NFL training camp chat with Alex Marvez

NFL training camp chat with Alex Marvez (07/29/2009) 
10:58  Hello, starving football fans!

In a few minutes our esteemed NFL insider Alex Marvez will be with us to kick off
our coverage of 2009 NFL Training Camps.

10:59  So as you arrive in the room, please start
sending your questions and comments — with every team open for discussion.
11:02  By the way, we will begin coverage of Alex
the Great’s ’09 Camp Tour tomorrow with a look at the San Diego Chargers … so
make sure to click back to

OK folks, fresh from a schmoozefest with NFL information legend Jay Glazer last
night, here’s Alex …

11:03 Alex Marvez:  Hi everybody! Let’s get rolling!
11:03  First question of the day, from “Ex-Alligator
coworker ML”:

I thought I should say hi. What’s your take on Dallas’ receiving coprs for 2009.

11:04 Alex Marvez:  As much as the Cowboys probably improved locker-room
chemistry by ditching T.O., this unit will have much to prove in 2009
11:04 Alex Marvez:  It starts with Roy Williams and whether he can
live up to the hype (and $35 million contract) that has surrounded him since being
acquired midway through last season from Detroit.
Will the Cowboys win a playoff game this year?
 ( 43% )


 ( 57% )

11:05 Alex Marvez:  Williams had a poor 2008 campaign with the Cowboys
but he was playing out of position at flanker and had to adjust to a new offense
and two new quarterbacks (Brad Johnson and Tony Romo)
11:05 Alex Marvez:  Williams has no excuses now not to produce.
11:05 Alex Marvez:  The Cowboys are banking on major improvement
from Miles Austin, who has mad athletic skills, and Patrick Crayton, a solid slot
but probably nothing more.
11:05  NFC East offseason moves
11:06 Alex Marvez:  Remember, this, though: The Cowboys may not
need to lean on their receiving corps as much as in the past with Felix Jones coming
out of the backfield and Martellus Bennett potentially emerging as a complement
for Jason Witten.
11:06  Mike wants to know about Alex’s visit to SD:

Hey Alex, love your work on Sirius, what WR on the Chargers Roster do you expect
to emerge from Training Camp as the #3 WR between Malcolm Floyd, Buster Davis, and
Legedu Naane.

11:07 Alex Marvez:  I give Naane the edge for the spot.
11:07 Alex Marvez:  At 6-foot-5, Floyd fills a great niche as a
red-zone target and can cause some match-up nightmares against smaler cornerbacks.
11:07 Alex Marvez:  Buster Davis — a first-round pick — so far
has lived up to his name: A bust.
11:08 Alex Marvez:  That being said, Davis has worked very hard
this offseason trying to improve. We’ll see. And thanks for the kind words on the
Sirius gig 🙂
11:08  “Buzz” has a question on the defending champs:

Will the Steelers offensive line be improved this year, and what kind of year do
you think Rashard Mendenhall will have?

11:08  PLAY FREE FOX Fantasy Football!
11:09 Alex Marvez:  Let’s start with the o-line: By re-signing LT
Max Starks and LG Chris Kemoeatu and not signing veterans in free agency, the Steelers
clearly believe continuity with all five starters returning will make the unit better.
11:09 Alex Marvez:  I know the line gets panned for its pass protection,
but my bigger concern is the run blocking.
11:10 Alex Marvez:  The Steelers need to get back to the type of
grind-it-out attack they are known for to repeat as Super Bowl champs, imo.
11:10 Alex Marvez:  That leads to your question about Mendenhall.
11:10 Alex Marvez:  Injuries and age appear to have taken a toll
on Willie Parker.
Who will win the Super Bowl this season?
 ( 28% )


 ( 25% )


 ( 10% )


 ( 13% )


 ( 25% )

11:11 Alex Marvez:  Parker will be motivated because he’s entering
the final year of his contract and probably won’t be re-signed in 2010.
11:11 Alex Marvez:  Ideally, Parker and Mendenhall would provide
the same type of one-two punch that Parker and Jerome Bettis did during Pittsburgh’s
championship season in 2005 (although Mendenhall clearly has a different running
style than the Bus).
11:12  Good stuff … Here’s a question from “Scooby”,
presumably from the Mystery Machine…

Is Ron Turner the right man for the job in Chicago or has it been a lack of talent
along with an aging line that has seen the bears offense become almost non-existent?

11:12 Alex Marvez:  To me, this is a make-or-break year for Turner.
11:12 Alex Marvez:  He no longer has the excuse of not having a
franchise quarterback with the offseason acquisition of Jay Cutler.
11:13 Alex Marvez:  Plus, the offensive line was upgraded with the
signing of several veterans including Orlando Pace.
11:13  NFC North offseason moves
11:13 Alex Marvez:  For Chicago to have offensive success, I do
believe another receiver must emerge to complement Devin Hester.
11:13 Alex Marvez:  Earl Bennett, Juaquin Iglesis and Johnny Knox
are youngsters who will have that opportunity.
11:14  Got a question from Garrett for Alex on another

Alex, do you think that Alex Smith will really, truly get the opportunity to win
the starting QB job in SF? Do you think he has the skills to be a successful QB
in the NFL? Thanks!

11:14 Alex Marvez:  I believe 49ers management would love to have
Smith emerge as the starter after making such a large investment — both financially
and time-wise — since he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2005.
11:15 Alex Marvez:  I thought Smith looked lousy in the 2008 offseason
but it later became clear he was damaged goods playing with a bad shoulder.
11:15 Alex Marvez:  Smith is healthy now but I still think Shaun
Hill is the favorite to start.
11:15 Alex Marvez:  Hill isn’t the most physically gifted quarterback
but he does have some great intangibles and leadership skills.
11:15  Every year there’s one or two trendy sleepers,
and this year it seems to be the topic of Brad’s question:
Where do you see the Texans finishing-Division winners
or wild card?
11:16 Alex Marvez:  I’m just not sold on the Texans for a couple
of reasons:
Will the Texans make the playoffs this season?
 ( 43% )


 ( 57% )

11:16 Alex Marvez:  A) Matt Schaub has yet to stay healthy for an
entire season and I’m not sold on Dan Orlovsky as being a winner should he be forced
to play.
11:17 Alex Marvez:  B) I’m not sure if the pass rush will be greatly
improved despite some offseason acquisitions.
11:18 Alex Marvez:  C) I consider Tennessee a lock to make the playoffs
and Indianapolis should be good enough to contend (although I’m not sold on the
Colts with all the coaching changes).
11:18 Alex Marvez:  Still, there is huge pressure on the Texans
to produce in 2009 and maybe that will lead to positive results.
11:18 Alex Marvez:  It had better if coach Gary Kubiak and general
manager Rick Smith want to guarantee their return in 2010.
11:18  Here’s one from “Cush”, a star rookie who
got away from Jerry McGuire, asking about his competition:

Alex, which rookies do you think will make the biggest
impact in 2009?

11:19 Alex Marvez:  I expect James Laurinaitis to make an impact
for the Rams and potentially edge out Chris Draft as the starting middle linebacker.
11:19 Alex Marvez:  I think Aaron Curry could be a monster in Seattle,
especially if he develops his pass-rush skills.
11:20 Alex Marvez:  And there’s good buzz surrounding Knowshon Moreno
in Denver, although who knows how good the offense will be there with all the changes
made in the offseason.
Here’s a popular question heading into training camp, from
Bart (Simpson? no, sorry):

Should Giants fans be concerned with their young receiving corp?
11:21 Alex Marvez:  Yes. I don’t think there is a bona fide No.
1 receiver on the roster that scares any opponents or will force teams to make defensive
adjustments the way Plaxico Burress did.
How many games will the Giants win this season?
8 or less
 ( 16% )


 ( 45% )


 ( 37% )


 ( 3% )

11:22 Alex Marvez:  I’m not counting on rookies making an immediate
impact, so the G-men must hope that Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon make some significant
11:22 Alex Marvez:  It also would help if TE Kevin Boss emerges
as a bigger receiving target in his third NFL season.
11:22  Here’s a Vick question:

Week 6 would be around the time McDaniels starts to panic with orton, do you see
vick going to Denver?

11:23 Alex Marvez:  I wouldn’t totally dismiss the possibility even
with Kyle Orton as the starter.
11:24 Alex Marvez:  Orton is set to become a restricted free agent
in 2010 and has yet to prove he is a viable answer as a long-term starter.
11:24 Alex Marvez:  I also don’t consider Chris Simms a great backup.
11:25 Alex Marvez:  Desperate times call for desperate measures
— we’ll see how desperate the Broncos get in 2009.
11:25  Todd asks about the Eagles:

Is it just me or do I hear the same thing about the Eagles and McNabb are one of
the favorites but McNabb falls apart and with JJ (RIP) gone does this not really
hurt the teams chances?

11:25 Alex Marvez:  Let’s start with Jim Johnson. That was a terrible
loss to the Eagles and NFL.
11:25 Alex Marvez:  He was extremely well respected and a defensive
11:26 Alex Marvez:  Sean McDermott has some big shoes to fill in
his first season as Philly’s defensive coordinator.
11:26 Alex Marvez:  As for McNabb, there would be a major drop-off
if he got hurt.
11:26 Alex Marvez:  Kevin Kolb was awful in relief action last season
and A.J. Feeley is a short-term fix at best.
11:27 Alex Marvez:  But quite honestly, the same problems would
affect plenty of other quality teams if they lost a starter as good as McNabb.
11:27  Steve sent this question earlier:

Seeing as how the KC Chiefs are going back to their high-powered offense, do you
see the receivers as a limited group that is going to be a burden?

11:28 Alex Marvez:  Let’s just say that Matt Cassel may be missing
his days in New England when having to work with this group.
11:28 Alex Marvez:  Dwayne Bowe is the best of the bunch and has
potential to become an upper-tier receiver but he isn’t quite there yet.
11:29 Alex Marvez:  Bobby Engram, signed away from Seattle, is a
one-season fix.
11:29 Alex Marvez:  The Chiefs are hoping Mark Bradley emerges as
one of their top three targets.
11:29 Alex Marvez:  He was injured for much of his time in Chicago
but flashed his potential last season with 23 catches during a five-game stretch.
11:30  PLAY FREE FOX Fantasy Football!
11:30 Alex Marvez:  BTW – I’ll be heading to River Falls, Wis.,
on Saturday for the first day of Chiefs camp. We’ll have coverage from there early
next week at
11:30  Here’s a good one from Rick-C.P. “89” …

Considering his sizeable investment in Romo and his ego, would Jerry Jones bench
Tony if he underachieves again in the now “Romo friendly” version of the Cowboys?

11:30 Alex Marvez:  I don’t think Romo is in danger of being benched
if he struggles. I think he’s earned more respect than that.
11:31 Alex Marvez:  But if he doesn’t play at a high enough level
in 2009, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cowboys consider making a change at
the position.
11:31 Alex Marvez:  Keep an eye on Stephen McGee this preseason.
11:32 Alex Marvez:  He was a 2009 fourth-round pick from Texas A&M
who has looked promising during offseason workouts.
11:32  OK, the elephant in the chatroom, one user

How does the Favre
thing effect the NFC NORTH?

11:32 Alex Marvez:  Assuming he doesn’t change his mind and come
out of retirement …
11:33 Alex Marvez:  I do think the Favre fiasco will have some lingering
effects in Minnesota that could help torpedo the Vikings’ Super Bowl hopes.
11:34 Alex Marvez:  Brad Childress’ lack of confidence in Minnesota’s
other quarterbacks — most notable Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson — was exposed
in his pursuit of Favre.
11:35 Alex Marvez:  That could have a trickle-down effect on the
rest of the offense.
11:35 Alex Marvez:  I’m projecting Green Bay as the NFC North winners.
I think the team is ready to rebound with the Favre situation in the rear-view mirror.
11:35 Alex Marvez:  Now, the Vikings will have to deal with mopping
up the Favre mess.
11:36 Alex Marvez:  BTW — I’m taking a red-eye to Minneapolis tonight
and will be reporting from Vikings training camp Thursday and Friday for
11:36  Speaking of Favre’s previous team, Kevin wants
to know:

What are the expectations for the Jets as a team? And the starting QB? thanks!

11:36 Alex Marvez:  I think the Jets could become the AFC East’s
version of the Baltimore Ravens.
11:37 Alex Marvez:  The Jets could have an outstanding defense that
has to make amends for an anemic offense.
11:37 Alex Marvez:  New York has issues at quarterback and wide
receiver that will be tough to overcome in such a competitive division.
11:37 Alex Marvez:  I don’t think the Jets would hesitate to start
Mark Sanchez should he win the competition in training camp or if the battle with
Kellen Clemens is relatively close.
11:38 Alex Marvez:  I’m anxious to see how that duel will play out
in the preseason.
11:38  Taylor has a question
on a hot topic …

Do you see Vick coming to the Vikings?
11:39 Alex Marvez:  I wouldn’t dismiss that possibility.
Would you want your team to sign Michael Vick?
 ( 47% )


 ( 53% )

11:39 Alex Marvez:  I think the Vikings already have a Wildcat package
in for 2009 first-round pick Percy Harvin, who is familiar with that style of attack
from his days at the University of Florida.
11:40  Czar: Finding best home for Vick
11:40 Alex Marvez:  Vick would be an even better fit because he’s
a better passer.
11:40 Alex Marvez:  If I had to rank potential landing spots for
Vick, Minnesota would be high on the list.
11:41  Question from “our
boy” Mullet Lover:

Do you see the Dolphins making the playoffs this year
or do they regress?
11:41 Alex Marvez:  First, major props for respecting the mullet.
11:41 Alex Marvez:  This could be one of those seasons where the
Dolphins are a better team but the record doesn’t reflect it.
11:42 Alex Marvez:  On paper, Miami has a much tougher schedule
than last season and I feel all the teams in the division are improved from 2009.
11:42  Latest
NFL news
11:43 Alex Marvez:  The key to Miami’s season could very well be
the effectiveness of new wrinkles installed in its Wildcat attack and whether rookie
QB Pat White could make an immediate impact.
11:43 Alex Marvez:  White was very inaccurate in offseason camps,
which isn’t a good sign.
11:43 Alex Marvez:  Plus, teams have spent this offseason seeking
ways to defuse the Wildcat.
11:44  Alex gave us a great
profile on Year 2 of the Wildcat recently:
11:45  Chris has a question on the Redskins:

Can Devin Thomas or Malcolm Kelly have a breakout season for the Redskins this year?
11:45 Alex Marvez:  You may as well throw 2008 second-round pick
TE Fred Davis in that mix as well.
11:46 Alex Marvez:  Thomas was very disappointing in 2008, which
helps explain why he slid into the second round despite being projected by some
analysts as a potential Top 12 pick.
11:46 Alex Marvez:  Thomas spent only one season at Michigan State
and is still raw but may be able to contribute as a backup.
11:46 Alex Marvez:  From what I understand, Kelly is further along
as a pro but he’s battled injuries.
11:47 Alex Marvez:  Regardless of who’s at wide receiver, the Redskins
need to get big passing plays back in their offense to have any shot at catching
Dallas, Philly and the Giants in the NFC East.
11:47  Mr. Kei asks:

How much of an impact Beanie Wells will be this season with AZ Cardinals?

11:47 Alex Marvez:  In retrospect, I should have mentioned Wells
as a potential impact rookie.
11:48 Alex Marvez:  Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to run
the ball more than in 2009, which will create additional opportunities for Wells
and 2008 rookie Tim Hightower.
11:48 Alex Marvez:  The key with Wells is how quickly he learns
how to pass protect.
11:48 Alex Marvez:  The Cardinals can’t afford to risk Kurt Warner
getting hurt.
11:49  Michael has a rebuttal on Alex’s take on the
Texans and the AFC South earlier:

How can you say the Titans are a lock for the playoffs? They surprised a lot of
people last year and this year i believe Kerry Collins and that defense will not
be as great as it was last!

11:50 Alex Marvez:  I actually think Kerry Collins will be even
better in 2009 now that he will have a full offseason and preseason working as Tennessee’s
starting quarterback.
11:50 Alex Marvez:  The running game still looks promising (especially
with a slimmed-down LenDale White), one of the NFL’s best offensive lines returns
intact, and Justin Gage appears ready to emerge as a legit receiving threat.
11:51 Alex Marvez:  Defensively, the loss of DT Albert Haynesworth
and d-coordinator Jim Schwartz shouldn’t be minimized but I believe Tennessee has
good enough coaching and talent to overcome that.
11:51 Alex Marvez:  Only one way to find out, though: Let’s get
the season started!!!
11:51  We’ll keep firing,
how are your typing fingers, Alex?

11:52 Alex Marvez:  My two fingers are still intact 🙂 … let’s
go for a few more questions
11:52  OK, we’ll keep it up — Jonathan wonders:

How do you think Tampa will do this season under the
new head coach??

11:52 Alex Marvez:  I wish I had good news for the Bucs in 2009
but I think the ship may sink.
11:52  NFC South offseason moves
11:53 Alex Marvez:  The quarterback situation is a mess and I don’t
know if the Bucs have the defensive talent to pull off an effective switch to a
more traditional 4-3 system under new defensive coordiantor Jim Bates.
11:53 Alex Marvez:  We also have no idea how 32-year-old Raheem
Morris will fare as a head coach.
11:53 Alex Marvez:  Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bucs
had a Top Three pick in next year’s draft.
11:53  Geoff is worried about Urlacher and the Bears:

Can the Bears’ defense return to their form of a couple of years ago, or have the
years caught up with them?

11:54 Alex Marvez:  To me, that is the key to Chicago’s season now
that QB Jay Cutler is in the fold.
11:54 Alex Marvez:  The Bears haven’t lived up to their Monsters
of the Midway rep for several seasons now.
11:55 Alex Marvez:  Chicago has to hope Brian Urlacher makes more
big plays, the hiring of Rod Marinelli as defensive line coach improves an underachieving
unit and changes in what was an injury-plagued secondary in 2008 are effective.
11:55 Alex Marvez:  The defense is the main reason why I’m not picking
Chicago to win the NFC North.
11:55  OK, we’ll take 1-2 more before letting “The
Mullet” get some lunch — a mullet must be properly cared for.

Here’s one from “n8dawgg” …

I’m a big NFL fan but i’m in los angeles so it’s obvious what I’m hungry for. What’s
the biggest obstacle in getting an NFL team in Los Angeles at this time?

11:56 Alex Marvez:  The first problem is the lack of a stadium.
11:56 Alex Marvez:  The second issue is what team will fill that
11:56 Alex Marvez:  Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times, who I greatly
respect, says the NFL won’t be awarding an expansion team.
11:56 Alex Marvez:  That leaves an existing team that would try
to move, which could be messy.
11:57 Alex Marvez:  I just don’t see this happening any time soon,
especially with the state of California’s financial problems (I’m in the FOX offices
today in L.A. and I’m being taxed five cents for each keystroke).
Do you care if L.A. ever gets another team?
 ( 18% )


 ( 82% )

11:58 Alex Marvez:  The NFL, though, would be wise to look at doing
some things to keep L.A. in the loop. Maybe hold the Pro Bowl or draft in Southern
Cal to spread some love.
11:58  OK, final question from
“raven nation”…

What about the Ravens and their receiver situation?
11:58 Alex Marvez:  It’s not a good one. If you’re a Ravens fan,
start a letter-writing campaign to Derrick Mason begging for his return.
11:59 Alex Marvez:  Mark Clayton is the only proven receiving target
on the roster and I don’t see any answers in sight right now in free agency.
11:59 Alex Marvez:  Don’t be surprised if Baltimore tries to pull
a trade with a team that has good receiver depth.
12:00 Alex Marvez:  San Francisco is an intriguing possibility with
six quality players (Isaac Bruce, Michael Crabtree, Brandon Jones, Josh Morgan,
Arnaz Battle and Jason Hill) vying for what will likely be five roster spots.
12:01 Alex Marvez:  It would be a major boost for Baltimore if L.J.
Smith and Todd Heap could stay injury free and become major contributors in the
passing game, but the odds of that seem low based on the past few seasons.
12:01 Alex Marvez:  It looks like once again Baltimore will have
to rely on a stingy defense and strong running game for a shot at repeating last
year’s success.
12:01  Alright folks, thanks to Alex for another
stellar effort. We’ll try to catch up with you every so often during your camp travels,
starting with San Diego, Minnesota, Kansas City, Green Bay and Detroit.
12:01 Alex Marvez:  Thanks so much for joining us today. Your questions
were awesome!

Thanks again to everyone for joining us — keep it here to throughout training camp!