WHERE: Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Wash.
WHO'S NEW: Ray Rhodes has a history of transforming bad defenses into very good ones, most recently as coordinator in Washington (2000) and Denver ('01-02). He'll have his hands full in taking over a unit that was the worst against stopping the run (152.6 yards per game).
THE BUZZ: Mike Holmgren finally relented and surrendered half the duties that put him in total control of the club's football operations. The Seahawks' front office is now under the direction of General Manager Bob Ferguson, formerly of Arizona, which should leave Holmgren to concentrate on his forte -- coaching and furthering the development of pet-project QB Matt Hasselbeck.
2002 RECORD: 11-5 (AFC South Division champion and conference runner-up).
WHEN: July 25.
WHERE: Tennessee Titans Practice Facility, Nashville, Tenn.
WHO'S NEW: Hardly anyone. The Titans were handcuffed by the cap, so input from new blood will have to come from the draft class. CB Andre Woolfolk and WR Tyrone Calico will be expected to pitch in, but bruising RB Chris Brown could be the heir to beaten-down Eddie George.
THE BUZZ: Tennessee fell one game shy of the Super Bowl, thanks to the gutsy play of QB Steve McNair and a defense that made plays -- even with stud DE Jevon Kearse sidelined most the year -- despite getting in too many shootouts. Though the Titans return pretty much intact, they lost a couple of steady players to free agency. McNair, even with his off-season DUI troubles, makes this team a threat.
2002 RECORD: 7-9.
WHEN: July 27.
WHERE: Redskins Park, Ashburn, Va.
WHO'S NEW: Owner Dan Snyder shelled out a $13 million signing bonus to pry restricted free agent Laveranues Coles from New York, much to the jaw-dropped Jets' chagrin. Coles, who had a breakout season in 2002, is expected to be the downfield threat and defense-stretcher Coach Steve Spurrier was missing in his rookie NFL season. That's a lot to expect.
THE BUZZ: As crucial as Coles' signing was, the Redskins did equal damage to the Jets by signing G Randy Thomas, who should make a huge difference to the middle of an offensive line that was horrendous last year. Coles and Thomas were just two of the 16 players acquired in the off-season -- former Ram Trung Canidate figures to start at tailback -- in Snyder's latest scheme to restore this proud franchise to prominence. Wonder what he'll try next year.
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