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More on Greg Ellis’ Replacement


Greg EllisMentioned earlier the Dallas Morning News article indicating possible replacements for Greg Ellis. Thought this was interesting: the Dallas Cowboys Fan Zone had a poll, and though only 33 people responded, Al Singleton received the most votes. The results (thus far?):

Al Singleton: 45.5%
Bobby Carpenter: 30.3%
Kevin Burnett: 24.%

Mickey Spagnola had the following suggestion:

There are a bunch of scenarios floating around for how the Cowboys might address the loss of Greg Ellis. Here’s two that should be considered. In the standard 3-4 defense, what if the Cowboys move DeMarcus Ware to Ellis’ left outside linebacker spot and insert Ware’s backup, Kevin Burnett, as the starter on the right side? Yeah, I know, that’s changing two spots to fill one. More simple to just insert Al Singleton or Bobby Carpenter on the left side. Also, on the nickel, don’t forget about Jason Hatcher. At least he’s a true defensive end. Can let him rush from the left side instead of the right, or you can move Ware left, as the Cowboys do sometimes, and keep the rookie Hatcher right where he’s probably more comfortable. Just another thought.

NFL.com posted an article today suggesting that Carpenter would get the nod:

All season, Dallas has been able to live with top pick Carpenter being merely a bit player because of how well Ellis handled his conversion to linebacker. While Carpenter won’t automatically get the job, this is his chance to prove the Cowboys knew what they were doing when they made him the 18th pick in the draft.

“Would I like him to (take over)? Well, yeah,” coach Bill Parcells said. “But what I need now is the most efficient operation we can get.”

“It’s a great opportunity for Bobby Carpenter,” owner Jerry Jones said in the locker room Nov. 12. “And he senses that.”

Carpenter starred as an outside linebacker at Ohio State, and Dallas drafted him to play opposite the 2005 top pick, DeMarcus Ware. Parcells also liked the kid’s bloodline: his father, Rob, played fullback for Parcells on the New York Giants in the 1980s.

Before Carpenter could learn the playbook, Parcells moved Ellis from defensive end to linebacker. Ellis bristled at first, fearing he would be cut if it didn’t work out. He asked to be traded and grumbled about wanting to be anywhere but training camp when he reported.

Yet he proved to be a quick study and was probably the team’s best defensive player through the first eight games. He went into the Arizona game leading the team in sacks (4½), tied for the lead in tackles for losses (three), forced three fumbles, broke up three passes and had an interception. This will be only the second time since 1999 that he hasn’t led the team in sacks.

Carpenter, meanwhile, was made inactive for the first, third and fifth games of the season. He did not make a tackle in his first three games, then had one in each of the past two.

Because of Carpenter’s underwhelming start, Parcells is reluctant to make him the permanent replacement. Other candidates include 2005 starter Al Singleton, nickel linebacker Kevin Burnett and Junior Glymph, who was released before the season and re-signed a few weeks ago, albeit to play on the line.

“The decision that you have to make on how to do things are not as simple as, ‘Oh, well, this guy goes in and he’s the starter,’ ” Parcells said. “The problem we have is that Greg is one of our better run defenders and better pressure players, so how to get that combination into the game may take more than one person.”

Adding to the challenge: Dallas has to break in its new alignment Nov. 19 against the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts.

Parcells said how the Cowboys decide to attack Peyton Manning and the rest of the Colts offense will be a factor in filling Ellis’ roles.

“We’re thinking over the possibilities that maybe Junior or maybe Al could do something on the early downs and Bobby could do something on the nickel or vice versa,” Parcells said.

Well, thank goodness we can talk about something!

Press Conference and More


Bill ParcellsThis is a day late, but here is the clip of Bill Parcells’ press conference from yesterday:

[audio:http://lb.dallascowboys.com/mp3/parcells_audio_111306.mp3]

This is a bit more timely– Jerry Jones’ show from today:

[audio:http://lb.dallascowboys.com/mp3/jones_111406.mp3]

(Video) Greg Ellis: Perhaps His Final Play


Greg EllisIf Greg Ellis’ injury is career-ending, which it might possibly be, then the play in the clip below would be his final play. He lined up at left defensive end, shot the gap between left guard and left tackle, and made his move toward Leinart. Just as Leinart stepped up in the pocket, Ellis went down. Here is the clip:

Note that right before that play, Tim Ryan was comparing Ellis with former Giants linebacker Carl Banks. Ellis, the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 1998, has 56.5 career sacks.

Here is a story from today’s Dallas Morning News about possible replacements for Ellis:

IRVING – Bill Parcells was almost done with his postgame speech Sunday when Greg Ellis hobbled into the locker room on crutches, his left Achilles’ tendon torn.

Parcells had the nine-year veteran and defensive captain call the team together following the Cowboys’ 27-10 win against Arizona for one final time.

Ellis is expected to undergo surgery today and will miss the rest of the season.

The games, however, go on.

“That’s the tough part of this game,” Parcells said. “Sometimes inopportune things happen at the exact wrong time, but you just have to go forward and someone has to do something.

“But the contingency is something you face in this business all the time.”

Parcells was not ready to give complete answers to how the Cowboys plan to replace Ellis, but he might go with the committee approach. The contenders are first-round pick Bobby Carpenter, veteran Al Singleton, recent pickup Junior Glymph and possibly Kevin Burnett.

“The problem we have is that Greg is one of our better run defenders and better pressure players,” Parcells said, “so how to get that combination into the game may take more than one person.”

The Cowboys drafted Carpenter with the 18th overall pick in April to be their strongside linebacker before Ellis proved he could make the transition from defensive end to linebacker.

Carpenter has been inactive for three games and has yet to make a defensive tackle. When Ellis got hurt Sunday, he got the call largely because the Cowboys were in their nickel defense.

“I can jump out there if needed,” Carpenter said after Sunday’s game. “I’d like to get a chance to play. If it’s outside, then I’m all for it. I’ve been practicing mostly inside of late. A few weeks ago, I was practicing outside, and they have been moving me back and forth in case something happened. I didn’t mind it.”

The safest choice might be Singleton, one of Parcells’ first free-agent signings in 2003. Before this season, Singleton had started 35 of 37 games in which he was healthy. He has been credited with two tackles this season, seeing most of his time on special teams.

Glymph was signed Oct. 20 off Pittsburgh’s practice squad, but he has yet to play in a game. Like Ellis, he made the switch from end to linebacker in training camp. He had two sacks and two forced fumbles but was one of the final cuts.

Parcells is reluctant to move Burnett, because he does not want to affect two spots on the defense.

“Burnett has his niche going now,” Parcells said. “He’s nickel and special teams and that’s providing some value to us, so I don’t know who could replace him in that if I moved him.”

Complicating Parcells’ decision is Sunday’s opponent: Indianapolis. Quarterback Peyton Manning is the NFL’s highest-rated passer and has 18 touchdown passes with just three interceptions. He has been sacked only 10 times in 320 attempts.

Ellis was second to DeMarcus Ware on the team in sacks (4 ½) and had the third-most pressures. Without Ellis, who has led the Cowboys in sacks the last five seasons, more pressure is on Ware to get after the quarterback.

“It is going to be put on somebody,” Parcells said. “Certainly he would be one. … Sometimes now when you get down like we are, you are going to have to play it out.”

When the Cowboys lost left tackle Flozell Adams in the sixth game last year, their season ended sourly because they did not have a capable replacement. In some ways, Ellis is as valuable to the defense as Adams was to the offense.

It’s the fear of the unknown that worries Parcells.

“Maybe if I get [Carl] Banks out of retirement,” said Parcells, recalling his former New York Giants linebacker. “This is not a good day to ask me that one. Let me figure it out, and we’ll see what we do.”

THE CANDIDATES
With Greg Ellis out for the season with a torn left Achilles’, the Cowboys could turn to a number of players to fill his role. Staff Writer Todd Archer assesses the possible replacements:

Bobby Carpenter
Pro: This is why he was drafted in the first round. He showed at Ohio State he could handle the strongside spot and rush the passer.

Con: With Ellis handling the switch with ease in training camp, Carpenter was moved inside and has not had as much practice time outside in the base defense.

Al Singleton
Pro: He has a wealth of experience and started seven games last year at strongside linebacker. With him, the coaches know he will always be in the right spot.

Con: He has only 3 ½ sacks in his career and does not bring much as a pass rusher, making him a first- and second-down player.

Kevin Burnett
Pro: He’s extremely athletic and can hold up against the run against the tight end and has developed into a decent pass defender.

Con: By moving him outside, he would be taken out of his comfort zone in the nickel defense as an inside linebacker.

Junior Glymph
Pro: He showed in the preseason he can be a pressure player, with two sacks and two forced fumbles, but he got caught up in a numbers game and was released.

Con: He has not played in a regular-season game as a linebacker and spent time on Pittsburgh’s and Baltimore’s practice squads as a defensive end.

We’ve Got Answers… And Obscurity!


Dallas CowboysGot some answers to Questions Waiting for Answers, but I am more interested in the trivia contest today on Dallas Cowboys Fan Zone. Here are the questions:

(1) What was the nickname given to Cliff Harris by his teammates?
(2) Which Dallas Cowboys player is the only player in NFL history to be named Super Bowl Mvp from a losing team?
(3) What number in the first round was Emmit Smith drafted?
(4) What is the name of the Stadium the Cowboys played in before they moved to Texas Stadium?
(5) Which Cowboy holds the record for the longest fumble return?
(6) Who is the Cowboys record holder for most receiving TDs in a season with 13?
(7) Which Cowboy has the most season in leading the league in interceptions with 3?
(8) Who was the Cowbpys starting TE in 1984?
(9) What did the Cowboys get from the Vikings in the Herschel Walker trade?
(10) Where was Tom Landry coaching before he was hired in Dallas?
(11) What former player has Super Bowl rings with both San Francisco and Dallas?
(12) What former Dallas Cowboy is currently in prison for running over 2 men on the side of the road at 2 AM?
(13) Where and in what capacity did Dave Campo end up after he was fired as head coach of the Cowboys?
(14) What year did Tony Dorsett reel off the 99 yard TD run against the Vikes on Monday Night Football?
(15) How many people are in the Ring of Honor?
(16) Who was our FIRST QB?
(17) What player flew warthogs in the Gulf War???
(18) Who once established the record for most career receptions while he was a member of the Dallas Cowboys?
(19) What year did the last two original Cowboys retire?
(20) Who started the opening day game in 1969?
(21) What Dallas Cowboys Quarterback also nearly won one season of the CBS show “Survivor”
(22) What year did the Boys have the same number of Passing TD’s as Int’s?
(23) In 1960, the Cowboys 1st season, they finished 0-11-1. Who was the tie against?
(24) At what texas college did Bill Parcell’s once coach?
(25) Who was the Cowboys’ first 1,000 yard rusher?
(26) What was Jimmy Johnson’s all-time record as head coach of the Cowboys?
(27) Who was the first Dallas Cowboy to become a TV analyst/commentator?
(28) In 1989 when we were 1-15, who was the one win against? Extra points for the 50-50, was it a home or road game?
(29) Who is the leading receiver in Cowboys history?
(30) What did Tony Dorsett do for the first time in his NFL career during the strike-shortened season in 1982? It has two answers, excluding the 99-yard touchdown run against Minnesota in the final game.
(31) How many former Dallas Cowboys have been and/or are currently head coaches in the NFL?
(32) What Dallas Cowboys Quarterback holds the team record in passing yards?
(33) What year did they first acquire the current uniforms?
(34) Who was the first 1,000 yard receiver in team history?

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Some notes from Mick Shots:

On the straight nickel defense, Pat Watkins came in for Keith Davis, taking the place of the departed Marcus Coleman . . . Hey, got a feeling rookie Miles Austin will get another chance to return kickoffs after showing that nice burst to the outside on that 30-yard return that got called back because of holding . . . My first-half offensive MVP Julius-Barber checked in Sunday with 29 carries for 110 yards and one touchdown. Not bad, eh? . . . Of the Cardinals’ 216 receiving yards, 100 came on three passes . . . That Romo sure is a slippery devil, shaking off a blitzing Griffith, then stepping up to fire that pass to Patrick Crayton covering 35 yards that got the Cowboys’ half-ending field goal drive on its way.

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Okay, more interested in this week’s questions, but first things first.

(1) Does this team start looking like a 6-2 (making it a 10-6) team? It will probably take at least 10 wins to make the playoffs, and even if the Cowboys win this week, they are going to need to look like a .750 team for the rest of the season. It starts on Sunday.

Yep, looked like a 6-2 team. Dallas made some mistakes, but the Cowboys made the plays they needed to make when they needed to make them. Sounds simplistic, but when a team is prone to beating itself, simple wins are good.

(2) Any chance we can get Bill Parcells to coach this team? This debate is getting very old, but this team has suffered from being undisciplined and continues to make stupid errors and commit stupid penalties. That was a significant part of the problem with the team under Dave Campo, and there just haven’t been that many improvements.

Still doing a great Raiders impression with eight penalties for 69 yards. That won’t get this team past the Colts.

(3) Should we worry about the Cardinals’ offensive weapons? Edgerrin James averages 2.8 yards per carry. But Anquan Boldin is on his way to a 1,000 yard season, and Bryant Johnson averages 21.3 yards per catch. Larry Fitzgerald is likely to return this week. The real question might be whether Matt Leinart can get the ball to them.

Dallas held James in check (15 att, 68 yards). Fitzgerald and Boldin both had their moments, but not when it counted. None of the big plays for Arizona hurt Dallas at all. Johnson was not a factor at all.

(4) Does Terrell Owens really makes this “personal?” Or is he confusing “personal” with “selfish.”

After a dull first half, Owens came to life, hauling in a 51-yard touchdown catch, without a celebration to follow.

(5) Can Emmitt beat Mario in Dancing with the Stars? I thought Emmitt would have enough votes from football fans, but my wife thinks that all of the housewives will vote for Mario.

My wife will tell me tomorrow.

(6) Prediction: Dallas 17, Arizona 3.

Really don’t think that Dallas will have a great offensive performance, but the defense should be able to shut the Cardinals down. I’m looking for a 10-0 game through much of the third quarter.

13-3 at halftime, so I wasn’t that far off. 20-3 after three quarters was really close. Then both teams scored in the fourth quarter to ruin my prediction!

Press Conference Clip, Etc.


Here is the postgame press conference from yesterday’s game:

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Mickey Spagnola had an interesting comment about how the Cowboys handled the three wide receiver sets:

The Cowboys kind of tinkered with their nickel defense to combat those Arizona three-receiver sets on first and second down when the run still was prevalent. Instead of taking out a safety to bring in Aaron Glenn as the third corner and basically playing man on the receivers while keeping all the linebackers in the game to watch for the run, the Cowboys substituted Glenn for defensive end Marcus Spears. They then put Greg Ellis’ hand on the ground as a defensive end and moved DeMarcus Ware to the strong side tight on the line of scrimmage. That basically created a 4-2 front, but with three linebackers still in the lineup and five defensive backs. A possible precursor for the ultimate three-wide offense the Colts will bring to Texas Stadium next Sunday.

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Greg Ellis appears finished for the season after suffering an Achilles injury:

The loss of Cowboys linebacker Greg Ellis was summed up in two words by Kevin Burnett: “He’s everything.”

Ellis, the veteran outside linebacker, is probably out for the season after he suffered a left Achilles’ tendon injury with 2:26 to play in the third quarter of Sunday’s victory over Arizona.

Ellis will get the official word today from team doctors when he’s examined, but on-the-field team trainers told him his Achilles was torn.

“It felt like somebody kicked me,” said Ellis, who needed crutches to leave the field after the game. “But obviously it wasn’t a kick. It was torn. They just knew it right away. It was a tingling feeling. I tried to get up, and I couldn’t get up.”

Ellis said he wasn’t sure how he the injury occurred during a play when Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart threw an incomplete pass to Anquan Boldin in the middle of the field.

“He was in a lot of pain,” nose guard Jason Ferguson said of the nine-year veteran. “He couldn’t get up, and that’s not like G. I knew something was wrong when he couldn’t get up.”

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For those who have a few more minutes, here is the Post Game Show:

[audio:http://lb.dallascowboys.com/mp3/postgame_111206.mp3]

A Satisfactory 27-10 Win, Notwithstanding Dumb Comments


Tony Romo threw for 308 yards, Patrick Crayton had more than 100 yards receiving, and the Cowboys forced three turnovers as they defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-10 on Sunday afternoon. Dallas now stands at 5-4, tied with Philadelphia and Atlanta in the NFC. Carolina plays on Monday night.

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Dumbest statement I’ve made in days: I thought the ball was slipping out of Romo’s hand at the beginning of the game, so I commented on the Blue and Silver chat room that the ball might be wet. Except the game was being played in Arizona. In a dome. CaliCowboy and OCF were quick to point out that I’m an idiot without using the word idiot. I’ll use the word here.

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This idiot has been taking screen shots of RealPlayer files and then linking to them, not realizing that you can embed these files. Wow, I need more sleep.

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And the story from DallasCowboys.com:

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo didn’t have Terry Glenn as a target this Sunday, but he got plenty of help from the rest of his receivers.

Romo completed passes to five different receivers, including a pair of deep touchdowns to Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton, and the Cowboys (5-4) cruised to a 27-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (1-8) here at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Cowboys’ 10-point halftime lead ballooned to 24 in the fourth quarter following Akin Ayodele’s interception of Cardinals rookie quarterback Matt Leinart. One play later, Romo found Owens streaking down the left sideline for a 51-yard touchdown.

Leinart was picked off by rookie safety Pat Watkins on Arizona’s next drive, and Marion Barber scored on a 5-yard run six plays later. Watkins was active for the first time in two games in place of Marcus Coleman, who was released by the team on Saturday.

But the Cowboys’ victory was tempered a bit by a left Achilles’ injury to Greg Ellis, who left the game late in the third quarter. Details of Ellis’ injury were not known immediately after the game. Rookie Bobby Carpenter and Al Singleton replaced him in the lineup.

Romo completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Crayton in the second quarter, and he also fired a touchdown pass to rookie Sam Hurd with three seconds left in the first half, but an offensive pass interference call on Crayton wiped out the play. The Cowboys settled for a 38-yard field goal by Mike Vanderjagt as time expired.

Glenn was inactive after missing most of practice all week with irritation under his kneecap, where the quadriceps muscle attaches. Hurd started in his place and made a nice 16-yard sliding catch leading up to Crayton’s touchdown.

Julius Jones and Barber combined for 110 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Rookie receiver Miles Austin returned kickoffs in place of Skyler Green, who was inactive.

Halftime: Dallas 13, Arizona 3


Patrick CraytonNeed a hero during the first half? Try Patrick Crayton, with some reservations. He has four receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown thus far. But he also fumbled after a reception, and it looks as if he came close on some other plays. He was also called for offensive pass interference that negated a Romo-to-Sam Hurd touchdown pass.

Need a goat for the first half, at least for fantasy football purposes? How about this guy named Terrell Owens? Two receptions for 19 yards, along with two drops.

Anyway, the Dallas defense has looked good, and the offense has had its moments. Here are the key stats:

Total Offense: Dallas 225, Arizona 142
Rushing Offense: Dallas 61, Arizona 66
Passing Offense: Dallas 164, Arizona 76
Penalties/Yards: Dallas 4-31, Arizona 4-20

Last Minute Notes


Philadelphia improved to 5-4 with a 27-3 win over Washington. This effectively eliminates the Redskins (3-6) as a playoff threat, barring a miracle, so Dallas now needs to worry about keeping pace with Philadelphia. The Eagles play four of their next six on the road, including a trip to Indianapolis, so the schedule favors Dallas.

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Sam HurdSam Hurd gets his first NFL start today with Terry Glenn out. Keith Davis starts at free safety, but it looks like Pat Watkins will get back in the action.

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What does this game mean? Big Shot Blurbs:

No, it’s more about gaining momentum. The Cowboys thought they’d started to get on a roll after beating the Panthers, but the Redskins game was a setback. They desperately need to string some wins together and get some confidence going for their next tough stretch – two games in five days, the first against the Colts.

So it’s time for a fresh start. Take care of Arizona, then focus on winning as many of those final seven as possible.

Agreed.

Predictions


I got one prediction right: Wladimir Klitschko indeed knocked out Calvin Brock. I guessed the fourth round, but Brock lasted until the 7th.

So in that spirit, thought I would post a few other predictions for tomorrow’s game.

1. Pat Kirwan, NFL.com

Kirwan predicted a 32-10 Dallas win in the preview portion of CBSSportsline.com

Pat Kirwan

2. Mickey Spagnola:

And the score . . . Cowboys 23, Cardinals 16 . . . new stadium in Arizona but same struggle. While the Cowboys haven’t won there the last four times, even when they were winning, beating the Cardinals six straight at Sun Devil (1991-96) and seven of eight (1991-98) at one point, the Cowboys average margin of victory was only 8.85 points. And if you throw out the 24-point win in the 1995 season finale on Christmas Night (37-13) when the Cowboys clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs that Super Bowl season, the other six victories were by an average margin of 6.33 points.

3. DCFanatic.com:

Cowboys 42, Cardinals 10. Cowboys will win easily and get back into the playoff race.

I don’t mention DCFanatic’s radio show much, but it has been very good this year. Here is the link to this week’s show:

[audio:http://www.dcfanatic.com/dcfaudio/dcfradio-nov102006.mp3]

4. Now here is cause for concern, though: all four of the commentators for Inside the NFL picked Dallas to win. Ugh.

Heres and Theres, Heavyweight Style


BoxingAnyone care for an open thread on the Wladimir Klitschko vs. Calvin Brock?  Heavyweight boxing at its finest?  Okay, then.  At least I offered…

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Marcus ColemanOur friend Marcus Coleman has been released after he was arrested for drunk driving on Saturday morning.

Marcus Coleman’s latest brush with the law reportedly cost him his job with the Dallas Cowboys. The veteran defensive back was released Saturday by the Cowboys, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported.

According to media reports in Dallas, Coleman was arrested on suspicion ofdriving while intoxicated early Saturday morning.

Coleman, who recently returned to the team from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, was stopped by officers who reportedly saw him weaving while driving eastbound on Highway 114 in Irving.

Terry GlennNo official word yet about whether Terry Glenn will play on Sunday.

Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells doesn’t have much experience behind his top three wide receivers, but says he’s comfortable calling on his young reserves if Terry Glenn (quadriceps) is unable to play Sunday against Arizona.

Glenn missed portions of team practice for the third straight day with knee chondromalacia, or irritation under the lining of his kneecap where the quadriceps muscle attaches. The veteran receiver still is listed as probable, though he likely will be a game-time decision for the second consecutive week.

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 Button

Episode 11 of The Armchair Quarterbacks is up.  Check out the ad for the Terrell Owens cell phone.  I’m still rolling.

Should make one note, though: If you are sensitive to adult language, you may want to avoid the show.  I’m personally not, so I find the show to be a riot.

Doors

Also learned of a Cowboys forum that I previously missed– Cowboy Saloon.  Easily the most original of the Cowboys forums, it does not appear at first glance to be a Dallas Cowboys site.  But it has a number of posts and its worth checking out.

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Okay, let’s get ready to rumble!  I’d better post this before Brock gets knocked out.