Training Camp Roundup: Sept. 2


The New York Jets signed veteran Ben Hartsock to a one-year deal Wednesday, filling their need for a blocking tight end, his agent told The Associated Press.

Hartsock, who spent last season with Atlanta, signed with the Jets a day after the Falcons released him, agent Mike McCartney said.

The Jets, who hadn't yet announced the signing, also waived punter Glenn Pakulak.

Hartsock, 29, played his first two seasons with Indianapolis and also played two seasons with Tennessee. He has 27 catches for 273 yards in five seasons, but the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Hartsock will be counted on to be the blocking complement to pass-receiving tight end Dustin Keller.

-- The Associated Press


San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner has confirmed what most people already guessed, that LaDainian Tomlinson will not play in Friday night's exhibition finale against San Francisco.

Tomlinson started the first two exhibitions, bucking a tradition of having him sit out the entire preseason slate in order to stay healthy. He did sit out last Saturday's loss at Atlanta.

Most other starters will be in for 10 to 15 plays.

It's also highly unlikely that running back-return specialist Darren Sproles will play Friday. Sproles has touched the ball 16 times in the exhibition season, including rushes, receptions and returns, which Turner believes is enough for Sproles to get ready for the Sept. 14 regular-season opener at Oakland.

-- The Associated Press

DAVIS IS 49ERS' THIRD QB (6:06 p.m. ET)

Nate Davis knows he's already shown the doubters just by winning a roster spot with the San Francisco 49ers.

Davis is unfazed by a learning disability that makes it difficult for him to grasp the playbook and transfer that information onto the field.

He carries himself with a confidence and poise in the huddle that has earned the talented rookie a job as the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback -- not to mention the respect of his new teammates and coaches. And that's sure saying something for the former Ball State standout, who fell to the fifth round in April's draft largely because of his challenges.

His selection spot: 171st overall.

"I know that every team was a little hesitant taking me because of my learning disability," Davis said Wednesday before hitting the practice field in advance of Friday's exhibition finale at San Diego. "You know what, I came off and I was honest during the combine. I came out and the first thing I told them was, 'Listen, I have a learning disability.' I wasn't going to hide nothing. I wanted them to know, and that I can overcome it."

Davis' heads-up play behind center helped the 49ers to comeback victories in each of their last two preseason games, and on Tuesday the team cut veteran Damon Huard and kept Davis.

Davis does fine with film work and understanding the X's and O's, but has trouble when it comes to reading and writing because he might transpose letters and words here and there. It's a disability similar to dyslexia, so the coaches must exhibit extra patience with Davis to teach him the offense in the most basic of ways.

"It was hard. I'm a very visual learner, so I've got to see it, got to do it," Davis said. "I've been working hard. Coach [Mike] Johnson and coach [Jimmy] Raye and coach Mike [Singletary], they've been giving me techniques that have been helping me learn the offense."

-- The Associated Press


It's less than two weeks from the regular-season opener and the Houston Texans' defense is far from set.

At least two starting spots remain up for grabs. Rookie first-round pick Brian Cushing, who was scheduled to start at strongside linebacker, still hasn't played because of a knee injury.

Coach Gary Kubiak says he has no doubt Cushing will be ready to play Sept. 13 against the Jets and he could play Friday against Tampa Bay.

He would like Cushing to start the opener, but knows that starting as a rookie after little or no preseason game experience would be difficult.

The Texans are also trying to decide who will start alongside Amobi Okoye at defensive tackle and the second cornerback position is up in the air as Dunta Robinson continues his holdout.

-- The Associated Press


The Bengals have their first home sellout of the regular season, and it's not their opener.

The club announced on Wednesday that a Sept. 27 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has sold out. That game always attracts thousands of Steelers fans who make the five-hour drive and turn Paul Brown Stadium into something akin to their home field.

It's the only one of eight regular-season home games to sell out so far. Tickets are left for the Sept. 13 home opener against Denver. Cincinnati has sold out its last 44 regular-season home games.

The Bengals are coming off a 4-11-1 season that dashed interest in the team. Cincinnati has one winning record in the past 18 years.

-- The Associated Press


The Tampa Bay on Wednesday announced it had signed guard Marcus Johnson and released center Sean Mahan.

Johnson played in 47 games with the Minnesota Vikings from 2005 to '08 before signing with the Oakland Raiders this past offseason. He was released by the Raiders on Monday.

Mahan, whom the Bucs drafted in 2003, was reacquired by Tampa Bay in a 2008 preseason trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played a total of five seasons with the Buccaneers and one season with the Steelers, appearing in 88 games with 52 starts.

-- ESPN.com news services


Linebacker Pat Thomas was released by the Bills after missing most of training camp with a nagging lower leg injury that prevented him from competing for a backup job.

Coach Dick Jauron said the move was made before practice Wednesday, a day before the Bills host Detroit in both teams' final preseason game. Thomas had been cleared for practice this week after missing part of the team's spring minicamps and most of training camp.

Thomas, a four-year NFL player, signed a one-year deal with Buffalo in March after playing in 12 games with Kansas City last year.

Starting defensive end Chris Kelsay was excused from practice and will miss Thursday's game to be with his daughter, who is having surgery in Chicago.

-- The Associated Press


Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has ruled wide receivers Anquan Boldin (hamstring) and Early Doucet (ribs) out of Arizona's Thursday night preseason finale against the Denver Broncos.

Boldin developed a hamstring problem in practice a week ago and did not play in the Cardinals' game against Green Bay on Friday. Doucet reportedly suffered broken ribs during that game, a 44-37 loss.

-- ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter


Brodie Croyle will get the start in the Kansas City Chiefs' preseason finale against the St. Louis Rams on Thursday. He and Tyler Thigpen are also potentially playing for the starting job when the regular season starts Sept. 13 -- if Matt Cassel isn't ready to return from a knee injury.

"It's a small piece [of the decision], but all of the pieces are pretty big right now as we get down to the wire," said Chiefs coach Todd Haley, according to the Kansas City Star. "Every day is an evaluation. We've got to lean on everything we know, and in the next couple of days we'll learn some more."

Haley indicated that how long Croyle plays against the Rams on Thursday could depend on how well he plays, according to the report. So a good performance Thursday might hand Croyle the starting job until Cassel returns.

When a season-ending knee injury knocked Croyle out of the lineup last October, his future in Kansas City appeared to be in jeopardy. But he worked hard to rehab the injury and has impressed his coaches, according to the report.

"That's what you work for," Croyle said, according to the Star. "You don't work just to make a paycheck or hope you make a team. If you're going to rehab from something like that, you have something in mind."

-- ESPN.com news services


Thursday night's preseason game in Tennessee could be quarterback Brian Brohm's best chance to show the Green Bay Packers why he once was considered a potential top 10 draft pick. It also could be his last.

After being beaten out by less-heralded fellow rookie Matt Flynn to be Aaron Rodgers' primary backup last year, Brohm is having another uneven preseason.

Flynn is nursing a shoulder injury and Rodgers is likely to play only a series or two, meaning Brohm will play most of the game. Another shaky performance could put his roster spot in jeopardy.

Brohm freely admits he struggled and lost confidence as a rookie, but insists his performance this year hasn't been as bad as statistics might indicate.

"Some people may have seen a little bit of failure and wanted to say right away, 'Oh, he lost his confidence,'" Brohm said. "I feel like I've bounced back from every mistake I've had out there and I've come back with some good plays to follow that up. I've been confident in my abilities throughout this entire camp."

-- ESPN.com news services