NFL News and Notes

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Broncos trade for DT Kennedy from Rams
June 8, 2007

DENVER (AP) -The Denver Broncos added their second 300-pound-plus lineman this week, acquiring defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy on Friday from the St. Louis Rams in exchange for an undisclosed 2008 draft pick.

Kennedy, listed at 320 pounds, spent the past four seasons with the Rams, who picked him 12th overall in the 2003 draft.

On Monday, the Broncos signed 345-pound defensive tackle Sam Adams, a three-time Pro Bowl player who spent last season with Cincinnati.

In 53 career regular-season games, Kennedy has 149 tackles (76 solo), four sacks, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

He has 30 career starts, including all 16 games with the Rams last year, when he had a career-best 55 tackles (32 solo).

To make room for Kennedy on the roster, the Broncos waived first-year cornerback Eric Hill.

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CB Kelly Herndon agrees to deal with Tennessee
June 10, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Cornerback Kelly Herndon has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with Tennessee, as the Titans continue working to replenish a secondary expected to be without Adam ``Pacman'' Jones.

The free agent would be the first former Seahawks player to join the team since Mike Reinfeldt left Seattle to take over as Tennessee's general manager in February.

Herndon's agent, Peter Schaffer, said Sunday that Reinfeldt and Lake Dawson, the Titans' director of pro personnel who also came from Seattle, were a big part of his client's decision.

``He's excited about the situation, the people and the defense,'' Schaffer said. ``It's the best scenario that he found.''

The Titans did not immediately return telephone messages from The Associated Press following a report published Sunday by the Tennessean.

In five seasons, Herndon, 30, has nine regular season interceptions and two in the playoffs, including a record 76-yard return in Seattle's Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh in 2006.

Herndon started all 16 regular season games in 2006 and had a career high-tying 67 tackles before he broke his ankle in the finale at Tampa Bay.

The secondary has been a major concern for the Titans because of the season-long suspension of Jones issued by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in April. Jones appealed that punishment in May, but the commissioner has not announced if he will reduce the suspension.

The Titans signed veteran cornerback Nick Harper away from Indianapolis in March, then used the 19th overall pick on Texas safety Michael Griffin, whom they've been working at cornerback since the draft.

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Niners nab Rayburn
June 11th, 2007

Santa Clara, CA (Sports Network) - The San Francisco 49ers signed free agent defensive tackle Sam Rayburn on Monday. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rayburn spent all four of his NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles after joining the team as a rookie free agent out of Tulsa in 2003. He was waived by the Eagles on May 11 of this year.

In 53 career games, including four starts, he has totaled 65 tackles and nine sacks.

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Bears sign FB Ayanbadejo
June 12th, 2007

Lake Forest, IL (Sports Network) - The Chicago Bears signed fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo to a one-year contract Tuesday. Per club policy, terms were not disclosed.

An eight-year vet, Ayanbadejo had spent the last three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, playing in 14 games in 2006, with nine carries for 37 yards, and 17 receptions for 139 yards. Ayanbadejo was also a strong contributor on special teams for the Cardinals.

The former San Diego State tight end will be reunited with his younger brother, Bears linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. The two also played together in 2003 for the Miami Dolphins. Obafemi entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Minnesota in 1997, making the Vikings active roster in 1998. He also spent three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2001.

In other Bears news, the team waived fullback J.D. Runnels on Tuesday.

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DE McCray signs tender with Jaguars
June 13th, 2007

Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Bobby McCray signed his tender offer with the team on Wednesday.

McCray posted a career-high 10 sacks to lead Jacksonville this past season. The 25-year-old started 12 of 15 games place of Reggie Hayward, who missed the final 15 games on injured reserve.

For his career, McCray has totaled 97 tackles and 19 sacks in 47 games, including 20 starts.

Jacksonville also signed punter Adam Podlesh, the first of the Jaguars' two fourth-round picks in this year's draft.

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Vikings sign former Gopher WR Hamilton
June 13, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -The Minnesota Vikings signed former University of Minnesota receiver Paris Hamilton on Wednesday.

Hamilton was on the Detroit Lions practice squad in 2005 and was in Lions camp during the preseason last year.

He was a highly touted recruit when he came to the Gophers out of Tyler Junior College in 2003, but he blew out his left knee and missed all of his junior season. He had just four catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns in his senior season in 2004.

Hamilton essentially replaces veteran receiver Randy Hymes, who was cut on Tuesday.

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Jags release Darius
June 14th, 2007

Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - The Jacksonville Jaguars have released veteran safety Donovin Darius.

Darius spent nine years with the Jaguars, who made the Syracuse product the 25th overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.

Injuries have cut short the last two seasons for Darius, who played just two games in 2005 before suffering a torn ACL and last year sustained a broken leg in a November game against the New York Giants. He missed just nine games in his first seven seasons.

Darius has appeared in 115 games with the Jaguars, recording 14 interceptions with 614 career tackles and two sacks. He has the most starts of any defensive player in franchise history.

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Saints cut Michael Lewis, Willie Whitehead
June 15, 2007

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -The New Orleans Saints cut Michael Lewis and Willie Whitehead on Friday, parting ways with two players who made the team as undrafted free agents.

Lewis, a wide receiver and kick returner, was known as ``Beer Man'' because he drove a beer truck before getting a tryout with his hometown team and making the roster in 2001 at age 29. He soon became the team's star return man and wildly popular with fans.

``Michael is part of the fabric of our community and will always have a special place in the history of our club,'' Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement. ``The way he made our team, as a player who worked hard, wasn't drafted, supported his family and followed his dream, is unique and something we're all proud to be a part of.''

Lewis departs as the Saints' career leader in kickoff returns (243 for 5,903 yards) and punt returns (142 for 1,482 yards). He has four touchdown returns - three on kickoffs and one punt return.

In 2002, he set team single-season records for kickoff return yardage (1,807) and punt return yards (625), was voted to the Pro Bowl and selected to the Associated Press All-Pro team. His 2,432 combined return yards that season set an NFL record.

Lewis injured his left knee in the 2005 season and missed much of 2006.

Whitehead, a defensive end, joined the Saints in 1999 after playing in NFL Europe. He had 266 tackles (168 solo), 24.5 sacks, a pair of forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries for the Saints.

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Niners CB Tucker to miss season
June 15, 2007

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -San Francisco 49ers cornerback B.J. Tucker will miss the season after tearing his pectoral muscle during offseason workouts.

An MRI exam revealed the injury, which will require surgery and at least four months of rehabilitation, coach Mike Nolan said Friday.

The two-year veteran, who was hurt Tuesday, made his first NFL start last season and was a candidate for a backup job again this fall.

Tucker is the second 49ers defensive player lost for the season during their three weeks of organized team activities. Defensive end Melvin Oliver, who started 14 games as a rookie last season, is expected to have surgery next week to repair a torn ligament in his right knee.

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Titans bring back RB Brown
June 19th, 2007

Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - The Tennessee Titans re-signed running back Chris Brown.

The 26-year old Brown spent his first four NFL seasons in Tennessee after being drafted in the third round of the 2003 draft out of Colorado. He has played in 42 games and totaled 2,295 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 541 attempts. Brown has also hauled in 55 receptions for 539 yards and two touchdowns.

Brown's best season came in 2004 when he rushed for a career-high 1,067 yards on 220 carries and six touchdowns.

In 2006, Brown played in just five games and rushed for 156 yards on 41 carries.

"Our main goal is continuing to improve this roster and create competition at every position," said Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt. "Chris has been productive for this team. He knows the system and has a very good comfort level with our offense."

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Steelers ink DT Hoke
June 21st, 2007

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday signed veteran defensive tackle Chris Hoke to a three-year contract extension through 2010.

Hoke has appeared in 45 games, 11 of which he started, having originally signed with the club as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Brigham Young in 2001.

Starting 10 games at nose tackle for injured starter Casey Hampton in 2004, Hoke had his best season with 27 tackles and two sacks for the Steelers, who led the NFL in rushing and total defense.

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Chargers agree to terms with Manumaleuna
June 22nd, 2007

San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - The San Diego Chargers agreed to terms on a contract with tight end Brandon Manumaleuna on Friday that will keep him there through the 2009 season.

Acquired by the Chargers from the St. Louis Rams last April in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, Manumaleuna caught 14 passes for 91 yards and three touchdowns in 2006.

Manumaleuna's run blocking skill helped the Chargers gain 2,578 yards on the ground, the second-highest total in the NFL.

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Falcons sign linebacker Orlando Huff
June 23, 2007

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -The Atlanta Falcons signed free-agent linebacker Orlando Huff to provide depth at outside linebacker and play on special teams.

The 6-foot-3, 263-pound Huff started 13 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, making 79 tackles. The six-year veteran has three sacks and two interceptions in 48 career starts with the Cardinals and Seattle.

Huff also gives Atlanta an experienced option at weakside linebacker as Demorrio Williams recovers from offseason surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle.

The Falcons also signed former Georgia Tech tight end George Cooper, who was released by Detroit after being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent.

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Bears sign Vasher to five-year deal
June 25, 2007

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -Chicago defensive back Nathan Vasher signed a five-year contract extension Monday that will keep the Pro Bowler with the Bears through the 2012 season. Details were not disclosed.

Vasher has 16 interceptions in three NFL seasons since being chosen in the fourth round out of Texas in 2004. He made the Pro Bowl last season.

``It feels good. It's been a great relief,'' Vasher said. ``I know a lot of people have contract issues about this time. It's one less thing I have to worry about.''

In 2005, he set an NFL record for the longest play when he returned a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown against the 49ers. Teammate Devin Hester matched the record in 2006.

Vasher was originally signed through 2007.

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Bears claim FB Goldsberry off waivers
Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears claimed fullback Jon Goldsberry off waivers from Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

The Buccaneers released Goldsberry on Friday after he was signed to the team's practice squad on Dec. 5.

He spent time with the Buffalo Bills last preseason and during 2005, when he signed with the team as an undrafted free agent but didn't play in a regular-season game.

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Raiders RB Rhodes suspended for 4 games
July 3, 2007

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -Oakland Raiders running back Dominic Rhodes was suspended Tuesday for the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The league does not disclose reasons for substance abuse suspensions, but Rhodes pleaded guilty in the offseason to reckless driving charges in Indiana after prosecutors agreed to drop drunken driving charges against him.

Rhodes, who spent his six years in Indianapolis, signed a two-year contract in the offseason with the Raiders that could be worth up to $7.5 million. He is expected to split time with last year's starter LaMont Jordan as the Raiders try to improve a running game that averaged 3.9 yards per carry in 2006.

Rhodes started all 16 regular-season games last season, rushing for 641 yards and five touchdowns. After backing up Edgerrin James since entering the league, Rhodes shared the job last season with rookie Joseph Addai. He has 2,274 yards rushing in his career.

Rhodes had one of his best performances in the Colts' Super Bowl win over the Chicago Bears, rushing for 113 yards in Indianapolis' 29-17 victory.

Rhodes will be able to participate in training camp and in all preseason games. His suspension will begin Aug. 31, the day after Oakland's final exhibition game, and he will be eligible to return Oct. 1, following the fourth game of the season against Miami. Rhodes will also miss games against Detroit, Denver and Cleveland.

Rhodes was pulled over by an Indiana state trooper in February for driving 81 mph in a 55-mph zone. He was originally charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.

Rhodes pleaded guilty in March to reckless driving and was sentenced to 180 days in jail. But 178 were suspended and he received credit for two days.

In 2002, Rhodes was charged with domestic battery in connection with a disturbance at his home involving his child's mother, Latrina Moore. He avoided prosecution and was placed in a diversionary program and underwent mental health counseling.

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Falcons sign Japanese kick returner
July 5th, 2007

Flowery Branch, GA (Sports Network) - The Atlanta Falcons signed wide receiver-return specialist Noriaki Kinoshita, who hopes to become the first Japanese player in NFL history.

The 24-year old Kinoshita spent the past three seasons playing in the NFL Europa League and was selected to the All-NFL Europa team as the National return specialist in each of the past two years.

"I'm excited to see Nori compete in training camp with us," said Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino. "He has good experience playing in NFL Europa and he deserves a chance to be in an NFL training camp. We've already had stiff competition at the wide receiver position throughout our minicamps and offseason workouts, and Nori's presence now adds more to that position. We are also interesting in seeing his return skills."

In 2007, Kinoshita led NFL Europa with a 15.9-yard punt return average and ranked third with a 23.2-yard kickoff-return average. He also added 23 receptions for 364 yards and two touchdowns.

"I am very excited to compete at the Falcons' training camp with other great players," says Kinoshita. "It is exciting as a Japanese player to compete with American players, and I want to appeal to the fans in Atlanta. At the same time, I want to show the Japanese people how exciting the great game of football is."

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Broncos' Peterson to miss 4 games
July 6, 2007

DENVER (AP) -Denver Broncos defensive end Kenny Peterson will miss the first four games of the season and be suspended without pay and for violating the NFL's steroid policy.

The Broncos released an NFL statement Friday saying Peterson will be suspended without pay starting Aug. 31. The statement said Peterson had violated the policy on anabolic steroids and related substances but didn't specify what he had done.

Peterson can join the Broncos for training camp but won't return to the active roster until Oct. 1 after the Broncos play the Indianapolis Colts.

Peterson was cut by Green Bay last September and signed with the Broncos to replace Courtney Brown, who had knee surgery five weeks into the season.

Green Bay picked Peterson in the third round of the 2003 draft.

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Texans sign Bethel Johnson
July 9th, 2007

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - The Houston Texans agreed to contracts with wide receiver Bethel Johnson and linebacker Zac Woodfin on Monday.

Johnson, a former Texas A&M standout, has caught 39 passes for 606 yards and four touchdowns in his four-year career. As a kick returner, he has averaged 24.6 yards on 147 career kickoff returns, including a pair of touchdowns.

After being selected in the second round of the draft by New England in 2003, Johnson earned two Super Bowl championship rings in three seasons with the Patriots before being traded to New Orleans in 2006. He spent the majority of the 2006 campaign with Minnesota after being released by the Saints.

With the Vikings, he appeared in 11 games, starting twice, and had nine catches for 156 yards. He also returned 45 kicks for 1,054 yards (23.4 average) with a long of 65 yards.

Johnson signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on March 8, and was released by the Eagles on June 5.

Woodfin spent the last three weeks of the 2005 season with the Baltimore Ravens. The Alabama-Birmingham alumnus was out of football in 2006 after being released by the Ravens prior to training camp last year.

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Raiders sign S Darius
July 10th, 2007

Oakland. CA (Sports Network) - The Oakland Raiders signed veteran safety Donovin Darius on Tuesday.

Darius spent the first nine years of his career with the Jaguars before Jacksonville released him on June 14.

Injuries cut short the last two seasons for Darius, who played just two games in 2005 before suffering a torn ACL and last year sustained a broken leg in a November game against the New York Giants. He missed just nine games in his first seven seasons.

"We are extremely excited about adding Donovin to the Raiders," said Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin. "He will bring us immediate competition in our secondary. Donovin exemplifies hard work and dedication to the game. Working with Donovin at Jacksonville, I was able to see what a phenomenal competitor he is. He will fit great into our team philosophy."

Darius started all 115 games he played with the Jaguars, recording 14 interceptions with a franchise-best 858 career tackles and two sacks. He has the most starts of any defensive player in franchise history.

"I am excited to be part of the Raider organization," said Darius. "This is an organization that I feel is heading in the right direction with the new coaching staff and the players. I am very optimistic about the change that is taking place within the team. I look forward to being a part of the Silver and Black. I think it's a great opportunity and a great fit."

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