Aubrayo Franklin a no-show for start of 49ers camp

The San Francisco 49ers have opened training camp and as far as it goes for the whereabouts of nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, well, he’s not where the team was hoping he would be.

Franklin did not report this morning when veteran 49ers players were required to do so, but seeing as he has yet to sign the franchise tag tender the club made him, he’s not required to be anywhere and he’s not subject to discipline by the club for any time that is missed.

The 49ers have tagged him meaning a salary of $7.003 million will be guaranteed once he puts a pen to the contract. As Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports, it’s not a real surprise that Franklin is not in camp and the expectation is he will show up sooner or later. There is nothing alarming about the matter at this point.

It could be that Franklin isn’t interested in the grind of a Mike Singletary training camp, especially when he could be one productive season away from a lucrative longterm contract. So, maybe he wants to miss some hitting for the first few weeks and maybe even a preseason game or two before arriving. He certainly wouldn’t be the first player to take that approach. He just needs to hope there isn’t an Albert Haynesworth Conditioning Test when he arrives.

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Pat Williams has an expletive good time laying out Toby Gerhart

Years from now, perhaps Toby Gerhart will look back on his ‘Welcome to the NFL moment’ with some sort of appreciation for the rite of passage.

Otherwise, he’ll probably consider Pat Williams a compete ass—-. Because it was Williams who clobbered Gerhart during the first Minnesota Vikings practice in full pads this morning, drilling the rookie running back as he came to the hole. As Tom Pelissero if ESPN 1500 noted, perhaps it was Williams letting the second-round draft pick from Stanford know that the veterans recognized he was a day late getting to training camp as he waited to complete his contract.

The hit that laid out Gerhart was to the excitement of the crowd.

“This ain't college no more,” Williams told Pelissero. “They're grown mans out there. (Expletive.) Paying these college boys like they already played before, so (expletive), we just show 'em. This is a different breed out there. This is grown men. It ain't boys no more. But they pay 'em like they done played in the NFL now.”

And in the NFL, apparently apologies are not in order after bone-rattling camp hits.

“(Expletive). I don't apologize to nobody,” Williams said. “(Expletive), get your ass up. Let's go. Point blank. That's how I roll. I've been playing for like 14 years. I don't complain about nothing. I don't whine about nothing. I'm just coming to camp to have fun. Same old, same old every year.”

Fortunately, Gerhart said he was expecting to be knocked around a little. Hey, it’s football. This is the NFL. Expletive.

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Sean Morey opts to retire

The NFL is losing one of the good guys with news that Sean Morey, a veteran special teams ace, has decided to retire on the eve of the beginning of training camp with the Seattle Seahawks.

Morey, 34, represented the Arizona Cardinals in the Pro Bowl in 2008. He spent the previous three years with the Cardinals before signing with the Seahawks and new coach Pete Carroll. A Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times notes, Morey broke into the league as an undrafted player from Brown with the New England Patriots in 1999 when Carroll was the coach.

No indication has been given as to why the decision was made at this point by Morey. He has been a very active member in the NFLPA and is involved with the brain-injury committee.

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DeSean Jackson carted off field

The Philadelphia Eagles suffered a big-time blow early in training camp last summer when middle linebacker Stewart Bradley was lost for the season with a torn ACL.

They got another early scare today as wide receiver DeSean Jackson was carted off the practice field after catching a pass from Kevin Kolb, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Jackson reportedly appeared to injure his back on the play. He limped off the field and then was whisked by cart away from the practice fields in Bethlehem, Pa., and to the locker room.

The Eagles were not wearing pads during the 7-on-7 passing drills. Jackson did not appear to hit any defensive players on the play in question, but did twist awkwardly. Stay tuned. Hopefully, Jackson isn’t seriously injured.

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Murray ready for heavy dose of carries at OU

One of the more intriguing Big 12 storylines heading into the 2010 season is the health of Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray.

There’s no question that Murray is as talented as any rusher in the entire country. The only thing that has held him back from reaching his full potential in Norman has been his inability to stay healthy for an entire season. As he prepares for his senior campaign with the Sooners, Murray has stressed the confidence that he can have an injury-free final season and hit the 1,500-yard mark on the ground.

High expectations, right?

Earlier in the offseason, Sooners head coach Bob Stoops teased the media that he didn’t think 1,500 yards was enough for Murray. His loftier goal for the athletic tailback? Try 1,900 yards — Adrian Peterson and Quentin Griffin territory.

DeMarco MurrayICONIf he can stay healthy, DeMarco Murray should have a huge year for the Sooners.

For a back who has had only one 1,000-yard season in his career (1,002 in 2008), that’s an ambitious number. But having watched some of the runs Murray has broken off throughout his career when he was healthy, I’m taking my money to the bank and buying the Murray hype for 2010.

And that was before Stoops’ comments on Wednesday.

The head coach suggested that if Murray can stay healthy, he could garner an Adrian Peterson-type role on the team.

“He’s had some bad luck with some odd, different injuries, and I really believe coming into this year, with his experience, his ability to run but to catch the ball out of the backfield, we really anticipate him having a really big year for us,” Stoops said.

“We’re hoping in line of similar to a guy like Adrian Peterson — that kind of opportunity to run the ball or have his hands on the ball that number of times is what we're hoping for.”

With Chris Brown departing, Murray is finally the lead guy in Norman. Despite the Sooners’ depth in the backfield — even taking into account Mossis Madu’s issue with his DUI charge — the running game will begin and end with Murray if he can avoid the trainer’s room.

And Murray has no qualms about being handed the rock consistently and performing up to A.P.’s level at OU.

“Adrian is a good friend of mine and I’ve talked to him about how do you do this and how do you do that,” he said. “I do feel if I am healthy, I could have a better year than him. He's a great player, and I have tremendous respect for him, but he has always told me to shoot for the moon.”

With a healthy Murray, the entire Sooners offense may be able to land on the moon.

All indications are that quarterback Landry Jones is ready to lead the Sooners for a full season. And with a deep group of receivers led by Ryan Broyles, the Sooners will have weapons all over the field.

But at the end of the day, the offense will only be as strong as Murray is healthy. And for Murray’s future playing career, a rise up the 2011 NFL draft boards would certainly follow if he can play a full season.

So are you buying into the idea of Murray as the next A.P. for the Sooners this season?

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Haynesworth has knee injury

Albert Haynesworth rested today and did not take a third conditioning test to see if he could begin practicing with the Washington Redskins.

It wasn’t because Haynesworth wanted to rest up his tired legs in order to better attempt to pass the test on Sunday. Haynesworth has a knee injury, coach Mike Shanahan announced when practice was over.

“Here's a setback already,” Shanahan said. “His knee's a little bit swollen. Hopefully it's not too bad.”

Haynesworth failed conditioning tests on Thursday and Friday and was expected to see if the third time was the charm this morning. Instead, he observed parts of practice. He’s being forced to pass conditioning tests because he skipped the entire offseason workout program, including mandatory minicamp.

Haynesworth has done some work on the field after practice with coaches where they explain terminology and basic principles of the 3-4 scheme to him.

“Even though he's not in pads,” Shanahan said, “he's still getting the work in.”

When Haynesworth can start getting legitimate work done on the field, who knows?

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2010 NFP Scouting Series: Wisconsin

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will be breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who could warrant the most interest from NFL teams in the 2011 draft.

Therefore, today we take a look at the Wisconsin Badgers.

TolzienICONTolzien lacks an NFL caliber skill set.

QB Scott Tolzien: No. 16 (6-2, 214)
An undersized quarterback prospect who looks thin and lacks ideal girth through his upper body. Isn’t a real strong-armed guy and doesn’t generate a ton of torque from his lower half. Knows how to take snaps from under center, but struggles to get away from the line of scrimmage quickly, gets fidgety in the pocket and doesn’t do a great job transferring his weight from his back foot to his front foot and striding into throws. Has a tendency to force the ball into coverage in the face of pressure and lacks the arm strength to be late with a read. However, showcases above-average accuracy when his initial read is on and exhibits good timing when asked to anticipate a throw.

Is a tough kid who has battled through adversity and has some real grit to his game, picking up first downs with his legs and putting his body in harms way for the better of the team. Looks natural on the move and deciphers information well when asked to break containment and improvise. However, doesn’t seem to have a good feel of reading defenses, even in his pre-snap reads, failing to consistently recognize the blitz and holding onto the football far too long waiting for receivers to uncover.

Impression: A tough college quarterback who has the grit and toughness to help move the chains from time to time, but isn’t a legit NFL quarterback prospect.

TE Lance Kendricks: No. 84 (6-3, 240)
Lacks ideal size for the position, but is an impressive motion man who can be moved around the offense and routinely create mismatches in the pass game. Exhibits a good initial burst off the line with his hand in the ground. Takes a positive first step into his routes, cleanly is able to slip defenders and accelerates quickly down the field. Runs well vertically, has the ability to consistently threaten the seam and looks natural adjusting to throws and plucking the football away from his frame. Is an above-average route runner at this stage who exhibits the balance and body control to quickly get out of his breaks and accelerate away from man coverage. Has a tendency to start to drift into his routes and will show his breaks a bit early, but uses his frame well to shield defenders from the throw. Also, possesses a good feel for zone coverage, knows how to find soft spots and quickly get his head around in search of the throw. Demonstrates the coordination and body control to consistently adjust to the throw and displays soft hands when asked to reel in the tough grab.

Exhibits a willingness to block as a motion man, takes good angles into contact and can consistently kick out defenders on contact on the move. Now, isn’t going to drive anyone off the football in the run game and is rarely run behind, but is athletic and long enough to quickly get around reach blocks and seal off the edge.

Impression: Looks like the next talented Wisconsin tight end to come out of the program. Lacks ideal size, but can be a tough cover in the pass game and knows how to get around blocks and seal in the run game. I don’t think if he will ever be a legit starting “on the line Y” in the NFL, but he certainly has the ability to make his way onto the field and create plays in the pass game at a variety of positions.

CarimiICONCarimi lacks ideal range for the left tackle position and looks better suited to play on the right side.

OT Gabe Carimi: No. 68 (6-7, 320)
A long, well put together offensive tackle prospect who has some real nasty to his game and possesses good overall strength for the postion. However, isn’t the most flexible of linemen when asked to sit into his stance and doesn’t consistently take the most positive of first steps off the line. Struggles to consistently keep his base down and footwork compact on his kick-slide and can be bullied at the point at times because of overextended footwork. Now, is a very patient puncher and does a nice job delivering a compact, strong jolt into contact. But too often explosive defensive ends are able to reach the corner on his kick-slide, forcing him to quickly open up his hips and lunge into his target, hoping to push them past the play. Displays the ability to anchor with consistency against the bull rush and exhibits good power in his upper body once he get his hands on you.

Exhibits a good first step off the snap in the run game and is able to keep his pad level down much more consistently, creating initial movement as an in-line guy and looked comfortable when asked to seal defenders away from the play. Also, was pretty impressive in the open field for a guy his size, getting out to the second level with ease, reaching a target and sealing them from the play.

Impression: Isn’t a guy who I would trust on the left side at this stage in the NFL, but he can win for you in the run game and looks more like a solid right tackle prospect to me.

OG John Moffitt: No. 74 (6-4, 321)
Is an above-average bender for his size and does a decent job getting set out of his stance quickly in pass protection. Looks comfortable shuffling his feet and staying patient as a puncher. However, isn’t a real rangy guard and will struggle to mirror in space. Possesses only average lateral range inside and lacks the type of power and hand placement to lock out through on contact once an opposing lineman gains a step. Will get his arms outside the pads of the defenders and can be out leveraged and bullied into the backfield. Now, does look natural sliding his feet and keeping his base down through contact once he get his hands on you, but lacks the type of lateral agility to simply hold up one-on-one on an island inside.

Doesn’t exhibit a great first step off the snap in the run game either. Has a tendency to allow defenders to get into his frame initially and lacks the type of pad level to get under opposing linemen and consistently drive them off the football. Consistently is just forced to turn defenders from the play on contact and ends up on the ground routinely because of it. Looks athletic enough to get out to the second level in the run game and has average range when asked to pull, but really struggles to break down and consistently hit/seal a moving target.

Impression: Wasn’t the type of in-line run blocker I expected and needs to play in tighter quarters in order to be effective. Doesn’t look like much more than a reserve type in the NFL.


ILB Culmer St. Jean: No. 15 (5-11, 239)
Lacks ideal size and isn’t real rangy when asked to make plays in pursuit. Struggles to get up to speed quickly and doesn’t exhibit the initial burst to consistently close on the football. Works hard inside and has some violence in his hands trying to shed blocks, but lacks the size to anchor on contact and can be pushed around/sealed when run at.

Displays above-average instincts in coverage and does a nice job getting early jumps on the football. However, is slow to redirect and lacks the ability to cleanly/quickly change directions and close on the throw away from his frame. Is a solid wrap-up tackler in a phone booth, but doesn’t make many tackles in pursuit and doesn’t generate a real jolt through his hips on contact; is more of a drag down guy.

Impression: His lack of ideal size and range really limits his chances at the next level.

S Jay Valai: No. 2 (5-8, 205)
An undersized safety prospect who isn’t afraid to throw his body around and can generate a real thump on contact. Displays good force as a striker and can consistently bring his legs through contact. Loves to attack downhill and separate ball from man in the pass game. However, isn’t overly instinctive when asked to read his run/pass keys. Takes him a bit to decipher what he’s seeing and has a tendency to get too high in his drop, which causes him to struggle to generate a burst out of his breaks and quickly close on the ball. Possesses only decent speed and will see his angles outpaced in space when asked to chase the play sideline-to-sideline.

Impression: He’s a football player who loves to hit, there is no doubt about that. However, he’s really undersized, doesn’t run well and takes too long to read and react to make up for his physical shortcomings in the NFL.

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On the third day, Albert Haynesworth rests

On the third day, he rested.

That’s right. Albert Haynesworth will not give Mike Shanahan’s conditioning test a try today. The Washington Post reports that the disgruntled defensive tackle has opted to not try to pass the grueling exercise this morning because he perhaps wishes to rest his legs and give it a shot on Sunday.

That means the $100 million man, who has pocketed $32 million from owner Daniel Snyder before Year 2 with the Redskins, will sit and watch for a third straight day at Redskins Park as his teammates practice and Haynesworth endures further humiliation.

Haynesworth failed conditioning tests on Thursday and Friday and Shanahan has been unyielding on the matter. Haynesworth was on the practice field for about 10 minutes earlier this morning with no helmet on. He has done individual work with barrels after practice the first two days as they try to teach him the very basics of Jim Haslett’s 3-4 scheme.

“There's a pace you have to have, a certain tempo each 25 yards, and I expect him to pass it pretty soon,” Ray Wright, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, told media Friday.

Until Haynesworth does pass it, the biggest story in camp will be how the highest-paid player on the team locked horns with the coach and lost.

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Donald Penn wins game of chicken with Bucs

Right about now, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are saying all the right things about left tackle Donald Penn.

The team announced via its Twitter account that a longterm extension for the veteran has been finalized. Penn is headed out on to the practice field, a good sign after the Bucs headed to training camp not knowing if they would have blindside protection for young quarterback Josh Freeman.

In the staredown, that didn’t last too long, Penn clearly was victorious. That should make the Bucs winners in the long run. Penn had refused all offseason to sign a restricted free agent tender for $3.168 million. In mid-June, the front office lowered the offer by $100,000. That was about the time that critical comments by general manager Mark Dominik to a group of season-ticket holders were splashed in the press. Dominik essentially said the team wasn’t investing in Penn because he was a slob.

Now, that has changed. Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times reported the deal would likely be close to the $60 million, six-year contracts Jordan Gross in Carolina and D’Brickashaw Ferguson of the New York Jets received.

In the end, the Bucs are taking care of a player that has been good to them. Now, he needs to reward the club.

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The impact of the Bryant injury in Dallas

Let’s talk about Dez Bryant’s injury down in Dallas…

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the rookie WR has a high ankle sprain that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks. Enough to keep him out of training camp entirely? Possibly, because the rehab period for a high ankle sprain is an extremely slow process—especially for a skill player. A tough injury for a position that relies on explosion, cutting ability and top end speed.

The obvious discussion on the table is the competition battle that was supposed to take place with veteran Roy Williams. The same player who was in the middle of the story that drove headlines last week when the rookie refused to carry his pads.

Dez BryantICONAccording to reports, Bryant will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.

That battle? Forget about it, because when you are in the training room in an NFL camp you become a ghost. The team moves on and any chance you had to win a job is gone. It is the harsh reality of this league when it comes to injuries.

But, what about the projected impact from Bryant? That is what I want to talk about. Maybe he would have taken Williams job by September, maybe not. However, what the Cowboys now have to worry about is the lack of time Bryant will see on the field. Any rookie, no matter how much talent they are perceived to have, needs those reps to start learning the pro game.

For a receiver, it is even more crucial to see press coverage on a daily basis, learn the pro route tree and start to gain an understanding of how NFL defenses disguise coverages. We see it every year from rookies at the WR position. They struggle with their development and they struggle with their transition to Sundays. Camp is the ideal place for rookies to make mistakes, go over corrections and start to see the speed of the pro game in a competitive environment throughout the preseason schedule. Bryant will miss time in camp that can’t be made up—or replicated in the film room. He will spend most of his time working with the training staff, instead of working with the coaches.

Because of the injury, the Dallas offense will get a player that will equal a camp holdout by the time he comes back when we talk about practice time that is missed. His football conditioning will be behind schedule and it will take time after this injury to run and cut at full speed. And, he will have to work to gain the trust of Tony Romo and this offense in a small amount of time before the games start to count. Not easy to do for any player–veteran or rookie.

Tough to see a high-profile rookie go down this early in camp. The Cowboys will get Bryant back in the regular season—and maybe before—but the overall development is something we have to question with an injury like this.

A big talent to have in the training room right now for Jerry Jones.

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