Around The NFL: News, Notes & Rumors

Hines Ward (US Presswire)

Hines Ward's DUI is the latest mishap to take place during the NFL lockout, Maurice Jones-Drew might be entering a time-share with backup Rashad Jennings, Da'Quan Bowers could end up being the steal of the 2011 draft, concerns about Peyton Manning's neck continue and much more inside.


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Ward's DUI leads to Twitter dust-up

WR Hines Ward was arrested in Georgia early Saturday morning on a drunk driving charge, according to multiple reports.

Ward was booked into the DeKalb County jail in suburban Atlanta at 3:41 a.m. and charged with driving under the influence, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He was released on $1,300 bond.

Ward, 35, played at the University of Georgia and is a four-time Pro Bowl player for the Steelers. It's his second police-related incident in recent months, as he was handcuffed in Los Angeles on May 5 when a car he was a passenger in was reported stolen. Police later said the report was out of date and Ward and the driver were allowed to go.

Ward was in Los Angeles for the "Dancing With the Stars" competition he won.

The incident also heated up an already fierce rivalry between Pittsburgh and the Baltimore Ravens. Ravens RB Ray Rice and Steelers safety Ryan Clark exchanged the following comments via Twitter.

Rice: "Well it looks like Hines Ward will miss week 1 when the lockout ends DUI charge not a good look"

Clark: "So glad you could Weigh in. Thx"

Rice: "it's whatever u wanna do bro you know how to find me"

Clark: "I hear ya brother.Thought we were all better than that. Wouldnt speak negative of you. I'll find you!It's not hard. God bless"

Rice, whose cousin was killed by a drunken driver back in 1998, has been involved with several campaigns against drunk driving.

Analysis: As if the rivalry between the two AFC North teams needed any additional fuel to the fire ... this should only make it even more intense. Ward's "good guy" status is quickly fading thanks to a second police-related incident. First was the mishap in Los Angeles and his latest misfortune of drunken driving won't bode well around NFL circles. The league might come down even harder on Ward as the veteran is expected to set a positive example, particularly for younger players.




Collie tries to move on from concussion

WR Austin Collie said he won't be worried about concussions when it's time to play again.

Collie missed seven games last season, and spent the final two weeks on injured reserve. In the last three games he played, Collie was forced out because of a concussion.

Collie told KHTK Radio, "I think I have kind of put that behind me. I don't like to dwell on it too much just because it can affect your play going across the middle and catching another ball. You don't want things like that popping up in the back of your mind.

"So I try to ignore any thought I do have of it. I don't want to watch it. People want to show me or want to ask how I felt during that time. I just kind of brush it aside because it is one of those things that it is in the past and it's unfortunate. I was unlucky, but I'm just looking forward to this next season and getting on with it."

Collie also said he isn't concerned about concussions affecting him later in life.

He said, "I've known players who play with nine or 10 concussions and who have lived on to have successful careers and haven't had any symptoms later on in life, so again everyone is different. Everyone handles each injury different and hopefully down the road it'll be perfectly fine."

Analysis: Collie appears to be fine from his bout with concussions a year ago but his mindset is a bit disturbing. Collie should be somewhat worried about suffering more concussions, as his career would likely be in jeopardy should they resurface. There's a fine line to walk regarding concussions, however, and it's probably best that Collie isn't dwelling about them.



Jones-Drew isn't worried about injury affecting game

Maurice Jones-Drew claims he will be fine this year amid reports that backup Rashad Jennings will be utilized more this season. Jones-Drew is recovering from a knee injury and subsequent surgery that forced him to miss the final two games of the 2010 season.

Said Jones-Drew, "I can still carry the load regardless of what surgery I had or whatnot. They're going to be kind of anxious to throw Rashad in, and they're already kind of scared of my knee."

He said he is anxious for the lockout to be over so he can show the coaches what he can do.

"I want to be able to be out the gates playing because it's a production-based business," Jones-Drew said. "They're already skeptical maybe it's his knee, maybe we're working him too hard, we should give him a break.

"If I have to go through double days in camp to prove it, I will. I'm fine."

Analysis: The fact that Jones-Drew will have to prove what his knee can do is not a good sign. MJD lacked explosiveness last season and Jennings did a nice job of stepping in when needed. Sure, Jones-Drew will get the bulk of the carries but expect Jennings to pick up where he left off as Jacksonville utilizes more of a two-back approach in the running game.



Trial moved for Jets' Ellis

NT Kenrick Ellis had a trial for a felony charge of malicious wounding moved to Nov. 28, according to a report by The Star-Ledger.

A former Hampton star, and one of only four players from historically black schools to be selected in this year's NFL Draft, Ellis was arrested in April 2010 and charged for an incident at Hampton (maximum penalty: 20 years) in which he allegedly broke a man's jaw in an altercation. Ellis was previously dismissed from the South Carolina squad for non-divulged violations of team rules believed to have involved positive marijuana tests.

Analysis: The term "malicious wounding" is never good but surely the Jets did their homework and determined Ellis wouldn't be receiving anything close to the maximum penalty (20 years in prison).



Rookie looking forward to training camp

DE Da'Quan Bowers, selected in the second round of the draft because of questions about his knee, said he looks forward to training camp so he can show everyone how good he feels.

Bowers told WDAE Radio in Tampa, "My knee is great. It's back to where I needed it to be. It's back to playing shape. I've been rehabbing and working out all throughout the whole summer. The knee is fine. I'm running, jumping, and cutting. Everything's a full go."

Numerous reports claimed he has a degenerative knee, but Bowers denied that's the case. He said, "Dr. (James) Andrews has seen much worse knees than mine go on to have great NFL careers."

Bowers didn't attend the team's player-organized workouts or the NFL-sponsored rookie symposium. He said the reason as simple.

"I didn't want to miss rehab and training," Bowers said. "I thought that this was a crucial point coming that the lockout may end in the next couple weeks. I didn't want to put myself behind in the great rehab program I have going for myself, so I decided to skip the symposium and the mini camp.

"I didn't want to miss any rehab time or anything that would slow me down from being where I needed to be come camp time."

Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik was asked on The Dan Patrick Show about Bowers and said the lockout prohibits contact with players. He said, "I wish there was more that we could do. I follow him no Twitter," and added that it appears "obvious" Bowers is working hard.

In fact, Dominik said when teams were able to meet with players when the lockout was briefly lifted, they saw that Bowers has been "rushing" his rehab. They then suggested he "calm down and work on strength over conditioning."

Analysis: Doctors have been wrong about the longevity of NFL players plenty of times and Bowers is hopeful that he's the next in line. If Bowers' knee does end up being better than expected, the Bucs could have obtained the steal of the 2011 draft. Bowers has the potential to be a dominant defensive lineman, health permitting.



Burress says he wants to play with Vick

WR Plaxico Burress told a Philadelphia radio station that playing with QB Michael Vick would be "a dream come true," according to ESPN.com.

Burress has been tied to rumors that he could sign with the Eagles since being released from prison last month after serving 20 months on a gun charge.

"I have a lot of respect for Mike, not just as a quarterback but as a person -- you know what he's overcome and what he's went through and just the way he bounced back," Burress told the station, according to the report. "And for me and him to be able to play together ... you know we played against each other in high school, we're pretty much from the same area (in Virginia) -- everybody back home would go absolutely bananas."

Burress also praised the New York Jets and coach Rex Ryan during an interview with the NFL Network, saying he has the team "on the cusp" of reaching and winning a Super Bowl. He also said the Houston Texans are a team on the rise.

Analysis: Reuniting two ex-convicts, Burress and Vick, would be quite a story in Philadelphia. That said, the Eagles might have had their fill of taking in former stars with recent troubles. The decision to bring in Vick, however, has been a major positive and could prove enough to give Plaxico another chance. Burress would be excellent in tandem with speedsters DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.



Manning still recovering from neck surgery

QB Peyton Manning opened the 16th Manning Passing Academy a Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., but for the first time did not take the field as he recovers from May 23 neck surgery.

Manning, who has started an NFL-high 208 consecutive games, is being cautious in his recovery, and said he has "no idea" when he'll be able to take the field once training camp opens.

"The lockout didn't allow me to work my (Colts) therapist, Erin Barill, and I'm just not comfortable taking any chances with this thing," Manning told ESPN. "Erin knows me. He's rehabbed me through two other surgeries (neck and knee) and I think most people understand that once you build up a trust with your therapist, that's the guy you want and need to work with."

It's the second neck-related surgery for Manning in the past 15 months, although he said the two were not related. This year's surgery was to fix a disk problem, while the previous procedure was to clean out a buildup of calcium.

Manning is not allowed to have direct communication with team medical personnel during the lockout, and he can't rehab at the Colts' facilities.

The Colts gave the 35-year-old their franchise tag before the start of the lockout, which would work out to more than $23 million depending on the rules of a new labor agreement. The sides were unable to agree on a multi-year deal before the lockout began.

Analysis: Manning's neck surgery has been a popular topic this offseason but there's no reason for the Colts faithful to panic. Thanks to the lockout, Manning has had the luxury of taking his rehabilitation slower than usual and no reason to rush the process. Expect Manning's streak of 208 consecutive games to continue once the 2011 campaign eventually gets under way.



Trial for Haynesworth pushed back

DL Albert Haynesworth had his trial on a sexual abuse charged pushed back to Aug. 2. It had been scheduled to begin Monday.

A deal was rejected last 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."

Haynesworth also had a road-rage assault charge in Fairfax, Va. dropped when he reached a settlement with the alleged victim. Details of the settlement weren't disclosed. Haynesworth was accused of punching a man during a traffic altercation in February.

Analysis: Enough about Haynesworth's personal antics already. Wake me up once he does something on the field again.



Veteran could become free agent under new labor deal

S Melvin Bullitt is one of several four-year veterans likely to become free agents under a new labor deal.

Bullitt, whose 2010 season ended after four games due to a shoulder injury, also like to return to the Colts.

"I want to play in Indy again. That's what I'm planning on. But the reality is I'm not signed with anyone," Bullitt told the Indianapolis Star. "I want to finish my career in Indianapolis, "but I will have to make a decision quickly (after the lockout ends)."

Bullitt said his shoulder is 100 percent recovered following surgery that included having a screw inserted.

Analysis: The Colts have already been burned by an oft-injured safety in Bob Sanders and might want to make a change at the position. However, like many other situations impacted by the lockout, Bullitt's knowledge of the team's defense and its familiarity with him will likely keep him in Indianapolis.



Underwood appears in court

CB Brandon Underwood appeared in court Wednesday to hear charges of disorderly conduct against him from a June 16 incident involving his estranged wife, Brandie, who was with him in court.

That night, the Packers received their Super Bowl rings, and the incident occurred when Brandie Underwood told police her husband dragged her from a car and threw her to the ground in the driveway of their Green Bay home.

She said afterward, "I told police I did not want them to arrest him. He's never harmed me in any way, shape or form. The last thing I wanted was for him to get in trouble."

Brandie Underwood filed for divorce in May, but she said they still live together and are trying to fix their relationship. They have three children.

Brandon Underwood signed a $1,000 signature bond and is due back in court July 15.

Analysis: Negative news such as this has been limited for the reigning Super Bowl champs and Underwood's stay in Green Bay could come to a close once the lockout ends. The Packers selected Davon House in the fourth round of this year's draft and Underwood's disorderly conduct charge might seal his fate.



QB retires after 16-year NFL career

QB Kerry Collins announced his retirement last Thursday, a development that might surprise the Titans, who had envisioned Collins tutoring rookie first-round pick Jake Locker this season.

Collins spent 16 years in the NFL. He was a first-round pick out of Penn State and led the start-up Carolina Panthers from upstart to division championship contenders before battling off-field issues and resurrecting his career with the New York Giants.

Collins, 39, said he went into the lockout with the idea he'd play in 2011. In June, Collins said he was looking forward to working with Locker. But he released a statement Thursday outlining his decision, which pointed to his dwindling desire to commit "to the preparation necessary to play another season."

"I want to wish Mike Munchak and the Tennessee Titans the best of luck in the future," Collins said. "I have had a fantastic five years here, and my family and I look forward to remaining part of the Middle Tennessee community that has been extremely gracious towards us and an honor to play for."

Analysis: Collins' retirement throws a wrench into the Titans' plans under center as the team was expecting him to stick around as the starter and help mentor Locker as a rookie. Could this mean Vince Young will stay in Tennessee for another season? Don't kid yourself – not a chance.

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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