Centers shows up, Fina a no-show

One question was answered, and another left open, when the Bills' veterans reported for their first day of organized workouts Monday.

While snowflakes swirled outside the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse, fullback Larry Centers was inside working out with the offense. That was even though, as a veteran of 10-plus NFL seasons, Centers had been excused from practice by Gregg Williams.

Free-agent pickups Dave Moore and Eddie Robinson, each in his 11th season, also reported. That left offensive tackle John Fina as the only 10-year man sitting out this mini-camp.

There was speculation that Williams' "10-year rule" was an out to avoid addressing whether Centers or Fina would be back with the 2002 Bills or would be released after June 1 to provide salary-cap relief. Releasing Fina would save some $3 million.

Williams denied that Fina's absence foretold an imminent release. "John and I talked about that," the coach said. "He probably came back (from off-season surgery) too fast last year. There's nothing to read into that."

Also missing the workout were first-round draft pick Mike Williams, whose flight from an NFL film premier in Los Angeles was delayed; Sheldon Jackson, expecting the birth of a child, and three rookies whose college classes have not completed exams – Josh Reed, Ed Dangerfield and Rodney Wright. Wide receivers Reggie Germany and Jeremy McDaniel remained sidelined by leg injuries, and Williams excused too other veteran starters, Ruben Brown and Pat Williams, from workouts.

When Centers went home at the end of last season, he said he might not be back unless the team brought in new players to become more competitive, and increased his salary.

Now he seems to be at least half appeased.

"I definitely think there have been a lot of positive changes made. Bringing in Drew Bledsoe and London Fletcher and Eddie Robinson, guys like that with leadership qualities."

To three questions about Centers' contract situation, he three times answered, "No comment."

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