Twenty-seven teams took part in one of their allotted 10 organized team activities sessions on Thursday. While more than 35 notable first-year players arrived in Los Angeles for the union’s annual Rookie Premiere showcase, other players spent time at their respective facilities, mastering their team’s systems. Here are some news and notes from around the league:
DeSean Jackson tweaks hammy
Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson reportedly strained his hamstring while running a deep route on an overthrown Robert Griffin III pass. Trainers stretched out Jackson’s leg and applied an ice wrap minutes after he sustained the minor setback, according to a CSN Washington report. It certainly didn’t deter head coach Jay Gruden, who has been working mostly with the offense this week.
“I talked to [head athletic trainer] Larry Hess about it, but it’s a minor pull,” Gruden said, via a team transcript. “Receivers get those from time to time, and we’ll take the necessary precautions and make sure he’s right. He’s no good to us unless he’s running very fast. You saw some of the glimpses of it today – and he’s had a good offseason camp so far. We just have got to make sure he’s right.”
Washington’s wide receiving corps is as deep as any in the league and have welcomed Jackson with open arms.
“The players have embraced him, the coaches have embraced him,” Gruden said. “As long as he comes to practice with the right head on his shoulders willing to work like he’s proven so far, there will never be an issue.”
Vernon Davis holding out?
Vernon Davis had 52 receptions, 850 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013
The 49ers’ Pro Bowl tight end has been absent from the team’s OTAs this week and a CSN Bay Area report shed some light on a possible reason why. Vernon Davis, who signed a six-year, $42 million deal in 2010, is reportedly seeking a new contract and is willing to forfeit his annual $200,000 workout bonus to send the message.
Davis isn’t alone as guard Alex Boone was also not present at the voluntary workout because he’s dissatisfied with his current deal.
According to the report, the 49ers are just $1.73 million under the league’s salary cap, but will gain another $6.6 million in space next week when cornerback Carlos Rogers is officially lifted from the books.
Philly finally finds a safety net
The Eagles’ prized offseason acquisition has hit the ground running. Head coach Chip Kelly isn’t afraid to divvy out praise when a player deems himself worthy and he did so on behalf of safety Malcolm Jenkins.
“He’s been outstanding,” said Kelly of Jenkins, via a team transcript. “I think he’s an extremely intelligent football player and that obviously showed just from the first day we got a chance to get on the field with them.”
Jenkins played his first five seasons for the Saints, where he was annually named the defense’s captain. He signed a three-year deal worth $16.25 million in March.
“It feels like he’s been in the system for a while,” Kelly said. “Good understanding. The only thing for Malcolm is being able to communicate. You called it like this in New Orleans. We called it like this. He’s picked it up quickly.”
Back surgery for Jairus Byrd
The Saints replaced Jenkins with centerfield-type safety Jairus Byrd in free agency. The 5-foot-10, 203-pound safety was absent from the team’s facility as he is undergoing back surgery.
Head coach Sean Payton noted that the issue probably came up last month during some weightlifting and all parties decided it would be best long-term to have the procedure done.
"This is something after the doctors looked at it, and the specialists out in [Los Angeles] looked at it, [they] felt this was one scenario that would kind of take care of it rather than try to [keep managing it]," Payton said, via ESPN.com. "If it was during the season, you wouldn’t go through the procedure. You would treat it symptomatically then."
Surgery doesn’t slow down Eli
Eli Manning threw a career-high 27 interceptions in 2013.
Eli Manning underwent ankle surgery this offseason, but was active for Giants OTAs on Thursday. Manning, who participated with the first-team offense, told reporters that he feels like he can participate in just about “anything football related” at this point.
"My goal was always to be back for the OTAs," Manning said, via the Associated Press. "The doctors said that I needed seven weeks after surgery. They didn’t tell me that I wouldn’t be ready, but I had it in my mind that I should be ready. After three weeks, I knew I was feeling pretty good."
Julius Peppers dons the green and gold
Green Bay looked to beef up their pass rush this offseason by adding Julius Peppers to the defensive line. It’s safe to say that the team has been pleasantly surprised by their new teammate.
“I think it’s good for us,” outside linebacker Clay Matthews said, via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It will be good to play on the same side as him and have him garner some of attention as well as myself. That will present some difficulties for the offense to not only block the two of us, but guys that are stepping up, Mike Daniels, Mike Neal. In addition to the new rookies, there should be a good pass rush and I am looking forward to it.”
Peppers is entering his 13th season in the NFL and is coming off a year where he totaled 7 sacks for the Bears.
Matt Kalil had procedure done
Vikings franchise left tackle Matt Kalil didn’t participate in team drills and was limited to individual work because of a procedure he had this offseason, according to FOX Sports North’s Brian Hall.
"He had a little procedure done," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "I’m guessing it was about four or five weeks ago. He’s going through individual and stuff like that, so we’re just being a little careful with him right now."
No-show for the Chiefs’ sack leader?
Justin Houston had 11.0 sacks in 2013.
Outside linebacker Justin Houston was absent from OTAs this week, while he is potentially angling for a contract extension as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. While the Chiefs selected Dee Ford with their first-round pick, they likely will do what it takes to get Houston into the facility by training camp.
“I’ve been around this a long time,” head coach Andy Reid said, via the team’s transcript. “I understand the business side. These are voluntary. I got it. That’s not a distraction. We just focus on the guys and coach the guys that are here, and these guys are working their tails off.”
Cornerback Brandon Flowers, who will cost the Chiefs $10.5 million against their cap in 2014, also was absent and could be on the outside looking in as he’d count for just $3 million against the cap if he’s released after June 1.
Big plans for Mike Wallace in Miami?
New Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has reportedly operated at a tempo the Dolphins aren’t used to. Since Lazor, who spent last season in Philadelphia as the QB coach alongside Chip Kelly, is installing these new concepts, it leaves one Dolphins beat writer wondering if he will be able to maximize Mike Wallace’s potential.
Wallace now is being lined up different spots in an effort to get more opportunities, according to an ESPN.com report.
While Wallace posted marginal numbers in 2013 (73 receptions, 930 yards, 5 TDs), the hope was always to have him become a big-play threat. Wallace averaged 12.7 yards a reception last season, which was his lowest in his five-year career.