differing opinions of Bengals QB Carson Palmer and coach Marvin Lewis over when
Palmer will be ready to play this preseason. The good news coming out of
Bengals camp involves the strength of Palmer's surgically repaired left knee.
Right tackle Willie Anderson recently told me that Palmer has had no problems
dealing with two-a-days. Palmer hasn't had any swelling or soreness, and he has
steadily increased his workload as training camp has progressed.
The Bengals are
still being cautious about Palmer's overdoing it. On some days he has practiced
with the team in the morning, then skipped the afternoon session and worked out
with a trainer instead. But Anderson says he's confident that Palmer will be
ready for the season opener at Kansas City on Sept. 10. In other words, if
you're thinking of using a high pick on Palmer, don't worry too much about his
availability. Just monitor his progress once he takes the field--he'll most
likely play on Monday night against Green Bay in the Bengals' third exhibition
game--and know that he's already showing signs that he's worth a lofty
Don't be surprised if the Rams' Steven Jackson becomes an elite fantasy running
back this year. New coach Scott Linehan will run the ball far more than Mike
Martz did, and Jackson will be his horse. Also of significance is the new
offense the Rams will use: Linehan prefers single-back, three- receiver sets,
which Jackson (right) is accustomed to from his days at Oregon State. Jackson
prefers working without a fullback because it allows him to use his vision and
instincts to make his cuts. He may not go in the top five when draft time rolls
around, but he could easily be a 1,500-yard rusher.
Considering a running back from Tennessee? Travis Henry should be your first
choice. A team source says he's running like a new man in training camp and has
outperformed Chris Brown and second-round pick LenDale White. The key for Henry
(right) is that he's much lighter than he was a year ago, having dropped 15
pounds after playing at 230 last season. Henry carried the extra bulk because
he thought he needed it to avoid the bumps and bruises that have plagued him
during his career. Instead, it only made him an easier target for defenders.
I'm told the Titans will be going back to the conservative offense that was
built around Eddie George in the late 1990s and will be pounding the football
again this season. With his new physique, Henry should be a valuable option as
a third back. If you get him as your fourth running back, he'd be a steal.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is another player who's undergone a
noticeable weight loss. The 6'5" Roethlisberger dropped 15 pounds, to 235,
after breaking his jaw in a July motorcycle accident. But the Steelers aren't
complaining about the downsizing. A team source says that the third-year
veteran is more mobile without the extra weight, and he's moving as well as he
did in his rookie season. By all indications, the crash's aftereffects won't
hinder his play; the Steelers are still talking about opening up their passing
game and giving Roethlisberger more responsibility. I'm not saying he'll be the
next Peyton Manning, but if his recently injured right thumb doesn't affect
him, Roethlisberger should be a solid choice as a No. 2 quarterback.
Health concerns decrease each time he plays well.
Could win the top job if Aaron Brooks continues to struggle.
Rookie is earning a major role in Green Bay's offense.