Posted: Wednesday July 20, 2005 4:52PM; Updated: Thursday July 21, 2005 3:19PM
By Jeffri Chadiha, SI.com
5. How will Shaun Alexander's contract situation play out in Seattle?
He's prepared to sit out training camp in order to land a long term deal but he has little leverage. The Seahawks tried trading him during the offseason and found no willing suitors. Holmgren also hasn't been pleased with Alexander's suspect hands or the player's disdain for blocking. This doesn't exactly sound like a man the Seahawks can't live without, even if he did finish one yard short of the league rushing title. He'll be back at some point -- and without a new deal.
6. Will the Rams be any better on special teams this season?
There isn't any reason to think so. Martz has never devoted enough time or energy to improving his return and coverage units and the Rams paid a heavy price for that deficiency in 2004. Last season they ranked 30th in the NFL in punt-return yards and kick-return yards allowed, 31st in punt returns and dead last in kick returns. The addition of new special teams coach Bob Ligashesky won't improve those numbers. More talented special teams players is the only way to fix this ongoing problem.
7. Which player will have a breakout season?
All indications point to Cardinals running back J.J. Arrington shining during his rookie season. The former Cal star already is the front-runner to be Arizona's feature back and he has the right skill set (speed, explosiveness, good hands) to excel in coach Green's offense. A second-round pick in a class loaded with running backs, Arrington could prove to be one of the biggest steals of this year's draft.
8. Will dropped passes plague the Seahawks again?
Seattle rid itself of at least one if its primary culprits in this area -- it dumped wide receiver Koren Robinson during the offseason -- so there is at least hope. The team's top wideout, Darrell Jackson, also had his struggles with the juggles, but the rest of the receiving corps is fairly steady. Despite a big drop in last year's playoff loss to St. Louis, Bobby Engram has reliable hands, as do free-agent acquisitions Joe Jurevicius and Jerome Pathon.
9. Can the Rams stop the run this season?
We'll see. The linebacking corps should improve with the addition of speedy outside linebacker Dexter Coakley and middle linebacker Chris Claiborne, who will bring more bulk to the inside position. A healthy Adam Archuleta also would be helpful, as a back injury plagued the fifth-year strong safety most of last season. If those three can be consistent playmakers this year, the Rams shouldn't finish at the bottom of the league in this category (they ranked 29th in rush defense in '04).
10. Will Dennis Green make any strides with the Cardinals in Year Two?
Yes. For those who haven't noticed, Arizona has established a promising defense that features unheralded talents like Pro Bowl defensive end Bert Berry (14.5 sacks in '04), linebacker Karlos Dansby and strong safety AdrianWilson. If the offense can match this unit's improvement, the Cardinals could challenge for a playoff spot. Don't laugh. After all, the NFC West is the weakest division in the NFL.