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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Czar's final notes

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The took the hard cast off quarterback ¿s throwing hand on Monday.

On Tuesday, the ¿ top two executives, team president Jay Zygmunt and General Manager Charlie Armey visited USC on a college scouting trip. They took a hard look at Trojan quarterback Carson Palmer.

Now, why would they be looking at Palmer? Palmer¿s stock has risen in recent weeks. He figures to be a first-round draft choice next April. Do the feel that Warner¿s arm is dead? That he¿s become injury-prone?

Zygmunt, whose background is as an attorney, remains coach Mike Martz¿s most-trusted ally in the organization. Martz, who has personnel control over the team¿s roster, also is not fond of Armey¿s opinions and vice versa.

So, are the looking for a replacement to Warner?

¿No,¿ Zygmunt said last night. ¿I make a couple trips a year with Charlie. They have another player, too, a pretty good running back, Sultan McCullough. We like our quarterbacks.¿

Zygmunt is right about McCullough, but he¿s a low-round prospect. No reason for a club president to check him out. Plus, we thought the already had the NFL¿s best running back in . They also have two backups in and . Martz officially released Candidate, a first-round pick, from his doghouse this week and expects to play him.

On the quarterback front, the will start quarterback today in Arizona against the .

Warner gets the pins removed from his pinky finger on Monday. He might start throwing after the San Diego game on Nov. 10. His first game could be against the on Nov. 24. Carson Palmer?

Well, time will tell how interested the are in him.

The scoop on Sunday's FOX games

GAME: Philadelphia at Chicago
TIME: 1 p.m. ET WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
You won¿t believe this, but the have gone from a pass-happy bunch under coach Andy Reid to the NFL¿s top-rushing offense (averaging 219 yards rushing in last 3 games) based on ¿s consecutive break-out games. It doesn¿t hurt that QB can run, too. QB will return to the starting rotation, but he may not survive very long with a bum throwing shoulder because Hugh Douglass and are going against Chicago¿s two worst offensive linemen in rookie and . CZAR¿S SCOOP: Depending what part of Halas Hall you walk into, there are two versions for the ¿ five-game losing streak and horrible decline from a 13-3 season. The coaches feel there is a huge personnel drop-off after losing starters like and while those close to GM Jerry Angelo feel that offensive coordinator John Shoop remains a big culprit; he and his conservative game plans. Veteran TE agrees with Angelo, ripping Shoop on radio this week. Plus, there remains a lot of grumbling in Chicago that the didn¿t make a harder run at QB , considering Miller¿s injury history. GAME: Dallas at Detroit
TIME: 1 p.m. ET WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Despite two consecutive good rushing games from , the plan to roll out rookie QB and try to work the deep middle against a Detroit defense that is subpar vs. the pass. The have won two straight home games and plan to attack rookie CB Derrick Ross, who returns to the lineup after was burned by Seattle last week. rookie QB , 2-3 as a starter, still struggling in the second half of games. The have failed to score a second-half TD in the last four games. Dallas DE is out with a concussion; will start. CZAR¿S SCOOP: The say they are sticking with Smith as their main runner, allowing to stew. Wheaties coming out with a Smith cereal box in a couple of weeks. Dave Campo, who is 13-27 overall, believes owner Jerry Jones will be patient, considering the problems with his offensive line and poor performance by . A couple names to consider are Miami offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Mike Holmgren, if he¿s fired in Seattle. GAME: Minnesota at Tampa Bay
TIME: 1 p.m. ET WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Even with two cracked ribs, returns at quarterback with in reserve. Despite their scoring woes, the Bucs are off to their best start (6-2) since 1979. The offense hasn¿t scored a touchdown in eight quarters and will need or to have big receiving games. Minnesota believes it can run with , especially with minus his sidekick, Booger McFarland, at defensive tackle. The Bucs allowed Carolina only 20 net passing yards last week, so QB has his hands full. He must make some plays for Minnesota to have a chance. CZAR¿S SCOOP: The have lost 14 straight on the road, including playoffs, and have been outscored 82-27 in last two losses at Raymond James. Minnesota has changed hotels in the past and this week left early, spending Friday night in Tampa. What¿s odd about the signing is that more than half of the guaranteed bonus money to be paid the No. 1 draft pick is in 2003-04, years when Red McCombs might not own the team? The five-year contract was finalized once the players¿ union dropped collusion charges against the . Minnesota safety had a fraternity buddy, Will McLaughlin, die in the plane crash that claimed former U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone last week. GAME: St. Louis at Arizona
TIME: 4:15 p.m. ET WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
coach Mike Martz has a dilemma. His team has won two games running , but the are tough against the run. Therefore, Martz will allow to go deep to and Ike Bruce even with Arizona getting CB back after four games. The are two games back of the in the wild-card race and face a must-win situation. They will stick with the 4-1-6 defensive look with rookie taking injured vet ¿ position in the scheme. CZAR¿S SCOOP: coach Mike Martz was Dave McGinnis¿ offensive coordinator for five hours three years ago when the two thought they had jobs with the Chicago . The , who used to make St. Louis home, have beaten the twice since they moved to Missouri. This game means a lot to St. Louis fans. ¿A lot of guys aren¿t aware of how much it means to the city,¿ Martz said. ¿This is the beginning of probably a rivalry that will go on for some time.¿ GAME: San Francisco at Oakland
TIME: 4:15 p.m. ET WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The get all-pro cornerback back and we¿ll see him hounding the ¿ as much as possible. The , though, want to throw a heavy dose of and at the , who get DT back. Rookie LB has been worn down by the pounding. On offense, the have been squabbling about ¿s distribution of the football. said he never got into rhythm last week and , who is averaging 7 yards a carry, wants more carries. CZAR¿S SCOOP: This is a defining game for rookie Oakland head coach Bill Callahan. His team has lost three straight after opening 4-0. They lose today and Callahan may lose the troops, never a good thing. owner Al Davis helped consultant Bill Walsh land his first NFL coaching job and recommended him to Eddie DeBartolo for the head coaching position. The two men remain good friends, and Davis spent some time with analysts and Cris Collinsworth this week. San Francisco is happy that has replaced the inconsistent and slow J. J. Stokes. GAME: Washington at Seattle
TIME: 4:15 p.m. ET WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
starts for injured RB (sprained knee) and you can bet Steve Spurrier has noticed that Seattle is allowing 177 yards rushing per game. The will continue to use more screens and shorter passes to take advantage of ¿ solid decision-making. The will be minus their deep threat in WR (head injury) and will try to run at DE and away from , who has five sacks in last three games. New WR might return kicks. CZAR¿S SCOOP: Mike Holmgren, whose job is in jeopardy, looks desperate in signing strong-armed , 34, with starter out for the season with a torn Achilles. Granted, George is a pretty passer, but he¿s also been a coach killer. There is no question that Holmgren was displeased with ¿s progress and that¿s why he promoted Dilfer. Now, George is waiting in the wings and he¿s never been known to be a kindly tutor on the sidelines. He wants to play.
Tagged: Bills, Bears, Cowboys, Lions, Raiders, Vikings, Eagles, Buccaneers, Redskins, Mike Gandy, Shane Matthews, Jim Miller, Greg Ellis, Peppi Zellner, Troy Hambrick, Jerry Rice, Charlie Garner, Charles Woodson, Michael Bennett, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Bledsoe, Donovan McNabb, Hugh Douglas, Duce Staley, Stephen Davis, LaVar Arrington, Bryant McKinnie, Marc Colombo, Napoleon Harris, Chad Hutchinson, Jack Brewer, Joey Harrington, Kenny Watson

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