As for Favre ... I'm told this could go either way, but that it's more likely than not he'll sign and be in camp with the Vikes next week. Because I don't know much more than that, no sense wasting your time or mine. I do find it interesting he hasn't worked out with his friend from Athletes Performance Institute, Ken Croner (more about him in a couple of paragraphs), or, apparently, with any personal trainer for any length of time this offseason. Croner got him ready for a physically strong season two years ago. Last year, without doing much in the offseason, Favre was spent by December. Maybe he's been more disciplined and worked out hard on his own. We'll see.
The Eagles have the biggest shoes to fill of any team in camp this summer: Jim Johnson's. Get used to seeing lots of Sean McDermott video, Sean McDermott quotes and players talking about Sean McDermott.
He's the 35-year-old replacement for Johnson, who is seriously ill with re-occurring melanoma. And I mean seriously ill. Johnson, one of the great defensive coaches in recent history, needs all of our prayers, and he needs them now. "You always look for a great opportunity like this,'' a solemn McDermott said when we spoke Saturday, "but to have it under these circumstances is very tough. Jim has meant everything to me. For the last 10 years in this organization, I've had a front-row seat with a Hall of Fame-caliber coach, and he's helped me develop a core set of values.''
The reason McDermott's job is so tough is that Johnson set such a high standard. He was the defensive sheriff in town, and he made the defensive game plans and the defensive playcalls. The Eagles, in the nine seasons from 2000 to 2008, are in the top five in the NFL in points allowed, total defense, third-down defense and sacks. And now they're without Johnson as well as the biggest leader the defense has had since Reggie White, safety Brian Dawkins, an offseason free-agent acquisition by Denver.
"There's no doubt there's a leadership void,'' McDermott said. "But that's what training camp is all about. Leaders will emerge.''
The biggest leader needs to be the new defensive boss.
Matt Hasselbeck is working out twice a day on vacation. That's a good sign. Last year, Seattle's season went down the drain when Hasselbeck's back acted up in the summer and never settled down. Now he's got Croner with him at his family vacation home in central Washington, on the Columbia River, and Croner's putting him through the kind of two-a-days that should serve him well.
This is the fourth year Croner has worked with Hasselbeck, who turns 34 in September, and the trainer said Friday, "He looks by far the best he's ever looked since I've been with him.''
Hasselbeck's eight pounds lighter now (at 234) than he was a year ago, and he said one of the things that has helped him this offseason is the simple length of it. Because he didn't play much last year, and because Seattle didn't make the playoffs, and because he had his back well-diagnosed by January, he's been in the weight room more, and longer, than in the past. "I'm not worried about my back at all,'' Hasselbeck said. "The only thing my back cannot do is sit in a three-hour run-game-install meeting without getting up and moving around. Of the things I'm worried about -- new coach, new offense, some new teammates -- I can promise you that health is not one of them.''
Grunge music to Seattle's ears.
Hey Ozzie Newsome: I've got Amani Toomer's number. You'll be needing it this morning. Loved the headline on profootballtalk.com just after 10 last night. "The Drew Bennett Era Ends in Baltimore.'' Bennett signed a one-year contract FRIDAY AFTERNOON AND RETIRED SUNDAY NIGHT. Add the two-week-old retirement that may not be a retirement by Derrick Mason, and the Ravens are left with only one wideout who caught 15 passes last year -- Mark Clayton (41 catches, three touchdowns).
Coach John Harbaugh still think there's a chance the 35-year-old Mason, who has a chronic shoulder problem, will play. Baltimore added Kelley Washington in free-agency from New England, but he was almost purely a special-teams player in New England; he caught just one ball in the last two years.
Seriously: I'd sign Toomer, who's almost at the end but could be a good veteran port-in-the-storm for Joe Flacco, over D.J. Hackett, who the Ravens also have some interest in.
And that's the way it is. Monday, July 27, 2009.
(I owe you a few, Walter. We all do.)
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