Los Angeles Times
The NFL notebook ..
In San Diego and Indianapolis, they’re talking about legs. Specifically, the healing wheels of Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, LaDainian Tomlinson and Peyton Manning.
In Green Bay and St. Louis, the buzzword is legacy ó one Brett Favre could be damaging, and one Howie Long’s son, Chris, hopes to continue.
It’s about time for NFL training camps to open, and expectations are high ó especially for clubs such as the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the near-perfect New England Patriots, and the on-the-rise Chargers, Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns.
Some situations to watch this summer:
GOUDA-BYE: Favre made a lot of last-minute comebacks for the Packers, but this won’t be one of them. If he comes out of retirement ó and there’s every indication he will ó it won’t be with Green Bay.
That only increases the pressure on Aaron Rodgers. It’s hard enough to follow a legend, but even harder to replace a legend who wants to keep playing. The first incomplete pass Rodgers throws ó let alone his first interception ó there will be someone grousing, “Brett Favre would have completed that!”
And things could get even more messy if the Packers have evidence to back up their tampering claim against Minnesota.
Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s quarterback.
-LOUD AND CLEAR: For the first time, the league is allowing one defensive player on the field to wear a helmet radio that will allow him to hear calls directly from the coordinator. It cuts down on the likelihood of another Spygate scenario, although hand signals won’t go away.
It also provides defenses with an answer to an advantage quarterbacks have had for years. Like the quarterback’s earpiece, the defender’s will cut off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock.
-TAKING A KNEE: While Rivers, Gates and Tomlinson recover from various knee ailments in San Diego, the Colts’ Manning has one of his own ó an infected bursa sac that had to be removed ó that is expected to keep him out for four to six weeks.
That means he might be a spectator for his team’s five exhibition games, and maybe even sit out the Sept. 7 opener against Chicago at new Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts’ only healthy quarterback with any experience?
-REGULAR ROMO: Dallas quarterback Tony Romo needs to prove he can win when it really counts. Two years ago, he botched the field-goal hold in Seattle and the Cowboys bit the dust. And last season, he couldn’t get it done against the Giants.
That’s consecutive one-and-done playoff performances. And a trend that goes back even further.
Gil Lebreton of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that in the last three years Romo was the starter at Eastern Illinois, his team lost each of its three first-round games in the Division I-AA playoffs.
“Superman had his kryptonite,” Lebreton wrote. “Tony Romo has the playoffs.”
RICKY LOOKS READY: The Miami Dolphins, coming off a one-win season, can take heart in this: Ricky Williams is healthy and looks primed for a big season. His agent, Leigh Steinberg, said Williams has recovered from the broken arm he suffered in his only game last season and has added 13 pounds of muscle, increasing his weight to 233.
If Williams can keep his head in the game and resist the urge to leave on another global walkabout, he could make a significant contribution.
“He’s still very fast and hits extremely hard,” Steinberg said. “With the extra weight, as fast as he is, he’s a frightening load coming through the line.”