MMQB Mail: Rams ramblings, HOF talk and ... (sigh) ... more on Favre
JACKSONVILLE -- In keeping with my one-day tradition of covering the other 2,500 players in the NFL aside from The One You're Hearing Too Much About, I bring some nuggets from the St. Louis Rams.
Before I do, I have to share this release from ESPN that arrived via e-mail Monday morning:
"ESPN will present a SportsCenter special today at 12:30 p.m. ET featuring live coverage of Brett Favre's arrival at Green Bay Packers camp for a physical examination and a conditioning test all players must pass before they are placed on the 80-man active roster.''
Shoot! I'm on the road. Did anyone TiVo that? I'm dying to see Brett Favre walk out of his car and walk into a building!
Brennan Smith, of Tucson writes: "Hey, Peter, do you have any info on the Steven Jackson holdout? He is the cornerstone of the Rams offense in Al Saunders' system and it seems like the Rams management has just pushed it aside and taken the 'I'm not talking to you' cold-shoulder approach about his negotiations. It's safe to say I'm worried as a Rams fan.''
Brennan, don't be worried. Even though the two sides haven't talked in over a week, I think the team will eventually pay him market money for a franchise back, and Jackson will be signed by mid-August and be in camp in plenty of time to learn Saunders' encyclopedia (er, playbook) for the opener (see colleague Bucky Brooks' article on the topic here). The team knows how important Jackson is to its offense, and I think the front office will crack the safe for him. He's not the kind of dime-a-dozen back that can be replaced without it hurting, because there's no one east of San Diego right now who can run and catch as well as Jackson.
Other Rams ramblings:
--The Rams expect Orlando Pace, still, to be their opening-day starter at left tackle. He hasn't gone all out in practice yet, but the man who's been hurt more than healthy in the past three years expects to be using his rehabbing arm full-speed by late this month.
--Chris Long is still very much in the learning-curve part of training camp and will start opening day, but don't look for him to have much impact early. I'm told his head is swimming as he goes through a major adjustment from college. But that's to be expected in a pro defense, particularly in one that will rely on him so heavily to be a big factor early.
--Leonard Little, the end opposite Long, is having a great camp and should be a double-digit sack guy, again, at 33.
--Marc Bulger is having an accurate, strong camp. He's the kind of heady guy who can adapt well to Saunders' difficult scheme.
And now for the rest of the e-mails. Let me remind you: This is your last chance to vote for the new departments in MMQB this season. Here's the link to the options, and I'd still love to hear from those who have not responded.
GLAD YOU BROUGHT THAT UP. From Al Taylor, of Woodbridge, Va.: "I couldn't help but notice at the Hall of Fame ceremonies that there was Joe Gibbs and Art Monk and Darrell Green together. What about the man responsible for putting those teams together, Bobby Beathard? Do you think he'll ever get in the Hall?''
Great question. For far too long, Al, I think Beathard has been tarred with the Ryan Leaf brush and we've forgotten how much he did to build those great Redskins teams. There are three architects right now who should have their cases heard by Hall of Fame selectors the day before the Super Bowl in coming years: Beathard, Bill Polian and Ron Wolf. I have tremendous respect for all three, and I hope we see them bronzed one day soon.
FOREVER IS A LONG TIME, ROBERT. From Robert Johns, of Atlanta: "Why doesn't the NFL adopt a policy that retirement is final? Once an NFL player retires he is done forever. It seems like that would prevent a player in the future from wrecking a team's salary cap or retiring to force the team to trade them.''
Interesting point, but I don't know how you'd make it stick. If a player retires and then a year later wants to play, why prevent him from doing so, as long as he's willing to live by the terms of the contract he abandoned when he retired?
A DIFFERENT FAVRE-IAN THOUGHT. From Anthony Longo, of Bloomingdale, N.J.: "I have a thought. The person who benefits the most from this situation is Brian Brohm. So, Brett returns to Green Bay, wins the starting job ... Aaron Rodgers feels burned and at the end of the season decides he no longer wants to play for the Packers. Who does that leave to take the helm when Brett finally does retire? Brian Brohm. Am I crazy, or does that make sense? Brian should be running around giggling right now. It is possible that instead of spending five or six years behind Aaron Rodgers, he will be the man sooner then he thought!''
Good point, Anthony, with one little proviso -- Rodgers has two years left on his contract, and a lot can happen in two years. Let's see how this Favre thing plays out in the next couple of days. I'm not positive he's going to be a Packer long-term anyway.
THE STEELERS HAVE A NEW LINE. From Andrew Modro, of Athens, Ohio: "Hey, Peter, do you think the Steelers are doing anything special with their offensive line? That's the biggest thing they need to address for this season, in my opinion, and I'm curious if they feel the same way.''
I think they do. I was at Steelers camp last week and watched them work tirelessly on blitz pickup, on Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball away more readily when pressured, and -- something I feel is the most important thing of all -- a short passing game that could lead to more spread formations than the Steelers have traditionally used.
The Steelers also are buying into second-year offensive line coach Larry Zierlein's teachings and fundamentals, which they didn't do a year ago because it was a sea-change from former line coach Russ Grimm. How will they perform? Better is my guess, but Roethlisberger has to be disciplined enough to dump the ball off more than he's done in the past.
SIMMS ON THE BEARS? I COULD SEE IT. From Kurt, of Las Vegas: "If the Bucs do release Simms, wouldn't some of the NFC North teams like Chicago or Minnesota take a flyer on him? What about San Fran? He would certainly improve their backup positions, and might be better than their starters.''
I could certainly see the Bears having an interest. The reason I pointed out Houston in MMQB is the Texans have a need for a third guy behind Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels, plus the new offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, is Simms' buddy from their days at the University of Texas. Denver's been interested in the past, and I'm sure Mike Shanahan would show some interest again. But you're right -- Chicago's a natural.