Jon Gruden has been working overtime, and he's been doing it for more than just his debut on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," which kicks off its season Aug. 13 in a rematch of Super Bowl XLIII between Arizona at Pittsburgh. "He's flown in more coaches in the last six months and studied more tape than any coach with a job," one source said. "He's still into it big time." With Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan on the street along with Gruden and Cowher, speculation will begin early in every city that sees its team get off to a poor start.
Another NFL graybeard has caught New England coach Bill Belichick's eye. Free agent defensive lineman Kevin Carter is drawing strong interest from the Patriots, a source told FOXSports.com on Monday. If signed, Carter is projected as a backup end in New England's 3-4 defense behind starters Richard Seymour and Ty Warren.
As Browns receiver Braylon Edwards continues to miss practice time due to a mysterious injury that, as rumor has it, he suffered while playing basketball, some league insiders are wondering whether Edwards is faking it. The fact that Edwards showed up a day late for camp is fueling the theory/hypothesis that he isn't really hurt, and that he's merely saying that he's hurt in order to not have to practice as a protest against the fact that he hasn't received a contract extension and/or hasn't been traded.
A Raiders official told RaiderBeat.com on Monday morning that the team is attempting to accommodate disgruntled defensive end Derrick Burgess by trading him. Burgess is holding out over his dissatisfaction with his contract status. He is in the final year of a five-year contract he signed in 2005, and it calls for him to earn $2 million in base salary, along with a $1.5 million roster bonus.
Former Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski may have said it, but the team's owner Pat Bowlen said Monday it doesn't make it true. Romanowski, who has stirred things up with some statements in the past - he offered to become the team's general manager earlier this year - said on a local radio show this morning that he had spoken to Bowlen and that Bowlen had told him that Michael Vick was in the Denver area negotiating with Broncos officials. Asked for a response by The Denver Post, Bowlen said through a team spokesman that Romanowski's statements were "absolutely false."
Ronald Curry's numbers declined last season under coach Lane Kiffin as he had 19 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. "I came back to camp and I'm fourth on the depth chart after leading the team in receiving the last couple of years,'' Curry said. "That kind of blew me (away). It kind of bothered me. I felt like I had put myself in a position where I shouldn't have been treated like that.'' Curry still played slot receiver under Kiffin, but said it wasn't the same. "He puts you in the slot and expects you to do the same thing, but they run no plays for the slot,'' Curry said. "To me, when it's third-and-five or six, or less, you let that slot go to work. It was a block-first offense. You go out there, you block, block, block, block, and at the end of the day you wonder why no receivers have more than 20, 30 yards.''
It might be nothing more than a strained groin, which wouldn't even be strange considering linebacker Matt Roth underwent surgery in January to fix that problem. Yet somehow, in the past two days, the mystery surrounding Roth's lack of participation at the start of training camp has spawned into a small soap opera that has stumped even coach Tony Sparano -- and now Roth could be in some lukewarm water as a result. Roth, who failed his conditioning test Sunday, told Sparano on two occasions that his inability to pass the test was a result of feeling ill. So the team ordered blood work be done, but the results came back negative. In retrospect, those negative results made sense, given that Roth's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, appeared on local TV saying Roth wasn't ill at all.
Regardless of how the Browns' quarterback competition shakes out, coach Eric Mangini envisions keeping both Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson for the 2009 season. "In my mind, Brady and DA will both be here," Mangini said Sunday on the second day of training camp. So unless a team desperate for a starting quarterback makes an offer Browns management can't refuse, both will be around. But that doesn't necessarily mean both will see the field. Mangini said that once he makes up his mind -- and there's still no timetable -- he'll stick with his man and not try to platoon them.
Jason Garrett is a really good coach who had a bad season in 2008. He'll prove last year was an aberration with his performance this season. We all know there's considerable pressure on Tony Romo to play at a high level this season, but there's just as much pressure on Garrett to perform. Two years ago, we anointed him a genius and the heir to the Cowboys' throne, whenever Wade Phillips vacated it, after the Cowboys' 13-3 season fueled by their record-setting offensive attack. Heck, Garrett even turned down head coaching jobs with Atlanta and Baltimore.
Most of what has been written and said about Tony Romo the last seven months leads you to believe his improvement depends on how much golf he plays and whom he does or doesn't date. The truth is much more mundane. This training camp is about some minor technical adjustments for Romo. He has tweaked his footwork for a quicker delivery on certain throws and has worked on ball security.
Broncos defensive lineman Marcus Thomas told reporters after Sunday's morning practice that he had spoken to Jarvis Moss, and Moss said he would be rejoining the team Monday. "I talked to him this morning. He's looking up now, so he's going to be back," Thomas said. Moss did not show up for training camp Saturday and has been excused from practice while he contemplates his future in football. Teammates said Saturday and today that Moss has been quite unhappy.
Todd Haley wasted no time sending yet another message that life for the Chiefs has indeed changed. The new Chiefs coach withheld five players, all starters, from the opening two training camp practices Saturday for failing to pass the previous day's conditioning test. Rather than participate in drills, offensive linemen Brian Waters, Mike Goff and Damion McIntosh and defensive linemen Ron Edwards and Glenn Dorsey lifted weights, rode stationary bikes and ran.
Uh-oh. Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall limped away from the practice field and into the locker room Sunday morning. It appeared Marshall was favoring his left hip. Dr. Marc Philippon of Vail operated on Marshall's hip on March 31.
Here's one reason Michael Vick going to Jacksonville - a scenario floated by some last week - is unlikely to happen: New general manager Gene Smith made an offseason commitment to change the culture in the Jaguars' locker room, and signing Vick would send a mixed message. If owner Wayne Weaver steps in thinking about sagging ticket sales, that's a different story.
Vernon Gholston, he of the five-tackle, no-sack, no-impact rookie season, is perhaps the biggest enigma on the Jets. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft, freakishly athletic, but his lack of production, coupled with what some teammates perceive as a lack of fire, has made him a mystery man in his own locker room. "He's strong as hell, but the question is, does he want it?" said one player, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen. He's got talent, and he doesn't lack confidence, but sometimes he's like an 18-year-old kid who's never played the game before."
Stunningly candid, Jets coach Rex Ryan admitted his weight has ballooned 30 pounds since the end of last season to 340. Members of the Jets' medical staff gently encouraged him to address the issue, prompting him to start a five-day liquid diet Friday at breakfast - a citrus concoction of grapefruit, lemon and oranges. The irony is unavoidable. Every player on the team made his prescribed weight and passed the mandatory conditioning test, Ryan proudly announced, but the coach himself is fighting obesity.