Archive for Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert: Cincinnati Bengals

I recently got to pose five questions to Joseph Reedy, a beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer who follows the Bengals (to read his blog, click here).  He discussed Carson Palmer’s impending return, the team’s receiving corps, Cedric Benson and much more.  So, without further adieu, let’s see what he had to say:

1) After missing the majority of the 2008 season, how has Carson Palmer looked thus far?  Can we expect him to return to the player he was prior to the injury or will the elbow problem continue to bother him?
Joseph Reedy: Palmer has looked good, and the elbow appears to be 100 percent. If the season would’ve lasted a week longer last season, he would’ve started then. He will be on a pitch count during training camp that is mainly precautionary, but the velocity and spin that he has on the ball looks better than it has the past couple seasons.

2) Can Cedric Benson shoulder the load as the main running back or will the newly acquired Brian Leonard steal significant carries from him?
Joseph Reedy: Benson will be the main running back and should average 20-25 carries a game. With the offseason conditioning, he is ready to shoulder that load, which he hasn’t had in his NFL career but did have at the University of Texas. Leonard, DeDe Dorsey, Kenny Watson and sixth-round pick Bernard Scott are all vying to be that second back. Read more

Ask the Expert: New York Giants

I recently had the opportunity to pose five questions to New York Giants beat writer Tom Rock, who writes for New York Newsday (you can read his blog by clicking here).  He gave some great insight into the Giants receiving corps, who may replace Derrick Ward, the team’s defense and much more.  Let’s take a look at what he had to say:

1) Which of the young wide receivers do you see stepping up and filling the void created by the departures of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer?

Tom Rock: So far in minicamp, the star has been the mini-receiver! Sinorice Moss has been fantastic, better than he’s looked since the minicamp of his rookie year (before those injuries started hitting him). Now, catching passes in June is different from doing it in September, but even his teammates have noticed an increased hunger and focus from him as he enters the fourth year of what has, to this point, been a pretty unfulfilling career. The other receiver I would keep an eye on is Mario Manningham. He’s a kid with all of the physical tools, but his development was slowed last year when he was injured for most of training camp and fell behind the learning curve. He committed himself to the playbook this offseason and has looked very sharp so far. Read more

Askt the Expert: San Francisco 49’ers

by Eric Stashin

Tom Fitzgerald of The San Francisco Chronicle (click here for some of his coverage) was kind enough to give us a few minutes to answer 5 questions about the upcoming season.  Let’s take a look at what he had to say:

1)  How do you think Vernon Davis will perform this season?  Do you think he’ll be able to excel in Mike Martz’ offense?
Tom Fitzgerald: Yes, I do. Don’t know if he’ll catch 60 or 70, but should be more TDs. 

2)  What type of season do you see J.T. O’Sullivan having and do you think he’ll be able to keep the starting job the entire way?
Tom Fitzgerald: I doubt it because of his inexperience and the likelihood of injury at some point. But he’s clearly a better QB in the Martz offense – maybe any offense – -than Alex Smith at this point.  Read more

Ask the Expert: Pittsburgh Steelers

by Eric Stashin

I recently had the opportunity to pose 5 Questions to Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (click here for some of his coverage).  I asked him about Santonio Holmes, the rookies the Steelers brought in, the loss of Alan Faneca and much more.  Let’s see what he had to say about the upcoming season:

1.  Santonio Holmes seemed to take a step forward last season, coming just shy of a 1,000-yard season and scoring 8 TD’s.  How has he looked in training camp and does it look like he could take that next step forward?
Scott Brown: Holmes appears poised for stardom this season. He and Ben Roethlisberger spent a lot of time working together during the offseason, and there is no denying that the Steelers QB has a tremendous amount of trust in Holmes. If he stays healthy Holmes should eclipse the 1,000-yard mark and post double digits as far as TD receptions.  Read more

Ask the Expert: Washington Redskins

by Eric Stashin

I recently had the opportunity to post 5 questions to Corey Masisak, who covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Times (click here for his coverage).  He gave us great insight into the upcoming season, including looks at Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and Jason Taylor, just to name a few.  It really is a must read if you have either drafted, or are thinking of drafting, any of the key players on the Redskins, so let’s take a look at his thoughts:

1. Clinton Portis had what could be conceived as his worst season as a professional, rushing for 1,262 yards and average 3.9 yards/carry. Obviously, those numbers are not bad, but he has rushed for over 1,500 yards on 3 separate occasions, so how do you see him “bouncing back” this season?

Corey Masisak: It seems like all signs in this camp are pointing to a big year from Portis. Jim Zorn has pledged to use him as a workhorse instead of the spectre of a timeshare that loomed sometimes when Joe Gibbs was in charge. Zorn is considered a QB guru, but Shaun Alexander had plenty of great seasons in this offense. What’s more, Portis has been healthy in camp for the first time in three years, and actually took part in the offseason workout program (even if his “offseason committment” was part of his new contract). He’s had 325+ carries in three of the past four years which might be a concern, but Portis could be in line for another 1500+ type of year. And all of the talk about Portis getting the lion’s share of the work should make it easier to get Ladell Betts as a handcuff. Read more

Ask the Expert: New York Jets

We recently had the opportunity to pose five questions to Erik Boland, who covers the Jets for New York Newsday (click here to read some of his coverage).  He gave us some great insight into the Jets for the upcoming season, and not only on Brett Favre.  He also discussed players such as Jericho Cotchery, Thomas Jones and so much more, so let’s not waste time and see what he had to say:

1) This is a two part question regarding the Jets QB situation.  First of all, we all know Brett Favre will be the man here, but how well do you think he will be able to adjust to a new system.  Second, given the reports that Bret Favre is suffering from “fatigue” and Chad Pennington is no longer on the roster, do you have confidence in Kellen Clemens if he needs to take over at some point this season?

Erik Boland: Based on what we saw Saturday night, Favre’s “adjustment” period will be minimal. Will he have the entire playbook at his disposal by the opener in Miami? No, but I’m not sure he’ll need all of it. Jerricho Cotchery probably put it best after Saturday’s game: “We felt like everything that we were going to run was going to work.” When’s the last time a Jets offensive player said that and meant it?

As for the second part of the question, Brett Ratliff is making an extremely hard charge at taking the backup job from Clemens. Clemens was hurt by four drops Saturday but Ratliff was impressive again – as he was against the Browns in the preseason opener – going 13-for-19 for 148 yards againt the Redskins. I’d call the battle for the backup neck-in-neck right now, with Clemens slighly ahead only because he has more “real” game experience, based on startinig eight games last year. Read more