Tomlinson close to contract extension

Posted: Friday, August 13, 2004

Clinton Portis didn't remain the NFL's richest running back for long. He's about to be overtaken by San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson.

Tomlinson said after Thursday's practice he has agreed in principle to a deal that will eclipse the eight-year, $50.5 million contract signed by the Redskins' Portis in the offseason.

Asked if his deal will be worth more than that given Portis, Tomlinson replied, ''Absolutely. I don't think it will even be close.''

In his three years in the NFL, he's rushed for 4,564 yards and 37 touchdowns. Tomlinson, the fifth player in NFL history to rush for more than 200 yards in four games, last year became the first to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes.

But he has not turned the Chargers into winners. Still, Tomlinson said he's never considered playing out his current deal or leaving the Chargers, who haven't had a winning record or made the playoffs since 1995.

''In my opinion, that is what losers do,'' he said. ''They bail out on a team. (They say) 'So this team is not winning, it's not going anywhere, I got to get out of here.'

''I've never been that way, so why change now?''

Giants

Jeremy Shockey is back on the field, although he's not doing nearly as much as he'd like.

The Pro Bowl tight end felt soreness Thursday, one day after he practiced with the New York Giants for the first time since having foot surgery in June. He's not thrilled about being kept under wraps.

''The hardest thing was they limited me,'' Shockey said. ''They only told me to go one rep every period, so I got cold. That was more dangerous because I was sitting there the whole time and you can pull a muscle like that.''

Shockey will sit out the Giants' preseason opener Friday night against Kansas City. The team is being cautious with its most dangerous offensive threat in light of Shockey having hurt the foot last season and aggravated it during a minicamp.

He also had a toe problem as a rookie in 2002 and a knee injury ended his '03 season after nine games.

Shockey didn't like being portrayed as injury prone.

''I don't care what people think of that,'' Shockey said. ''If I were to get a career-ending injury this season, I'm happy about what I have already done. I don't care. I'll go full speed and whatever happens will happen.

Ravens

Jamal Lewis' drug conspiracy trial was scheduled for Nov. 1 by a federal court in Atlanta. That date falls between the eighth and ninth weeks of the season, meaning if the trial goes on as scheduled, Lewis could miss several games. The Ravens are at Philadelphia on Oct. 31, then host Cleveland in a night game the following Sunday.

Lewis and Angelo Jackson, a childhood friend, are charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and using a cell phone in violation of federal law.

Last season, Lewis became the fifth player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards.

Vikings

For the first time in two seasons, the Vikings won't be able to rely on Kenny Mixon.

After a drunken driving conviction earlier this year, the NFL handed down a two-game suspension to the veteran who led Minnesota's defensive linemen in tackles last season. Even though he's preparing to start Saturday's preseason game against Arizona, Mixon barring a successful appeal won't play in the regular season until Sept. 26 against Chicago.

''The appeal is still pending,'' Mixon said Thursday. ''I haven't heard anything yet, but that's something I've come to grips with, you know.

''If it doesn't go in my favor, I intend to come out here and work hard every day as if I was playing the first game. If I have to sit out, I'll have to go ahead and do that and come back and get ready to play that third game of the season.''

The Vikings open at home Sept. 12 against Dallas.

If his appeal fails, it'll mark the first time in 33 games with the Vikings that Mixon, who signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 2002, won't start. In fact, it would be only the second season in his seven-year NFL career that he won't start all 16 games.

''When you make poor choices, there are going to be consequences, I realize that,'' Mixon said. ''I made a poor choice and now I have to deal with those consequences.''

In November, police found Mixon had a blood alcohol level of 0.19 percent, .09 higher than the state limit. It was his third arrest for drunken driving in 16 months.

Titans

Cornerback Samari Rolle sat out practice with a sore right ankle and could miss the Titans' exhibition opener Saturday night against Cleveland.

Rolle was given a break from practice Wednesday to rest his legs, but he had swelling and discomfort in his ankle Thursday. The Titans X-rayed his ankle and coach Jeff Fisher said the tests were negative.

''We're going to rest him tomorrow and see how he is for the warmups. If he's feeling good, comfortable, we'll let him play,'' Fisher said.

Fisher said Rolle would be able to play if it was a regular season game. Mike Echols will start at right cornerback if the Titans decide to protect Rolle's ankle.

Broncos

One day after making a cameo appearance, rookie running back Tatum Bell had a greater role in workouts.

Denver's second-round draft choice out of Oklahoma State, sidelined by a broken middle finger on his right hand, ran pass patterns and carried the ball in his left hand. A day before, he was running on the sidelines.

''I know I won't be full speed, 100 percent, but I have to go out and play,'' said Bell, who wears a small, soft cast to protect the finger.

''We're not expecting him to catch the ball right now,'' coach Mike Shanahan said. ''In fact, we don't even care if he uses the other hand.''

Cardinals

Former Minnesota coach Dennis Green knows plenty about what kind of noise his Arizona Cardinals will have to deal with Saturday in its preseason opener at the Metrodome.

To get the Cardinals ready for the din, Green had them practice Thursday with loudspeakers blaring rock and dance music on the sideline.

''That is a fabulous crowd they've got there,'' Green said. ''I would say, probably along with St. Louis, they're probably one of the loudest crowds in the National Football League.''

As the offense and defense tried to communicate at the line of scrimmage, a cart loaded with a generator and a stereo system with two large speakers blared the music. Players tried to find ways to call out plays and coverages above the din.

''You don't try to yell over the noise you cannot,'' Green said. ''(They) create an atmosphere that makes it difficult for you to function. So the noise, it doesn't necessarily keep you from hearing, but it keeps you from communicating. You use a lot more hand signals, you look each other in the eyes when you're talking. You do some lip reading.''

At the end of practice, Green blew his whistle and yelled, ''That's it, turn it off. The party's over.''



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