TDs for Tony
The Chiefs plan
to make their ace tight end more of a threat near the goal line
THE RED ZONE
should see more of the Chiefs' Tony Gonzalez this fall. The NFL's premier tight
end for years, Gonzalez tied his career low with two touchdown receptions last
season, when he was used more as a blocker near the goal line while running
back Larry Johnson emerged as an unstoppable red-zone force. This season, with
the team breaking in two new starting tackles, Kansas City still will ask
Gonzalez to do his share of blocking, but quarterback Trent Green also plans to
call Gonzalez's number more frequently near the goal line. "They kind of
forgot about me down there [last year]," Gonzalez says. "All I know is
that both Trent and [new offensive coordinator] Mike Solari have told me they
aren't going to let that happen again."
For the second straight preseason Giants running back Brandon Jacobs has been
an August All-Star. The difference is that this year the 6'4", 264-pound
bruiser, who rushed for 58 yards and two touchdowns in New York's first two
preseason games, is poised to be more than a short-yardage back. Starter Tiki
Barber, 31, has publicly campaigned for fewer carries this year, and Jacobs's
blocking and receiving skills have developed enough to earn him some
non-goal-line snaps. "He's great with the ball in his hands," Barber
says of Jacobs (right), who'll be valuable in TD-oriented leagues.
The Cowboys' defense could prove to be a sleeper pick. Coach Bill Parcells has
finally acquired the players necessary to run his 3--4 scheme, replacing
smallish defenders with bigger, younger playmakers such as Chris Canty, Bradie
James, Marcus Spears and DeMarcus Ware. Teamed with elite cornerbacks Terence
Newman and Anthony Henry, who's completely healthy following a groin injury,
this group will help Dallas play the pressure-oriented style it desires. Throw
in linebacker Greg Ellis and Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams, and Dallas should
improve on its 26 turnovers and 37 sacks from last season.
The competition for the job of backing up brittle Eagles featured back Brian
Westbrook has turned into a dogfight. Reno Mahe has the inside track, even
though he fumbled on one of his four touches last week against the Ravens. His
primary competition may be Correll Buckhalter, who missed the last two seasons
with knee injuries but had a nifty 48-yard catch-and-run against Baltimore.
Even free agent Marty Johnson has been impressive. Coaches, however, are down
on Ryan Moats and Bruce Perry. The former, a third-round pick in 2005, missed
much of camp with a knee injury. He fumbled on his first carry against the
Ravens, rushed for just seven yards on seven attempts and continued to descend
on the depth chart.