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Peter King
March 05, 2001
Backup Plan Packers sub quarterback Matt Hasselbeck could be the x factor at the top of the draft
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March 05, 2001

The Nfl

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New Coach's Welcome Note
Bills Can Read It And Weep

A day after he sent a letter by overnight mail to each of his players, new Bills coach Gregg Williams sat in an Indianapolis hotel restaurant and, between bites of French toast, said with a wry smile, "I expect to get quite a few calls from players in the next few days." In the letter he wrote about how excited he was to be a part of the Bills' tradition but also how he expected the players to jack up their commitment level.

The Bills had a putrid 41% rate of participation in their off-season conditioning program last year, in part because many players don't want to live in Buffalo year-round. Williams wrote that he expects every player to attend the 16-week regimen—strength and conditioning work four days a week, with his pet program, nutritional training, as part of the deal—beginning on March 12. "I expect the fat guys to report a week early," he said. "I don't like fat guys."

A Bills source says Williams is particularly miffed by the underachieving and overweight offensive line. That group attended only 27% of the off-season workouts in 2000. "I wrote lengthy personal notes at the bottom of quite a few of the letters, and some were pretty blunt," said the 42-year-old Williams. "I'm also taking every excuse from the players. We'll provide day care for their children. We'll feed the players breakfast and lunch every day. We'll break the program into three five-week segments and fly the players in and out at team expense. We're installing an attacking defense and the West Coast offense. We need to hit the ground running."

Top of the Draft
After Vick, Who Knows?

A year ago the first four players chosen in the 2000 draft were certain to be defensive end Courtney Brown, linebacker LaVar Arlington and tackle Chris Samuels, in some order, followed by wide-out Peter Warrick. This year, after Michael Vick, it's anybody's guess. The Cardinals, Browns and Bengals, respectively, follow San Diego at No. 1, and all three teams left the combine with their first picks still up in the air.

Michigan wideout David Terrell is the consensus second-best player, but Arizona would rather address its offensive or defensive line. Cleveland will almost certainly go wideout or running back, but the Browns are behind in draft preparation because new coach Butch Davis has had to focus on the free-agent market. Cincinnati, with holes throughout its lineup, would be wise to pick a monster tackle (either Kenyatta Walker of Florida or Leonard Davis of Texas) to give quarterback Akili Smidi a fighting chance.

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