Cardinals reportedly shopping Matt Leinart

The Arizona Cardinals have taken the next step in moving to the post-Matt Leinart era as the club has begun actively shopping the quarterback.

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that the Cardinals are working the phones to see if they can generate some interest in the former first-round draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner from USC. It’s not known what the team is seeking, but it can’t be a lot.

Leinart has run his course in Arizona and it was evident last week that he would not be the team’s starting quarterback this season. In fact, we noted here that Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic speculated that Leinart could be flat out released by the team before Saturday’s deadline to reach 53 players.

Leinart isn’t happy with the situation but he should look at this as a positive. He needs a fresh start and the sooner he can get out of Arizona, the better off he will be.

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The Bump & Run Podcast: AFC Preview

The Bump and Run Podcast: AFC Preview

After taking the summer off from polluting the airwaves in an effort to rest our vocal cords (and so Fortenbaugh could work on lowering his handicap) the Bump and Run Podcast returns this weekend to take a look at the state of the AFC.

Join Matt Bowen and Joe Fortenbaugh as they break down the AFC division by division and separate the contenders from the pretenders.

In addition, the Bump and Run Podcast will return in a few days to take a look at the NFC and what we should all keep an eye on entering 2010.

If you would like Matt or Joe to answer any of your questions while on the air, feel free to email us at:

Follow us on Twitter: @MattBowen41 @JoeFortenbaugh

Al Harris, Atari Bigby to open season on PUP list

The Green Bay Packers got down to the 75-man limit today by announcing that three players will remain on the physically unable to perform list – cornerback Al Harris, safety Atari Bigby and running back James Starks.

Harris has been working his way back from a serious knee injury and his goal all along was to be ready for Week 1. While coach Mike McCarthy said that the veteran is close, he’s not quite there in the eyes of the organization, so Harris will have to wait until after Week 6 to make his 2010 debut. Tramon Williams is expected to start in his absence.

Bigby, upset with his contract situation, missed the entire offseason program and then arrived injured. Not only did Bigby not get paid, he had minor knee surgery and now third-round draft pick Morgan Burnett will claim the starting job to begin the season. Whether or not he’ll relinquish it at some point, stay tuned.

Running back Quinn Porter, who has a sprained MCL, was placed on injured reserve.

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Bears waive/injured Will Ta'ufo'ou to reach 75

The Chicago Bears made the final roster move necessary to get down to the 75-man limit today by waiving/injured fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou.

Ta’ufo’ou, who was on the bubble for a roster spot, suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee on Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals. On a running play in the third quarter, Ta’ufo’ou was blocking cornerback Justin Miller near the line of scrimmage, Arizona defensive end Kenny Iwebema and Bears running back Kahlil Bell rolled up on Ta’ufo’ou from behind. An MRI showed the damage on Sunday.

The Bears are not going to utilize a fullback much in the Mike Martz scheme, but Ta’ufo’ou had been looking good in training camp, and there was no greater sign than the fact that he was on the field for the first snap of the team’s first two preseason games.

Ta’ufo’ou will revert back to the team’s injured reserve provided he clears waivers on Wednesday. The team has been reaching injury settlements with the players it waives/injured this summer.

An undrafted free agent from Cal, Ta’ufo’ou spent last season on the practice squad in Chicago.

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2010 SEC Preview

NFP Director of College Scouting Wes Bunting contributed to this preview.

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Florida: The identity of the offense following the loss of Tim Tebow was the storyline all throughout spring. But that’s not the case anymore, as John Brantley seems primed to lead this emerging Gators offense in 2010. He looked confident and had a nice command of the huddle in the team’s spring game, and he should have enough playmakers around him to score points. Fifth-year senior Carl Moore could emerge as Brantley’s go-to receiver after the 6-3, 225-pound senior missed the entire ‘09 season to injury. Andre Debose has reminded head coach Urban Meyer of former Gator Percy Harvin, while Chris Rainey has been moved to the slot. Then there’s Deonte Thompson, who could thrive as the Gators’ deep threat. While Aaron Hernandez, Riley Cooper and David Nelson will be missed, UF has plenty of replacements ready to emerge. But who will step up as the voice of new coordinator Teryl Austin’s defense? Lineman Justin Trattou has been named a captain and is expected to carry the load for a unit that lost five defensive starters to either the draft or graduation. Junior William Green is expected to grow into one of Florida’s typical dominant pass rushers, while the jury is out on highly touted freshmen linemen Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and freakish Ronald Powell. Jon Bostic will man the middle at linebacker and has shown the leadership and talent to replace Brandon Spikes. Who will start opposite Janoris Jenkins at cornerback? Overall, the Gators are still the class of the SEC East.

A.J. GreenICONA.J. Green caught 53 passes for 808 yards and 6 TDs in '09.

Georgia: The Bulldogs are coming off of a five-loss season — the most defeats in the Mark Richt era. But there is optimism in Athens — and for good reason. The ground game should flourish behind a solid offensive line. Whether or not Washaun Ealey misses more than just one game to suspension, the Bulldogs are in good shape with junior Caleb King ready to live up to the expectations placed on him when he arrived on campus. New quarterback Aaron Murray must be steady under center, however — Greg McElroy-like. He’ll have a stud receiver in A.J. Green and a loaded tight end unit to look to when under pressure. Forcing turnovers, however, will be crucial for the Bulldogs, as they weren’t a very opportunistic unit in ’09. New coordinator Todd Grantham has installed the 3-4 scheme in an effort to reshape a unit that allowed big plays and huge point totals to its opponents last season. Keep an eye on outside linebacker Justin Houston, who ranked third in the conference in sacks and second in tackles for loss despite missing three games. The Dawgs are a talented group, but a difficult schedule may not reflect their talent in the standings.

South Carolina: It’s still hard to believe that South Carolina has yet to find any offensive rhythm under Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks couldn’t have played any worse in their Bowl loss to Connecticut to close out last season. Spurrier described the debacle as a “sad, sad effort” — not quite what you’d expect from a program completing its fifth season with the Old Ball Coach at the helm. But it’s a new season, and Spurrier has full control of the offense after wresting play-calling duties away from his son, Steve Jr. The elder has promised a better rushing attack, as Jarvis Giles and Kenny Miles showed promise as freshmen but didn’t get enough carries within the flow of the offense for the Gamecocks to move the chains. Five-star recruit Marcus Lattimore will also see the field early. And then there’s the enigma, quarterback Stephen Garcia. It’s obvious that Garcia isn’t going to be the savior of South Carolina football, so now it comes down to how consistent the Tampa native can be in this offense. While he threw for 2,862 yards and 17 touchdowns last year, his 10 interceptions always seemed to come at the worst times. With wideouts Tori Gurley and Alshon Jeffery on the field at the same time, the offense has a chance to be explosive if the running game is able to keep opposing defenses honest. But can the offensive line play better? Southern Miss looms as a tricky opener before the Gamecocks battle Georgia. The rest of the schedule plays out as one of the most difficult in the nation.

Kentucky: Rich Brooks may go down as one of the most underappreciated head coaches in SEC history. The former Oregon coach brought the Wildcats up from the bowels of the league to sustained respectability, going 30-22 overall since 2006 and climbing closer to the conference’s middle tier the last four seasons of his tenure. Now it’s up to Joker Phillips to keep the program stabilized and build off the recent success enjoyed by the ‘Cats. Senior quarterback Mike Hartline is primed to quiet his naysayers after a solid spring practice and fall camp, and he has playmakers in Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews in the passing game. Meanwhile, Derrick Locke is as solid a running back as you’ll find. He also is a threat in the passing game, catching 31 passes for 284 yards and two scores in ’09 while being one of the best kickoff returners in the country. Defensively, the Wildcats are always solid. Is this the season UK takes a step up against SEC East competition?

Gerald JonesICONGerald Jones led the Vols in receptions and yards last season.

Tennessee: It hasn’t been a great offseason for the Volunteers. Lane Kiffin bolted, depth became an issue when numerous players transferred after Derek Dooley was named the new head coach, the Bryce Brown saga still hovers over the program and the school is linked to an investigation involving recruiting on Kiffin’s watch. On the field, the offense returns just four starters and seven players return to the defense. With depth a major issue, the immediate future doesn’t look bright for the Vols. However, there are some bright spots. Junior Tauren Poole should be a productive SEC running back after being lost in the shuffle under Kiffin. UT also returns its top three receivers — including senior Gerald Jones. But how will the Vols’ rebuilt — and thin — offensive line fare? Junior-college transfer Matt Simms won the quarterback battle, but does he have SEC talent?

Vanderbilt: College football said goodbye to a respected gentleman when Bobby Johnson abruptly retired, leaving the Vandy program in the hands of offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell. While it’s a program that is much stronger than it was before Johnson’s arrival, it’s a tough place to win. Still, it will be fun to follow the Commodores after Caldwell owned the stage during his hilarious SEC media days presser. On th
e field, running back Warren Norman returns after eclipsing former Georgia superstar Herschel Walker’s record for most total yards by an SEC freshman in ‘09. However, he is questionable for the opener against Northwestern after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Can Larry Smith become a more accurate passer? And will his wide receivers be able to stretch the field and make plays? A young offensive line isn’t going to help matters. The defense, however, is solid and is led by linebacker Chris Marve and defensive tackle T.J. Greenstone.


Alabama: Reloading the defense was head coach Nick Saban’s top priority heading into this season as the Crimson Tide look to defend their BCS national title. Despite having a Heisman Trophy-winning tailback in Mark Ingram, the defense was the glue for the team in the undefeated ’09 season. But this fall, could an offense loaded with skill players actually carry the squad and be the key to a repeat title? It may have to, with a ferocious defense losing so much bite — specifically the secondary, which lost three starters and many of the nickel backs and backups as well. Strong safety Mark Barron returns, however, after leading Tide defenders with seven interceptions. ‘Bama was also hit hard at linebacker, starting with the loss of All-America middle linebacker Rolando McClain. Dont’a Hightower and Nico Johnson will be leaned upon to step up in his absence. The Tide also will be replacing all three starting defensive linemen. The eligibility of Marcel Dareus will be crucial to this unit. But getting back to that offense. Ingram, receiver Julio Jones and quarterback Greg McElroy lead a unit that returns 10 starters. Will the Tide open up the offense more? We know one thing: fans will see a lot more of running back Trent Richardson.

Gene ChizikICONGene Chizik brought in a great recruiting class this past offseason.

Auburn: Head coach Gene Chizik put his unspectacular tenure at Iowa State in the distant past with a solid first year at Auburn in ’09. Now, the expectations have been raised — especially with rival Alabama’s national championship serving as daily bragging rights for Tide fans in the state. The Tigers are well-positioned for a serious run at the SEC West division title this season with Florida transfer Cameron Newton running Gus Malzahn’s spread offense. The 6-6, 247-pounder can run and throw, and he’ll be joined on offense by a trio of running backs — Mario Fannin, Onterio McCalebb and Michael Dyer — as well as receiver Darvin Adams, who became one of the SEC’s breakout players last season with 10 touchdowns and 997 yards. The Tigers defense struggled throughout ‘09, as limited numbers at linebacker and along the defensive line took its toll. A very good recruiting class will help some of the depth woes along the front seven on Ted Roof’s unit, but will the group be ready for the customary rugged SEC schedule?

Arkansas: Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino knows what he’ll get from quarterback Ryan Mallett after his coming-out party last season. The former Michigan transfer amassed 3,627 yards through the air and tossed 30 TDs against just seven interceptions in leading the Hogs to an eight-win season. As good as he was in ’09, Mallett and the Razorbacks can be even better on offense this fall. They are deep in the backfield and are set at wide receiver, where the top five pass-catchers return from a year ago — led by Greg Childs. Tight end D.J. Williams will also get his share of looks from Mallett. As good as the offense will be, can the Hogs play defense? The Razorbacks are going to have to come up with some key stops and win a tough conference road game if they have designs on winning the West. They host Alabama in the fourth week of the season, and that game will set the tone for the rest of the conference season.

Ole Miss: The first five games set up nicely for the Rebels. And although sophomore Nathan Stanley will likely line up under center for the opener, I don’t see how Jeremiah Masoli isn’t entrenched as the starter before the serious SEC competition begins as the Rebels look for their third straight nine-win season. Senior Markeith Summers should have a real productive season at split end, but who else will step up at receiver? Look for Randall Mackey to get the ball in a variety of ways while Brandon Bolden should give the Rebels a productive season on the ground. Defensively, coordinator Tyrone Nix will rely on seniors Kentrell Lockett, Jerrell Powe and Ted Laurent. Keep an eye on junior-college transfer defensive end Wayne Dorsey. I’m not sure the Rebels have enough firepower offensively, but the “free-agent” addition of Masoli helps.

Jordan JeffersonICONCan Jordan Jefferson manage the game better for the Tigers?

LSU: Quarterback Jordan Jefferson must be better in his game management if the Tigers want to get back to the top of the West. Last season’s version of Jefferson rarely resembled the signal caller who led the Tigers to a Chick-fil-A Bowl thrashing of Georgia Tech to close out 2008. His sophomore year was littered with inconsistency. He held onto the football too long far too often, and he often had difficulty recognizing defensive pressure. Granted, he was playing behind an offensive line that surrendered 37 sacks and never looked comfortable as a group, but Tigers coaches fully expect Jefferson to take that next step in his junior campaign. Terrence Toliver, Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard give Jefferson plenty of options in the passing game, while Stevan Ridley, Richard Murphy and two highly recruited backs who redshirted this past season — Michael Ford and Drayton Calhoun — will be part of a rededicated rushing attack. While coordinator John Chavis must replace seven starters on defense, the Tigers have studs in cornerback Patrick Peterson and middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. If the Tigers slip up because of a very difficult schedule, it could turn up the heat — unfairly in my opinion — on head coach Les Miles.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs enter the second year of the Dan Mullen era after a five-win campaign in ’09. The team played hard every week for the former Florida offensive coordinator, but losing Anthony Dixon is a tough blow as the running back was the heart and soul of the unit. Junior Robert Elliott and junior-college transfer Vick Ballard are expected to share the load and take pressure off quarterbacks Chris Relf and redshirt freshman Tyler Russell. Defensively, the Bulldogs will work more in man-to-man coverage under the more aggressive, attacking scheme installed by new co-coordinators Manny Diaz and Chris Wilson. Improvement in a secondary that allowed 220 passing yards per game last season is crucial for Mullen’s squad to go bowling.

Stay with the NFP as we count down the remaining days until the start of the 2010 college football season on Thursday, Sept. 2.

Follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave or send your college football questions to

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Cardinals name Anderson starter … for Thursday

Need a little more evidence that the Arizona Cardinals have already made the decision to name Derek Anderson the starting quarterback?

Well, he will be under center with the first team offense on Thursday night when the Cardinals play the Washington Redskins in the preseason finale.

Anderson was moved ahead of Matt Leinart last week and following the Cardinals’ game at Chicago last Saturday, it was more evident that Anderson will be the man. Coach Ken Whisenhunt announced on Scott Van Pelt’s radio show for ESPN that Anderson would start against the Redskins.

The next announcement, whenever it is made, will be that Anderson will be starting Sept. 12. Just wait.

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Washington Post columnist suspended for 1 month over Twittergate

The Washington Post suspended sports columnist Mike Wise for one month today following his Twitter hoax on Monday.

Wise, under the guise that he was conducting an experiment, used his personal Twitter account to announce that the NFL would suspend Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for five games, down from the initial six-game suspension handed out by commissioner Roger Goodell. It was a hoax. Roethlisberger will meet with Goodell later this month.

“My bosses at the Post feel I need a month to think about the severity of my actions,” Wise said at the beginning of his radio show on WJFK in Washington today, according to Sports Business Journal. “I tried to showcase the absurdity of bad journalism. I could give you 10 reasons why I did this and what went wrong in the execution. I made a horrendous mistake, using my Twitter account that identifies me as a Washington Post columnist.”

We’re not one to going to use our perch here at the National Football Post to suggest discipline was warranted. That’s not our call. But Wise needs to understand the power and value of social media platforms as platforms for news. He certainly crossed the line and the hope here is this serves as a valuable lesson for all.

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High picks often overlooked on recruiting path

While I was the scouting director for the Bears, one of the things I did was research a prospect who was coming out of high school and entering college. I wanted to know if he was a highly recruited player and if so, who else recruited him and why he chose the school he did. What I found out was there are many high draft choices in the NFL who were not elite 4- and 5-star prospects when they were in high school. In fact, there are many 2- and 3-star high school players who end up first- and second-round draft picks.

Matt ForteICONBears RB Matt Forte was lightly recruited out of high school.

Two players who come to mind on the Bears are Matt Forte and Chris Williams. Forte was lightly recruited out of high school. He was rated a 2-star player, yet he had a great career at Tulane and became a second-round pick. In his first two years in the league, he has run for over 2,100 yards and caught 120 passes. Chris Williams, one of the starting tackles, was also lightly recruited. He came from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, yet was not recruited by LSU. He also had a 2- star rating. He became an all-SEC player at Vanderbilt and a first-round pick.

One of the best stories is Arizona Cardinals defensive back Dominique Rodgers–Cromartie. He didn’t even rate one star when he came out of high school. He was not recruited by the top schools and went to Tennessee State. Yet, four years later, he was the 16th pick in the first round and has become an All Pro player.

In last April’s draft, of the 32 players drafted in the first round, 12 players were rated 3 stars or less coming out of high school. Of those, Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson, Sean Weatherspoon, Jerry Hughes and Michael Iupati were only 2-star players. Two of the top four picks were 3-star players. That includes first overall pick quarterback Sam Bradford and fourth pick offensive tackle Trent Williams.

I also found that there are many 4- and 5-star players that NFL teams never scout. They don’t become prospects. They were simply overrated coming out of high school. On an average year, some of the big name schools have 6 or 7 NFL prospects. When you go back four years and look at their recruiting class, you see that they may have signed 22 to 25 players and about 70 percent were of the 4- or 5-star variety.

That’s not to say that all NFL draft choices weren’t athletes in high school. In the last draft, 20 first-round picks were rated as 4- or 5-star players. Three (Tim Tebow, C.J. Spiller and Eric Berry) had a 5-star rating. Sam Young, an offensive tackle from Notre Dame, was also a 5-star player and he was drafted in the 6th round.

What does this mean for the college football fan? It means don’t put too much stock in the recruiting ratings each year. Your school may sign 10 to 12 4-star players next February, but how many of those guys are really good football players? Two schools who in the last few years have been perennial top 20 teams rarely get any 4-star prospects — Boise State and TCU. Both schools get a number of players drafted, yet you seldom see their recruiting list have much more than 2-star athletes. Is it great coaching by those schools or are the recruiting grades out of whack? I would think a little of both.

What do you think?

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Bucs bounce Derrick Ward

The Derrick Ward experiment in Tampa Bay has come to an end.

Derrick WardICONDerrick Ward's short time as a Buccaneer has come to an end.

Sadly, it only cost the Buccaneers $2 million per touchdown. is reporting that the six-year veteran—who turned 30-years old on Monday—has been released by the team. Ward played just one season for the Buccaneers after signing a four-year, $17 million free agent contract in 2009.

$6 million of that contract was guaranteed, which means the one rushing touchdown Ward scored in 14 starts last season came at a ridiculous price.

The move doesn’t come as a total shock. Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris recently said that Ward had showed up to camp out of shape.

It showed, too. In three preseason appearances, Ward averaged just 2.5 yards per carry.

With Cadillac Williams as the starter, look for second-year back Kareem Huggins to step into the No. 2 role.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

Alabama RB Ingram injures knee

Alabama’s Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram suffered a knee injury late in Monday's practice and will miss Saturday night's season opener against San Jose State

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban announced the injury in a statement Tuesday.

According to the release, Ingram — the first player in school history to win the Heisman — had “an arthroscopic procedure” done Tuesday morning.

Saban noted that it was done now so Ingram would not have any issues with the knee later in the season.

A problem for the Tide?

Why would it be when sophomore Trent Richardson, who rushed for 751 yards on 145 carries with eight touchdowns in ’09, was scheduled to get a heavier workload this season anyway. And keep in mind that 'Bama will be playing San Jose State.

Ingram's status will be day to day after this weekend. Alabama hosts Penn State on Sept. 11.

Follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave</a> or send your college football questions to

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