49ers will be shorthanded as camp gets going

The San Francisco 49ers will be well short of a full squad when they get on the practice field Thursday for the first time in training camp.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that four rookies were placed on the active/non-football injury list and five veterans will also not be available.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, will either be placed on injured reserve with the chance of returning or on the physically unable to perform list. Fellow wide receivers Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams, running back Kendall Hunter and linebacker Darius Fleming are all on the active/physically unable to perform list.

As far as rookies go, running back Marcus Lattimore, defensive linemen Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial and offensive tackle Luke Marquardt are on the NFI list.

Per the report, Hunter and Williams might not be far off from being cleared to return and Fleming also could be back in the relatively near future. Players can be returned from PUP or NFI at any point during camp.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Giants safety Will Hill nets another 4-game suspension

New York Giants safety Will Hill was suspended for four games last October for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, claiming that he had tested positive for Adderall.

Now, Hill will sit out the first four games of the 2013 season after he was suspended for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse. Hill will be eligible to participate in all of training camp and preseason but will miss the first four games of the season – and will not be paid for the first four weeks.

Hill was undrafted following his college career at Florida and the New York Daily News reports there were “rumors of drug use.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Current, former Cowboys listed as possible witnesses for Brent trial

The Dallas County, Texas, district attorney’s office expects the case against former Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent to go to trial beginning in September.

Asked about the possibility of a plea for Brent, who is accused of intoxication manslaughter in the death of former teammate Jerry Brown, assistant district attorney Heath Harris said, “We’re ready to go to trial, to let the citizens of Dallas County decide how strict our intoxication laws are going to be,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The report also indicates six current or former Cowboys have been listed by prosecutors as potential witnesses to be called in the trial. Those are safeties Barry Church and Danny McCray and cornerback Orlando Scandrick and retired safety Gerald Sensabaugh, ex-cornerback Michael Jenkins and released fullback Lawrence Vickers.

Brent has twice tested positive for marijuana while he has been awaiting trial. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Missouri governor waiting to hear from Rams on stadium issue

Officials in Missouri are waiting to see what the next step is by the St. Louis Rams after plans to a $700 million renovation plan for the Edward Jones Dome was formally shot down by the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.

The Rams will be able to opt out of their lease following the 2014 season but most expect owner Stan Kroenke to work to find a solution in St. Louis. Whether that means upgrades for the current stadium or potentially a new one, no one knows.

Gov. Jay Nixon said he is waiting for the team to take the first step, according to Tim Logan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“The ball’s in their court to say what they need for long-term stability,” Nixon said. “We look forward to hearing from them.”

Nixon said any talks between him and Kroenke would remain private but it appears that the governor could hold a key role in how this situation could be resolved in the future.

As we know with most stadium situations, they are delicate operations involving lots of moving parts and lots of power brokers. It’s going to take considerable time before something is accomplished here.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Report: Cowboys expected to sign Demetress Bell

The Dallas Cowboys are expected to add veteran offensive tackle Demetress Bell to fill one of four open spots on the team’s 90-man roster.

Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas reports that Bell is expected to join the mix as a potential swing tackle. The team had been in talks with him after the Philadelphia Eagles cut him in a cap move in February as it was uncertain how the Doug Free situation would play out.

Bell joined the Eagles last year after Jason Peters was lost to injury, signing a $35 million, five-year contract. He started only five games but has ample starting experience from his days with the Buffalo Bills. Bell can be a credible backup on both sides of the line.

Per Archer, the Cowboys are also expected to add quarterback Alex Tanney and wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Daunte Culpepper forfeits home worth millions

Former Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper surrendered a nearly 10,000-square foot home in Broward County, Fla., to SunTrust Bank to avoid foreclosure.

Culpepper, a former star for the Minnesota Vikings, bought the $3.6 million home after he joined the Miami Dolphins in 2006, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The bank agreed to drop a lawsuit against Culpepper earlier this month. The bank claimed he owed $3 million.

Injuries curtailed Culpepper’s career and he last played in the United Football League in 2010. He also spent time with the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Teammate tried to get $1 million from Ahmad Brooks after fight

When Lamar Divens could not get $1 million out of teammate Ahmad Brooks for allegedly beating him with a beer bottle last month, he tried to press charges against the San Francisco 49ers linebacker.

But authorities have opted not to pursue criminal charges against Brooks, who for a brief period of time was facing a felony warrant for his arrest.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports the Santa Clara County district attorney said there was a previous incident between the two players at a barbecue in May in which Brooks received a cut. In the June 8 incident, Brooks allegedly repeatedly struck Divens in the head with the bottle and punched him in the face. Divens required stitches.

Divens initially told police he would press charges and then changed his mind because it would be bad for the careers of both platers. When Brooks would not pay Divens $1 million, Divens changed his mind again and tried to pursue charges.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Rodgers says it will be 'different' without Jennings, Driver

Times are changing in Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers admitted it “is a little different” without veteran wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver this season.

Jennings exited via free agency to the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings and Driver, the leading receiver in Green Bay Packers history, is retired.

“Not having those two and a good friend of mine, Charles Woodson, who I played with for a long time just like those guys — that's different,” Rodgers told Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “So, we're a different football team. Lacking a little in the experience part, but making up for it in the talent and the young guys that we brought in.”

That puts pressure on the group that was most productive last season when injuries sidelined Jennings for much of the year. Randall Cobb led the team with 80 receptions. James Jones and Jordy Nelson are also at wide receiver with Jermichael Finley in the mix as the tight end.

Rodgers also likes some less heralded players.

“You have Jarrett Boykin, who came on last year and I think his role can increase,” Rodgers said. “You have Jeremy Ross, who made some big plays for us. And you've got some undrafted and some drafted guys who are going to be in the mix.”

If Rodgers has the kind of season he is capable of, he’ll likely develop some of that young talent.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Pierre Garcon cleared to return from shoulder injury

Pierre Garcon’s right shoulder has checked out and the wide receiver will be cleared to practice when the Washington Redskins head to training camp next week in Richmond, Va.

Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports that Garcon, who underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum, had a positive visit with Dr. James Andrews earlier this week.

The injury kept Garcon out of the entire offseason program, forcing him to do rehabilitation work. A major free-agent addition last season, Garcon missed six games because of a toe injury. He chose not to have surgery on the toe in his right foot in the offseason because there was no assurance that it would solve the problem for him.

Garcon is dealing with the toe issue by wearing inserts in his practice and game cleats. He will have a custom cleat, per the report.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Bucs replace injured Barth with Tynes

Typically when kickers are signed at this time of year, a team is seeking a camp leg, someone to help them get through the grind of practices and preseason.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wish they were so fortunate. They have added former New York Giants veteran Lawrence Tynes after learning that Connor Barth will miss the entire season after he ruptured his right Achilles tendon in a charity basketball game in his hometown of Wilmington, N.C., on Friday.

Barth declined comment according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune but he told a television outlet in North Carolina he was feeling good following surgery and hoped to be kicking again in another six months. Barth was placed on the non-football injury list.

Barth is the all-time leader in Bucs history with a field-goal percentage of 84.3. Tynes is a good find on the street at this point. He’s proven to be a clutch performer in postseason.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune