August 2007 - Football Wiretap
Eagles Releasing Johnson, Keeping Aussie Punter Rocca
The Eagles weren?t planning to release their final cuts until tomorrow, so it was a surprise when a list of 22 players - including Dirk Johnson and Jeremy Bloom - was posted on the team?s web site mid-afternoon today. It was more of a surprise when the list - and several message board threads devoted to the cuts were deleted from the official web site just 10 minutes later. A team spokesman said the cuts were released by mistake and this is not the actual list of players who will be released tomorrow. But when contacted, Johnson confirmed that he got a call from head coach Andy Reid informing him that the Eagles are releasing him and keeping untested rookie Sav Rocca instead. ?In my mind, they had their minds made up before that (Jets) game,? Johnson said. ?What did that game prove? If it came down to that game, I?d still be here. If it didn?t, they should have cut me last week, while two teams (Cards and Patriots) were still looking for punters.?
Jacksonville Going With Garrard, Part Ways With Leftwich
The Jacksonville Jaguars have made the decision to release starting quarterback Byron Leftwich, making David Garrard the starting quarterback. After a preseason that saw Leftwich struggle in his last two starts, the Jaguars opted to release him and go with Garrard, who had a good preseason. The team didn't file the work with the league office Friday, so it will have to happen Saturday. But a team source confirmed that if Leftwich isn't traded, he will be let go.
Steelers, Simmons Talking Extension
The Steelers are trying to sign their starting guard to a contract extension before the end of next week, but it's not Alan Faneca. Kendall Simmons, their starting right guard since 2002 when they drafted him in the first round from Auburn, has this season left on that rookie contract. "We've been talking and both sides are trying to get something done before the start of the season,'' said Simmons' agent, Eric Metz. Simmons supposedly was in competition for his job with backup Chris Kemoeatu, but early in training camp he reasserted himself as the starter and the Steelers decided to try to lock him up for the future.
Rams Looking At Rice
Even before the Rams make their final roster cuts today and Saturday, here's another name to consider. Simeon Rice, longtime defensive end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is scheduled to visit Rams Park today. Rice, a University of Illinois product, will undergo a physical and meet with team officials at Rams Park. With 121 sacks in 11 NFL seasons, Rice has been one of the game's premier pass rushers. But he missed the final eight games of the 2006 season with a shoulder injury. The Rams want to make sure Rice's shoulder is OK before even considering any contract negotiations. Rice, 33, had only two sacks last season. He was released by Tampa Bay on the night before the start of training camp. The Buccaneers reportedly wanted him to take a sizable pay cut.
California Neighbors Say Strahan Is On East Coast
Michael Strahan hasn't been spotted around his California beach community since the weekend, and locals believe he's already back east preparing to hit the gridiron. The Giants defensive end failed to report to training camp on July 27 and has done little to quash rumors he's contemplating retirement with two years left on his $46million contract, or speculation that he's holding out for more money. That's just politics, say locals who've seen Strahan working out like a fiend in recent weeks and generally in high spirits. "He'll play," said a confident Troll Subin, president of the Yard Training Center, the Hermosa Beach gym where Strahan has been putting in long hours pumping iron. "When the games that count start up, he'll be ready," Subin said. "He's been readying himself, just not out in the open."
Seattle Inquires On Brunell
Mark Brunell was the subject of an inquiry by the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, sources said, but no deal was completed after Washington's 31-14 loss to the Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The Redskins could still deal him with roster cuts looming Saturday -- Atlanta expressed some interest weeks ago -- although the market for the 36-year-old is not deep.
NFL Would Rather Relocate To Los Angeles
Jerry Jones wanted to make it clear: He was not speaking on behalf of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, he said. But the Dallas Cowboys owner said before Thursday night's exhibition game at the Metrodome that the NFL is not thinking in terms of expansion for Los Angeles but relocation of an existing franchise. Jones should know. He's on the committee seeking to acquire an NFL team for Los Angeles. "I don't see us expanding in Los Angeles," he said. Jones said of the Vikings, "There is a lot of history (in Minnesota), and we need to be here. By the same token, there is a need for public-private ownership."
Rocca To Learn NFL Fate In Next 48 Hours
Saverio Rocca's boot didn't let him down in his final NFL audition - although his hands might have. The former AFL star will learn in the next 48 hours whether he has won the punting job at the Philadelphia Eagles. But Rocca admits a botched field goal attempt - when he was acting as holder and bobbled the ball - in the Eagles' final pre-season clash against the New York Jets in Philadelphia may come back to haunt him. "It might well come down to that (who is the better holder)," Rocca told reporters after the first quarter mishap which ended with him throwing a desperate incomplete pass. "They are going to base their decision on a lot of things. "I'm sure that will be one of the key factors. As I have said before, we can only wait and see." The Australian again shared punting duties with incumbent Dirk Johnson in the 13-11 loss, with both performing well - Rocca averaged 38.3 yards per kick, including two inside 20s, while Johnson finished with an average of 49.5 yards.
Culpepper Looks Sharper Than McCown
If Lane Kiffin needed the preseason finale to decide who his starting quarterback will be, Daunte Culpepper should be his man. The Raiders first-year coach watched the recently deposed Dolphins starter complete 11 of 19 passes for 108 yards and lead the offense to its only touchdown in Oakland's 19-14 loss to the Seahawks on Thursday night.
Chargers Force 6 Turnovers To Beat Sloppy 49ers
On a night of faux football that was woefully lacking in star power, Alex Smith punctuated his homecoming with two turnovers. That helped the Chargers beat the sloppy San 49ers 16-13 in an exhibition finale Thursday night. Niners third-stringer Shaun Hill threw three interceptions and wide receiver Brandon Williams fumbled. San Diego scored 13 points off turnovers.
Quinn Leads Browns To TD In Win Over Bears
Brady Quinn was efficient, if unspectacular, leading the Browns to a TD in a 19-9 vicory over the Bears on Thursday night.
Romo Joking About Marriage To Underwood?
Dallas QB Tony Romo gave gossip reporters something to chase during his speech after accepting the team's offensive player of the year award.
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Bucs' Gradkowski Being Looked At By FBI
ESPN.com says investigators are reviewing Bruce Gradkowski's playing time in certain Toledo games in which the final scores and betting patterns raised suspicions.