Rice cleared to return to practice


Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Pro Bowl defensive end Simeon Rice
was cleared medically to practice after sitting out the first three days of training camp with an
undisclosed illness.

General manager Bruce Allen declined to discuss why Rice did not
practice with the team on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but released
a statement late Monday night.

"When Simeon came into training camp, he did not pass his
initial physical exam at a hospital because he was not feeling
well," Allen said. "After further examination, we decided that
more tests were needed to alleviate any concerns."

The team sent the ninth-year pro to see a specialist in Los

"As of this evening,'' Allen said, "Simeon has been cleared to
play and we expect him to join his teammates on the practice field
very soon."

Alstott takes hit, keeps ticking: For Mike Alstott, putting on the
pads and taking the first hit was the easy part.

Talking about how it felt to be back in the mix for the first
time since undergoing surgery for a career-threatening neck injury
was more difficult.

The six-time Pro Bowl fullback's voice cracked with emotion
Monday, but his message was strong. He's not only back, but
confident he can still be a productive player for the Tampa Bay

"I've always said if I couldn't play like myself, I'd retire,"
Alstott said. "After today, there's no question."

Alstott has not played since getting hit on top of his head
during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts last Oct.
6. He temporarily lost feeling in his legs and experienced a
stinging sensation in his arms that night, and had surgery to
repair a herniated disc in his neck a month later.

St. Louis Rams: One day after Kyle Turley left
training camp due to recurring back problems, the Rams
signed right tackle Greg Randall to a one-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Turley, the Rams' starting right tackle, reinjured his
surgically-repaired back in practice Saturday and underwent an
MRI. He left training camp on Sunday and plans with meeting
with a back specialist in Los Angeles.

"It was a threat in my career last year," Turley said of his
back problems. "For it to have possibly reoccurred is definitely
a big threat."

It was a big enough threat for the Rams to immediately sign
Randall, who started all 16 games at right tackle for the
Houston Texans last season.

The 6-foot-6, 333-pound Randall spent his first three seasons with
the Patriots and was a member of the 2001 Super
Bowl-winning team.

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis, who led the Bengals to an 8-8 record last year, signed a
new contract shortly after the end of last season, team spokesman
Jack Brennan said.

"We were so pleased with how it had gone on and thought he had
done an extraordinarily effective job and we wanted to show him
that we appreciated what he had done and offered to extend the
contract," Bengals president Mike Brown said.

Lewis received a new four-year contract that will pay him more
than $2 million a season, replacing the four-year deal he signed
when he was hired in January 2003.

"It was very positive and very gracious and flattering to me,
wanting to renegotiate and extend the contract," Lewis told the
Cincinnati Enquirer, although he did not confirm the length or the
amount of the new contract. "(Brown) just felt like that the two
of us could make this thing work long term."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger's agent negotiated in
person today as he tried to speed up a deal for the
Steelers' first-round draft pick, whose holdout reached its fourth

Leigh Steinberg flew in from California on Sunday night following a
weekend of phone discussions with Steelers negotiator Omar Khan
that did little to finalize a contract for Roethlisberger, the
No. 11 overall pick.

Roethlisberger is the first quarterback drafted by the Steelers
in the first round since Mark Malone in 1980. He is not expected to
challenge Tommy Maddox for the starting job this season, but the
Steelers dislike him missing time early in camp when the offense is
being reviewed and expanded.

Part of the hang-up is how much bonus money Roethlisberger will get.

Seattle Seahawks: First-round draft pick Marcus Tubbs was a no-show Monday as the Hawks opened training camp.

Tubbs, who is the only Seahawk rookie left unsigned, is home in Texas dealing with his mother's poor health.

"I talked to Marcus last evening because his mom's real sick.
When we drafted him, she was real sick," he said. "The business
part of it, that will happen. I've been at this a long time.
Honestly, the new me doesn't get quite as excited about those
things as I used to."

Coach Mike Holmgren said he believes the team is close to
reaching contract terms with Tubbs. He declined to say when the
deal would be completed but indicated he doesn't expect it to be

Brian Overstreet, Tubbs' agent, didn't immediately return
telephone messages.

Also missing the first day of workouts was perennial Pro Bowl
tackle Walter Jones, the team's franchise player who has skipped
most of the last three training camps as he waits for a long-term

The 6-foot-3, 324-pound Tubbs, who played at Texas, was taken
with the 23rd overall selection in this year's draft. A talented
athlete, he is expected to help plug problem spots up the middle.

Oakland Raiders: Even with Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson holding out in a contract dispute and few replacements in
camp, Oakland doesn't plan to use veteran Ray Buchanan at

Buchanan was signed in the offseason to replace free safety Rod
Woodson, who was released by Oakland last month after failing the
team physical. Woodson was attempting to play in his 18th season
but could not come back from a knee injury that cut short his 2003

But the Raiders have thus far resisted the idea of moving
Buchanan back to cornerback, the position he played for the last 10

Charles Woodson has been absent from training camp and did not
take part in any of the team's offseason workouts after being given
the franchise player label in February, starting a contract

Buchanan's move to safety was not surprising. The 32-year-old
defensive back played free safety for the Indianapolis Colts for
the first 26 games of his NFL career before making the move to

Buffalo Bills: Offensive tackle Mike Williams was
excused from the second of two practice sessions for what the team referred to as personal reasons.

Without going into detail, team spokesman Scott Berchtold said
Williams' absence was not injury related. He added that coach Mike
Mularkey indicated the former first-round draft pick could be back
for Tuesday's session.

Berchtold said Williams was still on the St. John Fisher College
campus, the Bills training camp site in suburban Rochester.

Berchtold stressed that Williams' absence had nothing to with
his status on the team after he was demoted to second string when
camp opened Sunday. Mularkey made the move to allow Williams time
to better learn the offense after the player had missed several
minicamp sessions in June because of a death in his family.

Heat hits lineman hard: With a practice-time temperature of 88, and a cloudless sky, the
heat took its toll on backup offensive lineman Richard Seals. He
collapsed to one knee and required the help of two trainers to
escort him to the team's hydration tent about an hour into the
90-minute afternoon practice.

Berchtold said Seals likely would be treated on site and that
his condition would be updated on Tuesday.

Detroit Lions: Receiver Roy Williams
made his first appearance at training camp, saying he's
ready to work after signing a five-year contract with the team.

Williams, the seventh overall pick from Texas, was in Michigan
last week for rookie orientation, and after missing Friday and
Saturday's sessions he spent Sunday night reviewing the three team
meetings that he missed.

Williams reported to camp weighing in at 220 pounds, eight
pounds heavier than what he weighed during minicamp in late April.
The added muscle on his 6-foot-3 frame came in handy when the team
began seven-on-seven drills in the red zone.

"It's fun to be out here and start working," Williams said.
"I only missed a day and a half of practices and I'm caught up
already. (Rookie running back) Kevin Jones is my roommate, so I
stole his playbook and got my reading in."

Williams worked out with the first unit from the start and was
greeted early in practice with an elbow while getting jammed at the
line by cornerback Dre' Bly.

San Francisco 49ers: Eric Johnson won't let an injured
right thumb hinder his comeback.

The fourth-year tight end returned to practice after missing the team's three previous sessions. He dislocated the
thumb during Saturday's late practice.

Johnson visited a hand specialist Sunday and later had an MRI
that revealed a torn ligament in the thumb. He will practice with a
soft cast on his hand for the next month that leaves his four
fingers free.

"It wasn't as serious as it could have been," 49ers coach
Dennis Erickson said. "He'll have to have the padding there to
protect his thumb, but he'll play in the preseason and be able to
go cast-free before our first (regular-season) game."

Lewis breaks hand: Rookie safety Keith Lewis, the team's
sixth-round draft choice, broke a bone in his right hand Sunday but
will not miss any practice time.

Lewis was again getting physical in the secondary during team
drills Monday morning with his right hand and forearm weighed down
by a cumbersome cast.

For the second consecutive day, Lewis delivered a crunching hit
during drills that leveled an offensive player. He hit tight end
Gabe Crecion, who left the field with a stinger and watched the
rest of practice with ice on his shoulder.

On Sunday, Lewis walloped fullback Jasen Isom on a screen pass,
drawing the ire of coaches and some veteran players.

Tennessee Titans: Linebacker Peter Sirmon
twisted his left knee during the Titans' first training camp
session in full pads, and coach Jeff Fisher said he would have an
MRI as a precaution.

Sirmon has started 25 games at left outside linebacker for the
Titans over the past two seasons and was second on the team with a
career-high 141 tackles in 2003.

Sirmon hurt his knee on a running play he wasn't directly
involved in and went to the sideline, where trainers quickly
wrapped it with ice. Fisher said Sirmon's knee didn't appear to be
hurt seriously.

"The doctors are not too awfully concerned with it. To be on
the safe side, we'll get that (MRI) done immediately,'' Fisher

Rookie cornerback Michael Waddell also bruised a shoulder.

"The irony is the first day in pads we had two injuries, really
non-contact type injuries," Fisher said.

Minnesota Vikings: Rookie linebacker Dontarrious Thomas
signed a contract, ending a two-day

Thomas, the team's second-round draft pick, arrived in camp
after agreeing to the terms late Sunday, according to Rob
Brzezinski, the team's vice president of football operations.

Thomas, a linebacker from Auburn who was the 48th overall
selection, is expected to battle second-year man Mike Nattiel for
the starting job at weakside linebacker.

Last year, running back Onterrio Smith, a fourth-round pick,
held out for two days before signing.

Denver Broncos: Running back Tatum Bell, who broke
his right middle finger returning punts Saturday, should be able to
return to normal workouts after four or five days.

"It all depends on can he handle the pain," coach Mike
Shanahan said Monday.

Bell, who ended a holdout over a contract dispute Friday, had
surgery Sunday to install pins into the finger. Out of concern the
finger might get infected, doctors advised the Broncos to give him
four or five days off before returning to drills.

Shanahan had minimal concern about Bell's absence from practice.
Bell, a second-round draft choice this year, was able to attend 17
workouts in several team minicamps to get acclimated to the
offense, and because it is a non-leg injury, the Broncos will be
able to keep Bell in a conditioning regime.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Upgrades to Jacksonville's Alltel
Stadium are expected to be done in time for the first Jaguars
preseason game in three weeks, but officials say the work is going
to cost about $1.5 million more than budgeted.

The city and Jaguars owners agreed to spend $13 million to
spruce up the city-owned stadium. Anything over that will be picked
up by the team.

The city is paying for its portion from a fund filled by ticket
fees, rent and a hotel bed tax.

Team officials say when fans show up for the first preseason
game Friday, August 20th they'll see fresh paint, new carpet and
furniture, and renovated concession areas.

Workers are also waterproofing some building material and adding
two new Jumbotron scoreboards above each end zones.