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Saturday, August 6, 2011
David Garrard out with back injury

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Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has dealt with lower back pain before. It caused him to miss some practice time last season and even posed problems during workouts this summer.

His latest bout has him sidelined indefinitely.

Garrard's sore back kept him out of Jacksonville's scrimmage Saturday, allowing more repetitions for first-round draft pick Blaine Gabbert and third-stringer Luke McCown. But it also caused some concern as the Jaguars approach their first preseason game.

"I'm pretty sure everyone wants to see (Gabbert) anyway," Garrard said laughing.

Gabbert, the former Missouri standout, completed 12 of 27 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. His numbers could have been better, but rookie Jamar Newsome failed to hold onto a slightly high seam pass and Tiquan Underwood dropped a ball near the goal line.

"I thought he was pretty sharp," coach Jack Del Rio said of Gabbert. "My first impression was he handles himself well. We did some communication-failure issues. There were three of four different times he looked over and wasn't getting the call because I shut it off. He handled himself with poise, did a nice job, no real issues there. That was good for me to see."

McCown finished 13 of 18 for 136 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Garrard, meanwhile, watched from the sideline along with four other starters: running back Maurice Jones-Drew, defensive end Aaron Kampman, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and cornerback Derek Cox.

Garrard's back tightened up during practice Thursday. He limped off the field and hasn't done much since. Tests revealed no damage, and Del Rio is calling him "day to day."

Garrard hopes to be back in time for next week's exhibition game at New England.

"I definitely want to be out there," Garrard said. "I never want to miss any time out there. Over my career, I haven't missed many games. I don't even like to miss practices. But it's just what it is. There's some things you can control and some things you can't. There's no way I really could control this."

Garrard threw for 2,734 yards last season, with 23 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. He enjoyed five of the best eight games of his nine-year career, but the Jaguars want more consistency at football's most important position.

Trio of Texans miss morning practice

A week into training camp, some of the Houston Texans' stars are already ailing.

Running back Arian Foster (hamstring), receiver Andre Johnson (dislocated finger) and linebacker Brian Cushing (knee) sat out the morning practice on Saturday.

Johnson hurt his left index finger on Tuesday, the Texans' second day of practice. Foster pulled his left hamstring on Friday, and Cushing has been out all week while recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Coach Gary Kubiak says Johnson may return to practice on Sunday, and Foster will definitely miss "a few days." Kubiak is hoping that Cushing returns by the middle of next week.

"I think, offensively, we're behind right now," Kubiak said. "We're missing some guys. We don't have Andre at practice. Arian doesn't practice. This game's not easy. You've got to be out there for us to get better."

Foster was the NFL's leading rusher last season (1,616 yards). He downplayed the severity of his injury, and happily mingled with fans after Saturday's workout, which was open to the public.

"I think any time you have a hamstring injury, you have to rest it," Foster said. "That's the only thing that can heal it. So that's what we're doing right now."

Tight end Owen Daniels was back on the field after sitting out practice on Friday with an illness.

Cardinals safety Wilson hurt in practice

Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson left practice with what coach Ken Whisenhunt described as an "elbow-bicep injury."

The longest-serving Cardinal on their roster and a leader off the defense, Wilson was undergoing an MRI. Whisenhunt said he would have more details on Monday. The team will not practice on Sunday.

Wilson played much of the 2010 season with an abdominal injury, the severity of which he kept from the coaching staff. He finished the year with 88 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks last season.

Whitner signs 49ers deal, practices

Donte Whitner stepped on the field for the first time with the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, welcoming the responsibility that comes with his new role as the most experienced and highest-paid safety on the team.

Whitner officially signed his three-year deal with San Francisco earlier in the day, giving the 49ers a veteran leader in their revamped secondary and a missing piece in the 3-4 scheme being implemented by new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Whitner's aggressive in-the-box style is well-suited to Fangio's defense, and the sixth-year veteran also is determined to help mend what's broken in a unit that ranked 24th in the NFL last season in passing defense.

"We have a lot of work to do on the back end, and I think everybody here knows it," Whitner said. "We know it in the secondary, and we're looking forward to it. I'm taking responsibility for getting this secondary in San Francisco to be one of the top secondaries in the league. We're a long way from that right now, but we'll get there."

The 49ers will not re-sign Dashon Goldson, leaving their best safety over the past two seasons as a free agent on the open market. San Francisco wanted Goldson back, but when a contract agreement couldn't be reached, the 49ers turned their attention to Whitner, who led all NFL defensive backs last season with 140 tackles for the Buffalo Bills.

Whitner signed a deal worth $11.75 million with $4 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. He chose the 49ers over the Cincinnati Bengals, whom Whitner said offered him a similar contract.

Whitner is the second former first-round draft pick to join San Francisco's secondary this week. Whitner was the No. 8 overall selection of the 2006 NFL draft and cornerback Carlos Rogers, signed to a one-year deal Wednesday, was the No. 9 overall pick of the 2005 draft.

Browns CB Haden held back with hamstring injury

Brown cornerback Joe Haden mostly observed play for the second straight day due to a tight hamstring.

Defensive linemen Marcus Benard and Carlton Mitchell left the workout early. Benard came up limping during a 1-on-1 pass rush drill and put an ice bag on his right knee. Shurmur said he didn't think it was serious and that Mitchell "was just dealing with the heat a little bit."

Coach Pat Shurmur said he hopes to get running back Montario Hardesty, recovering from knee surgery, back in the next week.

"I'll just follow what they (trainers) tell me," said Hardesty, adding he is eager to start getting acclimated with the new West Coast style offense.

On Friday, Shurmur said Haden was held out as a precaution because of a tight hamstring. As a rookie a year ago, Haden had a team-high six interceptions after being Cleveland's No. 1 draft pick in 2010.

Saints RT Stinchcomb on the mend

Saints right tackle Jon Stinchcomb spent nearly half of the 2010 season playing hurt, working through a shoulder injury, a knee injury and, most painfully, a torn tendon in his left quadriceps.

A week into preseason training camp and nearly seven months since having offseason surgery to repair the tendon, Stinchcomb is further along than he expected.

"I'm pleasantly surprised with the way my knees feel right now and I'm encouraged to actually be able to bend again," the nine-year pro said.

Stinchcomb earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2009, helping the Saints become the NFL's top offense on their way to winning the franchise's first Super Bowl.

But Stinchcomb said injuries took their toll a year later. Despite starting all 16 games and the NFC wild card loss to Seattle, the torn tendon kept him from playing at the level he expects of himself.

"For 10 weeks I wasn't able to play the way I want to play," Stinchcomb said. "It was frustrating for me. It was frustrating for (offensive line coach) Aaron (Kromer) and just the guys."

Jahri Evans lines up next to Stinchcomb at right guard and said that looking back it was obvious that something was wrong with his teammate.

Now, Evans said it's clear that Stinchcomb is looking like his old self.

"During the season you knew something was wrong with him," Evans said. "He didn't feel as strong as he wanted to. He's feeling good. He's looking good. He feels better. He's strong."

Bills rookie DB Williams injures hand

Buffalo Bills rookie defensive back Aaron Williams left Saturday night's practice with a hand injury.

Williams, the team's second-round draft pick, was to be evaluated after practice, according to head coach Chan Gailey.

Second-year wide receiver Donald Jones was injured earlier in the day and was held out of the night practice.

Linebacker Shawne Merriman was held out of practice for the second straight day. Gailey said the three-time Pro Bowl selection felt sore after the morning workout but expects him to be back at practice on Sunday.

OL Goldberg returns to Rams

Offensive lineman Adam Goldberg agreed to a contract with the St. Louis Rams on Friday night and he was on the practice field the next afternoon.

"It was miserable," said Goldberg, the Rams' player representative during the NFL lockout. "It was really an enjoyable time when you're checking your phone every two minutes."

The Rams are happy to have him.

"It's great to have Adam Goldberg back," coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

Goldberg, 31, started all 16 games last season and 14 of 16 two years ago. Goldberg's versatility is his strong suit as he can play both tackle and guard and could work at center if necessary.

"There's a safety blanket there," Spagnuolo said. "He's a class guy and a pro and we're glad we've gotten him back."

Chiefs sign Gordon to add depth on defensive line

The Kansas City Chiefs have signed free agent defensive lineman Amon Gordon, giving them some added depth at one of their primary positions of need.

The 6-foot-2, 305-pound lineman has made four starts and played in 17 games with the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks.

Amon, a fifth-round pick of Cleveland in 2004, has made 36 career tackles and forced one fumble. The former Stanford star also has spent time on the practice squads of Denver, Baltimore and Tennessee.

Giants bring back veteran DE Tollefson

Veteran defensive end Dave Tollefson has rejoined the New York Giants.

The four-year veteran who has played in 47 games with the Giants since 2007 and became a free agent after last season. He has 48 tackles, five sacks, three passes defensed and 28 special teams tackles in his career.

"The grass isn't always greener, as they say," Tollefson said Saturday. "There are a lot of things that go into making a decision like this that aren't money and stuff like that, and I feel for me and my family I made the right decision."

In 2010, Tollefson played in 13 games and had 10 tackles, a half sack, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles. He was tied for second on the team with 13 special teams tackles. The previous season he had a career-high 20 tackles on defense.

Tollefson joined the Giants in 2007 when he was signed off the Oakland Raiders' practice squad.

Dolphins sign ex-Seahawks tackle Willis

Veteran tackle Ray Willis has signed with the Miami Dolphins after missing last season because of a knee injury.

Willis was a disappointment with the Seattle Seahawks, who took him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. He started 26 games for the Seahawks, including all 16 in 2009.

The 6-foot-6, 304-pound Willis reinforces depth at tackle, where Jake Long and newcomer Marc Colombo are the projected starters. The Dolphins waived tackle Micah Kia on Saturday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.