Panthers Running Game
Biakabutuka's The Man
Before Sunday, Panthers running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka, the eighth pick in the 1996 draft, who had been hampered by injuries, could have been labeled a bust. Then he rushed for a career-high 132 yards on eight carries in a 27-3 rout of the Bengals, breaking off touchdown runs of 62 and 67 yards. Still, coach George Seifert plans to continue rotating his backs. He says he'll play Biakabutuka in the first and third quarters against the Redskins on Sunday, with Fred Lane playing the second and fourth. Seifert believes that the two are comparable in ability and that alternating them keeps them fresh.
The Panthers are in the express lane to nowhere. But Biakabutuka, who was averaging a robust 6.6 yards a carry even before his big day, has clearly passed the marginal Lane. When every yard is so precious for Carolina, it's ridiculous that the team's most potent offensive weapon isn't on the field for every snap.
Biakabutuka isn't pressing the issue yet. "The object is to win games, not be a superhero," he says.
Frustration Grows for Moss
Last week Vikings coaches worked with Randall Cunningham on quickening his delivery—perhaps to head off complaints from wideout Randy Moss. Those close to Moss say he is getting miffed about Minnesota's lack of a deep-passing game. Cunningham has under-thrown Moss often this season, and in Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Packers, Moss had little impact, catching two passes for 13 yards and a touchdown....
The Rams made a great hire when they lured quarterbacks coach Mike Martz from the Redskins and made him offensive coordinator. Martz attacks defenses more aggressively than predecessors Mike White and Jerry Rhome, he had quarterback Kurt Warner well prepared to take over after the season-ending injury to Trent Green in August, and he formed a tight bond with oft-injured wideout Isaac Bruce. After the Rams improved to 2-0 with the win over the Falcons, coach Dick Vermeil gave Martz a game ball....
Sources close to the process say that of the 30 or so prospective buyers of the Jets, Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan (beaten out by Al Lerner for ownership of the Browns) and Arizona real estate magnate Sam Grossman (who lost the Redskins to Daniel Snyder) will probably duke it out....
Early Rookie of the Year ballot: 1. Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey. "As good as [quarterback] Brad Johnson's been on offense, that's how good Champ's been on defense," says Washington coach Norv Turner. 2. Colts running back Edgerrin James. Might be the best back to enter the league since Terrell Davis in 1995. 3. Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse. He sped around Browns right tackle Orlando Brown for three sacks in Week 2 and had seven tackles against the Jaguars on Sunday.
The End Zone
Another Sapp In the Making