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StL Today: Gannon's re-emergence may put Oakland out of Warner derby


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NFL Notebook—May 9:

Gannon's re-emergence may put Oakland out of Warner derby



Rich Gannon came into the Raiders' training camp trimmer and looking as if his recovery is on course for a return.

(Harry How/Getty Images)

The Oakland Raiders might not be so strong a contender for the services of Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, if he is cut as expected after June 1, because of a strong performance by Rich Gannon in last weekend's training camp.

Gannon, coming off right shoulder surgery, threw deep, shallow and just about every depth in between. He was reported to have used an over-the-top motion, a departure from his three-quarters passing motion, but early signs are that Gannon is on the road to recovery.

"I knew I could come back," Gannon said. "I knew a lot of people wrote me off. And I'm telling you, I feel as good as I have ever felt."

A noticeably trimmer Gannon checked in at 203 pounds, down from 210 last season. He attributed the loss to an offseason of weightlifting and conditioning back home in Minnesota with his brother-in-law, Mick Brown, the son of former Minnesota Viking Bill Brown.

In addition, Bears coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo seem to be going out of their way to back starter Rex Grossman. They could be masking any interest they have in either Warner of Tim Couch, whom the Browns appear ready to cut after June 1.

"Rex Grossman's our quarterback and we're happy with that," Angelo said. "Anything we do is exploratory."

The only other quarterbacks on the Bears roster are Jonathan Quinn, draft choice Craig Krenzel, and newcomer Ryan Dinwiddie.

"We're not looking at Bart Starr or Terry Bradshaw," Smith said. "We're not openly going after any other quarterbacks who (are) out there. I guess sometimes things change, I don't see why they would here."


George balks at a pay cut

Running back Eddie George has participated in Tennessee's minicamps, even though talks have stalled in contract renegotiations. He skipped some drills last week because he is coming off minor ankle surgery.

"We haven't talked about it," George said. "I'm just doing my work."

The Titans have tried to rework George's deal, which calls for $4.25 million in base salary this season. George received a $1 million bonus earlier this year. Early in the offseason, the team offered George a deal that would pay him about $2.5 million for the season. The Titans will eventually need some additional salary cap space to sign their 13 draft picks, so George's future with the team is murky if the two sides can't agree on some compromise.


Arrington may play a lot as an end

LaVar Arrington has made three consecutive Pro Bowls at outside linebacker, but he could see significant time at defensive end this season in new coordinator Gregg Williams' defense. Arrington continually complained in 2002, when then-coordinator Marvin Lewis assigned him the same duty, but now has no complaints.

"They want me to play defensive end, they want me to play defensive tackle, I don't care," Arrington said. "I want to win before it gets too late."


Foot injury lingers with Moss

Wide receiver Randy Moss played the final month of last season with plantar fasciitis, then chose to rest it for a couple of months after the season. Only last week, after Moss sat out the first day of minicamp, did coach Mike Tice reveal, "Randy doesn't feel any better than he did two months ago."

The Vikings, however, remain unconcerned. Moss has never missed a game in his six seasons and has played through ankle and foot problems.


Faces change

Couch's pending release or trade would leave only three Browns from their roster in the 1999 expansion season: PK Phil Dawson, CB Daylon McCutcheon and FS Earl Little.

"We're an endangered species," said McCutcheon, son of Lawrence McCutcheon, the Rams' director of player personnel.

Among the Browns' new players is tight end Kellen Winslow II, who already is changing his tune about signing in time to report to training camp in July. Winslow is represented by the Poston brothers, agents for Orlando Pace.

The night he was drafted, he said, "I'm in camp, that's the way I see it." At minicamp, he backed off.

"My agents will handle that," Winslow said. "I've got the playbook, so it doesn't matter. Nobody said I'm not going to be in camp on time, so it just depends."


Fiedler vs. Feeley, Round 1

Quarterback Jay Fiedler entered last weekend's minicamp with the starting offense and, despite two interceptions during Sunday's practice, showed that he deserves to stay there. A.J. Feeley, who was acquired from Philadelphia in hopes he could replace Fiedler, struggled at times with his accuracy and didn't exhibit a firm grasp of the Dolphins' offense while rotating snaps with the first-team unit.

Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt attributed Feeley's struggles to learning a new system and dealing with a new QB coach, Marc Trestman.

"There are adjustments being made both physically and mentally," Wannstedt said.

Feeley has 14 more minicamp practices to get up to speed before the opening of training camp in late July and has shown that he is a better deep passer than Fiedler.

Camp holdouts

Among those missing in action last week:

CB Charles Woodson, Raiders. Woodson has yet to sign Oakland's tender offer to its first-ever franchise player. The tender offer would send the four-time Pro Bowler and 1998 first-round draft pick back onto the field with a one-year contract for about $7 million. The team cannot negotiate with him for a new, long-term deal until after July 15.

TE Itula Mili, Seahawks. Mili skipped the post-draft camp to make a statement about his contract, which pays him $725,000 in 2004, the final year of the deal. Mili has had a couple of strong seasons, though Jerramy Stevens seems about ready to bloom after being the Seahawks' first pick in the 2002 draft.

"He's had a phenomenal camp, he really has," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said of Stevens.

DT Albert Haynesworth, Titans. He arrived Wednesday, a day after his teammates. Haynesworth said he was a no-show because he had the wrong dates on his schedule. His teammates were unimpressed.

"That is a slap in the face for us," quarterback Steve McNair said. "A lot of people, coaches, players think he should be here. We've got 11-year, 12-year veterans here. He is a third-year veteran. If I am here, yes, he is disrespecting me not being here."

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