Training Camp Roundup: Aug. 11


The Chargers spent part of Tuesday's practice working on the Wildcat offense -- mostly to help their defense get used to facing the trendy formation. The Chargers have experimented with the run-centric formation before but never used it in a game.

The Chargers had LaDainian Tomlinson behind center, with wide receiver Legedu Naanee -- who played quarterback in high school and a bit at Boise State -- on his flank. The team implemented several variations within the Wildcat, including passes and deceptive rushing.

"I'm not as concerned about how we handle it offensively as how we deal with it from a defensive prospective," coach Norv Turner said.

Turner would prefer to have quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates in their usual positions.

"When we go to the Wildcat, we put the guy who led the league in touchdowns and quarterback rating out about 5 yards from me on the sideline and Gates at tackle. That should tell you how excited I am using about the wildcat," Turner said.

-- The Associated Press


The Browns signed free-agent wide receiver Edward Williams and waived receiver Syndric Steptoe.

Williams was on the Ravens' practice squad last season and released on July 22 before joining the Browns on Monday.

Steptoe was taken by the Browns 234th overall in the 2007 draft. He had 19 catches for 182 yards last season. Steptoe's release comes two days after he suffered a torn labrum in practice, with his agent blaming the season-ending injury on coach Eric Mangini's decision to hold practice in a heavy rain.

-- ESPN.com news services


A couple overlooked receivers are emerging as threats for the Bears and new quarterback Jay Cutler.

The Bears never pursued a veteran free agent for the position, instead hoping Cutler's passing ability would make existing receivers better. So far, it seems to have worked -- Cutler has been regularly finding Devin Aromashodu and Brandon Rideau in practice.

"Both of those guys have great size, speed and they're making plays each day," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Going into camp we were going to give some of our younger receivers an opportunity to prove what they can do."

Smith isn't completely sold on the situation yet. He pointed out his own defensive secondary has struggled in practice against receivers, in part, because of injuries at cornerback.

Going against Buffalo in Saturday's preseason game will be big for the receivers.

"It's going to be huge for the whole group -- all of them," Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said. "You're going against other people."

-- The Associated Press


The Dolphins are in better shape than a year ago -- in more ways than one.

It helps that the Dolphins are coming off an 11-6 season and an AFC East title, as opposed to 2007, when they went 1-15.

The Dolphins say they're also in better physical condition than in the summer of 2008, when coach Tony Sparano was beginning his first season.

"I am noticing guys still have their legs under them right now," Sparano said Tuesday. "We are physically a lot better strength-wise out there. We have less guys in the training room right now at this time than maybe last year.

"I have to believe we are ahead that way, but I am not sure. I hope that all means something in the end," he added.

-- The Associated Press


Just as Packers defensive end Justin Harrell appeared to be turning the corner on his injury-plagued career, he started having to sit out practice.

With starter Cullen Jenkins on a one-a-day schedule, veteran Johnny Jolly out with a sprained ankle and first-round pick B.J. Raji holding out, the 2007 first-round pick stepped into the starting lineup. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac went as far as to say Harrell had been doing an "excellent job" after Thursday morning practice last week.

Harrell, however, has barely practiced since. At first, coach Mike McCarthy said Harrell was being given a break because he had been taking so many reps. On Tuesday morning, however, Harrell wasn't even on the practice field, and McCarthy said Harrell was being plagued by back spasms that are related to the back problems that required surgeries in April and August 2008.

Harrell has played in only 13 of 32 regular-season games during his first two seasons. During his rookie year, he was recovering from a torn biceps sustained as a senior at Tennessee and then sprained an ankle at midseason. Last year, he missed the first seven games while recovering from the second back operation and the final three games with a hip problem related to the back.

How much longer can the Packers afford to wait for player to whom they gave $8.1 million in guaranteed money as part of a five-year contract?

"This game is about accountability and durability and all of that, and that has to factor in," general manager Ted Thompson said. "Certainly, we think a lot of Justin and we think he has a bright future as an NFL player. He has had his share of bad-luck injuries and he's going to battle though something now, and he has battled through. We'll see, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to line up and do your part, and he's giving it a go."

--The Associated Press


The key statistics for the 49ers so far in training camp: 19 practices, 18 in pads, three "nutcracker" drills and seven injuries lasting a week or longer.

So far, tight end Delanie Walker (concussion), cornerback Terall Brown (toe), linebacker Patrick Willis (foot), running back Michael Robinson (groin), guard David Baas (foot), linebacker Parys Haralson (hip flexor) and wide receiver Brandon Jones (fractured shoulder) have missed or are expected to miss a week or more of camp, with Jones out for eight weeks.

That's led to talk in the local media about the physicality of the 49ers' training camp. But coach Mike Singletary said no when asked if he'd consider cutting back on the physical nature in the face of mounting injuries. "Not one bit," he said.

For Singletary and his players, the constant hitting is meant to establish a mentality they hope to carry into the regular season.

--The Associated Press


Ryan Succop has the leg and he probably has the Chiefs' kicking job. What Succop needs is consistency, and he'd better find it fast. Succop was the last player taken in this year's NFL draft, and the last time the Chiefs drafted a kicker, they cut him after the first game.

Succop, who has already hit field goals of 58 and 53 yards in training camp, is being counted on to solve a long and festering problem for the Chiefs. Their failure to find a good, consistent kicker is a major reason they haven't won a postseason game since Joe Montana was their quarterback.

Field position, particularly the past two seasons, has been a huge problem for the Chiefs and Succop has shown a welcome ability to drive kickoffs deep. That was one reason Connor Barth, the incumbent kicker, was released a few days before camp began.

In 10 games last year, Barth made 10 of 12 field goals, a much better percentage than the 66 percent that Succop managed his senior season at South Carolina. But Barth lacked the strong leg needed on kickoffs and the Chiefs are hopeful Succop will do better now that he's no longer dealing with a the torn abdominal muscle that bothered him in college. But he still has not kicked in the NFL. Consistency is a worry.

"So far during camp I feel like I've been really consistent. I've made 90-some percent of my field goals during team," he said. "As a kicker you definitely have to be mentally strong. I mean you can't let anything bother you, you just got to be tough mentally. You know whether it's windy conditions or rainy, it doesn't matter you just have to go out there and just know you're going to make the kick."

-- The Associated Press


Starting quarterbacks usually ease into the preseason, often playing no more than a series or two in the exhibition opener. But when the Rams visit the Jets on Friday, Marc Bulger expects plenty of playing time -- perhaps as much as three quarters.

The Rams are in their first preseason under new coach Steve Spagnuolo. They're also learning the West Coast offense under new coordinator Pat Shurmur.

"It could be three quarters or two," Bulger said of his playing time. "It's a new staff and we're all still trying to get a feel for each other. Hopefully, we'll get a couple of good drives and see how it goes."

Spagnuolo, trying to turn around a team that was 2-14 last season and 5-27 over the past two seasons, isn't saying how much playing time Bulger or other starters will see against the Jets.

-- The Associated Press


The Lions' search for a defensive tackle got some help from an unexpected source -- disgruntled former player Shaun Rogers. When the Browns cut Shaun Smith last week, it was Rogers who urged Smith to go to Detroit, even though Rogers left Detroit on unhappy terms a year ago.

Smith took the advice, choosing Detroit over several other teams on Monday.

"He's my best friend, and he said he wishes he could come back and play here again," Smith said Tuesday. "He said there are good people in the building here, good people in the locker room, and that I should just come here and play ball."

Smith's career in Cleveland was checkered, most notably by a weight-room fight with quarterback Brady Quinn. He was waived on Saturday. Smith chose not to discuss the Quinn altercation or any of the other problems he had in Cleveland.

"There are two sides to every story, but that's old news," he said. "I'm not going to elaborate. I'm just looking for a new start with the Lions."

-- The Associated Press


Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is expected to to sit out the team's preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, The Washington Post reported.

In recent comments, Haynesworth indicated he did not expect to play Thursday, the newspaper reported. He received an injection to relieve discomfort in his left knee earlier in training camp.

"It doesn't matter to me, I'll do whatever they need me to do, but the point is to be ready to start the season," Haynesworth said, according to the report. "I'm not one of these guys who needs to get a ton of reps to get ready.

"After you've been in this game a while, you start to know your body and know what you need to do, and I feel good about where I'm at right now," he said, according to the Post. "You can always do better, but I think I'm picking up what we do and getting more and more comfortable with it every day. You just want to keep making progress on everything. I think it's going pretty good."

-- ESPN.com news services


Lofa Tatupu did not participate in practice for the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday morning -- the second time in three days Tatupu missed practice.

Head coach Jim Mora said there's nothing to be concerned about.

"The guy has had a really good camp. He's extremely focused. He's very detailed in everything that he's doing. He's working remarkably hard and I think it just caught up to him and he just needed a little rest, so we're going to give it to him," Mora said.

Mora said he expects Tatupu to play in the team's preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers on Saturday, but left open the possibility of a change.

Tatupu joins Marcus Trufant (back), Chris Spencer (ankle) and Walter Jones (back) as prominent Seahawks starters missing practice.

-- The Associated Press


Cornerback Darrelle Revis and nose tackle Kris Jenkins are among four starters who will miss the New York Jets' preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams because of injuries.

Coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday that center Nick Mangold and right tackle Damien Woody also will sit out the home game Friday night. None of the injuries is serious, but Ryan said the team was being cautious because it's early in the preseason.

Ryan said fullback Tony Richardson (hip pointer) has a chance to play Friday.

-- The Associated Press


New Orleans Saints linebacker Mark Simoneau will be sidelined for at least several weeks with a torn triceps, and veteran free-agent linebacker Derrick Brooks has been invited for a workout with the club.

Simoneau was hurt during the club's scrimmage on Saturday. He is expected to have surgery on Wednesday and Payton said the Saints have not yet decided whether they will place him on injured reserve.

Meanwhile, rookie safety Chip Vaughn was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Brooks, 36, has played 14 NFL seasons, all with Tampa Bay, and has been named to 11 Pro Bowls. Payton said Brooks is expected to arrive for his workout on Tuesday night, along with veteran linebacker Derek Smith.

-- The Associated Press