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Saturday, July 23, 2005
Johnson has surgery

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Philadelphia Eagles: Punter Dirk Johnson likely will miss all of training camp and possibly the start of the regular season.

The two-year veteran, coming off a standout 2004 season, underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia injury Friday. Recovery time for such procedures typically is about six weeks, so there is a chance that Johnson might not be ready for the team's opener at Atlanta, on Sept. 12.

For now, Mark Mariscal, 25, who has been in previous training camps around the NFL but never punted in a regular-season game, will move to the top of the depth chart. But the Eagles might also seek a veteran punter for camp and apparently are considering Sean Landeta as a possibility.

A 20-year NFL veteran, Landeta, 43, had one tour of duty with the Eagles (1999-2002) during his long career. The Packers have also been in touch with Landeta in the event second-year punter B.J. Sander falters, as he did in camp last summer.

Johnson, 30, posted a 42.1-yard gross average and a net average of 37.4 yards in 2004. The net average was the sixth best in the league. He also had 20 kicks inside the 20-yard line, just six touchbacks, and limited opponents to an average return of only 6.5 yards.

-- Len Pasquarelli

New Orleans Saints: Eight-year veteran linebacker Derrick Rodgers, who finished the 2004 season on injured reserve and underwent February surgery for a bulging disc in his back, has been released. Given his age, medical status and the depth the Saints have at the position, the move was not unexpected.

Saints officials felt Rodgers, 33, would not be fully recovered in time for the beginning of camp Friday, and New Orleans has several young players who had moved ahead of Rodgers on the depth chart. Because he was waived injured, Rodgers will be eligible for the NFL's injury benefit.

Rodgers registered 168 tackles in two seasons in New Orleans, but played in only eight games in 2004. Rodgers was acquired by the Saints from Miami in a 2003 trade for a seventh-round draft choice. He had two seasons remaining on his contract, at base salaries of $1.1 million for 2005 and $1.2 million for 2006.

A third-round pick of the Dolphins in 1997, Rodgers has played in 116 games. He has 507 tackles, nine sacks, four interceptions and 30 passes defensed. It is not known yet if he will attempt to continue his career.

-- Len Pasquarelli

Chicago Bears: With their top two fullbacks unavailable for the start of camp because of injuries, the Bears have signed veteran free agent Marc Edwards, a seven-year pro who did not play in the league in 2004.

Edwards, 30, has played in 124 games with four different teams. Known more for his blocking, Edwards has carried 124 times for 405 yards and three touchdowns and has 157 receptions for 1,235 yards and eight scores. His one-year contract is believed to be for the minimum base salary of $665,000.

Bears starter Bryan Johnson and backup Jason McKie are rehabilitating from injuries and will be sidelined for the first week or two of camp.

-- Len Pasquarelli

Robinson serves extra jail time
Ousted Seattle Seahawks receiver Koren Robinson has been released from the Kirkland City Jail, but he was held a bit longer than the 24 hours he'd been sentenced to serve.

Robinson reported to the jail Wednesday to serve one day in prison after pleading guilty Monday to driving under the influence.

Under terms of the plea bargain approved by Judge Albert Raines, all but one day of Robinson's one-year penalty was suspended -- on condition that he not touch alcohol during his year-long probation

But when he showed up to serve his 24 hours in jail Wednesday, two officers said they could smell alcohol on his breath. Kirkland police booked him for investigation of violating his probation.

He was held until mid-afternoon Friday. The additional time was on orders from a judge for alcohol consumption, according to Sergeant Robert Balkema at the jail.

-- The Associated Press

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers agreed to a three-year contract with offensive lineman Evan Mathis, one of the team's two third-round draft picks.

The 6-foot-5, 304-pound Mathis was the 15th player selected in the third round of this year's NFL Draft and is expected to compete for a starting job at right guard with Tutan Reyes in training camp.

Mathis agreed to a three-year contract, according to his agent Kirk Wood.

-- The Associated Press

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins signed draft picks Channing Crowder and Anthony Alabi to four-year contracts and said they will take part in the first training camp workout on Monday.

Crowder, a linebacker and the Dolphins' third-round draft choice, started at Florida in 2003-04. Alabi, a tackle and the team's fifth-round pick, was a three-year starter at Texas Christian.

The Dolphins also signed free agent tight end Lorenzo Diamond, who started four games in 2004 for the Arizona Cardinals.

Miami waived tight end Joe Munson, who was signed as an undrafted free agent on April 29.

-- The Associated Press