Kiel, facing felony drug chargers, returns to practice

Updated: October 4, 2006, 11:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN DIEGO -- Chargers safety Terrence Kiel, who is facing five felony drug charges, on Wednesday went through his first full-scale practice since being arrested last week at the team's headquarters.

Terrence Kiel
Kiel

Free on a $160,000 bond, Kiel could return to the starting lineup on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

"It feels good to be running around," Kiel said. "It's always been a blessing to play football. Any time I can get out there on the field I think you should take advantage of it."

Kiel has been charged with shipping and possession of large quantities of prescription cough syrup, which is a controlled substance. Although Drug Enforcement Administration investigators said Kiel admitted he shipped at least two packages and knew of the contents, Kiel pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Tuesday.

According to an affidavit for a search warrant, FedEx managers searched a package Kiel mailed with his FedEx account in June and found 15 bottles of Prometh prescription cough syrup in the box. A boarding pass found inside the box led DEA agents to an address Kiel used to register a car. Three bottles of Prometh were seized last week at that address.

Kiel paid cash to send a second package to Texas in September, prompting a FedEx manager to contact the DEA, according to the affidavit.

Kiel could face up to seven years, four months in prison if convicted, prosecutor James Fontaine told the San Diego Union-Tribune. But most cases are settled before trial. Kiel's trial readiness hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14.

"At the next hearing, we'll talk with Mr. Grimes and discuss settling the case," Fontaine told the Union-Tribune.

Kiel, who has started 38 games for the Chargers, wasn't allowed to practice last week or play in Sunday's devastating loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

"I'm not going to say I'm encouraged but I would like to say I have faith in God. The legal system, that will all play out. I put faith in God before I put it in the legal system or anybody else."
-- Terrence Kiel on facing felony drug charges

"It was hard for me to watch," Kiel said. "I wasn't out there, but I felt like I was out there mentally and physically with the team. I wish I was out there of course. I didn't want to be watching it on TV. I'd rather be playing it. But other than that I was there mentally with them."

Kiel's teammates have been supportive.

"That's my brother," cornerback Quentin Jammer said. "This is a family away from home because we spend so much time with these guys, they become family. You put your arm around him and you just let him know that everything will work itself out. God will find a way to work everything out and he'll be OK."

Added quarterback Philip Rivers: "I treat him like I always would if I saw him on a regular morning and I think that is what he wants. It was a tough week for him and it affected us in a way of not having a guy here. But I don't treat him differently. He'll step in and I expect him to have a good game. You never hope anybody gets in those situations. But he has handled everything well and we do support him."

Kiel hopes his situation turns out better than some expect.

"I'm not going to say I'm encouraged but I would like to say I have faith in God," Kiel said. "The legal system, that will all play out. I put faith in God before I put it in the legal system or anybody else."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.