The National Football League, for your consideration

I finally have more tweets than I have blogs. Follow me at zach_law. I do not post enough to be “cool”. Seriously, keeping track of NFL training camps has been all about Twitter so far. It’s been so thorough (and sometimes overwhelming) that today’s multi-hour Twitter outage was a major blow to my psyche.

NFL thoughts:

Isn’t it something that both Matt Leinart and Vince Young are battling to be the backups for the franchises that they were supposed to leave? Leinart has the Heisman but Young still has the Q rating. He’s still getting magazine articles and ESPN segments. After all, he did win the all-important head to head meeting. When the Cardinals come to Nashville this fall, watch the sidelines and see who’s more engaged. I think it will be a draw.

Training camp injuries are the worst. The Falcons are going to seriously miss Harry Douglas. At the onset of camp he was going to be the punt returner and slot guy. With Roddy White’s holdout and Mike Jenkins being Mike Jenkins (did they really pay him $5 million a year to block?), Douglas was lining up as a starter. I feel bad for Dicky Lyons, the former Kentucky wideout who was signed the day after Douglas’s injury and waived the following day. Marty Booker and Robert Ferguson (admit it, you’ve owned one of them once or twice) have been signed.

The Eagles already had a major blow when beloved defensive coordinator Jim Johnson lost his battle with cancer recently. Brian Dawkins, the leader on the field, signed with the Broncos. The new leader was going to be MLB Stewart Bradley, who promptly injured his knee. Now it’s up to a sixth-round pick from 2008 to take the position. The Eagles D may miss a play or two, but they’re still a good fantasy option.

Panthers’ defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu (big Samoan guy, perhaps?) tore an Achilles tendon. From what I hear, there’s not good depth in Carolina.

The Titans would be devastated if they lost either of their starting offensive tackles and anyone in their secondary. And a lot of fans might be devastated if Kerry Collins gets hurt. I can only hope that Mr. Young is training like Collins did last year, as if he were the starter. It’s the only way to go if you’re number two, because being number one can be only a non-contact injury away.

I reviewed a few more possible first-round picks in my upcoming redraft. Kevin Smith was the LeSean McCoy of last year’s draft. He put up insane stats at Central Florida in his junior year and seemed poised to return to school. He came out and was underwhelming at the combine and in his pro day. As luck would have it, the Lions took him in the third round. Other than Matt Forte, no rookie had less competition for the starting job. Smith didn’t hit his stride until the second half of the year.

Now, it’s always tough to draft a running back on a team that either has a bad offensive line or is likely to be trailing early and often. The Lions are both. Smith had 20 carries six of the last eight games in 2008. If Stafford plays early, he’s going to be checking down. In fact, a recent training camp article out of Detroit pointed out that the only passes that Lions QBs seemed to be able to complete were screens. Color me intrigued, but somewhat wary since the last Detroit
rookie running back to have a sparkling second half was Kevin Jones.

When the Texans passed on Reggie Bush in the 2006 draft, the sports world gasped. Three years later, when a running back is compared to Bush, it isn’t for tough inside running. It’s for being a receiver and maybe an off-tackle runner. Bush and Pierre Thomas have almost identical draft value at the moment. Thomas seems like the safe money because he’s the goal line back. The only potential downside is that when both Bush and Thomas played last year, both guys got ten touches only once. Thomas could be a Marion Barber with a little less name recognition, while Bush is the brand-name Darren McFadden.

I have a lot of players to review, and only nine days until the draft. I really want to know the players in the first few rounds, because in the past few years the waiver wire has been more and more valuable. Since my teams start and finish horribly, I get the high waiver slot. It’s almost like you should play for it.

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