Horn Promises To Be A Leader For Atlanta


Friday, March 9th 2007, 7:34 am
By: News On 6


The teacher has arrived in Atlanta.

Joe Horn joined the Falcons and said Thursday he has come to educate the team's receivers. Horn signed a four-year, $19 million contract with Atlanta.

This Joe Horn, a mature veteran in the twilight of an 11-year career, wants to show Michael Jenkins and Roddy White what it takes to become a Pro Bowl receiver.

Horn earned four invitations to the NFL's annual all-star game as a Saint, and he sees no reason why Jenkins, the 29th overall draft pick of 2004, and White, picked No. 27 in 2005, should set low expectations for their careers.

``I'm going to call them cats and talk to them,'' Horn said. ``I want to get some words across to them and let them know where my heart is first. I want them to know _ 'I'm not here to shine on you, man. I came here to help. I came here to be a part of something new, something that's going to take off to the next level.'''

The Falcons certainly need to lift up their passing game, the worst in the NFL last year. Horn plans to help quarterback Michael Vick settle down and make the most of his talent. Horn wants to smooth the transition of new Falcons coach Bobby Petrino, who promises to put the football in the hands of Atlanta playmakers Alge Crumpler, Warrick Dunn _ and Horn.

Two months after turning 35 and suffering a groin injury that sidelined him for both playoff games and six overall during New Orleans' magical 2006 season, Horn promises the Falcons will not regret giving him $7.5 million in guaranteed bonuses.

``Mike is the leader of this football team,'' Horn said of Vick. ``I know that, but I'm going to let him know that I'm here to help him. He's been here. He knows what it takes to win.''

The Falcons lost six of eight to miss the playoffs in 2005. Last year, they blew a 5-2 start and finished 7-9. Vick, who seemed to take over games at will in 2002 and '04, lost confidence in the offense that former coordinator Greg Knapp failed to implement effectively.

``I'm going to bring some of my professionalism to Mike, and I know he will take it inside,'' Horn said. ``I'm not going to push myself or make someone do things just because I'm here. No, I want to be a brother to these guys and when I say something I want them to say, 'You know, I trust Joe.'''

Also switching cities is Willis McGahee, who will replace Jamal Lewis in Baltimore.

One day after Lewis signed with the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens obtained McGahee from Buffalo for three draft picks: a third and a seventh in this year's draft and a third in 2008.

``We're getting a dynamic back who has the potential to diversify our running game,'' Ravens coach Brian Billick said. ``We've studied him, and he brings the same passion and preparation that is common to Miami players, like our Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.''

McGahee has been available since the end of the season and several teams had interest. But none was willing to put together a package of draft picks that satisfied Buffalo.

McGahee is coming off a season with a career-low 990 yards rushing, but led the Bills with six touchdowns rushing in 14 starts.

In 2005, he rushed for 1,247 yards and five touchdowns in 15 starts. He established himself as Buffalo's starter in 2004 with 1,128 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in 11 starts.

St. Louis signed tight end Randy McMichael, late of the Dolphins. McMichael has averaged 65 receptions the last three seasons at a position where the Rams' leader last season was rookie Joe Klopfenstein with 20.

``This has been in the works for a while,'' said Rams coach Scott Linehan, who was the Dolphins' offensive coordinator in 2005. ``We even considered trading for him. He is an every-down tight end and a proven starter in the league.''

The Rams also agreed on a four-year contract with safety Todd Johnson, who spent the last four seasons with the Bears and was a part-time starter last year.

Seattle released fiery defensive end Grant Wistrom after three years of struggling to match the big contract he signed in 2004.

Wistrom was scheduled to make $3.5 million for the 2007 season, part of a six-year, $33 million deal Wistrom signed during the 2004 offseason. His contract included a then-club-record $14 million in guaranteed money, but Wistrom never posted big numbers with the Seahawks.

His release came one day after the Seahawks introduced new DE Patrick Kerney, who signed a six-year, $39.5 million contract after leaving Atlanta as a free agent.

In other moves:

_Miami signed former New York Giants kicker Jay Feely and former Chicago safety Cameron Worrell, and re-signed 350-pound defensive tackle Keith Traylor.

_Arizona signed safety Terrence Holt, a former Detroit Lion and the brother of Rams receiver Torry Holt.

_Cincinnati re-signed tight end Reggie Kelly.

_Philadelphia signed wide receiver and kick returner Bethel Johnson, who played for Minnesota last season.

_Washington signed offensive lineman Ross Tucker, who was out of football last season.

_The New York Jets signed fullback Darian Barnes, who started six games for Miami last year.

_ Houston re-signed free agent punter Chad Stanley, who has been with the team since its inception.

_ Punter Andy Lee will stay with San Francisco, which matched the Steelers' contract offer to the restricted free agent. Lee agreed to a six-year contract worth more than $7 million with the Steelers on Monday. Lee had his best season in 2006, posting the highest average by a San Francisco punter in 41 seasons, 44.8 yards per kick.