Peep Show

Updated: November 14, 2003, 12:35 PM ET
By By Darrell Trimble | ESPN Insider

O'Neal
O'Neal
Denver Broncos: Wednesday, coach Mike Shanahan called out CB Deltha O'Neal for his season-long struggles in the secondary. Thursday, he took him out of the secondary altogether. Shanahan acknowledged that O'Neal is a remarkable athlete, and now he plans on using his skills as a wide receiver. "We've moved him over and we've looked at him this week," Shanahan told the Denver Post. "He really did a good job. I think he's got a lot of talent and he's got natural hands. I think everybody knows what type of running ability he has. We're taking a look at him and hopefully he enjoys it, steps up and will make some plays for us."

Miami Dolphins: Backup C Seth McKinney will start in place of injured starter Tim Ruddy Sunday. Ruddy was unable to practice for the second consecutive day because of an inflamed knee. Going up against a tough Ravens rush defense, the Dolphins would love to have Ruddy available. The Miami Herald reports it is possible that he might practice today. If so, and he feels strong enough, he might rotate with McKinney throughout the game.

Washington Redskins: KR Chad Morton tested his sprained ankle during Thursday's practice and felt it's healed sufficiently enough for him to take the field Sunday in Carolina. "It was pretty good," Morton told the Washington Post. "It was a little sore but I was able to run around a little bit." Morton injured the ankle against the Dallas Cowboys and missed last week's game. And WR Patrick Johnson has been the primary kick returner. But on his seven kickoff returns since taking over for Morton, he's averaged a yard less per return, and a full two yards less per return on punts. Coach Steve Spurrier said he's hopeful of having Morton back against the Panthers. "Chad was running around pretty well," Spurrier said. "He's got a good chance to make it."

Pittsburgh Steelers: San Francisco RB Kevan Barlow made some disparaging remarks Wednesday about RB Amos Zereoue's and his benching, comments which the former West Virginia alum took exception too. "He can't complain, he was named the starter," Barlow said in a conference call. "I am not starting. I am not in the same shoes as him. I have taken advantage of my opportunities when I get out there. That is what he needs to do instead of pouting. He needs to go out there and take advantage of his opportunity. He had the starting job. I don't understand why he is upset." Zereuoue, the team's leading rusher, fired back Thursday. "I'm behind a future Hall of Famer, what's his excuse?" Zereoue told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazete. "Dude can't even beat out a guy who had a career-threatening injury. He's been the future for them since he came out of college and he's still not the starter. What's his excuse?" Zereoue then went onto clarify that he's not pouting over his demotion. He may see extensive playing time Monday night because RB Jerome Bettis missed practice for the second consecutive day because of a bad shoulder and is listed as questionable.

NFL: First Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett wanted to challenge the N.F.L. rule that says that players are not eligible for the draft until three years after their high school class graduates, now Pittsburgh WR Larry Fitzgerald, a Heisman hopeful in his sophomore season, may do the same. Larry Fitzgerald Sr. is exploring the possibility of his son's early entry into the National Football League draft in April and says he believes his son is physically ready to play at the professional level. "The way I've looked at it is, I don't worry about somebody else's rules; rules are made to be broken or amended," Fitzgerald Sr. told the New York Times. "They usually are put in place as reasons to protect various interests, but I don't know if it's in the best interest of the athlete who comes out of high school who might be Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant in football cleats. With athletes and their ability to work out and train, we're seeing that they can get it done." But unlike Clarett, Fitzgerald Sr. said his son would be prepared to apply for an exemption. Fitzgerald graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in May 2002, after attending a fifth year of high school because he needed to improve his grades.

Philadelphia Eagles: CB Bobby Taylor said Thursday that a doctor independent of the Eagles' team physicians told him it would be best to not to return to the playing field Oct. 19 against the New York Giants. Instead, Taylor eschewed the advice and played, only to aggravate his strained right foot. "When I came back against the Giants, there was a second opinion from another doctor who didn't think I should play," Taylor told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Different doctors have different timetables." Coach Andy Reid said Wednesday that Taylor would practice, but he couldn't, and the Eagles said Taylor would not play Sunday and miss his eighth game of the season. "It's still injured," Taylor said. "I can play with a certain amount of pain, but I just think I'm still injured. I feel like I'm getting better, but getting better and getting out there and being able to do something are two totally different things."

New England Patriots: After missing a Nov. 3 game with a strained leg muscle, DT Richard Seymour has used the bye week to his advantage and should play this week against the Dallas Cowboys. The Pro Bowler tested the leg in practice the past few days and is feeling fine. "It's pretty good. I'm getting some of my explosiveness back. I'll be ready to go," Seymour told the Boston Herald. "I wasn't holding back any in practice. Things were coming naturally to me, and I'll be fine.'' Without Seymour in the lineup, RB Clinton Portis rushed for 111 yards, marking the only time this season the Pats have allowed a 100-yard rusher. Veteran NT Ted Washington also said he will be back in the lineup this weekend, but he was held out of practice Thursday.

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