Around The NFL: News, Notes & Rumors

Jake Locker (Getty)

Jake Locker is already assuming a leadership role in Tennessee, Peyton Manning says he'll have no ill effects from neck surgery, Tim Tebow continues to position himself as the starter in Denver and much more inside.


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Locker,Jake (Tennessee Titans)

QB Jake Locker began working out with his new teammates Tuesday at Father Ryan High School in Nashville.

"I just want to spend some time with the guys and get familiar with them and get comfortable with them and kind of forge a little bit of a relationship with them," Locker said.

While in town, he is staying with wide receiver Damian Williams, who has the same agent.

"Damian and I are represented by the same agency, so we've had a chance to be at some of the same functions and I've been able to talk with him," Locker said.

Locker said he is planning to be in town for 10 days, Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan has organized a minicamp that starts on June 8.

Said Locker, "I can get out there with some guys that have been in the league for a little while and guys have been with the Titans. It's a chance to get out there and work with them for a little bit and get familiar with them."

While unable to talk with coaches, Locker said it can still be a positive experience.

"It's a little different, from a mental standpoint," he said. "We're probably not going to be able to get in as much as we would if it was a normal year, but I think it's just kind of (about) getting there and making the best of the situation."

He hopes to be prepared enough to play if that's what the Titans want to do.

He said, "I've said throughout this process that my goal is to be prepared when I get my opportunity and take advantage, whether that's the first game of the year, or the middle of the year or next year, whenever it is. I'm going to do everything I can to prepare myself when I do get that opportunity and capitalize on it. My goal is to be as competitive as possible throughout the whole process and to give myself the opportunity to play as early as I can."

Analysis: Locker was a fan favorite throughout his college career at Washington and the Titan faithful should become accustomed to this type of positive behavior from their new face of the franchise.



Haynesworth,Albert (Washington Redskins)

DL Albert Haynesworth had a road-rage assault charge in Fairfax, Va. dropped when he reached a settlement with the alleged victim.

The trial had been postponed last week to give the sides time to discuss an agreement before Tuesday's rescheduled hearing. Details of the settlement weren't disclosed.

Haynesworth was accused of punching a man during a traffic altercation in February.

He also has a July 11 trial date stemming from a misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse. A deal was rejected earlier this month in which Haynesworth would have pleaded guilty to simple assault with the sexual abuse charge being dropped. Attorney A. Scott Bolden said the offer from the prosecutors wasn't accepted because Haynesworth is innocent.

The alleged incident occurred on Feb. 12 when a cocktail waitress accused Haynesworth. Bolden claims the woman fabricated the story and said, "It's about money."

Analysis: Haynesworth has brought a lot of negative attention to himself this offseason. That negative attention, however, will be all but forgotten if he's able to regain his identity as the NFL's most feared defender.



Stafford,Matthew (Detroit Lions)

QB Matthew Stafford is ready to excel, according to Jim Schwartz, but the Lions' head coach stated the obvious when he said Stafford has to stay healthy.

"That's been the issue," Schwartz said. "Matt doesn't need to develop anymore. He doesn't need to learn the offense. He doesn't need to work on accuracy or anything. He needs to be out there playing. He played three games for us last year and he left all three games with the lead. (He had) six touchdowns and one interception in the equivalent of about two games.

"You put those stats over the course of a season and you see how special a player he can be. That's the difference; you won't be a good team for an extended period of time without a good quarterback. We have one with Matt. We just need to keep him on the field."

Analysis: Stafford's talent can't be denied but his inability to stay on the field has stunted his growth. Should he stay healthy in 2011, look for the Lions to make a push for the playoffs, even in a loaded NFC North division.



Manning,Peyton (Indianapolis Colts)

QB Peyton Manning should have no problems recovering from recent neck surgery, according to club vice chairman Bill Polian.

Said Polian, "We've got little or no worry. This was just a minor procedure to relieve a little pressure on the nerve. I told them (doctors) to call me if there were any further problems, and no one's called."

Manning also had surgery in March, 2010, because of a nerve issue in his neck.

He told the Indianapolis Star, "There is plenty of time for recovery," explaining after the surgery last year he began working out within a week and lifting weights two weeks afterward.

Analysis: Why anyone is questioning Manning's ability to come back from neck surgery is beyond me. I'll take Manning's word that he won't miss a beat on the way to another 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown season.



Ponder,Christian (Minnesota Vikings)

QB Christian Ponder is trying to gather his teammates for workouts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., so they can practice with the new playbook.

Ponder got a copy the day after the first round of the draft, and proceeded to go to Kinko's and make numerous copies.

Said Ponder, "You see all these other teams doing workouts, and we were one of the few teams that wasn't doing anything. Somebody had to get the ball rolling. I thought as a quarterback, it was up to me to do it. A lot of the veteran guys I reached out to were all gung-ho and excited about it. Everyone was good to me.

"It's huge to start getting that bond going, and as a quarterback, you've got to be comfortable with all the guys around you. To lead and to influence, you have to get to know them personally. I'm excited about getting to know everybody. These are my teammates, and this is my family for as many years as I'm here."

As of Wednesday, veteran receivers Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe hadn't participated, but receiver Greg Camarillo had been there since Monday.

"To work with your teammates, that's when you build camaraderie," Camarillo said. "It's something you can't do on your own. You have to be around the guys to get that going. ... Just to start getting on the same page. I can learn (Ponder's) style as a quarterback, he can learn my style as a receiver. ... We can start getting a feel for each other, so that when we finally do get started, it's not Square 1 and we're a little ahead of the game."

Noting the new offense being implemented by offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, Camarillo said, "We're at an extra disadvantage because it's a new offense. We haven't had a chance to hear the coaches' philosophies on things. Basic things may sound simple, but when you get a whole bunch of plays and a whole bunch of routes, you're learning a new language."

Analysis: Ponder will undoubtedly be one of the most scrutinized players hailing from this year's draft. His ability to get it done off the field won't be an issue but on the field could be another story.



Sharper,Darren (New Orleans Saints)

S Darren Sharper said he wants to play a 15th NFL season - preferably with the New Orleans Saints - but he "just wants a deal" somewhere.

Sharper missed eight games last season due to knee and hamstring injuries, and Malcolm Jenkins is entrenched as the starter after a strong 2010 season. If Sharper re-signs with the Saints, it would likely be as a backup.

Sharper said he is healthy now, and ready to help some team. He hopes his experience will be coveted by one of the many teams in need of safety help once the lockout ends, which will likely come with an abbreviated training camp and possibly shortened preseason.

"I don't want to hobble out of the game," he told the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Sharper had just 16 tackles last season while starting one game.

Analysis: There's no questioning that Shaper's best years are behind him. That said, Sharper's experience is even more valuable to the Saints because of the limited practice time caused from the lockout.



Smith,Alex (San Francisco 49ers)

QB Alex Smith can't be talked about anymore by coach Jim Harbaugh.

Throughout the offseason, Harbaugh has mentioned numerous times that he expects Smith to be the top competitor for the team's quarterback job when the lockout ends. Smith was even given a playbook.

What's different is that Smith doesn't have a contract for 2011, even though he has said he expects to re-sign.

Finally, the NFL informed Harbaugh and the team not to talk about Smith any more.

Said Harbaugh, "The NFL has mandated that we don't talk about players who are not under contract; who are free agents who haven't signed. We've been sent a memo saying we can't talk about it."

Analysis: A somewhat silly intricacy due to the lockout, but expect Smith to be a 49er once normal league activities resume.



Britt,Kenny (Tennessee Titans)

WR Kenny Britt had a felony charges of eluding a police officer changed to three misdemeanor disorderly person charges along with driving violations, according to The Tennessean. It stems from an April 12 arrest in New Jersey in which Britt allegedly tried to speed away from police after being clocked driving 71 mph in a 50-mph zone.

Analysis: Certainly a boneheaded move by Britt but the results could have been worse. Let's hope Britt's able to stay in good standing so his tremendous ability can be showcased on the field.



Tebow,Tim (Denver Broncos)

QB Tim Tebow organized workouts with Denver Broncos receivers in the Jacksonville area last week, according to a report by ESPN. That included the second-year quarterback flying in Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Britt Davis and putting them up in a hotel for a week of workouts in Tebow's hometown.

Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) and Eddie Royal (hamstring) did not participate as they recover from injuries, and Eric Decker had a previous commitment, according to the report. Tebow and his receivers worked on conditioning and timing, among other things, and there are plans to work out again together in Arizona in June.

Tebow also participate in player-only workouts organized by Broncos safety Brian Dawkins earlier this month. He's expected to compete with Kyle Orton for the starting job as long as Orton isn't traded before the start of the season. Brady Quinn could also factor into the competition.

Analysis: Regardless of what he says, Tebow is trying to win over his teammates in Denver. The process started during his rookie campaign and won't stop until he overcomes Kyle Orton as the Broncos' starter.



Collie,Austin (Indianapolis Colts)

WR Austin Collie said walking away from football was never a consideration despite suffering multiple concussions in 2010.

"I don't think for me there really was a decision," Collie told the Indianapolis Star. "I didn't even entertain the thought of not coming back. I think the media made their own stories as far as what I was going to do."

Collie was named as the winner of the 2010 Noble Max Award by the Colts in December. The award, which goes to a player who has overcome adversity during the season, was voted on by media who cover the team on a regular basis.

Collie had 58 receptions for 649 yards and eight touchdown catches in just nine games. He had 60 total catches and seven touchdowns in 16 games as a rookie.

Analysis: Collie suffered through some scary moments a year ago but appears to have no lingering effects. As a receiver often roaming the middle of the field, Collie is one player not objecting to the league's crackdown on illegal hits.



Collins,Kerry (Tennessee Titans)

QB Kerry Collins might not be interested in returning to the Tennessee Titans to serve as a mentor to rookie Jake Locker. He will become a free agent once the lockout ends.

"I'm not sure Kerry isn't going to say, 'I'm done,' and ride off into the sunset," offensive lineman Jake Scott told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "I don't think he wants to come back and be a nursemaid to a young kid. Money's not an issue to him."

The next quarterback on the depth chart is second-year player Rusty Smith, meaning the Titans would likely seek to bring in another veteran for the 2011 season, although Locker could take over the starting job at some point depending on how quickly he picks up the offense and make the transition to the NFL.

Analysis: Tennessee would prefer to let Locker learn from the sidelines in 2011 but the incoming rookie might be rushed into action. Although unlikely, Collins could potentially find a starting job elsewhere for one more season.

Information from the Sports Xchange was used in this report


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com


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