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Curry returns to practice after foot surgery

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Ronald Curry has dealt with so many injuries in his NFL career that he wasn't about to let a bone spur in his foot sideline him last season.

Curry played through that pain to be Oakland's leading receiver last year until it finally became too tough to handle this offseason. After undergoing surgery on his left foot that forced him to miss six weeks of offseason practices, Curry returned to his usual spot at receiver this week for the Raiders.

"Just coming off the Achilles' I didn't feel like it was the right time to go in and take it out, because you know you were going to miss another four to six weeks," Curry said Thursday. "So basically just deal with it. I took a shot probably every two weeks just to calm it down a little bit. But it feels great, man. Feels like a new foot, actually."

Curry said he had trouble planting on the foot before the operation, but says he is now running pain free with six weeks before training camp starts.

Curry had his seasons shortened by injuries to his Achilles' tendons in both 2005 and '06, hindering his development as an NFL receiver after playing quarterback in college.

But he led the team with 55 catches for 717 yards and five touchdowns last season and is being counted on again heavily this season.

"Ronald is very important to us as far as a veteran receiver who knows our system really well," coach Lane Kiffin said. "Last year he made some plays for us. Going into the offseason I had a number of meetings with him about where he can get better where he (can) improve in this system, the second year in the system. Physically he's looking to improve his body as well."

Kiffin wanted Curry to be stronger this season after he was limited to 11 catches in the final five games of the 2007 season. Curry said he was skeptical at first, because weightlifting was never a priority when he played quarterback or basketball when he was younger.

But he already sees some benefits for this season from the work he put in with strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll.

"I never took the weight room too seriously," Curry said. "I would do just enough. But Kiffin wanted me to get in there and really hit the weights, and Coach Roll was really a blessing for me, and I'm sure others, just to really stay on me. He got me on my own little plan as far as upper body, lower body, and it's really helped me out. I can feel the difference in my legs, and when I go to block somebody."

Curry has spent most of his career playing behind stars like Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Randy Moss. He emerged as Oakland's leading receiver last season but does not consider himself a No. 1 after the Raiders signed Javon Walker to a six-year, $55 million contract this offseason.

Curry, joins Walker and free-agent acquisition Drew Carter as the only proven receivers on the roster.

"Regardless of who was here, I felt like I always been productive, whatever they ask me to do. And it's not going to change this year ...," Curry said. "You know, Javon, he's going to be the guy, and I'm just going to be out there making the plays when they go to me."

In other news, the Raiders signed linebacker Grant Irons and waived undrafted free agent Shane Simmons. Irons has not played in the NFL since 2006, his fourth season with Oakland.

Irons finished that season on injured reserve with a back injury. Irons will compete with Sam Williams and Robert Thomas for the strong-side linebacker spot.

"He's worked extremely hard, really basically worked for two years to come back and to have an opportunity," Kiffin said of Irons. "We worked him out yesterday. He's in really phenomenal shape for a guy who has not been in an NFL program so we'll give him a chance."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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