Las Vegas, prepare yourself for a no-risk situation.
While a professional football team being dropped into Nevada doesn't necessarily fall under "no-risk" in regular business terms, hiring Jim Fassel as the guy to lead that team in the right direction is the one thing that isn't a gamble.
Fassel, an offensive guru, is best-known for turning things around for NFL veteran Kerry Collins, as well as guaranteeing the 2000 New York Giants would make the playoffs. The end result; a Super Bowl appearance against the Baltimore Ravens.
His career is full of accomplishments, postseason success, potent offenses, and the progressive development of several quarterbacks.
Considering he was a quarterback himself at USC, who better to grab hold of J.P. Losman and make something out of him? Come to think of it, Las Vegas is still about taking risks, after all.
Read on and take a look at the key stars who represent the Locomotives in 2009 as Jim Fassel and co. attempt to put a face on professional football in Las Vegas.
J.P. Losman (QB)
Drafted out of Tulane in the first round by the Buffalo Bills in 2004, Losman appeared to be the Bills' savior at the quarterback position. However, a leg injury delayed a major impact in his rookie season.
Despite the setback, Losman led the Bills to a 22-7 victory in his first NFL start in 2005.
This minimal second-year success left room for plenty of optimism, and 2006 saw Losman throw 19 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions as he passed for over 3,000 yards and led a much-improved Bills offense.
However, Losman returned to inconsistent play due to a horrendous offensive line and a lack of star power outside of stud receiver Lee Evans. This drop-off in play prompted Buffalo to draft Trent Edwards out of Stanford, and ultimately led to Losman being out of a job.
Never short of talent, Losman is expected to be Las Vegas's starter on opening day. He offers plenty of athleticism, a big arm, and a chip on his shoulder that could equate to great success in 2009.
Tim Rattay (QB)
While Rattay never established himself in the NFL as a franchise quarterback or a consistent starter, he has come a long way since being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2000 draft.
Rattay would go on to appear in 40 NFL games, and has recorded over 4,500 yards and 31 touchdowns as a spot-duty quarterback, offering quality insurance as a back-up at the NFL level for eight seasons.
As of this season, Rattay also still holds the record for completions in a game for the 49ers, a prestigious quarterback franchise, with 37.
David Kircus (WR)
Kircus, nick-named "Circus" Kircus for his acrobatic and athletic catches at Grand Valley State, is big-play receiver with exceptional hands and ball skills.
Despite attending a small school in college, Kircus's numbers did not go unnoticed, as he was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 2003 NFL Draft.
Kircus would go on to play for the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins, registering 15 receptions for 308 yards and a touchdown in his NFL career.
With underrated speed and excellent play-making ability, Kircus gives the Locomotives—and J.P. Losman—a reliable target.
Tab Perry (WR)
Perry is a dynamic and versatile player who simply hasn't had the opportunity to make a big impact in the NFL.
Despite only being drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Perry was still able to stick with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2005-2007 and finished his career as a Dolphin in Miami.
Perry brings 10 NFL receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown, as well as six rushing attempts for 22 yards and another score, to Las Vegas.
Adam Bergen (TE)
Bergen is a solid pass-catching tight end with average speed and blocking ability. However, with his good size (6'4'', 267 lbs), Bergen could emerge in the UFL as a consistent target over the middle, as well as a threat in the end zone.
Bergen brings 43 receptions, 381 yards, and two touchdowns, as well as four years of experience to the Locomotives. He figures to be a welcome addition, as well as a likely safety blanket for J.P. Losman.
Wendell Bryant (DT)
At 6'5'' and 305 lbs, Bryant is a space-eater for Las Vegas. However, while he comes into the league with a slew of accomplishments, he also carries the label of an NFL bust.
Bryant was a great collegiate player, winning the Big Ten Defensive Linemen of the Year award both as a junior and a senior at Wisconsin.
Bryant was then selected in the first round of the 2002 draft by the Arizona Cardinals, lasting on their roster until 2004. He has been out of the league since.
With 39 career tackles and 1.5 sacks, Bryant has a lot to prove, and will try to live up to his first-round billing this year with Las Vegas.
Teddy Lehman (LB)
A second-round draft pick by the Detroit Lions in 2004, Lehman was an extremely productive rookie as he topped 100 tackles in his first year, and was the only rookie linebacker to start all 16 games that season.
Unfortunately for Lehman and the Lions, multiple injuries cut into his once-promising career, and future draft picks at the position inevitably made Lehman expendable.
Lehman's career as a Lion and a player in the NFL ended in 2007 with 151 career tackles to his name.
Fully recovered and prepared to prove he still has the ability to play at the sport's highest level, Lehman figures to be a fine addition to a very talented and deep Las Vegas defense.
Brandon Moore (LB)
Moore was an excellent find for the San Francisco 49ers in 2004, after he signed with the team when he went undrafted.
Moore stuck with the 49ers until 2007, registering 88 games played while logging 244 tackles and 15 sacks.
At 30, Moore is healthy and in his prime. With great experience and solid production at a high level, Moore is one of the better, more well-rounded talents leading Las Vegas's defense.
Tony Parrish (DB)
Parrish is proof that you're never too old for a second chance. Despite a long, successful NFL career, Parrish can no longer live on past accomplishments, and must fight to keep playing the game he loves.
With over a decade of experience, Parrish also brings great play-making ability and instincts to Las Vegas.
Parrish registered an impressive 649 tackles, five sacks, 30 interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns while suiting up for the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers.
He played his final season in the NFL at age 31 with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006.
Parrish will be 34 in November, but with great instincts and years of experience at a position (safety) not dependent on speed, he can still prove to be a great asset—both in the UFL, and possibly once again in the NFL.
While many look at the offensive side of the ball and salivate over the possibilities of a Jim Fassel-led group—as well as what could be born with a rejuvenated and determined J.P. Losman—the defensive unit is just as talented and intriguing.
Like the two teams previewed before them, California and Florida, Las Vegas has a good core on both sides of the ball, presenting the makings already for an extremely competitive league.
Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of the UFL Team Previews.
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