2002 RECORD: 5-11.

WHEN: July 25.

WHERE: Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz.

WHO'S NEW: Emmitt Smith, the Dallas icon who last year became the league's career rushing leader, was released in March and opted for pro football purgatory in the desert. We may never understand how retirement -- with three Super Bowl rings, not to mention immortality, in two -- was not a better option.

THE BUZZ: Neither the signing of Smith, nor those of castoff QB Jeff Blake and right-place, right-time FS Dexter Jackson, the Super Bowl MVP with Tampa Bay, should get Cardinals fans too excited -- if there are any Cardinals fans, that is.


2002 RECORD: 9-6-1 (NFC wild card).

WHEN: July 24.

WHERE: Furman University, Greenville, S.C.

WHO'S NEW: The Falcons gave up a first-round pick for WR Peerless Price, who starred as a No. 2 wide receiver opposite Eric Moulds in Buffalo, to be Michael Vick's No. 1 receiver. The move made all the sense in the world, but it remains to be seen if Price can be an every Sunday go-to guy.

THE BUZZ: This is a young and dangerous team with an improving defense. Just ask the Green Bay Packers, who never had lost a home playoff game until the Falcons got hot on the frozen tundra. If the offense can find the right balance of Vick and the running game (as in Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett), watch out.


2002 RECORD: 7-9.

WHEN: July 27.

WHERE: McDaniel College, Westminster, Md.

WHO'S NEW: The Ravens used first-round picks to select NCAA record-setting sack man Terrell Suggs and QB Kyle Boller. They're branded as the future, but you won't have to wait too long to see them.

THE BUZZ: Coach Brian Billick did an admirable job with the league's youngest team last season, and it definitely won't hurt to get LB Ray Lewis back after missing the final 11 games of '02 with a bum shoulder. If Boller looks the part in training camp, don't expect the Ravens to spend much more time with QB Chris Redman, who had his chance last season.