Tennessee Titans starting left guard Andy Levitre had his appendix removed on Thursday and could miss about two weeks as he recovers from the procedure.

The Titans report to camp Friday morning and hit the field for their first practice Saturday morning.

Tennessee has dealt with an offensive lineman and appendix surgery recently.

The team’s left tackle, Michael Roos, had his appendix removed on Monday Oct. 22, 2012, missed the team’s overtime home loss to Indianapolis the following Sunday and was back in the lineup for the next game.

In Levitre’s absence I expect reserve interior lineman Chris Spencer and rookie first-round tackle Taylor Lewan to see extra action at left guard.

Lewan will work primarily at left and right tackle, but the team looked at him a bit at guard during offseason workouts and is likely to do so again now.

Outside of Levitre, the Titans could be at full strength for their first practice.

Running back Shonn Greene missed the offseason after a second surgery on his knee but the team expects he returns ready. Defensive lineman Marcus Dixon also had a summer calf injury that should be resolved.
MANKATO, Minn. -- After weathering instability at quarterback for the better part of his seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson might be one of the more interested stakeholders in the Vikings' three-man quarterback competition during training camp. And as the Vikings reported to Minnesota State University on Thursday, Peterson had a simple message for coach Mike Zimmer: Pick a QB and stick with him.

"I felt like it was going to be very important for us [to stick with one quarterback]" he said Thursday. "Like I said, I feel like the coaching staff and the guys up top will evaluate and do what’s best for us. It feels good to know you have a couple guys to lean on, as well. It’s not a secret. The quarterback position really hasn’t played well, but that’s why you bring guys in, you improve as an individual and you try to take steps forward. From what I’ve been able to see from Christian [Ponder] and Matt [Cassel], those guys have done that and that’s the approach that they’re taking. That’s all you can really ask.”

The Vikings used three different starting quarterbacks during a tumultuous 2013 season, eventually settling on Cassel at the end of the season. Zimmer said on Thursday that Cassel enters camp as the No. 1 QB in his mind, but said on-field performance will determine the Vikings' eventual starter. Peterson also put Cassel at the head of the race, for now.

"I feel like we have three good quarterbacks right now," Peterson said. "Basing everything off OTAs and the minicamps, of course Matt Cassel is our guy. With Christian Ponder and [Teddy] Bridgewater, right there, I’m behind them, but those guys are looking good as well. I have confidence in our organization from the top to the bottom, the head coach. We’re going to do what’s best for our team and the best player will play at any position. I’m just excited to get started tomorrow.”

It's already been a busy month for the running back; he proposed to his girlfriend, Ashley Brown, on July 4 -- "an exciting and explosive night," Peterson called it -- and the two were married in a small ceremony on July 19.

"It was kind of funny because we were talking about going to the court and getting married and just did something more intimate at the house," Peterson said. "I only [had] like, 20 people and just the texts I’ve been getting from family members and my brothers, some of my brothers didn’t make it. It was supposed to be something small and do something later, but plans don’t always work out. I’m sure I’ll hear something from [teammates].”

As for a honeymoon? Peterson said that happened at the Starkey Hearing Foundation gala in St. Paul last Sunday.

"Met Forest Whitaker, Hillary Clinton," Peterson said. "John Legend performed, so it wasn’t bad at all.”

Colts camp report: Day 1

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
ANDERSON, Ind. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Indianapolis Colts training camp:

  • Receiver Reggie Wayne’s return to the field was met with plenty of enthusiasm from the 2,100 fans in attendance at Anderson (Ind.) University. Almost every reception Wayne made was met with an ovation from the fans who have waited since last October to see the future Hall of Famer back on the field. “Another day in the park,” said Wayne, who tore his ACL in Week 7. “This is what I work hard for. This is all the two- and three-a-days and rehabbing and stuff like that. This is what it’s about. Today felt pretty doggone good. They’re bringing the lefty on me, kind of taking me out a little early. I am just doing what they tell me to do. Other than that, felt like old Reggie.” Wayne only took part in half of the practice, as coach Chuck Pagano said they plan to closely monitor some of the players returning from injuries that knocked them out most of last season. “We want to stay the course, even if I don’t agree to it,” Wayne said. “I give Coach Pagano the first round, he won this first round. I wanted to come in and kind of slowly get my way into it. I did more than half of practice. I could have, I wanted to do the whole thing, but he pulled me out and said it was enough. We are just going to continue to build off of that.”
  • Practice was already in session when starting cornerback Vontae Davis and safety LaRon Landry made their way onto the field. The two did not take part in the first practice for “precautionary reasons.” This isn’t an ideal start for Davis and Landry because neither of them took part in the mandatory three-day minicamp last month due to injuries. Landry, who has yet to talk to the media since last season, was dealing with a soft-tissue problem and Davis didn’t participate because of a groin problem. Darius Butler lined up opposite of Greg Toler at cornerback and Sergio Brown played safety in place of Landry.
  • Linebacker Bjoern Werner quickly made his presence known as he works to lock down the starting position while veteran Robert Mathis serves his four-game suspension. Werner intercepted an Andrew Luck pass that was tipped by fellow linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. Werner took off running and then rewarded Jackson for tipping the ball by pitching it to him so that he could score the touchdown. Werner then tipped a pass thrown by backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Defensive lineman Cory Redding caught the tipped pass and scored the touchdown.
  • With Stanley Havili on the PUP list, Mario Harvey is working with the first-team offense at fullback. Yes, the same Mario Harvey who played linebacker for the Colts the past two seasons. Harvey made the switch to fullback during the offseason because the Colts have plenty of depth at linebacker. “We’re going to have live bullets flying now and like everybody else, we’re going to find out just exactly where he’s at,” Pagano said. “I know where he’s at from a physical standpoint, I know exactly what he can do from a special-teams standpoint, so I’ve got a good idea and a good feeling about him lining up and taking on linebackers and things like that. I don’t think he’s going to shy away from that.”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork knows he has a few more hurdles to clear before he's all the way back from a ruptured Achilles sustained last Sept. 29, but Thursday's first training camp practice marked another step in the right direction.

Wilfork, who appears to have shed weight, was a full participant for the complete non-pads practice.

"If I had limitations, I wouldn't be practicing. Right now, I'm on the field and I'm healthy," Wilfork said after the two-hour session. "I'm pretty sure there's going to still be some stuff that I may need to do, so 'so far, so good.' I'm not looking back. I'm looking forward."

It's a credit to Wilfork that he's made it to this point. As he pointed out in June, the stats aren't favorable for 325-pound defensive tackles coming off such a serious injury, but the rock in the middle of the Patriots' defense never doubted himself. The next step will be absorbing contact for the first time, as the team's first full-pads practice is scheduled for Saturday.

A few other soundbites from Wilfork:

On if the injury gives him a greater appreciation for the game: "I always appreciate the game, but being out last year, it just made me dwell on the things a little bit more and appreciate them a lot, lot more. You think about things a little differently now going through what I've been through -- my first time being injured. It's one of those things, I had a [bump] in the road and what am I going to do about it? With the teammates I have, with my coaches, with my family -- that's a big supporter of mine, my family -- just having somebody that you can talk to every day, come and work out every day and have guys surrounding you and just being able to comfort you when times get tough. Just having someone to talk to, I think this team does a real good job of that. Everybody just sending you a text or a phone call or just coming to your house to see how you're doing -- it went a long ways for me, and I really appreciate it from everybody."

On what he needs to prove: "I just have to prove I can come out and give my team what they need. Me as a person, I've never been a selfish player; I was a team player. If I wanted to be selfish, I could have been a shot putter. I've done that. I was a state champion shot putter, but it wasn't my thing. My thing was to be with teammates, a good group of guys, and we're all working toward one goal and that's to be able to win and push one another. That's why I chose football. For me to prove anything, no; I have to prove to my teammates they can trust me when the [game] is on the line. They have to do the same thing with me. It starts now. Camp is, that's the platform for everything. If you can [become] a better football team in camp, you'll be pretty decent."

On players competing hard in practice: "I think that's one of the biggest things that's going to help us as a team is when we come out and you see Tom Brady competing and getting pissed off that he threw an incomplete pass and you see Jerod Mayo or Darrelle Revis mad because somebody caught a pass; that's competition. The young guys look at that and say, 'You know what? For me to be successful in this league, I have to practice like that.' We have a bunch of guys that lead by example because they don't say much, they just go out and do it."
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Surrounded by media outside the cafeteria at Olivet Nazarene University on an unseasonably cool July afternoon, Chicago Bears safety Adrian Wilson wanted to say what was truly on his mind.

Instead, he kept calm when asked Thursday how it felt to miss the entire 2013 season.

“It was terrible,” Wilson said. “It was pretty bad. I really can’t describe it now because all of the cameras are in my face. The words I want to use aren’t words I can use on camera.”

But what the lenses might be able to catch once the team straps on the pads for workouts at training camp are flashes of sheer nastiness and physicality not seen in Chicago’s secondary since Mike Brown roamed it. Wilson says he’s ready. Bears general manager Phil Emery thinks he is, too.

But age (he’ll be 35 in October) and health remain concerns. Wilson missed all of 2013 after suffering an injury in the preseason finale as a New England Patriot, which was revealed to be Haglund’s deformity and required him to wear a hard cast for more than two months.

Wilson joined the Patriots after a 12-year tenure with the Arizona Cardinals, which released the aging veteran despite his five Pro Bowl selections and contributions in 181 career games.

When Wilson suffered the injury with the Patriots, it was believed the safety was in jeopardy of not making the team.

Yet in Chicago, for Wilson, there’s new life, provided he can stay healthy and consistently showcase the burst, superior instincts and athleticism he displayed back in June during the workout at Halas Hall which prompted the Bears to sign him.

“It’s an open competition back there,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “If he’s ready to go condition-wise in terms of on a daily basis and practice effectively, we’ll see where he’s at. We’re excited and hopeful that what we saw in the workout will transcend over the course of training camp.”

Wilson signed with the Bears after they had already conducted organized team activities and minicamps. So he didn’t participate in the team’s offseason conditioning program. To get Wilson up to speed, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and secondary coach Jon Hoke reached out, as did Jared Allen, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs, among others.

Wilson also got a hold of an iPad loaded up with Chicago’s defensive system, and crammed day after day, learning the intricacies of the scheme.

“Good thing they made iPads,” Wilson joked. “I missed pretty much everything [in the offseason]. So I got caught up with the iPad and I’m ready to roll. For the people that know me, they know how obsessed I am with just learning the ins and outs of the defense.”

There’s also an infatuation with disproving the naysayers. During his 12 seasons in Arizona, Wilson missed significant time only once (seven games in 2007 due to a season-ending heel injury). That’s partly why Wilson -- despite missing all of 2013 -- never doubted he’d return to action.

Now he’s in a wide-open competition at the safety position, as both spots are up for grabs.

“There’s no challenge, man,” Wilson said. “Football is football. I’m a guy who’s very prideful. I’m a little bit disappointed from last year. I don’t have any goals. I’m just going out there and competing with myself. I’m not competing with anybody. I’m just here to play football. I take a lot of the critics that said I can’t play, that it was a terrible signing by the Bears, and all the other stuff that’s being said. I use that as motivation for me.”

Will it be enough? That’s unclear at this point, but we’ll certainly receive at least an indication one way or another on Sunday, when the Bears participate in their first fully-padded workout of camp.

Emery talked about Wilson being a player that will “come down in the box and whack you, and whack you in space,” but also mentioned the veteran is “a very instinctive player; gets his hands around the ball and he gets around the ball carrier. He’s urgent and physical.”

The “physical” part is what Chicago has missed in recent years at the safety position, which is why the brass badly wants Wilson to succeed. Outside of Wilson, no other safety on the roster possesses the physicality to be an intimidating force on the back end.

“Mr. Emery gave me a chance,” Wilson said. “I think it’s low risk for them, high reward. I’m looking forward to the opportunity. Obviously, I think I still have burst. I think I can still play.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- This season can’t be the same ol’ story.

That’s what perennial Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, who has all of one playoff win to show for his outstanding 11-year career, said when the Dallas Cowboys arrived for training camp a couple of years ago. Or was it last year?

[+] EnlargeMajor Wright, Chris Conte
David Banks/Getty ImagesWill 2014 be the season that Jason Witten and the Cowboys charge into the NFC playoffs?
Unfortunately for Witten, the past few years really run together. Those seasons played out exactly the same – an 8-8 finish with the Cowboys falling short with the NFC East title and a playoff berth at stake in Week 17.

“We’ve just got to go show it,” Witten said. “We know what it takes. We’ve just got to have that breakthrough. The only way to do that is to work hard every day.”

What more can Witten say as the frustration mounts?

As always, Witten arrived at camp with a sense of optimism and a stronger sense of urgency. He’s confident that the Cowboys can play well enough to put themselves in position again to extend their season. He’s determined to find a way to perform better in those kinds of situations, well aware that he might not have that many opportunities left in his potential Hall of Fame career.

And there’s still that sickening feeling in his stomach, hunger pangs from a lack of playoff success.

“There’s no question there’s a lot of sleepless nights there, but really, nobody cares,” Witten said, referring to a lack of sympathy for the Cowboys. “Ultimately, you find ways to get to those games, you’ve got to find ways to play better. We got outplayed. Nobody is going to give you anything. You’ve got to earn it. This is a tough league. Nobody cares about last year. You move on, so we’ve got to be better.

“I think each of us has to look ourselves in the mirror. If you want to have that breakthrough, I think it takes a commitment. Hopefully those experiences, we’ll learn from it and be better because of it. I think we’ve got the right guys who will go do it, but it’s a long ways away. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

This isn’t a matter of want. Not for Witten, and not for any of his teammates, as he sees it.

The Cowboys wanted a winning season each of the past four years, but they got the longest playoff drought of Jerry Jones’ ownership tenure. The Cowboys worked hard, but that hasn’t been enough to punch their playoff tickets.

It’s about working their way into playing big games again and then finding a way to win the games that matter most.

“Never been a question of fight,” Witten said. “I think the mindset is just that those experiences, you understand that you have to play better. And that’s us as players. We’ve got to do that collectively. I have to do it and 52 other guys have to do the same thing.

“I don’t think the mindset’s any different from the approach [of recent years]. We’ve always done that. We’re a smart team. We’re tough. We fight. That’s the league we live in. It comes down to one, two possessions every game. We’ve got to work to find ways to win those games.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- People keep asking the same question: How will the New York Giants' new offense, under coordinator Ben McAdoo, look different from the old offense they ran for the past decade?

If the Giants get their wish, it's going to look very, very fast.

"We're pushing for 70 or more plays per game," Giants wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan said Thursday.

[+] EnlargeBen McAdoo
AP Photo/Seth WenigNew Giants coordinator Ben McAdoo is looking to speed up the pace of an offense that was among the slowest in the league last season.
In case you're wondering, that's a lot of plays. Last year's Giants offense -- admittedly, one of the worst in the league -- averaged 61.75 snaps per game. Only five teams averaged fewer. The Denver Broncos' record-setting offense, led by Eli Manning's brother, led the league with an average of 72.25 offensive snaps per game. The only other team over 70 was the New England Patriots at 71.12. Chip Kelly's famously high-octane Philadelphia Eagles offense averaged 65.88 offensive snaps per game, good for 13th in the league. The Green Bay Packers, of whose offensive coaching staff McAdoo was a part, averaged 67.12.

So plenty of questions remain about whether the Giants can learn all of the new schemes in time and whether they have the personnel in place to accomplish such a dizzying goal. But watching them practice, it's easy to see how they're trying to go about it.

"I'm still waiting for them to call up a huddle in practice," Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "The intention of this offense is to cause chaos."

Playing at a faster tempo is a boon because it can allow the offense to dictate the action to the defense. You can make your substitutions because you know what you're planning to run. But racing to the line and not huddling keeps the defense from having enough time to put the players on the field it thinks are best suited to stop what you're running. A faster pace could also help cut down on delay-of-game penalties. The Giants had seven of those last year, tied for the sixth-most in the league.

"We have the capability of running our entire offense through the no-huddle," running back Rashad Jennings said. "It's just a matter of how much we feel we need to use it per game, or how often the offensive coordinator feels we need to run it."

That pace, especially between downs, will put a premium on the ability of the players to communicate with each other and make sure they're all seeing the defense the same way.

"We have many ways to communicate," Jennings said. "Some of it is verbal, some of it is hand signals and things of that nature. And just being a student of the game, you understand down and distance and what you want to accomplish, and so it becomes second nature after a while."

The pace will be quick post-snap, too, as much of the offense is likely to operate near the line of scrimmage with a premium on getting the ball in the hands of playmakers and allowing them to do something with it. No longer will the passing game revolve around the deep ball, and on the ability of the wide receivers to choose the same read that Manning chooses from a complex pre-snap menu.

"On a couple of routes, you've got a couple of reads, but that's pretty much it -- about one or two reads," Jernigan said. "Not like the old offense, where we had three or four reads, reading the safeties and the corners and stuff. So it makes you play faster. Make one decision and go. Without a doubt, compared to our old offense, this offense helps you out. A lot simpler, nothing too confusing. Just basically run your route and go get it."

On the flip side, the running game could be more complicated than it used to be. You're going to see a lot more zone and stretch concepts than you've seen in the past, and if everything goes to play, the running game could change drastically from game to game, quarter to quarter or even drive to drive.

"It's different from last year, when we were very downhill-oriented, very iso, that type of thing," fullback Henry Hynoski said. "Don't get me wrong -- we have that in this offense. But there's a lot of outside stuff, a lot of zones, a lot of reading schemes as opposed to downhill. So that's where it changes up a little bit. It's a whole bunch of different things, and it really packs our arsenal with a lot of variety."

When they go to their stretch and zone concepts, the Giants will ask their running backs to dictate the action, making choices about where to make their cuts and when to break upfield. The idea there is, once again, to dictate the pace of the game to the defense.

"We have options every time we touch the ball," Jennings said. "We get to set up the tempo. We set the edge of where we want the defenders to actually hit, how the offensive linemen are blocking ... all of it's moreso in our hands as far as our angles."

The Giants want opposing defenses confused, and tired, and wondering what they're going to do next. It's a lot to take in, and they're still early in the process of learning and practicing it all. It may be the kind of thing that takes time -- and maybe more roster moves next spring -- before they have it down perfectly. But there's a chance it clicks right away and things change immediately for the better. They can't get worse than what the Giants put out there on offense last year.

"If it's anything like we see it on film of where Coach McAdoo has been in the past, and if we can instill some of that in our offense with our personnel, it can be a very high-powered offense," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "We just all have to buy in and understand the playbook, and that starts here in camp."
From the beginning, there always seemed like a demarcation line of concern when it came to the ongoing contract discussions with Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Even though he switched agents this offseason and there always appeared to be something keeping negotiations between Suh and the Lions from progressing, there was optimism the two sides would come to a deal by the time training camp started.

Training camp begins Monday with veterans reporting Sunday. And now colleague Chris Mortensen is saying a team source told him the team is not optimistic about reaching a deal by the start of camp.

With it, the Lions can officially become concerned about whether or not Suh will be with the team beyond this season. Suh has seemed like a player who would not want to have contract discussions during a season, especially if he is now potentially playing for a new deal either with Detroit or elsewhere.

It would behoove the Lions to say they would not negotiate during the season. Doing so gives a timeline for any real negotiations and eliminates what would otherwise be a constant distraction for a franchise needing to minimize them at every possible cost.

This leaves Detroit and the Suh’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, with two potential windows to hatch a deal -- if there is even the true desire to do so: Either between the start of training camp and the beginning of the season, or between the end of the season and the start of free agency.

If the Lions were smart, they would push to not have Suh play out the season with free agency looming. Another huge season from him and he may want to test free agency no matter what, just to see what he could command on the open market as one of the top players at his position.

Either way, the concern about Ndamukong Suh is now real and it should lead to an interesting few weeks as a sidebar to Detroit’s training camp.

This also sets up one of the worst-case scenarios for Detroit when it chose to decline the fifth-year option on fellow defensive tackle Nick Fairley. If Suh does not get a deal done, there is a real chance the team could lose their first-round picks from 2010 and 2011 after 2014.

It would decimate the interior of a defensive line the Lions built around the past few seasons.

Of course, the Lions can keep Fairley around by either tagging him or re-signing him if he has the season Detroit is hoping for.

None of this is to say Suh is wrong at all. He has every right to have his agent negotiate the best possible deal for him considering the finite nature of his profession. It is exactly what Suh is paying Sexton for.

But if Suh really wants to be in Detroit and really wants to help the Lions turn into a winning franchise, he would push his agent to finish a deal before Sept. 8, when the Lions play on "Monday Night Football" against the Giants.
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- On the first play of the first team drill, Geno Smith took a three-step drop and zipped a short completion to Eric Decker. And so it all began -- the pseudo quarterback competition and the season that Rex Ryan expects to stretch beyond December.

On the first day of training camp, everything seemed possible for the New York Jets. It always looks and feels better when the quarterback plays well.

"I think Geno looked better than I've ever seen him," wide receiver David Nelson said Thursday.

It was only one practice, and things can change in a hurry (as we saw last summer), but the Jets swear Smith is a different player than the wide-eyed rookie who coughed up the football through much of last season. They say he looks and sounds more confident in the huddle. Nelson went so far as to say Smith "(knows) it's his team." Smith wasn't ready to go there just yet, saying, "I don't look at it like that. I love the confidence my guys have in me."

My guys? Sure sounds like he's taking ownership. Of course, Mark Sanchez kept saying the same thing last summer, and look how that turned out.

"Coming into this year, I'm a lot more confident in my reads and my footwork, and delivering the ball a lot stronger and a lot more accurately -- all good signs of progress, but we have a long way to go," Smith said. "I have a long way to go."

For the record, Smith took the first four first-team reps. In came Michael Vick. By the end of the practice, the split was 13 for Smith, four for Vick -- pretty much the ratio offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had outlined recently. For the stat geeks, Smith completed seven of 10 passes in team drills, with no turnovers.

In case you haven't noticed, this is Smith's job to lose -- even if Ryan won't put it in those words. Asked if he agrees with Nelson's assessment, that it's Smith's team, Ryan did a little spinning.

"I consider it our team," he said. "Do I consider it Geno's team? Yep. I also consider it Michael Vick's team. And my team. Everybody's team."

Barring an injury or an utter meltdown in the preseason games, Smith will be the opening-day starter. Even Vick has acknowledged the handwriting on the wall. In a way, training camp is Smith vs. Smith, not Smith vs. Vick. So far, Smith is winning. He's acting like the starter, according to Nelson.

"I see that when he's in the huddle, I see that whenever he's calling plays," Nelson said. "I see the way he has ownership and command over the offense."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers are taking the cautious approach regarding Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy, who was found guilty July 15 on domestic violence charges.

Instead of disciplining Hardy after a Mecklenburg County judge ruled him guilty of assaulting and communicating threats against his ex-girlfriend, the team jumped in line with the NFL and will await until the appeal is heard before deciding on potential discipline.

The hearing won't be heard until after the season.

In other words, the Panthers will get 16 games of Hardy playing for his next contract with the chance of never having to discipline him if he signs with another team in 2015.

That doesn't mean the Panthers aren't taking Hardy's situation seriously. General manager Dave Gettleman began a Thursday news conference as players reported to training camp by saying Hardy's situation was "very concerning and disappointing.”

[+] EnlargeCarolina's Greg Hardy
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsThe Carolina Panthers have no immediate plans to punish Greg Hardy after his offseason domestic violence arrest.
He referred to the accusations made by Nicole Holder in reference to the May incident that led to Hardy's arrest as "very serious accusations.”

"At the same time we respect the fact that Greg has appealed the decision and is entitled to a jury trial,” Gettleman said. "We have been in touch with the league and we're in the position where they have the personal conduct policy, which we are a part of. At the same time, we have to respect the legal process. Really, that's basically where we're at.”

And according to Gettleman, referring to reports that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice will be given a two-game suspension by the NFL for a similar offense, the league doesn't plan to do anything until Hardy's jury trial has been completed.

"What I can say is, and you can see it with the Ray Rice decision, it appears the league is going to let the entire process play out,” Gettleman said.

An NFL spokesman told ESPN.com on Thursday that the "matter remains under review” and that "any discipline will result from a violation of the league's Personal Conduct Policy.”

But if the Panthers wanted to take a hard line, they could have. They could have suspended or fined Hardy for actions detrimental to the team, just as the Miami Dophins suspended Richie Incognito for accusations made during the investigation into his harassment of teammate Jonathan Martin.

Hardy and his representatives likely would have filed a grievance, but the message would have been sent.

The league also could have taken action against Hardy. Under the NFL's code of conduct policy, a player can be suspended if he isn't charged or convicted of a crime.

Still, a grievance likely would have been filed.

In Rice's case, the Pro Bowl running back pleaded guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault involving an altercation that reportedly left his then-fiancée unconscious. He avoided a trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program.

The league, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter on Thursday, opted to suspended Rice for the first two games of the season and fine him $58,000, as well as ask him to take counseling.

There is no finality to Hardy's situation. Hardy was sentenced to 18 months probation with a 60-day jail sentence suspended. The probation sentence was placed on hold until after the jury trial.

But the accusations made by Holder that Hardy threatened to kill her and threw her on a futon covered in guns could be viewed as detrimental to the team. It's certainly not the image the Panthers want associated with the player that led them in sacks (15.5) last season and earned the franchise tag that guarantees him $13.1 million in 2014.

As Gettleman said, "we constantly talk to our players about putting themselves in a position to succeed, both on the field and even more importantly in life.”

Granted, this is a tough spot for Gettleman and the Panthers. Because of the appeal, it is an issue that will hang over the team all season, even though players repeatedly said it won't be a distraction.

"It's something the team and [Hardy's] group will handle,” said tight end Greg Olsen, echoing the thoughts of other players brought in for interviews. "That's really the end of it as far as the players are concerned. I've seen him already today. He seems excited to be here. I'm sure he's ready to kind of move into the season, and as teammates, that's the nature of the game.

"It's completely separate from what we're doing here, and that's the approach we take.”

Gettleman did allow that Hardy's off-the-field troubles didn't have an effect on his contract, as the team didn't sign him to a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline for franchised players. In other words, the Panthers were happy to have Hardy for $13.1 million and playing for another deal.

Gettleman wouldn't speculate on whether Hardy's situation will have an impact on signing the former Ole Miss star to a long-term deal after the season. At this point, it's hard to imagine Hardy being at Carolina after this season.

Gettleman, not making light of the situation, actually laughed when asked to speculate that far ahead.

His repeated comment was: "We have to let the process play out.”

"Obviously, everybody has to deal with this,” Gettleman said. "It's not an easy situation. But it's in the courts and we have to respect that process. Just have to."

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There has been sweeping criticism since news broke Thursday that Baltimore running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games after he allegedly knocked his then-fiancée unconscious this offseason.

Two games? That amounts to losing Rice to a tweaked hamstring.

But the sole argument shouldn't be that the NFL was too easy on Rice. It's also a fact the league hasn't been harsher on domestic violence issues in the past.

Rice's punishment only falls in line with the league's disappointing track record on this issue.

[+] EnlargeRice
Rob Carr/Getty Images"My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident," Ray Rice said in a statement.
There's a precedent for first-time offenders like Rice. Many first-time offenders don't get a suspension of any kind, and many get suspended for less than a month if they are disciplined. In the past three years, only 12 players received more than four-game suspensions, and all violated league policy multiple times.

What worked in Rice's favor is Janay Palmer standing by his side in court, at his debacle of a news conference in May and at his face-to-face meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Palmer even married Rice a day after he was indicted by a grand jury in March on third-degree aggravated assault.

This isn't being an apologist for Rice. Goodell simply followed form.

"I believe that you are sincere in your desire to learn from this matter and move forward toward a healthy relationship and successful career," Goodell said in a letter to Rice.

Goodell certainly could have delivered a stronger message with Rice and made an example out of him for the rest of the league's players. But if Goodell had suspended Rice for eight games or the entire season, it would be difficult to see that punishment sticking.

Rice would have undoubtedly appealed a harsher suspension because no first-time offender of domestic violence has ever received such a punishment. He could cite two former Ravens, Fabian Washington and Cary Williams, who were suspended a combined three games after being charged with domestic violence. Rice could point to the discipline handed out to wide receiver Brandon Marshall in 2008, when the Denver Broncos wide receiver was suspended only three games (later reduced to one) after multiple domestic disputes.

Rice's punishment goes beyond the suspension and fine. It includes the tarnishing of his reputation. For six years, he had worked hard to build his character in the locker room and the community, becoming the spokesman for the area's anti-bullying campaign.

Now, Rice will be forever linked to domestic violence. Opposing fans won't let him forget about it whenever he walks into another team's stadium. Even fans in Baltimore will have trouble looking at Rice without thinking about that TMZ video in which he dragged Janay out of the elevator.

"As I said earlier, I failed in many ways," Rice said in a statement. “My goal is to earn back the trust of the people, especially the children, I let down because of this incident. I am a role model and I take that responsibility seriously. My actions going forward will show that.”

Domestic violence isn't isolated to the Ravens or Rice. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune database, 21 of 32 teams last year had a player on their roster who had a domestic or sexual violence charge on their record.

Perhaps until the league changes its sorry track record on this issue, it will continue to be a widespread problem in the league.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Speaking like he knows something is in the works, Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy believes his team will be heading across the pond at some point soon to play in one of the NFL's International Series games.

But Packers' ticket holders need not worry. Murphy said the team would not give up a home game to play overseas.

That sets up a possible 2016 game in London. The Packers are scheduled to play at the Jacksonville Jaguars that season as part of the divisional rotation. That also is the final year of a four-year agreement that calls for the Jaguars to play one home game per season in London.

When discussing NFL games in London, Murphy told the 14,759 who attended Thursday's shareholders meeting that "I anticipate that the Packers will probably play there in the coming years."

Murphy reiterated that the Packers would never agree to give up a home game, which brings an estimated $13.5 million in revenue into the NFL's smallest city.

"It's too important for the community," he said. "But I would be excited about having the chance to play in London.

"I think our fans here would love to travel to London, and I think it'd be a great experience. We'll see. There's only certain teams that play home games in London, so those kind of have to match up. The other issue, quite honestly, and I think we've talked about this before, is that we travel so well that teams are reluctant to give up a home game against the Packers to play in London because it’s typically a guaranteed sellout."

Murphy said the league entertained the possibility of sending the Packers to London in 2012 to play the St. Louis Rams, but the Rams' opponent ended up being the New England Patriots.

"They didn't want to move the Packer game to London because they knew our fans would travel so well to St. Louis," Murphy said.

This year, there are three games scheduled in London: the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins in Week 4, the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions in Week 8 and the Dallas Cowboys and Jaguars in Week 10. All three will be at Wembley Stadium, but Murphy said the league is exploring other venues in England.
OXNARD, Calif. – Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr is not with the team at the beginning of training camp to deal with what coach Jason Garrett described as a “family health situation,” on Thursday.

“We’re just going to communicate with him as he’s dealing with the situation,” Garrett said. “We’re going to give him some time to take care of it.”

Carr was in London last week to help promote the NFL’s three games this season at Wembley Stadium. Garrett was not sure when Carr would arrive in Oxnard for practice. Last year safety J.J. Wilcox missed roughly two weeks of training camp after the death of his mother.

Linebacker Rolando McClain returned to Decatur, Alabama, on Wednesday night because he has a court case on Friday. A judge denied McClain’s appeal to delay a trial stemming from an arrest in 2013. Garrett said the hope is McClain would return Friday and be on the field on Saturday.

The Cowboys placed defensive end Anthony Spencer and guard Ronald Leary on the physically unable to perform list on Thursday, but the expectations for their returns to the field couldn’t be more different. Garrett said the Cowboys do not expect Spencer to practice soon, while the hope is Leary, who suffered a hamstring strain during the player-run conditioning test, can start practicing on Tuesday.

Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye was placed on the non-football illness list and will be evaluated by his doctors in two weeks.

It remains likely that Spencer will not be ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 7 against the San Francisco 49ers.

“He’s made a lot of progress since he’s signed back with us,” Garrett said. “He’s been such a good player. He’s a really good athlete, so I’m optimistic enough that he’s going to heal quickly. I know how hard he’s working at it and we’ll just evaluate it day by day, week by week and try to integrate him back in there as quick as we can.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Brett Favre is worried about getting booed when he returns to Lambeau Field -- which he claimed this week he is not -- Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy perhaps sent a message to fans on Thursday when he essentially asked them to treat the legendary quarterback with respect whenever he returns.

That return still could happen this season.

"I'm very hopeful that when he does come back that he will be fully, fully supported by our fans," Murphy said Thursday following the team's annual shareholders meeting. "I'm confident in that. In terms of when he would come back, we've had ongoing discussions with him, very good relations. We are talking about bringing him back for a game this year. We had discussions last year about bringing him back for a game; those were not fruitful, but we're hopeful we can get him back for a game this year."

If Favre does come back this season, it would not be to have his jersey No. 4 retired. Although Murphy said he hopes to have that done before Favre is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, a return this season would only be to attend a game.

Murphy, who said previously this offseason that both Favre and the team were concerned about how he would be received upon his return, said he read Favre's most recent comments during his appearance Monday on ESPN 1000 in Chicago.

"I guess I'd say kind of stepping back from it, and you were all here, that was a very emotional time for the Packers," Murphy said, referring to the summer of 2008 when Favre unretired and was traded to the New York Jets.

"I think as time goes on, the emotions are passing and cooling down, I really hope, and I think we have the best fans. There's not anything close in terms of other fans across the league. I think they're going to look back and they're going to see the entirety of what he did, not just the last few years when he played for the Vikings. First of all, I don't know if there's, arguably the best or one of the best players in the history of the Packers. Probably had as big of an impact on the organization as anybody in the history of the organization."

Murphy also said he would like to see Favre go into the Packers Hall of Fame before he's inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, for which Favre is eligible in 2016. Former Packers president Bob Harlan, who is on the board of the Packers Hall of Fame, has been working closely with Favre on his induction.

"Bob and I have worked together on it," Murphy said, "particularly as it relates to his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame."

Long arrives at ONU

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long's absence lasted just one day.

The 2013 first-round pick arrived on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University around lunchtime Thursday, one day after the rest of the team reported to training camp, and told reporters he is recovering from a viral infection that is expected to sideline Long through the weekend.

"I was pretty sick and run down this past weekend, but I'm feeling better," Long said before entering the ONU dining hall.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said Wednesday that Long will be re-evaluated at the beginning of next week.

No official timetable has been set for Long to start practicing, but right tackle Jordan Mills believes the Pro Bowl right guard will return in short order.

"He's going to be fine. He's tough," Mills said. "He hates that he wasn't here to see everybody yesterday."

The Bears ran their annual conditioning test Thursday morning, which consisted of three, 300-yard shuttles.

Safety Craig Steltz (groin surgery) passed his conditioning test and is optimistic he'll practice Friday when the Bears hold their first workout open to the public at 9 a.m.