Now he's a boulder

Former USC receiver Mike Williams, once viewed a gem of the draft, is about 20 pounds heavier than the Detroit Lions would like him to be.

That's basically what Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz said this week when he told reporters that Williams is "somewhere around" 240 pounds. That's 10 pounds heavier than the target weight the Lions set for Williams last season, and 20 pounds more than this season's mark.

"He's awful heavy to line up outside ... and go one on one with the corner in press man," said Martz, who has been quick to deactivate Williams this season.

"He's a big man, and he's fast at 240. But I've seen him when he's got that weight down there, and he can really go. He can do that, and he'll do it. He's fine."

Williams has caught one pass this season.

Ban on Payton's Place

Back when he was offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, Sean Payton worked closely with backup quarterback Tony Romo and liked what he saw.

So when Payton got the job as New Orleans Saints coach, he tried to bring Romo along with him. No luck.

Dallas Coach Bill Parcells liked Romo too, and he told his old assistant "to sit down on the couch and have some warm milk" after hearing that suggestion.

Although Payton shrugs off any credit when talking about the development of Romo, who's 5-1 as a starter, the newly minted Cowboys star says he wouldn't be where he is now without Payton's help.

"He always gave me the confidence to know I could do this and keep doing what I was doing," Romo told reporters last week during a break from preparations for tonight's game against the Saints.

"And he's a great coach. He helped me a lot to understand the Xs-and-O's part of the game."

Party of one

Jevon Kearse was the only Philadelphia Eagles player to attend the 33rd birthday party of ex-teammate Terrell Owens, a bash that took place in Los Angeles on Monday at the Shag Hollywood.

"The party was great," Kearse told reporters in Philadelphia. "I hung out with Chris Rock, Laverne from 'Laverne and Shirley': Penny Marshall. And Bobby Brown. [Justin] Timberlake was back there, but I wanted to meet Bobby Brown."

About 500 people showed up for the party.

"I'm blessed that everybody came here," Owens told the crowd near the end of the evening. "I hope to see all of you again in Miami for the Super Bowl."

Welcome Matt

When Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart faces Seattle's defense today, he'll be staring into the eyes of one of his former USC teammates, linebacker Lofa Tatupu.

It will be the first time the two have faced each other in the NFL.

"I'm due for [an interception]," Tatupu told the Seattle Times. "How long has it been, since Week 5? So let's hope it finally comes."

Making it look easy

Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he has a keen, borderline photographic memory. He talked about his high school days, when he could almost look uninterested in class yet ace the tests he was given.

"I even had a Spanish teacher one time who always thought I cheated in his class," Woodson said. "When it came time to take the test, I knew it. He wasn't going to get that out of me."

This season, for the first time in several years, Woodson is getting passing marks on the field.

Fake frozen tundra

After this season, the Green Bay Packers are having new turf -- part natural grass and part artificial fiber -- installed at Lambeau Field.

Real grass, it seems, is a relic of a bygone era. Keeping it up is especially costly, though: the Packers are spending $35,000 to re-sod the middle of their field for the final two home games.


-- Sam Farmer

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