By Ross Tucker
July 23, 2008

With no football to play for the first time in 18 years, former pro Ross Tucker is passing the time reading about his favorite sport. What follows are a few links to NFL-related articles he found and his take on them.

The Washington Redskins have been roundly praised for the expeditious manner in which they moved to trade for Jason Taylor after losing starting defensive end Phillip Daniels, and rightfully so. The loss of Daniels created an obvious hole along the Redskins front, at a position most observers felt was lacking even before Daniels went down on the first day of training camp. The Redskins are extremely fortunate that a Pro Bowl-caliber player like Taylor was available, and they pounced on the opportunity immediately.

But this move doesn't come without some concern on the part of Redskins players and management. Though he never had much of a national media profile, Daniels was considered a core Redskin and was admired by everyone within the organization. He was a team leader, a player the team could count on in any adverse situation. Those intangibles cannot be discounted or minimized.

On the field, he was a standout run defender and had enough size at around 290 pounds to bump inside to tackle on passing downs and create a push while providing the hammer as an attack guy for a lot of the stunts in the passing game.

Though Taylor moved around quite a bit during his time in Miami, he was primarily a blind-side pass rusher working against left tackles. His transition to the other side will be more difficult than advertised for a multitude of reasons.

Taylor will now be covered by a tight end more often as most teams play-callers are historically right-side dominant when calling the strength of the formation. That will limit Taylor's freedom and ensures he will face more double teams in the run game than ever before. His lean, Dancing with the Stars physique will be tested on a weekly basis.

More importantly, Taylor will need to use the next six weeks to gain confidence in his pass-rushing prowess from the opposite side. It is not nearly as easy as one might think.

For starters, his line of vision to the ball will be different, as will his body lean as he runs the imaginary hoop towards the QB. Taylor is used to dipping his left shoulder. He will have to get accustomed to dipping his right.

The biggest difference will be with his pass rush moves. Taylor could previously use his right hand to club the outside arm of the offensive tackle or to grab his shoulder and pull himself through. He will have to become equally adept at using his left in order to have the same type of success.

Can Taylor become as dominant a force on the defense's left side as he was on the right? Absolutely. Is it a foregone conclusion? Not at all.

Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian has a well-deserved reputation for being a tough, old-school, football man with a keen eye for talent. He is also never afraid to speak his mind, as he was one of the first front-office executives to call for some type of rookie wage scale to combat the enormous guarantees being given to the unproven players taken in the top half of the first round.

Like most veteran players, I agree with Polian's contention that something needs to be done to reallocate some of those dollars to players who have proven their worth. Polian's latest comments regarding the status of the contract negotiations with his 2008 draft picks, however, strike me as simple posturing.

I highly doubt Polian believes he can begin to stem the rookie tide by taking a stand with his entire draft class, especially since his first pick was not until late in the second round. The need for a rookie pay scale relates primarily to the top 10-15 picks, not those taken in later rounds.

So why is he making those comments?

"I think Bill just wants to make sure he raises those kids' right," said one former NFL GM, "so that they know who is running the show when different situations come up over the next couple of years."

Indeed, Polian is trying to make a statement to all of his draft picks and their representation about their ability to earn a roster spot or significant playing time if they stay away from training camp in search of a better deal. None of the draft picks are projected to start from day one and Polian believes these rookies need the Colts more than the Colts need them.

But it is ironic for those words to be coming from a guy who wholeheartedly believes in building through the draft like Polian. Twenty of the Colts' 22 starters last season were drafted by the team. Polian knows that and expects several of this year's picks to play key roles in the success of the franchise over the next several years while providing quality depth this year.

That is why all of these contracts will eventually get done in a timely fashion, despite Polian's protestations to the contrary.

There was an unprecedented high number of players who expressed disappointment this offseason with their contract status. Statements were made and threats of skipping training camp were uttered. Not surprisingly, most of those players have chosen to show up for training camp.

With $14,288 on the line in potential fines for every day they missed, these players have likely made wise decisions. At the end of the day there is very little leverage for players under contract for multiple years. They can complain and state their case to the media, but there comes a time when they have to decide whether or not they are going to use the only tool in their toolbox that really carries any weight: withhold their services.

Chad Johnson has said he is sorry to the Bengals faithful and will be a full participant in training camp once his health allows. The Cardinals' Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockettwill be at training camp as well. A lot of players that talked the talk are not walking the walk.

Very few players are willing to incur the fines necessary to sit out until the start of the regular season or later. Only then would the organization really face a tough decision regarding a player like the Bills' Jason Peters, the Eagles' Brian Westbrook or the Giants' Plaxico Burress.

The organizations hold most of the cards in these instances up until the point where the player takes a stand to actually miss regular season games. Only then, if the player was brave enough or stupid enough, depending upon your point of view, would teams have to decide whether or not they were really willing to play meaningful games without their star.

Until a player shows they are willing to take that type of dramatic step, expect more and more of them to show up and play like their current contract dictates.

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