With players showing up for minicamps (or not) around the league, some of the recognizable names from the NFL are making news once again.
Falcons WR Brian Finneran is expected to have surgery in the next few days to repair damage sustained to his left knee while he was rehabilitating the joint after missing last season following a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The nature of the injury has not been disclosed and coach Bobby Petrino did not give a projection of a time frame as to when Finneran will return, if at all.
Atlanta NT Grady Jackson, after sitting out of most offseason drills in a legal dispute with the team, began strength and conditioning training at team facilities last week. The ice-breaking development appears to signal that headway has been made in the resolution of a lawsuit Jackson filed, claiming the team divulged private medical information to the media last season when Jackson, then a free agent, took a physical for the team.
Bengals QB Carson Palmer is not wearing his familiar brace on his surgically-repaired left knee. "I'll definitely be wearing it for games. But in (offseason practices with no contact), if I'm not going to get hit, there's no need to have it on," Palmer said.
Cincinnati RB Rudi Johnson was on the field in street clothes. He did not practice Friday but was expected back on the field Saturday. Johnson said he suffered food poisoning on his last day of a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Chiefs DE Jared Allen was absent from OTAs on Wednesday, though coach Herm Edwards did not offer an explanation. "He'll be here Friday," Edwards said. "There are a couple of guys that are not here today but I anticipate all of them to be here Friday." Allen, a restricted free agent who asked for a trade earlier this offseason, once said he would not attend OTAs if the Chiefs did not re-do his contract. Kansas City hasn't, but Allen showed up anyway.
Jaguars WR Mike Walker has turned some heads with his receiving in the team's practice sessions and at the recent minicamp. Even though he's been limited at times with some leg ailments, Walker has shown enough speed and good hands to figure in on the Jaguars' passing plans for the coming season. "Every time I asked someone about the NFL, they said the biggest difference is the speed of the game," Walker said. "I can see it. It's fast. The quarterback has only so many seconds in the pocket. I have so many seconds to get my route off. The speed is the big difference." Walker suffered a knee injury at the end of the 2005 season, causing him to miss the final two games that year. But he came back strong as a senior, catching 90 passes for 1,178 yards and seven touchdowns. His average of 98.2 yards receiving per game was the second best total in Conference USA and ranked as the seventh highest mark in the nation.
Raiders WR Mike Williams, who sustained a hamstring pull during his first and only practice at the mandatory minicamp following the draft, still has not returned to the playing field. Coach Lane Kiffin said initially the injury did not appear serious, but apparently found out differently once he got together with the training staff. "We knew it was a serious hamstring," Kiffin said. "It was not something that just happened real quick. It was very serious. And actually the first thing we heard was even longer than what we hear now. So we think he's getting pretty close."
Raiders OL Robert Gallery continued to work at left guard, with no announcement that the move will last into training camp. "We're not playing a game today or tomorrow," Kiffin said. "We're worried about getting better and finding out the best five (linemen) and what position they're going to play. We're going to continue to try a lot of different situations."
Chargers TE Antonio Gates has been getting a look at wide receiver. "He runs the routes so well; he can run all the wide receiver routes," coach Norv Turner said. "It's something that we want to incorporate. How much we do of it depends on who we're playing and how they're playing us."
Packers QBs Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers were given the green light to participate in all phases of practice during organized team activities, which began May 30. Favre and Rodgers were held out of team drills during the mandatory minicamp May 18-20, as they continued to recover from medical setbacks. Rodgers suffered a broken left foot during a game last November in relief of an injured Favre. Meanwhile, Favre underwent surgery on his left ankle in February. Head coach Mike McCarthy is having Favre take part in nine of the 12 OTA practices, which are spread out until June 18. Favre, 37, hadn't thrown a football since the end of last season until the minicamp, when the team kept him on a "pitch" count. "He's full go. He's in excellent shape for this time of year," McCarthy said. "He just anticipates so well (with his throws), and those are valuable reps for the younger players." Top backup Rodgers said he's experienced no ill effects since resuming on-field work a month ago. The team's top draft pick in 2005 has been sharp with his passes and is throwing the deep ball with regularity and precision. "I don't feel like I'm 100 percent yet, as far as mentally," Rodgers said of the recovery from the injury. "Just feeling 100 percent to where I have confidence (with the foot) where I can just take off whenever I want, I'm really close. I don't ever really think about it, but I'm just not quite all the way there." Rodgers will get ample work running the No. 1 offense in the OTAs.
DE Aaron Kampman probably won't be cleared until the start of training camp. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in April and has yet to participate in any offseason workouts on the field.
WR Robert Ferguson was expected to be cleared for on-field work at some point in the ongoing organized team activities, which run until June 18. Ferguson missed all but the first four games last season because of a foot injury.
LB Abdul Hodge also is being targeted for a return in training camp. Hodge hasn't fully recovered from a knee injury that dogged him most of last season. Hodge, though, didn't require surgery.
Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck appears ahead of schedule in his shoulder rehabbing at the team's first minicamp, though he concedes it's a lengthy process. "It is mostly throwing ... getting my arm into throwing shape," Hasselbeck said. "That will be the hardest thing, much like a starting pitcher. There's another component to it; that's a lot of running and agility work and being able to avoid tackles and get first downs ... being quick and explosive and that kind of stuff, and I am nowhere near that. So, I have a lot of work to do."
Jets C Nick Mangold sat out both voluntary practices that the media was allowed to watch because of an undisclosed injury, possibly to his back. Mangini said that Mangold had participated in earlier voluntary practices.
Jets CB Darrelle Revis, a first-round draft pick, fumbled a twisting Ben Graham punt, and had to run a lap for his error. It's one of Mangini's ways of hammering home the importance of ball security. "You just have to catch it and you won't have to run a lap," Revis said.
Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons continues to watch OTA practices from the sideline. Timmons, a linebacker from Florida State taken with the 15th overall pick, injured his groin in his first minicamp a month ago.
Titans WR David Givens only recently stopped walking with the help of a cane and said he hopes last year's serious knee injury, which required a second operation not long ago, said his goal is to play at some point this season. There appears to be no chance he practices in training camp or plays opening day.
Bears RB Cedric Benson is the undisputed lead dog in the Bears' running game, but he doesn't feel any pressure to convince anyone that the team made the right move in trading away Thomas Jones, the starter the past three seasons. "I don't feel like I've got to show anything," Benson said. "I think I just need to go out there and be me and be the best that I can be out there. That's the reason why they made the trade (involving Jones). I don't believe they had any doubts that I wasn't going to go out there and do my best." Benson has shown glimpses of becoming an elite back in his first two seasons, especially late in 2006. The 5-11, 220-pounder gained 432 yards and averaged 4.9 yards over the final seven games after rushing for 215 yards and averaging 3.1 yards in the first nine contests.
Lions WR Roy Williams didn't participate in the first voluntary practice after Memorial Day. Coach Rod Marinelli was visibly angry when reporters grilled him about it, repeating that the practice was not mandatory. "It's not mandatory," Marinelli said. "How many times am I going to say that?" What reporters didn't know was that Williams had returned to practice the previous week after suffering a slight hamstring pull in minicamp, and he returned to Detroit later than planned because he had problems with a connecting flight.
Bills DT John McCargo, who underwent a second surgery on his broken ankle in early winter, continues to work out on his own in anticipation of being ready for training camp next month. He is making good progress.