Rice had last-minute retirement thoughts

Updated: August 1, 2005, 8:15 PM ET
Associated Press

Denver Broncos: Jerry Rice almost had a last-second change of heart about trying to play a 21st season in the NFL.

Rice revealed to The Denver Post, in Sunday's editions, that he showed up late for the team's reporting day Thursday, only after a last-second decision to catch an afternoon flight from his home in California to Denver.

"I was torn," Rice said.

He said he called coach Mike Shanahan and told him he was having second thoughts. Shanahan told Rice he could retire if he wanted but that there was no truth to media reports that Rice had no future with the Broncos.

"There was a very good possibility that I was not going to get on that plane," Rice told the Post. "There was weight on my shoulders. But then I started thinking that the hunger is still there and the flashes are still there. I started thinking about how much I enjoy football. I started thinking about my new teammates. I remembered that Mike Shanahan had stuck his neck out for me. And that I had signed a contract. I am going to honor that contract."

Detroit Lions: Former Southern California receiver Mike Williams remained a no-show Sunday at the Lions' training camp as attempts to sign him to a contract continued.

Lions President Matt Millen said negotiations are picking up.

"We're close," Millen said Sunday afternoon. "I know he wants to get something done and get out here."

Williams led the Trojans in receiving yards (1,314) and touchdowns (16) as a sophomore in 2003, but has not played competitive football since.

After a court ruled in February 2004 that Maurice Clarett was eligible to play in the league, Williams hired an agent and tried to follow him. But an appeals court overturned the earlier ruling and upheld the NFL's right to bar players who had been out of high school less than three years.

Williams attempted to return to USC for his junior season, but the NCAA turned down his request last August. He spent last season training with former Minnesota receiver Cris Carter.

Williams' absence from Allen Park has given Shaun Cody, his former USC teammate, a chance to shine.

Cody missed the first 15 minutes of the Lions' first practice on Friday because he was signing his own contract.

"I'm glad I got that done," Cody said after Friday's practice. "Even then that was really close. I didn't want to miss a couple of days."

San Francisco 49ers: Offensive lineman Paul Zukauskas signed with the Niners on Sunday after four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

Zukauskas, a seventh-round draft pick in 2001, started five games at right guard for the Browns last season before becoming a free agent. He started 10 games at the position in 2003.

In May, Zukauskas was acquitted of drunken driving charges after a trial in Medina, Ohio.

The 49ers hope Zukauskas will provide depth on a line missing center Jeremy Newberry and rookie guard David Baas because of injuries.

Seattle Seahawks: Coming out of college, Seneca Wallace resisted requests by some NFL teams that he move to receiver. And coach Mike Holmgren now insists Wallace is the team's No. 2 quarterback.

So why is he returning punts at training camp?

Wallace spends most of his time with the offense, working behind starter Matt Hasselbeck now that Trent Dilfer, last year's backup, is in Cleveland. But Wallace also works with the punt squads, as he did in mini-camps this spring.

"If it gets me on the field and I can help the team, sure, I'll do it," he said. "But that's totally Mike's call. If I go out and practice it, I'll always do the best I can. I'll make sure I catch balls and do things correctly."

No question, Wallace has the skills to be an outstanding punt returner.

The former Iowa State star bewildered opponents in college with his quick feet and dazzling scrambles, but his size -- 5-foot-11, 196 pounds -- scared off some NFL teams who were shopping for a quarterback.

"It's been hard at times," Wallace said. "You just have to battle through stuff. My hope is that people will look at me as an athlete and know I can play. You just have to stay positive, affirm that you're going to keep getting better."

Going into his third year as a pro, Wallace still hasn't played in the regular season. Holmgren doesn't sound too concerned, promising the young quarterback plenty of snaps this preseason.

"Right now, the job is his," Holmgren said, referring to the backup spot.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys' two first-round draft picks practiced for the first time after signing five-year contracts Sunday.

Defensive end Demarcus Ware, the 11th overall pick, signed a $13 million deal which includes $10 million in guaranteed money. The deal for Marcus Spears, another defensive end taken 20th overall, was for $9.3 million, with $6.7 million of that guaranteed.

Ware and Spears missed the first day of training camp practices while negotiations of their deals were being concluded. Both were in camp Sunday, passing coach Bill Parcells' conditioning tests and then taking part in the team's only practice of the day.

"It was real tough because I flew in with the team and expected to practice the first day," Spears said. "I guess when the business wasn't done, I kind of got a little down about it wanting to be out here with the guys. ... We got the business side done. Now I'm out here trying to get better and how this system goes."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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