Sunday, August 27, 2000

NFL INSIDER


Panthers hope spending cash pays off

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Carolina Panthers spent big money in the offseason to bolster a defense that ranked 26th in the NFL last year.

        The Panthers concentrated on the line, signing Chuck Smith (Atlanta), Jay Williams (St. Louis), Reggie White (one year removed from Green Bay) and Eric Swann (Arizona).

        Coach George Seifert plans to rotate the linemen. His group of big names — White, Swann, Smith and Sean Gilbert — made its debut last week in a preseason loss to Baltimore.

        Seifert said the group could make an impact on third down and in passing situations.

        RING OF SHAME? Some Cowboys fans are upset that owner Jerry Jones wants to put former receiver Bob Hayes in the team's Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.

        Hayes played for the Cowboys from 1965-74, made the Pro Bowl his first three seasons and still holds or shares 21 team records, but he also served 10 months in prison because of a drug conviction.

        Former Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm established the Ring and said character counts.

        The members are Tom Landry, Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach, Mel Renfro, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Don Meredith, Don Perkins, Chuck Howley and Lee Roy Jordan.

        McNAIR LIGHT: Titans quarterback Steve McNair is playing 7 or 8 pounds lighter, which makes his scrambling much better.

        DRY SPELL: Only the Bengals and New Orleans Saints have been missing from the playoffs longer than the Oakland Raiders.

        PACK IT IN: Where, oh where, have the Super Bowl Packers gone? It appears that GM Ron Wolf's tinkering hasn't done much to improve the team over an 8-8 finish that cost coach Ray Rhodes his job.

        Take the Green Bay defense, please. The No.1 unit has been on the field for nine series in the first three preseason games. It has allowed two touchdowns and four field goals. All other drives ended in missed field goals.

        Opponents have gained 553 yards on 85 plays, an average of 6.5 yards a play. To boot, the Packers' best defense failed to force a punt or a turnover and didn't have a sack.

        SAPP NOT HAPPY: Lineman Warren Sapp and coach Tony Dungy live on the same street in the exclusive Tampa neighborhood of Avila. Shortly after 10p.m. Monday, Sapp knocked on his coach's door and asked why the Buccaneers had waived tackle Brad Culpepper, who signed with Chicago.

        Dungy said Culpepper's release had to do with the development of Anthony McFarland and James Cannida and their need for playing time.

        LONG SHOT: The latest poll of Maricopa County voters shows that 60 percent are against public financing for a retractable-roof stadium for the Arizona Cardinals.

        The decision is on the November ballot, and if it fails, the Cardinals could move again — this time to San Antonio.

        SEARCH CONTINUES: The Browns are looking for a backup to quarterback Tim Couch. They're desperate after losing Ty Detmer for the season.

        Cleveland is watching to see what Chicago does with its No.3 QB, Shane Matthews. The Browns are hoping either Rodney Peete (Oakland) or Koy Detmer (Ty's little brother in Philadelphia) are released.

        RAISING THE BAR: Colts owner Jim Irsay, two years removed from a 3-13 season, recently told the Indianapolis Star his goal for this season and beyond: “To be in Tampa and win (the Super Bowl),” he said. “Anything else would be a disappointment.

        “We want to win our first championship, but I've said it before: Our goal is to win three in a row. That's the mark you shoot for, because that's the mark that's never been hit.”

       



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