Griese choice despite picks

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October 05, 2008|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,ken.murray@baltsun.com

Given Jon Gruden's predilection for changing quarterbacks often, it's a wonder Brian Griese will start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today at Denver after tossing six interceptions the past two weeks.

Griese got the job after Jeff Garcia threw a critical pick in a Week 1 loss. Even though Griese ranks 30th in the NFL's passer ratings and he's averaging an interception for every 11.8 completions this year, he has won all three starts to keep the job. Despite having Garcia and Luke McCown available, Gruden hasn't budged in his support of Griese, who spent his first five seasons with the Broncos.

"He made some throws [last week] after the third interception that were big-time plays, that changed the game in terms of field position," Gruden said. "He made some decisions in the running game that were outstanding. ... He knows where I stand and where our team stands on turnovers. We've got to clean that up."

Around the league

The Philadelphia Eagles' three-time Pro Bowl kicker, David Akers, has lost distance on field goals the past two seasons. He has missed his past eight kicks from 45-plus yards, including from 50 and 47 yards last week. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Akers has made three of 13 tries from 40 yards or longer. ... Kicker Rhys Lloyd, who spent most of last season with the Ravens but was active for only two games, leads the NFL in kickoffs for touchbacks with nine for the Carolina Panthers. Lloyd, who has not kicked out of bounds, is a luxury not many teams can afford. In Carolina, John Kasay still kicks field goals and extra points, but he had only two touchbacks last season.

Today the New England Patriots visit one of the two places they have not won - San Francisco, where they are 0-4 against the 49ers. (The Patriots are 0-2 all time in Washington.) Because the Patriots play in San Diego next week, Bill Belichick will keep them on the West Coast this week and train at San Jose. Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt kept his Cardinals on the East Coast for 10 days between games at Washington and the New York Jets, but they lost both games. Still, Whisenhunt said he would do it again.

The Cincinnati Bengals last week signed tailback Cedric Benson, former first-round pick of the Chicago Bears, and expect him to spell Chris Perry (2.9 yards a carry) in Dallas against the Cowboys. The Bengals are 30th in rush offense this season, because of offensive line issues. ... With cornerback Terrence McGee out (knee sprain), third-year corner Ashton Youboty will start in Arizona and first-round pick Leodis McKelvin will play in the nickel package. ... The Cardinals are expected to start second-year wide-out Steve Breaston for injured Anquan Boldin (fractured sinus membrane).

Before this year's draft, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked 15 personnel officials to rank the top five quarterbacks. In a weighted ballot, Matt Ryan collected the most points (71), ahead of Brian Brohm (53), Chad Henne (38) and Joe Flacco (36). Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) and Flacco (Ravens) were the first two quarterbacks selected and have started well. But because Brohm has been a bust in Green Bay, the Packers are struck with rookie Mike Flynn, a seventh-round pick, if Aaron Rodgers (dislocated shoulder) can't go against the Falcons today.

Coming off their bye week, the Seattle Seahawks expect to get receivers Bobby Engram and Deion Branch and offensive tackle Sean Locklear back from injuries for today's game at the New York Giants. But the Seahawks are only 10-18 under coach Mike Holmgren when they travel east.

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