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INSEASON: Game Analysis directly from each team at least three days a week, with updates sent to you from professional reporters covering each team.

OFFSEASON: Team analysis directly from each team at least once a week sent directly to you from professional reporters covering each team.

(Two games shown here. Your newsletter will include all games of course):

--- THURSDAY --- November 30, 2000 --- Vol. VI --- No. 78 ---


KICKOFF: 1 p.m. ET Sunday


SERIES RECORD: The Broncos are making their first visit to New Orleans to play the Saints since 1988 when New Orleans won, 42-0, the largest margin of victory in team history. Since then, Denver did play in the Superdome in Super Bowl XXIV, and was routed by San Francisco, 55-10. Denver leads the series with the Saints, 6-2.


Offense: Denver 2 (Pass 5, Rush 5); New Orleans 14 (Pass 18, Rush 7)

Defense: Denver 22 (Pass 28, Rush 8); New Orleans 4 (Pass 6, Rush 3)


Team doctors remained confident that there would be no long-term consequences for Terrell Davis after determining a stress reaction in his left leg was the cause of his pain.

"The reason we feel it's important to be aggressive right now with the (walking) boot is we want this to completely heal before he'd be back playing. The risk that we run if he didn't go through this protection period is that it could potentially lead to a stress fracture, which would be a much more significant injury," Dr. Ted Schlegel said.

Doctors said Davis will wear the protective boot for three weeks to distribute forces around the lower leg and speed up the healing process. But he will be able to walk and work on the exercise bicycle to keep in cardiovascular shape.

Coach Mike Shanahan was a bit less optimistic about Davis' return before the regular season ends, knowing that there would be some atrophy and Davis also would have to get back in game shape.


--RB Terrell Davis was in a walking boot Wednesday, something he will have to wear for the next three weeks while a stress reaction in his tibia heals. There is a chance Davis might be able to return this season, so the Broncos won't put him on IR now.

--RB Mike Anderson will make his ninth start of the season in place of the injured Terrell Davis. He has maintained a level head throughout his wild rookie season, one that saw him named AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

--LB Ian Gold practiced Wednesday as officials determined his mildly separated shoulder is OK. Even though he is listed as the weakside backup, he won't start, even if LB John Mobley can't go.

--LB John Mobley was held out of practice Wednesday and will do the same Thursday after surgery to put a pin in his broken thumb. A decision likely will be made game-time, though coaches will get a better feel on Friday when he tries to practice for the first time this week.

--LB Glenn Cadrez took most of the snaps with the first unit at weakside linebacker, and will start there Sunday if LB John Mobley can't go because of a thumb injury. Cadrez is quite familiar with the weakside spot, and already is a key contributor in Denver's nickel packages. He doesn't have Mobley's speed but he might be more effective tackling if Mobley's hand is bothering him.


Two of the Saints injured starting players are making progress in their recovery from broken fibula bones.

WR Jake Reed was in uniform and on the practice field on Wednesday doing some running for the first time since suffering his injury on Oct. 12. While he expects to be inactive again for this Sunday's home game with Denver, Reed is cautiously optimistic he could play on Dec. 10 at San Francisco.

RB Ricky Williams, who broke the fibula in his ankle on Nov. 12 and needed surgery to repair it, could get the cast off his ankle as soon as Friday. Saints general manager Randy Mueller admitted Williams is ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation. Saints head coach Jim Haslett said there's a slight chance Williams could play in the Saints' Dec. 24 regular-season finale against St. Louis.


--RB Ricky Williams could have the cast removed from his broken left ankle by the end of this week or early next week so he can begin rehabilitation. Saints head coach Jim Haslett said there's a slim chance Williams could return for the Saints' regular-season finale on Dec. 24 against St. Louis.

--WR Jake Reed was in uniform for practice Wednesday and did some running for the first time since breaking the fibula in his left leg last month. Reed won't play this Sunday against Denver, but said he could return for the Saints' Dec. 10 game at San Francisco.

--RB Jerald Moore practiced on Wednesday despite being listed as questionable to play in Sunday's game against Denver because of a stinger. Saints head coach Jim Haslett said Moore could be upgraded to probable on Thursday.

--DT Norman Hand didn't practice Wednesday and said he has a slight tear in the plantar fascia of his left foot. Hand said he doesn't expect to practice this week and he's listed as questionable to play in Sunday's game against Denver. Hand said he plans to test his foot in warmups before making a final decision.



KICKOFF: 1 p.m. ET Sunday

WEATHER: Fair, 40s

SERIES RECORD: Giants lead 75-56-4. Redskins have won the past four meetings, including a 16-6 decision on Sept. 24. Washington broke a two-game losing streak that night, handing New York its first loss as Redskins QB Brad Johnson unleashed his downfield passing game and the Redskins outgained the Giants 394-261.


Offense: Redskins 7 (15 rush, 7 pass); Giants 10 (8 rush, 15 pass)

Defense: Redskins 5 (9 rush, 3 pass); Giants 8 (2 rush, 19 pass)


Head coach Fassel is preparing the Giants for their biggest game of the season Sunday - against the Washington Redskins in FedEx Field - and he is attempting to focus on the game and only the game. "We need to play a game without mistakes, and we need to win the turnover battle," he said. "This game is like a full season, there are good moments and bad moments and you have to play through it to the end. You play all 60 minutes and you play as hard as you can and it will work out."

The Redskins have built a four-game winning streak over the Giants and Fassel is determined that it stops this Sunday. "We're in a battle (for the NFC East), and when it gets to December that's all you can hope for. We still hold our own destiny. We just need to win and it's all ours."

The Giants are 8-4, one game better than the 7-5 Redskins, half-a-game behind the 9-4 Eagles (who haven't had their bye yet). Should they tie, the Giants hold the tie-breaker over the Eagles based on a season sweep. Should they beat the Redskins, they'll have a tie-break advantage in better division record.

"It is just a matter of winning," Fassel said. "Right now, that's all I care about."


--The banged-up O-line should be ready to play Sunday, including LT Lomas Brown (bruised lower leg), LG Glenn Parker (torn left calf muscle) and RG Ron Stone (bruised ribs). Brown left the game last Sunday in Arizona in the first quarter and returned only for a few plays before going out for good. Parker had missed the two previous games but played against the Cardinals. Stone was placed on the inactive list for the game. "With Lomas, it isn't exactly a sprained ankle," head coach Jim Fassel said. "He had one of those a while ago. This was just a bruise. I guess you could say he has a sore leg. But I think he'll be fine. Stoney should be fine, too, and Parker played without any after-effects."

--WR Ike Hilliard is still out (bruised lungs, sternum) and might not be available the rest of the season. In his place is WR Joe Jurevicius, who caught six passes for 70 yards last week (despite a late-night correction that said he has five for 61; that was later amended back to the original totals). "Joe stepped up and did a great job," said Fassel. "On the touchdown run by Tiki (Barber, 23 yards) it was a block by Joe that cleared him. He got Tiki that touchdown."


The Washington Redskins passing game may be missing the long and short of it against the New York Giants on Sunday. FB Larry Centers and WR Albert Connell are both questionable with sprained knees.

That Centers was placed on the injury report for the first time on Wednesday was surprising. It takes away returning QB Brad Johnson's favorite target. Centers leads the Redskins for the second straight year with 56 receptions as a regular dumpoff option. Connell's 21.4 yards per catch leads the NFC's top 50 receivers. Neither is expected to practice until at least Friday. Even if they play, it won't be their usual key roles.

Johnson returns from a three-game layoff with a sprained knee, and might not have RB Stephen Davis, either. Davis ran on the sidelines on Wednesday, but may return on Thursday after missing one game with a hairline fracture in his right forearm that makes carrying the ball difficult.

"You adjust and move on," Johnson said. "We've proven we can win with certain players and lose with certain players. We have enough guys on this team to make plays to win games regardless, but those guys are a big plus."

Still, it won't be an easy return for Johnson, who's probably playing his last few games for the Redskins after two seasons. The team isn't expected to keep the unrestricted free agent despite his 17-11 record. Johnson said he's not thinking how his finish will affect the future.

"I'm going to have a future. I don't know where it is," Johnson said. "My whole focus is to win ball games, get in position to get into the playoffs and everything will take its course during the offseason."


--FB Larry Centers is questionable against the New York Giants on Sunday with a sprained knee. Centers may have fluid drained from it on Thursday and not practice before the game.

--QB Brad Johnson appeared sharp in his first practice since suffering a sprained knee on Oct. 30 against Tennessee. Johnson will start against the Giants.

--WR Albert Connell appears doubtful and will only play a minor role at best because of a sprained knee. He won't practice until at least Friday. WR Irving Fryar will start.

--CB Darrell Green didn't practice on Wednesday because of a torn calf, but is probable against New York as the nickel back.

--RB Stephen Davis just jogged along the sidelines on Wednesday, but may practice on Thursday. He's probable against New York.


(One team in example, but you will receive all 32 teams in one file at least once a week in off-season)



The Packers talked about taking the next step shortly after they were blown out by the St. Louis Rams in the NFC Divisional playoffs last January.

Then they went out trying to make it happen.

First it was wide receiver Terry Glenn. Then defensive end Joe Johnson. Now Hardy Nickerson.

Bit by bit -- or, perhaps more accurately, millions on top of millions -- the Packers have attempted this offseason to add the final pieces that will allow them to make a run at winning the Super Bowl.

Nickerson, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, should provide leadership and heart to a defense that recently has been suspect up the middle. Although he will turn 37 in September and is no longer the player he once was, Nickerson is expected to immediately step in as the club's starting middle linebacker.

"This is one of the pieces of the puzzle we needed to get fixed," coach Mike Sherman said last week after Nickerson took the Packers' one-year offer of about $1.5 million over a comparable offer from the Eagles. "When I say fixed, I mean bringing this type of player and person to our football team. We had targeted Hardy back in February as a guy who could help our team and we were hopeful that he'd be released. We jumped on him as soon as we possibly could."

Nickerson wanted a shot at a Super Bowl appearance that has always eluded him, but the Eagles offered that as well.

What swayed Nickerson was the Green Bay mystique.

"One of the factors that weighed heavy in my decision to come here was to be a Packer, to be part of the tradition here, the history of this organization," Nickerson said. "When you look at all that, being a long-time football fan and reading about the history of this league, the first team and the first organization that comes to mind is the Green Bay Packers. And to be part of that, in my opinion, was something that you just couldn't pass up.

"I'm sure we've all seen those commercials where the guy's talking about, 'A pair of shoes, $20. A t-shirt, $15. Playing catch with your son, priceless.' Well, being a Packer is priceless."

The Packers enter training camp next month with several unanswered questions.

They should be very good again on offense, as long as Brett Favre can stay healthy for the 11th straight season. His offensive line returns intact, Ahman Green has become a premier running back and the tight end triumvirate of Bubba Franks, David Martin and Tyrone Davis has few equals.

Gone at wide receiver are Antonio Freeman (released), Bill Schroeder (Lions) and Corey Bradford (Texans), but the Packers were more than ready for an overhaul. In their places are Glenn, the wayward former Patriot; Robert Ferguson, a nonentity as a rookie who looked improved in minicamps; and rookie Javon Walker, a first-round draft choice with size and speed.

On defense, a unit that ranked 15th a year ago will look to Johnson, a force in New Orleans for most of his eight-year career, and Nickerson to provide leadership that was lost with the departures of tackle Santana Dotson, end John Thierry and middle linebacker Bernardo Harris.

The Packers have told 33-year-old safety LeRoy Butler that they would like him back to run their defense, but it remains to be seen if the broken shoulder blade that sidelined Butler for the last half of 2001 will enable him to hit and hold up.

Allen Rossum's free-agent departure to Atlanta leaves the Packers searching every nook and cranny for a suitable return specialist.

"We've made some bold moves with Glenn and Johnson and Nickerson," vice president of player finance Andrew Brandt said.

Now it's time to see if those decisions will get the Packers over the hump or handicap them against future salary caps.

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