Camp Notes: 7/29

News and notes around the NFC as the first week of camp closes out,courtesy of Information on the rookies as well as whose battling for starting jobs.

Training Camp News and Notes 7/29

NFC East

Giants: Shockey Finally Agrees To a Deal; Hilliard Rests

First round pick TE Jeremy Shockey came to terms with the Giants on a five-year deal and will be in Albany on Tuesday to sign the contract. Shockey missed nine practices during his holdout.

Head coach Jim Fassel said starting CB Jason Sehorn, who sat out both of Thursday's practices, will spend less time on the field and more time strengthening the quadriceps muscle around his surgically-repaired knee.

"The best thing for Jason right now is to make progress developing his quad," Fassel said. "We're intensifying that and not having him decelerate on the field, which causes the pain."

Starting WR Ike Hilliard also missed both workouts.

"Ike's toe is sore," Fassel said. "The best way to heal an injury is sometimes to get back-to-back days off. He didn't really have anything to do Sunday because it was a special teams practice. He had Sunday off already and it was my decision to give him Monday off. Tomorrow he can go one practice, because in the morning we'll work on special teams. I want to build him back up."

Starting OLB Dhani Jones, backup LB Nick Greisen, starting G Jason Whittle, and rookie FB Charles Stackhouse were among the players that missed practice. Stackhouse blocked for Saints' RB Deuce McAllister at the University of Mississppi.

"We have a number of light hamstring strains," Fassel said. "I think we're going to get most of them back in the next couple of days."


Sehorn is still a long way from being 100 percent. 2001 third-round pick CB William Peterson is going to see more time than originally expected. Regarding Hilliard, he's said repeatedly that he knows that his surgically repaired toe may never be the same but he thinks he can deal with the pain. Managing the pain is really a key here and Fassel is handling the situation well by giving him time off. 

Regarding Shockey, the club is expecting him to be a major factor and he should be to the tune of at least 70 catches. Certainly worth starting for your fantasy team. 

Redskins: Matthews Starting to Emerge

The Washington Redskins are gearing up for a trip to Japan and the first Preseason game and had a lot of work to do today.

QB Shane Matthews talked about his adjustment to head coach Steve Spurrier's offense. He played in it, but has played in West Coast offenses for the last nine years. He says he is trying to "deprogram" himself.

Matthews completed a high number of passes in last Saturday's scrimmage and still is the favorite to win the starting job.

And QB Sage Rosefels-who hasn't played for Spurrier-says the other QBs (Matthews and Danny Wuerffel) have five years on him. But he says he learns little things every day. And he's tried to soak in as much as possible in a short amount of time. Rosenfels will start Saturday's game in Japan.

Starting ORT Jon Jansen has the right idea on how to approach the Japan trip: "I'm going to try to find American channels on the tv and get a cheeseburger."

NFC North

Packers: Walker Learning; Driver Impressive

Monday was the third day of two-a-days, and Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman was impressed with the hitting. The defense starred, especially starting DE's Joe Johnson and Vonnie Holliday.

And there was spirited special teams play, with three players getting a lot of work at punt returns. Those returners were CB/PR Darrien Gordon, starting S Darren Sharper, and WR Robert Ferguson.

First-round pick WR Javon Walker is learning the complex West Coast offense and hasn't been intimidated by the extensive playbook. However, like most rookies, he has a long way to go.

"You guys have been here long enough to know that not many players have come in here and started or contributed significantly as rookies at that position," the head coach said today after practice. "I would say that he is ahead of the learning curve in regard to that. All the hoopla and misinformation about his inability to learn certainly has not been the case here in this training camp."

Meanwhile, second-year WR Robert Ferguson continues to run with the starters while WR Donald Driver runs as the #3 though Driver clearly has outplayed Ferguson. 

The coaching staff will tell you that Ferguson works as hard if not harder than anyone on the team and they are rewarding him with the #2 job..... so far. If Driver continues to outplay him, they won't have a choice but to promote Driver to the first team offense. 

Vikings: Bates Ahead of Alexander

The offense is way ahead of the defense at Vikings camp so far. Starting WR Randy Moss is catching lots of balls which is no coincidence according to head coach Mike Tice.

"We have a lot of stuff in," said Tice. "The defense doesn't have as much in. What they do have in I don't think mentally they're up to speed, so we're having some mental mistakes out there. We're turning some guys free, but you're going to see a lot of balls going Randy's way, whether it's in practice or in the game. If we don't throw them to him in practice, we're not going to throw them to him during the game."

As for the battle being waged for the starting receiver's job opposite Moss, Tice said D'Wayne Bates and Derrick Alexander are making progress in the new system but Bates has the edge.

"I think Bates is a little more ahead," said Tice. "He's been here for a longer time. He's more comfortable with the system, made nice plays with the ball today. I think DA (Derrick Alexander) is getting a grasp of the system. The more he understands it, the more you'll see him running at the level of speed that he has. I think when you're thinking, you really can't run at full speed because you're spending a lot of time saying, 'Okay, what do I do here?  How do I adjust that route?' And it will take him a little bit longer to grasp what we're doing and feel comfortable with it. But it's going to be a great competition with those two."

First-round pick OT Bryant McKinnie remains unsigned.

We told you earlier this year that it was Bates' job to lose and it certainly seems that way. Whoever wins the job is a nice mid to late round selection in your fantasy draft. 

NFC South

Buccaneers: Pittman Injured

During the morning practice, new Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting RB Michael Pittman went down with a right ankle sprain after an awkward run-in with starting MLB Shelton Quarles. The injury will keep Pittman out of several practices. Head coach Jon Gruden calls it "a sprain. X-rays were negative. He's day to day:" The team is likely to be cautious with the free agent running back they signed from Arizona.

There were no additional injuries to report Monday night. The team is scheduled to practice in full pads for the first time on Wednesday.

Don't expect Gruden to break down the quarterback race each day in the media. However, Brad Johnson is taking the first-team snaps over Rob Johnson who is the #2 at the moment over Shaun King

Panthers: Weinke On The Way Back

After a horrid rookie campaign, Panthers QB Chris Weinke's off-season wasn't exactly a glide over an icy surface. He felt he needed to prove himself to the new guys, a task that made more difficult by shoulder surgery. He was able to throw by the third week of the team's minicamp but says he was uncomfortable passing. He can now make everything but he's still not where he needs to be.

"Now I can throw without pain but I'm not throwing without he velocity that I want," said the former Heisman Trophy winner. "In a week or two I think I'll be able to get back to 100 percent. The most important thing is for me to be able to build up the small muscles in my shoulder."

Second-rounder RB DeShaun Foster is running with the second team behind veteran Lamar Smith but the competition for the starting job is open. Foster, a solid receiver and runner after the catch, has been seeing ample passes thrown his way. 

P Todd Sauerbraun put on one of the best shows of camp on Sunday. He was blasting punts late in Sunday's workout between 79 and 91 yards (measuring from his foot to where the ball landed). The Pro Bowl punter was fielding snaps from the 20 and blasting ball after ball into or through the end zone. 

Veteran TE Wesley Walls in running with the first unit once per day and is slated to be the starter. However, Fox gives him off once a day as well to protect his knee from additional wear and tear.

WR Isaac Byrd has been practicing, recovered from his sprained foot. However, he must have an incredible camp in order to beat out sophomore WR Steve Smith for the starting job. Patrick Jeffers told us he is still one month away from doing anything. The team is leaning toward placing him on the PUP-reserve list. However, they have not completely ruled out releasing him if his progression halts. 

He says that last season's debacle was the "toughest thing I've had to go through." One year and one win do not sit well. With the pain of his worst sports experience painfully ingrained in his rear view mirror, Weinke spent the five weeks prior to the start of camp putting himself in position to do everything possible to prevent a repeat performance. 

"After I left Charlotte from our last minicamp in late June until the day camp started, there wasn't a day that went by I wasn't up at 5:30 in the morning working out and there wasn't day I didn't open my playbook," he said. "I worked out every day and studied my playbook every night. 

Saints: Brooks Reports; Stallworth Signs

Starting QB Aaron Brooks finally reported to the team on Monday. General manager Mickey Loomis said that signing Brooks to a new deal is a priority. The former University of Virginia signal caller is on the last year of his contract. 

Elsewhere, first-round pick WR Donte' Stallworth signed a six-year deal. 

NFC West

Cardinals: Sanders Has Minor Surgery; Recovering Players Seeing More Action

Arizona Cardinals starting WR Frank Sanders went back to Phoenix have glass shards removed from his fingertip. Backup LB Sekou Sanyika sat out of the afternoon practice to rest his knee. Defensive linemen Mao Tosi (right foot stress fracture) and Nate Dwyer (shortness of breath) did not practice Monday.

"Mao Tosi has stress fracture in his foot and it has yet to be determined how long he will be out," said head coach Dave McGinnis. "We don't want to miss any of these guys. We count on him being there and when one guy is missing it hurts everybody. People have to take up the slack and it gives other guys opportunities, but I don't want any of my guys hurt."

Starting OL Pete Kendall (foot) and starting DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (knee) both saw increased action in the morning practice, and will continue to see more live action as the week progresses.

"Kendall took more time today," said McGinnis. "He moved into the 9 on 7 drill and took some snaps and saw some of his first live action. Vanden Bosch also did more work today. I'm having a hard time withstanding the pressure that he's putting on my throat right now. He's angry because he wants to get involved in full contact drills. I think right now he wants a taste of full contact with me. He doesn't like me worth a damn right now."

49ers: Starting Center Ailing

San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl C Jeremy Newberry (calf) will sit out Saturday's pre-season opener against the Redskins in Japan. with a calf injury. Newberry's calf is getting better but they won't rush him back. The Niners worked out free agent C Ben Fricke and are expected to re-sign him. Fricke was with the club last season. 

Rams: Faulk Signs New Deal

The only story of significance was that starting RB Marshall Faulk signed a new seven-year deal that will in a sense keep him in a Ram uniform until he retires. Faulk will be lucky to finish half the contract but it will keep him in a Ram uniform for as long as he wants/can play. 

Backup WR Dane Looker, who was NFL Europe's top receiver and World Bowl X MVP, now has a chance to be a part of the most prolific receiving corps in the NFL.

He is vying for one of five-six spots on the depth chart. Of course, Looker wasn't at any of the minicamps, and that will hurt him. Of course, the Rams quarterback—Kurt Warner—is another NFL Europe alum.

Seahawks: Dilfer Takes Charge

Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren said he notices a difference with how the team is responding to new starting QB Trent Dilfer early in camp.

"There is a little bit more of a known factor there," said Holmgren. "(QB) Matt (Hasselbeck) came in last year and it was his first season as a starter and that clearly is not the case with Trent. It's a more solid feeling at quarterback because you know more about both players and as I said yesterday, having both of them and knowing they both can play and they both can win is a good feeling for a coach."

Holmgren is also happy with the depth he has at secondary which includes a healthy starting CB Shawn Spring s.

"We are deeper than we were and we purposely did that, we needed to have more corners. Last year, if you remember, we got into the first game and we were really injured at corner and we were thin there. A big key is if Shawn Springs can hold up and be healthy. We have CB Doug Evans who knows how to play the game. What WR Bobby Engram is to the offense Doug Evans is to the defense. So we are in a much better position than we were last year going into our first game. Our safeties, the young guys, have to step up. S's Reggie Tongue and Marcus (Robertson) will be our starters, and now we have to find a couple more who can be the next two."

Also, new starting MLB Isaiah Kacyvenski has been impressive in camp and the head coach was asked if the first-year starter is really thought of as the man in the middle. 

"He is our guy, right now, he is our guy. Write it down, he is our guy."

We've been saying this all off season, but Dilfer will be a major surprise as a fantasy starter. He's going to be able to throw the ball deep consistently for the first time in his career and he has two solid young receivers to throw to. The Seattle offensive line is one of the best young lines around so there is no reason to think that their offense can't exceed expectations.


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