Training Camp Roundup: Aug. 19


When the Philadelphia Eagles introduced Michael Vick last Friday morning, team owner and chairman Jeffrey Lurie expressed not only a desire but a demand for the controversial quarterback to become an "agent for change." The initial phases of this process have started to take place.

Plans for Vick to make a Philadelphia-area anti-dog fighting appearance in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States are currently being discussed, a source familiar with the situation told Brian Seltzer of 950 ESPN Radio in Philadelphia. The arrangements seem to be close to being finalized. The Eagles organization is also involved in coordinating this event.

Presently, Vick's anti-dog fighting advocacy via the Humane Society is national in scope. There have been no official announcements yet that he's formed partnerships with local animal welfare groups.

"We believe we'd be an ideal target [for outreach]," said Gail Luciani, chief public relations officer of the Philadelpiha-based Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Luciani added, though, that the PSPCA has not yet been contacted by the Eagles.

-- ESPN.com news services


Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill expects to hear from the NFL now that he has been charged in Georgia with misdemeanor marijuana possession stemming from a January traffic stop.

Hours after the league suspended New York Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis for one game and fined him $100,000 this week following a marijuana arrest last fall, Hill had already taken notice.

Hill was recently charged by the solicitor general in Douglas County, Georgia, for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It is Hill's first known offense, as it was for Ellis.

Hill is still waiting for his punishment from the NFL, he just doesn't know when it will be delivered.

"Yes, we will review this case," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday. "Under the policy, we can take action prior to disposition in some circumstances, but typically we wait in cases such as this when it is a first offense with no aggravating circumstances."

Hill's attorney said Wednesday that the Seahawks can expect to lose Hill for some time during the season while he attends a trial.

"We're contesting the charge 100 percent," Macon, Ga.-based attorney Reza Sedghi told The AP in a telephone interview.

-- The Associated Press


The Oakland Raiders have signed safety Rashad Baker and waived fullback Lorenzo Neal.

Coach Tom Cable says the move Wednesday to cut ties with Neal, who signed with the Raiders in May, was made because of the progress Oren O'Neal has made in his rehab from season-ending knee surgery a year ago. Cable says O'Neal will likely be the starter and there was no place for Neal on the roster.

"Im just preparing for where we need to be as a football team, really, and what we thought we have, and whether that was enough and all that," Cable said. "So it was time to go in a different direction there."

Baker played 10 games for Oakland last season before signing with Philadelphia this offseason. He was cut earlier this week.

Also, receiver Chaz Schilens underwent surgery on a broken bone in his left foot Wednesday and is expected to miss four to six weeks.

-- The Associated Press


Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard passed his physical and was taken off the non-football injury list by the New York Giants on Wednesday.

Bernard, who signed a four-year, $16 million contract as a free agent in the offseason, hurt his hamstring while working out on his own after the Giants' minicamp.

Because the injury happened away from team supervision, the Giants placed him on NFL instead of physically unable to perform. Had Bernard not been able to play, the team would not have to pay him.

Also returning to practice on Wednesday were receiver Steve Smith (knee) and cornerback Corey Webster (hip).

Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce (sore foot) and safety Kenny Phillips (sore knee) missed the evening workout.

-- The Associated Press


The Buffalo Bills have waived Ryan Neill, who's been the team's long snapper for the past two seasons.

The move indicates that Garrison Sanborn, an undrafted free agent out of Florida State, has won the job, since he's the only other long snapper on the Bills roster.

The Bills also announced Wednesday that they've signed undrafted rookie free agent linebacker Solomon Elimimian. Terms were not disclosed.

The 5-11, 225-pound Calabar, Nigeria native was named the Western Athletic Conference co-defensive player of the year in 2008. He was a four-year starter for the Hawaii Rainbows.

-- The Associated Press


Rookie offensive lineman Jason Smith cooled his heels until late in the second quarter of the St. Louis Rams' preseason opener. That could change Friday against the Falcons.

The second overall pick of the NFL draft out of Baylor may get to start because fellow offensive tackle Alex Barron has missed recent two practices with knee soreness. It's also evidence that he's making progress.

Smith refuses to lobby for a promotion with new coach Steve Spagnuolo or gripe about waiting on the sideline for so long, aside from a few special teams snaps. He's willing to prove he's worth the five-year, $62 million contract he signed the day before training camp opened.

If he plays well in the second preseason game, Smith said working against Leonard Little and James Hall in practice will be a major reason. He's also had to adjust to a three-point stance after playing in a spread offense at Baylor, but said dealing with speed has been tougher.

"I feel I'm pretty much ready for what the NFL has to offer because those two guys are very, very crafty," Smith said. "Mr. Little and Mr. Hall, they kind of crack jokes about what they're going to do to you next -- and then they do it."

-- The Associated Press


Locked in a heated Browns quarterback battle with no end in sight, Derek Anderson is staying cool.

A former Pro Bowler competing with Brady Quinn to be Cleveland's starter this season, Anderson has maintained a carefree, no-sense-worrying-about-things attitude during camp. While Browns fans fret over coach Eric Mangini's impending choice as his No. 1 QB, Anderson is relaxed.

Following practice on Wednesday, Anderson was asked, if in a perfect world, how much would he like to play in Saturday's exhibition game against Detroit.

"The world's not perfect," he said.

After coming off the bench in Cleveland's exhibition opener at Green Bay, Anderson may get the start Saturday night against the Lions. Mangini has not yet declared his starter for the preseason matchup and said Wednesday he may wait until the end of the week to announce his decision.

As for the bigger decision on who will start the Sept. 13 season opener against Minnesota, Mangini said he's in no rush to pick a winner in his quarterback derby.

-- The Associated Press


Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma won the Stanley Cup less than five months into his NHL coaching career. He'd like to win another one, so he sought advice from a team that knows how to repeat as champions: the Steelers.

This is the first time the Super Bowl and Stanley Cup champions are residing simultaneously in the same city, so Bylsma took advantage by huddling with coach Mike Tomlin at the Steelers' training camp Wednesday to swap ideas and study the ways of a champion.

"It's great to have the opportunity to come here and watch how they're doing things, watch what they do, how they approach training camp, to chat about how they're dealing with the season after a championship and what they think their mentality is," Bylsma said. "It's something we would like to try to learn from and what they're going through."

This was much more than a social visit. Bylsma asked Tomlin and director of football operations Kevin Colbert numerous questions about how the Steelers won two Super Bowls in four years, and how they deal with the season following a championship.

-- The Associated Press


Jerry Jones could have just renovated Texas Stadium. Or he could've built the Dallas Cowboys a nice, new place for about $650 million.

He wanted one of the biggest and the absolute best, something that would establish a new category of sports venues, like the Astrodome did decades ago and, in his wildest dreams, the way Rome's Colosseum did centuries before.

Nearly $1.2 billion later, Jones believes he might have done it.

The list of features is a roll call of first-this and biggest-that. The most stunning are the video boards, a pair of high-definition screens that run from 20-yard line to 20-yard line and are 25 yards tall, each the equivalent of more than 2,000 52-inch TVs.

Other highlights include a retractable roof and retractable walls on both ends; bars that seem plucked from five-star hotels; museum-caliber artwork; field-level suites with patios pratically bumping into the sidelines; a club players can walk through from the locker room to the field; and mingling areas for tens of thousands of fans who buy a $29 "party pass" instead of a regular ticket.

But the stadium isn't merely a ballpark, a point emphasized by the first event being a concert. And not just any concert, it was an unprecedented double-bill for the king and queen of country music, George Strait and Reba McEntire. The Jonas Brothers kicked off their current tour here, Paul McCartney was playing Wednesday night, and U2 is coming next month.

Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys will get their turn Friday night in a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. Fox is broadcasting it nationally, certain to make the building the star of the show.

-- The Associated Press


Erik Ainge used to be the big man on campus, a star quarterback at the University of Tennessee with a rifle arm and a bright future.

Entering his second season with the New York Jets, Ainge is merely a third-string bystander -- a forgotten man of sorts -- while hotshot rookie Mark Sanchez and veteran Kellen Clemens compete for the starting job.

"I understand what my role is on this date, right now, and I'm going to accept that, but I won't be satisfied by it," he said. "I'm not at all content with that. I want to try to beat these guys out."

That's not going to happen out of training camp, of course, with Ainge not even in the conversation. But he's looked solid this summer and secured the third-string job with a nice performance in the preseason-opening loss to St. Louis last week.

"We have a super No. 3 quarterback, that's what he's shown me," coach Rex Ryan said. "Could he be a No. 2 or a starter in this league? Probably."

Ainge was 10 of 17 against St. Louis for 148 yards and a touchdown, a 50-yard toss to David Clowney that put the Jets ahead briefly in the fourth quarter.

-- The Associated Press


Tom Brady could get another chance to take a hit on his surgically repaired left knee. Carson Palmer will likely not even throw a pass with his rehabilitated right elbow.

Brady heads into the New England Patriots' exhibition game with the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night after throwing two touchdown passes in his return from a knee injury suffered in last year's regular-season opener.

Palmer's 2008 season ended after he played in four of the first five games and he also put up good numbers in his first exhibition game. He hurt his left ankle in that 17-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Friday night, was limping Monday and told ESPN's Bob Holtzman, "I'm not playing Thursday."

He wore a protective boot after the game for what coach Marvin Lewis called a mild to moderate high ankle sprain.

Brady is more likely to play Thursday, although Patriots coach Bill Belichick adhered to his usual policies of not discussing potential playing time and praising the opponent.

-- ESPN.com news services


The Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive starters are expected to play about one quarter against Washington on Saturday night, or about the same amount of time they were on the field against Arizona.

"We'll see how many snaps we get," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Wednesday. "We shoot for 15 snaps."

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ran two series as the Steelers beat the Cardinals 20-10, or enough time to go 4-of-6 for 33 yards. Backup Charlie Batch threw only two passes, while No. 3 quarterback Dennis Dixon went 10-of-19 for 112 yards while playing the final 2½ quarters.

If the Steelers' starters are limited to one quarter at Washington, it's likely they will play until halftime only during the Aug. 29 home game against Buffalo.

-- The Associated Press


Peyton Manning looks around, sees all those new faces in the huddle and realizes it's almost like starting over. There's a new left tackle, a cadre of young receivers and an old guard coming back.

To the three-time league MVP that can mean only one thing -- it's time to get to work Thursday night against Philadelphia.

"I think we kind of played a lot less than what we thought we were going to play on Friday," Manning said, referring to last week's preseason opener for the Colts, a 13-3 loss to the Vikings. "They told us 12 plays and we got six. I think one thing that's important -- I think our coaches realized this after some of the older guys kind of made the point -- this is a new starting unit."

So there's a lot to learn, and last week's results were not encouraging. Manning was sacked three times in the Colts' opening six-play series and was concerned that he didn't get another to work out some of the kinks.

Coach Jim Caldwell responded Wednesday by announcing the Colts' starters would get about 20 plays this week.

"We'd like to maintain some drives and get some different situations, get some calls, get some checks, and just kind of jell a little bit as a unit, because it's not the same old starters," Manning said. "I think it's important that we get some of that timing and rhythm and cohesiveness, I guess, as a unit in these next couple games."

-- ESPN.com news services


Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini is keeping his starting quarterback for Saturday's home exhibition opener -- and beyond -- a secret.

Mangini declined to say Wednesday whether Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn will start at quarterback against the Detroit Lions. It would appear to be Anderson's turn after Quinn started last week's game at Green Bay. Mangini says he wants to wait until the end of the practice week before announcing his starter.

Mangini says he has successfully balanced the reps between Anderson and Quinn during training camp, and doesn't feel any urgency to tab his starter for the regular-season opener against Minnesota on Sept. 13.

Mangini said he is most concerned about making the "right decision, not the quick decision."

-- The Associated Press


Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley and defensive end Phillip Daniels missed practice Wednesday but coach Jim Zorn expects both to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night.

Cooley had spasms in his lower back. Daniels was rested after having fluid drained from his left knee. He injured the knee on the first day of training camp a year ago and missed the entire season.

Second-year offensive tackle Devin Clark left practice with a sore knee.

-- The Associated Press


New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who left camp Sunday to attend his mother's funeral, missed the Saints' first practice against the Houston Texans.

Veteran Mark Brunell filled in for Brees in the 90-minute practice Wednesday morning. Saints coach Sean Payton says Brees will be on hand Wednesday afternoon when the teams conduct the second of three planned joint practices.

Mina Brees, an attorney in Austin, died Aug. 7 in Colorado. Her memorial service was Monday night in Austin.

Brees practiced Sunday morning and he has said that he plans to play against Houston on Saturday night.

-- The Associated Press


The Indianapolis Colts will hold six starters out of Thursday night's preseason game against Philadelphia.

Two of the starters, former NFL defensive player of the year Bob Sanders and kicker Adam Vinatieri, have not yet practiced.

Safety Antoine Bethea and defensive back Raheem Brock will not play because each has a broken hand. Cornerback Kelvin Hayden is out with a hamstring injury, and defensive end Robert Mathis is out with a bruised thigh.

Also missing the game will be backup quarterback Jim Sorgi and tight ends Gijon Robinson and Tom Santi.

The Colts also re-signed guard Tom Pestock and waived offensive lineman Corey Hilliard.

-- The Associated Press


Dane Looker was pounding in the final nail for a new deck at his home in Seattle a few days ago when the call came: Get on a flight. You're going to Detroit.

The 33-year-old wide receiver arrived Sunday, signed on Monday and was catching passes from Daunte Culpepper and Matthew Stafford by Tuesday. Looker also was running plays designed by Scott Linehan, his head coach with the St. Louis Rams and his offensive coordinator at the University of Washington.

Looker became a free agent after catching 23 balls for 271 yards and two TDs last season and wasn't re-signed as the Rams decided to go with younger wideouts.

"I spend a lot of time at the lumber yard and doing projects around the house," he said of his time off. "You have a lot of time when you're building decks, when you're pouring foundations, you have a lot of time to do some thinking -- contemplating the rest of your life and wondering if you're going to get an opportunity to play football again."

-- ESPN.com news services


If rookie cornerback Chris Owens makes the Atlanta Falcons' Week 1 roster, he can thank the three scrambled eggs topped with cheese and fresh fruit he had for breakfast every morning in camp.

No, that's not a joke. Owens faces a huge mental and physical overload on the field and in the meeting room and says a steady daily routine -- from the same breakfast to the same bedtime -- plays a big part in his success.

"Every day it's something different on the field and in the meeting room, but I have a routine that helps me a lot," he said. "Waking up, eating the same thing for breakfast and then going to bed at a certain time, all that helps me max out a routine."

Despite the heavy workload at left corner and special teams, Owens is enjoying himself. "I'm on kickoff coverage, kickoff return, I'm the gunner on punt and I'm the hold-up guy on punt return," he said Tuesday with a big smile. "It's more fun than I can explain."

To average fans, it might seem more glamorous to line up opposite Steve Smith or Randy Moss in man coverage, but Owens knows his new coaches expect much more. Especially since he's competing with a pair of veterans in Von Hutchins and Brent Grimes for the starting left cornerback position vacated by Domonique Foxworth.

"The capacity of information they give you, mentally and physically, is taxing," Owens said. "But what makes this so exciting and fun is that, in another way, it's easy. I love the game, and that's what I do. If you love the game, it's easy."

-- ESPN.com news services


If contestants on "The Biggest Loser" are looking for inspiration, they need look no further than Washington Redskins camp, where offensive lineman Mike Williams has shed pounds prodigiously.

Williams weighed in this week at 339 pounds, according to The Washington Post -- a loss of 111 pounds in six months.

"We're just chopping it on down, and it's easy to do it in this kind of weather," Williams said, according to the report. "In six months, yeah, man, I guess that's pretty good."

Williams, who had not played since 2005, is dealing with an abdominal strain that he aggravated in last week's preseason opener, according to the report. But he's practicing and plans to play Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But he sprained an ankle Wednesday and was expected to miss Thursday practice as well.

"It's something you've got to navigate through," Williams said of the abdominal injury, according to the report. "We go out there and do as much as we can, go back up there to the training room and heal it up as much as we can and push it again. Sooner or later, it'll break. Once you get some time to rest it'll heal. You just need to let it settle down, but not now."

-- ESPN.com news services


Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards had a hard time in 2008 with dropped passes. But he says the would-be touchdown pass that slipped through his hands in the Browns' preseason opener at Green Bay should not be seen as a harbinger of drops to come, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

"Not really," Edwards said, according to the report. "It's just part of football. I felt good in the game for the most part. Just making sure I felt good and felt healthy, that was the biggest thing I was concerned about. That felt good. That said, I feel good about this game and the rest of the season."

Edwards said the drop in the Green Bay game came because he left his feet. "I jumped the gun," he said, according to the report. "It is what it is. I think we're making too much here about that play."

"Nobody's perfect," he added, according to the report. "At the end of the day, you strive to be. What drives you is what drives me, to be the best at what I do. When I drop a pass, I'm [ticked] at myself. I wish I could catch everything no matter where it was or what I have to do to get to it. That's just not reality. The thing you can control is the focus and the concentration."

-- ESPN.com news services