Around NFL training camps: Aug. 4

Updated: August 4, 2009, 11:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BILLS' LYNCH READY TO BE CHEERLEADER (11:16 p.m. ET)
A day after the NFL denied his appeal of a 3-game suspension, Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch said he was ready to assume a new, temporary role on the team.

"I'm going to be the biggest cheerleader Buffalo has seen in a while," Lynch said after training camp practice at St. John Fisher College on Tuesday night.

Lynch, suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy after being arrested on a gun charge in February, will be rooting for reserves Fred Jackson and Dominic Rhodes to carry the load in his absence, beginning with the Bills' regular-season opener on Sept. 14 in a Monday night game at New England.

-- The Associated Press

RAVENS' GREGG SAYS KNEE 'FEELS GOOD' (7:45 p.m. ET)
The only reminders that Baltimore's Kelly Gregg missed all of last season after microfracture surgery were the scars on the nose tackle's left knee.

Gregg has been physically dominating offensive linemen at training camp, an indication that the surgery was a complete success. He is building an impressive comeback as he tries to regain his status as one of the most dominant run-stopping defensive linemen in the NFL.

Doctors drilled holes into his knee joint during the surgery to create scar tissue to replace an absence of cartilage in the joint.

"It's tough to shut it down for a year and bite the bullet, but I had to do it," Gregg said following a practice at McDaniel College. "Maybe that will add a year or two to my career. It wasn't getting no better. So, I had to finally look myself in the mirror and get 'er done.

"It feels good, no swelling. At this time last year, I would lay in my bed at training camp and I couldn't even straighten out my leg. I still have my sea legs, but they're coming back."

-- The Associated Press

RAIDERS' O'NEAL PREPARING FOR SEASON OPENER (7:29 p.m. ET)
Almost a full year after his NFL career was feared to be over, Oakland Raiders fullback Oren O'Neal is making plans to play when the Raiders open the regular season.

The knee injury that landed him in a hospital last August is almost completely healed. The limp in his stride is gone. The only noticeable reminder is a thick brace the third-year pro wears on his left leg.

"The fact that I'm walking, that's a blessing in itself," O'Neal said. "The fact that I can run around and move with everybody else, that's a blessing on top of a blessing."

O'Neal tore both the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee on the opening kickoff during an Aug. 23 preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. One of the hamstring muscles attached to O'Neal's knee also tore away and had to be surgically reattached.

-- The Associated Press

PANTHERS SCRAMBLE TO REPLACE KEMOEATU (7:00 p.m. ET)
Maake Kemoeatu sat in the shade off to the side of Carolina's practice field Tuesday, his right leg extended and wrapped in an air cast. A pair of crutches rested on a folding chair next to him.

A day after completely tearing his Achilles tendon, the Panthers' largest player and top run-stuffer could only watch a group of inexperienced defensive tackles try to replace him.

Kemoeatu is scheduled for surgery Wednesday, but remains hopeful that "maybe I'll make it back for the last month of the season." Kemoeatu hasn't been placed on injured reserve, and coach John Fox said the Panthers will consider holding a roster spot for him.

For now, Fox and new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks are more concerned with finding an immediate replacement at a position the salary cap-strapped Panthers had almost no depth in entering camp.

Nick Hayden, who played in two games as a rookie last season, worked with the first team Tuesday. Behind him are undrafted rookies Marlon Favorite and Lonnie Harvey, and Lorenzo Williams, who had a short stint on Carolina's practice squad last season.

-- The Associated Press

REDSKINS RECEIVER IS SELF-PROCLAIMED 'TWITTER KING' (6:37 p.m. ET)
Washington receiver Trent Shelton is the Redskins' self-proclaimed "Twitter King."

The long shot vying for a roster spot at training camp rattled off six in 16 minutes after Tuesday's morning practice, including one about his interview with The Associated Press for this story.

Shelton has knocked out 6,111 tweets since launching his Twitter account in April -- and he's closing in on 20,000 followers.

"They tell me I'm the Twitter king so I'm sitting on the throne right now," Shelton said. "It's like a reality show. You get people in your life, read every minute of your life, see what you're doing."

-- The Associated Press

WARD HELD OUT FROM STEELERS' PRACTICE AGAIN (6:05 p.m. ET)
Hines Ward didn't appear at the Pittsburgh Steelers' afternoon practice until he started running sprints with Willie Parker midway through the two-hour workout.

Four days into camp, Ward has practiced once. He said Tuesday he's not injured, although he had offseason shoulder surgery.

Ward said he's taking CTO -- coach's time off.

Coach Mike Tomlin is giving several experienced Steelers considerable rest early in camp following the team's Super Bowl run, including safety Troy Polamalu and Ward. Polamalu reported to camp with a sore hamstring.

"I can't knock what Coach Tomlin is doing," Ward said. "He's a proven coach, he's won the Super Bowl. Yeah, it looks a little strange, me not out there and people wondering, but it's his team."

-- The Associated Press

LEINART FIGHTING FOR CARDS' BACKUP JOB (5:45 p.m. ET)
A year ago in training camp, Matt Leinart was trying, and ultimately failing, to keep the Arizona starting quarterback job.

Now he's in a fight to remain No. 2.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt assured Brian St. Pierre that he'd get a shot at the backup job to Kurt Warner, and he hasn't backed off that pledge in the first week of camp.

"I think they're just pushing me, as they've been doing for a long time now," Leinart said in an interview on Tuesday. "I've been through a lot the last couple of years and seen a lot of different situations and stuff, so what's another one for the books?"

Leinart says he's confident in his abilities -- and he laughs off suggestions that this is another sign that his NFL career is a bust.

-- The Associated Press

IS LJ FINALLY CONTENT IN KANSAS CITY? (5:24 p.m. ET)
Kansas City has been through various incarnations of Larry Johnson.

There was workhorse Larry, injured Larry, trouble-with-the-law Larry. The Chiefs have seen recommitted Larry, malcontent Larry, then apologetic Larry after trouble-with-the-law Larry reappeared.

Now the Chiefs are experiencing a new version: content Larry.

Well, maybe it's not completely new. Johnson claimed to be content before last season. Turned out to be an impostor.This time, though, Johnson, through his actions and attitude, seems to be serious.

"From the day I took the job, Larry Johnson has appeared to enjoy football and enjoy working at it, and I'm excited about it," first-year Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. "I've not had an issue with Larry Johnson and what he's done."

-- The Associated Press

STEELERS' BATCH WORRIED ABOUT LABOR ISSUES (5:19 p.m. ET)
Charlie Batch wonders if NFL players realize they could lose their family's health insurance next spring, plus their 401(k) retirement plan matches and nearly every other league-provided benefit.

If the NFL labor agreement expires in March without a new deal in place, player salaries for 2010 won't be capped, but there won't be a minimum, either. Sure, a quarterback might get $10 million, but the punter signed at midseason theoretically could be told it's a take-it-or-leave-it $100,000, about one-third the current minimum.

Asked to guess the odds of an owners' lockout in 2011, Batch said, "100 percent."

That's why, speaking at the league's annual rookie symposium this summer, Batch advised players to have their finances in place for the next 24 months. Watch their money, watch who's watching it and watch what's going on with the labor talks.

"Nobody wants to get to that point [where the 2011 season is threatened], and you hope a deal can be struck before then, but no serious talks have begun," said Batch, the Pittsburgh Steelers' player representative and an NFL player since 1998. "So how can you be optimistic and say it's going to get done?"

-- The Associated Press

COLTS BRING NEW LOOK TO DEFENSE (5:15 p.m. ET)
When Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis emerged as a tag-team menace for quarterbacks, Indianapolis opponents foiled them with extra blockers. All the time.

Now the Colts are plotting their countermove.

New defensive coordinator Larry Coyer has spent the past five months devising ways to free up players like Freeney and Mathis to become more effective -- without sacrificing the system or the core principles that led the Colts to a Super Bowl title after the 2006 season.

"It's just little tweaks here and there," safety Antoine Bethea said. "But this new defense is something out of the ordinary from what you're used to seeing from the Colts. It's going to be exciting."

-- The Associated Press

BULGER ADJUSTING TO WEST COAST OFFENSE (3:41 p.m. ET)
The switch to the West Coast offense is taking some time to sink in for Rams quarterback Marc Bulger.

New coach Steve Spagnuolo hired Pat Shurmur as offensive coordinator, and Shurmur is going with the West Coast offense.

Bulger played for Mike Martz when the Rams had a wide-open offense that overwhelmed teams. But Bulger has been forced to adjust to numerous coaches and offensive coordinators. He admits this change is taking some getting used to.

Bulger says he's starting to get a mental picture when he hears terms for the new offense. And Spagnuolo has been impressed with the 32-year-old quarterback, who is trying to rebound after two subpar seasons.

-- The Associated Press

PACKERS GETTING THE HANG OF 3-4 DEFENSE (2:18 p.m. ET)
Four days into training camp, new Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers believes his players are capable of making a successful transition to his 3-4 defensive alignment.

Now it's just a question of doing everything right on every down.

Speaking to reporters for the first time at camp, Capers said Tuesday that the defense isn't as consistent as it needs to be, though he sees signs of progress.

Capers, a former head coach in Carolina and Houston, was brought in to overhaul a defense that played a major role in the team's 6-10 finish last season.

-- The Associated Press

EDWARDS STILL SIDELINED BY MYSTERY INJURY (2:12 p.m. ET)
Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards is sitting out his fourth day of practice with an injury the team isn't discussing.

Cleveland coach Eric Mangini has refused to reveal the nature of Edwards' injury and reiterated on Tuesday that Cleveland's top playmaker will be on the field when he is medically cleared by the Browns' training staff.

Edwards was placed on the "active nonfootball injury" list last week, one day after he was late in reporting to the Browns' camp. Edwards, whose 2008 season was plagued by dropped passes and a foot injury sustained in training camp, has been limited to riding a stationary bike, agility drills and sprints while his teammates practice.

He also missed minicamp with an unspecified injury.

-- The Associated Press

LIONS DT JACKSON JOINS TEAM AT CAMP (10:28 a.m. ET)
The Detroit Lions welcomed defensive tackle Grady Jackson to practice Tuesday. The 12-year veteran missed the first three days of training camp with an unspecified illness.

Detroit signed the 345-pound Jackson after he started 14 games last season for Atlanta.

Rookie tight end Brandon Pettigrew, the 20th pick in April's NFL draft, missed his second straight day of practice with a thigh injury.

-- The Associated Press

SUGGS: NO WORRIES ABOUT FOOT (9:10 a.m. ET)
Terrell Suggs signed a six-year, $62.5 million contract during the offseason to remain with the Baltimore Ravens. So the sight of the star linebacker on the sidelines wearing a protective boot on his left foot Monday raised eyebrows at Ravens camp.

But both Suggs and his coach say everything's going to be fine.

"It's nothing to get all worried about," Suggs said Monday, according to Baltimore-area media reports. "I knew it wasn't a big issue because I hobbled off on it. Anytime you can walk on it or hobble on it, it's not that bad. They said just a couple of days, just treat it, and I'll get back as fast as I can."

Coach John Harbaugh also offered reassurances that Suggs, who hasn't missed a game in six seasons, won't be hindered.

"Suggs should be fine," he said. "He put in three really good, hard days. He is off to a good start."

BRADY HOPES TO PLAY ALL PRESEASON GAMES (9:08 a.m. ET)
Don't count Tom Brady among those who believe the NFL's preseason schedule is a waste of time.

In an interview on Sirius Satellite Radio's Mad Dog Channel, the New England Patriots quarterback wondered if the four preseason games he missed with a foot injury contributed to his season-ending knee injury in Week 1 of the regular season.

"It was unfortunate that I wasn't out there last year because hopefully that really could've helped me out in terms of my timing for the first game," Brady said Monday, according to Sirius. "You never know if I could've avoided the hit that I took had I been out there to understand the presence in the pocket. So I want to be out there to participate."

Brady intends the 2009 preseason to be different.

"We've got four preseason games," Brady said, according to Sirius. "If I play in all of them, I'd be very happy about that."

PACE FEELING REINVIGORATED WITH BEARS (9:06 a.m. ET)
At 33, Orlando Pace says he feels rejuvenated after signing with the Chicago Bears and believes he can regain the form that led to seven Pro Bowl selections with the St. Louis Rams before he was limited by injuries.

By adding quarterback Jay Cutler and Pace to a mix that already included a six-time Pro Bowl center in Olin Kreutz, along with promising young players such as Matt Forte and tight end Greg Olsen, the Bears believe an offense that ranked 26th last season will be more productive.

While Pace believes that he can flash his old form as long as he stays healthy, he also sees himself as just an addition, a player trying to fit in. On the Bears' line, Kreutz is the dominant personality, and that's fine with Pace.

"All I do is laugh, because this guy, he keeps it going man," Pace said. "I always enjoy being around him. He always has something to say, as you guys probably know, so he's just fun to be around."

-- The Associated Press

MORGAN WANTS TO BE NINERS' TOP RECEIVER (9:04 a.m. ET)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Josh Morgan, building on his promising rookie season and a standout spring, is challenging not only for a starting position, but also to be the 49ers' No. 1 target.

"I want everybody to say, 'Josh Morgan is our best receiver,'" Morgan said Monday. "I feel I can make a difference and be a big playmaker on this team, and that keeps me hungry. The sky's the limit, and I'm not going to be satisfied until I reach my potential."

The team drafted Michael Crabtree -- who remains unsigned -- with its first-round pick, and veteran Isaac Bruce returns, along with veterans Arnaz Battle, Jason Hill and Dominique Zeigler on the roster. But Morgan, a unheralded sixth-round pick from Virginia Tech last season, is emerging as a rising star. One of the team's stars of spring workouts, Morgan has carried that over to the summer and has been shining on a daily basis in camp.

Morgan averaged 16.0 yards on his 20 receptions in an injury-shortened 2008. Each of his three touchdown catches went for 30 yards or longer and he recorded several of the team's most spectacular catches.

-- The Associated Press

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