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 FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -Midway through the first practice of training camp Thursday, Jamaal Anderson trotted onto the field for the Atlanta Falcons.
The team's top draft pick spent the first hour of practice working out the final details on a five-year contract that could be worth as much as $31 million.
``I didn't think it was going to take that long. I felt like I was signing off the lease to a house,'' Anderson quipped. ``I'm glad it's over with. That's one less thing I've got to worry about, and now I can just concentrate on football.''
The No. 8 pick overall, Anderson is being counted on to step right in at left end for longtime stalwart Patrick Kerney, who voided his contract and signed a lucrative deal with the Seattle Seahawks.
In his junior season at Arkansas, the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Anderson led the Southeastern Conference and ranked third in the nation with 13.5 sacks. His deal includes about $15 million in guarantees.
The Falcons also signed one of their second-round picks, cornerback Chris Houston, and agreed to terms with their other second-rounder, offensive guard Justin Blalock. Houston took part in the first practice of training camp, and Blalock is expected to get on the field Friday.
Like Anderson, both Blalock (39th overall) and Houston (41st) are expected to contend for starting jobs.
Completing their draft class, the Falcons signed a pair of sixth-round picks, defensive tackle Trey Lewis and cornerback David Irons.
The Falcons were glad to get Anderson, Houston and Blalock in camp after a troubled offseason. They started camp on the same day quarterback Michael Vick was in Virginia pleading not guilty to federal dogfighting charges that put his career in limbo.
``It's important to us because we're counting on those guys playing right away and contributing right away,'' new coach Bobby Petrino said. ``It's amazing how much you miss if you miss more than one practice, two practices, three practices. This is really the time we're installing everything. Once you get behind it's like math - it's hard to catch up.''
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