Print and Go Back NFL Training Camp 2009 [Print without images]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Training Camp Roundup: Aug. 12 news services

Tennessee Titans safety Donnie Nickey and linebacker Ryan Fowler were fined $5,000 each by the NFL for hits during Sunday's 21-18 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the Hall of Fame game.

Both players plan to appeal the fines, The Tennessean reported on Wednesday.

Fowler was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after hitting Bills running back Xavier Omon out of bounds. Nickey was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty in the fourth quarter when he tackled Bills tight end Jonathan Stuper across the middle.

"I will appeal. I barely hit the guy," Fowler told the newspaper. "Obviously they are very serious about player safety and think that is important. It is going to be a little bit of a gray area as far as toeing the line between aggressive play and dangerous play. I felt I was in the right, and they didn't."

Nickey said after Sunday's game he didn't think the hit was illegal, and on Wednesday he told the newspaper he felt the same way.

"I am not surprised, but I am appealing," Nickey told the newspaper of the fine. "I saw a tape of it, and I wasn't aiming for his head. My shoulder pad hit his head and he brought his head down to protect himself. I am playing football -- that is my job."

-- news services

Around the league, it's generally known as the "Wildcat" formation. San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye refers to his version as the "Taser."

By any name, it's a new wrinkle for a team aiming to upgrade its abysmal offensive numbers of recent years.

"Since the pads have gone on, it was our first foray into it," Raye said Wednesday after the 49ers began 11-on-11 team drills with receiver-kick returner Michael Spurlock lined up at quarterback in shotgun formation and running back Frank Gore lined up in the slot at receiver.

With receiver Arnaz Battle also taking some direct snaps at quarterback, the 49ers proceeded to run about a dozen plays with the unique formation that had quarterbacks Shaun Hill, Alex Smith and Damon Huard lining up far wide at receiver.

The 49ers are looking for something different in an offense that has had little success since finishing fifth in the NFL in total offense in 2003. The 49ers finished 23rd in total offense last year.

Raye also said the 49ers will wait until Thursday to name their starting quarterback for Friday's preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.

Hill and Smith have waged a close battle since training camp began.

head coach Mike Singletary said he'll wait until at least after the team's Aug. 29 game at Dallas to name the season starter.

-- The Associated Press

Seattle center Chris Spencer has returned to practice after spraining his left ankle last week in a pileup that left him worried he might miss more than just a handful of days.

Spencer went through drills on Wednesday afternoon and says he hopes to play on Saturday night when Seattle opens the exhibition season at San Diego.

The expected starting center for the Seahawks was hurt last Friday when he was caught up in a pile during a blocking drill. He left the field on the back of a cart.

Spencer says it was a scary moment, and he feels lucky to get back on the field so quickly.

-- The Associated Press

Eric Mangini says his Cleveland Browns quarterbacks are competing, not cheating.

The radio transmitter inside Derek Anderson's helmet wasn't working in a Sunday scrimmage, so he used hand signals to relay plays. Anderson joked after the scrimmage that Brady Quinn told the defense what all the signals meant.

Reporters at the scrimmage saw the two players laughing about it.

But that didn't head off several online reports suggesting Quinn was using underhanded tactics to win the starting job.

"I think everyone blew that out of proportion a little bit," Quinn said Wednesday. "No one was stealing hand signals. Our defense knows most of our hand signals at this point, anyways."

Added Anderson: "We were having a good time. Everyone was doing everything they could to win. Obviously they had incentive to win. It was all in fun. Whoever took it and ran with it ... Obviously I have to be careful of what I say."

Mangini could only shake his head.

"Those guys are competitive and they're friends," Mangini said Wednesday. "The group is friendly and the game was competitive by nature. ... All I see them doing is supporting each other."

Anderson's team won, 17-14.

-- The Associated Press

The Denver Broncos have waived oft-injured running back Ryan Torain, who was diagnosed with a strained knee ligament.

A fifth-round pick last season after an injury-plagued career at Arizona State, Torain missed almost all of last season.

He broke his elbow during training camp and played just parts of two games before a season-ending knee injury sidelined him once again.

After a long rehabilitation, Torain was having a decent training camp but was stuck in a crowded backfield that includes top draft pick Knowshon Moreno, free agents Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan and holdover Peyton Hillis.

The Broncos signed running back Marcus Thomas to take his spot on the 80-man roster.

-- The Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles broke camp Wednesday with more question marks and fewer healthy bodies than when they arrived at Lehigh University with Super Bowl aspirations two weeks ago.

One might think their main goal in Thursday night's preseason opener against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots would be to avoid more injuries.

Coach Andy Reid plans to rotate his starters into the second quarter against the Patriots. Plenty of backups will see action with the first unit because of the injuries.

Six starters will sit out, including running back Brian Westbrook (ankle), right tackle Shawn Andrews (back), right guard Stacy Andrews (knee), left guard Todd Herremans (foot), defensive end Trent Cole (shoulder) and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley (knee).

Quarterback Kevin Kolb (knee), tight ends Cornelius Ingram (knee) and Matt Schobel (calf), defensive end Victor Abiamiri (chest) and defensive tackle Trevor Laws (hamstring) are the injured backups.

The most serious camp injuries were to Bradley and Ingram, who both tore ACLs. Bradley, who called the defensive signals on the field, is a huge loss for a unit that won't have safety Brian Dawkins and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson for the first time this decade. Dawkins signed with Denver in free agency and Johnson passed away last month after a battle with cancer.

-- The Associated Press

Running back Brandon Jacobs says the New York Giants' backfield may be the best in the NFL this season, despite losing 1,000-yard rusher Derrick Ward.

Jacobs said after Wednesday's morning practice at the University at Albany that having a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw sharing the load is a big reason for his optimism.

Jacobs and Ward each ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, but Tampa Bay signed Ward as a free agent.

Bradshaw says a leg injury hampered his performance in 2008, when he rushed for 355 yards. He and Danny Ware are competing for the job to replace Ward as the Giants' No. 2 rusher.

Bradshaw says his speed will complement Jacobs' bruising running style.

-- The Associated Press

Detroit Lions receiver Bryant Johnson took a step forward in his comeback from a golf cart accident Wednesday, as he was taken off the non-football injury list and went through individual drills.

Coach Jim Schwartz says Johnson is recovering ahead of the timetable the Lions had in mind, but says they will not rush him back.

Johnson has said he was injured in July when he was driving a golf cart that got out of control and fell on him near his offseason home in Georgia.

He had an average of 42-plus reception in six season with the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers. Detroit signed him in March to complement standout receiver Calvin Johnson.

-- The Associated Press

Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark is expected to miss Friday night's preseason game against Minnesota and could be out until Monday with a slight concussion.

Clark missed his third straight practice Wednesday.

Starting right tackle Ryan Diem also sat out the morning workout after hurting his back. Coach Jim Caldwell says Diem would likely miss a couple of days.

Diem's absence elevated the recently demoted Tony Ugoh into the No. 1 spot on the right side of the line. Ugoh has played exclusively at left tackle since Indy drafted him in 2007.

-- The Associated Press

Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Todd Herremans could miss the rest of the preseason with a foot injury.

Coach Andy Reid says the starting left guard has a stress reaction in a bone in his foot just above the arch.

The injury means the Eagles probably won't have their projected starting offensive line play together before the season opens Sept. 13. Right tackle Shawn Andrews has been sidelined with a back injury and right guard Stacy Andrews will sit out Thursday night's preseason opener for precautionary reasons after having offseason knee surgery. Nick Cole will start in Herremans' place against the Patriots.

-- The Associated Press

The Tennessee Titans raised some eyebrows on Tuesday when quarterback Vince Young ran an option offense during practice, The Tennessean of Nashville reported.

Young ran eight plays out of the option, including a last-minute pitch to Chris Johnson on a run to the left, a run up the middle and a number of passes, according to the report.

"I have been running option since high school. So I am used to that,'' Young said, according to the report. "If that is going to help us win ball games, getting me and [Johnson] out on the corner, on the edge, one-on-one with a DB, I am with it.''

Titans coach Jeff Fisher held his cards close to his vest when asked if the Titans might use the option during the season, according to the report.

"We have some things that we are going to work on and this is one area where we haven't gotten as much work as we would like,'' Fisher said, the newspaper reported.

-- news services

Dustin Fox has been waived by the Buffalo Bills to free up room in a crowded defensive backfield.

Fox appeared in 11 games over the past two seasons with Buffalo and was used primarily on special teams. Drafted in the third round in 2005 by Minnesota, the former Ohio State player spent his rookie season on injured reserve. He appeared in one game with Philadelphia in 2006.

The move came before practice Wednesday and after Fox saw limited action in a 21-18 loss to Tennessee in the Hall of Fame game last weekend.

The Bills are stocked with defensive backs after selecting three in this year's draft, starting with safety Jairus Byrd in the second round.

-- The Associated Press

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason dislocated the middle finger on his right hand Tuesday, putting his availability for Thursday's preseason opener against the Washington Redskins in question.

Mason was hurt while trying to catch a low pass from Joe Flacco in morning practice. Coach John Harbaugh said Mason jammed the finger but added "We don't anticipate any problems."

The Ravens are already short at receiver. Mark Clayton will miss Thursday's game with a torn hamstring, while Demetrius Williams has been slowed with a tight hamstring.

-- news services

While Brandon Marshall makes all his news off the field -- he's asked the Denver Broncos for a raise and a trade and skipped offseason workouts in protest of his contract and medical treatment -- Brandon Stokley has established himself as Kyle Orton's top target.

Day after day they hook up for big plays, Stokley hauling in tough passes over the middle one minute and touch passes in the end zone the next.

"Brandon Stokley is one of the toughest slot receivers that I've coached against and he's everything I thought he was when I came here: very crafty, smart, tough, physical, quick," coach Josh McDaniels said. "He just has a knack of how to get open and that's an invaluable skill for a receiver to have, especially on third down."

McDaniels is installing an intricate offense modeled after the one he ran in New England as Bill Belichick's offensive coordinator that employs a three-receiver set at its base. So, Stokley can expect an even heavier workload than he had last year, when he caught 49 passes, the second-highest total of his career after his 68-catch, 1,077-yard season for the Indianapolis Colts in 2004.

"We'll play Brandon probably more than they did last year," McDaniels said. "Brandon's got a great role. Great teammate, great attitude, great work ethic and I love having him out here."

-- news services