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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2001

NFL Notes: Tight end finds new life in KC

August 11, 2001

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The San Diego Chargers envisioned their battery of the next decade when they selected Ryan Leaf and Mikhael Ricks with their first two picks of the 1998 NFL draft.

Leaf was pegged as a franchise quarterback with the second overall choice of the draft, and Ricks was the big receiver everyone was seeking at 6-foot-5, 237 pounds out of Stephen F. Austin.

Three summers later, both players are gone. Leaf was waived last offseason and Ricks last October after catching 73 passes in his first three years. Leaf wound up in Tampa Bay, where he sits third on the depth chart, but Ricks wound up in Kansas City, where he expects to see the field.

Kansas City moved Ricks back to tight end, his college position, and is using him as a motion and slot receiver in the multi-receiver formations new coach Dick Vermeil brought with him from St. Louis. This offense thrives on coverage mismatches and the Chiefs expect to find some with Ricks against linebackers and safeties.

Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez is ahead of Ricks on the depth chart, but Ricks knows he'll have his opportunities in the two-tight end sets.

"This staff tells you point blank how you can help the team," Ricks said. "If I can get downfield, it will take the pressure off Tony because he's used to getting double-teamed. I don't see his catches going down and they're saying I could get up to 40-50 balls."

Browns By claiming receiver Jammi German off waivers from Atlanta, Cleveland increased the number of former Miami Hurricanes added to their roster since February to four: German, running back James Jackson, receiver Andre King and linebacker Mike Smith. By the way, former Miami coach Butch Davis is in his first season as Browns coach.

Eagles Defensive tackle Corey Simon's injuries have been diagnosed as a strained neck and concussion and he will miss at least Philadelphia's exhibition opener against Baltimore on Monday. Simon was taken off in an ambulance after being injured in practice Thursday. His injury was diagnosed Friday as a grade-three concussion.

Broncos The unveiling screams for John Elway and the Broncos. Don Henley and the Eagles will have to suffice. After 53 years of football, baseball and music at Mile High Stadium, a new era begins today when the Eagles christen Invesco Field at Mile High with a rock concert expected to draw more than 50,000 people.

The $400 million stadium, which has drawn more attention for its corporate name than its cozy confines, opens six years after the Rockies began playing baseball at Coors Field and two years after the Pepsi Center opened to the Avalanche and Nuggets.

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