J.P. Losman Leaning Toward UFL

The folks at UFL Access reported earlier today regarding rumors that former Bills quarterback J.P. Losman, a first-round draft pick in 2004, will sign with the Las Vegas [To Be Determineds] of the UFL.
A source close to the situation tells us that the move isn’t definite, but that it looks like Losman will make the move.
The reasoning is simple.  Losman can go to the UFL and play, or he can be at the bottom of an NFL depth chart.  And not play.
In Vegas, Losman would be tutored by Jim Fassel, who salvaged the career of Kerry Collins with the Giants.
So who knows?  Maybe Losman will take the UFL by storm, setting the stage for a Tommy Maddox-style catapult back into the NFL.

Rob Ryan Says Browns Will Use The 46 Defense

Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the son of the Art Vandelay of the 46 defense, said Wednesday that the Browns will be using that havoc-creating attack as a supplement to their 3-4 base defense.
“Really, the 46 was designed as a nickel defense,” Ryan told reporters.  “It wasn’t really the base of my father either.  It just started stopping everything so it became a base.  We definitely run some 46 defense.  Eric [Mangini] is a huge fan of the 46.”
(Maybe Mangini likes the 46 because it’s also his pants size.)
Anyway, Ryan’s comments regarding the 46 defense confirm his other remarks regarding the differences between his defensive system and the one used by former head coach Romeo Crennel, a defensive specialist.
“To be honest with you,” Ryan said, “I’m not here to farm anyone else’s land.  I’m not sure how things were done here in the past.”
Why do we have a feeling that, if Rob Ryan ever becomes a head coach, he’ll be twisting Channing Crowder’s tail, too?

Mister Irrelevant Gets Paid

Some of you don’t care about whether late-round draft picks have signed contracts.
To you we say, “Tough crap.”
Please feel free to scroll past those or any other stories that don’t tickle your fancy.
In this specific case, however, the news of a seventh-round draft-pick signing has a little more relevance.  Because Mr. Irrelevant is under contract.
Kicker Ryan Succop, the last man taken in the 2009 draft, reportedly has agreed to terms with the Chiefs.
The three-year contract is expected to be announced on Thursday.
And the fact that Succop’s agent leaked the news before the Chiefs could announce it means that the former Gamecock will be pumping gas somewhere in South Carolina by Labor Day.

Two More Teams Taking To The Tickets

The Baltimore Ravens announced Wednesday that they’ll partner with the Maryland Lottery for a team-themed scratch-and-lose ticket.
The Saints also will be reportedly announcing a lottery partnership in Louisiana, too.
The Patriots, Redskins, and Texans also have deals in place.  The Cowboys are working on a similar deal.
In the press release announcing the collaboration, the Ravens added language possibly aimed at taking some of the edge off the potential appearance of hypocrisy regarding the league’s decision to embrace lottery-style gambling, while fighting to prevent legalized sports betting in Delaware.
“The partnership is a new endeavor for the National Football League following a decades-long, no-gambling policy that was recently overturned by NFL owners,” the Ravens’ release states.  “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said lottery proceeds could generate money for ‘many important public purposes.’ . . .  The NFL agreed to let lotteries across the country use team logos and marks directly on lottery games.”
Fine, but legalized sports betting could also “generate money for ‘many important public purposes.'”  Indeed, plenty of illegal gambling already occurs.  So why not legalize it and let the state get its cut?
For more on the fine line on which the NFL is tiptoeing when it comes to gambling, here’s the last new PFTV segment of the week.


A Rough Day For Leftwich

By all accounts, this hasn’t been a great day for Byron Leftwich.  As Florio noted earlier (we’re on a last name basis), Josh Freeman is getting closer to contending for the Bucs starting quarterback job.
The guys from Pewter Report wrote on their Twitter page that Leftwich has struggled recently in practice.
“[He] took many sacks, had errant throws. This guy isn’t leading the QB derby, folks.”
They believe that Luke McCown is winning the race.  And Freeman’s sudden inclusion into the starting mix doesn’t speak well for either veteran.
To add further insult, Leftwich was knocked to the ground by rookie free agent Jarrett Buie, a big taboo in non-contact drills.  The quarterback is hands off.
Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris was livid and quickly booted the kid out of practice after an “expletive-filled tirade.”
Leftwich joked about the incident, but he must feel the pressure.  A once-promising career is at a crossroads, and he may not have many good opportunities left to win a starting job.

Packers Take The High Road On Favre

If there’s any bitterness in the Green Bay Packers’ locker room about veteran quarterback Brett Favre’s anticipated return to the NFL with the division rival Minnesota Vikings, then the Packers did a good job of hiding that sentiment.
Judging from the comments on Favre today, per the Associated Press, the Packers are being cautious in what they say about their former star quarterback.
The general consensus was Favre should end his retirement if that’s what he feels like doing.
“If Brett wants to play, then he should play,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.  “That’s kind of all I have to say about that.  Other than that, he’s one player on one team that we play twice a year. . . .
“I’m not going to speculate on things that haven’t happened yet.  So when that happens, then I’ll give you a good answer.”
Although Packers General Manager Ted Thompson, whom Favre has sharply criticized over the past few years, wasn’t quoted in the report, another high-ranking Packers executive struck a supportive stance when asked about Favre.
Packers team president Mark Murphy’s answer was so similar to Rodgers’ remarks that it raises the question of whether some kind of script was passed around the headquarters.
“If Brett wants to play, he should play,” Murphy said.  “He’s very unique in that he’s almost 40 and he can still play.  If he wants to, he should do it.
“And we wish him the best. But we’re really focused on our team and getting ready for the season, and we feel pretty optimistic about the season we’re going to have.”
Here’s a hunch:  The Packers just might share the feelings of Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, who recently lobbied Favre to lace up his cleats again and throw him a few of those patented off-balance interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Vikings are practically rolling out the red carpet for Favre.
Commenting on Favre’s HBO appearance, Vikings coach Brad Childress seemed eager to get Favre into the fold if his surgically repaired biceps tendon cooperates.
He said everything that he needed to say,” said Childress, per Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  “He’s trying to make a push to get back.  I know he won’t play unless he feels like he’s capable of playing at the level he’s played over the course of his career.
“There’s no downside to good players.  As far as distractions, if distractions are good football players, we’ll take all the distractions.”
And Vikings owner Zygi Wilf broke his silence on Favre.
“We will do the most we can to get players we need to be a better team,” Wilf said.  “If that means Brett Favre or sombody else, we’ll go after them.  We’ll just have to see.  Right now, it’s all up to Brett Favre to determine what his future is.”
Plus, Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian is licking his chops at the prospects of Favre orchestrating the Vikings’ West Coast offense.
“If he’s on the team, we could be a very explosive offense,” said Berrian, per Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.  “He can probably teach the offense.  We have the right elements and all the tools.”
Berrian said that Favre could be the missing piece that puts the Vikings over the top.
“He definitely could be,” Berrian said.  “You can’t argue that he wouldn’t.  If he can throw the ball the way we know he can throw the ball, he definitely can be that final piece.”

NFL Trying To Ramp Up Pro Bowl Ticket Sales

NFL fans interested in attending the 2010 Pro Bowl will need to dig deep into their wallets because ticket prices will closely mirror the cost of wild-card playoff game tickets, according to Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com.
As the NFL attempts to market the Pro Bowl that’s scheduled for next January at Dolphin Stadium, they’re giving Miami Dolphins season-ticket holders first dibs on buying tickets.  And a general sale set for October will range from $46 and up.
Per the report, NFL senior vice president of events Frank Supovitz said that most tickets will be under $100 and will be cheaper than the price of tickets for the game held earlier this year in Hawaii.
Selling out the Pro Bowl will present a challenge for the league.  As Marvez points out, most fans attending the Super Bowl the following week won’t arrive in time for the league’s annual all-star game.
“We’ve got more seats to sell in a market that hasn’t seen the Pro Bowl in 35 years,” Supovitz said.  “It’s a great opportunity and a challenge to communicate how exciting the Pro Bowl experience can be because it hasn’t been here in so long.”
The Pro Bowl is moving back to Hawaii in 2011 and 2012.
For this latest Pro Bowl, the NFL is looking into ways to boost interest by possibly booking celebrities to appear prior to kickoff.
“There will be a lot more pageantry,” Supovitz predicted.
Another challenge for the NFL in selling the Pro Bowl is the fact that any all-stars that are playing in the Super Bowl will be unavailable for the Pro Bowl.

Romo Denies Report That He Was Told To Shape Up

Man, it has been quite a week for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
First, comedian Artie Lange ridiculed Romo’s girlfriend, Jessica Simpson, calling her a “fat chick” and comparing her to the late comedian Chris Farley while generally hijacking Joe Buck’s HBO debut.
Then, Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Romo had an offseason meeting with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett where he was challenged to get in better shape.
So, Romo was fuming today when he shot down the report and defended his conditioning habits.
“There was no such meeting,” said Romo, per Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News.  “We live in a world where it’s sensationalized.  When you see something or hear something, you write it.  That’s completely false.
“If there’s anything those guys tell me, it’s to throttle back sometimes just because I do a lot of running playing soccer and basketball and stuff to stay in shape, plus the stuff we do.  So when you hear stuff like that, people don’t know.”
Romo is listed at 224 pounds on the Cowboys’ roster.
Romo emphasized that he’s willing to pay the price through lifting weights to maintain his strength late in the season.
Of course, Romo has repeatedly drawn criticism for his late-season struggles.

Favre Unimpressed With Throwing Session

Two days after Brett Favre broke his silence to Joe Buck, he spoke publicly again Wednesday to WDAM-TV in Hattiesurg, MS.
Favre continued his throwing program with local area high school players, but he didn’t sound overly impressed.
“I threw the ball OK, but OK is not good enough for the National Football League.  At least it’s not for me. So it’s got to get better.”
Favre said he will be four weeks removed from surgery on Friday, which is when he’s supposed to be fully recovered from the procedure.  That timetable is slightly at odds with the one he mentioned to Buck.
Either way, Favre stressed that any decision to play wasn’t made yet, and he’s not fully confident in his arm yet.
“Maybe I throw different.  Maybe my mechanics have changed some because that’s what happened to me late in the year. . . .  My accuracy was affected.  I threw a couple balls today where I really felt it [in] different places in my shoulder where it’s sore.”
Plenty of Favre watchers are convinced it’s only a matter of time before he signs, but potential teammate Visanthe Shiancoe isn’t sure.
“We won’t believe it until we see it.”
Favre’s comments today won’t do anything more to convince them.  He knows that time is running out and doesn’t want to wait until training camp to make his decision.
“I also know that when I’m done, I’m done.  And you can’t go back.  So I have to make sure that’s what I want to do,” he explained without a hint of irony.
If nothing else, Favre’s conversation should be a boon for local reporter Mitch Williams and the charming Jones County Junior College ad that precedes his interview.
One piece of advice for Mitch:  Don’t ask Artie Lange to come on your show next.

Cutler On Marshall: "He's A Great Player"

Peppered with multiple questions about wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Plaxico Burress, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler stuck with the company line about the team’s need for an upgrade at wide receiver.
Cutler claimed that wide receiver Devin Hester is a true No. 1 wide receiver.
And he didn’t delve much into rumors surrounding the Bears’ potential interest in Marshall, who has asked to be traded, and Burress, a free agent with a pending felony gun case, according to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
“We have everything we need out there,” Cutler said. “We’re going to be more than fine out there. I’m 100 percent comfortable. I think we have more than enough to compete.”
The Bears have been repeatedly linked to Marshall, whom Cutler said he hasn’t spoken with recently after their successful collaboration in Denver prior to Cutler being traded.
“He’s a great player, I played with him for three years and put up some big numbers with him,” Cutler said. “Wherever he ends up, I’m sure he’s going to be successful. Whether or not it’s here, it’s up to the guys upstairs. As of right now, I’m 100 percent happy with what we have.”
Cutler wasn’t surprised about Marshall going public with his unhappiness, recently skipping a mandatory minicamp and asking Broncos owner Pat Bowlen for a trade.
“I knew he wasn’t going to be happy if he didn’t get a new contract,” Cutler said. “I think that’s what the basis of his whole issue with him is getting a new contract. If you look at it from his perspective, I can see where he’s coming from.”
Cutler said that he hasn’t recently sent text messages to Burress after communicating with him earlier this offseason.
Cutler didn’t seem to be counting on Burress coming to Chicago, which has been rumored as a potential destination for the former New York Giants star along with the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bears coach Lovie Smith made it clear that nothing is imminent as far as possibly acquiring Burress.
“Plaxico Burress is a good football player, we all know that,” Smith said. “We keep all of our options open, but I feel good about the team we have right now and I feel good about our receivers we have right now.
“The door is never closed on anyone available. We’ve said that every time. It’s not like we’re aggressively going after him but we evaluate everyone we think can make our team better.”
So, don’t rule out the Bears as a potential interested party in both wide receivers.
Despite his legal problems, Burress would be simpler to acquire from the standpoint that he’s a free agent.
The Bears don’t have a lot of ammunition left over for a trade for Marshall following the Cutler acquisition.
Both players would be expensive, but Marshall is expected to have an even higher price tag.

Broncos Extend Wiegmann's Deal

Denver Broncos veteran center Casey Wiegmann has signed a two-year, $4.7 million contract extension, according to Adam Caplan of Scout.com.
Per the report, Wiegmann’s base salary for this season increased from $1.145 million to $2.5 million.
And he received $3.6 million in new money with a $2.2 million base salary due in 2010.
Wiegmann, 35, is heading into his 14th NFL season and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time last year.
Last season, the Broncos set a franchise record by surrendering just a dozen sacks.
“We are very excited that we were able to negotiate an extension for Casey Wiegmann,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said in a statement. “The professionalism and leadership he showed throughout this process was outstanding. He was here every day working hard during our minicamps and conditioning program.
“Maintaining the continuity of our offensive line was a big priority for us, and we are very fortunate to have a Pro Bowl center like Casey Wiegmann as part of this organization.”

Texans Sign Fourth-Round Pick

Houston Texans fourth-round tight end Anthony Hill is now under contract after agreeing to an undisclosed deal today, the team announced.
Hill is a 6’6, 269-pound former North Carolina State player who caught 79 career passes for 852 yards and five touchdowns.
Drafted 122nd overall, Hill caught 19 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns last season. And he averaged 10.8 yards per reception for his career before being drafted by his hometown team.
Hill overcome a serious knee injury that sidelined him in 2007.
Hill is the third player of the Texans’ rookie draft class to sign. Defensive backs Brice McCain and Troy Nolan have already agreed to terms.

T.O.'s House Hunting Quest Continues

Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens technically remains homeless in Buffalo.
One day after Owens had been all set to rent a home near the Bills’ stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., the former Pro Bowl wideout has pulled out of the deal.
Owens’ real estate agent is apparently out, too.
With Maureen Flavin discussing the real-estate deal against Owens’ wishes without releasing the address of the rental property during several interviews, the breach of confidentiality angered him. And he made that clear in the following message on his Twitter account:
“DUE W/THE RELEASE OF MY POTENTIAL RENTAL @ 34 WOODTHRUSH TR, I WILL NOT B RENTING THERE DUE 2 THE UNPROFESSIONALISM OF MAUREEN FLAVIN!! . . . i cn’t believe she would do tht after we specifically talked 2 her about confidentiality, privacy & then she does this!! WOW!”
So, apparently, there’s a wide receiver on the market for a new Buffalo realtor.

Heyward-Bey Injured, Again

Former University of Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is hurt again.
The Oakland Raiders’ first-round wide receiver aggravated a right hamstring injury, left the field with a trainer and didn’t return to practice, according to Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times.
Per the report, Heyward-Bey, who has been battling hamstring issues since being drafted seventh overall in April, got hurt running an out pattern and grabbed the back of his leg. McDonald wrote that Heyward-Bey was heard groaning in pain.
The news stayed bad for the Raiders’ rookie class as second-round safety Mike Mitchell remains sidelined with his own hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, newly-acquired defensive end Greg Ellis took the first-team repetitions at left defensive end.
According to David White of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Raiders declined to make Ellis available for interviews.

Leaf Gets Busted In Washington

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf, wanted in Texas on multiple charges, was arrested today as he tried to return from Canada to Washington.
Leaf’s lawyer claims that the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 draft was planning to travel to Texas to surrender to authorities prior to a Thursday deadline.
An extradition hearing was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
He is charged with burglary to a habitation, a second-degree felony in Texas, and eight drug-related counts.  Most of the charges arise from efforts by Leaf to get his hands on Hydrocodone/Vicodin.