Player Wire: 5/27/2008

Player news and notes from arounf the NFL. What's happening with Browns top target Kellen Winslow? Is there going to be a problem with Buffalo receiver Lee Evans? Why is Roy Williams not attending OTAs in Dallas? These updates and more from the past week...

Indianapolis Colts

  • C Jeff Saturday isn't concerned that the Colts used one-third of their total available draft choices on standout college centers. Saturday, a free agent after this season, turns 33 next month. He's entering his 10th NFL season and is scheduled to earn $3 million in 2008.

    Ralph Cindrich, Saturday's agent, has had preliminary discussions with Colts officials on a new contract. He has informed them of Pro Bowl center's desire to remain in Indianapolis, and the team said the feeling is mutual.

    "You always want to know what your future holds, but I'm sure they have thoughts about what they're going to do," Saturday said.

    Team owner Jim Irsay dismissed the possibility the team would sign Saturday to an extension before his contract expires, or at least until late in the 2008 season.

    "I don't see an extension," Irsay said, "but I do see him being a guy that we certainly have to be aware of going into next year that we would want to re-sign. You don't know what road it will go down. You may franchise-tag him.

    "We all know how important Jeff is to our team. We're all hopeful Jeff's here in 2009."

    New Orleans Saints

  • DE Charles Grant was indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge in Blakely, Ga., early last week. Grant, who has been taking part in the team's offseason program, was indicted for his part in a February nightclub altercation that escalated and resulted in the shooting death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child on the morning of Feb. 3. Grant, who was stabbed in the neck during the melee, was one of seven men indicted by a grand jury on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of the pregnant woman. Korynda Reed, 23, was a bystander who was shot and killed by a stray bullet during a nightclub fracas. Grant, a seven-year veteran, also received misdemeanor fighting charges.

    "It's something that we take very seriously and certainly our condolences go out to the family," Payton said Wednesday during a scheduled news conference following an Organized Team Activity (OTA).

    Pittsburgh Steelers

  • OL Kendall Simmons had arthroscopic surgery last week to remove loose particles that were causing him discomfort.

    Cleveland Browns

    TE Kellen Winslow is working out in San Diego rather than with the team at Browns' training complex in Berea. Fans are anxious because Winslow wants a new contract. Three years remain on his current deal.

    Drew Rosenhaus, Winslow's agent said on a Youtube video Winslow will report when he it is required.

    "These are voluntary activities," Rosenhaus said. "They are not mandatory, and a player has a right to train on his own. Kellen is coming off an off-season knee injury and he is doing his rehabilitation and his training with a very fine trainer in his hometown of San Diego.

    "He will be at the mandatory minicamp and at the mandatory training camp. What's the big to-do? There shouldn't be so much scrutiny on players who choose to work out on their own. Kellen's going to be ready to go and everything should be just fine with him."

  • CB Daven Holly, the leading candidate to start at right cornerback for the Browns, blew his left knee out in practice Tuesday. General manager Phil Savage is confident Brandon McDonald will be a capable starter, but now the Browns are desperate for a nickel back.

    "It takes a couple of hours to get your head around the fact that we're probably going to be looking for another corner, if we weren't already doing so," Savage said. "We've got a few options out there."

  • CB Brandon McDonald will be the Browns' starting right cornerback in 2008 barring injury or an unforseen trade for a high-profile cornerback such as Lito Sheppard of the Eagles. McDonald was battling with Daven Holly, who suffered a serious knee injury and was lost for several months.

  • LB Asa Matthews was waived by Cleveland.

    Buffalo Bills

    WR Lee Evans received a contract offer from the Bills, but a contract extension is not imminent.

    "I don't really want to speak on it now," Evans said after practice as Buffalo began a series of voluntary organized team activities. "There was an offer put out there but that's as much as I'll speak on it now."

    Evans' contract expires after this season. Whether an extension is consummated before September or he gets a new deal next year, he's in line for a huge pay raise.

  • OT Jason Peters is coming off a sports hernia surgery. But it's also known that one reason he chose to stay away from voluntary organized team activities the week of May 19 was that he's begun the process of angling for a new contract. And he's likely to get one, too. Peters is scheduled to make $3.3 million this year, making the team's best offensive linemen its third highest-paid behind LG Derrick Dockery ($7 million per year) and RT Langston Walker ($5 million per year). Peters signed his current deal, good through 2010, while a right tackle but switched to the more difficult and more important left tackle spot midway through 2006.

    The Bills set a precedent for making the contract pecking order right last season when they re-worked DE Aaron Schobel's deal to make sure he made more than Chris Kelsay. They will have little leverage dealing with Peters, who has outperformed his contract and is one of the NFL's rising young stars at age 26. Just last month, Tennessee gave its version of Peters, Michael Roos, a deal averaging $7.1 million.

    New York Giants

    TE Jeremy Shockey is not likely to be traded at this point but could be back on the market after the 2008 season. Shockey will remain with the team as offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride tinkers with new formations to utilize two TEs (Shockey and last year's surprisingly good rookie, Kevin Boss).

    Green Bay Packers

  • DT Justin Harrell is testing the patience of the Packers.

    He isn't participating in the team's offseason workouts this spring for the second straight year. Harrell suffered an injury to a disk in his back lifting weights in April and subsequently underwent surgery.

    "We're just taking it slow (with Harrell's recovery)," head coach Mike McCarthy said.

    Harrell isn't expected to be cleared by the medical staff for on-field work until the start of training camp in late July.
    He missed all offseason workouts as a rookie last year because of a torn biceps muscle he sustained in the early part of his senior season of college at Tennessee. In turn, Harrell wasn't physically ready for the start of the regular season and was deactivated for the first four games. He later was sidelined five games because of a midseason ankle injury.

    Having Harrell healthy this offseason to expedite his development was paramount because he stands to have a significant role on the defensive line next season. The Packers deemed former starter Corey Williams expendable, trading him to Cleveland for a second-round draft pick this year, as they looked to count on a quartet of Johnny Jolly, hybrid lineman Cullen Jenkins, Colin Cole and Harrell to complement nose tackle Ryan Pickett.

    Green Bay, however, was considerably thin in the interior when its organized team activities began May 19. Jolly also will be out until training camp as he recovers from a shoulder injury he suffered late last year.

    Miami Dolphins

  • LB Channing Crowder, who is expected to fill the big shoes of perennial Pro Bowl LB Zach Thomas, is practicing on a limited basis and says he is about 80 percent recovered from minor knee surgery conducted last December. "I talked to Zach yesterday, as a matter of fact, It's weird not to see Zach out there and here that little raspy voice all the time," Crowder said of missing his mentor, who was cut and now plays for the Cowboys.

  • QB Josh McCown is competing with second-year QB John Beck for the starting job. They have been alternating days as the starter with the first-team offense, with rookie QB Chad Henne throwing to third-teamers and rookies.

    "It's better than going back and forth every other play. It's nice to come out and say, 'Hey, this is my day with the first team, I'm going to go out and work with these guys.' It's better for continuity if you ask me." McCown said.

  • RB Ricky Williams, the named backup to Ronnie Brown in a shared RB situation, looked excellent in the team's first on-field training sessions.

    "I'm not surprised. Just knowing how hungry Ricky is to get at this thing. I love his attitude," Sparano said. "I love everything about what he's doing out there right now.... I'm excited for the guy."

    Brown is on the field and ahead of schedule, but he's not taking part in full workouts.

  • RB Ronnie Brown is way ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation of an ACL injury that usually takes 9-12 months to recover from. He is already cutting on the knee, although not in team drills.
    "He's out there and he's getting a little bit of work," said coach Tony Sparano. "We're going to take it easy with him and see where it goes."

    Dallas Cowboys

  • S Ken Hamlin received a contract offer Tuesday just as Marion Barber and Terence Newman did, but the two sides could not come to an agreement. The Cowboys designated Hamlin their franchise player in February to keep him at least through next season and allow time to negotiate a long-term contract. Hamlin has been given a one-year franchise tender of $4 million.

  • SS Roy Williams missed OTAs this week because of a family vacation.

    Denver Broncos

  • TE Tony Scheffler, who missed the start of training camp last year after suffering a broken foot, is experiencing soreness in the same foot. He will be in a boot about another two weeks then be reevaluated. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he has no additional fractures in his foot.

  • WR Brandon Marshall is back on the field running routes, but he won't catch passes until June 22. Even so, Marshall is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from a serious arm injury.

    "It's ahead of what I thought," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "I was told he could not actually work out until a month before training camp."

    Marshall wouldn't elaborate much on his latest progress, but did say that his rehabilitation is going well.
    "Real good," Marshall said.

    Marshall's presence in the offense is huge for the Broncos because he's their top playmaker, coming off a 100-catch season. The Broncos brought in three veteran wideouts, Keary Colbert, Darrell Jackson and Samie Parker, but they were expected to compete for the No. 2 job.

    Jacksonville Jaguars

  • DE Reggie Hayward was a no-show for OTA sessions along with DE Paul Spicer, who is unhappy with his contract. Coach Del Rio indicated that he had not spoken with Hayward who missed the first two days of camp this week and thus had no information to share with the reason for his absence.

    "I think in six years this might be the first time when I don't know to tell you," Del Rio told the media. "I don't know what to tell you. I'm just hoping it's not anything bad. You always worry about a guy running into a wall somewhere. You worry about a lot of things."

    St. Louis Rams

  • RB Steven Jackson did not participate in a May 22 OTA practice after tweaking his ankle near the end of a practice the day before.

  • WR Torry Holt drew attention from St. Louis media this week after comments he made about playing with his brother, Terrence Holt, a safety with the Carolina Panthers. Holt grew up in North Carolina and attended North Carolina State.

    "The real story is that I have this year and next year (on my contract) and hopefully I can finish those years out. Then I will see where I am at. I will see where I am at physically and emotionally and financially. Then, if they would like to do something here I will consider it. If not, then I will have the option to go and explore and give my services somewhere else.

    "If that happens, Carolina will definitely be my first choice. There is no question about it. I have 2008 and 2009 left to play and that is what I plan on doing."

    Holt wasn't around much during the early part of the offseason, partly to try and put the 2007 season behind him, and also because he wasn't pleased with the way the team treated fellow wide receiver Isaac Bruce, who was released in late February.

    "From a mental standpoint, I just wanted to relax and get away from the building and get away from football for a while so I can come back with a fresh mind and give the guys and my teammates what it is they need to go out there and try to win some more games this year and try to get our first playoff berth in a while," he said.

    Kansas City Chiefs

  • QB Damon Huard is getting little work in the Chiefs' first week of OTA (organized team activities), but the Chiefs insist this does not necessarily mean is no longer is the backup to Brodie Croyle. There is speculation that the Chiefs are looking for a trade for Huard, who started 10 games last year. But with Thigpen and Greene both having virtually no NFL experience, there also is a feeling that the Chiefs need at least one proven backup should something happen to Croyle.

  • RB Larry Johnson, who the Chiefs insist is fully healed from the fractured foot that cost him the final half of the 2007 season, did not participate in the first open-to-the-media OTA session on March 22. But coach Herm Edwards insisted that Johnson had done a full workout in the week's three closed sessions. The May 22 workout was moved indoors because of wet weather, and Edwards said the Chiefs did not want Johnson running on the hard artificial turf.

    Arizona Cardinals

  • WR Steve Breaston has been the most valuable player of the offseason. He's added weight and muscle, and even more, he's making a standout play in nearly every practice. The team is looking for a third receiver, and Breaston appears to be intent on proving he's much more than just a punt and kick returner.

    San Diego Chargers

  • LB Anthony Waters, a second-year pro, didn't see the field during games last season, as he was still getting his rebuilt knee in shape. But he's taking every rep asked of him now, and is looking good.

    "He really couldn't practice a whole lot last year," coach Norv Turner said of the Chargers' third-round pick in 2007. "He never was 100 percent. But he did a great job with all the opposition's stuff (on scout team) during the season. And he has had a great offseason."

    With Stephen Cooper suspended for the first four games, Waters could get a heavy workload.

  • WR Eric Parker, who missed last season with a toe injury, continues to make progress. But he's not taking part much in the offseason coaching sessions. "I think he is doing good but we are being careful with him," coach Norv Turner said. "He feels better every week. But if he's not ready until training camp, then it's training camp. We know he can play but we just want to make sure he is right."

    Atlanta Falcons

  • WR Joe Horn has decided to skip voluntary offseason training activities (OTAs). "These are optional workouts right now and Joe's option is he chose not to be here," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "There's not really anything we can do about that. You'd like to have all your guys here but the (collective bargaining agreement) is pretty concrete in what we can do and can't do.

    "We've had our mandatory workouts. When we open up (training) camp we anticipate Joe will be here."

    The 36-year-old wide receiver, who started most of last season after signing a four-year, $19 million contract that guarantees him $7.5 million, feels he is not in the rebuilding team's plans. Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have said that is not the case.

    New Orleans Saints

  • OL Kevin Tuminello was waived by the Saints.

  • OL Brian Stamper signed with the Saints. Stamper was a five-year starter at Vanderbilt (48 starts), where he overcame a career-threatening back injury.

  • LB Dan Morgan's attempt at a comeback after two injury-filled seasons was short-lived.
    Morgan, who signed a one-year contract with the Saints on March 11, announced his retirement last Monday. The 29-year-old Morgan played seven seasons in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, but had participated in just four games over the last two seasons because of head and leg injuries.

    Morgan missed the final 13 games of the 2007 season because of a partially-torn Achilles' tendon, an injury which played a major factor in the former Pro Bowler's decision to retire.

    "When we signed Dan, he was committed to making a fresh start, and he was making every effort to rehabilitate the leg injury that he suffered last year," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "But it wasn't responding as well as he had hoped it would. We wish him well in his continued recovery, and he will be remembered for the excellent player he was during his career."

    Carolina Panthers

  • DB Charles Godfrey continues to open eyes at Panthers camp.
    "He played with the first group to start with (at minicamp), and I thought he handled it very well," Fox said. "He adapted well. It didn't look like it was too big for him. He fit in well. Our players liked him. Maybe one of the good (things) was Steve Smith said, 'Man, that (number) 30 is pretty good.' Smitty doesn't give out a lot of compliments."

  • RB Jonathan Stewart's turf toe injury was a blessing in disguise as far as the Panthers are concerned. Yes, he's missing valuable time in the offseason, but the Panthers are taking the approach that, if healthy, Stewart would've been employed elsewhere.

    "Truth be known, if Jonathan hadn't had the toe situation, he probably never would've gotten to us (with the 13th pick)," Fox said. "We were fortunate that we were familiar with it. One of our team doctors did the actual surgery, so we had a pretty good feel of timing (of his return). At one point, he was not going to have the surgery, which would have affected maybe what we did, too. The fact that he got the surgery done and we knew about what his comeback time would be made us feel much more comfortable. He's a powerful guy with a thick lower body, excellent balance, great feet, so he breaks a lot of tackles and gets yards after the first contact, which is something we look for."

  • QB Jake Delhomme's recovery remains on schedule and the Panthers are pleased with his progress to date.
    "We felt good about Jake (Delhomme) the whole time," coach John Fox said. "I can tell everyone that Jake looks outstanding. He's bigger, stronger. He's worked out very, very strong. His arm is looking fantastic, maybe stronger than ever. So that was number one. Then we felt really good about Matt Moore. We held off on playing him on purpose. He came in and won two out of his last three games as a starter. We feel good about where he's at in his development at this stage."

  • DE Tyler Brayton has a smile on his face now that he's back in a familiar position.
    "D-line, it's the same fundamentals whether you're on the inside or the outside," Brayton said. "But when you go out to linebacker, that's a whole new world. As long as I'm playing on the D-line somewhere, I'm good."

    Signed early this offseason as a free agent, the Raiders drafted Brayton to play defensive end, but soon afterward owner Al Davis and some others got it in their head that Brayton could be the next Ted Hendricks, a tall outside linebacker who could rush the passer and cover backs coming out of backfield. Three position switches later, he left as a free agent.

    "He's a guy that came into the league as a high draft pick and played at a variety of positions," coach John Fox said. "He's played outside linebacker; he's played defensive end; he's played some defensive tackle in pass-rush situations. He's a guy that we thought had a lot to prove and he's worked that way. Hopefully, he'll get some good snaps for us."

  • RB DeAngelo Williams went from likely starter to a coop during the draft, when the Panthers selected Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart with the 13th overall pick.

    "No, I wasn't upset at all," Williams said of the team's decision to draft Stewart. "This is the National Football League and every year there will be always be another back, another quarterback, another wide receiver or another offensive lineman. They just reload in this league."

    Williams figures there are plenty of carries to go around, especially with the team's focus supposedly being on running the football this season. Last year, Foster carried 247 times; Williams 144. Williams would like that number to grow this year, but said he can't be worried about the numbers.

    "I still have the same mindset whether I'm the starter or not the starter," Williams said. "Everybody is going to the two-back system, so whether he starts the game off or I start the game off, we'll both get the same amount of carries give or take a few. Having the opportunity to play the game period is important to him and me."

    Pittsburgh Steelers

  • OG Chris Kemoeatu, moving up to replace Alan Faneca at left guard, injured his hamstring working out.

  • LB Bruce Davis, a third-round pick, won't be able to join the Steelers again this spring until UCLA's quarter ends June 6. The Steelers have three practices after that. The only other rookie affected by his school's quarter system is free agent CB Roy Lewis.
    "It's unfortunate for them, but it's just that short-term misery. I'm sure they'll be prepared to catch up," Tomlin said.

  • WR Limas Sweed drew rave reviews at early team workouts. He's battling Nate Washington for the No. 3 receiver job.
    "We can move Santonio around, which we started doing a lot last year because he plays in the slot very well," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "Limas can play in the slot, no problem. Hines can obviously play everywhere. Nate can play everywhere -- he's had to play every position on the team the last two years."

  • DB Ryan Clark is back as the Steelers' starting free safety, a most unlikely turn of events since last November. He regained the 30 pounds he lost last fall after his sickle cell trait caused his blood to attack his spleen under exertion in the high altitude in Denver when the Steelers played the Broncos Oct. 21.

    "It's a victory in the sense that I'm here," Clark said after another spring practice in Pittsburgh. "That's the victory. The rest, as they say in Louisiana, is laying you up ... it's extra."

    "If you know Ryan, you do not count him out of anything," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "He has a great spirit, he is a great competitor, he has passion and he loves to play the game of football. He is in the process of marching back. We probably will not know until we go out and play football. We like where he is now and I am sure that he is happy to be back out there with his teammates; his teammates are glad to have him. He is a great leader for this team and we are just taking it day by day."

    Cleveland Browns

  • WR Travis Wilson is fighting for his football life with the Browns. He struggled in OTAs last week. He is getting more practice time now because Jurevicius is down and Braylon Edwards is sidelined with a hip pointer. Wilson caught the ball well Wednesday in the session opened to the Cleveland media.

    "It's been a few years, but he's showing that maybe he's picking it up a little bit better this time around because he's able to make some plays," Coach Romeo Crennel said. "I don't think you ever close the book on a player unless you absolutely have to. Sometimes it takes guys different amounts of time to get where they need to be to help your team."

    Chicago Bears

  • S Mike Brown, who recently had his contract restructured to limit the Bears' financial responsibility if he suffers a debilitating injury for the fifth straight season, was running with the first team on Wednesday.

    Brown suffered a season-ending torn ACL in last year's season opener and has missed 43 of 64 games the past four seasons after playing in 64 straight, and starting 63, in his first four seasons.

    Brown's base salary for this season was scheduled to be $2.44 million in the final year of the five-year, $17 million extension he signed in July 2003. Brown now has a base salary of $950,000 for 2008. The $1.49 million difference can be made up with unlikely-to-be-earned incentives based on playing time. If Brown is injured before the season starts and released, he would be paid $320,000.

  • OL John Tait's move from left tackle to right tackle is well under way. Tait took all his snaps with the first team at right tackle in Wednesday's organized team activity practice, while veteran John St. Clair lined up at left tackle -- a temporary situation with first-round pick Chris Williams taking over on the left side by the end of training camp, if not sooner. Williams has been the left tackle on the second unit in offseason practices. Tait has been the Bears' starter at left tackle the past three seasons but started at right tackle the previous three seasons, the first two with the Chiefs, where he began his career as a left tackle in 1999.

  • LG Terrence Metcalf has emerged as the frontrunner for the starting job at left guard. He's been working with the first-team offense in OTAs.

  • WR Mark Bradley was at Halas Hall, but not on the practice field as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee early this month to clean up old scar tissue. Bradley, who wore a brace on his right leg, said he would be ready for the start of training camp, although the team said he was questionable for the start of camp.

    Buffalo Bills

    QB J.P. Losman was in attendance early in the week before leaving for scheduled commitments. He did not speak with reporters. WR Lee Evans, his closest friend on the team and his biggest supporter, said Losman is OK with having to play backup to second-year man Trent Edwards despite voicing a desire (through his agent) to be traded.

    "I spoke with him numerous times here in the offseason and he has to sit back and wait for an opportunity and that's his mindset," Evans said. "He'll prepare himself to be as good as he can and if he gets a chance to step in and gets that opportunity, then he'll be ready. Me knowing him and people who know him around here know he'll be accountable when he steps up and gets a chance."
  • WR James Hardy said he never brandished a gun and the woman who reported to police that two men were fighting in her backyard got the story all wrong. Hardy was never arrested and police said the case is closed.

    "A woman came outside and believed something else was happening and it wasn't," Hardy said. "That's why my father didn't know what was going on and honestly I didn't know what was going on until later that evening. I called and let coach (Dick Jauron) know and everybody know what definitely happened."

    Hardy said he regretted getting his NFL career off to a negative start in the media but vowed to put the incident behind him.

    "It's something I felt I couldn't control at the time," Hardy said. "The only thing is I shouldn't have been there. It sort of feels like every time I go home something negative (happens and) I'm always on the end of it.

    "Now I'm in Buffalo and this is the best thing to happen to me since the birth of my son and I just want to get on the right track in Buffalo. This is something that will never happen again and nothing will ever be blown out of proportion again because I will never be in this situation."

    New York Giants

    RG Chris Snee, son-in-law of head coach Tom Coughlin, currently has a contract scheduled to expire at the end of the season and while there are no on-going negotiations he insists he is not concerned. "I want to play my entire career with the Giants," he says, "and I feel confident that I will." Two other members of the starting O-line, LT David Diehl and LG Rich Seubert, have recently received new contracts.

  • DE Michael Strahan cannot be accused of not being aware of market value. Strahan, who still hasn't decided whether he'll play or retire, is said to have asked for $8 million if he does play and not the $4 million he is scheduled to receive in 2008. The reason is pride -- Miami DE Jason Taylor, who seems to be persona non grata with the Dolphins' new boss, Bill Parcells -- is to earn $7.5 million and Strahan wants to go out as the top-paid DE in the league.

  • WR Mario Manningham, because of his off-field transgression at Michigan, will be scrutinized closely, it seems, by the New York media. Coach Tom Coughlin have an even description of Manningham's early impression on the Giants.

    "He showed some flashes," said Coughlin. "He was still confused about all the work we piled on him, and all the rest of them, but he did show the stuff we wanted to see. He has a lot of tools."

    Green Bay Packers

    CB Charles Woodson, as per usual, is a no-show at the Packers' offseason workouts. He and Al Harris, the Packers' other starting corner, could make an appearance or two before the end of team OTAs on June 12.

    "Charles has been in and out of town. I talked to Al probably about a week to 10 days ago," McCarthy said May 21. "In their particular case and where they are in the years, their work during the OTAs will be limited, but we'll definitely hit our targets with them."

  • CB Al Harris wasn't expected to be at the team's offseason workouts, but the Packers would like to see Harris and fellow cornerback Charles Woodson in Green Bay before training camp. "Charles has been in and out of town. I talked to Al probably about a week to 10 days ago," McCarthy said May 21. "In their particular case and where they are in the years, their work during the OTAs will be limited, but we'll definitely hit our targets with them."

  • RB Ryan Grant, a regular in individual workouts, hasn't been allowed to participate in the OTAs because he's not under contract. Grant, a second-year player, has refused to sign the club's one-year minimum tender of $370,000 as an exclusive-rights free agent because he wants a lucrative long-term contract.

    Grant is willing to be a spectator at practice until the situation is resolved. He's confident that team management will reward him after his breakthrough second half of last season by the time training camp starts July 28.

    "I just felt like it was in my best (interest) to handle it this way, and I think both sides feel like I'm going about it in the correct way," Grant said. "It's not a matter of unhappiness. There's no hard feelings or anything like that. It's the business aspect."

  • QB Aaron Rodgers was under center when the Packers began organized team activities May 19. He quickly was reminded what he already knew -- there's plenty of pressure with being "the guy."

    I know the pressure I'm under. I know who I'm following," Rodgers said. "I know that it's a tough situation and a lot of people are expecting me to fail outside of this locker room. I'm just trying to get the guys we've got here now to believe in me."

    No longer the prominent backup as Green Bay's first-round draft pick in 2005, Rodgers has been selling himself as a leader to the guys around him. Several of them are buying what Rodgers has had to offer, judging by how upward of 30 players a week have been taking him up on his weekly invitation this spring to come hang out at his home for team get-togethers. Their wives and girlfriends have been welcomed with open arms, too.

    "I think I've always been a guy who wants to be involved not only in working together but be involved in the lives of these guys," Rodgers said. "I want us to be a connected team, on and off the field."

  • DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has been nursing a knee injury this spring.

    New England Patriots

    S Brandon Meriweather is looking to make a bigger impact in his second NFL season. The safety played in all 19 games as a rookie a year ago but really saw his time increase to the point that he was a fixture in "sub" packages down the stretch and in the playoffs.

    The versatile defensive back believes the year of experience will pay huge dividends in the form of a Year 2 jump that so many players have enjoyed under Bill Belichick in the past.

    "There really isn't any comparison," Meriweather said. "Last year I was a rookie coming in not knowing what to expect and this year I'm a second-year player coming in knowing exactly what I have to do. I feel like it's going much better. I'm a little more comfortable in the system and I'm learning a lot from my coaches. I'm a year older now and I'm not a rookie."

  • WR Chad Jackson, a second-round pick three years ago, is finally healthy and expects to make the most of an opportunity for playing time with Donte' Stallworth out of the picture.

    "It's an important year for me. This is what they drafted me for. So I'm going to come out here and show the coaches what I can do and show the fans what I can do and help out this team any way I can," Jackson said following a morning passing camp workout at Gillette Stadium.

    "It feels good to be out here with the guys finally. Last year I was going through the injury and stuff and this year is more of a control year and a settle down year for me. Everything is coming along easier for me right now and all I'm doing right now is concentrating on getting the plays down and getting on the same page with the quarterbacks and the coaches."

    San Francisco 49ers

    OG David Baas expects to be in the 49ers' starting lineup for the first game of the regular season. But after sustaining a torn pectoral tendon while lifting weights last month, Baas is not expected to be cleared for practice until some point deep into training camp.

  • LB Takeo Spikes remains on the 49ers' radar screen. The club is looking for someone to play the inside linebacker position next to Patrick Willis.

  • RB Frank Gore remained in the San Francisco Bay Area after the conclusion of the season to get a head start on learning Mike Martz's complex system in which he's being cast in the role once played by Marshall Faulk.
    "I think I'll touch the ball more in the passing game," Gore said. "I just want to show that I can do it all, that I'm a complete running back."

    Faulk has gone out of his way to help Gore, too. Faulk and Gore have spoken over the phone. Faulk has volunteered to travel to meet with Gore to help him with the offense. After all, no running back knows about the Martz offense like Faulk. And running backs have to know everything about the offense.

    "This is going to be fun," Gore said. "I know I won't be facing eight and nine guys in the box anymore."

    Philadelphia Eagles

    DE-OLB Andy Studebaker from defensive end to strong-side linebacker. Studebaker played at Division III Wheaton (Ill.) College. Two years ago, they did the same thing with third-round pick Chris Gocong, who played at Division 1-AA Cal Poly. Gocong started all 16 games last year at strong-side linebacker. "I think physically he can do it," general manager Tom Heckert said. "We drafted him because of his ability as a pass-rusher (he had 17.5 sacks as a junior before missing half of his senior season with a foot injury). If (SAM) is a place where he can get more reps, that's fine. On third down, we'll get to see him more at defensive end."

  • RB Tony Hunt logged just 10 carries in the eight games in which he played as a rookie for the Eagles. But general manager Tom Heckert denies Hunt is in a fight for a roster spot. The Eagles have more depth than they've had in recent seasons at the position behind Brian Westbrook now that Lorenzo Booker, acquired in a draft day trade from Miami, is in Philadelphia.

    "They're two different guys," he said. "Tony's the big, pounder guy (6-1, 230). Lorenzo's a different kind of a guy (5-10, 191), who we can move around and stuff. Really, they're not the same type of guy at all."

    The Eagles admitted that Booker was the guy they had really wanted in the third round of the '07 draft (the Dolphins took him with the 71st overall pick; Hunt went 90th), which raised some questions about Hunt's future with the team.

  • WR DeSean Jackson was considered a bit of a diva by some draft experts, which many believe is one reason he lasted to the No. 49 overall pick. Jackson's college coach, Jeff Tedford, is hopeful that if the Eagles fashion the proper environment for the talented but undersized (5-9, 175 pounds) wideout, he will work hard and be successful.

    "I don't know that he worked as hard as he could have (at Cal) because he's a very natural player," Tedford said. "Now that he's in the NFL, and he has to compete with guys who are all as good as he is, he'll figure out he needs to work.

    "He got away with doing things on natural ability a lot at this level, that he probably won't be able to do at that level. I don't think he's opposed to it, but he'd probably even admit he can work harder."

    Tennessee Titans

  • DE Bryce Fisher has been missing time due to his commitment to the Air Force in Washington state.

  • RB Omar Cuff won't join the Titans until the June minicamps because of commitments at Delaware.

  • DT Albert Haynesworth continues to work out on his own in hopes of earning a long-term contract. The Titans made Haynesworth their franchise player in February. Haynesworth's deal, according to agent Chad Speck, is unlikely to be impacted by the decision of NFL owners to dissolve the current labor deal.

    "It just throws a few different dynamics in there that you have to think about moving forward," Speck told The Tennessean. "But I don't think it changes things at all. It certainly doesn't change the fact Albert wants to remain a Titan and would like to execute a long-term contract."

    The Titans declined to discuss the matter.

  • SS Chris Hope is reluctant to talk about the injury that ended his 2007 season and the subsequent spinal cord surgery. Instead he's focusing on what's ahead. He's a central figure again in the Titans' defense, working in OTA practices.

    "I think it's a positive, it gives you that extra motivation to go back out and play even harder and not take a day for granted," said Hope, the ringleader of grueling offseason workouts among the defensive backs that often span a seven-hour day. "It put another fire up under my feet that I never had before.

    "Everything I went through, I count it as a blessing. ... I look forward to it as a new opportunity to become a new player, and a better player."

    Dallas Cowboys

    CB Adam Jones has moved to Dallas. He passed his physical to make the trade from Tennessee to Dallas official, and he has already begun bonding with his teammates. The final step is being allowed to practice with the team and then being reinstated to the league by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

    "I think the commissioner will, at some point, evaluate where this thing has gone with Adam over the last several months and we'll see where that goes from there," owner Jerry Jones said.

    "It's his (Goodell) decision-making but I'm not going to speculate there. I wouldn't comment about my conversations with the league about Adam. Obviously, we've been in communication with the league because we've had to work through contracts. We've had to do several things. Now, he has done his medical, his physical, he cleared that with flying colors, so any of that factor relative to the trade with Tennessee is no longer a factor."

  • CB Orlando Scandrick missed the first three days of OTAs with a left eye infection.

  • WR Terrell Owens has one year left on his contract. In the past, he might have rumbled about the soon-to-lapse deal while Marion Barber and Terence Newman inked megadeals. But both owner Jerry Jones and Owens say there's no rush, and that a deal will come in time.
    "It's not an issue," Owens said. "For me, I'm going to go out and let my play do the talking. Jerry (Jones) is aware of my ability."

    Denver Broncos

    RB Travis Henry missed the first week of Broncos camp with a hamstring injury suffered during a workout. The team figures he will be able to participate in the second week of the camp.

    Seattle Seahawks

    MLB Lofa Tatupu, arrested recently for a DUI, still has not been charged by the Prosecutor's Office. There is some question about Tatupu's case because the arresting officer failed to immediately read Tatupu his Miranda Rights, pulling over to the side of the road en route to the station to do so.

  • OL Chris Gray, who holds the club record with 121 consecutive starts at either center or right guard, said he considered retirement after last season. But coach Mike Holmgren asked the 15-year NFL veteran to come back, even if in a reduced role.

    "You always think about retirement," Gray said. "You just have to make sure you are ready to come back in and give it all the work and effort that goes into the whole season. It is not something you take lightly. You have to put in the work, and it is tough both mentally and physically. I just felt like I have a little bit left. I am not quite ready to hang it up."

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • CB Aqib Talib, the team's first-round pick, said the pace in offseason workouts with veterans is much quicker than the one at rookie minicamp. But he is making the adjustment.

    "The reps I did get, it went pretty good," Talib said. "But this is a lot faster (than rookie minicamp). There were a lot more players thrown at you here. Plus you got (guys in) motion so you've got to know exactly what to check, exactly what to do. It was kind of overwhelming, but a couple more practices and I should be in tune with the situation."

  • WR Eddie Kennison, 35, worked out for the Buccaneers on Monday (5/22). Kennison was plagued by a hamstring injury with the Kansas City Chiefs last season and caught just 13 passes for 101 yards and no touchdowns.

  • WR Eric Moulds, 34, worked out for the Buccaneers on Monday (5/22). Moulds caught 34 passes for 342 yards last season with the Tennessee Titans and is an unrestricted free agent.

  • TE Alex Smith is feeling the heat. His numbers have declined each season and the Buccaneers signed two tight ends -- John Gilmore and Ben Troupe -- in the offseason. Plagued by an ankle injury that forced him to miss two games last season, Smith caught a career-low 32 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns. Smith has been put on notice that he had better get better in 2008.

    "I just think it's finally time to put it all together," Smith said. "You hate to take so long and still feel like you need to establish yourself. But for whatever reason, it still hasn't happened yet. It's just really like do-or-die right now as far as I'm concerned."

  • FB B.J. Askew signed a four-year, $8.6 million deal includes a $2 million signing bonus. It is an important development because it shows the Bucs are willing to lock up core players. Askew was entering the final year of a two-year deal he signed with the Bucs last summer.

    Jacksonville Jaguars

  • QB David Garrard enters this season for the first time as the undisputed starter in Jacksonville. Garrard said he feels the players have responded differently to his leadership now that it's clear the starting job is his to keep for some time.

    "The guys definitely know now that there is no question. We signed our big deal in the offseason and so they know I'm not going anywhere and the team knows that I'm here as the starting quarterback," Garrard said. "They approach me as the same person but knowing that we don't have any doubts on our minds that if we have any questions, we can come to Dave and ask him anything about what's going on, on the field or whatever."

  • RB Fred Taylor was back in town this week for three days to take part in two days of workouts in order to get a refresher course on the team's playbook for the 2008 season. He'll make a return visit in 10 days for the mandatory three-day team minicamp, but then it's back to Davie, Fla., where he'll resume his individual offseason training.

    "It's benefited me the last two years. My first eight years I would always work out here but I wasn't on a food program, no dieting," he said. "After we were done with workouts, I would just go and eat and do whatever I wanted to do.

    "When I'm home, I know if I don't get that nap in after I've had a hard workout, then my boys are going to come home and cause all types of hell. I'm not going to be able to get the rest if they beat me home before I get my nap in."

    Houston Texans

    RB Chris Taylor heard whispers that he may be moved to fullback since there is so much talent at tailback. But coach Gary Kubiak said they aren't planning to move Taylor at this point.

    "I think you need a player that you think can maybe play a little bit of both spots when you go to game day because it helps you just suit so many players, but at this point we've got enough guys, so we'll leave him where he's at," Kubiak said.

  • LB Zac Diles, a seventh-round pick who quietly emerged as a contender for playing time behind DeMeco Ryans, was handed the starting job at strong-side linebacker this offseason. Now, he is determined to prove he deserves it.

    "I wish I'd have played him the last few games and got him some experience, all those snaps as a starter, but that is what it is, so it's time to we've made the decision now to move forward," coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's kind of like one of those deals, we're not waiting. It's yours; go prove to us that you belong there. He's got a tough gig ahead of him here, but we've got a lot of confidence in him."

  • WR Andre Johnson will not participate in any of the 13 voluntary workouts held by the Texans. Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday to try to clean up problems lingering from the knee injury that sidelined him for seven games last year. He will focus the next two months on rehabilitating his knee and preparing for training camp.

    "We went back and forth with the knee throughout the offseason," coach Gary Kubiak said. "It wasn't feeling the way (Johnson) wanted it to feel. So we tried to do some things, some rest and those types of things, to get it better.

    "He wasn't really comfortable coming out of (mini-)camp, so we said, 'Hey, let's go scope it and see if there are any issues. We want you to feel comfortable.' Everything was fine. They cleaned it up. Now he feels good about it. He's not going to be hurt by missing some of these reps, so we'll just get him back to 100 percent and get him ready to go."

    Johnson, who originally injured the knee during the second game of last season, said it started bothering him when he returned to the field last season. When he joined his teammates for the offseason conditioning program, the pain returned when he was running.

    "It bothered me in the inside of my knee," said Johnson, who had his knee covered with a white sleeve Monday. "It was just something that just got real aggravating."

    St. Louis Rams

  • RB Lance Ball signed with the Rams.

  • NT Willie Williams signed with the Rams.

  • DB Eric Bassey is getting a shot at safety. Bassey was signed by the Rams during the 2007 season after being released by Tampa Bay, and was a cornerback although virtually all of his game action came on special teams. Playing in only eight games, he tied for fifth on the team with 12 special teams tackles and recovered a fumble.

    "I knew that was the route I was going to have to take," Bassey said. "You want to make an impact on special teams, which I felt I did, and then get your shot on defense."

    With depth needed at safety and being 6-1, 200, that's where Bassey will get a chance this summer.

    He said, "With my size, it may be a better fit for me. Hopefully I can run around and make some plays, ball-hawk a little bit."

    Kansas City Chiefs

  • OT Branden Albert, the Chiefs' second pick in the first round, will get a shot at Kansas City's left tackle position at the start of his pro career. Though nothing is set in stone, the Chiefs are conducting their first OTAs since the draft with Albert at left tackle and incumbent left tackle Damion McIntosh moved to right tackle.

    "We want to try him at the position now and make a decision before we go to camp,'' coach Herm Edwards said of the decision to make two players (Albert and McIntosh) learn new positions instead of just one.

    "We're putting him in a hard position right now, and that's good. You try a guy at something new, and if it doesn't shake out, you can always move him."

  • OT Damion McIntosh has played the highly valued left tackle position throughout the first eight years of his NFL career. And while he's perfectly capable of playing there again for the rebuilding Chiefs, he's accepted a possible move to right tackle with the only approach he can manage.

    "Like a lot of players, you don't like to change positions from something you've been doing for a long time," McIntosh said. "But at the same time, I look at it as a new challenge."

  • QB Tyler Thigpen took most of the snaps behind Brodie Croyle on Thursday, the first workout session open to the media by the Chiefs. Damon Huard, the team said, could still be the backup. But there have been suggestions that Kansas City is looking to deal Huard.

  • RB Dantrell Savage signed with the Chiefs.

  • S Khayyam Burns signed with the Chiefs.

  • LB LeRue Rumph signed with the Chiefs.

  • OG Edwin Harrison, an undrafted rookie, signed with the Chiefs.

    Arizona Cardinal

  • C Al Johnson recently had surgery on his left knee to clean it out, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Johnson had some pain and swelling and elected to get the problem taken care of before camp. He should be ready to go when camp opens in July.

  • WR Ahmad Merritt took part in voluntary practices, his first work on the field since suffering a dislocated ankle and fractured leg in a preseason game last August. "It feels good, man," he said. "I'm a little rusty."

    Oakland Raiders

  • QB JaMarcus Russell is hitting his stride with the Raiders, working closely and often individually wirh offensive coordinator Greg Knapp to advance his assimilation to starting NFL quarterback. Russell, who had been reported to weigh almost 300 pounds, said he checked in at 269.

    "From this time last year, I feel 100 percent better," Russell said. "I feel a lot better and am able to move a lot better."

    Coach Lane Kiffin termed the difference in Russell "like night and day," and sees progress in all areas.

    "The confidence factor, the way he feels about his body, he's been around these guys this whole time working out, running with them," Kiffin said. "He looks completely different."

  • WR Ronald Curry, the Raiders leading receiver the last two years, has been out three weeks following foot surgery and Kiffin expects him to be out another week.

    In the meantime, the Raiders free agent acquisitions Javon Walker and Drew Carter were running with the first team, with Carter looking farther along than Walker, who had knee surgery last year.

    "It wasn't an injury to be concerned about," Walker said. "It felt good to be out here, running around, learning the new offense. My ability is the same."

  • DB Michael Huff said he has gotten "all the way up" to 202 pounds, meaning he was battling the likes of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzales somewhere in the mid 190-pound range as a strong safety.

    "As long as I add weight and keep my speed I'll be fine," Huff said. "I think free safety will be natural. The main thing is working on my open field tackling, which you can't do much of now (in OTAs) but I think will be the toughest part about the position .

  • QB Marques Tuiasosopo, who left the Raiders last season as a free agent and signed with the New York Giants, has returned to Oakland. Tuiasosopo will compete with Andrew Walter for the backup job. Walter was No. 2 and Tuiasosopo No. 3 under Art Shell in 2006, with Walter getting substantial playing time when Aaron Brooks was injured.

    Tuiasosopo returns to an offense much more conducive to his skills than when he left. Under Norv Turner and Shell, the Raiders utilized play-action and drop back passing.
    Coach Monte Kiffin favors rollouts and moving pockets, which plays to Tuiasosopo's strength as a runner.

    San Diego Chargers

  • RB Jacob Hester is receiving high marks as the Chargers continue their offseason coaching sessions. Hester is working at running back and fullback, trying to grasp all of the intricacies of both positions.

    "I'm doing a lot of different things but it something that I cant to handle," he said. "The coaches are putting their trust in me to learn it all. So I can't to get in the playbook and learn it all."

    Hester will be asked to contribute quickly -- especially with veteran fullback Lorenzo Neal no longer part of the squad.
  • CB Paul Oliver was rarely seen in 2007 on the field for the Chargers, but coach Norv Turner divulged Oliver is working at free safety. Said Turner: "With the way everyone stretches you out now, your safeties have to play man coverage and he can."

  • TE Antonio Gates continues with his rehab on his mending toe. He might not test it until training camp -- if then.

  • DT Jamal Williams continues to rest his knees -- both underwent arthroscopic surgery in the offseason. He's not participated in the team drills during practice.

    Atlanta Falcons

  • QB Matt Ryan's rookie contract was the target of veteran criticism, who began speaking out against unproven rookies getting more money than most veterans, citing Ryan's contract. The most potent rebuke came from NFLPA president and Tennessee Titans center Kevin Mawae, whose union head, Gene Upshaw, is against a salary scale for rookies.

    "As a guy who has been in the league for 14 now going on 15 years and being around other veteran guys, for a young guy to get paid that kind of money and never steps foot on an NFL football field, it's a little disheartening to think of," Mawae said. "It makes it tough for a guy who's proven himself to say 'I want that kind of money' when the owners, all they're going to say is, 'well, you weren't a first-round pick.

    "I know there is sentiment around the league amongst the players like, 'Let's do something to control these salaries and control these signing bonuses' and things like that.'"

    Ryan said he was aware of the backlash and didn't feel any of it was directed at him but more likely at the system.

    "I have a lot of respect for the guys who've put in a lot of time in this league," Ryan said. "They've worked hard and they are the backbone of this league. For me, the situation I was in, it's the nature of being a rookie at this time and where I was picked and the position I play.

    New York Jets
  • DT Kris Jenkins certainly looks the part of a nose tackle, at 6-foot-4 and 360 pounds. Yet the position is totally new to him, after being a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle in Carolina's 4-3 before coming to the Jets in a trade.

    "It's different," Jenkins admitted after a voluntary practice. "My whole career, except for my rookie year, I have always played a single-gap defense -- just go up the field and disrupt. Now it's fun. I love the challenge; now I have to basically be a stud. You have two gaps, you can't let anybody block you. Double teams, whams, everything -- you have to take it head on.

    "It's different," he added, "but I think it's something that lets me express myself. In a 4-3 defense you are basically restricted to that one gap. In the 3-4 defense I get to express myself a little bit more and show what I'm capable of doing. As camp goes, I'll get more familiar with it and can pick the speed up a little bit."

    Jenkins' new five-year, $30.3 million contract has weight-clause incentives, according to sources. But Jenkins says his immediate family of fiancee Tashia and three children, Kris Jr., Marcus and 6-month-old daughter Jesse, provided him with all the motivation he needed to shed 30 pounds between the end of the 2007 season and the beginning of spring practices.

  • TE Chris Baker hasn't been at voluntary minicamp. Baker wants a raise from his current four-year, $6.6 million contract. He's due $683,500 this year and $2.1 million in 2009.
    Baker has said the Jets promised to revisit his contract if he had a productive 2007 campaign. He finished the season with a career-high 41 receptions. When asked about Baker's contention, Mangini said, "Everyone has a difference of opinions and I respect the difference of opinions."

    Mangini indicated last week that he has been in contact with Baker to send him new playbook information and keep him up to date with the offense, but said during the second week of camp he hadn't talked to him in about a week.

    "I'll give him a call here shortly and see where he is with the information and see what he needs and try to catch up," Mangini said. "Chris is a part of this team and Chris is a conscientious guy. He wants to know what's going on and what we're doing and all those different things."

    Mangini also was asked about the fact that the Jets have renegotiated contracts with right guard Brandon Moore and wide receiver Laveranues Coles. "I don't talk about the specifics of anybody's contract and I hope you guys can respect that," Mangini said. "I will say each one that comes up, or anything that comes up, you have to deal with in a way that's right for that and the way that is specific to that."

  • CB Justin Miller still isn't at 100 percent after missing all but two games of the 2007 season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Miller is participating in voluntary practices.

    "We're still working through things," Mangini said, "and when you move from the weight room stuff to the on-the-field stuff you want to take it slow and err on the side of caution. We will just keep progressing him along and the movements and things and make sure that each step is right."

    Mangini added that he expects Miller to be at 100 percent for training camp in July.

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