No time for offseason with Brady, Favre, Vick, T.O. making news
Tom Brady estimates he's thrown with Randy Moss at least 12 times this spring
The Seahawks won't pursue Michael Vick, even with Jim Mora running the show
Brett Favre may inform the Vikings of his intentions for '09 as early as this week
Busy week. Late May, Memorial Day, and still the NFL doesn't slow up. TV deals, a ruling in the StarCaps case, the Brett Favre story (very quietly) heating up, debating the schedule expanding from 16 to either 18 or 17 games, Mike Vick living in home confinement, Tom Brady returning to practice with his team Tuesday for the first time in 37 weeks, Terrell Owens blaming Tony Romo for his Dallas demise, and the best special-teamer in football going on a wildcat strike. Did someone say "offseason?''
Headlines of the week:
Brady's back. In Sports Illustrated this week (no spoilers until tomorrow on SI.com; sorry), I've got the first extended interview with Brady since the Sept. 7 knee injury that knocked him out for the 2008 season. I found him confident that his knee's going to be fine, with a bold thing or two to say about his future ... and an interesting explanation of how he got the staph infection that caused him a couple of setbacks in his rehab last fall. Brady's been throwing to his receivers -- he estimates he's thrown with Randy Moss 12 times -- and I asked Wes Welker what he saw in Brady. "It's been fun for him to throw it around, and he's throwing it good," Welker said. "Rehab gets pretty old. You want to be out there, playing.''
The last time Brady had his hands on this team for a full season, the Patriots set an NFL record, scoring 36.8 points a game, two points a game more than any other team in history. They've had to replace 82 wide-receiver catches from that team, with Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth out, so Greg Lewis and the ancient Joey Galloway are in. I see Lewis, a reliable darter, catching 50 balls. But Galloway had a bad foot (since recovered) last year, started only four games in Tampa, and comes north with doubts that he can stay healthy. On the plus side: He played in 47-of-48 Bucs games from 2005 through 2007.
I asked Welker whether the 2009 offense can be as good as the 2007 offense.
"I feel we've gotten better,'' he said. "Back in '07, Randy and I were in our first year here, and I don't know about Randy, but I was worried about where the hell I was supposed to line up a lot of that season. Now, with so many touches over the last two years, the offense is second nature to us. This is a complicated offense, and getting to know it takes time. But now I think we both know it well, and we're on the same page with Tom every snap. Our goal is to continue to get better. I hope we can. We've got some good new weapons here, and it'll be great for us to get on the field together to see what we can do.''
Funny to think of in this way, but the key to a great offensive season for New England might actually be the fleet Galloway, who I'm told is running in the 4.4s even at 38. Imagine splitting a healthy Galloway and Moss wide to either side, with Welker in the slot and a good receiver like Kevin Faulk in the backfield. There are going to be some tough coverage assignments for a defense with those receivers playing as a group.
The sands in the hourglass are running out for Brett Favre. This is what I know about the odd little mating dance between Favre and the Vikings as of this weekend:
He's going to have a make a decision whether to join the Vikings very soon, probably by this weekend, because the Vikings want to know what their 2009 future is at quarterback. I'm told the organization won't wait for a decision much longer, and if he has to get a minor operation to snip the damaged right biceps tendon that has been giving him pain, he has to do it soon. Like, within a week.
I get the strong sense that if the Vikings are going to do any deal with Favre coach Brad Childress wants to be assured Favre will report to training camp in game shape, with no restrictions on throwing or his condition. They'd also like Favre to be involved in the mental part of team activities before camp. He has missed the first week of Organized Team Activities (last week), and he's all but out of this weekend's final mandatory full-squad mini-camp before training camp. Ten OTA practices remain for the Vikings -- June 2-5, June 8-11 and June 15-16.
Favre needs surgery to release the biceps tendon that has been giving him discomfort throwing the ball. I'm told the tendon is hanging on by a thread. One source in the NFL medical establishment told me last week that he understands Favre's tendon is barely attached, and would take a minor arthroscopic procedure to detach it by snipping the tendon. If that happened, Favre would likely be unable to throw the ball for at least two weeks, with a month's rehab before he could throw like the old Favre.
I was also told that severing the tendon would have no impact on Favre's velocity or accuracy. Theoretically, if Dr. James Andrews, who appears to be Favre's orthopedist of choice -- and who is a big fan of Favre's -- does the surgery by the end of the week, Favre would be back throwing by the end of June, which would give him about a month to get his arm in NFL shape.
Will he or won't he? I don't know. My best guess is he'll have the minor surgery if the tendon is still nagging him by week's end, and that he'll get his arm right and do a deal with the Vikings. But it's only a guess. As I've said through this whole thing, I've been wrong about Favre staying retired twice, and so I'm out of the Favre prediction business. Let's see what this week brings. We ought to have a better idea by the weekend.
The StarCaps case leaves two very valuable Vikings on an island. Still. I detail a little later the value of defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams to the Vikings and how much Minnesota would miss them if they were to miss the first four games due to a positive test for taking the diuretic StarCaps last year. Federal district court in Minneapolis upheld the suspensions Thursday, and the Williamses now turn to a lower court in Minnesota for legal redress, claiming the league knew there was a banned substance in the pills and didn't tell the players union about the tainted stuff.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, echoing the league view obviously, seemed certain in an e-mail to me Saturday that the league won't lose the appeal. "We believe there are very significant barriers to a successful suit in the Minnesota courts against our collectively bargained program with the NFL Players Association that covers 32 teams and all NFL players," he wrote. "We are not concerned with the case as it now stands."
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