NFL news and notes

Let’s check out some quick NFL news on this 4th of July Sunday…

The Dre Bly deal in Detroit made news this week because of the lack of depth at the cornerback position for Jim Schwartz’s Lions. Adding veteran corners before camp is something we see all around the league. You need bodies during camp and you want to engineer competition at the position. Bly has unique ball skills, but along with that comes a corner who will play with poor technique and doesn’t have the ideal top end speed to turn and run with the top tier wide receivers in the league—or the NFC North.

RB Ryan Mathews is a rookie we need to watch in August when camp open for the Chargers. Like any young back, he will struggle with pro pass protection schemes, but his overall ability to understand the concepts of Norv Turner’s offense is crucial for the success of this football team. There was plenty of opinion when the Chargers traded up to get the former Fresno St. product in the first round of the draft, but when we take a step back and talk about Turner’s offense in San Diego, you need a power back who has that explosive first step to get downhill in the basic off-tackle running game: the Lead Open, Lead Strong and Power O. Mathews has the opportunity to become an impact rookie and a major contributor on Sundays from day one in San Diego. Now he just needs to avoid a holdout and show up on time. Still a ton to learn in training camp.

Some interesting comments on JaMarcus Russell from QB tutor Tom Martinez this week in the New York Times. Martinez, who also works with Patriots’ QB Tom Brady, was tough on the Raiders organization when speaking on Russell’s lack of production at the pro level. And, he wasn’t afraid to talk about the former Oakland QB’s raw talent. Russell has been mentioned in reports with the Jets, however, the issue is the QB's lack of dedication and work ethic. Unfortunately, you can’t teach that, and the results are right in front of us—a huge talent on the street looking for work.

The Ravens spent a third round pick on Oregon TE Ed Dickson—who signed a three-year deal this week. As I have talked about before, the Ravens have opportunities to expand their play book and play calling with the offensive additions they made this offseason. Finding a way to get the athletic Dickson on the field in the Ravens two TE sets will allow them to be creative and get the ball down the field. Don’t be surprised to see Dickson align away from the core of the formation in situational roles and become a matchup issue for defenses. A tough draw for any safety in the league.

The Michael Vick news took some odd turns this week after the AP released a report that the club could cut the QB—a report that was quickly shot down by ESPN. The problem here, as the NFP’s Brad Biggs points out, is the lack of depth behind starter Kevin Kolb if Philly were to cut ties with Vick. I still don’t see Vick as a relevant player in this offense behind Kolb in 2010 outside of some gadget plays designed for Sundays, but the Eagles look to be stuck with him for now—unless they can find a better option to play the No.2 role.

The Marshawn Lynch situation in Buffalo is something to keep an eye on when the Bills head to camp. I can’t think of a player who was speculated on more this offseason in terms of trades, market value, etc. But, with Lynch seemingly now buying into the program under new head coach Chan Gailey in Buffalo, where does he fit? Gailey drafted rookie C.J. Spiller in the top ten for a reason, and will work hard to get him on the field. Fred Jackson, last year’s No.1, is still the top back from my perspective, and that leaves us with Lynch—a player who was a premier back in this league. I have talked to people in Buffalo who are still very high on the Cal product and it should be interesting to watch him compete and try to win his job back.

Enjoy the 4th and be safe….

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