Posted on: June 22, 2010 12:34 pm

Jay Ratliff even more amazing than he seems

Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff is remarkable. Weighing not quite 300 pounds, the 2007 fifth-round draft choice has become a Pro Bowler operating out of what is traditionally a two-gap position. Ratliff doesn’t have the girth to clog the middle, so instead, he dominates with initial quickness and penetrating leverage. No nose tackle in this era has gotten in the backfield with the consistency and ferocity that Ratliff has.

Now, we learn, there’s been even more of an incline to Ratliff’s uphill battle. Ratliff told fans in an chat on Monday that he’s been playing with bone spurts in his elbows the past three years. The elbows feel better now, and he bench-pressed for the first time in two years on Monday.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 22, 2010 12:01 pm

Crisis for the Jaguars in Jacksonville

Could the Jacksonville Jaguars be relocating? They seem to be on life support in Duval County. Vic Ketchman of wrote last Friday about the team’s decision to open training camp not to all fans, but only to season ticket holders. Ketchman’s words were approved by the Jaguars in some fashion (he write for the team website).

"At this time, I would like to speak to everyone from my heart. I ask that you, please, read my words carefully and embrace them. Here goes: Folks, this is it. This is save the whale. Forget, for the moment, about kids and growing the fan base for the future. We've been doing that since 1995. Back then, it was about the future. In 2010, it's about the present….

"Ticket sales, not the futures of David Garrard and Jack Del Rio, is the number one issue confronting this team, and it's not about next year's ticket sales or growing the fan base for 2020, it's about selling tickets for this year. This is it….

"This is save the whale and, from my perch on the beach, the whale is struggling to live. I think everyone would do well to understand that the radical nature of this decision underscores the team's desperation to sell tickets. The team knew this decision would be harshly criticized, yet, it went forward with it. Why do you think it did? If your answer is that we have reached the tipping point, then you are a logical person."

There have been rumors in recent years about the Jaguars being for sale and/or being a candidate for relocation. (The NFL would still love to have a team return to Los Angeles.) With the Great Recession hitting Florida especially hard, the Jaguars lost 17,000 season ticket holders in ’09 and averaged under 50,000 fans per home game.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 22, 2010 11:23 am

Charges Take a Gamble at Nose Tackle

The top two nose tackles on the Chargers roster at this time last year are now both gone. Veteran Jamal Williams was cut early in the offseason. Williams, 34, missed the ’09 season with a torn triceps. Perhaps more surprising is the news yesterday that Williams’s replacement, Ian Scott, has been released.

Scott did a serviceable job start in Williams’s stead last season. While he’s not the most domineering 315-pounder, Scott has always been able to overcome mediocre strength with textbook leverage and tenacity. He was the only Chargers nose tackle capable of getting any sort of penetration in 2009.

San Diego now heads into training camp with Ogemdi Nwagbuo and fifth-round rookie Cam Thomas manning the interior defensive line. Fourth-year journeyman Antonio Garay, a 320-pounder, could also be in the mix.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.
Posted on: June 22, 2010 10:38 am

Noteworthy Addition to Front Office in Seattle

Mike Sando of is reporting the former 49ers GM Scot McCloughan is expected to be hired to the Seattle Seahawks front office. An announcement could come later this week. McCloughan, 39, had a mysterious departure in San Francisco just weeks before the NFL Draft earlier this year.

Seahawks GM John Schneider does not have final say on personnel decisions – Pete Carroll does – but he oversees the front office. Schneider said, "(Getting McCloughan) is huge for us because Scot is one of the most respected personnel people in the league. He played a critical role in helping the Seahawks become a Super Bowl team (in 2005) and did a great job in rebuilding the 49ers over the last few years."

Schneider is referring to McCloughan’s role as Seattle’s college scouting director, which was the position he held prior to joining the 49ers. Schneider and McCloughan entered the league together in the 90s as part of Ron Wolf’s staff in Green Bay.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.
Category: NFL
Posted on: June 22, 2010 9:58 am

Al Harris's Status in Green Bay

Packers cornerback Al Harris has said there’s no doubt in his mind he’ll be ready for the September 12 season opener against the Eagles (Harris’s former team, by the way). The 35-year-old has spent his offseason vigorously rehabbing a torn ACL suffered November 22.

Harris has been documenting his recovery on YouTube to promote the website, for which it is believed he is a part owner.

Head coach Mike McCarthy, who has closely monitored the situation with team physician Pat McKenzie, is skeptical about Harris’s immediate return. Harris’s knee injury was more than a routine ACL tear.

“The only (person) that we're concerned about would be Al Harris,” McCarthy said, according to Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think Al is going to be definitely challenged to make it at the beginning of training camp. I'm sure Al may tell you something differently, but that's kind of my assessment of the information I've been given”

Athletic fourth-year corner Tramon Williams recently signed his RFA tender and is expected to fill-in as the No. 2 corner opposite Charles Woodson. If Harris makes it back, he may not be competing with Williams for playing time, but rather, with backups Jarrett Bush, Will Blackmon and Pat Lee.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 22, 2010 9:11 am
Edited on: June 22, 2010 9:13 am

Vincent Jackson to the Seahawks?

NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora said yesterday on NFL Total Access that if the Chargers try to trade disgruntled receiver Vincent Jackson, the Seattle Seahawks could be involved. Every wide receiver rumor seems to be linked to the Seahawks this year. The team is plenty deep at wideout after drafting Notre Dame’s Golden Tate in Round Two, but the only surefire starter at the position is T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Jackson is expected to sit out the first 10 games of 2010. Chargers GM A.J. Smith has already reduced Jackson’s RFA tender to 110 percent of his ’09 base pay. The Chargers have decent depth at wide receiver, though it’s not the kind of depth that could compensate for Jackson’s absence in the long haul. Backups Legedu Naanee, Josh Reed and oft-injured Buster Davis are more possession-type targets who do not have Jackson’s 6’5” size or vertical field-stretching prowess.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.
Posted on: June 22, 2010 12:00 am

Starting over in the minors

On Monday, we learned former Redskins QB Doug Williams, the MVP of Super Bowl XXII will become the GM of the United Football League’s hot-off-the-presses approved team in Norfolk, Va.

Williams is only the latest former NFL star to turn up in the UFL. Last week, the rumors were hot and heavy that former Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell would show up in the league, though that hasn’t happened. You also might remember former Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper has joined the Sacramento Mountain Lions (working, by the way, with his old coach Dennis Green), while former Packers star RB Ahman Green – a four-time Pro Bowler – is continuing his career with the Omaha Nighthawks.

You’ll remember last year (or, probably, you don’t) that former Bills QB J.P. Losman, former Bengals RB DeDe Dorsey and former Giants coach Jim Fassel starred in the league. The league also is expanding. Last season, four teams played six times. This year, there’s a fifth team – the Nighthawks, coached by Jeff Jagodzinski (who’s had quite a ride himself these past few years ) – and in 2011, Norfolk will join.

If you have a minute, take a look at a UFL roster. You’ll see players who you’ll recognize from the NFL but players you probably haven’t thought about in a while. A guy like Tim Rattay or Eric Ghiaciuc or Chris Perry or Brooks Bollinger (last season’s league MVP). Plus, you’ll see plenty of all-conference college players who simply weren’t good enough to stick in the NFL.

Or you’ll find somebody like Culpepper – a three-time Pro Bowler who threw for more than 24,000 yards and 149 touchdowns in his 11-year NFL career.

This is what he said when he signed:

"My goal for this year was to get on the field and play football," Culpepper said in a statement released by the league. "When the opportunity came for me to sign with the UFL and play for coach Green in Sacramento, I could not resist. I am impressed with his approach to the game and to his players."

He must really want to play. After all, he could have been the Detroit Lions starting QB last year (if he had beaten out Matthew Stafford for the job). I wanted to get a current NFL player’s opinion on the NFL, so I asked Bengals FS Chris Crocker about it.

“Those guys obviously think they can still play football,” Crocker said. “It kind of depends on where they are in their career. Take Daunte. If you can make $200,000 or $300,000 and play eight games, that’s not a bad gig. But you won’t see guys like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning doing something like that, because it tarnishes your reputation.”

I’d say there’s very little chance Culpepper is making $300,000. In fact, I’d be shocked if that was the case. At the maximum, I’d guess he’s making $50,000. But if he thinks he can play well enough to earn another chance in the NFL, why not take the plunge?

All you have to think about is Kurt Warner, who went from obscurity in the AFL to a probable Pro Football Hall of Famer. It's not an impossible task. It's happened before, and Culpepper hopes it can happen again.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Posted on: June 21, 2010 11:30 pm

Bills QBs 'splitting reps evenly' for now

It seems that Buffalo QB Trent Edwards should have a pretty good indication that he’s the starter heading into training camp. Face it, he’s got more experience than Brian Brohm, and he’s put up better numbers than Ryan Fitzpatrick during their careers.

But Bills coach Chan Gailey isn’t interested in naming a starter quite yet. That’s fine by Edwards.

“We’re splitting reps evenly,” Edwards told reporters after Buffalo’s OTA session today. ”I think they have it down to every single rep we’re getting and everyone gets the same amount. You can’t say one guy got more than the other guy. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to make plays when you’re out there. And when you’re not, you’ve got to sit back there and learn what you need to learn.”

Edwards’ first order of business: connecting with the Bills’ young group of receivers.

“There are still things I need to iron out,” said Edwards. “There are still things I need to get on the same page with some receivers. I like a lot of the young receivers we have. I think it’s the best group of young receivers we’ve had since I’ve been here. I’ve been really encouraged with those guys. I’m happy with where my mechanics are, but once you get content, you’re not going to get any better. I need to continue to improve.”

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or