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Monday, August 6, 2007
Niners to wear throwback jerseys in season opener as part of Walsh tribute

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San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers will wear their cherry-red throwback jerseys in their regular season opener against Arizona as part of a tribute to former coach Bill Walsh.

Owner John York said Monday that the 49ers have been given permission to don the same jerseys they wore when Walsh roamed the sideline for their Monday night opener Sept. 10. The club still is formulating the rest of its tribute to Walsh, who died July 30 after a bout with leukemia.

York pushed the league to allow San Francisco to suit up for the opener in red jerseys, which also will be worn at another home game later in the season. The 49ers will wear a "BW" decal on their helmets all season.

"The fans here wanted this from Day One, but we had to make sure we had permission to do that," York said. "I think this is very appropriate for Bill, and I'm glad we were able to do it."

Elsewhere in NFC camps:

New York Giants: Coach Tom Coughlin said Michael Strahan's letter to Giants fans explaining his holdout was consistent with what the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end told him in a telephone conversation last week.

In his letter, Strahan said his holdout had nothing to do with money and everything to do with uncertainty about whether he wants to return for a 15th NFL season.

"Anyone who plays in the NFL with doubts or second guessing is not only putting themselves at risk, but their teammates also," Strahan wrote in an e-mail distributed by his agent, Tony Agnone late Sunday. "I will never do that."

While Coughlin respects Strahan's concerns, he also said the team needs to know if Strahan is going to play.

"We still would like Michael to be in here," Coughlin said. "But Michael has to be in that right frame of mind and want to be here and want to be a part of our team, and he knows that."

Giants Pro Bowl linebacker Antonio Pierce said Monday that he still believes Strahan will play, noting that Strahan has not yet filed retirement papers. He added that No. 92 could probably report to camp a week before the Sept. 9 opener against Dallas and be ready to play.

Carolina Panthers: Jon Beason had only been on the field for a few minutes Monday when the barbs started.

"Let's see your fresh legs!" one teammate yelled.

"You haven't done anything for a week!" special teams coach Danny Crossman screamed.

But while the Panthers rookie was catching grief over his weeklong holdout, he also moved from the second team to the first before his first practice was over.

Beason ended his eight-day holdout Sunday and became a rich man, signing a five-year deal that included a $3.2 million signing bonus and $6 million total in guaranteed money. Later that night, he was meeting with linebackers coach Ken Flajole, poring over the playbook and trying to get caught up after missing 12 practices.

Beason caught a few hours of sleep and was one of the first players to hit the field Monday morning -- then was gasping for air about halfway through the workout.

"You can do all the running you want but football shape is different," Beason said. "Putting the helmet and the shoulder pads on, it's heavy. But in a couple days, I'll be ready."

Beason, with Flajole at his side nearly the entire practice, was doing well enough that he switched to the starting unit at weakside linebacker near the end of workout, replacing James Anderson. Na'il Diggs, with whom Beason was expected to compete for the starting job, missed his sixth straight day due to a right hamstring injury.

St. Louis Rams: Triple-digit temperatures have forced the Rams inside for daytime workouts.

"It's the hottest spot in the country right now," coach Scott Linehan said Monday. "One of the precautions you take with extreme heat is to have an alternative plan."

The National Weather Service predicted highs of 101, 101 and 100 degrees in the next three days in St. Louis, a minor dip to 99 on Friday and a high of 102 by Sunday.

On days with two practices, the team will be outside for the evening workout. Despite air conditioning, it was in the mid-80s with high humidity for Monday morning's indoor practice and players were dripping with sweat.

Linemen certainly weren't being pampered. They spent a good portion of the 2-hour morning workout outside pushing sleds.

"We come in here and it's like 'oh man, they've been living lovely,'" rookie defensive tackle Keith Jackson said. "We've been outside for about 45 minutes and it's feeling real good."

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings drafted defensive ends in the first round in both 2004 and 2005. Darrion Scott has outperformed both of them.

Kenechi Udeze and Erasmus James have yet to fulfill their potential, partly because of knee injuries. Scott became the fill-in starter for both of them -- when Udeze got hurt in 2005 and then when James went down in 2006.

The team's third-round pick out of Ohio State in 2004, Scott had 9½ sacks while playing in all 32 games over the past two seasons. Though Udeze has the higher profile and bigger contract, Scott is competing with him to win the starting job at left end at training camp this year. The Vikings have frequently substituted defensive linemen to keep them fresh in recent seasons, so Scott will certainly be a regular in that rotation.

"Every year is competition," Scott said. "Being a third-round pick, I don't feel like I'm guaranteed anything. I feel like with my play I might be guaranteed a job, but our coach's philosophy is to have guys come in and compete every year. Competition only makes one another better, so I'm looking forward to it."

Scott was disappointed when, as a restricted free agent over the winter, the Vikings extended him the minimum offer -- an $850,000 tender for his original draft round which left him without any options. That has provided some added motivation for a better contract for 2008 and beyond -- wherever that might be.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints are ending their training camp at Millsaps College on Aug. 15 instead of Aug. 16 as originally scheduled, officials said Monday.

The Saints announced they have scheduled a pair of practices with the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati on Aug. 16, two days prior to their game against the Bengals on Aug. 18.

On the final day of training camp on Aug. 15, morning practice will be held at 8:50 a.m. and the afternoon practice is scheduled at 4:20 p.m.

The Saints lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-7 on Sunday in the first preseason game for both teams.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.