From former Viking Nate Burleson to former Brad Childress poking stick Terrell Owens, players of note around the league continue to make news.
Seahawks WR Nate Burleson reworked his back-loaded $49 million contract so it more accurately reflected his actual pay. The team had pumped up the final few years of the deal as part of the poison-pill tactics that essentially prevented Minnesota from matching the offer. "There was a lot of back-end dollars I knew I wasn't going to see and they knew I wasn't going to see," Burleson told the Tacoma News Tribune. "I'm a low-controversy guy, so if you ask me to do something and obviously it wasn't changing where I stood financially with this organization, I was OK with it."
DT Justin Harrell still isn't fully recovered from the season-ending ruptured biceps tendon he sustained early last year. As such, the Packers kept Harrell out of one-on-one pass-rushing and team drills during their rookie orientation camp May 4-6. "He's in the final stages of his rehab, so we're just being smart," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "The kid feels fine." Harrell said he needs to rebuild the strength in his surgically repaired left arm. He expects to be able to participate in all phases of practice during the May 18-20 full-squad minicamp. Harrell will be vying for a starting job alongside nose tackle Ryan Pickett.
Packers QB Brett Favre probably will be held out of the mandatory full-squad minicamp May 18 to 20, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Favre is recovering from Feb. 26 surgery to clean out calcium deposits in his left ankle. The 17th-year veteran should be ready to participate in organized team activities, which begin May 31.
Dallas WR Terrell Owens was expected to spend much of the team's first minicamp as a spectator. Owens had two offseason surgeries to repair a torn tendon in his right ring finger. He is still in the process of rehabbing and has not yet been cleared to catch passes. But there is good news on the Owens front. Coach Wade Phillips said the petulant receiver is ahead of schedule in his rehab and could soon be catching passes. The original prognosis for Owens was that he wouldn't be able to catch passes until the Cowboys began training camp in July. But according to Phillips, that could happen in the near future. "I don't know (when he will catch passes) yet," Phillips said. "But we are closer to being able to do that.
Colts OL Tony Ugoh got some work at right offensive guard and right offensive tackle during the team's recent rookie mini-camp. "Wherever I can help the team, that where I want to be," Ugoh said. "I'm not selfish. I'm not going to say, 'I want to stay at left tackle.' Wherever they see me fit that I can help the team, that's where I want to be."
Colts WR Roy Hall is grateful for his opportunity with the Colts. He saw limited playing time at Ohio State, working behind Anthony Gonzalez, Ted Ginn Jr., and Santonio Holmes. All three ended up being first-round draft picks in the NFL. "It would mean a lot (to earn a spot with the Colts). It would show that on a talented team sometimes people don't get the opportunity they deserve. But right now I'm just more focused in trying to learn this offense. It's like trying to read a dictionary and memorize all the words," he said. I mean, there are some words that you recognize and there are some you don't. Sometimes you get out there and you thought you knew something but you completely forget it. So right now I'm just focused on that. And once I've conquered that, hopefully I'll be successful at this level."
Cowboys G Marco Rivera is still a Cowboy but appears to be in name only. Rivera is coming off back surgery -- his second in three years -- and is expected to retire. The Cowboys have already replaced him in the starting lineup with free agent Leonard Davis. They have yet to make a move with Rivera's roster spot out of respect. They want to give him every chance to work through it but there is no question he is not in their plans for next season. "Well, his situation is different than DE Gret Ellis' situation, in that Rivera's had a major surgery and he's had one before," coach Wade Phillips said of Rivera. "He's a lot further away from being well. That's the situation with him, more so than Ellis. He's out there running every day. (Rivera has) not progressed to that. But I don't know. We're kind of hoping for the best right now and we'll go from there."
QB Brock Berlin was released by the Cowboys. Berlin was signed just before last month's NFL draft partly because he had a prior relationship with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. However, he was told at the time he might be released if the Cowboys signed a quarterback in the draft or free agency. The Cowboys signed Oregon State's Matt Moore as an undrafted free agent, making Berlin expendable.
Cardinals WR-KR Ahmad Merritt, formerly a return specialist in Chicago, but who has not played since the 2004 season, signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals. It is a depth signing. The return duty is expected to go to fifth-round draft pick Steve Breaston. Merritt has returned 65 kickoffs for 1,434 yards (22.1 yard avg.) and 10 punts for 71 yards. He was an undrafted rookie in Chicago in 2000.
49ers RT Kwame Harris is the subject of ongoing trade talks. While G Jordan Smiley has spoken to coach Mike Nolan on several occasions, Harris said he does not plan to clarify his situation. "I leave the business aspect up to my agent and the 49ers," Harris said. "I stay pretty divorced from the business side. That side has the most bureaucracy and red tape and stuff that makes you want to pull your hair out." Harris' contract expires at the end of the season, and the sides have not entered into serious negotiations for an extension. In light of the team selecting tackle Joe Staley in the first round, the 49ers are expected to weigh offers to trade Harris.
49ers OG Justin Smiley and his agent, Pat Dye Jr., got permission from the 49ers to speak with teams about a trade. Smiley had a good season a year ago but he remains far apart from the 49ers in contract-extension talks. He is entering the final year of his contract. "I want to be here," Smiley said. "I'm not asking to big-time anybody or over-the-top them. I just want what's fair. We'd make it worth their while and discount them to be here. But right now, we're far apart." The Ravens, Broncos, Seahawks and Bears expressed interest in Smiley prior to the draft, he said.
Free-agent DT Manny Wright was waived by the Bills. The Bills plucked him off waivers after Wright's release from the Miami Dolphins. But it took only a week for Buffalo to decide Wright couldn't help them as much as adding more depth at cornerback could. Wright's massive size (6-6, 329) intrigued Buffalo. The USC product sat out last season after being diagnosed with clinical depression after breaking down into tears after being berated by coach Nick Saban.
Dolphins NT Keith Traylor didn't participate in the May minicamp after undergoing arthroscopic ankle surgery.
Dolphins CB Andre' Goodman, a 14-game starter in 2006, re-injured his surgically repaired left shoulder on the first day of minicamp and was in a sling for the remainder of the weekend. The severity of the injury wasn't immediately known but the Dolphins do have depth at the position after switching 2006 first-round choice Jason Allen to cornerback from safety.
Seahawks C Chris Spencer does not plan to have another shoulder surgery, good news for the offensive line. Spencer will probably have to play through pain this season, but surgery would have knocked him out for months.
Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck could resume a regular practice schedule for June minicamps.
Seahawks DT Marcus Tubbs remains ahead of schedule in his return from microfracture surgery. He could be ready for training camp.
Raiders DL Tyler Brayton, a 15-game starter at right defensive end, was moved inside to tackle for the minicamp and will be evaluated there. The Raiders drafted ends Quintin Moses of Georgia (third-round) and Jay Richardson of Ohio State (fifth round).
Redskins QB Mark Brunell, who had shoulder surgery on Jan. 8, won't throw in a team drill until training camp in late July.
Free-agent RB Tyrone Moss was undrafted despite successful freshman and sophomore seasons at the University of Miami. A torn ACL with four games left ruined his junior year. He was not the same as a senior, but the Browns took a chance and signed him as an undrafted rookie. "It's been said Jamal Lewis and I have similar running styles," Moss said after the second day of rookie minicamp. The Browns did not get that impression and cut Moss two days after the camp concluded.
G Alan Faneca finally showed up in Pittsburgh for a required minicamp over the weekend, but he wasn't happy about it. Faneca, a six-time Pro Bowler, ripped the Steelers for lagging in negotiations to extend a new contract. He said he's asked to be traded and it has been made plain to him by the team's actions that they do not want him beyond 2007. "There is no progress," Faneca said of negotiations. "They've been crystal clear on the fact they're not going to sign me this year and that's it. It's been a dead issue for a long time." Faneca, 30, is a nine-year veteran and a Steelers captain the past three years. He was visibly emotional as he talked to a group of media on the first day of minicamp Friday. "This will be my last year as a Pittsburgh Steeler," Faneca declared.
RB DeAngelo Williams is excited about Carolina's new offensive scheme. "I was like, 'Yeah! Oh yeah, yeah, yeaaaah!" Williams said when he saw new coordinator Jeff Davidson's playbook. What Williams saw inside was obviously to his liking. He'd read that Davidson would implementing a zone blocking scheme on offense and be running more screen plays than in past years, but was a little hesitant to believe it until he saw the playbook. When he saw the plays, he couldn't contain his enthusiasm. "I'm excited about the offense altogether because it's identical to the offense we ran in Memphis," Williams said. "We threw a lot of screen passes to the running backs and we ran the outside and inside zone plays. We did the one-back power, things like that. It's just like the offense at Memphis, but with some different terminology."
Texans G Kasey Studdard hopes to put together a similar career as his father, Dave, who played offensive tackle at Texas and for the Denver Broncos for 10 seasons. During a portion of Dave's stint with the Broncos, he played alongside Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. It's because of the relationship they forged that Dave told his son that he had landed in the best situation possible. He offered little advice after his son was drafted, describing Kubiak as a "good guy."
Falcons NT Grady Jackson broke his hiatus from offseason workouts when he reported to mini-camp, which was mandatory. Jackson was held out of practice, though, and went through some conditioning drills in the weight room. Jackson is suing the team for defamation and invasion of privacy for allegedly disclosing private medical information to the media last summer when he was a free agent. Jackson is not expected to attend any of the voluntary workouts once mini-camp is finished.