Players around the league are making news as team minicamps kick into full swing and reporters get a look at who is making an impact and who might still be struggling with injuries. Get news on more than 40 players, including several current and former Vikings, from across the NFL.
RB Adrian Peterson will not need surgery on his collarbone this season, barring further injury. Peterson, the standout running back from Oklahoma, slipped to the Vikings with the seventh-overall pick in last month's draft in part because teams were concerned he might need a surgical procedure on his left collarbone that would have kept him out for six months. However, a series of tests performed by the Vikings doctors showed the injury has been healing on its own. That means Peterson will be able to participate in the Vikings' Organized Team Activities, which begin May 22. "At this point we are not overly concerned that it's not going to heal in a normal way," said Dr. Joel Boyd, the Vikings' new orthopedic physician. "I'm not anticipating that he's going to require surgery for it. At this point in time, it looks like it will progress to heal on its own completely."
Former Vikings LB Kailee Wong will not return as a Texan in the 2007 season. "It's a scary transition, because you kind of get the rug pulled out from you," Wong said. "But as much as you can prepare -- as much as you can talk about it -- it's still quite a shock as the reality sets in." Wong has told his agent not to pursue job offers from other NFL teams, but he's not ready to make any definitive statements about his future. He said he is considering retirement, but he is also not ruling out playing in the NFL next season. The Texans plan to either release him outright or place him on Reserve Retired.
Vikings DE Erasmus James had made "great progress," in his recovery and rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, according to trainer Eric Sugarman. "He's showing every indication that he'll be out there for training camp when we go to Mankato," Sugarman said. James was injured early last season.
Vikings NT Pat Williams, who was placed on the physically unable to perform list last summer after arriving at training camp weighing 337 pounds, said he is currently at 327 and needs to lose only two more pounds to get to the weight the Vikings want him at for the start of training camp.
Packers Rookie RB Brandon Jackson wasn't with the team for the mandatory full-squad minicamp May 18-20. Jackson was all but required to be in Los Angeles for EA Sports' 2007 Reebok NFL Rookie Premier. The annual promotional function included 30 skill players on offense who were taken on the first day of the NFL Draft last month. Jackson earned $12,000 for the weekend appearance, but he wanted no part of it. The second-round draft pick wanted to be in Green Bay for the minicamp. However, the NFL Management Council ruled that Jackson either had to be at the Rookie Premier, as mandated in the collective-bargaining agreement, or sit out the minicamp. "They literally locked him out of camp," Jackson's agent, Gary Wichard, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The team is not allowed to have him. I think it's ridiculous." Jackson's absence could set him back as a prime contender for the starting halfback spot. Jackson participated in the team's rookie orientation camp two weeks earlier. Team personnel, though, were eager to get a better gauge of the former part-time starter at Nebraska with the veterans on the field.
QB Brett Favre reported to Packers minicamp and insists he did not request a trade -- contrary to some reports -- following the Packers' failure to trade for WR Randy Moss. "I do want to clear up this trade issue, non-issue as I call it," Favre started. "Never was a trade ever mentioned, requested. I just don't know where it came from. That's not true." Moss wound up being dealt from Oakland to New England on Day 2 of the draft. Favre, who received some heat for considering skipping the mandatory minicamp in order to plan his daughter's high school graduation party, conceded before stepping out on the indoor practice field May 18 and picking up a football for the first time since the end of last season that he had no other choice but to show his face. Otherwise, "it becomes even a bigger issue. To be totally honest with you, 17 years (of playing in the league), I just really didn't want to come. ... They're kind of boring," Favre said of minicamps. "What has been said and done is over. I think the best way to do that is to move forward. There's no hard feelings. I want to win, regardless of who's on this team or not on this team. Hopefully, we're all in this together.
Packers DT Kendrick Allen signed a one-year deal with the Bengals. Allen's NFL totals include 31 games, three starts, 52 tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries. He also saw action in a 2005 postseason game with the Giants, logging three tackles. Allen signed for the minimum $595,000 with a $40,000 signing bonus. Allen played in two games last season for Green Bay before going on the injured reserve list with a foot injury.
Bears LB Lance Briggs didn't attend the Bears' most recent minicamp. Briggs is dissatisfied with his status as the Bears' franchise player and the $7.2 million salary that comes with the designation, and is threatening to stay away as long as it takes to get a multi-year deal or a trade.
Rookie RB Garrett Wolfe signed a four-year, $2.29 million deal with the Bears. Wolfe, a third-round pick, was the first member of the 2007 NFL Draft class to sign with a team. Wolfe received a $623,000 signing bonus.
Bears rookie SS Kevin Payne signed a four-year, $1.82 million deal with the Bears. Payne, a fifth-rounder, received a $150,000 signing bonus.
DT Sam Adams was released by the Bengals. Adams, who will turn 34 in June, had started all 16 games for the Bengals in 2006, his first season of a three-year contract. The termination of his contract at this time saves the Bengals an estimated $1.2 million in salary cap space. Adams was due to make a base salary of $1.5 million with another $500,000 in various roster and workout bonuses. His $2.4 million salary cap number would have been the 13th largest on the roster. Word around the locker room was Adams had not been around consistently in the offseason strength and conditioning program and was still carrying too much weight. He was listed at 350 pounds on the roster, which was kind, to say the least. Adams had to play his way into shape in 2006 and was largely a non-factor until later in the season.
Broncos TE Tony Scheffler will be sidelined for the next two months after breaking his foot on May 18. Scheffler is not expected to miss the start of training camp in late July.
Cowboys WR Terrell Owens was the surprise of last week's minicamp. He caught passes and participated in all the workouts for the first time since having two offseason surgeries to repair a torn tendon in his right ring finger. The Cowboys would have understood if Owens sat out. They didn't expect him to participate until training camp because of the injury. Ironically, last year Owens did everything to not practice. He skipped the offseason program and missed much of training camp with a suspicious hamstring injury. Now, he is practicing when he doesn't have to. That was a testament to Owens' new attitude heading into the 2007 season. "He could have sat out and we would have understood," owner Jerry Jones said. "I think it was really important to Terrell." Owens caught almost everything thrown at him -- not bad for a receiver whose up and down season in 2006 featured 85 catches for 1,180 with a league high 13 touchdowns. He also led the league with 17 dropped passes, partly because of the torn tendon. The Cowboys still don't know if Owens will regain use of the finger despite the surgery. But owner Jerry Jones has said he expects a better season from Owens either way. Jones has already committed to paying Owens a $3 million roster bonus in June to guarantee his $5 million salary in 2007. "It wouldn't surprise me at all for him to have the resolve for him to do better," Jones said. "I am surprised (Owens is practicing) but I can understand why he wanted to come out here and get caught
Steelers G Alan Faneca is not expected to attend the Steelers next 14 OTA sessions, which begin Tuesday, May 222. OTAs are technically voluntary, but few players typically miss them. Faneca remains upset about his contract.
Colts DE Dwight Freeney is skipping the on-field aspects of this weekend's OTAs while the Colts attempt to work out a long-term deal with Freeney and his agent. Freeney, who the Colts placed their franchise tag on, will be present for practice sessions and position meetings, but will skip out on all drills
Saints T Jermon Bushrod, the second of two fourth-round selections, and G Andy Alleman, one of their two third-round picks, made an impression on the Saints staff during a three-day rookie minicamp. The Saints went into the draft looking for depth at both guard and tackle and they're hoping Alleman and Bushrod fit the bill so they can be groomed for the future, along with tackle Zach Strief, a seventh-round draft pick a year ago. "They looked comfortable," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Alleman and Bushrod. "It's a little bit harder with those guys (linemen) because we're in jerseys and helmets. So once we get the pads on and get into training camp, you'll get a better evaluation."
Saints G Andy Alleman, one of their two third-round picks, and T Jermon Bushrod, the second of two fourth-round selections, made an impression on the Saints staff during a three-day rookie minicamp. The Saints went into the draft looking for depth at both guard and tackle and they're hoping Alleman and Bushrod fit the bill so they can be groomed for the future, along with tackle Zach Strief, a seventh-round draft pick a year ago. "They looked comfortable," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Alleman and Bushrod. "It's a little bit harder with those guys (linemen) because we're in jerseys and helmets. So once we get the pads on and get into training camp, you'll get a better evaluation."
DT Lance Legree signed a one-year, $595,000 deal with the Saints. Legree has appeared in 76 regular-season games with 25 starts since earning a roster spot with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2001. The 6-foot-1, 300-pounder has 90 career tackles with seven sacks while playing for the Giants and New York Jets.
Cardinals DE Bertrand Berry (triceps) is doing only individual work in practices.
Bills rookie LB Paul Posluszny is being billed as the next coming of Shane Conlan, but he's used to the comparisons. It was the same way at Penn State, where he wore Conlan's No. 31 and even worked out at the same gym with the former Bills star. "It's always great to be able to talk to him," Posluszny said. "I have his (phone) number, and if I have questions he says feel free to call. He has so much experience playing college and professionally, and we talk about a lot of the same things, so it's great."
Bengals CB Deltha O'Neal was one of two projected Bengals starters not on the field for the first organized team activity day, May 15. O'Neal had told head coach Marvin Lewis he would be there. O'Neal and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh were the only two projected starters missing. "T.J's absence was not a surprise, but Deltha told me he would be here today, so..." Lewis said after the Bengals practiced for almost two hours at mid-day Tuesday. O'Neal struggled last season and had just one interception, after grabbing 10 and tying for the NFL lead in a Pro Bowl 2005 season. The Bengals, meanwhile, have spent their last two first-round draft picks on cornerbacks -- Johnathan Joseph in 2006 and Leon Hall in 2007. O'Neal is a projected starter opposite Joseph, who will replace free-agent departure Tory James. "Obviously, in his case, (O'Neal) has an opportunity to re-start himself, and this is good work for him to put his best foot forward," Lewis said. "He is missing out on an opportunity to do that."
Browns C LeCharles Bentley is scheduled to have surgery June 4 to repair his left patellar tendon, originally torn on the first day of training camp last year. Bentley is still weighing the possibility of forgoing the surgery and trying to play this year.
RB Ricky Williams reportedly failed another drug test for marijuana, which would force him to wait until September before being able to petition for re-entry into the league. In a statement issued through agent Leigh Steinberg, Williams didn't admit to drug use but said there were "a few things I needed to iron out about myself" before returning to the NFL. "When the time is right, God willing, I will be back on the field scoring touchdowns for whatever team is fortunate enough to believe in me," Williams said. "I appreciate all the support I have received from my fans and I assure all others that I am strong, clean and happily preparing myself for a triumphant return to the NFL." Unfortunately, it's hard to take Williams at face value considering his drug history. Williams was suspended for all of the 2006 season following a fourth failed test under the NFL's substance-abuse program.
Texans LT Charles Spencer is still two months away from stepping on the field, but he wishes it was only two days. After spending the offseason rehabbing and reading that his injury could end his playing career, Spencer is motivated to make his doubters into believers. "I've read a lot of articles about myself not returning back to football," Spencer said. "And that bothered me. That bothered my family, and it's been a huge motivation for me. Everyday I wake up, that's my job. I'm here to prove people wrong. I'm going to do that everyday. I'm going to come to work and prove people wrong. I expect a full recovery. I feel good right now. I don't believe in getting into what other people think about this because only I can determine that and ultimately God." Spencer fractured his tibial plateau in the second game last season. The break has healed but the team is concerned about the cartilage around the knee. They will put Spencer into practice at the start of training camp to see how the cartilage reacts. Spencer is ready. "I read everything, and I use it every day for gas in my system. I cut everything out, and it's sitting in my office in my house. As long as they keep writing them, I'll keep putting them up. I've got a lot of anger. It's been a while so I'm a little excited to get back."
Raiders RB Michael Bush, the fourth-round draft pick out of Louisville who is recovering from a broken leg, is watching and paying close attention at organized team activities. "It's nice because I get to be a student of the game," Bush said. "I get to learn more plays, see how the guys move around, see the speed of the game. I like knowing they don't need me to step in, so I can just take my time, make sure I'm 100 percent healthy and get in there and play." Coach Lane Kiffin hopes Bush will be ready to practice with the team when training camp starts in late July.
Raiders WR Jerry Porter has been a standout at flanker in both minicamps and OTAs and his starting spot appears secure.
Redskins QB Jason Campbell apparently has had a tremendous offseason. Heading into a season as a starter for the first time, Campbell has been working with associate head coach Al Saunders and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor at Redskin Park so often that Saunders said the quarterback has almost become his son. "In the offseason, you try to put in a lot of work to help put yourself in position to be successful," Campbell said. "You're able to go through more of your progressions than you probably did a year ago because of the time and effort that you put in studying the plays. Coach Saunders and coach Lazor have done a great job of teaching me all the plays." Campbell's teammates see the changes. "We're light years ahead of where we were last year with Jason," said receiver Santana Moss, who'll host Campbell in a private clinic in Miami after next month's minicamp. "You have to understand last year when he came in and started throwing to (the regulars) late in the season we had had no reps with him. We didn't have the timing we wanted and we were trying to force him to do things that any quarterback would struggle doing. What Jason has done is make a lot of progress to where we want to go."
RB Clinton Portis, already recuperating from shoulder surgery last winter, has developed tendonitis in a knee. Portis flew to Birmingham, Al. on May 16 to see surgeon James Andrews about the knee. "Clinton's coming back from his shoulder and I think we are in pretty good shape there," coach Joe Gibbs said. "(But) he had some soreness in his knee. Last week it bothered him so we decided to have Dr. Andrews look at it just to make sure we are on the same page. That has held us up with his running."
Falcons WR Brian Finneran re-injured the right knee in which he tore his anterior cruciate ligament last preseason. Finneran, who missed all of last season, re-injured his knee while doing some light running at minicamp. The severity of the injury was to be determined be team doctors and an outside specialist this week but early indications are that Finneran could be lost for some time. If he re-tore or severely injured the ACL again, his career could be in jeopardy.
Eagles DE Jerome McDougle may be looking for a new home before the preseason is done. The Eagles had high hopes for McDougle when they traded up 16 spots in the first round of the '03 draft to take the University of Miami defensive end. But McDougle has been too often hurt and hasn't been productive when he's been healthy. He's still on their roster, but the chances of him making the team this year, particularly with the addition of second-round pick Victor Abiamiri, seem very slim. "I can only do what I can control, and that's go out there and practice hard," McDougle said. "I'm just trying to be in the best physical shape I can be in, make sure I'm healthy and keep doing what the coaches ask me." McDougle, who played sparingly last year even though he was healthy, has just two sacks in four NFL seasons.
Eagles DE Jevon Kearse reported to the Eagles' minicamp lighter than he's ever been in his career. The 6-4 Kearse, who sat out most of last season with a knee injury, claimed to be 245, but didn't look a pound over 230. His normal playing weight is about 260. Kearse blamed the weight loss on all of the cardio work he's been doing to get his knee right. He insisted he'll have his weight back up for the start of training camp in late July. "I feel like I need to be healthy enough to get on the field and play," he said. "My weight has never bothered me or stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do. I've got two more months until the season starts. So I'll be where I want to be."
Eagles WR Reggie Brown missed the final two days of the Eagles' three-day minicamp after suffering a knee contusion in a collision with cornerback William James. The Eagles insist the injury is minor.
Eagles TE L.J. Smith is entering the final year of his contract. The Eagles approached him about an extension a couple of years ago, but there haven't been any serious talks since then. "It's not in my nature to cry about anything," said Smith, who added that a training camp holdout isn't a consideration. Smith, who will make $920,000 this season, is the only returning full-time starter who isn't signed through at least the '08 season.
Lions OL Damien Woody said he weighed 338 pounds. That means he has lost 40 pounds this off-season but still has 23 to go to reach his goal of 315. He says he's eating a lot of fruit and vegetables. "I think the most important thing is, I feel good," Woody said. "I feel good about where I'm at and the direction I'm going. I'm just going to continue to work." He'd better. He is competing not just for a starting job, but for a spot on the roster.
Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis returned to the practice field this week after missing the start of the Organized Team Activities and all of the weekend minicamp due to a strained quad muscle. Mathis hurt his quad while participating in some of the activities leading up to the Pro Bowl in February in Hawaii. Mathis said he could have returned sooner, but didn't want to chance re-injuring it and stayed on the sidelines until he was fully healthy. "I felt good out there," Mathis said. "(I'm) trying to get back to one hundred percent. I don't know if I'm there yet, but I'm close to it."
Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich appears ready to have a strong 2007 season. In his first public action this offseason, during the Jaguars' recent minicamp, Leftwich looked trimmer, had good footwork in the minicamp drills and said all the right things when the media drilled him in his first press conference. "I don't know how much slimmer he is, but obviously he's been working," said coach Jack Del Rio about his quarterback, who elected to work out in south Miami with Fred Taylor rather than partake in the team's non-mandatory drills on their practice fields. "I think he's ready to have a big year. He has some weapons. I know he has coaches in Dirk Koetter and Mike Shula and those two guys are really excited about working with him and taking the passing game to another level. I think that excites him. I know it excites me."
Rams CB Jerametrius Butler has been a no-show for the team's entire off-season program and first two weeks of OTAs. "There's been no change," coach Scott Linehan said of Butler's status. Butler has three years remaining on a six-year contract offer from the Redskins the Rams matched when he was a restricted free agent in 2004. He is scheduled to be paid $2 million this year, and the original deal included a $4 million signing bonus. That prorates to $667,000 a year. If he were released on or before June 1, he would count $2 million against this year's salary cap. After June 1, he would count $667,000 this year, and $1.333 million in 2008.
Rams KR Dante Hall suffered a minor hamstring injury during OTA work May 15 and did not practice for the rest of the week.
Cowboys SS Roy Williams will play linebacker on some passing downs in an attempt to accentuate his strengths and hide his weaknesses. After watching the Pro Bowl safety struggle covering the deep middle last year, the Cowboys have been adamant about playing Williams close to the line of scrimmage as much as possible. Blitzing and making plays is considered his strength. "Some people call it a linebacker, some people call it a dime back," Phillips said. "Whatever. But he's not playing deep half or deep quarter or anything like that. He's playing short zone and blitzing."
Cowboys G Leonard Davis signed a $16 million signing bonus to join the Cowboys but he is still a work in progress. He is making the transition to guard after playing mostly tackle in Arizona. And he is not yet comfortable at the new position. "It's a difference in tempo," Davis said. "You are playing in space at tackle. Now I am playing in tight quarters. I need a little time. But I will get it right." The Cowboys and Davis believe he will be dominant when he gets it right. "Because guys have to take me on," Davis said. "Defensive tackles have to take me on, especially in the running game. They can't just jump around me. I can lean on guys more now. That is what I do best."
Seahawks Josh Brown has no problem being the Seahawks' franchise player. Sure, he'd like a long-term deal, but the $2 million franchise tender is good money for a kicker, or anyone. "Where else am I going to go at the age of 28 and somebody is going to guarantee me $2 million?" Brown asked. "Nowhere." Brown is coming off his finest season. His four game-winning kicks made headlines, but 12 touchbacks showed overall improvement. That figure matched his career total for three previous seasons. "I changed my leg speed to the ball," Brown said. "I felt in previous years I was getting under the ball and kicking it up. So, I just swing earlier, putting my leg in front of me. I don't have the 4-second-plus hangtimes but we're 3.8s and we're close and we're getting 8-10 more yards."