Arizona Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis recalled the time Houston coach Bum Phillips was asked about giving the football 40 times to star running back Earl Campbell.
“Well,” Phillips said, “the ball’s not real heavy.”
That sums up McGinnis’ thoughts. While he wouldn’t intentionally keep a player out there who is hurting, “all the guys I have been around in my 18 years (coaching in the NFL), they want it, they want the football.”
The topic is a hot one in the NFL these days. Priest Holmes skipped a practice earlier this week with Kansas City simply because he was too sore, and the Chiefs don’t want to burn him out. At the same time, Miami coach Dave Wannstedt and St. Louis coach Mike Martz have each taken some criticism because they don’t use their star backs — Ricky Williams and Marshall Faulk, respectively — enough.
The Packers’ Ahman Green, who today visits Sun Devil Stadium, has been worked hard for three years (348 touches a season). Coach Mike Sherman wants to give him help. Green would prefer to keep getting the ball as often as possible. Holmes feels the same way.
“You getting hit by all 11 players, you are going to come out of that game a little bruised up,” Holmes said. “As far as I’m concerned, the toughness that I have, the awareness, the way that I work, I’m always bouncing back every Sunday giving my team 100 percent.”
Holmes, who had a league-best 2,287 yards from scrimmage last season despite missing two games with a hip injury, has 53 touches this season with more yards than he had with 55 touches through two games a year ago. “It depends on the condition they are in,” McGinnis said, “but the great ones want it in their hands.”
DONOVAN IN THE DUMPS
Philadelphia fans, patient as they are, started chanting for third-string quarterback A.J. Feeley last week during the Eagles’ loss to New England. Starter Donovan McNabb couldn’t have been surprised, not after a 41.4 passing rating and a 45.1 completion percentage.
“It all starts with the quarterback, and if I’m not playing well, then the troops have no one to rally around,” McNabb said. “I'm way better than the way I’ve been going. I’ve been in this thing five years now, and these last two weeks is not close to the way I've been playing the last couple of years.”
The Eagles were expected to be a Super Bowl contender. But some have speculated McNabb has regressed as a passer.
“There’s nothing wrong with Donovan,” coach Andy Reid said. “This is not about Donovan. It’s about the team. Please don’t point the finger at him.”
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
After injured Chargers receiver David Boston was caught talking on his cell phone before last week’s game had ended and then failed to go into the locker room, coach Marty Schottenheimer was upset. Then he backtracked after talking to Boston. Schottenheimer called it a “miscommunication,” declining to say if he fined Boston.
“I don’t see it as a rule, as (much as) a miscommunication between he and I,” Boston said. “If he would have told me before to hang out in the locker room after the game . . . because I ended up watching the game in the suite upstairs with the other guys.”
Boston said it wouldn’t happen again, although other players don’t seem that surprised about Boston’s attitude since arriving.
“It is what it is,” fullback Lorenzo Neal told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “You can’t pray for rain and then complain about the mud.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher, after a bad loss to the Colts: “We’re an underdog. We’re no good. We stink right now. We’re awful. Write that. Write that as much as you can. That way we play better. For whatever reason we went in there thinking we were the better team. We don’t play well like that. At all.”
Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, after being benched in favor of Marc Bulger: “I always point to a scripture in the Bible that says, ‘Rejoice when others rejoice and weep when others weep.’ Everybody wants me to be the opposite in this type of situation. They want me to rejoice when Marc or somebody else isn’t doing well, and then vice versa. That’s not the way it is.”
Browns quarterback Kelly Holcomb, on his poor start: “The coaches have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve stunk it up.”
The Panthers, who blocked three kicks last week against Tampa Bay and have five blocks in two games, had only six blocked kicks and punts total in their previous 130-game history.
Steelers all-pro LB Joey Porter, left with a bullet in his thigh after being shot just 22 days ago, will start today.
Atlanta QB Mike Vick was hoping to discard his crutches about 10 days ago, but his lower right leg isn’t cooperating. Vick wanted to return Oct. 13 against St. Louis, but the more probable date is Oct. 19 against New Orleans.
Buffalo: Bledsoe, Henry, Moulds and a defense to match.
Dallas: Leading the NFL in offense — behind Quincy Carter.
Jamal Lewis: After 295, is a 150-yard follow a good game?
Philadelphia: From possible champs to disappointing chumps.
Cleveland: Suddenly, Tim Couch doesn’t look so bad.
Steve McNair: He just can’t stay healthy.