Inside Dish


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Jan 22, 2006
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Inside Dish: Volek could get his chance to start

By Dan Pompei - SportingNews

If the relationship between the Titans and Steve McNair continues to go south, chances are Billy Volek will be the team's Week 1 starter. The team is more comfortable with Volek as a backup than as the starter and wonders whether he can remain healthy and consistent over a whole season. But the Titans also know he can make plays. The coaches are familiar with his strengths and weaknesses and have a feel for how to use him. And the Titans likely will have a first-round draft pick, such as Matt Leinart, as Volek's backup. They have the third selection in the draft. . . .

The plan in Pittsburgh is for RB Duce Staley to fill Jerome Bettis' role as the short-yardage specialist. Coach Bill Cowher believes Staley and Bettis have similar abilities. Staley has some experience in the Steelers' short-yardage package, but he needs repetitions in minicamp, training camp and exhibition games. Running in short-yardage situations is different from other circumstances, but Staley appears to have a feel for where his blockers are and where the crease is developing. If Staley falters, the Steelers will give Verron Haynes a chance at Bettis' role. . . .

The Packers' pursuit of CB Charles Woodson underscores their concern about Ahmad Carroll, the team's first-round pick in 2004. If Woodson is signed, Carroll will be benched. That would leave the Packers without a single starter to show for their four first-day draft choices in '04. Carroll's performance was inconsistent last year, and he was flagged for holding or pass interference seven times. Carroll has good speed but hasn't learned to trust it. Subsequently, his discipline and technique have been problems. . . .

Redskins TE Chris Cooley likely will benefit greatly from the arrival of coordinator Al Saunders; look for Saunders to use Cooley as he used Tony Gonzalez in Kansas City. Cooley will be on the field for almost all of the snaps, lining up as a tight end, in the backfield, in the slot and split wide. Cooley, who caught 71 balls last season, is unlikely to catch 102 as Gonzalez did in 2004 because of the presence of Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El. Saunders didn't have wideouts of their caliber with the Chiefs. . . .

Even though the Ravens have two running backs, Jamal Lewis and Mike Anderson, who were NFL starters last year, they still could add another running back in the draft. Lewis signed what is essentially a one-year contract and could play elsewhere in 2007, and Anderson turns 33 early next season. So the Ravens need to think about their future at running back. If they do draft a back, it probably won't be in the first round. . . .

Just because the Rams are moving free-agent pickup Will Witherspoon from outside to middle linebacker doesn't mean he is going to be banging helmets with guards on every play. The plan is to let Witherspoon run by freeing him up to make plays. He has experience playing in the middle, both in college and with the Panthers as a fill-in for Dan Morgan when he was injured. It likely will be easier for Witherspoon to move from the weak side than it would have been for Pisa Tinoisamoa, the Rams' incumbent at that spot. With Witherspoon, Tinoisamoa and Dexter Coakley, the Rams have three linebackers who probably are best suited to play on the weak side.;_y...g=insidedishvolekcouldgeth&prov=tsn&type=lgns
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