Seahawks lose LT Okung to ankle injury — 11:31 p.m.
Sixth-overall draft choice Russell Okung has left the Seahawks’ second preseason game with an ankle injury.
Seattle’s left tackle to replace retired All-Pro Walter Jones limped off and into the locker room following his team’s opening drive against Green Bay on Saturday night.
The team announced his return was doubtful. Seattle’s starters were expecting to play through the first half.
Mansfield Wrotto, normally a guard, replaced him. Seattle is already without backup tackle Ray Willis for an indefinite time because he is facing knee surgery.
The Seahawks gave Okung a six-year contract earlier this month that guarantees him more than $29 million and has a maximum value of $58 million.
Bills TE Nelson apologizes for suspension — 7:13 p.m.
Buffalo Bills tight end Shawn Nelson apologized Saturday for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, saying he did nothing illegal.
”To my team, my family, my church family, the great city of Buffalo, and my fans I want to apologize,” Nelson said Nelson after practice. ”It’s nothing bad; nothing illegal that happened. There are rumors that it was dealing with some different types of things that myself is not involved in.”
Nelson was addressing the media for the first time since receiving a four-game suspension. He did not participate in practice but was deemed healthy by coach Chan Gailey.
Gailey also announced that tight end Derek Schouman will miss three to six weeks after injuring his knee Thursday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Gailey also said linebacker Reggie Torbor will miss at least three weeks after suffering an undisclosed injury against the Colts. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams was held out of practice, but Gailey said he was banged up and would be fine.
Falcons rookie WR out for season — 6:41 p.m.
Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Kerry Meier, who suffered a knee injury during Thursday night’s game against the New England Patriots, was placed on injured reserve. As noted previously, the injury would keep Meier out for the entire 2010 season, so the team decided to place him on IR immediately.
A source said that the injury was actually a torn ACL. That’s the second straight year that a draft selection suffered an ACL injury. Third-round pick WR Harry Douglas suffered a torn ACL during an early training camp practice last year.
Meier, who had a great training camp, was competing for the fourth receiver job.
— Adam Caplan
Chargers veteran left tackle retires — UPDATED 4:51 p.m.
As expected, veteran left tackle Tra Thomas has decided to retire. The San Diego Chargers made the announcement Saturday afternoon.
Sources said Thomas told his teammates of the decision in the past 24 hours.
Thomas signed with the team in June, but had knee surgery earlier this month. Player sources said Thomas didn’t seem like he could make it through a 16-game regular season, so he decided not to continue.
Thomas joined the Chargers after 11 seasons and three Pro Bowls with the Philadelphia Eagles (1998-08) and one year with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009).
— Adam Caplan
Knee injury shelves Bengals safety — 9:42 a.m.
Cincinnati Bengals backup S Gibril Wilson suffered ACL and MCL tears to his knee during Friday’s home game against the Philadelphia Eagles, his agent, Alvin Keels, said via Twitter.
With Wilson likely to miss the entire 2010 season, that leaves the team thin at the free safety position. Second-year S Tom Nelson (knee) remains on the physically unable to perform list, leaving starter Chris Crocker and fourth-stringer Rico Murray as the only healthy free safeties.
— Adam Caplan
August 20 News and Notes
Eagles WR Maclin injures shoulder — 11:38 p.m.
Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid said the X-rays taken on starting WR Jeremy Maclin’s injured shoulder were negative and he just suffered a shoulder contusion. Reid added Maclin “should be fine”. ¿¿
Maclin was injured in the second quarter of Friday night’s game at the Cincinnati Bengals. ¿¿
Philadelphia’s third preseason is next Friday at the Kansas City Chiefs. ¿
— Adam Caplan
Falcons receiver out for season — 10:11 p.m.
The Atlanta Falcons have placed fifth-round pick WR Kerry Meier (knee) on injured reserve. The rookie was injured during Thursday night’s game against the New England Patriots. It’s believed the injury was serious enough that he would not have been able to play this season, so the decision was made quickly to put him on IR. Meier, according to sources, was having a dominant training camp and was on his way to being in the top four of the rotation.
The team is also still without starting WR Michael Jenkins (shoulder), who is expected to miss about three more weeks.
— Adam Caplan
Vikings work out WRs; Favre to Start — 7:15 p.m.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress said Friday QB Brett Favre, who reported to the team earlier this week, will play one or two series against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday evening.
The Vikings worked out two free-agent wide receivers Friday, according to Viking Update’s Tim Yotter. Yotter notes Childress also said Javon Walker and Brandon Jones worked out for the team. Both players are expected to take physicals, Yotter added.
Walker, who turns 32 in October, was released by the Oakland Raiders on March 8. Jones, who turns 28 in October, was released by the San Francisco 49ers earlier this week.
With second-year WR Percy Harvin still sidelined by migraine headaches and starting WR Sidney Rice (hip) still on the physically unable to perform list, Minnesota is really thin at the receiver position. Harvin actually returned to the sidelines at practice Friday, less than 24 hours after passing out during Thursday’s practice. It’s still uncertain when he’ll be cleared to practice.
— Adam Caplan
Broncos sign LB Worrell Williams — 6:10 p.m.
The Broncos have signed free agent linebacker Worrell Williams, the younger brother of Denver inside linebacker D.J. Williams.
The Broncos also waived rookie linebacker Devin Bishop.
Worrell Williams is a rookie who spent the 2009 season with the California Redwoods of the UFL after playing four seasons at Cal, where he started 36 games and recorded 246 career tackles.
Cowboys OK with 2 backups blocking for Romo — 5:21 p.m.
On the opening drive of their last preseason game, the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line missed enough blocks to get Tony Romo sacked three times.
Now the Cowboys are about to face a San Diego defense that just blitzed Chicago so often and so well that the Bears pulled starter Jay Cutler earlier than they’d planned. And Dallas will play the Chargers on Saturday night with two backups starting on the offensive line.
”I stayed up all night and worried about Romo,” coach Wade Phillips said. ”But I think he’ll be all right playing behind a makeshift offensive line.”
He was being sarcastic. Very.
Phillips said Friday that he expects to use his starters for ”pretty close to a half” against the Chargers. That includes Montrae Holland at left guard and newbie Robert Brewster at right tackle.
And Romo at quarterback.
”Romo needs to get ready to play,” Phillips said. ”He doesn’t need to sit out the whole preseason. Neither one of those (starting linemen) is going to be back in the preseason so the theory of don’t put him in there because those two guys are gone, well, then he doesn’t play. He just sits out. That’s the silly part to me.”
Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo were lost this week to knee injuries. Colombo had arthroscopic surgery and is expected back within two weeks; certainly by the season opener. Kosier doesn’t need surgery but could miss up to the first three games.
With neither starter back this preseason, Dallas has little choice but to plug in the replacements and hope for the best. The Cowboys certainly need the work. They haven’t scored a touchdown in either of their preseason games. The starters have played only 32 snaps, mounting several good drives but failing to finish them.
Of course, there’s a fine line between the benefit of live action and the risk of losing Romo to injury. So the Cowboys will take precautions. Romo will have fewer seven-step drops, more handoffs and an extra tight end or fullback helping Brewster on the right side when they do pass. Sure, that means they won’t get a true test of their offense, but Dallas wasn’t planning to dig deep into the playbook anyway.
Phillips said how long the starters stay in will depend on how they’re doing. The better they play, the quicker they can have the night off. Romo’s health will be considered, too, if the Chargers are finding their way to him with ease.
The Cowboys have allowed 11 sacks this preseason. Holland hasn’t played because of a hamstring, but he should be OK considering he’s made 48 career starts and played 74 games. Brewster is essentially a rookie because he was injured all of last season, his first.
Rookie linebacker Sean Lee and rookie safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah are expected to make their preseason debuts. Owusu-Ansah also will be the primary returner on punts and kickoffs.
”I think it’ll be important to see both of them,” Phillips said.
Tight end Martellus Bennett also is expected to play for the first time this summer.
Colts seeing improvement in sluggish ground game — 4:52 p.m.
Jim Caldwell has done just about everything to give the Colts’ running game a tuneup.
Now he wants to see results.
After finishing the last two seasons ranked 32nd and 31st in yards rushing per game, there are finally signs of progress. In Thursday night’s loss at Buffalo, four players had runs longer than 10 yards and the Colts averaged 4.7 per carry behind their makeshift offensive line.
No, they didn’t win, but it is a start.
”I think you can see we ran the ball a little bit better,” Caldwell said Friday. ”Joe (Addai) had a couple of nice runs, Donald (Brown) had a couple of nice runs, Devin (Moore) had a couple of nice runs. But we still have a long way to go.”
With four-time league MVP Peyton Manning in charge of the offense, the Colts will always be a pass-first team.
Given the results, it makes sense.
Indy’s last two title runs were derailed because of an inability to convert short-yardage plays.
Twice in January 2009, the Colts had chances to put away the Chargers in a playoff game and twice they failed. San Diego wound up rallying to force overtime and then eliminated the Colts in Tony Dungy’s final game.
Caldwell wasted no time putting his stamp on the team when training camp opened last year.
He announced that Charlie Johnson would replace Tony Ugoh at left tackle and then made a midseason change by moving Arena Football2 vet Kyle DeVan ahead of former second-round pick Mike Pollak at right guard.
The Colts responded by going 14-2 and winning the AFC title, but in the Super Bowl, the same old problem was back. When Indy failed to convert on third-and-1 late in the first half, New Orleans drove for a 44-yard field goal that cut the halftime lead to 10-6.
After the game, team president Bill Polian publicly criticized the offensive line and sent a clear message about what the Colts were going to do in the offseason – improve the ground game.
”There are things you have to do better,” Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday said this summer. ”Our goal is to be three-fourths of a yard better (rushing) than we were last year. You know it’s always tough when you’re the one getting criticized, but we have got to get better.”
Indy’s overhaul began with the planned promotion of Pete Metzelaars to offensive line coach after Howard Mudd retired. Polian signed free agents Andy Alleman and Adam Terry in an effort to give the Colts’ line more size, then tried to reinforce the unit by drafting guard Jacques McClendon in the fourth round and blocking tight end Brody Eldridge in the sixth.
How have all the changes worked? It’s been a mixed bag.
Alleman was cut during the first week of training camp after hurting his back, Terry entered Thursday night’s game midway through the second quarter and McClendon has been slowed by an undisclosed injury.
Indy’s 3.5 yards-per-carry average in the first two preseason games matches last year’s regular-season average, and Addai has scored Indy’s only rushing touchdowns. But two starters – Johnson (sprained right foot) and Saturday (knee surgery) – have not played in either game, and DeVan was out Thursday with a hamstring injury.
So Caldwell is getting a good look at how some other guys might be able to help.
”They have handled themselves fairly well,” Caldwell said. ”The pass protection was fairly solid. We ran the ball a lot better than the first week, and that’s what we expect.”
Caldwell expects the progression to continue.
It’s not as if the Colts offense can’t produce proficient runners. Edgerrin James won NFL rushing titles in 1999 and 2000, behind Manning, and the Colts had three different 1,000-yard runners between 2000 and 2007.
Nor is it devoid of talent.
Saturday and Diem started when James was running and are still there, and Ugoh and Pollak are former second-round picks who Colts’ coaches still believe in.
Addai, a first-round pick in 2006, opened his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons but failed to top 600 yards in 2008 and barely reached 800 last season. Brown, Indy’s first-round pick in 2009, has battled injuries and averaged only 2.1 yards on nine carries in the preseason.
But to win a Super Bowl, Caldwell knows this: Indy’s offense has to be running on all cylinders.
”I think you can certainly evaluate and make a comparison between last week and this week, and we got better,” Caldwell said. ”That’s our goal. We expect to be better than we were today.”
Jaguars confident Nelson can rebound from woes — 4:41 p.m.
Reggie Nelson looked around the field and wondered why he was still in the game. He never questioned it, though.
A former Florida star, a first-round draft pick and a three-year starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Nelson played as much as anyone in the team’s preseason opener last week. He was in early and late, playing alongside undrafted rookies and little-known veterans.
Nelson figured coaches were sending him a message. Actually, they were trying to bolster his confidence – which has taken a big hit after two sub-par seasons.
”What he’s doing right now gives him a chance,” coach Jack Del Rio said.
Nelson, the 21st selection in the 2007 draft, is trying to find his way after too many missed tackles and too many blown assignments. The Jaguars aren’t ready to give up on him, either. Not even close.
Del Rio believes Nelson still has a chance to become a defensive playmaker and provide the kind of presence that made him a first-team All-American and national champion with the Gators. His next opportunity comes Saturday night against Miami.
”He’s had some tough games, and when that happens, it can crush your confidence,” Del Rio said. ”We’re trying to build him back up right now.”
That certainly didn’t seem to be the case in Philadelphia. Nelson played nearly every snap against the Eagles, getting looks with the starters and the long shots.
Nelson thought the worst.
”It’s crystal clear. I played the whole game,” he said. ”I don’t know if it’s a message or what. I’m not going to sit there and argue with anybody. I’m just going to play football. Wherever I fall on the depth chart, I’ll just fall into it.
”In their eyes, I’m not starting anymore. You’ve just got to accept that.”
True, Nelson is no longer running with the first-team defense. He’s behind Gerald Alexander, Anthony Smith and maybe even Sean Considine on the depth chart.
How did Nelson fall so far so fast?
He had 82 tackles, 12 pass breakups, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and a sack as a rookie. He has just nine breakups and two picks since, and his tackles also have dropped.
Some blame Nelson’s struggles on having three defensive coordinators – Mike Smith, Gregg Williams and Mel Tucker – in four seasons.
Others point to Nelson shuffling positions. He started out as a roaming safety, then was asked to stay home and read opposing quarterbacks. He also spent time playing cornerback and working only in nickel situations.
Del Rio has a different take. He says what Nelson did so well as a rookie – reading quarterbacks and then reacting to the football – simply doesn’t work anymore because teams know they can take advantage of him with pump-fakes and look-offs.
”Everybody has what-ifs,” Nelson said. ”I can’t sit here and say, ‘What if they didn’t do this or what if they didn’t do that.’ They asked me to do some things. I did it with no questions asked and went out there and did it to the best of my abilities. Learned corner within a week, learned nickel. Whenever my number’s called, I just go play football.”
It hasn’t always been pretty, though.
The same guy who made bone-bruising hits, touchdown-saving tackles and game-changing interceptions for the Gators struggled all over the field for the Jaguars. He missed tackles near the line of scrimmage, allowed receivers to blow by him deep, and more often than not, left coaches and teammates scratching their heads.
Nelson never sulked, though.
He could have pouted, pointed fingers or pleaded for more stability. Instead, he took the blame.
”He owns up to everything,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said. ”If he doesn’t know it, he says he doesn’t know. If he misses a tackle, he says he missed a tackle. If he makes the wrong read, he says he made the wrong read. For him to be as young as he is and to handle it like a true professional, I tip my hat to him and tell him to stay on the grind and stay positive.
”If he’s out there, he’s going to make plays.”
That was evident in the preseason opener.
On three consecutive plays in the first quarter, Nelson made two open-field tackles and tipped away a pass in the end zone. Later in the game, though, he whiffed trying to tackle Michael Vick on a 10-yard touchdown run and was out of position on two passing plays.
”Everybody’s got their opinion,” Nelson said. ”You’ve got to make the plays you can make, and if you don’t make one, you’ve got to move on from it. You can’t hold onto the last play. You’ve got to move on. You’re not going to do everything right.
”You can’t let the pressure bust the pipe.”
Changes all around for Titans on linebacker unit — 4:16 p.m.
No unit on the Tennessee Titans has seen more changes, or gone through more turmoil, than the linebacking corps this year.
And the changes aren’t over yet.
One starter from last year is now with the New York Giants. Another is recovering from shoulder surgery and a hip problem and still on the physically unable to perform list. There’s the new veteran starter, learning the nuances of the Titans’ defense, and a potential starter who will be sitting out the first four games under a league suspension.
Despite the turnover, Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch – the one sure returning starter – sees a strong unit filled with fast, athletic players.
”Once they pick it up mentally, this linebacking corps can be something special,” he said.
One thing’s certain. It will be very different from last season when the Titans ranked 28th in yards allowed per game, including next to last in yards passing per game.
Outside linebacker Keith Bulluck started 127 straight games during his 10 years here before tearing his left ACL. His contract was up, and both he and the Titans disagree over whether the team that drafted him in the first round in 2000 over how much interest they ever had in bringing him back.
Gerald McRath said a player like Bulluck can never be replaced.
”He has made his mark in this community and on this team and in this organization. Take away his leadership and his traits and the way that he played the game and hope to live by the standards that he set. You can only hope to push better and create your own identity. Be the best person that you can be,” McRath said.
Bulluck signed with the Giants late last month, and his locker finally was given to Will Witherspoon. He’s a veteran going into his ninth NFL season after spending last year with St. Louis and Philadelphia. He sees a hard-working group of linebackers.
”Everybody’s always on the same page, and we communicate well no matter if you have a question about what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, how you see something? We spend a lot of time in our meeting room … just trying to get the little details together,” Witherspoon said.
Thornton said in June he expected to be ready sometime during training camp. Well, the Titans wrap up camp Aug. 26, and Thornton is doing more without being cleared yet to join the active roster. Last season ended early for him, and he had surgery to repair a shoulder and pectoral problem.
He is a key veteran for this defense. But Thornton’s due $4.35 million this season, which might make him too expensive to keep considering McRath appears ready to start in his spot. The Titans’ biggest problem there, however, is McRath must sit the first four games after dropping his appeal for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
”With Gerald’s situation if Dave’s not ready, it’s going to be different,” coach Jeff Fisher said Friday of his linebacking group.
Fisher called the suspension difficult for both McRath and the Titans. They have been working McRath both with the first-team defense and the backups through camp to make sure other potential starters like Colin Allred and Jamie Winborn get enough work as well before McRath rejoins the team Oct. 5.
”Based on the type of worker he is, I don’t anticipate having any problems,” Fisher said.
Then there’s Tulloch, the team’s leading tackler in 2009.
He worked out on his own in Miami, including trying to sharpen the pass coverage skills that had been seen as an area for improvement. He wanted a long-term deal going into his fifth season, but the final year of the league’s labor agreement allowed the Titans to give him a one-year tender at $2.52 million.
Tulloch has refused to dwell on the business side, determined to earn that new contract with his play this season. He arrived on time for camp and said he expects great things this season.
If the linebackers needed added incentive, Fisher wrote the defense’s stats on the board at the start of training camp.
”It was sickening to see where we finished last season. Our run defense was top 10 but our pass defense wasn’t where it needed to be,” Tulloch said. ”As linebackers and a unit, we have to work on the small things to get our defense where it needs to be. We’ve got to carry our weight, and this team could be something special.”
Notes: CB Ryan Mouton (groin) returned to practice Friday after sitting out the last four days. … WR Justin Gage (thumb) sat out again along with CB Cortland Finnegan (groin). CB Tye Hill, who left early Thursday, was back on the field and had an interception. DE Jacob Ford didn’t finish and had ice wrapped on the back of his right leg for soreness.
Orton’s deal might benefit Tebow, too — 4:33 p.m.
Kyle Orton swears he never saw the arrivals of Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow as a sign of disrespect from the Denver Broncos, only another challenge to embrace.
”I think that’s the case for 26, 27 teams in the NFL. They’re always trying to replace the quarterback,” Orton said Friday, about 15 hours after signing a one-year extension that shows how strong his hold is on the starting job.
”That’s just life in this league, life at this position. They’re going to try to bring in somebody better and younger and all that stuff,” Orton said. ”But ultimately, as long as the decision is made on the field and based on play, you really can’t have any gripes about it. Fortunately, that’s been the case and I’ve played well.”
Orton has made great strides in both his grasp and execution of coach Josh McDaniels’ intricate offense in his second season in Denver. Plus, he’s not dealing with two bum ankles as he was last season.
As a result, Orton, who threw two TD passes in his three series during the preseason opener at Cincinnati, now is signed through 2011 with more than $8 million guaranteed.
The deal not only gives Orton some of the security he’s long sought but also provides Tebow, the former Florida star, with some time to develop into a pro-set passer and offers Quinn time to learn the complex system after three up-and-down seasons in Cleveland.
McDaniels said Tebow and Quinn shouldn’t view this development as a dialing down of the pressure because he wants them to continue pushing the incumbent for his starting job.
”I hope there’s pressure on all our players to try to compete to play as soon as they can,” McDaniels said. ”I think the fact of the matter is Kyle’s the starter, has played like the starter, is playing very well and playing at a different level than Tim or Brady both play at. … So, maybe it’s a challenge for them, Brady and Tim both.”
Orton, who is 29-19 as a starter in Chicago and Denver, has shown no hint that he’s ready to relinquish his starting job, and now he’s got the contract to prove it.
”I hope my play is what tells the team that I’m the guy,” Orton said. ”I think I’ve elevated my play, I’ve elevated my leadership, I’ve elevated my understanding of the offense. So, I think we’ve got a lot of guys in the huddle that have seen that and I hope that’s what really gives them that comfort.”
All offseason and especially during training camp, McDaniels not only saw how far Tebow and Quinn have to go but how far Orton’s come.
”He’s certainly a different player, there’s no question about it,” McDaniels said. ”There’s things that he does now every day that there’s no way he was ready to do last year in our system: his ability to communicate with our players, to change plays, to get out of a bad play. I think the trust that the players have in him … That’s something that comes with time, experience, knowledge, hard work and just repetition.
”And I think that Kyle came back in the spring and was a different player, and we didn’t have any practices between January and May. So, he was different right from the get-go. He carried that all the way through the spring and then certainly has come into training camp ready to go and has improved there, too.”
Not that Orton was lost after coming over in the Jay Cutler trade – after all, he had his best statistical season last year, setting career highs in nearly every passing category, including throwing for 3,802 yards – but his bad ankles messed up his throwing mechanics and the Broncos lost eight of their last 10 to finish at .500.
When he watches Tebow and Quinn struggle to understand or direct Denver’s complex offense, Orton feels their frustration, having been there himself not that long ago.
”There’s always growing pains when you’re coming in,” Orton said.
With a year under his belt, a season’s worth of plays to look back on and his ankles no longer ailing, Orton was able to vastly improve his play.
”I feel like I’ve come a really long way in three months and feel like there’s still a ton of room for exponential growth,” he said.
Orton, who signed a $2.621 million tender in the spring, said he was resigned to playing out the 2010 season as a lame duck quarterback before his agent, David Dunn, and Broncos general manager Brian Xanders came up with the one-year extension Thursday that’s worth about $9 million with $5.5 million guaranteed.
”I just went into the whole camp saying nothing’s going to get done, I’m going to have the best year of my career and have to wait until next year,” Orton said. ”And I was fine with that. If something came about that we thought was fair, we were going to take it, and it kind of came about pretty quickly.”
McDaniels said the one-year extension ”wasn’t the only thing discussed. But I think everybody kind of felt this is a good alternative, a good option for all of us, something we both wanted to do.”
Vikings shrug off Favre, Harvin distractions — 4:12 p.m.
The Minnesota Vikings have had an eventful week.
Brett Favre finally showed up. Then Percy Harvin had a severe migraine headache attack that sent him to the hospital.
But the Vikings are accustomed to the attention. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian says they’re the best-conditioned team to distractions in the league, next to Cincinnati. The Bengals have two famously flamboyant players in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
Coach Brad Childress says the Vikings have ”great guys with great resolve.”
Childress said Friday that Favre will play a series or two in Sunday’s game at San Francisco. Linebacker E.J. Henderson will play the first quarter with the starting defense, his first game action since breaking his leg in December.
Jaguars sign LB — 1:55 p.m.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent LB Alvin Bowen on Friday. Bowen was waived on Tuesday by the Seattle Seahawks, who signed him just two weeks prior. In addition, the team placed veteran LB Freddy Keiaho on injured reserve.
Bowen (6-1, 222) was originally a fifth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2008 and suffered a season-ending knee injury as a rookie in the preseason. He also has spent time with the Washington Redskins
A source said the undersized, but speedy linebacker recently worked out for the Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and Philadelphia Eagles.
Bowen is capable of playing weak-side or strong-side linebacker in Jacksonville’s 4-3 defensive scheme.
— Adam Caplan
Rested Hasselbeck having unique Seattle summer — 1:01 p.m.
Matt Hasselbeck wasn’t standing around quite as much during Seahawks practices this week. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback was working with the first team, like he’s been since 2001.
At least it seemed that way. Who knows, in this training camp run by preservation- and competition-minded new coach Pete Carroll?
”The schedule might be different too, so it might just feel like I’m getting more reps,” Hasselbeck deadpanned. ”Or it’s just hotter.”
Yes, the heat is on.
Carroll knows Hasselbeck turns 35 next month. He knows the trigger man Mike Holmgren brought from Green Bay in 2001 to lead a Seattle football renaissance has had two of his worst seasons while enduring injuries to his back, ribs and shoulder the last two years. The Seahawks have slumped to 9-23 in that time.
Carroll also knows Hasselbeck is in the last year of his contract.
Plus, he and his new staff like what they see in heir Charlie Whitehurst, the former Chargers third-stringer who threw for two touchdowns in last weekend’s preseason opener against Tennessee. Whitehurst has been getting the first-team snaps that Hasselbeck has been watching.
Yet Carroll has repeatedly said ”Matt is our starting quarterback” and has praised how great his offseason has been.
Hasselbeck figures to play more Saturday night in Seattle’s home exhibition against Green Bay. Perhaps the entire first half.
”Yeah, I would expect to,” he said this week. ”But the coaches haven’t really said anything.
”There are probably lessons to be learned there. You can come out and mentally not be ready to really perform. It’s all part of the preseason. I think I fall into that category.”
Speaking of Green Bay, Hasselbeck says this mini summer hiatus reminds him of his days backing up Brett Favre from 1998-2000 as Holmgren’s sixth-round draft pick with the Packers.
”I wasn’t getting a lot of reps and was I just sort of watching practice. You almost get spoiled getting all the reps and it’s not much fun to go back to that,” he said. ”But that’s just part of it and it’s part of how we’re doing things. It’s probably the smarter way to go.”
Less practice did not translate into more effectiveness against the Titans last week. In three series, Hasselbeck was 4 for 10 and was sacked once. Tennessee knocked down four of his passes, two of them at the line.
Aaron Rodgers had no such opening issues in Green Bay. He completed his first nine passes and finished 12 for 13 for 159 yards with no interceptions, no sacks and a touchdown for a passer rating of 143.3 against Cleveland, before giving way to backup Matt Flynn after roughly 20 snaps.
”I felt pretty good,” Rodgers said, sounding opposite of Hasselbeck.
Rodgers looked particularly sharp against the blitz, and his next practice test is against a Seahawks defense searching for a pass rush. So Rodgers’ summer carry-over from his first Pro Bowl appearance last season may continue.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy says Rodgers and fellow starters are likely to again play into the second quarter in Seattle.
Hasselbeck’s tepid start isn’t all because of inactivity. New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates cited the key to Seattle’s season – the protection provided by a changing offensive line, anchored by rookie left tackle Russell Okung instead of retired All-Pro Walter Jones – as a factor.
This is also Hasselbeck’s third offensive scheme in three seasons. Bates and line coach Alex Gibbs are installing a more pure zone-blocking scheme upon which the entire offense is based.
”There are some things that he’d want to take back, but it’s the first time in this offense,” Bates said of Hasselbeck. ”We have to protect him and help him out a little bit, but we’re going to keep growing.
”We’ll go as far as they take us,” Bates said of the blockers. ”It’s up to those guys to take us to victories.”
Hasselbeck sounded humbled.
”I got graded pretty tough, like I would expect to. And I should have finished the day probably six of 10, or seven of 10, could have been cleaner, a little bit more crisp,” Seattle’s Super Bowl quarterback in 2006 said. ”I probably lacked a lot of enthusiasm and energy when I was out there, which that’s something that I have to bring to the table.”
Bills TE out four games — 1:05 p.m.
Buffalo Bills TE Shawn Nelson has been suspended by the NFL four games for violating the substance abuse policy, the league announced Friday. Nelson can play in the rest of the preseason games and can practice up until the first week of the regular season. He can return to the team after the fourth regular season game.
Nelson, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by Buffalo, was expected to give the team a vertical threat for their passing game this season, but they’ll have to wait until he sits out four games. Third-year TE Jonathan Stupar is currently listed as a starter for the team.
Nelson played in roughly 51 percent of the defensive snaps last season and started 12 games.
Nelson, who is scheduled to earn $395,000 in base salary this season, will lose roughly $92,941 during his suspension.
— Adam Caplan
Sorgi concerned about injury to right shoulder — 12:39 p.m.
New York Giants backup quarterback Jim Sorgi is unable to make a throwing motion because of the injury to his right shoulder.
Sorgi was still gathering information Friday about the tear in the anterior capsule of his throwing arm, but said the injury he sustained in Monday night’s win over the Jets is a lot worse than he originally thought.
He is taking anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce the swelling and hopes to be sidelined only two to three weeks, though he’s unsure about a timetable for his return.
The Giants open the season against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 12.
”I don’t know what it all entails, how quickly the rehab and the comeback from it is,” Sorgi said as the Giants broke training camp at the University at Albany. ”It ended up being a lot worse than I thought it was. It ended up being an injury that is not going to get better in one or two days like I thought it would. I’m just playing it by ear.”
Sorgi, who was signed in the offseason to back up starter Eli Manning, said he was limited in making over-the-head movements with his right arm. He can made underhand movements without a problem, but said his range of motion declines as he lifts his arm.
”I can tell when I lift my arm up, it’s hard to hold it out to the side,” said Sorgi, who backed up Peyton Manning for six seasons in Indianapolis before signing with the Giants. ”Over-the-head movement is just not going to happen now. I just hope it happens sooner than later.”
Sorgi was hurt in the fourth quarter throwing a 34-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. Jets linebacker Lance Laury hit him as he released the ball.
Manning also was hurt in the game, receiving a three-inch gash on the left side of his head when his helmet was knocked off and he was hit by Jets safety Jim Leonhard.
Manning missed the final walkthrough practice on Friday. He went to New York City to have doctors look at the 12 stitches in his head.
Neither Manning nor Sorgi will play on Saturday night, when the Giants play the Pittsburgh Steelers in their first home game in their new $1.6 billion stadium.
Coach Tom Coughlin said guards Chris Snee (knee) and Rich Seubert (hand), receiver Ramses Barden (back) and safety Michael Johnson (back) also will miss the game.
Friday’s attendance for the final practice was 920, pushing the attendance for camp to 39,875, the fifth highest in the team’s 15 years in Albany. The daily average of 2,492 was the second highest. The Giants practiced 23 times in 16 days in the camp.
Eagles, Redskins both happy with McNabb’s place — 12:26 p.m.
Donovan McNabb likes to crack jokes, play loose and be silly.
His act wore thin in Philadelphia, even though he was the best quarterback in franchise history. In the nation’s capital, McNabb is a welcomed addition. It begs the question: Are the Philadelphia Eagles better off without No. 5? Are the Washington Redskins better with him?
The answer could be yes to both questions.
McNabb went to six Pro Bowls and led the Eagles to eight playoff appearances, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl in 11 seasons. But he didn’t win the big one, and the organization decided to move on with Kevin Kolb.
Though Kolb has started just two games in three seasons, he’s received high praise from coaches, teammates and analysts. He’s considered a born leader who is perfectly suited to run Philadelphia’s offense.
”He’s not like a first-time starting quarterback,” wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. ”He knows what he’s doing out there. On the field, you see him directing guys where to go and what adjustments to make. It’s like he’s been doing this for years.”
While McNabb did his thing in Philly, the Redskins had a revolving door at quarterback. They used 10 different starters in 11 years and only one made a Pro Bowl – Brad Johnson in 1999. Washington won only two playoff games in that span.
So, McNabb brings stability and a strong pedigree to a critical position.
”I think it’s more psychological for the team, because everybody knows what he’s done,” fullback Mike Sellers said. ”There’s no guessing, no questioning. He’s proven. Just coming out with that mindset makes everything a lot better.”
McNabb’s success in Philadelphia is tarnished somewhat by off-field issues. He was a model citizen and class act throughout his tenure with the Eagles, but seemingly always found himself in the middle of odd controversies.
There was the famous booing on draft day, which he never forgot. There was Rush Limbaugh’s critical comments in 2003, the feud with Terrell Owens in ’05, the halftime benching in ’08, vomiting incidents in the huddle and three regular season-ending injuries.
McNabb’s personality sometimes rubbed people the wrong way, too, especially when he portrayed himself as a sympathetic figure or promoted his leadership skills. His critics say true leaders don’t talk about it, they just do it.
McNabb angered his younger teammates last year when he said the Eagles showed their youth after a costly loss. The final straw for many fans and some radio talk-show hosts was McNabb’s air-guitar entrance onto the field before his final game – a 34-14 loss at Dallas in the playoffs. Would Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady act that way before a big game?
Kolb, the son of a football coach, takes a serious approach. He also leads in a quieter way.
”I’ve always tried to be a leader, even in the backup role,” Kolb said. ”There are some things that do change, but I don’t want to go outside of my comfort zone or do anything that’s not expected of me. I want to be myself and do the things that are asked and expected. I know there won’t be any problem with it, and the guys will respond well.”
Teammates love Kolb’s confidence and intensity. They also relate better to him because he’s just 26 and the average age of Philadelphia’s projected starters on offense is 25.3.
”Kevin reminds me of exactly what he is, that quarterback from Texas that you know is like, ‘Let’s kick some butt, take some names and have a good time doing it,”’ wide receiver Hank Baskett said. ”It’s good. He has genetic leadership in him and I like it.
”We’re going to miss Donovan,” Baskett said. ”Donovan had a lot of intangibles that come with the years that he spent here and I wish Donovan the best, but right now I’d say Kevin is doing a really good job out here.”
The Redskins say glowing things about McNabb. They’ve bought into everything he brings to the table. Why not? McNabb certainly is an upgrade from what they’ve had over the years.
”It’s his swagger. Donovan comes in and he knows he can win a game for you,” center Casey Rabach said. ”You know he can do great things. We have obviously seen a lot of him in the past from playing in the same division, and everyone is just as confident in his ability. It’s nice to have a guy like that around.”
McNabb’s presence in a burgundy and gold uniform should make the Redskins-Eagles rivalry more interesting, too. Both teams hate the Dallas Cowboys more, and the Giants are a natural rival for the Eagles because of proximity. But now the most anticipated game in the NFL this season is McNabb’s return to Philadelphia on Oct. 3.
It’ll be strange to see McNabb in different colors and he’ll certainly hear some boos. But it’s likely he’ll also get a loud ovation because most fans seem to have appreciated his performance for 11 seasons.
They were just ready to move on. Obviously, so was management.
”You have to develop young quarterbacks in their prime and the best way to do it if you can is to pinpoint the player, develop him while you have the quality quarterback we had in Donovan,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. ”Kevin is more than ready to play. Donovan had a good season. There wasn’t the feeling that we would drop off in any way. Having a new quarterback, there’s a risk. There’s obviously an unknown involved there, but there wasn’t a sense that this is a drop-off situation. This was a perfect opportunity for the developing player to take the reigns of the team and maximize his capabilities.”
Stafford, Lions look to build on preseason opener — 11:12 a.m.
More of the same — but better. Quarterback Matt Stafford’s goal for the Lions’ second exhibition game is simple: improve on what he accomplished last week in Pittsburgh. Read more
— Fox Sports Detroit
Lions being cautious with Delmas — 10:54 a.m.
As the Lions approach the halfway point of the exhibition season, an up-and-down, in-and-out training camp is continuing for safety Louis Delmas. Read more
— Fox Sports Detroit
Injuries to test team’s depth along offensive line — 10:21 a.m.
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Wednesday he thinks his team has pretty good depth on the offensive line, but modified that statement with the proverbial, “We’ll see.” Read more
— Fox Sports Southwest
Giants sign veteran offensive lineman — 9:16 a.m.
The New York Giants have signed free-agent OL Shawn Andrews (6-4, 330, Arkansas), who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles on March 17.
"Our personnel staff has been monitoring Shawn’s progress for awhile now," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "He looks great and had a very good workout for us yesterday. He can play both guard and both tackle positions.
Andrews, 27, has not played since Week 2 of the 2008 season. He’s dealt with back problems as well as depression issues for several years.
“We just have to take him slow for the rest of the preseason to get him into game shape. Shawn is very excited and grateful for this opportunity to play for the New York Giants,” Reese added
At one point Andrews was thought to be one of the top offensive lineman in the NFL. He was named to the Pro Bowl twice after Philadelphia selected him in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
To make room for Andrews on their 80-man roster, the Giants waived OL Cliff Louis.
— Adam Caplan
Cowboys add former Eagles tight end Martin Rucker — 12:29 a.m.
The Cowboys signed tight end Martin Rucker today and released quarterback Matt Nichols.
The Cowboys made a waiver claim on Rucker not too long ago, but he was awarded to Tampa Bay based on the Buccaneers’ record in 2009. Rucker, however, failed the Bucs’ physical because of a hamstring injury.
Rucker visited the team in Oxnard today but did not work out after undergoing a physical. The team is confident the injury is not that serious. Read more
— Fox Sports Southwest
August 19 News and Notes
Chargers: Blackout avoided — 11:05 p.m.
The San Diego Chargers say they’ve sold enough tickets to lift the local television blackout of their exhibition game against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night.
The Chargers received a 24-hour extension from the NFL to reach the sellout. Their game against Chicago last weekend was blacked out, as were both home exhibition games last season.
Raiders’ backup QB out for season — 10:25 p.m.
The Oakland Raiders have placed backup quarterback Charlie Frye on injured reserve with an injured right wrist.
Coach Tom Cable said Thursday that it will take four to five months for Frye to rehabilitate the hurt ligament. Frye underwent surgery earlier this week and will miss the entire season.
Frye started three games for the Raiders last season. He completed 61 percent of his passes for 581 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
The Raiders signed tight end Eric Butler to take Frye’s place on the roster.
Broncos extend Orton’s contract — 10:03 p.m.
The Denver Broncos extended starting QB Kyle Orton’s contract on Thursday. The team didn’t announce for how long, but a source confirmed it’s just a one-year extension. Orton’s base salary for 2010 is $2.621 million, which is the one-year restricted free agent tender number. But NFL.com reports Orton’s salary for 2011 will be worth $9 million.
Orton has put together a solid training camp, and by all accounts, he’s performing at a higher level than he did at this point last year. It’s not known if any of the $9 million is guaranteed for 2011, but that base salary is a reward for his hard work. If he performs at a high level this season, and the team wins, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll see that money.
By making this decision, it’s clear that Denver has no confidence in QB Brady Quinn, who they acquired in a trade earlier this year from the Cleveland Browns. But he only carries a base salary of $700,000 for 2010. He’s signed through 2011.
While Denver won’t say it, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if they try to move Quinn considering he’s carrying a low base salary, which makes his contract very tradable. It’s not known if he has any guaranteed money coming for this season or a roster bonus.
Denver’s decision to extend Orton’s contract also sends a message that Tim Tebow could be a long way from being their starting quarterback. What he’ll be expected to do is work into becoming Orton’s backup, possibly as early as this season if they deal Quinn.
— Adam Caplan
Bradford will be backup again for Rams — 6:22 p.m.
A.J. Feeley will start ahead of No. 1 pick Sam Bradford in the St. Louis Rams’ second preseason game, although Bradford may get a few more plays.
Coach Steve Spagnuolo says Bradford’s role probably would be similar to the opener, when he went 6 for 13 for 57 yards and was sacked four times in a 28-7 loss to the Vikings.
Feeley, a veteran backup, has played in the Rams’ system previously. He had a poor opener, though, going 3 for 6 for 19 yards and two of the incompletions could have been intercepted and returned for touchdowns.
The Rams managed only 150 total yards in the preseason opener and the lone touchdown came on Danny Amendola’s 93-yard punt return.
— The Associated Press
Chiefs QB Cassel making strides — 4:59 p.m.
Matt Cassel may be known some day as more than the only quarterback to start a game in the NFL without starting in college.
Saturday night’s exhibition outing at Tampa Bay will be his next good test, but Kansas City coaches have been greatly encouraged with the poise, accuracy and hard work their second-year man has been putting on display in grueling, 100-degree temperatures at training camp.
In a night practice this week, he uncorked several thread-the-needle passes, the kind he rarely showed before.
He’s also had some mediocre practices since the Chiefs opened camp in late July. But overall, Cassel has looked much sharper than the first-year starter who hit 55 percent and threw one interception for every touchdown pass (16) a year ago.
”I think last night he made a bunch of real good throws, in tight spots,” Haley said. ”Now I’ve got a quarterback who appears to be running the operation well, efficiently. He’s throwing the ball where it’s supposed to go generally. Those are all signs of progress for this guy.”
In all fairness to Cassel, it needs to be pointed out that his receivers led the NFL with a horrific 48 dropped passes. But accuracy was only one of his issues in 2009 when the Chiefs went 4-12 with Haley doing triple-duty as quarterback coach, offensive coordinator and rookie head coach.
Now Haley is ”only” head coach. In to run the offense is Charlie Weis. And the former Patriots offensive coordinator and Notre Dame head coach has made Cassel his top priority.
”I watched all the plays from last year,” Weis said. ”I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what I was getting because the first thing I wanted to do was help fix the quarterback.”
Fix the quarterback?
Told of his coordinator’s statement, Cassel grinned sheepishly.
”That’s interesting,” he said. ”Every coach comes in every offseason, and they take little nuances they want to work on each and every offseason. If they’re not here to try to fix something, whether it’s the running backs coach or the receivers coach, then they’re probably not doing their job.”
A yen for hard work and a yearning to be as good as he can possibly be have been Cassel hallmarks since he came over in a trade from New England following the 2008 season. He welcomes special attention from tough taskmasters like Weis and Haley.
”I think there’s nobody that pushes you harder than you push yourself,” Cassel said. ”If you’re at this level, you better be able to push yourself every day. I like coach Weis and coach Haley grinding me, holding me accountable, getting on me every day about different things, whether it’s footwork, whether it’s reads. And so those guys are holding me accountable just as much as I do myself.”
Cassel missed the season opener last year with a knee injury, but started the next 15 games and wound up hitting 55 percent of his passes for 2,924 yards. Haley won’t say what percentage he’s looking for this year, but improved accuracy is a must.
”I would say part of his improvement is going to be decision-making, part of his improvement is going to be running the operation, leading his team, and part of it is going to be accuracy,” Haley said. ”There’s still a lot to work to be done. Make no mistake about that. There’s a lot of little things we’re talking about every day, that I’m talking to him about or Charlie’s talking to him about.”
After Tom Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury in New England’s 2008 season opener, Cassel was believed to be the first man to start in the NFL at quarterback after never starting in college. At USC, he spent four years playing behind two Heisman winners.
So even though he’s been in the league six years, Cassel remains young and inexperienced.
”There are all signs of progress for this guy,” said Haley. ”I think he cares and he wants to be a part of this being a good team.”
— The Associated Press
Redskins’ Landry moves back to strong safety — 4:34 p.m.
For the last practice of training camp, LaRon Landry had a fashion accessory dangling from his waist. It was a rolled up white towel striped with black tape, resembling something like a large zebra-themed nightstick.
”I’ve got my own swag,” he said.
Always a little different. Never hard to miss. And certainly someone who leaves an impression on unsuspecting receivers and running backs. Landry has always been grouped with the words ”hard-hitting” and ”intense” since the Redskins drafted him No. 6 overall in 2007, and this season he’s in a new defense that will showcase his ferocity even more.
”The 3-4 defense,” Landry said, ”has enabled me as a player to go out and fly around and have fun.”
Landry is at home as a strong safety, playing close to the line of scrimmage to stuff the run and helping out in coverage. But the shooting death of Sean Taylor in November 2007 forced the Redskins to move him to free safety, where he had to play with more caution and less abandon. He was starting to get noticed more for giving up long touchdown passes over the middle than for his bone-jawing hits, particularly last season as the team struggled to a 4-12 record.
The arrival of Jim Haslett has brought a defensive overhaul, with Landry back at his natural position.
”Last year it was ‘Don’t let anything behind you, you’ve got to be safe,”’ Landry said. ”This year, it’s more aggressive, let’s go get it. Read your keys. Be smart about it, but get it.”
The move was somewhat of a gamble because the Redskins didn’t have an obvious candidate to start at free safety. Three players were expected to contend for the job at training camp, but third-year player Kareem Moore has had a superb three weeks of practice and left Chris Horton and Reed Doughty far behind.
That means Landry can stay right where he is. Well, most of the time. In this scheme, it might not be easy to tell. He leaped to pick off a pass 20 yards downfield during Thursday’s practice.
”Disguise plays a major factor in this defense,” Landry said. ”And we’re always constantly moving and disguising things, and that makes it a lot of fun.”
Haslett called Landry a player ”that can do almost anything he wants.”
”He’s a guy, 225 (pounds), that is probably the fastest guy I’ve been around,” Haslett said. ”He’s explosive and fast. He’s a good tackler. He’s a good blitzer. He can play in the back end, but I think he prefers to play closer. We’ll try to accommodate these guys and put them in the best position to succeed and to help this football team.”
Landry doesn’t let up, even when going against high-profile teammates in practice. It was an instant highlight when he sent tight end Chris Cooley to the ground with a thud early on the second day of camp.
”Most guys just bump up against you when you have the ball,” Cooley said. ”LaRon likes to go into the full tackling mode. He’s in scrimmage mode all the time. We talked about it in the locker room and he said, ‘Why are you giving me a hard time?’ I said ‘You are the only one that tackles.’ … He laughed.
”You know what you’re getting out of (No.) 30. He’s not making us worse; he’s making everyone better. He loves playing the game, he’s an extreme competitor and you can’t ask for more out of a guy.”
Coach Mike Shanahan is just fine with Landry’s practice intensity, as long as he’s not hitting below the waist and risking injury to his teammates.
”I don’t mind those hard hits. We’re going to get those in games,” the coach said. ”I’m excited about him because hopefully we’ll put him in position to make a lot of plays. We’re not going to hold him back. But at the same time, the game has to slow down for you. You can’t just be running to run. There’s times to run, there’s times to lay back. Hopefully, he’ll learn that.”
Notes: Shanahan said the starters will play about 30-35 plays Saturday night against Baltimore, which should be most or all of the first half. … Thursday marked the end of camp, which means the players can move out of the team hotel. The schedule will have a regular season feel starting next week, with a more compact workday of meetings and practice. … While Shanahan isn’t into rookie hazing, he did lighten up the mood at the nightly meetings by having players perform skits. ”Basically what they do is make fun of coaches,” Shanahan said. ”To me, it kind of loosens the guys up a little bit and kind of brings the team together.” Did anyone make fun of the head coach? ”There’s only one guy that did that, and we cut him yesterday,” he said, joking.
— The Associated Press
Packers rookie Bulaga gets time at guard — 3:57 p.m.
Bryan Bulaga’s journey to become the Green Bay Packers’ left tackle of the future might include a lengthy layover at left guard.
Packers coaches have been cross-training Bulaga at both positions in training camp. And with veteran Chad Clifton still entrenched at tackle, the No. 23 overall draft pick out of Iowa could be in the mix to win a starting job at guard.
Bulaga said learning a new position is challenging, but the possibility of getting on the field as a rookie is exciting.
”Like I’ve said this entire time, none of these guys come here to play behind someone,” Bulaga said. ”Everyone wants to be on the field and play. That’s what makes a team great, is guys push each other to get competition. It feels good to have an opportunity to get on the field and win a job, and if I don’t, then I wasn’t the best guy for the spot.”
Bulaga said Thursday that he doesn’t yet know how coaches will balance his work load between tackle and guard in Saturday’s preseason game at Seattle.
For now, he’s more concerned with trying to ”improve on all the things I did wrong” in the Packers’ first preseason game against Cleveland.
”Every game in these preseason games, I kind of have to earn that confidence and gain that comfortable level they need to have putting a guy in the game,” Bulaga said. ”That’s why these preseason games are so important.”
Packers general manager Ted Thompson said Bulaga’s move to guard isn’t permanent.
”Obviously, we’re looking at him long-term as a tackle,” Thompson said. ”At the same time, we want to try to make sure we get him trained for some other things.”
Cross-training offensive linemen at several positions has been common in Green Bay under head coach Mike McCarthy, although McCarthy acknowledged in April that the team might have taken that too far in the past.
”You have to have the ability to move offensive linemen around,” he said after the NFL draft. ”It happens every year, especially when you get down to the 53 (man roster) and when you are getting ready to play games with the 45. With that said, you like to work from developing younger players in one or two positions instead of two or three, like we have had the past couple of years.”
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said allowing Bulaga to compete at guard is consistent with the coaches’ philosophy of trying to get as many of their best players on the field as possible.
”This is a win-immediately (league). People want gratification just like a baby does,” Philbin said. ”Yeah, we’re just looking to find that right combination, which we’ve attempted to do at all times. So we’ll have to see how it all shakes out.”
Philbin said Bulaga has shown a good understanding of the offense so far, with good athleticism and strength. Now he needs to prove that he can play quickly and decisively – especially at guard.
”Things happen a little faster in there,” Philbin said. ”So mentally, he’s got to process some things. I think there’s going to be a little bit of a curve there, obviously, because the new things he’s seeing defensively just as a rookie player and positionally as he adjusts inside. He’s off to a very good start.”
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Bulaga has improved since offseason drills.
”A lot of people were questioning, maybe not negatively, but uncertain about how he would look after the spring,” Rodgers said. ”I got a lot of questions from back home about how Bryan was doing, and my comment to them, and I think to you guys at times (was), ‘Let’s just wait and see what he does in pads.”’
Once that happened, Rodgers said Bulaga had a better chance to show off his physical style.
Rodgers said Bulaga has an advantage because he’ll be lining up next to left guard Daryn Colledge or center Scott Wells. While Colledge has been criticized for uneven play – and could even end up getting beaten out for the starting left guard job by Bulaga – Rodgers said Colledge is ”maybe our smartest lineman.”
Bulaga calls Colledge a ”great player,” and said their push for playing time will make the entire offensive line better. And even if Bulaga doesn’t win a starting job, he figures the experience still will help his development.
”It can help me learn what everyone else on the offensive line’s doing if you know the guard position, and an opportunity to get on the field and learn a couple different positions,” Bulaga said. ”That’s always going to help. So yeah, it’s exciting.”
— The Associated Press
Lions snag safety off waivers — 3:56 p.m.
The Detroit Lions continue to reshape the bottom of their 80-man roster. The team announced they claimed S David Roach off waivers from the St. Louis Rams. A source said the move was actually made on Wednesday. No other teams put in a claim for the defensive back.
Roach was one of the Rams best special teams players last season. He participated in just over 74 percent of all special teams plays. He fits in as a fourth safety.
— Adam Caplan
Jets bond in camp after busy offseason of changes — 3:18 p.m.
The New York Jets give themselves an ”A” for chemistry.
After a busy offseason in which several popular players were released or traded and plenty of new faces were brought in, the Jets used training camp in SUNY Cortland to bond.
For a team with Super Bowl hopes, many were concerned the personnel changes could disrupt the locker room. Quarterback Mark Sanchez says Thursday that the players have grown as friends to the point they consider each other family.
The Jets finished their last full training camp practices at Cortland on Thursday.
Sanchez says the team’s biggest improvements have come off the field, as players such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes and Jason Taylor have endeared themselves to their new teammates.
— The Associated Press
Giants add QB; Injuries at position a concern — 3:13 p.m.
With starting QB Eli Manning (head) unavailable and No. 2 QB Jim Sorgi (shoulder) out at least a few weeks, the New York Giants will turn to second-year QB Rhett Bomar as the starter when the team takes on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday evening. Manning suffered a gash on the side of his head which would prevent him from being able to keep his helmet on.
Because the Giants only have one healthy quarterback left on their 80-man roster, the team re-signed undrafted free agent QB Dominic Randolph, who was waived a few months ago. The Giants showed interest in former NFL QB D.J. Shockley recently, but he wound up signing with the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks.
Romar, who has a strong arm, dropped to the fifth round last year because of accuracy issues. He’ll get a great chance to show if he’s improved against the Steelers.
— Adam Caplan
Harvin’s headaches not going away; Depth an issue — 2:55 p.m.
Minnesota Vikings second-year wide receiver Percy Harvin left practice early Thursday after collapsing on the field, possibly as a result of recurring migraine headaches.
According to Viking Update, Harvin came out on the field before the media was allowed and looked up into the sky to field a punt, according to head coach Brad Childress. He returned inside at the official start of practice and came back out during practice, but didn’t run any plays before falling to his hands and knees.
Head coach Brad Childress said Harvin “came back out and had an episode,” according to 1500ESPN.com. The team formed a shield to block the media’s view while team doctors, trainers and an EMT worked on Harvin. He was on the field and in the ambulance for 30 minutes before leaving with the ambulance to a local hospital.
Harvin has experienced migraine headaches and related symptoms throughout last season, which caused him to miss some playing time.
“I’m putting it in the migraine category, just because of what preceded that,” Childress said of the symptoms Harvin experienced before he collapsed. “But I certainly don’t what put him down on the ground over there – if it was some kind of reaction. Again, they’ll work him up, I’m sure, at the hospital.”
Minnesota is very thin on depth at the receiver position, so Harvin’s ongoing absence is a problem for the team. He missed most of training camp due to migraines.
With Harvin out, veteran WR Greg Lewis is expected to fill in as the slot receiver. Starting WR Sidney Rice (hip) is getting closer to practicing, but remains on the PUP list.
— Adam Caplan
Cushing suspension upheld — 2:21 p.m.
Houston Texans starting SLB Brian Cushing has maintained that he shouldn’t have been suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, so the league was willing to take a look at his case.
On Thursday, the league released a statement:
“At the request of Texans owner Bob McNair, Commissioner (Roger) Goodell reviewed additional medical information presented on behalf of Brian Cushing. The club and Cushing were notified today that after carefully considering all the information, including a review by outside medical experts, the commissioner finds no basis for changing the decision and that Mr. Cushing’s suspension for the first four games of the regular season remains in place.”
With Cushing out four games, Xavier Adibi, once he gets healthy, is the favorite to take over. However, he’s dealing with a groin injury.
Giants QB Sorgi out 2-3 weeks with shoulder injury — 1:14 p.m.
Eli Manning isn’t the only Giants quarterback who will miss New York’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Scratch backup Jim Sorgi, too.
Agent Matt Brei says Sorgi had an MRI on Thursday and was diagnosed with a torn capsule that will sideline him two to three weeks. The good news is that the injury did not involve Sorgi’s labrum, which was an issue last season.
With Manning (12 stitches) and Sorgi sidelined, first-year pro Rhett Bomar is going to start and possibly play the entire game against the Steelers on Saturday night in the Giants’ first home game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
The Giants signed free agent quarterback Dominic Randolph on Thursday and tight end Jake Ballard was waived.
— The Associated Press
Bucs release safety De’von Hall — 11:09 a.m.
Safety De’von Hall has been waived-injured by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The team announced the move Thursday.
Hall was claimed off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts in late December, after making three tackles in four games. The former Utah State player was inactive for Tampa Bay’s final regular season game after being claimed.
— The Associated Press
Bills could finally field healthy offensive line — 9:15 a.m.
When the Buffalo Bills take on the Indianapolis Colts Thursday evening in Toronto, they could finally have their offensive line intact.
RT Cornell Green’s (knee) status is considered a game-time decision, but he’s very close to being ready to go. RG Eric Wood (leg) and LT Demetrius Bell (knee) are scheduled to see their first preseason action. Should those injured players get some playing time, it would be the first time since Week 8 of last season that all five of Buffalo’s offensive line starters were able to get on the field at the same time.
With the offensive line getting healthier, Buffalo will be without some key offensive skill position players.
Veteran RBs Marshawn Lynch (ankle/likely to miss at least three weeks) and Fred Jackson (hand/out at least four weeks) won’t dress. Rookie WR Marcus Easley (knee) is expected to miss several weeks.
This game is key for WR Chad Jackson, who is trying to win the starting job opposite veteran Lee Evans. It does not appear that Jackson has yet to seriously challenge Steve Johnson for that role, but putting together a strong performance against the Colts would certainly help.
— Adam Caplan
August 18 News and Notes
Blount still packs a punch — 8:30 p.m.
This punch won’t be so costly for LeGarrette Blount.
The rookie running back capped off a feisty night practice for the Tennessee Titans with a short punch to the helmet of defensive end Eric Bakhtiari a few moments after having his own helmet ripped off for the second time in as many plays.
Blount had just returned to the Titans on Wednesday night after being excused since Sunday for personal reasons. He was carrying the ball in a drill near the goal line when his helmet came off, and he kept his feet moving toward the end zone.
The play ended with some pushing and shoving, then Blount threw a right into Bakhtiari’s facemask. Blount quickly talked to coach Jeff Fisher before leaving the field.
”He apologized, and I said he didn’t have to apologize,” Fisher said. ”It’s football. It’s training camp.”
Blount was suspended by the University of Oregon for eight games of last season for punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout after a game on Sept. 3. Without much of a senior season, Blount went undrafted.
The Titans, having traded away LenDale White, brought in Blount as a free agent.
On the play that sparked Wednesday’s scuffle, Blount said his helmet had been intentionally pulled off the play before. A new NFL rule going into effect this season stops the play when a player’s helmet comes off. Then his helmet came off again. Blount said he apologized to Fisher because he had promised the coach his fighting days were behind him.
”That was my past. It just came up again. I got into one of those situations where the defense pushed me too far. With training camp and everything going the way it is and being as intense as it is and me being a rookie, it was just something I shouldn’t have done. But I did it,” Blount said.
Fisher downplayed the punch.
”His past is his past. Is that the first punch you’ve seen in camp this year? No. I’m not disappointed whatsoever. I have great confidence in the young man that he learned from his mistake, and he’s very competitive. That’s why we brought him in here is to watch him run the football like that,” Fisher said.
Bakhtiari, with a towel draped over his head, declined to comment to reporters in the locker room.
The Titans originally had been scheduled to practice outdoors under the lights at LP Field in a closed session. Heavy rains predicted to drop at least 4 inches of rain onto the field prompted Fisher to move the practice back to the team’s headquarters, and they worked inside under the lights.
It was an intense physical practice with Vince Young yelling at receivers not getting to balls, and he even got popped himself once by safety Michael Griffin. Fisher said it was the kind of session his team needed during essentially the last long week of training camp.
The Titans’ preseason opener is Monday against Arizona, then the teams hold a joint practice two days later before Tennessee wraps up training camp.
Fullback Ahmard Hall called Blount’s reaction just the intensity of training camp.
”If anybody else was to get mad, there wouldn’t be a question. It would just be a guy getting mad. LeGarrette Blount gets mad, everybody wants to bring up his past. Guys pushed him. He reacted. It has nothing to do with what happened to him in the past,” Hall said.
Notes: Starting right tackle David Stewart missed most of the practice after getting nicked above his left eye. He had to leave the field and got seven stitches. … Defensive end Jacob Ford didn’t finish practice after hurting a leg. — AP
McNeill meets with Chargers — 8:15 p.m.
Holdout left tackle Marcus McNeill met Wednesday with San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, although it wasn’t immediately clear if the session was productive.
The Chargers have threatened to place McNeill on the roster exempt list if he doesn’t sign his contract tender by Friday. By being placed on the roster exempt list, he would face a three-game suspension once he’s signed. — AP
Hill agrees to court stipulations in domestic violence case — 8 p.m.
Prosecutor Lynn Moberly says a domestic violence charge against Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill will be dismissed if he complies with Issaquah Municipal Court stipulations for 18 months.
The 27-year-old Hill entered into a stipulated order of continuance at a hearing Wednesday, avoiding a trial on a misdemeanor count of fourth degree assault/domestic violence arising from an April arrest at his home.
In a telephone interview, Moberly says Hill will be on probation for 18 months and must complete a one-year state-certified domestic violence treatment program. He is also to have no other legal violations and possess no weapons during the period.
Hill is entering his sixth NFL season.
— The Associated Press
Tebow could miss home debut — 7:30 p.m.
With the news that Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow missed Wednesday’s practice, it’s possible the lefty could miss Sunday’s home debut against the Detroit Lions.
The team didn’t disclose what prevented Tebow from practice, but he took a big hit to his ribs during last week’s game against the Bengals.
Practice observers noted that Tebow’s been wearing extra protection around his rib area during practice this week.
If Tebow can’t play against Detroit, that certainly could curtail his progress, as the big-bodied signal caller needs as much time behind center as possible.
Tebow probably has the steepest learning curve of any top quarterback who was available for this year’s draft because of his poor footwork and inconsistent throwing mechanics.
He needs to be on the field as much as possible during the preseason in order for the coaches to adequately make any necessary adjustments in his delivery.
— Adam Caplan
Bills FS Byrd out indefinitely with groin injury – 7:13 p.m.
Buffalo Bills starting safety Jairus Byrd is out indefinitely and could miss the season opener after having surgery for the third time in 13 months to repair a groin injury.
Coach Chan Gailey announced the news after the Bills arrived in Toronto on Wednesday, a day before they face Indianapolis in a preseason game. Gailey said it’s unclear whether Byrd will be ready to play Sept. 12 when Buffalo opens the season against Miami.
”It looks like he’s going to be out for a while,” Gailey said. ”We’re hoping first game, but it may be not.”
Gailey said the injury is related to the groin injury that ended Byrd’s season last year. Byrd had surgery to repair the injury this past offseason. And that followed an operation he had to repair a sports hernia last summer, which forced him to miss the first three weeks of training camp.
Gailey said Byrd’s groin had been bothering him during training camp, and it grew worse after practice Monday night. Byrd had been absent from practice on Tuesday.
Byrd is coming off a solid rookie season last year. The second-round draft pick out of Oregon finished tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions despite playing just 14 games. Byrd also set franchise records with an interception in five straight games and most interceptions by a rookie.
His performance led to him becoming the first Bills safety to earn a Pro Bowl selection in his rookie year.
Updating other injuries, Gailey said the right leg injury sustained by rookie receiver David Nelson in practice on Tuesday was not as bad as initially feared. Gailey said it’s possible that Nelson could play in Buffalo’s next preseason game Aug. 28 against Cincinnati.
Nelson had to be carted off the field during practice after he twisted his right ankle while making a catch.
Gailey said it’s likely starting left tackle Demetrius Bell and starting right guard Eric Wood will play Thursday. Both have spent the offseason recovering from leg injuries and were held out of Buffalo’s preseason-opener at Washington last week.
It’s also likely that veteran linebackers Paul Posluszny and Chris Kelsay will play against the Colts. Posluszny began practicing two weeks ago after having groin surgery last month, while Kelsay missed a few weeks of training camp with a shoulder injury.
With Byrd out, veteran S George Wilson figures to fill in for him.
– The Associated Press and Adam Caplan
Childress says there’s no limit to what the Vikings can do – 7:01 p.m.
Vikings head coach Brad Childress liked his team before, but now, according to him, the "sky’s the limit."
With Brett Favre’s arrival on Tuesday, Childress and the rest of the Minnesota franchise seems optimistic about the team’s chances to do some special things in 2010 and beyond.
In fact, Childress even described his players as a "special bunch of guys" when talking to the media Wednesday after practice.
Lions continue to purge roster – 6:36 p.m.
The Detroit Lions continued to reshape their 80-man roster late Wednesday with the release of S Marvin White, whose job became expendable after the team removed S Ko Simpson off the active PUP list. However, the team is down to just four safeties on the roster.
The team also waived undrafted free agent FB Matt Clapp. Even with the release of Clapp, Detroit still has two fullbacks on its roster.
– Adam Caplan
49ers dump receiver – 5:57 p.m.
The San Francisco 49ers announced the release of veteran WR Brandon Jones on Wednesday. Jones signed with the 49ers on February 28, 2009, and appeared in eight games last season. He only posted one reception in 2009.
While Jones turned out to be a big disappointment after signing a three-year, $9 million deal, his contract was extended last December through 2013, a source said. Jones carried a base salary of $2.145 million for 2010.
In addition to releasing Jones, the team waived/injured G/OT Chris Patrick.
– Adam Caplan
Lions sign CB Rushing – 5:40 p.m.
The Detroit Lions continued their slew of personnel moves on Wednesday afternoon. They waived CB Jahi Word-Daniels, who suffered a hamstring injury durng practice this week, was waived. To take his place on the 80-man roster, the Lions signed free-agent CB T.J. Rushing.
Rushing, who was not tendered as a restricted free agent earlier this year by the Indianapolis Colts, was selected in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Colts.
Rushing, 27, fits in as a fifth cornerback and is also capable of returning punts or kicks.
– Adam Caplan
Cowboys G Kozier out 4-6 weeks – 5:21 p.m.
Kyle Kosier will have an MRI on his right knee, but the Cowboys believe he has a sprained medial collateral ligament and likely will miss 4-6 weeks. Kosier will not play Saturday vs. San Diego and his availability for the Sept. 12 season opener at Washington could be in question. Marcus Spears suffered a sprained MCL on Aug. 5 in San Antonio and was given a 4-6 week window of being out but has started resistance training this week in his rehab. With Kosier out, Montrae Holland will take over at left guard.
Eli Manning is going to sit out the New York Giants’ preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night.
Coach Tom Coughlin announced the decision after a scarred Manning did not practice on Wednesday at training camp at the University at Albany because of stitches in his forehead.
While Manning insisted he is feeling fine after needing 12 stitches on Monday night to close a cut on his left side of his head, Coughlin said the team is concerned that wearing a helmet might break the stitches or irritate the wound.
Backup quarterback Jim Sorgi also didn’t practice because of shoulder and rib injuries, and Coughlin was not sure whether he would play in the Giants’ first home game at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
Rhett Bomar took all the snaps on Wednesday.
– The Associated Press
RB Dixon could still be top backup behind Gore – 4:44 p.m.
Brian Westbrook has a history of success as an NFL running back. Rookie Anthony Dixon’s NFL experience consists of one exhibition game. As far as San Francisco offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye is concerned, they are both on even ground.
Raye rallied support around Dixon a day after Westbrook made his training camp debut with the 49ers as a possible backup to Frank Gore.
Raye said Wednesday it’s not a sure thing that Westbrook will step right into the spot vacated by the sudden retirement of Glen Coffee. Dixon impressed the coaches in the 49ers’ 37-17 exhibition victory over the Indianapolis Colts, rushing for 100 yards with a touchdown.
”I like the way he ran with the football and his physicality,” Raye said. ”We had some concerns about his ability to play without the ball. He demonstrated otherwise. His performance in his first opportunity, in his first year, was pretty good.”
Raye said Dixon will be given the opportunity to make an earlier appearance when the 49ers host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night.
”He’s put himself in position to warrant more snaps and earlier snaps against better competition,” Raye said. ”Stats are not functional in an exhibition game. We’re looking to see how clear the picture is, let him use his athleticism and how he plays within the framework of the offense.”
Westbrook participated in his second day of practice with his new team, seeing action in a limited number of plays as he works to incorporate himself into the team’s playbook.
”There is a lot of versatility back there,” 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said of the running backs. ”Westbrook is a nice add to the mix. I’m excited to see what he could do.”
Raye was a little more sedate about his new running back.
”I know his reputation but I don’t know him as a player,” Raye said. ”We need to indoctrinate him into they way we want him to do things. He’s a smart guy. I’m sure he’ll pick things up. But Anthony Dixon is very much in the running as the guy who goes in for Gore.”
Raye also said there was a chance Westbrook could see some action against the Vikings this week.
”I don’t want to put him out there if he’s not sure what he’s doing,” Raye said. ”We can afford to be patient and yet there’s a chance he could get some work if the medical staff thinks it’s prudent.”
Smith is looking forward to the day he’ll have his entire offensive weaponry at his disposal. He’s missing wide receiver Michael Crabtree (neck), center Eric Heitmann (broken leg) and tight end Vernon Davis (knee).
”It’s very important we all play together, Smith said. ”We have to get the work in, continue to makes strides and get better. Otherwise you’re just hoping it shows up on game day.”
David Bass assumed the center’s role as Heitmann will likely miss up to eight weeks.
”I feel good with him,” Smith said. ”He’s been working very hard to get ready. It’s good for him to go up against our defensive line. He’s stepped right up.”
Notes: QB Nathan Davis is also likely to see action earlier Sunday. ”He needs to play against guys who have played in the NFL,” Raye said. ”We can see how his development is going.” … Smith was disappointed in his performance against the Colts. ”We didn’t finish plays, throws or catches,” he said. ”I felt good but that didn’t equate to anything.” … OT hopeful Matt Kopa played with Vikings’ RB Toby Gerhart the past four years at Stanford.
– The Associated Press
Jets OL Mangold doesn’t have a concussion – 4:05 p.m.
Nick Mangold was back on the field, saying he doesn’t have a concussion and his head is feeling normal again.
”Or, at least, Mangold normal,” the All-Pro center said with a smile Wednesday.
Mangold returned to practice after missing the Jets’ preseason opener against the Giants on Monday night with a headache following a blow to the head in practice last week.
”I just felt not right on Monday, and we were just playing it safe,” he said.
Mangold went through tests to determine if he had a concussion. He anticipates being able to play in the Jets’ next preseason game Saturday night at Carolina.
”That’s my assumption going into it,” he said. ”I wouldn’t see any reason things would change.”
Mangold sat out two days of practices last week after being struck in the temple by teammate Sione Pouha during a play. He practiced Saturday, but felt ”foggy” Monday morning.
”It was the first time in five years I haven’t felt right, so I voiced my concerns,” he said. ”I’ve had a myriad of dings and bumps and all kinds of other stuff, but this time, it was a little different.”
One of the wittiest players on the roster, Mangold offered another zinger when he asked if he was experiencing any fogginess.
”Just when I talk to you guys,” he told reporters.
– The Associated Press
Bills’ series in Toronto not a hit north of border – 3:29 p.m.
The Buffalo Bills’ eight-game series in Toronto reaches its midway point this week with questions about whether the NFL can succeed in this limited format north of the border.
What officials refer to as ”teething pains” are put in a different light by critics. Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons last weekend called it ”an unmitigated disaster” for Rogers Communications, which paid $78.5 million to host the series two years ago.
High ticket prices and the Bills’ losing record have made it difficult to generate interest.
Rogers Centre executive Silvio D’Addario dismissed the criticism Wednesday, a day before Buffalo plays Indianapolis at Toronto. He’s confident the building blocks are in place to make the final three years a success.
– The Associated Press
Miami signs veteran offensive lineman – 3:16 p.m.
The Miami Dolphins, perhaps looking for depth on their offensive line, signed free-agent G Randy Thomas. To make room for Thomas on the 80-man roster, the team waived WR Ryan Grice-Mullen.
Miami clearly has a lack of veteran depth behind projected starting guards Richie Incognito and rookie John Jerry, so Thomas’ playing experience was clearly needed.
Thomas, 34, started 143 games in his 11 seasons with the Jets and Redskins. He missed most of last season with the Redskins due to a torn triceps.
– Adam Caplan
Lions acquire DE Jackson from Seahawks – 3:04 p.m.
The Seattle Seahawks traded defensive end and former first-round pick Lawrence Jackson to the Detroit Lions on Wednesday for an undisclosed draft choice in 2011.
A day after Jackson admitted he was in limbo in Seattle, the Seahawks announced they had traded away their 28th overall selection in 2008. Seattle general manager John Schneider was not on the job when the Seahawks drafted Jackson out of Southern California.
Neither was Pete Carroll, Jackson’s former coach at USC, or the rest of Seattle’s defensive staff. They are installing schemes that call for ends to be run stuffers or fast pass rushers, and Jackson has so far proven to be neither.
Former tackle Red Bryant has moved his 335-plus pounds to end on one side of the starting defense. Seattle traded this offseason with Philadelphia for former part-time linebacker Chris Clemons to be its pass-rushing end, then acquired 315-pound defensive tackle and end Kentwan Balmer from San Francisco on Monday.
Jackson, who returned to practice Tuesday after missing a week with a bad hamstring, sensed he lost his place in Seattle’s defense this summer. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder was not big enough to be the run-stopping end and is not yet enough of a proven pass rusher to become a specialist.
”I’m kind of in the middle of both extremes,” he said after Tuesday’s practice. ”Everything is still up in the air right now.”
Not anymore. He’s headed to the Lions, cast off for a draft pick as Carroll and Schneider continue to turn over half of Seattle’s roster since January.
The pick Seattle is getting from Detroit is likely in the same low round next year as the one the Seahawks had just lost to the 49ers to get Balmer, who was drafted one choice behind Jackson in 2008.
Jackson started 24 of 31 games in his two seasons with Seattle. He had a career-high 4 1/2 sacks last season.
”Detroit showed strong interest in Lawrence and this provides him an opportunity to move forward while he is still early in his career,” Schneider said. ”We wish him the best.”
– The Associated Press
WR Holt released – 2:45 p.m.
Last week, the New England Patriots placed veteran WR Torry Holt on injured reserve. Holt was expected to have knee surgery sometime this week.
Holt was released off injured reserve with an injury settlement on Tuesday, a source confirmed.
Once his knee heals up after surgery, he could sign on with another team later this season.
Holt signed with New England back in April and was carrying a base salary of $1.15 million. He received a $50,000 signing bonus, a source said.
– Adam Caplan
QB Garcia playing again – 2:33 p.m.
Veteran QB Jeff Garcia found a new home to play football, but not in the NFL. Garcia signed with the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks.
Garcia, 40, appeared in one game for the Eagles last season. With Omaha, he’ll get another chance to start, perhaps his final one.
“I am delighted to sign a clearly talented veteran quarterback who will bring experience and a winning mentality to our team,” said head coach Jeff Jagodzinski. “Jeff is a one of the game’s true competitors and will have a positive impact on his teammates and will be an exciting player for the Nighthawks fans to cheer at Rosenblatt Stadium.”
Omaha also signed veteran RB Ahman Green recently.
“We promised quality and exciting player signings and have delivered in the likes of Jeff Garcia and running back Ahman Green. We expect to go into camp with a combination of experienced veterans and developing players who will benefit from playing alongside the likes of Jeff and Ahman,” general manager Rick Mueller said.
Garcia played almost his entire career in the West Coast offense, so it’ll be interesting to see how he assimilates into Jagodzinski’s power rushing scheme.
– Adam Caplan
Steelers know they must fix leaky pass defense – 2:16 p.m.
The Steelers are dealing with so many issues during a training camp that’s about to end, one of their major worries sometimes gets overlooked.
Except by secondary coach Ray Horton.
The Steelers are dealing with finding enough playing time for multiple quarterbacks during camp, fixing their running game and patching up their offensive line. If they don’t get their secondary straightened out, however, these other problems might not seem as urgent.
A year after having the league’s best pass defense while winning the Super Bowl, the Steelers fell all the way to No. 16 last season.
Safety Troy Polamalu’s lengthy injury absences played a major role in the falloff – he played in only three full games, all of them victories. But Polamalu’s health wasn’t the only issue.
– The Associated Press
Cowboys LG Kosier limps away from practice field – 2:05 p.m.
Left guard Kyle Kosier has limped off the practice field, making it two hobbled offensive linemen this week for the Dallas Cowboys.
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips was expected to give details about the injury at his afternoon news conference. Dallas also has a second practice later Tuesday.
Veteran Montrae Holland took Kosier’s place during the morning workout and would start if Kosier doesn’t return for the preseason game Saturday night in San Diego.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said missing two starters will be a factor in deciding how long Tony Romo plays against the Chargers, or if he plays at all.
Right tackle Marc Colombo went down Sunday and had arthroscopic knee surgery Monday. He’s expected to return for the season opener.
– The Associated Press
Bears bring in QB – 12:51 p.m.
With No. 2 QB Celeb Hanie (sprained right throwing shoulder) ailing, the Chicago Bears have decided to sign someone with some experience to fill in. QB Matt Gutierrez signed with the team on Wednesday. Hanie was injured during last week’s game against the San Diego Chargers.
Gutierrez was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2007 by the New England Patriots. He was waived in August of 2009 by New England, but was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs waived him in June of this year.
The Bears now have four quarterbacks on their 80-man roster, but only three are healthy.
The Bears also signed UDFA S Aaron Webster and waived UDFA G Vince Vance and waived/injured UDFA Matt Mayberry.
– Adam Caplan
Favre’s teammate tweets about his return – 12:47 p.m.
Per Bernard Berrian’s Twitter account: 3 teammates going to meet brett had nothing to do with him coming back. all for show about 1 hour ago via web Reply Retweet, per Berrian -Favre addressed the team and told them it was tough decision but had nothing to do with money. issue was age.
Favre, Childress to address media on Wednesday – 12:32 p.m.
FOXSports.com has learned QB Brett Favre will address the media from the Winter Park field house after the team’s 11:40 a.m. practice today. Head Coach Brad Childress will be available immediately following.
Favre added to 80-man roster – 11:31 a.m.
As expected, the Minnesota Vikings removed QB Brett Favre from the Reserve/Did not Report List on Wednesday. To make room for Favre on the 80-man roster, the team waived/injured WR Jaymar Johnson (thumb), who was injured during last week’s preseason game against the St. Louis Rams.
The Vikings received a roster exemption once he was put on the Did Not Report List at the beginning of training camp on July 30. Favre is scheduled to practice with the team on Wednesday.
Johnson will revert to injured reserve if he passes waivers by 4:00 PM ET on Thursday.
– Adam Caplan
Rams’ Grant likes new spot at weakside linebacker – 10:54 a.m.
Larry Grant is quickly becoming the most surprising member of the St. Louis Rams’ all-Ohio State linebacking crew.
It’s only been one preseason game, but Grant has already started to impress.
In a 28-7 loss to Minnesota on Saturday, the 6-foot-1, 251-pound Grant had four tackles, including one for a loss, two passes defended and a special teams tackle. That was enough for the 25-year-old player to catch coach Steve Spagnuolo’s eye.
”Larry showed up in the game. He’s done some versatile things,” Spagnuolo said. ”Anytime you can do that, you help yourself as a linebacker and you help yourself as a team.”
Now in his second full season with the Rams, Grant is finding a comfort zone. Grant learned the system installed by Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole last year and has found his stride so far in this preseason.
”It’s working out,” Grant said. ”I did my best. Everything, I’m picking up a lot better. If you do what you’re supposed to be doing, everything will fall into place.”
It’s been a slow climb for Grant.
The San Francisco 49ers drafted him in the seventh round after he played two seasons at Ohio State. Before joining the Buckeyes, he spent two years at City College of San Francisco, where he was the national junior college player of the year. In four college seasons, Grant played in four national championship games.
He was signed to the Rams’ active roster from San Francisco’s practice squad on Nov. 26, 2008, and played in two games on special teams. Last year, Grant again spent time mostly on special teams, seeing action in all 16 games during a 1-15 season.
Grant has made the move during training camp from strongside to weakside linebacker. He is on the first-team defense with fellow Ohio State teammates James Laurinaitis (middle linebacker) and free-agent pickup Na’il Diggs (strongside linebacker).
”We all have the same tradition,” Grant said of his college teammates. ”Being at Ohio State, they taught us to learn to love football a lot more.”
Grant said the move wasn’t difficult, and he has found a home at weakside linebacker.
”It wasn’t too big for me because I was here last year and I just didn’t pay attention to my job,” Grant said. ”I tried to learn as much as I could about the defense and the other linebacking jobs. It’s been a cool transition so far.”
Grant wants to stay with the first team unit and knows it’s not something to be taken for granted.
”Right now, most of my thoughts are on just trying to get better every day,” he said. ”You’ve just got to go out there and go at it.”
He wants to keep playing on special teams, too.
”Every play counts in a game,” Grant said.
Laurinaitis isn’t surprised to see Grant succeed.
”Playing with him at Ohio State, I knew he had a ton of talent,” Laurinaitis said. ”He’s crazy athletic. It’s just a matter of consistency with him. It was awesome for me to see him play so well against Minnesota. We’ll see how he continues to do.
”I think he’s excited about his opportunity and he’s looking good so far.”
With training camp in its third week, Grant acknowledges you have to keep grinding to get through the workouts, meetings and film study.
That is all part of being a starter.
”On days when it’s too hot and you’re tired, you got to work,” Grant said. ”You got to put all that past you and do the best you can. You’ve got to make yourself be the best player you can be today and every day. My expectations for myself are high.
”This year is different. I want to win, and that’s what I’m here for.”
– The Associated Press
Bengals waive center – 10:39 a.m.
On Tuesday, the Cincinnati Bengals announced C Jonathan Luigs was waived, but did not say whether or not it was because of injury.
As noted previously, Luigs had been dealing with a hip injury. A source confirmed he was waived with the designation of non-football injury.
– Adam Caplan
Breaking down Seattle’s rookie contracts – 10:18 a.m.
Via a league source with access to NFLPA documents, here’s an inside look at the contracts More …
The Indianapolis Colts have signed safety Terrell Skinner and released two injured defensive backs.
Skinner is an undrafted rookie out of Maryland and adds depth to a secondary that sustained two injuries in Sunday’s preseason loss to San Francisco.
To make room for Skinner, the Colts put veteran safety Jamie Silva and recently re-signed rookie cornerback Donye’ McCleskey on the waived-injured list. Both players will be placed on the season-ending injured reserve list if they clear waivers.
Silva tore the ACL in his right knee Sunday. The Colts haven’t said what injury McCleskey sustained in Sunday’s game.
The 6-foot-2 Skinner was originally signed by Minnesota.
– The Associated Press
Lions add K to roster – 9:28 a.m.
With veteran K Jason Hanson still coming back from knee surgery, the Detroit Lions claimed K Steven Hauschka off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons. To make room for him on the 80-man roster, the Lions waived UDFA K Aaron Pettrey. Hanson is expected to be ready for the regular season, but Hauschka will fill in for the interim. Detroit has only one healthy kicker on their roster.
In other moves, the team signed UDFA LB Korey Bosworth, who was recently waived by the Atlanta Falcons. The Lions also re-signed CB Jahi Word-Daniels, who was waived back on June 2. In addition, the team waived UDFA TE Richard Dickson and waived LB Jordon Dizon from injured reserve.
– Adam Caplan
Gore welcomes Westbrook into 49ers backfield – 9:12 a.m.
Before San Francisco added free agent Brian Westbrook to its backfield this week, the 49ers made it a point to consult with Frank Gore first.
The two-time Pro Bowl running back, who has led the team in rushing each of the past five seasons, quickly gave his blessing.
”I thought if he could help my team get better and help us go to another level, I’m fine with it,” Gore said Tuesday after San Francisco’s single practice. ”He’s been a great back in this league for a long time. I already started asking him questions, but I feel he can help me get better.”
Westbrook signed a one-year deal with the 49ers on Monday and was greeted by a loud applause from 49ers fans attending the team’s open practice Tuesday as he trotted onto the field for the first workout with his new team.
The former Philadelphia Eagles star took part in individual drills and did some light running but spent much of the two-hour workout as a spectator while Gore and rookie Anthony Dixon handled the reps on offense.
”The hardest thing to do is sit on the sidelines and watch but that’s probably the best way to learn,” Westbrook said. ”Hopefully it’s quick, and I’m gonna do everything I can to make it as painless and as quick as possible.”
San Francisco needed help in its backfield after the surprisingly abrupt retirement of Glen Coffee after one year.
Even when Westbrook is up to speed with the power-based running game the 49ers employ, he’ll remain an understudy to Gore. Coach Mike Singletary made that point clear when San Francisco announced the Westbrook signing.
Gore, a third-round draft pick in 2005, likes leading the 49ers’ ground game but welcomes the addition of a back with the experience of Westbrook.
Westbrook led the NFL with 2,104 yards from scrimmage in 2007 but his production dropped dramatically last season when he missed eight games with a pair of concussions and an ankle injury.
”I know that we needed another back and he was the best one out there, and we feel that he can help our team,” Gore said. ”I watched him a whole lot, especially when he was in Philly because he was a guy I had to compete against for yards and receiving yards. He watched me in practice (today) and I asked him to help me with the things he sees that I can carry over on the field.”
Singletary didn’t rule out the possibility of using both Gore and Westbrook in the same backfield. In addition to 5,995 career rushing yards, Westbrook also has 426 receptions for 3,790 yards in eight seasons.
Gore, who already ranks fourth on the 49ers’ career rushing list with 5,561 yards, is averaging more than 52 catches over the past four seasons. The potential explosiveness that he and Westbrook present should pose a significant challenge for defenses.
”A lot of weapons,” Gore said. ”We do have personnel like that, with two halfbacks in the game. Both running backs out of the backfield can catch the ball well and I think that’s going to be great.”
Notes: K Joe Nedney kicked on his own but it’s still uncertain if he’ll play in this week’s preseason game against Minnesota. … TE Vernon Davis (strained knee) rode a stationary bicycle but did not take part in any team work. … WR Michael Crabtree (neck) did some light work during individual position drills. … WR Ted Ginn Jr. is still being looked at as a possible punt returner but Singletary said he prefers Ginn focus on returning kickoffs.
– The Associated Press
Saints activate WR Meachem from PUP list – 1:28 a.m.
The NFL’s most explosive offense brought some dynamite back into the fold today when receiver Robert Meachem rejoined the New Orleans Saints in practice. Meachem sat out for the first week while on the team’s physically unable to perform (PUP) as he recovered from toe surgery. Although the toe still bothered him during practice and he’s listed as day-to-day, Meachem said he would participate in every practice as long as he is cleared to play.
The 25-year-old University of Tennessee alum tied Marques Colston for the team lead in receiving touchdowns last year. Meachem also led the Saints in yards per reception at 16.0. In just his second season in the league, Meachem came on strong catching 45 passes for 722 yards. With Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees at the helm, the Saints led the league in total offense, scoring 510 points during the regular season. New Orleans kicked its offense into overdrive during the playoffs, averaging over 35 points per game on its way to winning the first ever professional sports championship in the city’s history.
Teamed up with Colston, Devery Henderson, Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Bush, Meachem should continue to grow in his third NFL season. He quantified the pain in his toe at about 4.5 out of 10 in his first practice back, but still went full speed and saw plenty of passes thrown his way. The Saints need Meachem’s speed and ability to stretch the field, so they may limit him before the start of the season. With a full complement of receivers and the addition of newcomer Adrian Arrington, New Orleans has plenty of weapons. Now it just has to keep all of them intact before the season opener against Minnesota on Sept. 9.
– Fox Sports South
August 17 News and Notes
Beason officially changing positions in Carolina – 10:14 p.m.
Jon Beason’s played in the Pro Bowl the past two seasons. He set a Carolina franchise record last year with 169 tackles, displaying the speed, aggressiveness and hard-hitting that have made him one of the NFL’s top middle linebackers.
So, why the heck would the Panthers move him to another position?
Look in the middle of the field at training camp these days and you won’t find Beason. Instead, he’s been shuffled to weakside linebacker in a gamble coach John Fox believes will make up for a key injury. It’s left Beason, a team leader and one of the few veterans left on the NFL’s third-youngest team, scrambling around camp like he’s a rookie again.
”I’m making strides every day,” Beason said as sweat poured down his face following Tuesday’s practice. ”The beauty of it is we’re still installing, so every day I get a new challenge. It allows me to be a rookie again. I have to be on my toes, have to be in my (play)book. This camp has been eventful.”
Beason then chuckled as he pointed toward Thomas Davis, who walked off the field following another day of rehabilitation as he recovers from his second torn ACL in a year. When the speedy Davis went down again in June, the Panthers decided to put reserve Dan Connor at middle linebacker and shift Beason to Davis’ old spot.
Beason played at weakside some in college and early in his rookie season with Carolina, but had reached a comfort level in the middle. While not thrilled with the change at first, he’s accepted it.
”I didn’t think there would be that much of a (learning) curve,” Beason said. ”Not so much as it’s new, just trying to get that comfort level where I can play free and not think as much, be more instinctive.”
You can change Beason’s position, but can’t take away the intensity that’s helped him collect 488 tackles in three NFL seasons.
”This is just a part of football,” Beason said. ”Somebody goes down and the No. 2 guy steps up and performs when it’s his turn.”
– The Associated Press
Big season coming for Abraham – 9:18 p.m.
Atlanta Falcons veteran DE John Abraham has been known as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL for several years. However, last season, he finished with just 5.5 sacks, a drop from 16.5 the year before.
Abraham, 32, is signed through 2011, but is due a base salary of $6.5 million for 2010. So, it’ll be interesting to see if he can bounce back from last season’s paltry numbers. If he can’t, he could be asked to take a pay reduction from the $8 million he’s due in the final year of his deal.
One player to keep an eye on is second-year DE Lawrence Sidbury, who’s listed as Abraham’s backup on the depth chart. Sidbury had a great set of practices during Senior Bowl week in 2009, and the small school player moved up draft boards because of that.
While Sidbury only participated in roughly 10 percent of the defensive snaps last season, his role could grow, especially if Abraham doesn’t bounce back from last season’s disappointment.
– Adam Caplan
Vikings to announce Favre return at Wednesday press conference – 8:47 p.m.
Minnesota head coach Brad Childress will headline a 3 p.m. ET press conference from Vikings training camp on Wednesday to announce the return of Brett Favre to the team.
Favre flew into Eden Prairie, Minnesota, on Tuesday afternoon after being summoned by three teammates in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, earlier in the day.
Favre was welcomed by team officials upon his arrival, but no press conference was announced until now.
Lions TE Pettigrew hoping to return to the field shortly – 8:24 p.m.
Brandon Pettigrew thinks the Detroit Lions could have a spectacular offense this season.
He’s waiting for a chance to become part of it.
The tight end’s working toward a full recovery from the knee injury that ended his rookie season on Thanksgiving Day. As has become customary when the Lions have two workouts on the same day, he sat out the morning session on Tuesday before practicing in the afternoon.
”We don’t want to take the risk of doing anything that might set him back,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. ”We’re only going to have him working once a day, and there will be some days that we sit him out entirely. This isn’t a situation that we are going to rush.”
Pettigrew would love to be working with the first-team offense in every drill, but knows that wouldn’t be a good idea.
”I know that I have to take things slow, because this wasn’t a soft injury,” he said. ”I don’t want to hurt this again.”
Pettigrew missed large chunks of last year’s training camp with minor injuries, but says it’s been easier to keep up this season.
”When you can’t practice as a rookie, it is really tough, because you don’t know the system and you aren’t used to the other players,” he said. ”This year, I don’t feel like I’m falling behind. I know the offense and I know what is expected of me.”
Schwartz expects big things out of Pettigrew, as well.
”I think he is right on track with his recovery, and he’s looked good when he’s been out there,” he said. ”Because of the time he missed last year, it took him a while to get on track, but there were a few games last season where he was playing as well as any tight end in the NFL.
”Then he got hurt, so that slowed things down, but he’s coming back. He’s great for us, because if you throw the ball in his zip code, he’s going to catch it and make a play.”
– The Associated Press
Bengals waive fourth-rounder – 6:17 p.m.
In somewhat of a surprising move, the Cincinnati Bengals waived 2009 fourth-round pick C Jonathan Luigs. The interior lineman had been sidelined recently by a hip injury, but the team did not note if he was waived/injured.
Luigs was competing against rookie seventh-round pick Reggie Stephens for the backup center job, so his release could mean that Stephens has won the job. But starting C Kyle Cook was injured in last week’s game against Denver Broncos, so the coaches might believe he’ll be ready to play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday evening.
– Adam Caplan
Dolphins guards Garner, Jerry hurt – 6:06 p.m.
Miami Dolphins guards Nate Garner and rookie John Jerry are the latest players to succumb to injury in training camp.
Coach Tony Sparano confirms Garner had surgery last week on his left foot, the same one that was operated on in the offseason. Sparano doesn’t know how long Garner will be out.
Jerry was Miami’s third-round pick out of Mississippi State. At 6-foot-5, 328 pounds, Jerry was making a strong push to become the starting right guard. Near the end of Monday’s practice he pulled up with a sore right knee and did not finish the team drills. On Tuesday morning, he tried to push his way through again but had to cut things short.
Donald Thomas and Cory Procter will see more practice reps at the guard spots with Jerry out. Andrew Gardner and Lydon Murtha will pick up the workload in Garner’s absence.
– The Associated Press
Bills WR carted off field with injury – 5:51 p.m.
Buffalo Bills rookie receiver David Nelson is out indefinitely after being carted off the field with a right leg injury during practice on Tuesday.
Without providing any specifics of the injury, coach Chan Gailey said, ”it doesn’t look good.” Based on the initial prognosis, Gailey added that there is a question as to whether Nelson will recover in time for the Bills’ season opener against Miami on Sept. 12.
Nelson was hurt about an hour into practice while taking part in a team red zone drill. Making a catch over the middle from Levi Brown, Nelson turned toward the end zone and was on his way down when he was nudged sideways by a defender, who was attempting to stop himself from making a collision.
It appeared that Nelson’s right foot got caught in the turf as he fell.
Nelson immediately clutched at his lower leg. Trainers spent about 5 minutes treating the player and keeping his foot elevated. Nelson was then loaded into a cart and unable to put any weight on his foot.
An undrafted rookie free agent out of Florida, Nelson is part of a raw and inexperienced receiving corps competing for a backup spot on the team.
He had a solid NFL debut, making a team-high five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown in a preseason-opening 42-17 loss at Washington last week.
Buffalo is already down two receivers entering its preseason game against Indianapolis on Thursday at Toronto. Rookie Marcus Easley is set to have surgery on his left knee, and James Hardy has missed a week with an undisclosed injury.
And that doesn’t include Felton Huggins, who was waived/injured last week after he hurt his left shoulder.
Starting free safety Jairus Byrd missed practice Tuesday because of what Gailey would only refer to a ”physical complication.” Gailey provided no other details except to say he believes it will be resolved very quickly, and that the player was having the complication checked out.
– The Associated Press
Seahawks release RB Peterson – 5:44 p.m.
The Seattle Seahawks have released RB Adrian Peterson. Peterson, who signed late last week, was released in order to make room for newly acquired DE Kentwan Balmer. With Peterson gone, the team is down to four running backs on their 80-man roster.
In addition to releasing Peterson, the Seahawks waived LB Alvin Bowen, who signed with the team just over a week ago, and signed K Clint Stitser. With K Olindo Mare dealing with a lingering calf injury, Stitser, who spent time with the New York Jets recently, can give the veteran a breather in practice.
Stitser finished his collegiate career with Fresno State University in 2007, but has not play football the past two seasons.
– Adam Caplan
Jaguars sign linebacker – 5:21 p.m.
The Jacksonville Jaguars announced free-agent LB Rod Wilson signed a contract with the team. To make room on the 80-man roster for Wilson, the team waived rookie WR Derrick Townsel.
Wilson, 6-2, 230, has spent time with the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has played in 36 games since entering the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick of Chicago in 2005, and produced 30 special teams tackles and 12 tackles on defense.
A native of Cross, S.C., Wilson played in eight games for the Buccaneers in 2009 before he was placed on injured reserve. He participated in 86 special teams plays for Tampa Bay before his season ended. He produced a career-high 16 special teams tackles for the Bears in 2007.
Wilson fits in at MLB or SLB in Jacksonville’s 4-3 defensive scheme.
Browns place punter on IR – 3:17 p.m.
The Cleveland Browns placed P Dave Zastudil (right knee) on injured reserve, the team announced Tuesday. Zastudil had knee surgery earlier this year, but still was dealing with soreness in his right knee that would not go away.
With the left-footed punter out for the season, journeyman P Reggie Hodges will fill in for him. Hodges has spent time with eight teams over the past six years. Hodges is the only punter left on Cleveland’s 80-man roster.
Zastudil is on the final year of his contract and carries a base salary of $1.415 million for this season.
In addition to the IR move, the team re-signed FB/TE Joel Gamble, who the team waived over the weekend. He passed through waivers on Monday, meaning he was free to sign with any team as of Tuesday. The Browns also waived UDFA G John Malecki.
– Adam Caplan
Philadelphia’s starting CBs leave practice early – 3:06 p.m.
Depth at cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles could be called a small concern by some, but the team hasn’t had many injuries issues at the position during training camp. On Tuesday, both starters, Asante Samuel (hamstring) and Ellis Hobbs (illness), left practice early.
Samuel has had his share of hamstring issues over his career, usually minor, but his situation still needs to be watched. The team worked nickel CB Joselio Hanson in his place during the rest of the morning practice, but Hanson really is better playing in the slot.
One player to keep an eye on at the position at the final roster reduction (53 players) before the regular season begins is Dimitri Patterson. The journeyman defensive back has put together a mostly solid camp and some personnel sources believe he will make it very difficult for the coaches to release him based on his solid practice performances. His job with Philadelphia could come down to the team deciding whether or not to keep four or five cornerbacks. What will help his cause is the ability to play outside or inside cornerback.
– Adam Caplan
Eagles WR Hall capitalizing on military experience – 12:57 p.m.
He learned to be precise. He learned to prepare more diligently than everybody else. And he learned to work with a team toward a common goal.
All the things Chad Hall is engaged in this summer at Philadelphia Eagles training camp he already experienced over the last two years – and quite far from the football field.
Hall, one of the biggest surprises of camp, finished his college career at Air Force in 2007 and spent the last two years as a maintenance officer and second in command with the 421st fighter squadron, part of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base near Ogden, Utah.
Unable to play for two years, Hall served his military commitment repairing and maintaining the Air Force’s largest fleet of combat-ready F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.
”It really is a lot like football,” Hall said. ”Be accountable, make sure you prepare, trust that others are doing their jobs. There are a lot of similarities. You don’t care who gets the credit, you just work together for a common goal.”
Hall was the 2007 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year after rushing for 1,478 yards and catching 50 passes for 524 more yards. But he had to serve a minimum 24-month commitment just to apply for early release from the Air Force.
He loved the work, saying he ”always wanted to be around jets,” but desperately missed football.
”It was tough,” Hall said. ”Real tough not playing football for two years. It was especially hard watching the game and knowing I wasn’t able to play. We had squadron sports, and I played squadron basketball and stuff like that, but obviously it’s not the same. I just kept working hard, kept pushing and hoping that one day I’d have a chance to prove myself.”
Hall got that chance this spring when he was invited to work out for the Eagles, and they liked what they saw from the speedy 5-foot-8 hybrid tailback/receiver/returner.
Hall made the most of his first football game in 32 months in the Eagles’ 28-27 preseason win over Jacksonville on Friday night.
He compiled 82 yards of offense after halftime, including a 57-yard catch from rookie quarterback Mike Kafka and a 22-yard run from scrimmage to go with two punt returns for 14 yards and three kick returns for 63 yards.
”I thought when given the opportunity, he could play all of the positions: running back, receiver and the return game,” head coach Andy Reid said. ”I thought he excelled in all of them. … He had a productive day.”
Hall knows he’ll need many more productive days to survive final roster cuts later this month. As a 24-year-old undrafted rookie who’s shorter than most of the Eagles’ ball boys and plays two positions where the team is well stocked, Hall knows he faces long odds.
”I’ve always felt like I’ve had to outwork everybody to accomplish what I’ve accomplished so far,” Hall said. ”I’ll always have that edge mentally, that I have to keep pushing, I can’t take breaks.
”Height and size are God-given. You can’t control those. But you can control how hard you work. Just go with what you’ve got, and dream big.”
– The Associated Press
QB Orlovsky embracing fresh start – 12:28 p.m.
Dan Orlovsky zipped a perfect pass to David Anderson in the corner of the end zone at the Houston Texans’ practice on Tuesday morning.
A few minutes later, coach Gary Kubiak snapped at his backup quarterback for not spotting a tight end cutting open across the middle.
The 26-year-old Orlovsky has appeared in only 12 games in five often frustrating NFL seasons. He’s found a comfortable niche with the Texans and thinks he finally has his career moving down the right path.
Orlovsky took most of the snaps in Houston’s preseason opener in Arizona on Saturday, completing 12 of 21 passes for 129 yards without an interception. He’s likely to get more extended playing time when the Texans play in New Orleans on Saturday, and feels pressure to impress his coaches and teammates before the regular season begins.
”The preseason is so huge for me,” Orlovsky said. ”I know, and we all know, that the guys who are playing a lot in the preseason are basically auditioning. Once Week 1 rolls around, it’s about our team getting wins, it’s not about me getting reps. So that’s why I’m trying to focus on the games and just trying to do my job.”
Detroit drafted Orlovsky out of Connecticut in the fifth round in 2005. He played in two games as a rookie, then sat out the next two seasons as the third quarterback on the depth chart.
He started seven games in 2008, when the Lions became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16. Orlovsky finished that season with a 72.6 rating, fourth-lowest in the league, and struggled to keep his confidence.
”You’re human, so of course there are periods of frustration,” Orlovsky said. ”Doubt creeps in your mind, thoughts that you never thought would’ve been part of your process are there. You just have to continue to believe in yourself and work.”
Orlovsky felt renewed when he signed with the Texans as a free agent in 2009. He was the third quarterback behind Matt Schaub and Rex Grossman and was inactive for all 16 games.
But Orlovsky admitted that he needed to sit out, learn the offense and refine his skills.
”Last year, I had to get broken down,” Orlovsky said. ”I had developed bad habits, mentally and physically. It wasn’t fun last year, but it’s one of those things that, when I look back on it, I’m happy I went through it.”
Schaub led the league with 4,770 passing yards in 2009 and Houston finished with the NFL’s No. 1 passing offense (291 yards per game). Orlovsky said he learned ”countless things” from watching Schaub run the system.
”It was a whole scope of things,” Orlovsky said. ”Really, it was just seeing how to run this position the way it’s supposed to be run at this level. It’s been beneficial.”
Kubiak said last week that Orlovsky is much improved from last season, but needs to cut down on bad decisions. He called Orlovsky’s performance against Arizona ”steady” and was happy Orlovsky didn’t commit a turnover.
Orlovsky said he botched some simple throws against the Cardinals, an area to improve against New Orleans.
”I just missed some easy plays,” he said. ”I missed some plays that I can make in my sleep, 99 or 100 times out of 100. I need to make the routine play consistently, and really continuing to protect the ball, that’s the really big focus of mine. I’m just focusing on executing on every single play.”
Orlovsky said that his overriding goal in the preseason may be simply earning the confidence of his teammates.
”I’ve gained such an appreciation for the guys on this team, that I want to go out and perform, so they know that if something happens to Matt, that we won’t miss a blink,” he said.
Star receiver Andre Johnson said Orlovsky is winning over the Texans and seems much more at ease at training camp this year.
“You could tell that he was thinking a lot when he first got here,” Johnson said. ”Now, you can tell he’s feeling comfortable with the offense. It showed when he went out and played this last Saturday. Hopefully, this week, it’s another test for him and he can go out and keep improving.”
– The Associated Press
Titans release injured rookie RB Stafon Johnson – 11:22 a.m.
The Tennessee Titans have waived injured rookie running back Stafon Johnson, the former Southern California standout whose college career was ended by a weightlifting accident that crushed his neck.
Johnson dislocated his right ankle and broke his fibula Saturday night in the Titans’ 20-18 loss at Seattle. Before Tuesday’s move coach Jeff Fisher had said Johnson would be out up to 12 weeks recovering from surgery.
The Titans replaced Johnson on the roster by signing Samkon Gado. Gado has played in 41 career games with 268 carries for 972 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has played for Green Bay, Houston, Miami and St. Louis most recently.
– The Associated Press
Clayton hoping for hometown Super Bowl – 10:05 a.m.
Mark Clayton finds himself in a unique position this season. He’s the only player in the NFL with the chance to play the Super Bowl in his hometown. More …
– FOX Sports Southwest
Cowboys’ Crayton practicing at WR, holder, and … – 9:29 a.m.
We’ve talked about Patrick Crayton taking some turns as a holder during training camp. You can add long snapper, too.
Rams rookie starting LT hurts his back – 7:41 p.m.
St. Louis Rams rookie offensive tackle Rodger Saffold left practice early on Monday after injuring his back.
General manager Billy Devaney said the team didn’t believe the injury was serious.
Saffold was the first pick of the second round and has been starting at left tackle during camp thus far. He’d been impressive enough that the team moved Jason Smith, the second overall pick in last season’s draft, to the right side.
Coach Steve Spagnuolo said the reason for the injury was that a player fell into Saffold’s back.
– The Associated Press
Saints add insurance at running back – 7:20 p.m.
The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free-agent RB Ladell Betts, a source confirmed. The Saints lost backup RB Lynell Hamilton for the season due to a torn ACL which he suffered in last week’s game at the New England Patriots. Interestingly, Betts suffered a torn ACL with the Washington Redskins last season.
Betts worked out for the Saints recently and also worked out for the Denver Broncos. The veteran back will compete for the No. 3 role against Chris Ivory and P.J. Hill. It’s surprising that the team signed Betts considering he’s not known for being a short-yardage back. Had Hamilton not gotten hurt, he would have been expected to fill a short-yardage role.
Betts, 31, was originally selected by Washington in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft.
– Adam Caplan
DE Spears targets opening day for return from injury — 5:01 p.m.
Starting defensive end Marcus Spears accompanied the Cowboys on the trip to California and will continue rehabilitation work on a sprained ligament in the left knee. Spears said his goal is to be in the lineup for the Sept. 12 opener at Washington. More …
– FOX Sports Southwest
Rookie running back to go on IR – 4:04 p.m.
Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak confirmed Monday that second-round pick RB Ben Tate (leg) will go on injured reserve in the near future.
Tate, who was injured during last week’s game against the Cardinals, is expected to have surgery later this week.
With Tate out for the season, second-year back Arian Foster will likely open up the regular season as the starter with third-year RB Steve Slaton backing him up.
– Adam Caplan
Browns sign WR Taurus Johnson — 3:05 p.m.
Free agent wide receiver Taurus Johnson has signed with the Cleveland Browns.
Signed by Kansas City as an undrafted free agent last season, Johnson spent 2009 on practice squads in Detroit and Miami. He was waived by the Dolphins last week.
Johnson had 112 career receptions and 12 touchdowns at South Florida from 2005-08. He also returned kickoffs for the Bulls.
The Browns also waived/injured wide receiver Johnathan Haggerty, who was hurt in Saturday’s exhibition win in Green Bay.
— The Associated Press
Thoughts from weekend games — 2:41 p.m.
The Buffalo Bills got off to what I would call an unfortunate start by losing both – Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch for at least a few weeks. Jackson will likely miss at least the opening week of the regular season.
The New England Patriots have a running back situation of their own.
The Indianapolis Colts have lost special teams ace/backup S Jamie Silva due to a torn ACL. The team announced Silva suffered the injury during Sunday’s preseason game against San Francisco.
Silva, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008, appeared in 25 games the past two seasons, totaling 22 defensive tackles and 27 special teams stops. Silva’s 15 special teams tackles in 2009 ranked second-most on the team. According to a source, Silva participated in just over 60 percent of all special teams plays last season, finishing second on the team in that category.
— Adam Caplan
Browns rookie QB McCoy not practicing — 1:59 p.m.
Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy is not practicing because of a minor thumb injury sustained in his NFL exhibition debut.
McCoy hit his hand on the helmet of one of his teammates on a throw in the third quarter of the Browns’ 27-24 win at Green Bay. Browns coach Eric Mangini said Monday that McCoy is ”fine” and will only miss a day or two. Mangini expects McCoy, a third-round pick, to play in Saturday’s home game against St. Louis.
McCoy finished 5-of-10 for 25 yards and two interceptions before leaving with the injury. The former Texas star is expected to be Cleveland’s third-string quarterback this season, spending the year learning behind Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace.
"Yes, retirement." The veteran lineman said, "I really couldn’t make up my mind and I really didn’t enjoy playing last season."
A source told FOXSports.com recently that Schobel was leaning toward playing again, but his decision could change at any time because he wasn’t totally set in coming back. Had Schobel decided to continue his career, playing for the Houston Texans was his No. 1 choice.
Schobel, who was released by the Buffalo Bills on August 4, was selected in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft by Buffalo.
— Adam Caplan
Bills restock injured lineup by signing two rookies — 10:11 a.m.
The banged-up Buffalo Bills have signed two undrafted rookie free agents, running back Andre Anderson and receiver Aaron Rhea.
Anderson had 2,009 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns at Tulane. Rhea had 1,811 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns at Stephen F. Austin. Rhea initially signed with Minnesota in April before being released last month.
The Bills also placed linebacker Ryan Manalac on waived/injured.
The moves were announced Monday as the Bills returned to training camp after a 42-17 loss at Washington on Friday to open the preseason.
Buffalo lost its top two running backs to injury during the game. Fred Jackson is out indefinitely after hurting his left hand, and Marshawn Lynch hurt his ankle.
— The Associated Press
August 15 News and Notes
Tebow’s debut solid, but not error-free — 11:15 p.m.
The long-awaited debut of Denver Broncos first-round pick QB Tim Tebow took place during Sunday evening’s contest against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The southpaw entered the game late in the third quarter with much anticipation.
Tebow went 8-13 for 105 yards in the air and ran twice for 10 yards on the ground.
As a passer, Tebow’s performance was up and down. On a few dropbacks, he held on to the ball too long and was sacked once. Because of his elongated release, this makes him susceptible to unnecessary hits, like the one that caused a fumble that was returned for a score. However, replay showed that his arm was going forward, so the TD was nullified. And his pocket awareness wasn’t great, either. He clearly did not sense the rush on his blindside.
But it wasn’t all bad for one of college football’s all-time greatest quarterbacks. He made an outstanding throw to backup WR Matthew Willis deep down the right sideline which Willis dropped. The pass had outstanding touch. But even on that pass, you can tell he’s unable to shorten up his release. He also did a decent job of running the two-minute offense to close the game on his seven-yard scamper for a score. On that play, the big-bodied signal caller collided with S Kyries Hebert, but it was the defensive back who got hurt.
In summary, it’s certainly a mixed review for Tebow, but there’s plenty to build on as he prepares for his next game this Saturday at home against the Detroit Lions.
— Adam Caplan
Saints looking to sign a veteran RB to replace Hamilton — 10:03 p.m.
The Saints are lacking a bruising back after Lynell Hamilton tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Wednesday’s preseason opener against the New England Patriots.
Without him, the Saints are somewhat handcuffed in short-yardages situations with no true power back on the roster. Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are talented runners, but neither fits the traditional pounder mold.
That’s why veteran Ladell Betts was brought in for a visit two weeks ago. The 5-11, 224-pound veteran has racked up over 3,000 yards during an eight-year career, but has never been the intended focus of an offense, a situation he’ll find comforting if he does end up in the Big Easy. His best year came in 2006 when he led the Redskins with 1,154 rushing yards to go along with five total touchdowns.
However, Betts won’t be the only target of head coach Sean Payton, who said that the position will be addressed soon. — Full story …
— FOX Sports Southwest
Harvin could return to Vikes tonight — 6:24 p.m.
Although nothing is official yet, this should be the week that second-year wide receiver Percy Harvin reports back to work for the Vikings, with sources close to the NFL’s reigning offensive rookie of the year suggesting he could return to the club as early as Sunday night.
The team’s first-round draft choice in 2009, Harvin has missed virtually all of training camp, grieving for his recently-deceased grandmother and also battling the debilitating migraine headaches that plagued him as a rookie.
Harvin left camp July 31 and hasn’t participated in practice since. He has been recuperating at home while the team practiced at Mankato State.
The club recently issued him a "five-day letter," which normally demands that an absent player return to the team. In this case, however, the move was strictly procedural, and made to gain Minnesota a roster exemption.
— Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange
Kubiak: Tate likely needs surgery on ankle — 6:08 p.m.
Houston Texans rookie running back Ben Tate will need surgery after suffering a severe ankle injury in Saturday’s preseason opener in Arizona.
The 5-foot-11, 211-pound Tate was hurt in the third quarter of the Texans’ 19-16 loss to the Cardinals. Tate, the Texans’ second-round draft pick out of Auburn, had only two carries for 7 yards before he was carted off the field.
Coach Gary Kubiak said Sunday that the injury is ”pretty severe,” and that Tate will likely have surgery on Tuesday or Wednesday. Full story …
— The Associated Press
Tests on Fitzgerald’s knee come out well – 5:58 p.m.
An MRI test taken on Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald’s right knee showed that he suffered an MCL sprain during Saturday’s victory over the Texans, Azcardinals.com reports.
Minor MCL sprains (grade-1) usually can keep a skill position player like Fitzgerald out of practice for just a few days, but it’s an injury that generally won’t keep a player out of a game. A grade-2 sprain can take anywhere from two to four weeks to heal. The website didn’t specify the degree of MCL sprain he suffered.
Fitzgerald’s expected to be able to play in the regular season opener September 12 at the St. Louis Rams. With Fitzgerald expected to miss practice time this week, exciting rookie Stephen Williams will get more time on the field. Williams, who went undrafted, runs well for his size (6-4, 210). He’s wowed practice observers with his ability to make spectacular catches during training camp practices thus far.
– Adam Caplan
Holt placed on IR by Patriots – 3:50 p.m.
The New England Patriots made four roster moves Sunday afternoon. One of them could signal an end to a great career.
Veteran WR Torry Holt (knee) was placed on injured reserve by the team. Holt signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with New England back in April with the hope he’d provide veteran depth for the receiver position. However, he fell down the depth chart and his chances of making the 53-man roster weren’t good.
The 34 year old was scheduled to make $1.15 million in base salary this season.
In addition to placing Holt on IR, the team signed undrafted free agents WR Buddy Farnham and OL Brian Simmons and waived CB Ross Ventrone, the younger brother of Browns S Ray Ventrone.
– Adam Caplan
Fitzgerald undergoing MRI on knee — 3:35 p.m.
After taking a shot to his right knee in Saturday’s preseason game against the Texans, Larry Fitzgerald is in the process of undergoing an MRI test to determine the severity of the injury, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.
The Cardinals are obviously hoping it’s nothing more than sprain and that the test doesn’t show any damage to any ligaments surrounding the knee itself.
As of now, there’s no timetable on Fitzgerald’s return to training camp or preseason games.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.
Injuries force Eagles to look at new safeties — 11:29 a.m.
The safety position for the Philadelphia Eagles took a hit during Friday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Antoine Harris (foot) was lost for the season and third-year FS Quentin Demps (sprained knee) may miss a few weeks.
Because of that, journeyman Jamaal Fudge and UDFA rookie Terrell Skinner, who was waived by the Minnesota Vikings earlier this week, worked out for the team on Sunday morning.
Philadelphia is down to just four healthy safeties, so depth could be an issue going forward.
— Adam Caplan
Texans’ RB likely out for season — 11:19 a.m.
Houston Texans rookie RB Ben Tate, who was carted off during the third quarter of Saturday evening’s 19-16 loss at the Arizona Cardinals, suffered injuries that will likely force him to miss the rest of the season, a source said.
It’s believed the second-round pick out of Auburn University suffered fractures to his right leg and ankle during the third quarter. Tate will go through further evaluation on Sunday to determine the full extent of the injuries.
Houston still has four other running backs on their 80-man roster: Arian Foster, Steve Slaton, Chris Henry, and Jeremiah Johnson. Foster got the start against Arizona with Slaton coming in after him.
— Adam Caplan
Eagles get center and guard back — 9:02 a.m.
The Philadelphia Eagles might have their starting offensive line back on the playing field for their first regular season game against the Green Bay Packers. The team activated starters C Jamaal Jackson (knee) and LG Todd Herremans (foot) off the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.
Jackson, who suffered a torn ACL last season during a Week 16 game against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 27, can now practice with the team. While he’s expected to be eased back in, the fact that he’s able to practice has to be great news. Backup G/C Mike McGlynn started for Jackson during Thursday’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Herremans had been held out of training camp practices to this point in order to reduce the wear on his surgically repaired left foot. Like Jackson, it’s expected that Herremans will see limited practice time over the next few days, but his practice time could increase in the near future. Backup G Max Jean-Gilles started for Herremans during Thursday’s game.
While both players had been counting against the team’s 80-man roster, Eagles also waived P Ken Parrish. Teams must trim their rosters to 75 players by August 31.