|Offense 2003 Additions
| WR Terry Glenn-GB
WR Zuriel Smith-6th Round
C Al Johnson-2nd Round
RG Justin Bates-7th Round
RT Ryan Young-HOU
TE Dan Campbell-NYG
TE Jason Whitten-3rd Round
RB Richie Anderson-NYG
RB Aveion Johnson-DET
Offensive Line: In 2002, no unit had more injuries than
the Cowboys offensive line. By the midseason, they were
signing free agents off the street, giving them three
days of practice, and starting them on Sunday. Yea, it
was that bad. Two rookies forced into service in 2002,
6th round pick C Walter Tyson and RG Andre Gurode will
be expected to start this year. Reserve C Matt Lehr and
reserve RT Javier Collins were forced into the starting
line-up by injuries to the starters too often last year.
Collins was one of those street free agents that stuck
with the team.
The big off-season addition was RT Ryan Young who makes
the intrastate move over from Houston to rejoin Head
Coach Bill Parcells. Both are former Jets. Young was
exposed by New York in the expansion draft and was a
disappointment in Houston where he fought injuries. Young
replaces Solomon Page who was signed by the Chargers.
Reports are that the team is still looking to add depth
at the offensive line. They may be active in the waiver
wire this August when teams start cutting down prospects.
TE: Nothing here for fantasy owners. The ever-reliable
Dan Campbell was signed from the Giants. He joins 32
year old Tony McGhee as the team’s two starting
tight ends. Between the two, McGhee is the bigger receiving
threat, which tells you all you need to know about Dallas’ tight
RB: RB Troy Hambrick finally gets his shot at being
the number one in Dallas. Unfortunately for Hambrick,
he must not have gotten the news that Parcells was the
new head coach. Hambrick reported this spring a tiny
bit over weight, like 265 lb.
It seems the new head coach is not amused. As any of
his ex-players can tell you, Parcells runs things his
way… not the Cowboys’ way, Jerry Jones’ way,
his way. Ahh, to be a fly on the wall when The Big Tuna
went “old-school” on him. Hambrick may be
number one on the depth chart for now, but if he can’t
get his act together Parcells won’t hesitate to
replace him with Michael Wiley or Aveion Carson. Sportsline
is reporting that Hambrick is spending hours a day on
the bike, trying to lose the pounds. It’s also
reported that several assistant coaches are lurking nearby
to provide “inspiration”.
WR: Who would have ever thought that WR Terry Glenn
and Bill Parcells would ever spend another training camp
together? Once referring to Glenn as “she”,
Parcells has openly questioned Glenn’s toughness
and commitment in the past. Now Glenn, after one forgettable
season in Green Bay where he couldn’t score fantasy
points with Brett Favre throwing him the ball, will get
an ear-full from Parcells when he drops a pass or takes
a play off. If you’re tempted to draft Glenn, just
remember there’s history between the player and
his head coach- Glenn’s going to be on a short
leash this year.
If Glenn can’t get along with Parcells, then who?
The two most likely to inherit his starting position
are former free agent Ken-Yon Rambo and 2002’s
second round pick Antonio Bryant. Both are the big, tall
physical types more likely to do the kinds of things
the crusty new head coach will expect from his players.
QB: Already Parcells has openly stated that he isn’t
satisfied with his quarterback situation. Lucky for potential
starters (Chad Hutchinson and Quincy Carter) the head
coach has also flatly stated that he isn’t interested
in signing a quarterback that can’t win him a divisional
title just to win a few more games this year. This is
going to be one of those situations were the player that
pisses Parcells off least might start each week.
|Defense 2003 Additions
|SLB AL Singleton-TB
MLB Bradie James-4th Round
LCB Donald Mitchell-TEN
RCB Terence Newman-1st Round
RCB BJ Tucker-6th Round
Defense: Parcells is a win with defense kind
of a coach and he’s
starting to get the tough-nosed kind of players that
he wants already. Last year, the team added S Roy Williams
who was a fantasy stud in 2002. This year, they got the
cover man they wanted in CB Terence Newman. Newman is
behind Dereck Ross on the depth chart but may get a chance
quickly as Ross is reportedly thinking about surgery
this summer after a shoulder injury in minicamp. It’s
not clear how many months he would miss. Then there’s
that shooting thing…
Nothing wrong with the Cowboys defensive line either.
Greg Ellis is one of the more underrated defensive ends
and DT La’Roi Glover and DE Ebenezer Ekuban are
better known players. Reportedly, the team is trying
to find another defensive end to bring into the rotation.
The linebacking corps lost Kevin Hardy to free agency.
Dallas went out and signed AL Singleton from the Tampa
Bay Bucs to replace him. He joins Dat Nguyen and Dexter
Coakley on a pretty good unit.
Is this the year the Cowboys’ defense quits underachieving?
Only time will tell. In 2002, fantasy owners thought
this was going to be a pretty good unit and were disappointed.
This year expectations aren’t running as high and
the Cowboys defense brings a lot of value if they can
perform up to last year’s promise.
|Offense 2003 Additions
|WR Willie Ponder-6th Round
WR David Tyree-6th Round
WR Kevin Walter-7th Round
C Wayne Lucier-7th Round
RG David Diehl-5th Round
TE Vishante Shiancoe-3rd Round
FB Jim Finn-IND
RB Dorsey Levens-PHI
RB Brian Mitchell-PHI
Offensive Line: The 2002 edition of the
New York Giants had question marks all over their offensive
one know commodity (C Dusty Zeigler) only played two
games for the G-Men and this squad still managed to finish
fifth in the league in total offense.
2003 has brought more changes. Dusty Zeigler has been
waved, RT Mike Rosenthal has moved on to Minnesota, and
RG Jason Whittle signed with Tampa Bay. The Giants have
been playing Ian Allen at RT and Tom Hopkins at RG during
camp. Reports are good so far as both players seem impressive.
Hopkins is battling Barrett Brooks and David Deihl for
a starting spot. Chris Bober, originally drafted as a
tackle but forced to start at center when Zeigler couldn’t
go, will play center again this year. Reserve LT Jeffrey
Hatch has also been impressive.
TE: Jeremy Shockey and his caddies. There is some buzz
about Visanthe Shiancoe having impressed players and
coaches, but he remains an unknown commodity after having
played at tiny Morgan State against lesser competition.
The word is his blocking needs improvement but he excels
as a pass catcher.
WR: Ike Hilliard got a little more inspiration this
year. The 30 year-old wide receiver says he’s happy
to be signed and at camp. Injured half way through the
2002 season, the former Gator receiver will be challenged
this summer by Tim Carter, Ron Dixon, and three late
round draft picks. He’s probably happy not to be
looking for work at this point.
RB: Where do I begin with RB Ron Dayne? After trying
unsuccessfully all winter to get traded, “No Gain
Dayne” took a pass on the Giants “optional” (read
mandatory) off-season conditioning program. He was the
only player not to show without an excuse. To make matters
worse, he didn’t return the team’s phone
calls. Quote Dayne, “I don't think I want to talk
about why I wasn't here. Am I in coach Fassel's doghouse?
I don't know, you should ask him. But I don't think that
could cut down my playing time much more." Ah, want
to bet, Ron?
The Giants brought in three backs this off-season: Dorsey
Levens, Jim Finn, and Bryan Mitchell. Dayne’s chances
of making the Giants opening day roster are marginal.
QB: Kerry Collins is the clear starter.
|Defense 2003 Additions
|DT William Joseph-1st Round
DE Keith Washington-DEN
DE Osi Umenyiora-2nd Round
LCB Roderick Babers-4th Round
FS Charles Drake-7th Round
CB Frank Walker-6th Round
CB Ray Green-FA
Defense: Getting one of the draft’s most
highly rated defensive tackles (William Joseph) was to
have solidified New York’s
interior defense. Unfortunately, subsequent events have
changed that assessment.
DT Keith Hamilton was stopped May 22 on a highway in
New Jersey and charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana,
assorted drug paraphernalia and an open container of
an alcoholic beverage. That’s a no-no with the
police and with the league. Even if his lawyer cuts a
good deal, if he pleads to a felony then he’s likely
to be suspended for part of the season under the league’s
substance abuse policy. Under the glare of the New York
media, I wouldn’t expect this incident to get swept
under the rug making a suspension all but a certainty.
Thankfully, the Giants had the foresight to bring in
several other defensive line players. In addition to
the rookie Joseph, New York signed DE Keith Washington
from Denver who will contribute right away. If Hamilton
is gone for any length of time, then a rotation of Joseph,
Lance Legree, and Cornelius Washington will have to hold
down the fort.
|Offense 2003 Additions
| WR Billy McMullen-3rd Round
LG Jeremy Bridges-6th Round
TE LJ Smith-2nd Round
FB Jon Ritchie-OAK
Offensive Line: No changes from 2002.
TE: LJ Smith was brought in to replace Chad Lewis in
the not so distant future. A fantasy disappointment in
2002, Lewis is 31 years old and probably has no more
than one or two years left in the tank.
RB: This is going to get really wild before the summer
is done. Starting runningback Duce Staley is entering
the final year of his deal and he wants the team to sign
him to a $2.2 million extension. He’s chosen to
miss spring camp to make team management aware of his
unhappiness with his contract situation.
The question is does anyone besides Staley and his agent
care? Unfortunately for the veteran runningback, the
Eagles have an embarrassment of young ball carriers all
looking to get more playing time. Team management has
already said that it would like Correll Buckhalter to
get more touches, as he’s a better runner than
Staley and his contract’s less expensive. Then
there is last year’s rookie sensation Brian Westbrook
who’s no slouch hauling the pig’s bladder
either. Staley would like to get paid for the 1,000 rushing
yards he had in 2002, but that doesn’t seem likely.
Eventually, he’ll have to report, although he may
not be very happy all year.
WR: No changes in 2003.
|Defense 2003 Additions
|LDE Jerome McDougle-1st Round
MLB Mark Simoneau-ATL
WLB Nate Wayne-GB
Defense: Again, more unhappiness with contracts.
Pro Bowl CB Bobby Taylor wants a new deal and is holding
much like Duce Staley, he’s screwed. With Al Harris
gone from last year’s secondary, 2002’s number
one pick and number two picks (Lito Sheppard and Sheldon
Brown) are waiting in the wings behind Taylor. They’re
younger, less expensive, and hungry for more playing
time. Naturally, the team wants to see how things work
out this season before deciding if they will resign Taylor
and he’s not very happy about it.
If all the contract squabbling wasn’t enough,
the Eagles defense has seen major personnel changes this
spring. The team lost two starting, impact linebackers
(Shawn Barber and Hugh Douglas) and their replacements
(Nate Wayne and Mark Simoneau) aren’t of the same
Don’t expect the same kind of top shelf fantasy
numbers from the Eagles defense this year. Rookie DE
Jerome McDougal has a lot of talent, but he may not contribute
right away. The front seven may struggle to produce the
same kind of gaudy sack numbers fantasy owners have grown
|Offense 2003 Additions
| WR Taylor Jacobs-2nd Round
WR Lavernues Coles-NYJ
WR Patrick Johnson-JAX
LG Dave Fiore-FA
RG Randy Thomas-NYJ
RT Derrick Dockery-3rd Round
QB Rob Johnson-TB
QB Gibran Hamdan-7th Round
RB Trung Canidate—STL
RB Chad Morton-NYJ
Offensive Line: The Redskins spent $100 million last
year and didn’t end up with much to show for all
that cash shoveled into the fire… so, back to the
drawing board. The time fired its Director of Football
Operations and college scouting director, ending any
pretense that anyone but Daniel Snyder was calling the
Undeterred by 2002’s disappointment, Snyder went
out and signed 15 more veterans this year, most on the
offensive and defensive line. Dave Fiore and Randy Thomas
go into training camp as the team’s new offensive
guards. Solid at tackle, the center of the ‘Skins
line was weak last year and changes need to be made so
I can’t fault Snyder here. Brendon Stai was cut
outright and David Brandt was sent to the Packers to
RB: Stephen Davis’ departure for Carolina has
opened the door for three runningbacks-Trung Candidate
who was acquired in a trade with the Rams and returning
ball carriers Ladell Betts, and Kenny Watson. All are
the sub-six foot types with speed to burn. Candidate
goes into camp as the starter, but has a habit of playing
himself into the coach’s doghouse by fumbling the
ball and making mental mistakes. At 205 lb., he’s
also not the guy you don’t want picking up 240
lb. blitzing linebackers. At 220 lb. Betts has a little
more meat to put between QB Ramsey and harms way and
his versatility may give him more playing time. Watson
is on the outside looking in right now, but that doesn’t
mean much with Spurrier who seems to consult a coaching
mood ring before filling in the line-up every week.
WR: The Old Ball Coach must have seen enough of his
former Florida Gators players. Not one of them remains
on the Washington roster this year. I guess the rest
of the NFL must know a thing or two about evaluating
talent, eh coach?
Spurrier must have gotten the opportunity to watch
plenty of film on former Seminole Laveranues Coles. The
Redskins’ new speedster will line up across from
2002-fantasy breakout receiver Rod Gardner. The New York
Jets will have the opportunity to pay the ‘Skins
back for hosing them in free agency right away. The two
teams meet on opening day.
|Defense 2003 Additions
|LDE Peppi Zellner-DAL
LDT Jermaine Haley-MIA
RDT Brandon Noble-DAL
LDE Regan Upshaw-OAK
CB Alex Molden-WAS
FS Matt Bowen-GB
Defense: More changes for the Redskins. First, the team
will have its fifth defensive coordinator in five years and
will have to learn it’s fifth playbook and different
play terminology for the same period. You would like
a little continuity among your coaching staff, but that
doesn’t seem to interest the Redskins right now.
Second, the Redskins biggest task will be replacing
DT Daryl Gardener. Even though Gardener was often unable
to practice and had to be shot up before games ( bad
back), when he was on the field he was the team’s
best defensive linemen. DT Brandon Noble, DE Peppi Zellner
and DE Regan Upshaw were brought in to bolster the line,
but Upshaw (probably the best of the three) will still
need to push the aging Bruce Smith for playing time.
The Redskins aren’t bashful about discussing their
unhappiness with DT Dan Wilkinson. The team wants him
to take a pay cut, which doesn’t seem unreasonable
considering how little production they’ve gotten
for their $3.5 million base salary. Unfortunately, with
him in the middle of their line-up their run defense
is questionable, without him it may be a disaster. The
team will watch the waiver wire to see if another Daryl
Gardner gets cut, but right now there are no adequate
replacements on the free agent market.
Finally, this will mark the first time the ‘Skins
secondary didn’t have Darrel Green on the field.
The torch has been officially passed to CBs Champ Bailey,
Fred Smoot, and Alex Molden who have big shoes to fill.
While the cornerback situation looks good, safety is
another matter. Matt Bowen joins the team from the Packers
(where he wasn’t a starting safety) to team with
Ifeanyi Ohalete. Last year’s starter, Sam Shade;
was cut in the off-season.
The Redskins better get it right this year because they’ve
dug themselves a massive trench in year’s ahead.
Right now, the team will struggle to sign either Champ
Bailey or LaVar Arrington under the cap next year. This
rocket may blow up on the launch pad before it ever gets
off the ground. Thanks, Danny for all your help.
|Offense 2003 Additions
| WR Bobby Wade-5th Round
WR Justin Gage-5th Round
RG Bryan Anderson-7th Round
TE Desmond Clark-MIA
QB Kordell Stewart-PIT
QB Rex Grossman-1st Round
RB Brock Forsey-6th Round
Offensive Line: the site of much ugliness last season,
the Bears front wall was hit by a tidal wave of injuries.
By the end of the year they had 11 players (ten starters)
on injured reserve. Throwing inexperienced bodies on
the field contributed greatly to the Bears fall from
13-3 in 2001 to 4-12 last year.
In particular, Chicago’s ground game was brutal.
In 2001, opposing teams knew the Bears were going to
run the ball and still couldn’t do anything to
stop it. In 2003, opposing teams knew the Bears were
going to run the ball…and the Bears offense couldn’t
do anything to stop it. They couldn’t run and the
couldn’t protect their fragile quarterbacks either,
not a winning combination.
Changes were made. Big Cat Williams was cut in the off-season
opening a rather large hole at tackle. Mike Gandy, the
teams third round pick from 2001 will be called on to
take over on the corner. The rest of the starters, LG
Rex Tucker (missed 11 games last year), C Olin Kreutz,
RT Chris Villarrial, RT Marc Columbo (missed six games
in 2002) all return for 2003. This is one of the better-paid
units in the league and the Bears’ faithful hope
for a return to 2001’s form…and just a few
TE: Desmond Clark joins the team this year. He was with
the Dolphins in 2002 where he was a disappointment after
coming over from the Broncos were he was productive in
2001. Clark is the only “name player”, if
you can call him that, at the position. Regardless, he’s
their best receiving option and may end up with better
stats then starters John Davis or Dustin Lyman. Davis
is still fighting a back problem and Lyman is rehabbing
an ACL graft.
WR: Marcus Robinson’s body finally gave out. A
fantasy gold mine a year after playing in NFL Europe,
Robinson has fought knee and back problems since lighting
up the league.
Now, if only one of the Bears’ other highly paid
receiver would step-up and break-up, this team may shake
its stodgy image. Alas, both Dez White and David Terrell
(missed 11 games in 2002) have done little to justify
the high expectations that came with them. White has
spent three years on and off the bench getting chances
to play and blowing it. Terrell doesn’t seem to
have the maturity it takes to excel in the league. One
of these guys needs to live up to expectations and take
some of the pressure off Marty Booker if the Bears are
going to split the difference and go .500 this year.
RB: It’s funny how much difference a year makes.
Last year at this time RB Anthony Thomas was a late first,
early second round fantasy pick. This year, he’s
the Hans Blick of the NFL and writers can’t wait
to take their shots at him.
The truth is probably somewhere in between. He probably
wasn’t Rookie of the Year material in 2001 when
the Bears offensive line was blowing holes in the opposition’s
defensive front for him to stroll through and he probably
isn’t as bad as 2002 when he was dodging tacklers
in the backfield. But as long as writers are lowering
expectations, he may be undervalued this year… if
he wins the starting job from Peterson.
QB: You know things are bad when a team starts an off
season by cutting it’s first string quarterback.
QB Chris Chandler would have been justified had he thought
he was getting the ax after last season. I bet he was
as surprised as anyone when he heard it was QB Jim Miller
that was let go. Actually, no one would have blamed the
Bears had they whacked both of them. Neither could stay
healthy and poor free agent Henry Burris got thrown into
games to run for his life.
Just when you figured it couldn’t get any worse,
enter Kordell Stewart. The Bears, in a moment of either
visionary enlightenment or pure insanity, decided to
sign the mercurial ex-Steelers signal caller for five
million over two years. Makes you want to drink just
thinking about it. Not exactly rocket scientist material,
Stewart struggled for seasons to learn an offense, looking
dazed and confused all preseason and September before
setting down and just being disappointing until the next
spring when he would be confused all over again. Unless
the Bears offense is simplified to handing the ball out
and a play called “just go out” expect a
rough road this summer. Unfortunately, the word is that
Stewart is having problems learning the offense (where
have I heard that before). Rex Grossman may get a start
sooner rather than later.
|Defense 2003 Additions
|LDT Ian Scott-4th Round
RDT Tron LeFavor-5th Round
RDE Michael Haynes-1st Round
MLB Lance Briggs-3rd Round
LCB Charles Tillman-2nd Round
FS Todd Johnson-4th Round
Defense: Obviously the team’s biggest loss
was Rosevelt Colvin taking the big money and heading to New
Bryan Knight, the teams fifth round draft choice from
a year ago will get the first shot at taking the rush
linebacker spot. Mike Caldwell and Joe Odom will also
have a shot at winning the starting job.
Aside from the injuries sustained by the offensive line,
no other unit got beat up more in 2002 than the Bears
defensive line. The two anchors in the middle, Ted Washington
(gone 14 games) and Keith Traylor were out injured for
most of the year. Traylor still can’t practice
on his injured knee. He doesn't have to go very far,
but he still needs two good legs to stand on. Bryan Robinson
will have to start until Traylor can run.
Without the two big guys in the line-up at tackle, the
Bears defense was very ordinary in 2002. Teams ran the
ball effectively and the secondary (the cornerbacks in
particular) was exposed. Chicago will have to clamp down
on the run again if they’re going to be an improved
unit this year.
|Offense 2003 Additions
|WR Shawn Jefferson-ATL
WR Charles Rodgers-1st Round
WR Travis Anglin-7th Round
WR David Kircus-6th Round
LT Ben Johnson-7th Round
FB Brandon Drumm-7th Round
RB Shawn Bryson-BUF
RB Artose Pinner-4th Round
The biggest change in Detroit has to be at Head Coach. The
Lions finally gave in to conventional wisdom and hired
a proven field general. Mooch may have his detractors,
but you can’t argue with his win-loss record with
some pretty poor teams.
Offensive Line: A very under rated unit that gave up
only 20 sacks for all of last season. Taking into account
that the Lions were playing from behind most of last
season and opponents knew Detroit was going to put the
ball in the air, leading the league in sacks surrendered
was a great accomplishment. All five starters return
for 2003 and there’s no reason to believe they
won’t be one of the better units this year.
WR: The Lions added several players at wide receiver
this spring. Shawn Jefferson was signed to give the team
veteran depth while first round pick Charles Rodgers
learns the ropes. David Kircus is a tall rookie from
Saginaw Valley with 4.4 speed that has been impressive
in minicamp. Kircus will likely have minimal impact this
year and will fight it out for the fourth receiving spot.
No news out of the Lions on the progress of Rodgers,
which normally means bad news. The team would like him
to challenge starters Hakim and Schroeder who drop far
too many passes for the West Coast Offense. It’s
common for coaches to talk up new players to help out
the season ticket sales, making the team’s silence
all that more disturbing to me. It may be a sign that
he’s still learning the offense and likely not
ready to challenge for a starting job. Stay tuned.
RB: James Stewart was a curious free agent signing when
he joined the team from Jacksonville. A big back that
doesn’t have great receiving skills and needs a
lot of carries to get into the flow, Stewart never fit
the West Coast Offense. He somehow managed to survive
the previous coaching regime only to have the Lions hire
more competent proponent of the West Coast Offense as
a replacement. Now Stewart’s starting job is in
more jeopardy than ever. The team would like a smaller,
faster, better receiving back to win the job this summer
so keep you eyes on Detroit for a sleeper runningback
QB: Joey Harrington proved that, if you gave him time
to throw the ball he could step in as a rookie and be
productive at this level. With another training camp
under his belt, he should only improve this year.
|Defense 2003 Additions
|LDE Corey Redding-3rd Round
SLB Boss Bailey-2nd Round
MLB Earl Holmes-CLE
MLB Walli Rainer-JAX
WLB James David-5th Round
CB Blue Adams-7th Round
CB Dre Bly-STL
CB Chris Watson-BUF
FS Terrence Holt-5th Round
Defense: The Lions declined to offer former starting
LB Chris Claiborne a big new contract in the off-season and
as he was signed by their division rivals (Vikings).
Detroit went out in free agency and picked up two serviceable
replacements in Earl Holmes and Wali Rainer. Holmes will
play first downs and short yardage as he’s too
big and slow at (don’t look down at the scale)
over 250 lb. (okay, maybe more like 280-300) to cover
receivers out of the backfield. Rainer will come in on
passing downs. He’s not much smaller than Holmes
but at age 26, he probably has more jump than the 30-year-old
former Steeler/Brown. Ironically, it was Holmes that
replaced Rainer in Cleveland.
With that hole filled, the Lions turned their attention
to the hole at cornerback. Both starters from 2002 (Todd
Lyght and Eric Davis) moved on, which probably is a good
thing considering how they played last season. Both were
too old and too slow when they were signed in 2002 and
played that way for much of the season. Dre Bly was added
in free agency and he will be teamed with Chris Cash
at the other corner.
The much-traveled pair of SS Corey Harris and FS Brian
Walker will team in he middle of the field. Again, the
Lions are throwing a pair of over achieving 30+ year
old players on the field as a patch until the team can
find younger, more competent starters. Needless to say
that Detroit will struggle with opposing passing games
again this season.
|Offense 2003 Additions
|WR DeAndrew Rubin-7th Round
WR Carl Ford-7th Round
LT Marcus Spriggs-FA
LG Grey Ruegamer-NE
RT Brennan Curtin-6th Round
FB Nick Luchey-CIN
RB Lamar Smith-CAR
Offensive Line: The Packers suffered more than their
share of injuries last year and the offensive line was
one of the hardest hit units. Both starting tackles,
Chad Clifton and Mark Tausher, are still recovering from
injury and did not participate in minicamp. It remains
to be seen if they will be healthy for the first preseason
game. I neither can go than Jerry Wisne and Kevin Berry
become the Packers starters. The more likely scenario
is to have C Mike Flanagan play one tackle again and
bring in either Frank Winters or Bill Ferrario to play
WR: Terry Glenn has come and gone. His less than memorable
2002 season with the team was a disappointment to Packer
fans and to fantasy owners who were tempted by the potential
of a Favre to Glenn combination. See, character does
matter. Green Bay’s made an unfortunate habit of
trying to find a receiver in camp, fortunately for them
Donald Driver worked out even if Glenn didn’t.
In a two horse race, Robert Ferguson and Jevon Walker
will get their shot at starting. Ferguson was a second
round pick from 2001 while Walker was a first round pick
in 2002. Both have the size and athleticism the Packers
are looking for and both have the potential to be number
one options but one of them needs to step up and make
their mark this summer. If there is a clear winner, he
may be one of 2003 best late round fantasy draft picks.
RB: The Packers took no chances this off-season and
signed veteran Lamar Smith. In 2002, injuries plagued
Green Bay’s runningback corps with Ahman Green,
Nejeh Davenprot, and Tony Fisher all seeing considerable
action. Green, when healthy, is the starter and a quality
fantasy starter, but his lack of durability prompted
the team to sign another runningback to the roster.
QB: Don’t look any further than Bret Favre. An
iron man among NFL quarterbacks, the Packers signal caller
once again showed last season that he can and will start
through injury. Given his toughness, there’s no
reason to waste space discussing his back up.
|Defense 2003 Additions
|LDE Chuckie Nwokorie-TEN
RDT Kenny Peterson-3rd Round
SLB Hannibal Navies-CAR
SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer-5th Round
MLB Nick Barnett-1st Round
WLB Steve Josue-7th Round
CB Al Harris-PHI
CB Chris Johnson-7th Round
Defense: Major changes on the defensive line. Green Bay
lost T Gilbert Brown (cut), Billy Lyon (MIN), and Vonnie Holiday
for 2002’s squad. With only Joe Johnson as a returning
starter, the Packers were in deep trouble.
Time will tell if they’ve successfully plugged
the gap. Cledius Hunt will move from reserve tackle to
starter this year. Hunt is over 300 lb. but he’s
not even in the same weight class as the departed Gilbert
Brown who’s posterior could be spotted by orbiting
Russian cosmonauts. Rod Walker was acquired in a trade
with Tennessee and is immediately projected at the other
starting tackle. Finally, a member of the all name team,
Chuckie Nwokorie was signed from Indianapolis to be the
starting LDE. Not exactly household names, but the free
agent market for starting defensive linemen was hot this
If the uncertainty on the Packers defensive front wasn’t
enough, there were more changes at linebacker. Hardy
Nickerson and Nate Wayne are no longer with the team.
The teams first round draft pick, MLB Nick Barnett better
be a good study because he gets thrown straight away
into the starting lineup. At 236 lb. he’s a little
undersized to be taking on NFL guards or even fullbacks
but will have to play and play well given the situation
on Green Bay’s defensive line. Hannibal Navies
also joins the team. He played 2002 with the Carolina
The only change in the secondary (thankfully) was the
addition of Al Harris. Harris was the fifth cornerback
for the Eagles and will get his chance to start this
season with Green Bay. S Marquees Anderson has apparently
beaten out former number one pick Antuan Edwards for
the starting safety spot alongside Darren Sharper.
|Offense 2003 Additions
|WR Keenan Howry-7th Round
WR Nate Burleson-3rd Round
RT Mike Rosenthal-NYG
QB Gus Frerotte-CIN
RB Onterrio Smith-4th Round
Offensive Line: A good line got better with he addition
of Rosenthal. His addition moved former starters Everett
Lindsay and Kelly Lewis to the reserves. 2002 rookie
T Bryant (Mount) McKinnie now has at least a partial
season under his belt and he wasn’t that bad last
year. The big youngster missed all of camp and half of
last season in a contract holdout. Having a full camp
under the 343-lb. youngster will make him that much better
this year. This is a very big, very young unit that may
develop into the NFL’s best squads in a hurry.
TE: Having Jim Kleinsasser play both the tight end and
fullback positions got mixed review at best. This year
the Vikings may use him exclusively as their blocking
tight end. With RB Michael Bennett having a breakout
season in 2002, the Vikings have brought in a block first
tight end coach to make sure Minnesota remains among
the league’s best rushing offenses.
WR: Derrick Alexander was a huge disappointment last
season, both for Minnesota who thought they were getting
a stud receiver and for fantasy owners who were looking
for a fantasy sleeper. Fortunately for Alexander he’ll
get a shot at redeeming himself this year as D’wayne
Bates didn’t exactly light up opposing defenses
either. If, and it’s a big if, either of these
guys can become the second receiving threat Minnesota’s
needed since Chris Carter played in the Metrodome, then
they instantly become fantasy starters.
RB: Michael Bennett had off-season surgery to clean
up some knee damage. The Vikings expect him to be fully
recovered by the start of the season. Nevertheless, the
team drafted Onterrio Smith at the position. A number
of NFL types are very high on the University of Oregon
product, but Minnesota has to sign him, something the
Vikings have had problems with in the recent past.
|Defense 2003 Additions
|DT Kevin Williams-1st Round
DT Billy Lyon-GB
SLB Chris Claiborne-DET
SLB Mike Nattiel-6th Round
MLB EJ Henderson-2nd Round
CB Denard Walker-FA
CB Ken Irvin-NO
Defense: The Vikings more or less scrapped their
defense in the off-season. After struggling for the past
including the night game against the Seahawks were RB
Shaun Alexander embarrassed them on national television,
enough was enough. Tyrone Carter, Patrick Chuckwurah,
Jim Nelson, Talance Sawyer, Ronnie Bradford and others
were shown the exit.
Only MLB Greg Biekert remained from the starting linebackers.
Former Falcon Henri Crockett and former Lion Chris Claiborne
will join him. Claiborne must play the SLB position this
year after playing he MLB position in 2002. Claiborne’s
problems with his weight and conditioning may have contributed
to Detroit’s lack of interest in resigning him.
There’s little doubt Claiborne’s big enough
to play over the tight end but he will struggle to cover
backs and tight ends in space. Crockett will be called
on to pressure the quarterback. Fortunately for the Vikings,
their defensive line can generate pressure on the quarterback
without having to bring the heat. At least from a “name” standpoint,
the team appears to have improved their roster at this
When they’ve played well, the Vikings secondary
was merely bad. When they’ve played badly (and
there have been many such times in the recent past) they’ve
been nothing short of brutal. Too often they let opposing
receivers run free in the secondary and then were left
sprawling on the field flailing their empty arms helplessly
when called on to come up and tackle. That may not change
that much this year as the team concentrated on rush
defense in the off-season, but there’s only so
much a team can fix in a year.