Rookie Wire: What if?

Rookies around the league were put through the paces as teams held their minicamps these past couple weekends. Although some missed camp due to an NFL arranged engagement, others showed their stuff -- both good and bad. News and notes on rookies around the league including a group that could have been drafted by the Patriots. Who are they and how did they do?

* denotes Patriots pre-Draft interest

  • RB Adrian Peterson will not need surgery on his collarbone this season, barring further injury. Peterson, the standout running back from Oklahoma, slipped to the Vikings with the seventh-overall pick in last month's draft in part because teams were concerned he might need a surgical procedure on his left collarbone that would have kept him out for six months. However, a series of tests performed by the Vikings doctors showed the injury has been healing on its own. That means Peterson will be able to participate in the Vikings' Organized Team Activities, which begin May 22. "At this point we are not overly concerned that it's not going to heal in a normal way," said Dr. Joel Boyd, the Vikings' new orthopedic physician. "I'm not anticipating that he's going to require surgery for it. At this point in time, it looks like it will progress to heal on its own completely."

  • * Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez didn't take part in the Indianapolis' recent minicamp and will most likely miss some of the Colts' early summer school workouts as well. Gonzalez has been prohibited from participating -- by the NFL, no less -- because he was one of 35 rookies invited to Reebok's NFL Player Rookie Premier in Los Angeles. He initially declined the invitation, preferring to spend the time practicing with his new team. But when a few other players around the league followed suit, the NFL's Management Council stepped in and sent memos to all 32 teams. Even if a player decided not to participate in the sponsor-related event, he could not attend his team's minicamp. "Gonzo is distraught," his agent, Mike McCartney, said. "He wants to play football." His academic requirements at Ohio State will preclude him from participating in the early portions of the Colts' summer school.

  • Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe struggled during rookie minicamp. Bowe showed up late, dropped some passes, and generally looked a little out of place. "He's a guy that is very excitable," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "He wants to make things happen and he was probably pressing. I could see that. But you could see that he could do very, very well and that's why we drafted him."

  • * Bears TE Greg Olsen was fortunate to have his older brother Christian with him during the recent rookie minicamp, and not just because it provided the tight end with a familiar quarterback throwing him the ball. It was also beneficial off the field. "I was lucky I was able to work with my brother (because) this was actually his offense in college, so he knew a lot of it," Greg said. "So before we came in, I had a playbook, and he was able to teach me a lot of stuff because this terminology to me was like Chinese. They could've been speaking a different language. "But to him it made a lot of sense. Any time you study with someone who knows it already and they can kind of teach you in layman's terms rather than just reading it out of a book, it always makes it easier. He's a quarterback, and they know a lot more than the rest of us. They're supposed to know a lot more than me." Christian Olsen, who played sparingly at Virginia, was one of about two dozen players who received tryout invitations for the weekend.

  • Rookie RB Garrett Wolfe signed a four-year, $2.29 million deal with the Bears. Wolfe, a third-round pick, was the first member of the 2007 NFL Draft class to sign with a team. Wolfe received a $623,000 signing bonus.

  • * Bears Rookie SS Kevin Payne signed a four-year, $1.82 million deal with Chicago. Payne, a fifth-rounder, received a $150,000 signing bonus. Payne drew a fair amount of interest from teams looking for secondary help prior to the Draft, including the Patriots.

  • * Panthers LB Tim Shaw (fifth round) played a number of positions in college, but figures to be a linebacker in the NFL. The Panthers figure he will help out on special teams to begin with. "I bring some versatility, and if nothing else, athleticism and energy," Shaw said. "I'm just one of those guys who is going to be out there every play. I'm going to play whatever you want me to play. I can play different spots, special teams, whatever you want. I just love to play the game, so wherever they want me, that's where I'll be.

  • * Saints G Andy Alleman, one of their two third-round picks, and T Jermon Bushrod, the second of two fourth-round selections, made an impression on the Saints staff during a three-day rookie minicamp. The Saints went into the draft looking for depth at both guard and tackle and they're hoping Alleman and Bushrod fit the bill so they can be groomed for the future, along with tackle Zach Strief, a seventh-round draft pick a year ago. "They looked comfortable," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Alleman and Bushrod. "It's a little bit harder with those guys (linemen) because we're in jerseys and helmets. So once we get the pads on and get into training camp, you'll get a better evaluation."

  • * Saints WR Robert Meachem, the 27th overall pick in last month's draft, was limited by a twisted left ankle and a little extra weight in his first minicamp. "It didn't go as well as I wanted it, as far as fatigue goes, but other than that I did good in spurts," said Meachem, who hurt the ankle in his first practice. "It's frustrating because you know what you can do, and it's kind of hard to show the coaches what you can do when you can't give it your all." Meachem, who is listed at 214 pounds, said he gained a little weight while making pre-draft visits to at least nine teams.

  • * Arizona's TE Ben Patrick, the team's seventh-round pick last month, is limited because of a hamstring strain.

  • * Bills Rookie LB Paul Posluszny is being billed as the next coming of Shane Conlan, but he's used to the comparisons. It was the same way at Penn State, where he wore Conlan's No. 31 and even worked out at the same gym with the former Bills star. "It's always great to be able to talk to him," Posluszny said. "I have his (phone) number, and if I have questions he says feel free to call. He has so much experience playing college and professionally, and we talk about a lot of the same things, so it's great."

  • * Raiders Rookie TE Zach Miller has looked good early on in the Raiders' offseason program. Miller, the second-round draft pick from Arizona State, made an impression several times during the club's mandatory minicamp and Organized Team Activity sessions. Miller would find an open spot in the defense, settle in, and catch a pass to move the chains. It was nothing spectacular, but it was out of the ordinary where the Raiders are concerned. The Raiders haven't had a tight end catch 40 passes since Rickey Dudley had 48 receptions for 787 yards in 1997. Miller was six years old the last time a Raiders tight end caught 50 passes (Ethan Horton, 53, in 1991). "Sometimes it's hard to feel that void in a zone," Miller said. "It takes a feel for the game, where linebackers are at, where safeties and corners play. To find those spots is kind of a skill."

  • * Oakland RB Michael Bush, the fourth-round draft pick out of Louisville who is recovering from a broken leg, is watching and paying close attention at organized team activities. "It's nice because I get to be a student of the game," Bush said. "I get to learn more plays, see how the guys move around, see the speed of the game. I like knowing they don't need me to step in, so I can just take my time, make sure I'm 100 percent healthy and get in there and play." Coach Lane Kiffin hopes Bush will be ready to practice with the team when training camp starts in late July.

  • Green Bay Rookie RB Brandon Jackson wasn't with the team for the mandatory full-squad minicamp May 18-20. Jackson was all but required to be in Los Angeles for EA Sports' 2007 Reebok NFL Rookie Premier. The annual promotional function included 30 skill players on offense who were taken on the first day of the NFL Draft last month. Jackson earned $12,000 for the weekend appearance, but he wanted no part of it. The second-round draft pick wanted to be in Green Bay for the minicamp. However, the NFL Management Council ruled that Jackson either had to be at the Rookie Premier, as mandated in the collective-bargaining agreement, or sit out the minicamp. "They literally locked him out of camp," Jackson's agent, Gary Wichard, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The team is not allowed to have him. I think it's ridiculous." Jackson's absence could set him back as a prime contender for the starting halfback spot. Jackson participated in the team's rookie orientation camp two weeks earlier. Team personnel, though, were eager to get a better gauge of the former part-time starter at Nebraska with the veterans on the field.

  • * New York Rookie LB Zak DeOssie (fourth round) looked good in the Giants' recent rookie minicamp. "You just watch him on the field, and even when he didn't make any big plays you just see over and over how much of a contribution he is going to make," coach Tom Coughlin said of the 6-4, 251-pound son of former Giants linebacker Steve DeOssie. "He is going to contribute and be productive." DeOssie, according to Giants scouts, is far more athletic than his father was, as well as bigger and quicker.

  • * Rookie TE Kevin Boss (6-6, 252, Western Oregon), the Giants' fifth round pick has made a strong first impression on the Giants' coaching staff. "He's big and he's fast," said position coach Mike Pope, "and while he was better at receiving in college (Division II) he has the body to put on 15 pounds and the smarts to master the blocking skills he'll need." The Giants are frantically searching for a backup to starter Jeremy Shockey, and Boss, eventually, will be that man.

  • Detroit WR Calvin Johnson, the second overall pick in this year's draft, made the most impressive play of minicamp -- a one-handed grab during one-on-one drills with defensive backs. "I'm sure that he'll continue to surprise us all the time with what he can do," offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. Quarterback Jon Kitna praised Johnson after just one practice. "He doesn't have a quizzical look on his face," Kitna said. "Coming out of the huddle, bam, he's out there. You see guys who've been in it for a year and they still have that kind of 'I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do' look, but he doesn't have that. So he's either fooling us or he knows what he's doing."
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