NFL Notebook

Lockout’s legacy may be increase in injuries

Associated Press / August 11, 2011

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Chiefs coach Todd Haley has been reluctant to put pads on his players the first two weeks of training camp, unsure what kind of condition they arrived in after the NFL lockout wiped away the offseason. He scrapped any sort of scrimmage prior to the team’s first exhibition game for the same reason.

Gazing around the league, Haley’s cautious approach is making him look like a genius.

Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara will miss about two months after breaking his foot, and fellow first-rounder Nick Fairley of the Lions is out most of camp after foot surgery. Detroit’s second-round draft pick, running back Mikel Leshoure, is done for the year after tearing his Achilles’ tendon Monday - the 10th player to sustain the same season-ending injury since the lockout ended and players went back to work.

Now, every time someone gets banged up, it begs the question: Is the lockout to blame?

“I don’t know the answer to that,’’ Haley said. “That’s why, for the most part, we’ve been doing things as we’ve been doing them, which is one day at a time and doing the best job we can as a staff, evaluating our guys a number of different ways. And we always evaluate the physical readiness of guys.’’

That evaluation is in hyperdrive with the first exhibition games scheduled tonight. All the coaches have been balancing uncomfortably between getting players conditioned while at the same time protecting them from injury.

“I think there’s 32 different answers to how coaches and players are approaching this,’’ said Thom Mayer, the NFL Players’ Association’s medical director. “[The lockout] has really changed the dynamic.’’

Along with Leshoure, players who have sustained season-ending Achilles’ injuries include Browns punter Reggie Hodges, who took a snap in the end zone, took one step, and dropped like a sack of flour; Eagles defensive end Victor Abiamiri, who underwent surgery yesterday; and the Bengals’ Roddrick Muckelroy, a second-year linebacker and a top special teams player.

WR Smith an Eagle The Eagles agreed to terms with former Giants wide receiver Steve Smith on a one-year deal. The 26-year-old had 220 catches for 2,386 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons with the Giants. In his 2009 Pro Bowl season, he caught a franchise-record 107 passes for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns. Smith sustained a season-ending left knee injury in the Giants’ win over the Vikings at Ford Field in Detroit Dec. 13 and had microfracture surgery eight days later. “I think I’m pretty close,’’ Smith said. “I think I can realistically be out there [the first month]. It could be Week 1. You never know.’’ After meeting with Smith following the lockout, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he believed Smith faced a “long haul’’ before he could play again . . . Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora is showing signs his strained left knee is improving and he might be ready to practice with the Giants. For the first time in almost a week, Umenyiora worked with trainers at practice, simulating snap counts. The 29-year-old, who hasn’t practiced since reporting to camp a day late July 30, got down in his stance and made pass-rushing moves. The nine-year veteran is upset the Giants have not reworked his contract, which will pay him $7.1 million over its final two years . . . Bills wide receiver Roscoe Parrish left practice with a left leg injury and was ruled out of Saturday’s exhibition game in Chicago. Head coach Chan Gailey expects him to miss extended practice time . . . Panthers wide receiver David Gettis twisted his left knee and was carted off the field after practice. The extent of the injury was not known.

Retirees’ lawsuit a long shot A federal judge in St. Paul said a group of retired players led by Hall of Famer Carl Eller faces an uphill battle in its efforts to press forward with a lawsuit over unresolved issues stemming from the lockout. US District Judge Susan Richard Nelson convened a conference to decide whether it would be worthwhile to order the players, owners, and retirees to sit down next week with US Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who brokered the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The retirees claim they were illegally left out as the negotiations progressed. Nelson said she sympathizes with the retirees but likened their case to “pushing a rock up a hill.’’ The league and players have argued against letting the lawsuit move forward or going to mediation . . . Owner Zygi Wilf said Vikings fans need not worry about the team moving to Los Angeles. “No,’’ Wilf said when asked whether fans in Minnesota should be nervous that the Anschutz Entertainment Group got an endorsement from the Los Angeles City Council for the funding. “We have momentum here in Arden Hills,’’ Wilf said, referring to the suburb 10 miles north of Minneapolis where Vikings and Ramsey County officials have agreed to put a stadium if the state signs off on the deal. The Vikings are in the final year of their lease at the Metrodome.

TV deals for Parcells, Rice Bill Parcells and Jerry Rice are joining ESPN as analysts. This is Parcells’s third stint with the network. The former Patriots coach was a studio analyst in 2002 and ’07 between NFL jobs. He will make his debut Monday before the Jets-Texans exhibition game and will appear on “Sunday NFL Countdown’’ and other shows. Rice, the Hall of Fame wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, will serve as an analyst on shows such as “NFL Live’’ and “SportsCenter.’’ . . . Former Raiders punter Ray Guy sold his three Super Bowl championship rings for $96,216 at auction to help pay off his debts as part of a bankruptcy case. Guy, 61, played in seven Pro Bowls during his 14-year career. He filed for bankruptcy protection in Augusta, Ga., in April 2010 and got authorization May 23 to sell the rings, according to court records. Each ring contained 22 diamonds.

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