Sights, sounds, news and views
THE GANG'S ALL HERE (ALMOST): With the arrival of first-round draft pick Rashaun Woods for the morning practice, the Niners practiced with a full squad for the first time. Well, almost a full squad. Julian Peterson still is nowhere to be seen, and he doesn't figure to be around for a while. "Having everyone out at practice is good," coach Dennis Erickson said. "Having Rashaun out there is good. Not that he couldn't afford to, but it's great that he hasn't missed any more practices. He has a lot to catch up with." MONEY WON'T CHANGE HIM: Woods inked a $6.25 million deal late Friday afternoon that included $3.85 million in signing and option bonuses, but he says becoming and instant millionaire won't alter his style or his values. "I'm still the same guy," Woods said. "Basically, all I like to do … I'm an outdoorsman, man. I like to fish and do a little hunting and stuff like that. I'm not big into the Bentleys and (Mercedes) Benzes and all that kind of stuff. I could care less. I have a pickup truck, and I'm going to have a boat, man. And that's just going to be me. And that's going to be me for the rest of my life." THE BEST HANDS: Woods is known for his sticky hands and smooth routes, but the best two pairs of hands in camp so far belong to … you guessed it, Cedrick Wilson and Brandon Lloyd. Maybe that's why these guys will enter August firmly holding onto their status as the team's two starting receivers for 2004. AIRING IT OUT: One ball Lloyd didn't come down with was impressive in both its distance and velocity – and pleasant to see because of the arm it came from. In Saturday's later afternoon session, with the team practicing in just helmets and shorts with no pads, the Niners allowed starting quarterback Tim Rattay to participate in 11-on-11 team drills for the first time. Rattay, being brought back slowly after May groin surgery, went deep on an out-and-up sideline route to Lloyd, and it was a beauty. Rattay delivered a deep spiral with smoke on it that Lloyd was able to run under some 50 yards down the field. Alas, safety Ronnie Heard and cornerback Mike Rumph were there to break it up. Still, it was a majestic pass and a fine indication why the Niners are so intent on going with Rattay as their starter this year. TOUGH HEARD: Heard, by the way, had bruised his knee after bumping into another player's knee during Friday's drills and he did not participate in the morning practice with the expectation he might sit out the entire day. But Heard was back at it during the afternoon, and in good enough condition to make plays like those mentioned above. THE FIRST TO GO: Before Saturday's morning practice, the Niners released receiver Wendall Williams, a rookie from Rhode Island. Williams never had a chance to make the roster, particularly after dropping some passes during Friday's opening-day team drills. Williams now holds the distinction of being the first player cut from this year's camp. The competition for the five or six receiving slots the team will keep on its final 53-man roster now is down to 11 candidates. JOHNSON HURT: Starting tight end Eric Johnson, who missed the entire 2003 season with a broken collarbone, was bit by the injury bug again during Saturday's afternoon practice. Johnson dislocated the thumb on his right hand and was scheduled to undergo X-rays later in the evening. He will see a hand specialist Sunday to determine the extent of his injury, but figures to miss at least a few days of camp – and probably more. HOT HICKS: It's a little early to tell what it means, but NFL Europe product Maurice Hicks has displayed some speed and flash at tailback. Who is the guy? His burst, quickness and agility have been evident every time he touches the ball. SNAPS FOR PICKETT: Rookie quarterback Cody Pickett, by the way, received his first snaps during 11-on-11 team drills. It was nothing to crow about – Pickett's dump-off pass to Kevan Barlow was blown up by linebacker Derek Smith, and Curtis Conway had to make an athletic adjustment to catch Pickett's underthrown pass on a fade route – but it was a start for a guy who could figure in the quarterback plans here somewhere down the road. After all, don't all seventh-round quarterbacks drafted by the Niners figure in the team's QB plans somewhere down the road?
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