Fisher's system calls for the corner-backs to play a lot of man-to-man, and Jerry Gray is certainly gifted in that area. But a lot depends on how quickly Todd Lyght, the fifth player taken in the draft, comes on after his long holdout.
The offense, the Rams say, will fall into place once everyone is on the same page, and Everett admits, "There were times when I felt the pressure was on and I came outside the limits of what I could do." A good thumping running game with Cleveland Gary and Marcus Dupree—if he stays healthy—will help.
I hear it everywhere: "Hey, watch those Atlanta Falcons. They're the sleeper." Watch them do what? They showed some life last season under Jerry Glanville, who was in his first year as coach, but are they ready to make a big jump? Not yet.
One thing about Glanville. When he taps a player on the shoulder and says "You're my guy," Glanville has made a friend for life. Last season, eighth-round pick Tory Epps came from nowhere to become a fine noseguard. When Glanville got a look at Tim Green, he immediately installed Green at defensive end, even though he was undersized at 245 pounds.
Others haven't bought Glanville's act. Lineman Tony Casillas, running back John Settle and receiver Shawn Collins were all in the doghouse last season. Casillas and Settle are gone, and Collins is trade bait. Deion Sanders, the gifted and enigmatic right cornerback? Who knows? His potential is immense, and tight coverage at the corners is the key to Glanville's pressure defensive system. Which is why he got Tim McKyer from Miami, and why he made Bruce Pickens of Nebraska the third pick in the draft.
If the Chris Miller—June Jones connection works out, the Falcons should score plenty of points. Miller is a talented quarterback, and Jones is his third offensive coach in five years. But Jones, a run-and-shoot specialist from the Lions, is tight with the kid. He has said that Miller is at the crossroads year of his career. Remember the New Orleans Saints' Monday-night opener at home against the 49ers last year? The Saints defenders played like maniacs, sacking Montana six times and running down everything in sight. New Orleans was at its best and still lost 13-12, because quarterback John Fourcade came up short at the end. Back home in Mandeville, La., Bobby Hebert, who should have been the quarterback, watched and shook his head. Unable to come to terms with the Saints, he had chosen to sit out the year.
Fourcade was eventually benched after Steve Walsh arrived from the Cowboys three weeks into last season. New Orleans gave up three high draft choices to get Walsh. The passing offense finished 26th in the league. Now Hebert is signed, and it looks as if he'll again be the Saints' starting quarterback.
Now, no one is telling general manager Jim Finks how to handle contracts—he couldn't sign Robert Massey, a talented cornerback, or wideout Brett Perriman this year, so both were traded—but if you're a guy busting his hump on defense, say a Rickey Jackson or a Sam Mills, what kind of message does this give you?
The Saints get back a first-rate little tailback, Dalton Hilliard, who missed most of last season with a torn ligament in his right knee, and maybe they'll get some serious production again from 260-pound running back Ironhead Heyward. But the key to success in the NFL is new talent, and the Saints don't have much of that this season.
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