Whether because of injuries, contract disputes or other reasons, big-name NFL players continue to make news this offseason. See what's going with the more recognizable names in the league.
Vikings LB Chad Greenway has not missed a workout during the Vikings' Organized Team Activities and minicamp and appears to be completely recovered from the left torn anterior cruciate he suffered in the first exhibition game last season. "I've been extremely impressed," Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said of Greenway's progress. "I wasn't here last year when he got injured, but I see no effects. It's just been amazing, the way that he runs around and twists and turns and jumps.
Vikings WR Maurice Mann, who missed three practices during the Vikings' minicamp because of tightness in his hamstring, was waived.
Vikings CB Antoine Winfield attended the mandatory minicamp but continued to stay away from the OTAs this week. Winfield clearly isn't happy with the organization and it appears his biggest objection comes with the direction of the team. Winfield has made it clear he will be at training camp.
Vikings NT Pat Williams sat out a couple of the OTAs last week to rest his knees. Williams said his knees especially benefit from not practicing when the Vikings work on the turf in their indoor facility.
Vikings Third-round CB Marcus McCauley has been seeing extensive time with the first team because of Antoine Winfield's absence.
Dolphins QB Daunte Culpepper said Friday that he will no longer practice with the Dolphins and wants his release. Culpepper walked off the practice field Friday when told he wouldn't be receiving any meaningful snaps with the offense, which stems from the Dolphins trying to trade him and avoid the chance he could re-injure his surgically-repaired right knee. The Dolphins are ultimately expected to release Culpepper, as he has publicly stated a refusal to restructure a contract that calls for a $5.5 million base salary in 2007. The refusal to renegotiate essentially scuttles the possibility of a trade elsewhere.
WR Bethel Johnson, who signed with the Eagles in March, was released because he couldn't pass a physical while recovering from a stress fracture in his leg. There's a possibility the Eagles could re-sign Johnson when he becomes healthy. But right now, second-year man Jeremy Bloom, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, appears the top candidate for both the punt and kickoff return jobs.
Bears QB Rex Grossman has spent plenty of time on his footwork this offseason. The Bears' coaching staff is convinced that most of Grossman's problems, and a lot of his 20 interceptions, were the result of throwing off his back foot or falling off his throws rather than stepping into them. So, throughout the off-season program, Grossman has worked with new quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton on stepping up in the pocket, which the team believes will result in stronger, more accurate throws while also enabling Grossman to occasionally pick up a few yards with his feet when no receivers are open. Grossman has been concentrating on holding the ball with two hands further back toward his right shoulder in order to keep his weight on his back foot as he sets up to throw. "We're trying to get everything (to be) muscle memory so I don't think about keeping two hands on the ball or stepping up, it just comes naturally," Grossman said. "Pep Hamilton's been great and I'm excited that he's here working with me."
Saints WR Robert Meachem, the team's top pick in the draft and the 27th overall selection, had to undergo arthroscopic surgery on June 5 to repair meniscus damage in his right knee. Meachem, who was slowed by extra weight during a rookie minicamp in mid-May, had shed the weight by the time the full-squad minicamp started. But he sat out the last of five practices after his knee flared up on him. An examination on Monday revealed cartilage damage to the knee that Meachem had surgery on at the University of Tennessee which caused him to miss the entire 2003 season. The Saints say this surgery was not as serious and expect him to be ready for the start of training camp in late July. "It's something that we felt like we could have managed and at the same time, just with the soreness he had, we thought it was better to quickly go in and clean it up," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Meachem. "It's something that, when his rehabilitation is over, won't be a lingering issue," Payton continued. "It will be something that can be 100 percent and cleaned up. We just felt better about the time frame for rehabilitation in four to six weeks, rather than going through this camp, and risk missing the start of training camp."
CB Asante Samuel skipped the Patriots' recent mandatory minicamp. On the eve of the camp the fifth-year veteran made his feelings and growing displeasure with contract negotiations with the Patriots more than clear. "I'm not coming to camp," Samuel told The Boston Globe. "I'm not showing up until the 10th week (of the season). I feel unappreciated. The way they are treating me is just wrong." If and when Samuel does report to the Patriots he's scheduled to earn the $7.79 million cornerback franchise tender for 2007, quite a jump from the approximately $2 million the former fourth-round pick has earned in his first four years in the NFL. But after tying Champ Bailey for the NFL lead with 10 picks last season, and adding another two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the postseason, the 26-year-old Samuel knows his value may never be higher than it is right now.
QB Trent Green, who was traded from the Chiefs to the Dolphins in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick that could become a fourth-rounder, is not yet running with the Dolphins' first unit. Green, though, quickly flashed his talent to his new teammates by lofting a perfect 30-yard strike to wide receiver Chris Chambers during an 11-on-11 drill toward the end of the session. "My mindset is to be a starter and I still feel like I can play at a high level," Green said at his introductory news conference. "I still feel like I've got a lot of football left in me. ... If I had that mindset, I would have stayed in Kansas City because that was a role they wanted me to take." Upon joining the Dolphins, Green inked a new three-year deal. Financial terms were undisclosed.
Dolphins WR Ted Ginn Jr. was described by coach Cam Cameron as "90-plus percent" healthy at the team's recent minicamp, which is good news for a team that originally was concerned about not having his services until training camp. The No. 9 overall selection in April's draft, Ginn worked as Miami's first-team punt returner during a Friday morning session and is expected to handle the same role on kickoffs as the early-entry junior makes the adjustment to playing wide receiver at the NFL level. "I felt great," Ginn said. "I went out there and I did my thing."
Packers WR David Clowney became the first of the Packers' 2007 draft picks to sign when he inked a four-year deal worth $1.67 million in base salary. No word on his signing bonus.
Packers DT Justin Harrell, the Packers' first-round draft choice, has yet to be cleared for team drills this offseason. The medical staff is being overly cautious with Harrell, who missed most of his final college season because of a ruptured biceps tendon. Harrell likely will be limited to individual drills until training camp starts in late July.
Packers WR Robert Ferguson (foot) and safety Marviel Underwood (knee), who are fully recovered from serious injuries sustained last year, also probably won't get the green light until the dawning of training camp.
Raiders QB Andrew Walter recently underwent athroscopic knee surgery but should be ready for training camp. The week before coach Lane Kiffin announced Walter had surgery, he had praised the quarterback for his improvement during a media session at an organized team activity. But Walter, Kiffin said, had been struggling with a bum knee for quite awhile and finally decided to do something about it. "It was something that happened at the end of preseason last year and he played through it," Kiffin said. "It was something that had not been nagging him then all of a sudden it had been."
Bengals CB Johnathan Joseph suffered a foot injury and had surgery on it on June 6. Joseph was expected to recover in time to resume practice at the start of training camp July 26, coach Marvin Lewis said. "He will be in a cast or boot for a while," Lewis said. "He should be ready to go at the start of minicamp without his shoe."
Browns C LeCharles Bentley has delayed his decision to have what would be season ending knee surgery. Bentley signed a six-year, $36 million contract in March of 2006. He could not wait to put on the pads and play for his hometown team after four years in New Orleans. The dream ended when Bentley was injured on the first play of training camp. Bentley has been working out in Arizona and Columbus, where he played while at Ohio State. He did not participate in the Browns offseason program. General manager Phil Savage said the Browns could carry Bentley on P.U.P. and wait until October to make a decision if Bentley does not have the operation yet is not ready for training camp or the start of the season.
Packers RB Brandon Jackson, after missing the mandatory minicamp in May because of a required promotional appearance in Los Angeles for top rookies, has been sidetracked again. Jackson suffered a knee injury during the second week of the team's organized team activities in early June. Head coach Mike McCarthy didn't let on that the injury is serious and was hopeful to have the second-round draft pick back on the field when the OTAs resumed June 11.
Cardinals QB Matt Leinart attended nearly every off-season workout and practice. He did not throw well early, coming back from a late-season shoulder injury that did not require surgery. "I was more confident and comfortable as practices went by," he said. "The biggest thing as you learn a new offense is trust, because concepts are the same but routes may be run differently and the landmarks might be different. So we really have to trust each other and that's something we've built in the last month."
Patriots WR Wes Welker was one of the standouts during New England's minicamp. The 5-9, 185-pounder, who was acquired from the Dolphins via trade this spring, showed tremendous quickness, solid hands and underneath playmaking ability that should see him catch plenty of balls this fall as opposing defenses focus on big-play threats like Randy Moss and Donte' Stallworth. "Wes has killed us the last few years as a Dolphin, so it's nice to get him out of Miami and have him in a Patriot uniform," Tom Brady said. "He's got great quickness, and he's very smart. He's been great to have around. He works extremely hard and sets a great example." Often compared to versatile Patriot Troy Brown, Welker showed that type of versatility by going 1-of-2 on field goal attempts to close out New England's final minicamp practice. Fans might remember that Welker actually kicked against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium as a rookie for the Dolphins in 2004. He filled in for an injured Olindo Mare hitting a 29-yard field goal and his only PAT attempt while also handling Miami's punt and kick return chores and kickoff duties in a 24-10 loss.
Ravens LT Jonathan Ogden, who did not practice during the mandatory minicamp, said that the big toe on his left foot that he hyperextended against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 17 would take four to six months to heal. Coach Brian Billick said the organization was aware of Ogden's health status. "We had no anticipation of him being ready for OTAs (organized team activities)," Billick said. "Just being around here, we appreciate that Jonathan's here, but our expectations were for him not to be ready to go until training camp, and we may very well adjust that first week of training camp to make sure that we've got a firm footing underneath him."
CB Jerametrius Butler was signed by the Redskins two days after getting cut by the Rams. Butler signed with Washington on June 7 and immediately took part in that afternoon's Organized Team Activity practice. The Redskins had signed the restricted free agent to a six-year, $15 million offer sheet in March 2004, but the Rams matched it, to their chagrin and Butler's.
Browns PR Joshua Cribbs, who has set franchise records for kick returns each of the last two seasons, has emerged as the leader to take over as the team's punt returner. His main competition is coming from rookie receiver Syndric Steptoe. "If Josh can do it, it would be a real bonus for us. If he can't, we have a number of other guys who have been fielding them that are capable of doing it. We drafted Steptoe. Eric Wright can field punts. Antonio Perkins can field punts and has done it successfully in college. We have about six guys that are back there working on it everyday."
Steelers OLB Lawrence Timmons has attended all the offseason meetings but a groin injury has prevented him from doing anything on the practice field. The injury occurred in his first practice in Pittsburgh, May 11. He tried to practice early in June, but stopped because the injury bothered him. "He's impatient," said Steelers linebacker coach Keith Butler. "On the other hand, Lawrence has a conceptual knowledge of pass defense. I want to see him when they get in pads because everyone looks good in shorts. When we get him in Latrobe we'll find out a lot about him." Timmons, though, doesn't even look good in shorts because he's been unable to do anything. It's the second straight year Pittsburgh has gone through spring drills without the availability of its first draft choice. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes missed all last spring except for a minicamp because Ohio State's trimester did not end until after the Steelers finished their Organized Team Activities.
Texans DE Jason Babin has looked good this offseason. Coach Gary Kubiak is excited about what he's seen from Babin this offseason. Babin led the team in sacks last year with five, but he struggled to become comfortable in his role in the 4-3 defense. Babin was drafted to be an outside linebacker in the 3-4. Last season, he shared time with Antwan Peek as a situational pass-rusher. He will assume the same role this season, but with Peek no longer on the team, Babin will have more opportunities to be a playmaker. "Take a player like (Jason) Babin, he was a D-end in college and they made him an outside linebacker and we moved him back to D-End," Kubiak said. "I'm really excited about what I've seen from him this offseason. I see a different player, a hungry player that plans on having a big year."
Giants WR Amani Toomer, a 12-year veteran who missed the final eight games last season (knee surgery), is working tirelessly on his rehab and comeback. But he can't help but notice the Giants' attempt to overload the position with last year's second-round pick Sinorice Moss and this year's second-round pick Steve Smith poised to take playing time.
Seahawks OL Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack had arthroscopic surgery on both knees but is expected to return in time for training camp.
Seattle DE Patrick Kerney (pectoral surgery) was held out of drills during the first week of minicamp.
Jets LG Pete Kendall impasse with the Jets continued, as the veteran skipped the Jets' final week of voluntary practices. Kendall, who will be 34 by opening day, is set to make $1.7 million this season. Kendall's agent, Neil Schwartz, said his client would attend the Jets' upcoming mandatory mini-camp and Mangini said he anticipates Kendall doing that.
Lions WR Roy Williams didn't practice much during organized team activities because of a pulled hamstring he suffered in the mandatory minicamp. "It's pretty good, but I can feel it still," Williams said. No need to push it. "We want to be really smart," coach Rod Marinelli said. "The last thing I want to do right now at the end of this thing is aggravate a guy's injury, and then you get him in the off-season and he's trying to heal up."
Bucs RB Cadillac Williams attributes his sophomore slump to some of the struggles the Bucs suffered at quarterback. But he said he never lost confidence. "I'm the type of player who never doubts his talent, but there were times when you know you are pushing so hard, trying so hard, and the results are not following. Then you get frustrated and have a tendency to do things that you normally wouldn't do -- just pressing. Once Chris (Simms) went down, teams kind of loaded the box on us," Williams said. "Teams were determined to not let me beat them. That was tough. It was definitely different from my rookie year, but it's good that I went through something like that. Now, I'll be better prepared for years to come."
Formers Rams DT Jimmy Kennedy was traded to the Broncos for a sixth-round pick in the 2008 draft.
Rams WR Torry Holt (knee) will be eased in to training camp this year. Holt is entering his ninth season and turned 31 on June 5. He had arthroscopic knee surgery early in the off-season and skipped the Pro Bowl. Said coach Scott Linehan, "He made a big commitment. He missed the Pro Bowl because he wanted to accelerate his rehab. He's at a point in his career where we've got to manage it and make sure he's able to finish a long, grueling season."
Rams LT Orlando Pace, coming back from a torn triceps suffered during the 2006 season, took some limited reps with the first unit in the team part of practice. Pace and defensive end James Hall, who was sidelined by a shoulder injury while with the Lions last season, have both been cleared for contact work.
Cowboys LB Greg Ellis, unhappy with his contract and with the recent drafting of his presume replacement -- LB Anthony Spencer, has indicated he may take his time coming back from his left Achilles injury. "I don't have a lot of options," Ellis said. "The ball is pretty much in (owner Jerry Jones') court. I can just go out there and do what I can do -- take care of Greg Ellis. If my ankle isn't 100 percent, it's better for me not to go out there -- hence I don't do the mini-camp and if training camp comes up and I'm not 100 percent, then I don't go out there. I don't go out there until I'm 100 percent, because Jerry has let me know, don't come out and fight for nothing, because I'm not going to look out for you."
Cowboys OT Flozell Adams underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will be sidelined until training camp. Adams had experienced knee swelling the past two weeks It must be noted that this is the same knee that Adams suffered a torn ACL in 2005. However, team trainers said Adams should be fine by training camp.
Falcons WR Brian Finneran still has not decided on a course of action to treat his damaged left knee. Finneran, who tore the ACL in the knee last preseason and missed the 2006 season, re-injured the knee during a mid-May minicamp, when he was doing some rehabilitative running. Coach Bobby Petrino said Finneran likely will have to have a surgical procedure in the near future. No projection on his possible return, if at all, has been provided.
Falcons TE Alge Crumpler has not participated in mini camps or OTAs while rehabilitating his arthroscopically repaired knee. He might be available for the team's voluntary mini camp June 19-21 but the coaching staff might not push him to return so he could be available when training camp starts in July.
Falcons NT Grady Jackson appears to be moving closer to reaching a resolution with the Falcons after suing the team this spring for allegedly releasing private medical information to the media following a free-agent visit before he signed with Atlanta before the 2006. Jackson has been working out with strength and conditioning coaches but he hasn't taken the field during organized team activities.
DT Sam Adams signed a one-year deal with the Broncos. Terms were undisclosed. "Obviously everyone knows what he's done," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's a part of our football team now. It'll be interesting to see what kind of shape he's in now and how he'll contribute." Adams weighted about 345 pounds for his first minicamp practice, about five pounds less than he was last season. The Broncos want him at about 335 pounds, and Adams said he could get down to that weight.