Mario in Spotlight; Rivers Era Begins (Updated 8/13; 10am)

It is going to be hard not to actively follow Philip Rivers and Mario Williams and other NC State alums in the NFL this year. But, we only have so many resources and time.

Regardless, we couldn’t ignore this great piece in the Houston Chronicle today.

On the practice fields of Reliant Park, Texans rookie defensive end Mario Williams continues to cast an intimidating figure, offering an up-close-and-personal view of a hulking physical specimen with an almost incomprehensible combination of size, strength and speed.

If there is a general consensus on Williams, it’s that he has the work ethic to match his physical gifts, which explains why defensive line coach Bob Karmelowicz stays within earshot of Williams with detailed instructions handy and why Williams’ linemates are as eager to witness his debut.

“We’ve seen it every day, so we know he’s going to do what he knows how to do and be really good,” defensive tackle Travis Johnson said. “You know we’ve got faith in him, so we’re really not worried about how he’s going to do.”

Said defensive tackle Robaire Smith, who is entering his seventh NFL season: “He’s one of the best athletes I’ve seen in this league. He’s still young, and he still has a lot to learn, but at the same time he’s the type that’s not bullheaded. He works hard, and he listens. Any time you have a guy like that, he’s always going to be a good player.

“I think it will be more of a treat for the fans. Like Travis said, we’ve been around him since minicamp, so we know what he can do. But it will be important for our fans, who were doubting him at first, that he shows them what he’s made of.”

NFL Notes:
* Manny Lawson and Marcus Hudson played last night for the San Franciso 49ers. Lawson was credited with two tackles. (Link)

* Jerricho Cotchery caught 3 balls for 19 yards in the first half of the Jets game. (Link)

Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers was excited to square off against Brett Favre, and his performance did not disappoint. Fox Sports says that the Rivers era “Starts Strong for the Chargers” in this piece.

Rivers didn’t disappoint in his debut, throwing for 169 first-half yards and leading two early scoring drives in a 17-3 victory over Green Bay in Saturday night’s preseason opener for both teams.

“I thought he played excellent,” Schottenheimer said. “He played pretty much like I expect him to.”

The Chargers showed their faith in Rivers, a third-year pro, by letting Drew Brees leave for New Orleans during the offseason.

Cool in the pocket and crisp with his passes, Rivers completed 15-of-21 while playing the entire first half except for the final play. He connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson on the Chargers’ opening series to cap a 64-yard drive, then engineered an 18-play, 86-yard scoring march the first time they had the ball in the second quarter.

The Chicago-Tribue says that “Faith is Deep in Rivers” in San Diego:

Rivers’ work ethic and preparation have earned him the deep respect of teammates and coaches. Veterans usually are more skeptical of an untested quarterback who is trying to replace a player who won 21 of 32 starts and was football’s second-most accurate passer the last two years.

Listen to running back LaDainian Tomlinson:

“He’s going to be a great quarterback because the intangibles he has are what the great ones have. He’s smart. He’s able to anticipate what’s going on on the football field. He’s not a robot quarterback. He has something you can’t teach.”

Even before last night’s great performance by PR, the guys at proclaimed that “Rivers is the answer!”

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14 Responses to Mario in Spotlight; Rivers Era Begins (Updated 8/13; 10am)

  1. Cardiff Giant 08/11/2006 at 1:47 PM #

    Great article and link! It looks like Mario is TCB in rookie camp.

    One minor pick is the writer’s use of “general consensus.” The phrase is ridiculous, as “consensus” itself means, “generally shared belief.”

  2. redfred2 08/11/2006 at 2:15 PM #

    You don’t usually hear seven year veterans speaking so matter of factly about a rookie’s talent. Usually they leave the door open with a “We’ll see” at the end of their statement. Sounds like instead, even after witnessing various talent in the league for some time, they’re still pretty much in awe of his physical abilities and the work ethic that backs it up.

    This will be highly entertaining to watch!

  3. Cardiff Giant 08/11/2006 at 2:26 PM #

    ^ I agree.

  4. choppack1 08/11/2006 at 3:12 PM #

    If you looked at Mario, you could tell he had a good work ethic. He graduated early from high school – has not even sniffed trouble w/ the law since he arrived at State. These facts generally speak to someone’s character – and they have all been conveniently ignored by the jackasses in the media.

  5. Slader4881 08/11/2006 at 5:41 PM #

    I’m thinking at least 10 sacks this year and by week two he will be the focus of the opposing O-line every week. Teams will consider him the guy to shutdown.

  6. bTHEredterror 08/12/2006 at 12:16 AM #

    I’m certain he will make a similar impact to Freeney. I’m just pissed his first game is against my Eagles! I hope he doesn’t kill Donovan. Great to hear the media down there giving Williams an honest shot, they’re gonna love him for 10-12 years.

  7. Texpack 08/12/2006 at 5:37 AM #

    The NFL coverage in the Houston Chronicle is usually outstanding. I would also encourage people to listen to John McClain from the Chronicle on Sports Radio 610. He is on the morning show on Mondays in the 8:00 (central) hour. I think I have the time right. 610 is available on the web.

  8. Micky McCarthy 08/13/2006 at 12:25 PM #

    I hope Mario gets after it and soon. There were two plays in particular last night where he got blocked and driven straight out of the picture tube.

  9. Slader4881 08/13/2006 at 2:16 PM #

    They are already killing Mario in the AP recap of the game last night:

    “If the Houston Texans hope to justify spending their No. 1 pick on Mario Williams, he’ll have to contribute more than he did Saturday night.

    Williams assisted on one tackle in a quarter of play in Houston’s 24-14 preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Shuffled all around the defensive line, Williams looked tentative at times and was stood up on a couple of plays.”

    He better make some plays early in the season or all we will hear about is Bush, Bush , Bush…….

  10. Jeff 08/13/2006 at 3:50 PM #

    All the “Bush, Bush, Bush” stuff is already tiring me.

    Mario played one quarter. He certainly didn’t look good. But it was one quarter in his first pre-season game.

    By the way…the Texans won. They won twice all of last year.

  11. Texpack 08/14/2006 at 7:50 AM #

    Mario played a total of 11 snaps. He played three different positions over those 11 snaps. Hardly long enough to get into the flow of the game.

  12. cfpack03 08/14/2006 at 10:29 AM #

    ^ great point.
    In SI’s article [July issue, not sure which week], they said he’d be the anchor end of their new 4-3 defense, (they used 3-4 last yr). When there’s no backfield, they’d switch to 3-4 and Mario will play middle. He’ll only improve as he becomes more comfortable.

  13. Texpack 08/15/2006 at 1:57 PM #

    Update on Mario. Kubiak said that they intend to move Mario around a lot this year as long as it doesn’t hinder his development. He doesn’t want opposing defenses to know where he will be lined up on any given play.

  14. Jeff 08/17/2006 at 8:24 AM #

    From Fox Sports

    Talking to Rivers in person was a great experience. He absolutely oozes confidence.

    The son of a high school coach, Rivers feels he is more than ready to handle the expectations placed upon him for this season. Rivers started a whopping 51 games in his sensational college career at NC State. And Smith swears by him. The Chargers general manager says he thought all three top quarterbacks in the 2004 draft were going to become big time players, a class that included Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. But Smith raves about Rivers’ talent and football IQ and cannot wait to watch him on the field, truly believing he was the class of the draft.

    Rivers was also quick to mention he learned so much about leadership, how to deal with teammates, and game preparation by mentoring under Brees.

    And it is interesting, there wasn’t one average thing said about Rivers, on or off the air. Everything was beyond flattering on the camp he’s had. And this is from a group that simply adored Brees.

    Dielman says Rivers instantly assumed the leadership role in the mini-camps with his work ethic and huddle presence.

    McCardell and Gates both raved about Rivers’ touch and accuracy. And both players say that Rivers’ delivery is not an issue. And Rivers’ go-to-weapons also both believe that his ‘rookie’ type mistakes will be limited because of how well he knows Cam Cameron’s offense and the fact that he played so much in college.

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