NEW ORLEANS -- Seen this week's slate of 16 games? It's as competitive a group as I've seen in a while. Maybe not the best slate of games, but the kind of schedule that makes me think: Glad I'm not in a knockout pool this year.
Atlanta-Pittsburgh. How do you pick that one? Atlanta, with a great summer and a lot of new defensive pieces in place to be a top-10 unit. Pittsburgh, with a controversial summer, with no
Dixon's a great story, a mobile quarterback with a strong arm when he was at Oregon, where he was also a good outfielder with a seemingly bright baseball future. He was picked by the Braves in the fifth round of the 2007 MLB draft and selected in the fifth round (how coincidental) by the Steelers a year later.
Dixon failed at baseball, hitting .174 in a summer trial with a rookie league team. Then he shredded his ACL in the 2007 football season and his draft stock plummeted. Though he wasn't 100 percent by NFL draft day, Dixon piqued the interest of a lot of teams, and the Steelers took a chance on him as a developmental player. Pittsburgh has always been willing to take draft chances with interesting prospects --
He's started one game to this point -- a pressure-packed road game against Baltimore last season on a November Sunday night when Roethlisberger was out with headaches. Despite having practiced only about 30 percent of the plays on the Steelers' offensive playsheet that night, Dixon played well in spots and sparked the Steelers, who lost 20-17 in overtime. He won the players that night. Though he completed only 12 of 26 throws, he proved he wasn't intimidated by the crowd or the
Now it's chapter two. If Dixon fails to lead the team or play well, I'm sure
"The difference between last year and this year,'' he told me this week, "is now I feel totally comfortable in this offense. I'd be a fool to say my head wasn't spinning at Baltimore last year. I didn't practice with the ones [the first team], never mind that I didn't have the playbook down either. But now, going into this year, I feel so much better. And I don't feel like it's all on me. Coach Tomlin told me, 'Just ride the bus. We don't expect you to go out and win the game. Just play.' ''
What's going to be fun Sunday at Heinz Field is that the Falcons have added speed to their defense, including first-round pick
"It's going to be interesting,'' Dixon said. "Obviously, the [run-pass versatility] is a threat they've got to game plan for. But I'm not just a guy looking to run. I never have been. I really love throwing the ball. I want to be a complete quarterback.''
This week, I said to Dixon, it's going to be interesting to see not only him have his first real chance at taking control, but also
Actually, Dixon's just looking forward to playing.
"Can't wait,'' he said. "I'm just looking forward to seize the moment and have fun.''
The Dolphins need a pass rush. They're asking two unproven NFL players -- the 6-foot-3, 250-pound, late-blooming Wake and rookie second-rounder
"It was pretty frustrating watching [NFL games] on TV, looking at guys and knowing I was better,'' Wake said. "I'd say, 'Why's he playing in the league and not me?' I never found out the answer.''
For a time, Wake "trained old ladies'' as a personal trainer ("I know what it's like to have a real job,'' he said.), all the while longing for another shot in the NFL. But 39 sacks and two defensive player of the year awards in Canada landed him that shot in 2009, and the Dolphins are convinced that, starting Sunday at Buffalo, he's going to be an edge-rush factor. He and Misi don't have to be
With the Packers going to Philadelphia, and the Eagles unveiling their new quarterback, you can expect the two outside linebackers in defensive coordinator
Right. I see Tebow playing around eight snaps in his NFL debut in Jacksonville, including some in a red-zone series. Coach
"I know that after his year last year, there was no residual effect,'' Fisher said."He missed one practice all year. Every time he gets the ball in practice, he goes through the line and runs 50 yards downfield. Right now, I don't see wear-and-tear being a factor.''
It most often isn't in year two or three. Fisher's the kind of guy who, in baseball, would abhor the mania about pitch counts. And he may be right. No one ever told