Taped to a goal post from his ankles to his forearms, Patrick Ramsey had little wiggle room as he fielded questions about his first Washington Redskins training camp practice.
''You kind of expect this,'' said the rookie quarterback, putting a brave face on the hazing that marked the end of his 16-day holdout. ''You almost consider it an honor. You've grown up seeing this happen to rookies, and now it's your turn.''
If it was an honor, it wasn't a comfortable one. With Jon Jansen and Walter Rasby leading the charge, Ramsey was secured to the post with two kinds of tape after Thursday morning's practice. Then Jansen dumped a bucket of ice on Ramsey's head, a chilling extra point on a cool summer day.
''That's the Japan trip, right there,'' said Jansen, noting that Ramsey had joined the team just in time to miss the two 13-hour flights for the American Bowl.
Ramsey, who signed a five-year, $5.7 million contract Wednesday, didn't get the royal treatment during practice, either. Coach Steve Spurrier started the rookie running plays from the opponent's play book in preparation for Saturday's exhibition game at Carolina.
Spurrier and the Redskins are trying to make room for Ramsey after failing in a bid to trade his rights to the Chicago Bears on Tuesday. Spurrier, happy with the other three quarterbacks in camp, said Ramsey might get some playing time before the exhibition games are over.
Otherwise, expect the rookie to spend a lot of time holding a clipboard and running the scout team.
''He knows pretty much what's going on, but he hasn't been in practice,'' Spurrier said. ''He's a little behind.''
Tampa Bay receiver Keenan McCardell returned to practice sooner than expected.
The Bucs originally thought the 11-year pro would be out for as long as a week, but he was back after just two days.
''This game is about injuries and playing through injuries,'' said McCardell, who took part in the morning and afternoon workouts at Disney's Wide World of Sports. ''If I'm well enough to get out and play, I want to play. That's just my attitude.''
McCardell was injured Monday when he became entangled with cornerback Brian Kelly during a passing drill. The receiver was taken to the locker room on a cart, but predicted a speedy recovery.
''It was great to have him (back). He made a couple of plays in the two-minute drill,'' Gruden said. ''His presence is felt, believe me. When you are in the huddle and he is in there, you just feel like good things are going to happen.''
Wide receiver Ricky Proehl will miss Saturday's exhibition opener at Tennessee after straining his right hamstring during practice.
''Every year that he's been here he's had some sort of hamstring problem,'' coach Mike Martz said. ''It seems no matter what we do, how we work him, he does this every summer. He fights through it and we get him back for the season, and he's fine. And he plays the whole season and it never bothers him.''
Proehl would have played only sparingly against the Titans anyway. Martz wants to get long looks at many players competing for a spot on the team as a wide receiver.
Returning veteran Yo Murphy, rookie Eric Crouch and NFL Europe World Bowl MVP Dane Looker are all in the hunt for what will likely be one or two spots on the roster.
The speakers were blaring, the fans going wild -- for heavy metal group AC/DC. This was no concert, it was the Indianapolis Colts' practice field.
Coach Tony Dungy used the tape and cranked the speakers to full blast so his team could prepare for the noise expected from a sellout crowd Saturday as Seattle opens its new 67,000-seat stadium.
''We were working on the silent count for road games, to make them work with some distractions,'' Dungy said.
Dungy has used speakers before -- when he was the defensive coordinator for Dennis Green at Minnesota. At Tampa Bay, Dungy's practice facility was near the airport, so the noise didn't need to be piped in.
The response was what Dungy wanted.
''I think you practice a little better when you have people out there, and I think it makes you concentrate a little more,'' two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning said.
Brian Mitchell isn't afraid of competition.
The NFL's career leader in return yardage is entering his 13th season and third with Philadelphia. For the last three years, Mitchell has heard critics say he lost a step. Each year he proves them wrong.
''I think there's not many out there better than me and I truly believe that,'' he said. ''When you believe that, that's the way you prepare. When I step on the field, I feel I'm the best.''
This year, the Eagles drafted three players with the potential to replace him.
First-round pick Lito Sheppard, averaged 22.5 yards on kicks and 11.4 yards on punts, including two TDs, at Florida.
Third-round selection Brian Westbrook averaged 25.9 yards on kickoff returns as a senior at Villanova. He didn't return many punts in college, but has done well enough with it in training camp to move ahead of the other rookies on the depth chart.
Fifth-rounder Freddie Milons averaged 22.9 yards on kicks and 10 yards on punts at Alabama, including three TDs.
Mitchell isn't worried.
''I don't get concerned about the young guys coming in,'' he said. ''I have to take care of myself. If I can go out there and keep playing to the level I've been playing at, I have a chance to be in there. As long as I can play, I will play.''
Mitchell is tied with Eric Metcalf for the most TD returns with 12. He is the NFL all-time leader in eight categories, including combined return yardage (16,013), kickoff return yards (11,735) and punt return yards (4,278).
Linebacker Peter Sirmon was released from the hospital Thursday, and might play in Tennessee's exhibition opener Saturday night against St. Louis.
Sirmon was hospitalized Tuesday with flulike symptoms including a fever that worsened. He is one of the Titans' two new starters at outside linebacker with Keith Bulluck.
''We'll see how he feels in the morning,'' coach Jeff Fisher said. ''He's got a chance to play. He's feeling better.''
Also, backup quarterback Neil O'Donnell also sat out a second day of practice Thursday, and the Titans checked his throwing shoulder with an MRI exam. Fisher said the doctors and O'Donnell were pleased that the test showed a healthy joint in the right shoulder.
Denver signed center Mark Fischer, who played four seasons with Washington but missed most of last season with a knee injury.
The 6-foot-3, 303-pound center started all 16 games for Washington in 2000 after taking over the position in training camp in place of the injured Cory Raymer. Fischer played in six games in his rookie year of 1998, and in one postseason game in 1999.
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