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9-on-9: LT, Smith and Welker practice, Bowe bikes, FWP in pain

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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For better or worse, LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) (ankle) is back at practice. It sounds like he's planning to face the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday night: "'I want to play in this game,' said Tomlinson, who participated in the full practice and deemed his ankle to be 'feeling pretty good right now.' He said the key would be how the ankle bounces back after the workout." It's a must-win situation for Pittsburgh (as opposed to, you know, a prefer-to-win situation), and the Steelers' defense has held opponents to 76.7 rushing yards per game and just one TD on the ground. Only the incomparable Cedric Benson(notes) has found success against them. If LT returns in Week 4, don't expect a full workload or a top-20 rank. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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Wes Welker(notes) (knee) is again listed as a limited participant at practice, so you can expect him to be officially "questionable." This is clearly shaping up as a game-day call. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is full of praise for the Pats' best Welker impersonator: "'Well, I don’t know, No. 11 [Julian] Edelman looks an awful lot like Wes Welker when he runs his routes,' Harbaugh said. 'It looks like he and Tom [Brady] have great chemistry and a great feel for one another. So he doesn’t look too much different, although there is only one Wes Welker." [Boston Globe]

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Dwayne Bowe(notes) (hamstring) spent Wednesday on the stationary bike, not on the practice field. He was held out of last Sunday's loss to the Eagles, and he doesn't appear to be a great bet to see action against the Giants in Week 4. It's a brutal match-up against a defense that's allowed the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers so far this year. Stay away from Bobby Wade(notes) and Mark Bradley(notes) if possible. If you simply must start a former Bears wide receiver, roll with Justin Gage(notes). [Kansas City Star]

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Lions running back Kevin Smith(notes) (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday, but he participated in some capacity on Thursday. Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz has declared that Smith will be a game-time decision on Sunday, though we haven't yet been given much reason for optimism. Maurice Morris(notes) figures to get most of the rushing workload if Smith is inactive. [MLive.com]

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Willie Parker(notes) might be able to play on Sunday night, but you can't expect him to be at full strength: "'You ever have turf toe?' Parker asked yesterday before watching practice from the sideline. 'Oh, it's painful; yeah it's real painful.'" Rashard Mendenhall(notes) obviously stands to benefit fantasy-wise from FWP's injury, but don't sleep on Mewelde Moore(notes). I've got Moore much higher in the preliminary ranks. He was outstanding when pressed into service last year, and he's a more credible receiving threat than any other Pittsburgh back. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

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Brian Billick took the time to answer a collection of thoughtful, mostly strategy-focused questions from New York Times readers. This answer, in response to a question about the origins of the Wildcat, might be my favorite: "I think the basic tenets of the Wildcat go back as far as the Wing-T of the 1930s and 40s. I would be hesitant to ascribe credit to anybody, particularly in my lifetime, of being the protagonist of that system that, by the way, doesn’t work." [The Fifth Down]

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Mr. Pianowski got me hooked on Greg Cosell's coaching tape review. I really can't recommend it enough. A few blurbs on the Patriots' defense, just ahead of the match-up with Joe Flacco(notes): "Patriots a predominant zone coverage team, and there are voids in their secondary. … What really stood out was that the Patriots defense is not a challenging, aggressive defense; they are more of an execution defense relying on players playing disciplined and mistake-free – it’s a defense that can be attacked, especially in the passing game. … Falcons offense was not really shut down by the Patriots defense, they just [didn't] get the opportunity to run enough plays (Falcons only had 45 offensive plays)." I'm linking this despite the fact that Cosell has nice things to say about Cedric, so you know it's of the highest quality. [Fantasy Guru]

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Asked if the Niners' plan of attack would change with Glen Coffee(notes) at running back, head coach Mike Singletary had this to say: "'We're not going to alter it one bit. Obviously, you're missing one of the best backs in the league. We're fortunate to have Coffee and I think he'll do a good job. Our offensive line will be the ones who have to take up the slack. We have every bit of confidence in Coffee to go out and do a very good job and be efficient.'" Coffee is a must-start versus the Rams. [San Francisco Chronicle]

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The Hazean offers general advice, depending on your fantasy team's record after three games. It ain't much of a pep talk for 0-3 owners, but it's not unrealistic. [The Hazean]

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