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NFL notebook: Luck vows to play Week 1

Sports Xchange
13 Jun 2018, 09:38 GMT+10

Andrew Luck threw a football at minicamp on Tuesday and vowed he will play in the season opener.

"Absolutely. No knock on wood," said Luck on Tuesday, per Kevin Bowen of 1070 The Fan. "I believe it in my bones."

Luck, who missed the entire 2017 season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery, threw a high school-sized football during individual drills on Tuesday.

Aside from tossing the ball around with head coach Frank Reich two weeks ago, Luck has not thrown an NFL football in workouts since he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum on Jan. 15, 2017.

Reich expects the three-time Pro Bowl selection to play in the preseason. Luck anticipates a program that will be similar to his typical work regiment during the regular season, where he will throw from Wednesday through Friday and again on Sunday.

"The pain is gone and it's going to stay that way," said Luck.

--Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is skipping this week's mandatory minicamp in a bid to secure a new contract, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

Johnson, who was absent from Tuesday's opener of minicamp, is set to make a base salary of $1.8 million in the final year of his rookie contract this season.

"Cardinals' RB David Johnson is a holdout for this week's mandatory minicamp that begins today, per league sources," Schefter wrote on Twitter. "The two sides have been in discussions regarding a new contract and are hopeful a new deal will be reached before the start of the season."

The 26-year-old Johnson missed nearly the entire 2017 season after suffering a dislocated wrist in Week 1.

--Los Angeles Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald was not present for the start of mandatory minicamp.

Donald's absence comes on the heels of the Los Angeles Times reporting that there was no indication that he would show up for the minicamp.

The 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Donald has been seeking a new contract since last year. He skipped voluntary offseason activities before attending mandatory minicamp in 2017, although he didn't practice.

Donald is slated to make $6.89 million in the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. He is eligible to be fined $84,435 should he sit out the entire minicamp this week.

--Denver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray is scheduled to undergo bone fusion surgery on his wrist Thursday, coach Vance Joseph said.

It will be the fourth operation in a year on the wrist for Ray. Initial reports listed a recovery of three months, but Joseph said that was not definitive.

Ray recently posted on his Instagram account that he was dealing with complications from a previous surgery and did not re-injure his wrist. The injury limited Ray to eight games in 2017. He dislocated the wrist in preseason and started the year on injured reserve.

--Rookie quarterback Josh Allen will receive his first opportunity to work with the projected starting unit this week, Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said.

Allen, who was selected by the Bills with the seventh overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, will spend most of his time with the third-team group. McDermott noted that the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Allen will get occasional snaps with the starters, however.

"He's worked hard ... this has been part of the plan from the start. But give Josh credit, he's earned it," McDermott said, per Sal Capaccio of WGR 550.

Quarterbacks Nathan Peterman and A.J. McCarron have taken the starting reps thus far this offseason for the Bills.

--Aaron Rodgers was one of 16 select veteran players excused from the Green Bay Packers' mandatory minicamp by head coach Mike McCarthy.

Fellow quarterbacks DeShone Kizer and Brett Hundley were expected to receive additional reps in the absence of Rodgers, who is a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player and six-time Pro Bowl selection.

It's the third straight offseason that McCarthy has given select veterans a free pass for mandatory minicamp.

"They deserve it, where they are particularly in their career," McCarthy said, per ESPN. "And as we all know, the second part is there's only so many reps that you can accomplish throughout the offseason. So really focused on the veterans there through the OTAs and now the focus will start, really with (last) Thursday's practice and today's practice, tomorrow and Thursday's practice will be exclusively for our young players."

--San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman offered some glowing reviews of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after receiving clearance to participate in individual drills at this week's team minicamp.

Sherman has been working his way back from season-ending surgery for a torn right Achilles in November as well as a procedure on his other foot during the offseason.

The four-time Pro Bowl cornerback got the green light to participate in drills on Tuesday and is on track to be at "full speed" for the start of training camp, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters. Sherman also told the media that he likes what he sees from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who won all five starts last season after he was acquired from the New England Patriots.

"James is great, man. He's fun," said Sherman, per the San Jose Mercury News. "He's been phenomenal around the team. He goes through every single read. His mind works really fast, which is cool to see."

--Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul showed up at minicamp and dismissed any concerns that missing organized team activities has him playing catch-up.

"Can you make up? Of course. Like I said, I'm a pro. Even though I wasn't here I was at home studying and making sure I know the calls, the installs," Pierre-Paul said in his media briefing. "That's just something you do. You keep (doing) your work, keep working out -- every day I woke up at 6 a.m. and went to the gym, got out of there at 8 a.m."

Returning to the state where he starred collegiately at the University of South Florida, Pierre-Paul is part of a revamped defensive line that includes first-round draft pick Vita Vea. Tampa Bay's defense rank last in yards allowed and sacks last season.

"The expectations, man, for every team is to win the Super Bowl, right? That's the expectations for basically every team," said Pierre-Paul. "Every year you come in and you think you're going to do it, but the reality is, it's not like that. ... It's not just saying it, it's actually doing it."

--Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan is skipping mandatory minicamp in pursuit of a long-term contract, the team announced.

"As we start the mandatory veteran minicamp, we were informed by the representatives for Taylor Lewan that he would not be attending the camp," Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in a statement. "We have had several constructive conversations over the last 5-6 weeks about his contract status. He is currently under contract and we are working to keep Taylor as part of this organization for a long time."

Lewan, who is scheduled to make $9.341 million in 2018, has been a Pro Bowl selection for each of the past two seasons. The 6-foot-7, 309-pound Lewan was selected by Tennessee with the 11th overall pick of the 2014 draft out of Michigan.

--The Oakland Raiders signed veteran defensive linemen Frostee Rucker and Ahtyba Rubin.

Rucker, 34, played the past five seasons for the Arizona Cardinals, and he started all 16 games last year, recording 1.5 sacks and 30 tackles.

He has played in 142 games, including 72 starts, during his 11-year NFL career.

The 31-year-old Rubin played in 12 games last season -- 10 for the Atlanta Falcons and two for the Denver Broncos -- but he did not start any of them.

--Jay Ajayi is expected to be featured in a more prominent role in the Philadelphia Eagles' backfield, per running backs coach Duce Staley.

Ajayi found himself splitting carries in 2017 after the Eagles acquired him in an in-season trade with the Miami Dolphins. The 24-year-old rushed for 408 yards on 70 carries in seven regular-season games with the Eagles before adding 184 more in three postseason tilts.

"I'm pretty sure that Jay is excited about being able to go out there and dominate and being able to be that guy," Staley said, via the team website. "I know Doug (Pederson, head coach) is excited about it also. We'll see."

While LeGarrette Blount has since moved on to the Detroit Lions, Corey Clement is now joined by Darren Sproles after the veteran speedster's return from a torn ACL. Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey are also in the mix while former Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones was added to the team as well.

--The Cleveland Browns stumbled through the second winless 16-game season in history in 2017, but there are some worst-to-first predictions coming out of the team's minicamp.

Specifically, some of the Browns are touting the potential of the team's passing game, with wide receiver Josh Gordon saying he is part of the league's top unit.

"The best receiving corps in the league, in my opinion, already. Just because of talent alone," said Gordon on Tuesday, per cleveland.com. "We're not short on talent at the wide receiver position at all."

Gordon, who has appeared in only 10 games over the past four seasons due to multiple violations of the league's policy on substance abuse, is part of a wideout corps that includes offseason acquisition Jarvis Landry and former first-round pick Corey Coleman.

--Quarterback Christian Hackenberg's brief tenure with the Oakland Raiders is already over.

The Raiders waived Hackenberg, a move that came just three weeks after he was acquired from the New York Jets for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2019.

The release of Hackenberg nixes the deal with the Jets and allows Oakland to retain the draft pick. The Raiders also waived linebacker Brady Sheldon to accommodate the signing of defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Frostee Rucker.

Hackenberg never entered a game in two seasons with the New York Jets after being a second-round pick in 2016. The trade came shortly after Hackenberg criticized New York's staff for what he perceived as a lack of coaching to correct his issues.

--Cleveland Browns defensive back Howard Wilson is expected to miss the season after undergoing surgery.

Wilson had to go under the knife to repair a torn patellar tendon, an injury that will likely keep him off the field for the second straight year, according to Cleveland.com.

A fourth-round draft pick of the Browns in 2017 out of the University of Houston, Brown missed his rookie campaign due to a fractured kneecap.

Cleveland used its second first-round pick this year -- No. 4 overall -- to take cornerback Denzel Ward out of Ohio State. Ward already is practicing with the first team.

--The Washington Redskins presented Super Bowl rings to the replacement players from the team's 1987 squad.

More than 25 replacement players were in attendance at Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park to receive their rings. The event culminated with the surprise appearance from 1987 Super Bowl-winning quarterback Doug Williams, wide receiver Gary Clark and defensive end Dexter Manley, who joined the replacement players for a group photo.

"Sometimes it's not when it comes, it's the fact that it came," Williams said, per ESPN. "Today is a great day for everybody. ... When it came up about them receiving rings, I thought it was a good opportunity to show them we appreciated them."

The Redskins' replacement players posted a 3-0 mark during the strike that lasted from Weeks 4-6 during the 1987 season. Washington's third win in that stretch was a 13-7 victory over the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys, who were playing with regulars -- including running back Tony Dorsett and defensive lineman Randy White.

--Free-agent running back Jamaal Charles is expected to visit the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

That Saints are looking at a number of running backs, with Tim Hightower in for a tryout during Tuesday's minicamp and Terrance West also scheduled to make a visit this week.

Charles will be visiting the club following nine seasons in Kansas City and one in Denver in 2017. The 31-year-old Charles had 69 carries for 296 yards to go along with 23 receptions for 129 yards receiving last season with the Broncos.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Charles was released by Kansas City in February 2017 after becoming the Chiefs' career rushing leader.

--Charean Williams became the first female winner of the Dick McCann Award, the Professional Football Writers of America announced.

Williams is the 50th recipient of the McCann Award, which goes to a reporter who has made a long and distinguished contribution to pro football through coverage.

In her second season with Pro Football Talk, Williams was a longtime reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and a past president of the PFWA during the 2009-10 seasons.

Williams earned the honor over a field that included Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, Clark Judge of Talk of Fame Network, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com and Gary Myers, a former staffer at the New York Daily News.

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