SCOUT'S HONOR: Peyton's prime; plus NFL FAQ

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The NFL's FAQ...
Word on the Street

Fans around the NFL always have questions regarding many issues they hear or read about in the fine print of Transactions listings.

Here are 10 questions buzzing around league circles recently, along with the scoop on what's really going down ...

Scout's Spotlight
1. COLTS - Will Peyton Manning rebound?
2. BRONCOS - RBs R Us?
3. COWBOYS - Turning the corner?
4. EAGLES - Is Canidate a RB candidate?
5. BUCS - Will Roman empire crumble?
6. STEELERS - 3 QBs and a Cowher?
7. TITANS - A running joke?
8. SEAHAWKS - Is Jarramy a mistake?
9. BILLS - Riemersma's return?
10. CHARGERS - A Dwight slight?
  • 1. After a season plagued by picks, will Colts QB Peyton Manning rekindle his All-Pro form? Most of the focus involving the Colts this off-season has centered on the usual Edgerrin James speculation and their defense. Just don¿t forget about Peyton Manning. I'll give you two reasons why Manning could have the best season of his career ... Qadry Ismail and Reggie Wayne. Ismail is fitting comfortably within the Colts offense during early workouts. In Baltimore, Ismail was forced to carry a heavy lead role as the top wide receiver, but with the Colts he¿ll just fit in as a solid, if not steady support player to Marvin Harrison, Marcus Pollard, and Edgerrin James. He¿s a savvy veteran who should provide excellent balance within their base offense.

    This is a consistency alongside Harrison that Peyton has never experienced. As one AFC defensive coach told "Their offense is going to be tougher than ever to defend because we can¿t key on just two guys like we¿ve done in the past.¿ In addition to Ismail, expect second-year wide receiver Reggie Wayne to make strides. Wayne had an up-and-down rookie year due to injuries and growing pains, but he¿ll progress this season and should fit naturally as their third receiver. He was a polished prospect who made clutch grabs coming out of college, so expect him to shake off last season¿s inconsistency. Overall, this could be the most balanced unit of skill players Manning has worked with during his NFL career. 2002 will be the year he takes his game to the next level.

    2. When is Mike Shanahan finally going to trade one of his big-name running backs?

    The statements every few months that Terrell Davis is healthy are getting old. That¿s why it would take an excellent offer to pry Olandis Gary from the Broncos. The Broncos simply aren¿t going to give away running backs. I am really anxious to see what Clinton Portis can do with Denver, especially since Davis is always an uncertainty. Portis is a natural cutback runner with excellent vision, a perfect fit for Denver¿s philosophy on the ground. He¿s worth taking a flier on for fantasy players..

    So in answer to the original question, don't hold your breath.

    3. How will the Cowboys secondary match up in what's becoming a pass-happy NFC?

    With free agent Bryant Westbrook and rookie Roy Williams, the Cowboys should make more impact plays in the secondary this season.

    From all indications, Westbrook has shown no signs of being slowed by the Achilles injury that kept him out of Detroit¿s lineup until the latter half of last season. If that¿s the case, look for him to be very productive in the Cowboys¿ tweaked defense. He¿ll be very aggressive in run support, having the opportunity to make a lot of tackles from the cornerback spot. Also look for him to make plays against the pass if the Cowboys generate more pressure on the quarterback. His ability or inability to generate turnovers will be one of the primary factors in Dallas' chances for the playoffs.

    4. With the season-ending injury to part-time starter Correll Buckhalter, wouldn't Rams backup RB Trung Canidate fit perfectly in the Eagles West Coast scheme? I would be surprised to see Canidate land with the Eagles (or should I say fly with the Eagles). Some people just bring his name up because the Rams drafted Lamar Gordon in April and know that Canidate must convince Mike Martz that he can be consistent in order to stick in St. Louis — despite Martz' repeated claims that Trung will not be hung.

    Canidate lacks ideal size for the Eagles offensive scheme and hasn¿t been reliable on a consistent basis. That won¿t fly with Andy Reid. Sure they liked Warrick Dunn earlier in the spring, but Canidate lacks his toughness and running instincts. This just would be too risky a fit for the Eagles.

    5. Who is new Bucs head coach Jon Gruden counting on to protect his collection of QBs? Newly signed Tampa Bay offensive tackle Roman Oben had better toughen up ... that is if he wants to earn playing time under offensive coach Bill Muir. Oben has adequate skills, but never was consistent enough at left tackle with the Browns or Giants. He has a reputation as a finesse player.

    It will be interesting this summer to see if Muir can fix Oben¿s game and challenge Kenyatta Walker at left tackle. Jon Gruden won¿t tolerate growing pains from his left tackle and won¿t hesitant to put Oben in the lineup if he earns the spot in training camp. 6. How are the Steelers planning to use their shifty second-round draft pick Antwaan Randle El, a former QB at Indiana?

    Real life with Randle El

    Shifty Antwaan Randle El let cameras catch up with him in a behind-the-scenes look inside his life

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  • Because of his natural football instincts, I wouldn¿t be surprised to see Randle El emerge as a consistent target out of the slot this fall after the Steelers lost Bobby Shaw to free agency. He¿s tough and finds a way to make things happen with the ball in his hands.

    Don¿t be surprised if the ex-college QB catches 20-25 passes this season while offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey finds other ways to incorporate his versatility into the offense. His presence alone on the field will give something for defenses to think about.

    Imagine having QB Kordell Stewart on the field at the same time as former college quarterbacks turned wide receivers, Hines Ward and Randle El? 7. Will Tennessee's signing of center Jeff Smith help create the holes Eddie George used to run through?

    I think some Titan players could be shaking in their boots with thoughts of Jeff Smith anchoring the pivot. Smith is coming off a terrible season in Jacksonville, where he failed to open holes in the run game and gave up a lot of penetration to quicker defenders. The guy I would like to see win the starting job is Gennaro DiNapoli, who could be a lot more respectable than Smith. On top of the questions at center, tackles Brad Hopkins and Fred Miller must rebound after subpar seasons while left guard Zach Piller must prove his can handle a full season of duty at left guard.

    8. We know he wasn't Mike Holmgren's first choice in the draft, so will tight end Jerramy Stevens help the Seahawks offense at all this season? The Seahawks are counting on Stevens to play a big role within their passing game as a rookie. He¿s very athletic for his size and creates matchup problems for defenders with his large, rangy frame.

    The only question is whether he¿ll consistently play to that ability once the pads go on this season, especially in the run game where former Seahawk Christian Fauria was a solid contributor. It wouldn¿t be a total surprise to see Stevens post better numbers this season than fellow high profile rookie tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Daniel Graham. 9. Does tight end Dave Moore's signing in Buffalo spell the end of the Bills career of Jay Riemersma? Count me in as one who hopes the Bills can work out a restructured contract with Riemersma. Although Riemersma will see a lesser number of snaps with Moore arriving from Tampa Bay, he could fit well as a secondary target within Kevin Gilbride¿s passing game. He doesn¿t threaten defenders with his speed, but he¿s a smart football player who can occupy the middle portion of the field effectively.

    If he¿s released, three personnel guys from AFC teams told me that their teams would have legitimate interest in Riemersma. 10. How seriously should we take the Chargers' signing of previously suspended Tamarick Vanover?

    If Vanover proves he can remain focused on football and proves he¿s in NFL shape, he¿ll give the Chargers the ability to attempt justifying the large contract wide receiver Tim Dwight received this spring. If that¿s the case, Vanover will be given every opportunity to become a big-play punt returner while Dwight focuses on being a full-time wide receiver.

    Brian DeLucia is a respected college and pro personnel consultant around the NFL. Formerly a consultant with and Pro Football, Brian enjoys his second season with providing commentary around the NFL and NFL Draft.

  • Tagged: Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Colts, Raiders, Rams, Saints, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Redskins, Ravens, Shane Matthews, Akili Smith, Gus Frerotte, Edgerrin James, Jerome Pathon, Derrick Gibson, Charles Woodson, Marshall Faulk, Leonard Little, Damione Lewis, Joe Horn, Aaron Brooks, Kareem McKenzie, Correll Buckhalter, Duce Staley, Sage Rosenfels

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