Chicago Bears: When the Bears host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday
night, 2008 second-round draft pick Matt Forte is expected to become the first
Bears rookie running back since Hall of Famer Walter Payton to start a regular-season opening
game. Ironically, Payton got his rookie start against the Baltimore
Colts. But Forte, a hard-charging and versatile back out of Tulane, undoubtedly
is hopeful that he'll have a better night against Indianapolis than Payton's
debut of zero yards on eight carries back in 1975.
Miami Dolphins: As Tony Sparano gets ready for his regular-season debut
as Miami's head coach, he shared his admiration for Jets rookie tight end
Dustin Keller, who will be making his NFL debut this weekend against Sparano's
Dolphins. The former
Purdue tight end was the 30th overall pick in April's NFL Draft.
“I think he is a threat and I think that he’s an interesting guy because
the more tape I watch, the more I see them try to use him in different critical
situations, if you will," Sparano said. "In third down situations, he’s
out there. Some of the red zone stuff; you’ll see him out there. So, I see him
out there and in the mix so we’re going to have to be very aware of him.
"He’s a talented guy. We’ve seen that in the draft. He’s very
athletic, can run, that can cause a mismatch sometimes.”
Sparano's keeping his cards close to his chest regarding whether Ronnie Brown
or Ricky Williams will be the starting running back against the Jets. When asked
if Williams would be the starter, the Dolphins' skipper told the media, “You’ll
have to buy a ticket and see.”
Buffalo Bills: With a season-opener against the Seahawks just
days away, Trent Edwards says that the Bills aren't the least bit preoccupied by
the continued absence of offensive tackle Jason Peters, who missed the team's
entire training camp and preseason while holding out for a new contract.
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
"I'm going to be very honest with you guys. It doesn't even come up all
that often," the Bills' second-year quarterback said on Wednesday. "I
mean guys mention things here and there about trying to be in contact with him,
but there are so many guys that are so focused on the Seattle game that you guys
are trying to make it a bigger deal than it really needs to be.
"I know there are a lot of guys in there that are excited about being a
member of this football team, making the 53-man roster, then we bring up all of
these issues that are focused on the Seattle Seahawks and it's not on the
priority list up there for a lot of guys in this locker room and the same goes
for me. I'm not really thinking about him, I'm only thinking about things that
are within my control and I'm sticking with those."
San Diego Chargers: Although linebacker Shawne Merriman and defensive
tackle Jamal Williams are both listed on the Chargers' injury report this week
with knee problems, both players got a full practice in on Wednesday, as did
tight end Antonio Gates (toe). That leaves offensive tackle Marcus McNeil
(neck) as the only starter who is still sidelined as the Chargers prepare to
host Carolina this weekend.
Denver Broncos: Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan showed his
respect for rookie running back Darren McFadden, another first-round pick who
will showcase his skills on Monday night when Denver pays a visit to the Oakland Raiders.
“He is averaging over five yards a carry, I think 5.4. He has had a good
preseason," Shanahan said. "They have given him a lot of reps and he
is a weapon. He has great speed and everybody knows what he did in college. He
is going to try to do that at the pro level.
"They are very coordinated in their offensive line. They went from 29th
in the NFL in 2006 to sixth in 2007 (in rushing). That’s a big, big jump.
There is no other team that made that type of jump. They are running the zone
blocking scheme very, very well. They have a lot of confidence in it and they
are very well-coordinated, so he is going to a system that gives him a chance.”
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals' offense took a hit this week when it
was revealed that starting fullback Jeremi Johnson was being placed on injured
reserve, ending his season. Johnson suffered a knee injury during Monday's practice, and head coach Marvin Lewis told reporters on Wednesday that
second-year player Dan Coats would be the new starter as the team heads to
Baltimore to play the Ravens this weekend.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens announced some bad news as well on
Wednesday as they placed backup quarterback Kyle Boller on injured reserve due
to a shoulder problem. Although rookie Joe Flacco had already been tabbed as the
starter for this weekend's home opener, the loss of Boller, coupled with Troy
Smith's tonsil infection, has left the team dangerously thin at quarterback.
As a result, Baltimore signed 10th-year veteran Todd Bouman after working him out on
Tuesday along with former Falcon Joey Harrington and former Buccaneer Chris
Simms. But Bouman will need a crash course on the Ravens' playbook between now
and Sunday if he'll have any hope of adequately filling in for Flacco, should
the need arise.
Click the stories below for more from Ed Thompson...
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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email
through this link.