NFC North headquarters, where I'm sure the temperature will one day reach the 78 degrees we had here Wednesday.

I had good visits with representatives of all four Black and Blue teams this week and will sprinkle the resulting information into the blog for the next few weeks. (Or maybe months! Extended spring break, here I come!)

As the owners meeting drew to a close, we did get some insight into the delay with announcing the league's high-profile schedule. Commissioner Roger Goodell said there were discussions about tweaking the schedule to match up divisional opponents in Week 17 and perhaps in Week 16 as well to discourage playoff teams from resting their starters after clinching their seed.

"We think that will address this to some extent," Goodell said. "It will not necessarily eliminate the issue, but ... we need to continue to look at this because it's important for the quality of what we do and for the integrity of our game."

Barring significant news this evening, I'll be back with you Thursday. Good day.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- While we’ve focused our attention on Minnesota’s quarterback situation lately, many of you have asked about the recovery of Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson. There was some fear last winter that his fractured femur could be career-ending, but Henderson said last week that he “definitely” would play again.

Henderson
Henderson
The questions the Vikings now face: When will he return? At what level of play? And what do they do in the meantime?

Judging by the Vikings’ inaction during the free-agent period, it seems safe to assume they will give him every opportunity to reclaim his job. Until that point, they seem set to follow the same contingency plan they implemented last December. Jasper Brinkley would seem the likeliest candidate to play in Henderson’s place until he returns or if he suffers a setback.

The latter scenario is something the Vikings must plan for, even if they have no reason to believe it will happen. A fractured femur occurs more often in traffic accidents than it does on the football field. If nothing else, his rehabilitation schedule will be difficult to predict.

“Nothing is going to surprise me with E.J. because he’s taken and embraced this thing,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said at Wednesday’s NFC coaches breakfast. “Talking to him and the people that he’s talked to with a similar injury he wants to set the E.J. Henderson protocol for this injury: Moving ahead, being ahead of the curve, doing the things he’s done at this point of time. Everything I’ve seen, he’s attacking it and he’s moving in the right direction in a hurry.”

It’s possible the Vikings could sign or draft a linebacker who could supplant Brinkley on the depth chart, but Childress said he “did a great job” in Henderson’s place last season and offered no reason to believe the Vikings aren’t counting on him for a bigger role in 2010.

“He was physical,” Childress said. “I thought he was into it system-wise. Did he make mistakes? Yeah, but you could say everybody … made mistakes at different points as well.”

Cards think Joey Porter still has star power

March, 24, 2010
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Good luck, Ken Whisenhunt.

That has to be sentiment coming from the Miami Dolphins' front office.

The Arizona Cardinals coach signed outside linebacker Joey Porter last week with the belief he still can make a positive contribution.

Porter
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland insisted in between the first and second time they released Porter that the club's decision was based solely on production. Of course, Porter's rantings against head coach Tony Sparano and young pass-rusher Cameron Wake only bolstered their conviction.

Whisenhunt wasn't concerned about diminishing skills or the potential for distraction. The Cardinals signed him to a three-year, $17.5 million contract.

"I think it was critical when he came in for the visit with us to sit down and talk with him, watch tape with him, go through where he was to have a better understanding of what point in his career he felt like he was and what he felt he could still accomplish," Whisenhunt said Wednesday morning at an NFC coaches breakfast.

Whisenhunt isn't wearing blinders. He was on Bill Cowher's staff when Porter helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowl XL.

He knows Porter's act and is prepared for the inevitable outbursts that inevitably will create sexy headlines in Phoenix and the upcoming opponent's city.

"For us, there's a lot of things I know about Joey and how he is in the locker room, what type of leader he is," Whisenhunt said. "You know with Joey that there's going to be the occasional bulletin-board material for the other team.

"But there's a lot of passion that comes with Joey. There's a balance that you have with him, but I've never had a problem with Joey. I've never been on a team where anybody has had issues with Joey."

Sparano and Wake wish they could say the same.

Porter turned 33 on Monday and is coming off a wacky season. He led the AFC with 17.5 sacks in 2008 and followed that up with nine more, a respectable number. But half of those came in two games. He clashed with Sparano, was benched for breaking team rules and endured hamstring problems.

"I still see him having gas left in his tank," Whisenhunt said. "He can make some plays, can be a good leader for us. It helps bring a mentality to our defense that hopefully gets us to a level where we can be a little more consistent.

"We've shown flashes of being pretty good. We’ve shown flashes of being pretty bad. Hopefully, if you bring in players with the credibility of Joey, who has been to Pro Bowls, that helps."

Carroll big fan of Fins' mystery receiver

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- One of the bigger unknowns on the Miami Dolphins' roster is second-year receiver Patrick Turner.

[+] EnlargePatrick Turner
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesPatrick Turner blossomed his senior season at USC, catching 49 passes for 741 yards and 10 TDs.
The Dolphins selected him 87th overall in last year's draft, hoping the 6-foot-5 target would make an impact on third downs and in the red zone. Turner was Mark Sanchez's favorite target at USC and led the Trojans in touchdowns his senior season.

Yet he failed to catch a pass his rookie year. He was a healthy scratch for all but two games. Ohio State rookie Brian Hartline, drafted 19 spots after Turner, caught 31 passes for 506 yards and a team-high three receiving touchdowns.

At the NFL scouting combine last month, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said Turner "has to step it up," but added, "He's a player for the future. We like the player very much. He's a big, huge target, which this quarterback needs. We feel very good about his development."

As Ireland noted, players develop differently, and Turner's college coach noted the process was a little longer at USC, too.

Pete Carroll, now with the Seattle Seahawks, talked about Turner at the NFC coaches media breakfast Wednesday as part of the NFL owners meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes.

"I think Patrick is a guy who has to develop his relationship with the club," Carroll said. "It took him a while at SC to really take over. He had a very good junior year, but it took him all the way to his senior year, while other guys we had who played the position had taken over immediately as freshmen.

"We watched him develop a little more slowly and get comfortable. Once he did, he took over.

"I would bet that if it's [similar to his college transition], he'll develop a very comfortable feeling and be a factor for them. He's a very, very good player."

McCarthy: Lang as a guard?

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- We've already caught up with Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy on a number of issues this week, so I didn't spend too much time at his table during Wednesday's NFC coaches breakfast. In perusing transcripts of his interview session, however, one topic stuck out.

Lang
McCarthy said there is a "difference of opinion" on the long-term position of offensive lineman T.J. Lang. Although he played tackle last season, McCarthy said he believes Lang is a "natural left guard when I look at his body."

I'm not sure what to make of that sentiment. My first reaction was that it could be intended to tweak left guard Daryn Colledge, a restricted free agent who hasn't signed his tender and isn't necessarily guaranteed a starting job in 2010.

But Lang wouldn't be the first position-flexible offensive lineman the Packers have drafted who bounced around the line in the early part of his career. Colledge has played at both tackle and guard positions. Jason Spitz has seen action at both guard and center. Allen Barbre has played left guard and right tackle.

There's nothing wrong with spending some time identifying a player's best position. But I know McCarthy would prefer to have more certainty in that area. That would start by making a decision on Lang's future -- and sticking with it.

Shanahan sounds off on Haynesworth

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- I started my day at Mike Shanahan's breakfast table -- as usual. The NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday drew a packed audience, and Shanahan was front and center.

As you might expect, there were several questions about nose tackle Albert Haynesworth's reluctance to participate in the Redskins' "voluntary" offseason conditioning program. Oh, and there's also the part about Haynesworth going on the radio and complaining about the prospect of playing nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme.

"I totally disagree with his decision to not be there," said Shanahan, referring to the conditioning program. "But I respect him being there the first day and sitting down and talking to me man to man. Any time a person's willing to do that, you feel good about the communication."

I also tried to ask Shanahan if there was an open competition at starting quarterback, but he made a joke about all the positions being open and quickly moved on. I've pressed both Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen for their thoughts on incumbent starter Jason Campbell, but they've been very evasive with their non-answers. Allen basically said he didn't want to talk about Campbell and Shanahan keeps talking about how he needs to see the quarterback on the field.

Obviously, there is plenty of film available at Redskins Park, so it's a little odd that Shanahan's reluctant to discuss Campbell. He's probably afraid that saying anything about Campbell might tip folks off on his draft strategy. I have to head out to the airport soon, but we'll have more from the owners meetings throughout the week.

I also had conversations with Tom Coughlin and Wade Phillips on Wednesday morning. And there's more from my marathon session with Jerry Jones.

Video: Coaches react to OT rule change

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
1:24
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video
Pete Carroll, Brad Childress and Sean Payton discuss the new playoff overtime rule.

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