Thursday, August 13, 2009
Training Camp Roundup: Aug. 13
ESPN.com news services
LB CURRY TO GET PLENTY OF SNAPS SATURDAY (10:37 p.m. ET)
On the day Seattle's most tenured star, Walter Jones, returned to practice for the first time since July 31, coach Jim Mora said Thursday that Aaron Curry will see extensive playing time in Saturday's exhibition opener against San Diego, perhaps the most of any prospective Seattle starter.
After first saying he wasn't going to make public how long some of his starters would play, Mora said that Curry likely will play into the third quarter and be shifted all over the defense. Curry will be used both at linebacker, and lineup at right end to give the Seahawks an opportunity to see his pass rush skills in action.
"You know, if there's one thing that I would look for is watch Aaron Curry and see how he rushes as an end. We're going to find out a little bit, you know? I'm excited to see it," Mora said. "There's no sense in waiting."
Along with Curry's first game, Saturday is the debut of some new faces that Seattle expects to play significant roles as they try to rebound from last year's 4-12 swoon. It's also Mora's first game as a head coach since Dec. 31, 2006, right before he was fired after three seasons in Atlanta.
"It's been good for me. I'm looking forward to the game, I'm looking forward to being back on the sideline in that role," Mora said. "I think there will be an adjustment period throughout the game and probably throughout the preseason, but I'm excited where we are as a team and I'm comfortable going into this game with my role as well."
-- The Associated PressANDERSON FLOURISHING UNDER MARINELLI (7:12 p.m. ET) Chicago Bears defensive linemen talk about new line coach Rod Marinelli almost like he is a wizard working magic.
Already, the former Detroit Lions head coach seems to have made defensive end Mark Anderson reappear before their eyes. Or at least it's apparent Anderson's lost confidence has returned.
"Right now I'm feeling pretty good about my ability, my speed feels pretty good, I feel good," Anderson said. "I'm ready to go out there and make some plays."
Anderson couldn't say that last year or in 2007. He had 16 sacks in his first 20 games and his 12-sack rookie season of 2006 was the fourth best by any rookie in league history. However, he had just two sacks in his last 21 games, though he sees better things ahead with Marinelli's help.
"I wouldn't say I need to re-prove myself," Anderson said. "I just need to go out there and continue to do what I do and that's rush the passer, create some type of havoc on the field and just have fun."
-- The Associated PressBARDEN SHOWING EARLY AT GIANTS CAMP (7:07 p.m. ET) Ramses Barden may be the biggest surprise of the New York Giants training camp, and it involves much more than his height.
The third-round draft pick from California Poly is showing the Giants that he has the tools to help them replace veteran receivers Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer.
The 6-foot-6 Barden has caught the short ball, gone deep, hauled in passes over the middle and delighted fans with a couple of spectacular catches in the first two weeks of training camp at the University at Albany.
His best play came a week ago in a 1-on-1 red-zone drill, when he made a leaping one-handed catch of a fade pass in the corner of the end zone.
A photo of the catch was posted on his Facebook page almost immediately.
-- The Associated PressJONES PRACTICING WITH SEAHAWKS (6:33 p.m. ET)
While Seattle fans await the debut of rookie linebacker Aaron Curry, the Seahawks have offensive tackle Walter Jones practicing again.
Jones was in uniform and on the field taking part in drills Thursday afternoon after not practicing since the first day of training camp. Jones had been bothered by a sore back.
He was joined back on the field by defensive end Patrick Kerney, who had also missed a few practices.
Only four Seahawks were not practicing Thursday ahead of Saturday's exhibition opener at San Diego, including cornerback Marcus Trufant, who has yet to participate in training camp with a back injury.
-- The Associated PressHILL TO START 49ERS EXHIBITION OPENER (6:27 p.m. ET) Shaun Hill is a big reason Mike Singletary became San Francisco's head coach and shed the interim tag from his title. Not that it matters much now.
Singletary is going with Hill as the 49ers' starting quarterback for their exhibition opener Friday night against the Denver Broncos, yet insisted Thursday this is no hint whatsoever who will be under center come the regular season.
"Shaun Hill will start the game. I do not know who will start next week," Singletary said. "Really, it could have been Shaun Hill or Alex Smith we chose, so don't read anything in to it."
Hill, who worked with the No. 1 offense during the team's walkthrough Thursday, went 5-3 over the Niners' final eight games last season and 2-0 as a fill-in starter in 2007. He has shown he can lead the team and, ultimately, win. That, naturally, is a big factor for an organization that's endured a franchise-worst six straight losing seasons.
If there's a leader in this competition, Singletary won't say.
"I don't care about today. What I care about is at the end of it," he said in his matter-of-fact way. "And one can go a little bit ahead and a little bit behind. In all fairness to them, that's the only thing I want to comment on. In terms of who it is, who's ahead, who's not, it really doesn't matter right now for us."
-- The Associated PressJORDAN GETS IN SHAPE FOR BRONCOS (3:47 p.m. ET) LaMont Jordan is ready to reward Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels for taking a chance of him even though he was overweight and out of shape this winter.
Jordan has dropped 30 pounds since following McDaniels from New England to Denver. Now he checks in at 228 pounds, the lightest he's been in his nine-year NFL career.
Jordan has been sharing starting duties with fellow free agent Correll Buckhalter while top pick Knowshon Moreno works his way into shape after a long holdout.
Jordan says that for the first time in his career he realizes he has to work just as hard off the field as he does on it.
-- The Associated PressBUCCANEERS SIGN JOHNSON FOR PUNTING DEPTH (1:31 p.m. ET)
Punter Dirk Johnson has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, filling in for the injured Josh Bidwell.
The 34-year-old Johnson was released in June by the Steelers after spending most of last season with the Cardinals. He will make his debut for the Bucs in Saturday night's preseason game at Tennessee.
Bidwell is out with a right hip injury. He had been the only punter in Tampa Bay's training camp.
To make room on the roster, defensive tackle Greg Peterson was waived injured. A fifth-round draft pick in 2007, Peterson appeared in 12 games over the past two seasons.
Johnson punted in 12 games last season for Arizona, averaging 41.8 yards. He has also played for New Orleans, Philadelphia and Chicago.
COLTS LEAVE 11 OFF ROSTER FOR PRESEASON OPENER (12:46 p.m. ET)
The Indianapolis Colts have ruled 11 players out of Friday night's preseason opener against Minnesota, including five starters.
Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea, cornerback Kelvin Hayden, right tackle Ryan Diem, tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez are all on the list.
Bethea is out with a cracked bone in his right hand. Clark has a slight concussion. Hayden has been resting a hamstring injury and Diem has been out with a back injury.
Gonzalez is a new addition to the injury list. Coach Jim Caldwell blamed a strained hamstring.
Bob Sanders, the NFL's 2007 defensive player of the year, remains on the physically unable to perform list.
JETS ADD KICKER, PART WITH RECEIVER (10:06 a.m. ET)
The New York Jets have signed kicker Parker Douglass and waived wide receiver Huey Whittaker.
Douglass was signed by Cleveland in May and waived on July 31. An undrafted free agent, Douglass set or tied 19 records at South Dakota State. He also played for the Sioux Falls Storm of the Indoor Football League.
Whittaker, an undrafted free agent, was signed by the Jets in January after spending parts of the past three seasons with Tampa and Utah of the Arena Football League.
DOLPHINS LOOKING FOR ATTENDANCE TURNAROUND (10:06 a.m. ET)
In 2008, the Miami Dolphins rebounded from the previous season's 1-15 debacle to win the AFC East. Now, new team CEO Mike Dee, who was hired away from the Boston Red Sox by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, wants to recreate that success in the seats and on the team's bottom line.
"I'm overwhelmed with the potential and the connection many people feel to this franchise," says Dee, who began his new job in May. "But a lot of people say they're now more passive fans. They don't come to games as much as they used to. I say, 'It's great you love the Dolphins. When's the last game you went to?' They say, 'Well, I went to a game, let's see, when Dan Marino was playing.' "
Ross and Dee want to improve the fan experience at games and make the Dolphins more active in the community. Ticket sales have rebounded now that the team is a winner again and despite the recession, Dee expects to reach at least 51,000 this year. His long-term goal is 65,000, a figure last achieved in 1974, when the Dolphins were back-to-back Super Bowl champions.
This season the Dolphins will provide hand-held wireless TV units to premium-seat holders. They've updated the Dolphins' moldy fight song with a rendition by rapper T-Pain. And they want to court fans from as far north as Orlando.
Dee concedes he's playing catchup with the football operation, which was led last season by coach Tony Sparano and head of football operations Bill Parcells to one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NFL history.
"The football guys were a year ahead of us," Dee says. "It gives us great momentum on the business side."
-- ESPN.com news services