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Re: News Around the NFL
AP reports Cleveland Browns OT L.J. Shelton will report to the Browns passing camp as soon as possible, perhaps as early as Monday, June 6, according to his agent Eric Metz. With OT Ross Verba boycotting the passing camp, Shelton could get immediate work as the starting left tackle. "It's up for the Browns to disclose their plans for him," Metz said. OT Ross Verba responded to the team's signing of OT L.J. Shelton by asking the Browns to cut him. "That's great," said Verba when informed Friday, June 3 about Shelton. "Now they have a left tackle and hopefully they'll cut me. Please cut me now!" Verba has been threatening to sit out the season without a new contract. Browns general manager Phil Savage has already said that he has no plans to redo Verba's deal. "They obviously don't want to pay me what I'm worth, so why don't they just freaking cut me?" Verba said by phone. "They don't even return my agents' phone calls. To be disrespected like that is total B.S." Verba said he'll be happy to stay in Cleveland if the Browns give him the money he deserves. "If not, I'm man enough to walk away with my head held high."
AP reports injured Cleveland Browns TE Kellen Winslow Jr. made his first public appearance since his motorcycle crash, and his father used the occasion Friday night to lambaste the media for its coverage of the accident. The 21-year-old Winslow tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee when he wrecked his high-powered motorcycle May 1 while doing tricks in a secluded parking lot near his home. He will miss all of next season. Winslow Jr., who missed 14 games as a rookie with a broken right leg, will undergo surgery in the next few weeks. Shortly after arriving at an auction and roast celebrating the Browns' 1964 NFL championship team, the former first-round pick, who didn't limp, said he didn't want to talk to waiting reporters. "No," he said politely. "I'm good." Kellen Winslow Sr., who drove his son to the event and escorted him into the hotel, initially said he would not comment, either. However, a few hours later, the Hall of Famer changed his mind. The former San Diego Chargers star angrily accused the media of turning the younger Winslow's accident and recovery into a spectacle. "I'm disappointed in the way you guys have handled it. Twenty-one-year-old people make mistakes," he said. "He made a mistake. You made it a circus. Remember when you were 21? A human being at 21 makes mistakes. He's not a piece of property." Winslow Sr. was asked if he expected his son to make a full recovery. "It's a long career," he said. "I played nine years in the National Football League. Technically, I played six years - two strikes, two major injuries and I came out OK. We look at it as a long-term career.
AP reports Green Bay Packers rookie QB Aaron Rodgers has been up and down with his performances at the team's current minicamp. He's already gotten plenty of chances to show what he can do at quarterback because QB Brett Favre was excused from minicamp. Although he enjoyed a few bright spots, it was mostly an uphill battle as Rodgers did his best to display his physical tools despite having a very limited grasp of Green Bay's complicated system. "He's overwhelmed by the offense," head coach Mike Sherman said. "You have to understand our offense is an accumulation of a lot of years, and we're constantly challenging a 15-year veteran with our offense and everybody else has to learn what he knows. It's a lot of stuff." At practice Friday, June 3, he struggled at times throwing downfield, held onto the football too long other times and also fumbled after pulling away from the center too quickly. Rodgers has a long way to go if he wants to come out of training camp as the team's No. 2 quarterback.
AP reports contract talks between the San Francisco 49ers and rookie QB Alex D. Smith have broken down and the two sides do not appear close to a deal. A person familiar with the situation said that Smith's agent, Tom Condon, is "taking a moon shot" in trying to land Smith a deal even more lucrative than the one the Giants gave last year's No. 1 overall pick, QB Eli Manning. Both sides are doing their jobs, but it does not look as if it is going to be an easy contract to get done.
AP reports the Tennessee Titans would like to add a veteran, free agent tight end to their roster. One player it won't be is free agent TE Ken Dilger (Buccaneers). His agent said he doesn't see Dilger playing for Tennessee.
AP reports free agent LB Peter Boulware (Ravens) completed his visit with the Seattle Seahawks Friday, June 3. The Seahawks want him to fill the pass-rushing role that LB Chad Brown used to fill. Whether or not Boulware sees himself in that role will be a key to his signing with Seattle or walking away from Seattle. Boulware departed to discuss his options with his agents, Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes. Joining the Seahawks is appealing to Boulware because it would provide him with the opportunity to play with his younger brother, S Michael Boulware. Boulware also has visited the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns, and drawn interest from several other teams.
AP reports Rams S Adam Archuleta, who ended the '04 season with a herniated disc in his back, was cleared to participate in mini-camp practices and took part in both workouts Friday.
AP reports Carolina Panthers LB Dan Morgan is excited about the team's defense for the 2005 season. Morgan said that he expects the Panthers' defense to play better than it ever has, even better than in 2003 when it ranked eighth overall in the NFL and helped the Panthers get to the Super Bowl. "The way I think we're looking on defense right now I think we can dominate every game, no matter who we're playing or how good the offense is that we're facing," Morgan said. "I just think we've got that kind of defense. I think it's going to be hard to score on us. I think we're going to have a real good defense." Morgan took time to discuss the positive changes in the secondary and acknowledged the defense looks good all across the board.
AP reports Denver Broncos RB Quentin Griffin (knee) is working with the team on a limited basis daily. He continues to get back to speed from the torn ACL incurred last October 25. "He's just starting to come back," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's just been practicing the last day or two; he's starting to get a feel for things. He's not in any team drills, but he's in individual drills. I should say that by July camp, he should be back to full speed."
AP reports New York Giants WR Plaxico Burress wants to be used as a downfield threat and from he's seen so far in minicamp that should not be a problem. "We definitely have plays in our playbook that get me downfield," the team's newest starting receiver said after the conclusion of a three-day minicamp in which he regularly went deep. "I would say that was one of the reasons they brought me here." Burress feels QB Eli Manning has the strongest arm of anyone who has thrown him passes. "I have a lot of faith in him and confidence he's going to be one of the great ones," Burress said. Coach Tom Coughlin said Burress brings a "very different look."
AP reports the Bucs cannot sign another player, including their draft picks, without cutting someone. They are expected to cut a couple veterans to make room on the roster and salary cap for those draft picks. The Bucs' payroll is currently $2.049 million under the league's $85.5 million cap. They have been allotted $6.037 million for their draft picks, so they need to create approximately $4 million of cap space to sign them. Todd Steussie, Charlie Garner, Matt Stinchcomb and Kenyatta Walker are among the players who could be cut as the Bucs attempt to clear that space.
AP reports Friday morning's practice, the first of a pair of two-hour workouts on the first of three days of mini-camp at Rams Park, marked the unofficial kickoff for HC Mike Martz's sixth season as head coach. It was a mediocre beginning, he said. "Overall, I thought it was OK," he said. "We're not as sharp in any of the phases that we need to be, but it's the first practice of the '05 season. At least we've got a starting point." In attendance but not participating as they recover from surgery were OL Adam Timmerman, OL Grant Williams and rookie OL Richie Incognito. OL Scott Tercero became dehydrated in the morning session and sat out the second practice.
AP reports Bills RB Willis McGahee has missed the first two weeks of organized team activities. Like several other former University of Miami players, he is working out at his old school where the training program is considered very rigorous. His agent said that McGahee will join the team for next week's OTAs. Also missing as the week ended were Eric Moulds, Travis Henry, Lawrence Smith, Uyi Osunde, and Aaron Schobel. Remaining out with injuries were Mark Campbell, Tim Euhus, Kevin Thomas, Kahlil Hill, Ben Sobieski, and Ross Tucker.