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1. Revis Island and the Isle of Manhattan (rather, East Rutherford, NJ but who’s counting) are reunited once again. After a holdout that lasted throughout the preseason, New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis agreed to a four-year deal to rejoin his team on Sunday night. The holdout officially clocked in at thirty-six days, but that didn’t stop Revis from receiving a warm welcome from his teammates back at the Jets’ practice facility. While neither Revis nor the Jets have announced the financial terms of the deal, the contract is reportedly worth forty-six million dollars with as much as thirty-two million guaranteed. Revis’ agent said the deal would make the formidable DB the highest paid player in the NFL at his position.
2. Matt Leinart has found a home. The former USC quarterback signed a one-year deal to become the backup quarterback for the Houston Texans. Leinart was widely expected to take over the starting job with the Arizona Cardinals after the departure of Kurt Warner, but was cut by the Cards after a rocky preseason, losing out to former Cleveland QB Derek Anderson. The Cardinals drafted Leinart in the first round in 2006, and he played twelve games as a rookie under Arizona’s former coach Dennis Green. However, in the following year under Ken Whisenhunt, Leinart broke his collarbone, and injury that kept him on the sidelines. Whisenhunt turned over the reins to then-backup Kurt Warner, and Warner’s stellar performance over the following two seasons kept Leinart largely off the field. The rumor is that Leinart and Whisenhunt did not see eye-to-eye for much of the coach’s tenure, and that this fact had a great deal to do with why Leinart was not kept on as a backup in Arizona. Leinart’s place on the Texans’ depth chart bumps out another former-USC quarterback, John David Booty, who was cut by the Texans despite a solid preseason performance, reportedly due to a nagging shoulder injury.
3. The Pittsburgh quarterback saga continues. Commissioner Roger Goodell reduced Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy by two games. This means that Big Ben will only miss the first four games of the season. Nonetheless, when Roethlisberger’s teammates voted for the team captains, Ben was not among them, despite holding the position for the two prior seasons. Instead, wide receiver Hines Ward and tight end Heath Miller will be the offensive captains for the Steelers this year. Also, Mike Tomlin selected former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon to start for Pittsburgh in their opener against Atlanta. Byron Leftwich, who was expected to start in Big Ben’s absence, sprained his left knee ligament. Dixon has only started one previous game, but managed to beat out longtime Steelers’ backup Charlie Batch in the preseason competition and will look to show what he can do while Roethlisberger serves his suspension.
But let’s take this moment to remember that the Indianapolis Colts finished with the best record in the NFL last year, entering the post-season at 14-2.
2008 Detroit Lions Memorial Winless Teams
But let’s take this moment to remember that the St. Louis Rams finished with the worst record in the NFL last year, narrowly avoiding a record as historic as the aforementioned Lions by going 1-15 in the regular season.
Three Big Match Ups
1. Minnesota at New Orleans, Thursday 8:30 P.M. EST on NBC – The NFL kickoff game has become a fun tradition in the NFL since 2002. It’s a chance not only to showcase the Superbowl champions, but to start off the season with a competitive matchup between two top flight teams. This year, we will be treated to last season’s riveting NFC Championship game between the Saints and the Vikings. New Orleans, despite being the defending champions, have flown largely under the radar in terms of the talk around the league. Returning most of their starters, Drew Brees and the Saints will look to show a national audience that last year was no fluke, and that they’re still the team to watch. The Vikings have been in the news much more often this offseason, and not just because of the ongoing saga of Brett Favre, but due to theiralso their receiver woes. With an injury to Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin suffering from chronic migraines, the Vikes find themselves short of two of their offense’s biggest assets. Still, expect Minnesota to come out hungry and motivated to redeem themselves after last season’s heartbreaking, season-ending loss to New Orleans. Expect a great game to start off the 2010-2011 season.
2. Indianapolis at Houston, 1 P.M, EST on CBS – The AFC South has been one of the most talented divisions in the NFL over the past five years, and yet it’s continually been a story of the haves and the have-nots. The Colts, perennial contenders, have set the standard for continued success in their division. The Texans, on the other hand, have found themselves perennially and frustratingly on the cusp of contention and have fallen just short each time. Both teams have some impressive weapons. Last season, Peyton Manning threw for 4,500 yards, the second most in the league. Who was first? Houston QB Matt Schaub who led the league with 4,770 yards through the air. With these two stellar quarterbacks and talented receivers like Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne, we should be in for quite the offensive fireworks show on Sunday. Still, despite the offensive juggernauts on each side, the defenses of Indy and Houston have come into their own, featuring stars like Mario Williams (who now seems like one of the better selections, if not the best, of the 2006 draft) and the return of Bob Sanders, disrupting passes and delivering punishing tackles. With skilled players from both teams on both sides of the ball, this should be a solid match up that will set the tone for the AFC South race.
3. Baltimore at NY Jets, Monday 7 P.M. EST on ESPN – No team has made more noise this offseason than the New York Jets. Under the leadership of the animated Rex Ryan, New York made a number of significant free agent pickups this offseason. L.T. looks to have rekindled some of the fire that once made him the top runner in the league, and other significant additions like Jason Taylor will bolster a team that has its eyes firmly set on the prize of reaching and winning the Superbowl. The Ravens, meanwhile, just picked up T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and the team that once boasted the best defense in the NFL now has a supremely powerful offense, led by Joe Flacco, that has the potential to throw the newly returning Darrelle Revis for a loop. The Ravens usually play their cards close to their chest, and this year is no exception, but don’t be fooled. Expect Baltimore to come out firing, and ready to take a little wind out of the Jets sails.