Other items include NFL whispers on Dolphins, Saints and Eagles, as well as Fantasy Buzz on Bengal Chad Johnson and Chief Jay Feely.
The Way We Hear It: Success of Texans’ pass rush may rest with Colvin
Although they have two of the league’s best young front-seven players in DE Mario Williams and MLB DeMeco Ryans, the Texans consistently have struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. They finished 25th in the league in QB sack percentage last season, and things haven’t been much better this year, with just one sack through two exhibition contests.
One of their plans to improve the pass rush was to convert free-agent acquisition Rosevelt Colvin from linebacker to defensive end, but from what we hear, that experiment hasn’t gone well. Colvin, who missed five games in ’07 with a foot injury, has been playing linebacker in the pros for nine seasons and isn’t picking up his new position quickly.
Another one of Houston’s hopes is to get more pressure from second-year DT Amobi Okoye. Okoye had 5½ sacks last season as a rookie before hitting a wall down the stretch. Of course, they’ll need Williams to keep up his dominant play from last season, when he recorded 14 sacks, to stand any chance of improving in this facet of the game. We’re told that Colvin could be the guy to get them over the hump — if only he could learn the nuances of playing the DE spot.
DOLPHINS: For as much hype as Dolphins rookie OLT Jake Long has generated, sixth-round OG Donald Thomas has been awfully impressive in his own right. Thus far, Thomas has easily represented to be the best value among the Dolphins’ rookie class. He’s already locked down the starting ORG job.
SAINTS: Injuries to Saints DTs Brian Young (knee) and Hollis Thomas (shoulder) have opened the door for Orien Harris, and he’s taken full advantage of the opportunity, the way we hear it. New Orleans considered its DT corps deep when camp began, and Harris appeared to be on the outside looking in. That has changed, and his strong showing in the preseason games will make it hard for the Saints to move on without him when it’s time to trim the roster.
EAGLES: The Eagles have a glut at linebacker. Right now, Chris Gocong, Stewart Bradley and Omar Gaither are starters and locks to make the team. Veterans Akeem Jordan and Rocky Boiman are likely to make it, and rookie Joe Mays has shown enough to earn a roster spot. But that leaves Andy Studebaker, who also has impressed, as the likely odd man out. Sources say it might be tough to sneak him back on the practice squad, as some team might claim him.
The Fantasy Buzz
It was revealed early this week that Bengals WR Chad Johnson has a partially torn labrum in his shoulder. Johnson, who suffered the injury in the team’s second preseason game, plans to play through it, but he acknowledged that he would need season-ending surgery if the shoulder popped out again. Although the chances of that happening are not high, you might want to downgrade Johnson a bit on your draft board.
The Chiefs stabilized their kicking game this week by signing veteran PK Jay Feely. Feely, who was released by the Dolphins this month after hitting 21-of-23 FG attempts for them in 2007, is a clear upgrade for Kansas City at the position and is expected to take over kicking duties immediately. However, don’t look for Feely to make a fantasy impact, as the Chiefs’ offense will struggle mightily to score points this season.
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