Vikings/NFL Player Notes

How does Brad Johnson's contract compare to quarterbacks in the league? What is Randy Moss saying in Oakland? Which teams are thought to have the most interest in trading for Michael Bennett? Those stories and a number of other morsels on the NFL's bigger stars.

  • QB Brad Johnson might be looking for a bump in the four-year, $6 million contract he signed to serve as a backup in March 2005.

    The issue has been in the background ever since the trading of Daunte Culpepper. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune pointed out that the $1.2 million Johnson is due to earn in 2006 would make him the NFL's lowest-paid veteran starter.

    At least 36 quarterbacks could make more than Johnson, according to the paper. That includes several veteran backups.

    Some members of that list are Chicago's Brian Griese ($6 million), Detroit's Josh McCown ($4 million), Miami's Joey Harrington ($3 million) and St. Louis' Gus Frerotte ($3 million).

    Johnson's agent, Phil Williams, told the Star Tribune and the same thing – he did not want to discuss the issue publicly, "at this time." But there is no question the Vikings will be getting Johnson at a bargain-basement price if his contract remains the same.

    And, on paper at least, it appears the Vikings offense will only go as far as Johnson takes them. Without Johnson, the Vikings quarterbacks are veteran journeyman Mike McMahon, unproven fifth-year player J.T. O'Sullivan and rookie project Tarvaris Jackson.

  • S Willie Offord was ordered to perform 32 hours of community service after the Vikings safety pleaded guilty to drunken driving.

  • FB Ahmard Hall, who was not selected in the NFL's Supplemental Draft, signed with Tennessee. The Vikings were one of five teams to offer Hall a contract, according to a league source, but the likelihood of seeing playing time was determined by Hall and his agent to be greatest with the Titans.

    Hall is listed at 5-feet-11 and 235 pounds. He played in 24 career games at Texas. He had just two carries for 11 yards and one touchdown to go with three receptions for 42 yards and another score.

    As a senior, Hall played in all 13 games with two starts at fullback for the national champion Longhorns. Before walking-on at Texas in 2003, Hall served four years in the Marines, including stints in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

    "He's just a big blocking fullback, an older guy, a tough guy," Titans general manager Reese said.

    He went undrafted in the Supplemental Draft, in which Cincinnati spent a third-round pick on Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

    Hall becomes just the second fullback on the Titans' roster, joining starter Troy Fleming.

    Coach Jeff Fisher recently said the team expected to use tight ends, with an emphasis on Bo Scaife, in a fullback role that could supplement Fleming.

    Reese said it's yet to be determined how the Titans will sort out their tight ends and fullbacks.

  • Former Vikings receiver WR Randy Moss, now with Oakland, said new coach Art Shell reminded him of Dennis Green in Minnesota in terms of philosophy and approach.

    Moss praised the arm strength and throwing skills of second-year quarterback Andrew Walter, but felt probable starter Aaron Brooks could bring the best out of a gifted receiving corps.

    "I'm excited about playing with Aaron Brooks, (he's) a little more mobile than Kerry Collins. Taking nothing away from Kerry Collins -- I enjoyed playing with him and learning from him -- but the team had to move in another direction," Moss said.

    Most important, Moss said the injuries he remained quiet about last season -- rib, groin and pelvis injuries suffered in Week 5 against San Diego -- were a thing of the past.

    "I'm pretty much back to 100 percent," Moss said. "Last year was so frustrating. I think, with my injury, I could have had a couple of weeks off, but I had high hopes to try and have a push for the playoffs to prove the critics wrong. If people were wondering why I kept playing so nicked up, that's the reason why. I fought through it. I've rehabbed this off-season, trying to get my groin area a little stronger."

  • RB Michael Bennett continues to be sought after by other teams, according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

    However, General Manager Mickey Loomis said the proposals have "not been good enough yet." Bennett, who signed a two-year deal with the Saints this spring to back up Deuce McAllister, became expendable when the team drafted Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.

    But because Bush is unsigned and McAllister is coming off knee surgery, the Saints have shown a reluctance to part with Bennett -- and won't -- unless the move is advantageous to them.

    Among the teams that have reportedly inquired about Bennett are the Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams.

  • Former Vikings center Melvin Fowler, who enters training camp as the club's No. 1 center, is listed at 295 pounds, which is five pounds lighter than the departed Trey Teague.

    While a dogged competitor, Teague was often criticized for being undersized and the Bills' line was susceptible to being bull rushed and collapsing.

    Fowler needs to show he can be more difficult to knock backward or this move won't prove to be the upgrade the Bills say it is. With 23 career starts, Fowler is with his third NFL team in just five seasons.

    One plus in coming to Buffalo is his familiarity with assistant OL coach Larry Zierlein, his position coach in Cleveland.

  • Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger is expected to be ready to play in the opener Sept. 7 against Miami and possibly will play in the second exhibition game. Mentally, he appears to have come through the accident as well as he has physically.

    His broken jaw and broken nose have healed well. He talked for the first time on July 13, appeared at ESPN's ESPY Awards show in Los Angeles that was taped that day and continued to talk about his accident in the days that followed. The appearances and interviews before he reports to training camp July 28 were encouraged as a way to deflect some of the heavy media attention expected to descend on Latrobe, Pa., during summer camp.

    "Now that I am doing better and I feel good, now all I am thinking about is football and that is what is on my mind right now," Roethlisberger said. "I am getting healthy and I am getting better every day so all I am thinking about is football. I am not thinking about anything else."

    Coach Bill Cowher and Roethlisberger's teammates believe he won't be gun-shy.

    "I think people need to understand -- nobody needs to say anything to Ben, he understands and he knows what he needs to do," Cowher said. "At the same token, I told him, he is a good person and he is a free-spirited kid and he plays the football game that way and I don't want that to change. There is a fine line with the way you have to live your life, but sometimes we have to learn lessons the hard way. Those are the best lessons we can learn in life sometimes."

  • Free-agent CB Ty Law reiterated to the Kansas City Star that he would not be averse to returning to the Patriots. Law, who has been unemployed since being released by the Jets after the 2005 season, is taking his time picking a new employer. It's believed that the Chiefs and the Patriots are the front-runners for his services, although neither team might be inclined to meet his current asking price.

    Law played the first 10 seasons of his career with the Patriots before signing with the Jets during training camp last year. Herman Edwards, who coached Law with the Jets, is now coaching the Chiefs.

    "I'd love to have the opportunity to play for (Kansas City), especially going up there and being reunited with Herm Edwards, because we have some unfinished business," Law was quoted as saying. "If we get together again, fine. But at the same time, we both know this is a business, and all fairy tales don't come true. It's not out of the question that I can return back to New England because I didn't leave on bad terms. It was business. Me and Coach (Bill) Belichick, contrary to what everyone might believe, we're fine.

    "I'm not opposed to going to either (place). Do I have preferences? Hmmm. I can't even say that. That puts myself at a disadvantage."

  • Bengals LB Odell Thurman will be suspended for the first four games of the 2006 season, a source close to the situation told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday. An announcement from the league is expected within two weeks.

    The source said it was not necessarily a positive drug test that led to Thurman's suspension. A missed test also counts the same as a positive test. The violation is Thurman's second as a pro, which warrants a four-game suspension.

    Questions about Thurman's health or status for the upcoming season surfaced during the mandatory June mini-camp. He was excused for personal reasons, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said at the time. More concerns about Thurman's situation again came up Thursday when the Bengals selected former University of Virginia linebacker Ahmad Brooks in the NFL's Supplemental Draft.

    Thurman was kicked off the University of Georgia football team after his red-shirt freshman season in 2001. He had failed at least one drug test in his first year on the Athens, Ga., campus, which led to his dismissal. Then Thurman enrolled at Georgia Military College in 2002 and started all nine of the team's games.

    He returned to Georgia for the 2003 and 2004 seasons, starting 22 of the 23 games he played in. He was suspended for the Bulldogs' first three games in 2004 for undisclosed reasons.

    Thurman bypassed his final year of eligibility at Georgia to enter the 2005 NFL Draft. The Bengals selected him in the second round with the 48th overall pick.

  • Saints QB Drew Brees on his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery: "I'm not going to say I'm beyond a setback, because I'm not. But I'm at the stage where I can do almost anything. I feel like I'm a good judge of where I'm at, and I have the ability to push it right now."

  • LB Junior Seau has been rumored to be on the Raiders' radar screen, but a team official said the club doesn't have anything going on with Seau.

  • Cowboys WR Terrell Owens is on a media blitz to publicize his new book. He was at the ESPY's on Wednesday, which will be aired on Sunday on ESPN. He did Dallas area book signings on Thursday and Friday. He did a book signing in Miami on Saturday. He will make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday before being a feature on HBO's Real Sports on Tuesday. He will also have a Los Angeles area book signing Tuesday. There will be a book signing in Atlanta on Wednesday before one in Birmingham on July 21.

  • RB Shaun Alexander recently walked away with two ESPY awards, one as the NFL's best player and another for having the best record-setting performance. Alexander didn't really need the validation after claiming league MVP honors, but he'll take it. So will ESPN.

    As USA Today put it: "Things worked out for ESPN with Reggie Bush getting Best Male College Athlete and Shaun Alexander getting Best NFL Athlete. Both happen to be in new TV ads for ESPN cellphones."

  • LB Ahmad Brooks, who was kicked off the University of Virginia team, was selected by Cincinnati in the Supplemental Draft. The Bengals selected Brooks with the 22nd pick in the third round and will forego their third-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. Arrested for marijuana possession in March 2003, Brooks failed multiple drug tests in college, the Miami Herald reported. His substance abuse issues led to his dismissal from the UVA squad in March.

    Brooks' weight has dropped in recent months to near his playing weight of 260 pounds. Concerns about his weight are another red flag on Brooks, one of the top players in prep football history in Virginia. He played at 6-feet-4, 259 pounds.

    According to the Washington Post, Brooks' dismissal from the University of Virginia squad ended a college career that started quickly but fizzled fast.

    Brooks played three seasons at Virginia and had 234 tackles, 13 sacks and 31 quarterback pressures. Brooks earned first-team All-America honors in 2004 from The Sporting News when he had 90 tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions.

    Front office concerns about the status of starting middle linebacker Odell Thurman, who will be suspended by the league for the first four games of the 2006 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, appeared to have led to Brooks' selection.

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