|Jim McIsaac / Getty Images|
|NFLPA boss Gene Upshaw was not happy with Roger Goodell's comments last week about rookie salaries, and he fired back when addressing this year's rookie class on Sunday night.|
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- After NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week said it's "ridiculous" to reward untested and unproven rookies with lucrative contracts, NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw offered his own interpretation of "ridiculous."
"I think it's ridiculous that he would make such a comment," Upshaw told the approximately 250 first-year players at the NFL Rookie Symposium on Sunday night.
"We're not in the position to try to take money from anyone. Our job is to make sure you get as much (money) as you're entitled to and not be restricted by anything else. We have never agreed to such a system. I don't see us agreeing to such a system in the future.
"In three years, you guys will be asked to make some very, very hard decisions that other players have made before you. It will deal with the one issue that seems to be getting a lot of attention -- a wage scale for rookies."
It's ridiculous that the war of words is already escalating when the two sides have nearly two years to hammer out their differences. But there are other ridiculous storylines.
Down goes Hagler
In Indianapolis, Colts starting linebacker Tyjuan Hagler suffered a torn pectoral muscle while lifting weights last week.
Last season, Hagler started seven regular-season games and then the AFC Divisional Playoff against the San Diego Chargers. He finished the season with 54 tackles and one sack.
His absence sets up an intriguing position battle in which several other young Indianapolis linebackers will be given the chance to win additional playing time.
Clint Session, a fourth-round pick in 2007 out of Pittsburgh, shined in the limited opportunities he had last season; he now could get more. The Colts invested a third-round pick in Georgia Tech linebacker Philip Wheeler, and he is expected to be given his chance. Victor Worsley, an undrafted free agent from North Carolina, also will be given a shot.
But a bigger problem for the Colts might be the fact that they keep losing bodies before camp begins. With teams allowed to bring only 80 players to camp, Indianapolis will be somewhat shorthanded. Starters expected to miss some of camp include wide receiver Marvin Harrison, defensive end Dwight Freeney, safety Bob Sanders and now Hagler.
Be like Mike
For starters, it shows how serious Williams has gotten about his football career, something that was hardly the case when he was a rookie with the Detroit Lions in 2005.
But it also shows how much Williams let himself go. Last season, Williams' weight ballooned to at least 270 pounds, which would be great if he were playing offensive line instead of wide receiver.
But this spring and summer, Williams has boxed and played basketball, nearly non-stop, and even has experimented with pilates. He has altered his diet, worked out hard and recommitted himself to a game in which he was running out of chances.
Maybe it has something to do with Williams being in the last year of his contract; maybe it has something to do with some type of light turning on; maybe it has something to do with Titans coach Jeff Fisher's insistence that his hefty wide receiver lose weight after failing to catch a pass for Tennessee last season.
Whatever it is, it has worked -- for now. The true test will come this preseason, when Williams will have to be as impressive with his play as he has been with his new look.
Tennessee usually flies under the national football radar -- and so, clearly, are some of its players.
Roos signed a six-year, $43 million extension in April, and Stewart followed that up last week with a six-year, $38.9 million deal that included $10 million worth of guarantee money.
Both are now entrenched in Tennessee's lineup and on its line, there to protect Titans quarterback Vince Young. Tennessee has the bookend tackles it needs to try to slow down the Colts, Texans and Jaguars defensive ends.
Costly moves by the Titans, but smart ones, too.
Backs for the Bucs
Free-agent running back Kevin Jones is seriously eyeing the Buccaneers and is considering signing with Tampa. Jones also has drawn interest from New England and Tennessee, but he thinks the situation in Tampa is enticing and the chance exists for him to excel there.
Protect the Shields
Worth pointing out that, on Monday morning, when an NFL Network reporter was the only person in the hotel's health club, the first rookie to join him there at a ridiculous 5:15 a.m. was Oakland's fourth-round pick, wide receiver Arman Shields.
Any rookie who shows up to the gym at that time to get in a workout before the symposium begins at 8 a.m. is serious about his job.
Oakland drafted Shields with a fourth-round pick, the 125th overall selection, that it acquired from Baltimore in exchange for cornerback Fabien Washington. In his career at Richmond, Shields caught 160 passes for 1,930 yards and 13 touchdowns. Last season, however, he caught only 14 passes for 125 yards. But Shields' dedication and work ethic give him a chance to make a mark in Oakland.