Broncos monitoring Manning's throws

The Denver Broncos trainers have Peyton Manning on a pitch count as he goes through organized team activities, according to the Denver Post.

Manning, trying to make his way back from a neck injury that cost him all of the 2011 season with Indianapolis, is still taking all the first-team reps for the Broncos offense.

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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

Joe Vitt says Drew Brees can't 'sing or dance'

Joe Vitt doesn’t figure to see Drew Brees on the next season of “American Idol.”

That is because the interim head coach of the New Orleans Saints doesn’t believe the quarterback can sing or dance. Brees can’t sling the football for the Saints either, not without a contract.

But Vitt remains confident a deal will get done as Brees continues to stay away from the team’s voluntary offseason program while he angles for a long-term deal. The club has placed its franchise tag on him. Vitt, speaking to reporters in New Orleans today, said he just had a conversation with Brees earlier this week.

“I’m still confident,” Vitt said in a transcript released by the team. “I had a great conversation with Drew the other day. We were talking about training camp. I had some questions and I knew that he wanted to do some certain things at training camp. I feel confident. He’ll be here.”

That sounds good. What gives Vitt confidence a deal will actually get done? Everyone has said it will happen but there has been little reported traction.

“What else is he going to do?” Vitt said. “He can’t sing or dance. Listen, again. I don’t think that anyone thought this was going to be easy. We talked about the lockout last year; well they’re going to come back here. They are going to come back there. No, I think that everyone knew that it was going to go until the 23rd hour and that everything was going to be settled. Again, there are a lot of pieces here that Mickey’s (Loomis) got to get fit in, with the cap and getting people signed and so on and so forth and it’s all going to fit into the future and this is going to get done.

“It’s going to get done when Drew and Mickey know what is best for our football team and we can move forward.”

Vitt better hope it gets done.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Hines Ward joins NBC

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is joining NBC Sports to work as an analyst on both college and pro football.

Ward, who retired recently after his release by the Steelers, will serve as a studio analyst during NBC's college football telecasts on Saturdays and will be part of the network's pre- and post-game studio work on Sundays as well.

“I am really excited! It's not everyday that you get the chance to work for a powerhouse like the NBC Sports Group,” Ward said in the release. “It is a big honor for me and I am looking forward to making the most of this great opportunity.”

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Revis offers no guarantees about training camp

The most famous victory in New York Jets history was based on a guarantee – Joe Namath's promise of victory in Super Bowl III.

But cornerback Darrelle Revis won't offer any such guarantee on his status for training camp, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. That stance is not a radical departure from what Revis has been saying throughout the entire off-season, that he simply doesn't know if he will be at Jets camp when it opens or not.

“I don't know, that's all I'm telling you,” Revis said. “I don't know if I am or not. I told you that a while back ago. So okay, I'm getting ready for this season, all right?”

Revis held out in 2010 and his absence quickly became one of the major storylines in HBO's “Hard Knocks” series. A deal was worked out, but Revis now may be on the brink of looking for another payday from the Jets.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said he didn't want to say too much about the situation, but that he believed Revis would be at camp.

“I think Revis will be (at training camp), yes. … I'm not going to get into the contract stuff, you'll have to ask (general manager) Mike (Tannenbaum) or Revis about that,” he said. “But my thing is, I'm excited about this upcoming season and to have Revis there.”

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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

Fantasy stock watch

As we continue our preparation for the fast-approaching draft season, today we’re going to examine the market and isolate ten players who are currently being either undervalued or overvalued.

Close to 900 mock drafts have already taken place over at Fantasy Football, so we’re going to use their ADP (Average Draft Position) data as the basis for our evaluations.

OVERVALUED: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 4.2, QB Rank: 1)

Analysis: Rodgers is without question one of the most prolific passers in the NFL. But with a loaded quarterback class at your disposal on draft day, is it worth spending a top-five pick on a signal-caller when you could wait a couple of rounds to select a guy like Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton? I’d rather acquire a workhorse running back with a top-five pick and then address the QB position further down the line.

UNDERVALUED: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (ADP: 98.7, QB Rank: 14)

Analysis: With wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery now in the mix, Cutler is poised for a big statistical season that could land him in the top-seven in fantasy points scored at the quarterback position come the conclusion of the season. In a 12-team league, Cutler would likely serve as a QB2 if he’s the 14th signal-caller to hear his name called. That’s tremendous value.

OVERVALUED: Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (ADP: 6.0, RB Rank: 4)

Analysis: Mathews bounced back from an underwhelming rookie campaign in 2010 to post a top-ten fantasy finish last season. And with Mike Tolbert no longer around to vulture the goal line touchdowns, the former Fresno State standout could emerge as one of the fantasy world’s top running backs in 2011. But he’s missed time due to injuries in each of the last two seasons (six total games), which raises a red flag. I’d rather target Mathews at the end of the first/beginning of the second round rather than in the top-six selections.

UNDERVALUED: Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 27.5, RB Rank: 16)

Analysis: He’s 30-years-old and doesn’t catch a lot of passes, but Turner has amassed 300+ carries and three top-ten fantasy finishes in three of the last four seasons. I think he’s still got enough left in the tank to produce at a level higher than the 16th overall running back in 2012.

OVERVALUED: Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 24.7, WR Rank: 4)

Greg JenningsJennings ranked 41st in the NFL in targets last season, with 101.

Analysis: Jennings has posted just one top-15 fantasy finish over the last three years, so why is he suddenly the fourth receiver off the board? He’s on a high-powered offense with a great quarterback, but guys like Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, James Jones and Randall Cobb are going to cut into his targets once again in 2012. I’d feel more comfortable paying a cheaper price for a wideout like A.J. Green, Wes Welker or Victor Cruz.

UNDERVALUED: Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 47.4, WR Rank: 18)

Analysis: Don’t let his lackluster 2011 campaign fool you on draft day. Austin was admittedly out of shape last season, which contributed to injuries that limited the Dallas wideout to just ten games. But from 2009-2010, Austin caught 150 passes for 2,361 yards and 18 touchdowns. The 28-year-old could be the steal of the draft if he falls all the way until the fifth round.

OVERVALUED: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins (ADP: 90.1, QB Rank: 12)

Analysis: I’m as excited as anyone to see what RG3 can do as a rookie in Washington this season. But drafting him ahead of guys like Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler and Ben Roethlisberger is something I’m not interested in doing. Rookie quarterbacks bring a high level of risk. For every Cam Newton, there’s a Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder struggling to make plays down the field. The price in this situation is simply too high.

UNDERVALUED: Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 110.7, TE Rank: 11)

Analysis: Sure, he’s 36-years-old. But as a 35-year-old, Gonzalez posted his fifth top-five fantasy finish of the last six years. He’s caught 80 of more passes in four of his last five seasons and is 100% guaranteed to show up in top physical condition. That’s just how Gonzo operates. With all of that in mind, I’ve got no issue pulling the trigger on the future Hall of Famer inside of the first ten rounds.

OVERVALUED: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 35.0, WR Rank: 11)

Analysis: Jones finished 20th in scoring at the wide receiver position as a rookie in 2011 and we think he can take a strong step forward in his sophomore campaign. But as the 11th receiver off the board, he’s getting drafted before players like Jordy Nelson, Miles Austin and Hakeem Nicks, all of whom I’d rather roll the dice on instead of a guy who has to compete with Roddy White for targets.

UNDERVALUED: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 42.8, RB Rank: 21)

Analysis: In the same offense playing 15 games with only 15 receptions, 29-year-old Cedric Benson posted a top-22 fantasy finish in 2011. Two years younger and with far less tread on his tires (510 career carries), Green-Ellis finally has the opportunity to become a workhorse running back who makes a serious dent on the fantasy landscape. Keep this guy on your radar this summer because his stock is going to rise.

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CJ questions Peyton being in Top 100

With the NFL in the throes of a semi-lull in the off-season, save for a few OTAs and rookie deals to be completed, the NFL Network has been filling some of its time with its Top 100 players of 2011. Something to help pass the time until training camps open.

Many wondered if Peyton Manning would be on the list, given that he missed all of 2011 with a neck injury. Manning eventually came in at No. 50, and that has drawn criticism from a guy who was very nearly his teammate, Titans running back Chris Johnson. Manning had Tennessee as a finalist before signing with Denver after his release by the Colts.

Johnson tweeted out the following “I thought NFL top 100 was a every year ranking so if u don't play a down that whole season how do u make the ranking #PEYTON #TOP100ISAJOKE”

CJ2K brings up an interesting point, considering he tumbled from No. 13 in 2010 to No. 100 in 2011, obviously penalized for his lack of production last year. At least he was on the field to produce, even if it was extremely low by his previous standards.

Of course, Johnson is right on one part of it. The Top 100 is a bit of a joke, given that it's difficult to compare the value of Tom Brady vs. the value of Ray Lewis, even statistically. There is not really an apples-to-apples comparison that can be drawn easily in football, given that some positions, like offensive line, don't even have official stats.

In baseball, Derek Jeter's offensive production can still be compared in certain ways to Josh Hamilton's, even though they are different types of players and play different positions. In basketball, Kobe Bryant's scoring and rebounding numbers can easily be matched up and compared with those of Lebron James.

Or maybe CJ is just hacked off that Manning outranked him by 50 on the list, even not playing in 2011.

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Breaking down Notre Dame RB Cierre Wood

The Breakdown

RB Cierre Wood: Notre Dame (6-0, 215)

What I like…

WoodICONWood has a good feel inside.

– Possesses an NFL frame with the girth/size to be a starting caliber back.
– Presses the line of scrimmage well, has a good first step and eats up grass quickly.
– Showcases the ability to accelerate through the hole. Reaches top end speed quickly.
– Doesn’t tip toe his way behind the line, if he sees a hole he makes up his mind quickly and gets north to south.
– Showcases good balance and foot quickness when asked to pick his way through the line of scrimmage.
– Exhibits a natural feel setting up blocks, cutting back against the grain and playing fast in tight quarters.
– Exhibits the “make you miss” ability to create on his own in tight areas and consistently make something out of nothing.
– Possesses the balance and keeps the base needed to change directions cleanly at full speed and side step a defender in space.
– Looks natural running from the gun as well. Is patient letting blocks set up and accelerating toward daylight.
– Is a very impressive perimeter runner, has the speed/balance to turn the corner, but looks natural cutting back against the grain and getting up the field once he locates a crease.
– Is an impressive pass protector. Showcases a great feel picking up blitzing backers, can drop his base and slide through contact or cut them down quickly at the point.
– Is natural catching the ball out of the backfield as well and can play three downs in the NFL.
– Showcases a second gear in the open field, looks like a 4.45 guy who can accelerate past angles and create the big play.

What I didn’t like…

– Attacks the line of scrimmage a bit upright and doesn’t keep his pad level real low initially.
– Drops pad level when changing directions, but when accelerating stays upright and exposes his frame.
– Doesn’t have a great base under him consistently when trying to run with power and is easier to wrap up on.
– Tends to get caught chopping his feet when nothing is open at the line of scrimmage and isn’t the type of back who can burrow his way through a crease and keep offenses ahead of the chains.
– Will leave some yards on the field trying to be too patient waiting for holes to open.
– Will take his fair share of bigger shots because he gets upright, causing him to put the football on the ground.
– Doesn’t break a ton of tackles through contact, tends to lose his base strength/balance and will get tripped up easily at times.


Notre Dame RB Cierre Wood possesses the size, speed, and lateral quickness to make his fair share of plays in the NFL. He exhibits impressive footwork when picking his way through the line of scrimmage and can routinely make defenders miss.

Now, there are some concerns about his (at times) higher pad level and natural power running between the tackles. However, if paired with a more physical back in a two back system, there is no reason to think Wood can’t be effective creating big plays through the line of scrimmage and into the open field in the NFL. Looks like a potential starter to me, but could really take off in more of a zone scheme.

Check out the NFP Draft page here…

Panthers will practice in Tampa before season opener

The Carolina Panthers are taking to the road in Week 1 of the season.

And not just to play a road game.

The Panthers will practice in the Tampa area for at least a part of the week before the season opener against the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, they’ll take their operation on the road because of conflicts with the Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Charlotte.

Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 6, a Thursday night before the Sunday, Sept. 10 game in Tampa.

Exactly how long the Panthers will be on the road is not yet known. With any luck, only a portion of their week is disrupted because coaches and players are creatures of habit.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Swoopes will provide Texas with a good 'problem' at QB

Everyone down in Austin realizes that the only way Texas can return to the top of the Big 12 Conference standings in 2012 is if it gets solid play from the quarterback position.

When Garrett Gilbert was unable to provide stability at the position early last season, his subpar efforts forced freshmen Case McCoy and David Ash into action. And while the pair had their moments, they often looked overwhelmed, especially in the Red River Shootout game against Oklahoma.

Head coach Mack Brown and his offensive staff knew that they needed to address the skill level and depth of the quarterback position, so pro-style Arizona signal-caller Connor Brewer was brought in this past recruiting cycle. And while the staff would prefer to redshirt him this season, his services could be needed if Ash and McCoy don't take steps in their development and complement what is expected to be a fierce defense put together by coordinator Manny Diaz.

But what about 2013, when Whitewright High School (Whitewright, TX) dual-threat star Tyrone Swoopes arrives in Austin? The 6-4, 220-pounder is regarded as the top signal-caller in the state of Texas and one of the best in the nation. And it's easy to see why Longhorn fans envision the second-coming of Vince Young.

Both are incredibly gifted athletes with good size and speed ratios. And, specifically, both are dangerous running the zone read.

Looking back on Young's career in Austin, Brown and former offensive coordinator Greg Davis developed their offense around Young's strengths. While Longhorn fans soured on Davis in his latter years, he was smart enough to devise game plans around his best players, whether it was Young, Major Applewhite, Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson, etc. That's why the zone-read system was brought into play when Young was on campus, because it allowed him to utilize his rare athletic ability.

Check out some highlights of Young below from when he was a prep star.

Will Longhorns offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin adapt his offense to Swoopes when he arrives on campus so he could have a chance to have similar success?

Brown brought Harsin in from Boise State so he could instill more of a pro-style scheme that focused on a downhill, power rushing attack. The lack of a strong run game the couple of years before Harsin's arrival was one of the reasons why Davis lost his job and why Texas struggled offensively. We have to wait until the QB situation shakes itself out this season between Ash and McCoy and whether Brewer sees any action, but as we all know it's up to the coaching staff to put its best players in position to be successful. So if Swoopes is to have any chance at success with the 'Horns, designing run packages to utilize his strengths will be necessary for his and the team's success.

Because Harsin showed at Boise and in his first season at Texas that he always has a bag of tricks up his sleeve in regards to misdirection and unique plays, expect aspects of the zone read in the Longhorns offense even if it's not as prevalent as when Young was in town.

As you will see below, Swoopes can bring instant athleticism to the quarterback position in Austin.

Highlights of Swoopes are provided by the YouTube channel of 247SportsStudio.

Longhorn fans, though tentative to get excited about Ash and McCoy, certainly have reason to be excited about the arrival of Swoopes in 2013.

Email or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

Producer: Dolphins only choice for HBO's 'Hard Knocks'

Whether it is their way of trying to make the Dolphins feel wanted or trying to cover their own tracks, an NFL Films senior coordinating producer of HBO's “Hard Knocks” says Miami was the network's only choice for the reality show.

“We cast a wide net,” Ross Ketover told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We talk to a lot of teams to gauge their interest. Some are very interested. Some are interested with caveats that are not acceptable with us. Others say we'll do it in future years. Others are not interested.

“The fact of the matter is, despite what you read, we did not offer the show to any other team but the Dolphins.”

So all those reports of HBO pursuing the Jets, Texans, Redskins, 49ers, etc., were just to “gauge their interest.” Think of it like the way a shy senior might have his friends check around to see who is interesting in going to the prom with him so he can actually ask a date he knows will say yes.

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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for