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INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, who tore his ACL in Week 7 last season, said he expects to be cleared for football activities on April 25.

"I feel good, I'm ahead of schedule," Wayne said. "I'm at the point where I'm tired of doing the same rehab stuff, to be honest with you. I'm excited to get back to football activities. I feel good."

Wayne said he would like to take part in the team's minicamp, but he knows he'll be held back as a precaution.

"That's probably the right thing to do," he said. "But I'll definitely be ready for training camp (in late July)."

Wayne, 35, had 38 receptions for 503 yards and two touchdowns before suffering the torn ACL.


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Jermichael Finley expects to get tests

April, 8, 2014
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Free agent tight end Jermichael Finley told ESPN's Josina Anderson he's expecting to get an X-ray on his neck Thursday and an MRI within two weeks.

Finley said his scans will then be reviewed by Dr. Joseph Maroon, the Pittsburgh Steelers team neurosurgeon who performed Finley's spinal fusion surgery last year.

The former Packers tight end's 2013 season ended after an Oct. 20 collision with Cleveland Browns safety Tashaun Gipson.

If the results are positive, Finley hopes to share them with interested teams.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the NFC coaches breakfast during the owners meetings on March 26 that Green Bay is interested in bringing back Finley.

"Absolutely," McCarthy said. "Jermichael, he's going through a medical situation. He had a serious injury, I mean there's a lot of excitement, based on what I'm told. I haven't seen him work out or anything like that, but I guess his workouts have gone very well.

"He's in great shape, I know he feels good, but the reality is this injury is going to take some time and we'll continue to watch it."

Information from ESPN.com Packers reporter Rob Demovsky was used in this report.


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Titans quarterback Jake Locker wore two white Nikes as he spoke to the media Monday about the first day of offseason workouts under new coach Ken Whisenhunt.

The Titans' starting quarterback is still recovering from Lisfranc repair surgery on his right foot, but the boot he was in for about four months is gone. And he's doing stuff that wasn't expected at this stage.

"Being able to put explosive force on it, to kind of jump back and forth and lunge back and forth, was something we thought we wouldn't get into until the end of this week or next and we were able to do it last week," Locker said. "Not only we were able to do it, but the foot wasn't sore to the point where I couldn't do anything the next day.

"It's responded really well day after day to the treatment that we've done."

Quarterbacks can throw to receivers at this stage of the offseason, and Locker said while he won't be dropping back he will be making throws.

Part of the rehab focus has been on making sure he doesn't develop bad habits by throwing with bad form to compensate for the limitations of the foot.

Locker agreed with the premise it's a make or break season for him, but he said that's the case for most players most years.

Whisenhunt agreed.

"You're paid to play this game, you've got to be productive and you've got to play," he said. "I think we all understand that. Certainly that position with Jake, you want to have stability, you want to have someone you know can do that. Jake is going to have the opportunity to show he can do that.


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NaVorro Bowman isn't sure when he will return from the torn ACL he suffered on a memorable play in the NFC Championship Game in Seattle. But the San Francisco 49ers' linebacker has no doubt he will return to his star form -- and he has some unfinished business to tend to.

Bowman said he is out to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that many, including Bowman himself, thought he should have captured in 2013.

"I'm going to come back and (win the award)," Bowman said in a telephone interview Thursday after spending the day at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. "I thought I should have won it last year, but last year is gone. But it has put some more fire in my body."

In February, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he expects Bowman to return around midseason. Bowman said that continues to be the timeline, although physicians believe he is ahead of schedule.

The inside linebacker had a spectacular season in 2013. It was shocking to many around the league that he didn't receive any votes in the Associated Press process as the award went to Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, a player Bowman said he greatly respects.

Bowman suffered a major injury on a signature play. He stripped the ball and had possession of it while tearing his ACL at the goal line against the Seahawks.

On Thursday, Bowman said he knew he blew out his knee while holding onto the ball.

"I was just squeezing onto the ball and hoping the referee would see it," Bowman said. "But I knew I tore my knee."


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NaVorro Bowman happy with rule

April, 2, 2014
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NaVorro Bowman is happy that the NFL has tweaked its rule on whether a loose-ball recovery is reviewable.

Bowman suffered a serious knee injury in January while attempting to recover a fumble during the San Francisco 49ers' loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game. Although Bowman clearly appeared to gain control of the ball, officials ruled that Seattle maintained possession, and the play was not reviewed.

NFL owners voted last week to allow replay of loose-ball recoveries -- the so-called "NaVorro Bowman Rule."

"That doesn't fix my knee," Bowman said during a recent interview with the San Jose Mercury News. "But [the wrong call] won't happen anymore."

Bowman suffered a torn ACL on the play and is not expected to return until midway through the 2014 season. The two-time Pro Bowl linebacker told the Mercury News that he has watched replays of the injury.

"I'm not really a grudge-type man," Bowman said. "I got to move on if I want to continue playing."

Bowman, 25, also told the paper that his doctors have told him he is ahead of schedule in his recovery.

"[My knee] feels great," Bowman said. "It's early, but I'm doing well. I came back and saw [people in] the organization and they're excited to see how far I am. So, I'll keep working hard and see where I end up."

Bowman recorded 145 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions last season, his fourth with the Niners.

ESPN.com 49ers reporter Bill Williamson contributed to this report.


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Brian Hoyer: 'I'm ready to go'

March, 31, 2014
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[+] EnlargeBrian Hoyer
AP Photo/David RichardBrian Hoyer, who tore his ACL in his third start last season, is hopeful he'll be ready for minicamp.

Brian Hoyer hopes to take part in the Cleveland Browns' minicamp in late April, which gives a clear indication how the quarterback sees his recovery from knee surgery last October.

"I saw the opportunity that presented itself," Hoyer told 92.3-The Fan in Cleveland at an autograph signing Sunday. "I knew we had a minicamp before the draft and I really wanted to push myself to be able to participate as much as I could. With the new staff and GM, [I wanted] to show these guys that I'll be ready to go."

Hoyer tore his ACL in his third start, a win over Buffalo Oct. 6. He had surgery on Oct. 18. If Hoyer is ready by mid-April, he would be able to take part in all of the team's offseason work.

The team's medical staff will be involved in the decision as to whether he's cleared and how much he does. Teams often err on the side of caution with players coming off ACL surgery. The Browns will be smart and precautionary in dealing with their starting quarterback.

"I'm on track to do some of that stuff, most of it I would think," Hoyer said. "I feel like I'm ready to."


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Doug Martin says he's OK to play

March, 31, 2014
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin tweeted Monday that he has been cleared to return from the shoulder injury that derailed his 2013 season.

Martin had told the Tampa Bay Times that he expected to be cleared to return to full activity this week.

He sustained the season-ending injury in Tampa Bay's Week 7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The 25-year-old hopes to bounce back in 2014 under new coach Lovie Smith, who recently said he plans to use Martin as the lead back in a rotation.

"I think you have to have a bell cow," Smith said during the NFL owners meeting earlier this week. "[Martin] is ours. At the running back position, there's enough reps to go around. We want three guys we feel comfortable with.

"Two will play, but it's not a rotation that where every series we're going to have a different guy in there. We'll have a starter, then we'll have a backup that will give him quality backup minutes."

The Buccaneers got solid production out of running backs Mike James and Bobby Rainey during Martin's absence last season.

Martin was one of the NFL's top rookies in 2012, rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. He ran for 456 yards and one touchdown in six games last season.


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Doug Martin expects to be cleared

March, 30, 2014
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AP Photo/Reinhold MatayDoug Martin was one of the NFL's top rookies in 2012 but played in just six games last season due to a shoulder injury.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin says he feels "great" and expects to be cleared to fully return from the shoulder injury that derailed his 2013 season.

Martin told the Tampa Bay Times that he is almost fully recovered from shoulder surgery and that he anticipates returning to full activity next week.

"I feel great. My arm is about to get cleared this week," Martin told the Times. "I'm just getting my strength back. It's been too long since I've been out of the game."

Martin sustained the season-ending injury in Tampa Bay's Week 7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, suffering a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The 25-year-old figures hopes to bounce back in 2014 under new coach Lovie Smith, who recently said he plans to use Martin as the lead back in a rotation.

"I think you have to have a bell cow," Smith said during the NFL owners meeting earlier this week. "[Martin] is ours. At the running back position, there's enough reps to go around. We want three guys we feel comfortable with.


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ORLANDO, Fla. -- While the Dallas Cowboys project quarterback Tony Romo and defensive tackle Henry Melton will be ready for Week 1 of the 2014 season, their availability for the offseason program, starting April 21 is in question.

Melton
Romo
Romo, according to owner/general manager Jerry Jones, is ahead of schedule from his recovery from back surgery. Jones said Romo has done some throwing motions but stopped short of saying he was throwing passes to receivers.

There are no guarantees Romo will be throwing passes during the spring OTAs and minicamps.

"We feel like he’s right on schedule and hopefully will be ready to go once we get out on the field in the spring," coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. "He’s moving around. He hasn’t been out on the field or anything like that yet. By all accounts he’s doing well."

Melton is recovering from a torn ACL, suffered in the third game of the 2013 season. Medical officials told Melton he should be ready for training camp but in terms of working out with the team this spring, like Romo, that's uncertain.

"Like all of the injured players he’s just going through his rehab process, right now," Garrett said. "He had the surgery, I believe in October. We feel like it’s a reasonable timetable to see him at some point this spring or training camp. He’s responded well to the surgery."

There is some good news regrading injuries. Middle linebacker Sean Lee, who missed the final stages of the 2013 season with a torn ligament in his neck, has been cleared to work out and should be fine for the spring sessions.
[+] EnlargeJermichael Finley
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesJermichael Finley still hasn't been medically cleared to play after suffering a season-ending injury last Oct. 20 which required a single fusion surgery to the C-3/C-4 vertebra.

At last month's NFL scouting combine, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke optimistically about tight end Jermichael Finley's chances for a comeback from his neck injury.

A month later, McCarthy seemed to be hedging his bets.

Speaking to reporters in Orlando, Fla., during Wednesday's NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meetings, McCarthy said Finley has not been medically cleared to resume playing. This comes a week after the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that Finley failed his physical during a free-agent visit with the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month.

Finley has been working out with his regular trainers in Minnesota and Arizona for most of the offseason.

"He's going through his medical situation," McCarthy said. "He had a serious injury. I know there is a lot of excitement, based on what I've been told. I haven't seen him work out, but I guess his workouts have gone really well. He's in great shape. I know he feels good. The reality is this injury is going to take some time. We'll continue to watch it."


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Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor will have minor hip surgery to clean up a problem from last year, according to a source.

The procedure is not considered to be major and is not as severe as the surgery that kept wide receiver Percy Harvin out for most of last season.

The date of the surgery hasn't been scheduled.

Chancellor, 25, had 99 tackles and three interceptions in 16 games for Seattle last season.


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Cam Newton has ankle surgery

March, 19, 2014
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton underwent surgery on Wednesday afternoon to repair ligament damage in his left ankle.

The full recovery process is four months, which would take Newton until the start of training camp. However, he could be freed to throw on a limited basis before then.

"Dr. (Robert) Anderson did not find anything unexpected in the procedure and the surgery went well," Carolina head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion said in a statement.

Newton nicked his ankle in a Week 16 victory against the New Orleans Saints, but played in the regular-season finale at Atlanta and in the NFC divisional playoff loss against San Francisco without noticeable issue.

The team hoped rest would heal the injury, but soreness persisted and it was decided to address it now so Newton would be ready for camp and not miss any games.

Newton will miss much of the offseason workouts and valuable time throwing to a new corps of wide receivers, after the team released Steve Smith and watched three others leave via free agency.

ESPN's Stephania Bell, a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist, said Newton's effectiveness as a runner shouldn't be impacted by the surgery.

"In fact, regaining full motion and strength are far more important in the early phase than full-speed running," she wrote in her blog Wednesday.


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The news that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is having ankle surgery Wednesday that is expected to sideline him for approximately four months generated a wave of anxiety about the potential consequences. There has been concern expressed about how Newton's absence from spring activities will affect his ability to develop rapport with his new receivers. The question has also been raised, perhaps more importantly, about how this procedure will impact his signature style of play, and whether his mobility will be compromised.

In truth, one could make the case that not only will neither of these things suffer from Newton undergoing surgery at this juncture, but both may actually benefit.

Just to be clear, no one in medicine would suggest that surgery is preferred if rest and rehabilitation resolve the problem. However, when the problem persists and surgery offers a means of improvement, it becomes the best option.

[+] EnlargeCam Newton
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsCam Newton's recovery from ankle surgery will prevent high-stress activities in the spring, but he should be ready to roll by training camp.
Consider Newton's history with his left ankle. In 2012, he suffered a high ankle sprain late in the season. The rest of the ensuing offseason helped, but it didn't completely eliminate some of the effects that can linger after such an injury, even a mild one, especially when that ankle is stressed by the zigs and zags of a mobile quarterback. In 2013, Newton aggravated the ankle late in the season, sustaining lateral (low) ankle damage at some point -- or even multiple points -- along the way (as reflected by the Charlotte Observer report that ligaments were "stretched out" and will be tightened during surgery).

Everyone knows that NFL players often play through discomfort -- if not some degree of injury -- especially late in the season, and Newton was no different. The accumulated physical stress on his ankle of another season and additional injury undoubtedly left the joint stiff and swollen on a routine basis. The only way to find out if it would resolve with just rest and rehabilitation was to give it an opportunity to do just that.

However, multiple sprains -- especially combination high and low ankle injuries -- can lead to problems with the joint beyond the obvious pain and swelling. The injured ligaments surrounding the joint may heal with scar tissue, yet lose elasticity, leading to instability. The joint can develop spurring of the bones from resultant abnormal stresses, all of which leads to chronic irritation in the ankle. That irritation manifests locally as pain and swelling, but functionally translates into decreased mobility, agility and stability; in other words, it could affect all the qualities necessary to make a quarterback like Newton remain Newton-like. Rest and rehabilitation may provide some form of relief, but it may not be sufficient to overcome the injury.

Thus, surgery becomes an option. Barring the discovery of any major cartilage damage within the joint, the process is fairly straightforward. Clean the joint of any debris that may have accumulated as a result of the wear and tear, including removing any spurs that interfere with normal motion, restore stability to the ankle by, in essence, tightening up the lateral soft tissue support and reinforcing the ligaments, then initiate a rehab plan. The more the range of motion approximates normal, and the more proper the mechanics are within the joint, the better likelihood the ankle responds as it should. Presuming Newton commits to the rehab plan and returns full strength to the ankle, his stability and agility should both improve and his pain should be resolved, meaning he may have an easier time moving nimbly about the field. Look out, NFC foes.

Recovery from surgery such as this -- assuming no surprises are discovered in the process -- can vary, but typically takes 12 to 16 weeks. There is no reason to rush a return to high-impact activity, since the goal is to ensure the joint heals properly. In fact, regaining full motion and strength are far more important in the early phase than full-speed running. While this timeline suggests Newton will miss OTAs and minicamp, it's not as if he won't be present, and he may be able to do a fair amount of work on the side. He may even be cleared for some level of throwing. By the time training camp rolls around, Newton should be able to be a full participant, even if his workload is increased in a gradual manner.

As far as developing rapport with his receivers, there have certainly been other quarterbacks (ahem, Peyton Manning) who have found time outside of structured team activities to gather with receivers and work out independently. Some would argue an enhanced relationship could be constructed under those conditions. If Newton is moving well in four months, he would have plenty of opportunity to do something similar; whether that happens or not is a different matter.

Given that Newton's ankle remained problematic weeks after the season came to a close, the decision to move forward with surgery makes sense. And who knows? By the time the season rolls around, the Panthers may not be the ones who are concerned about Newton's health.

It may be everyone else who has to face him.

Cam Newton to have surgery

March, 18, 2014
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will undergo ankle surgery Wednesday to repair an issue that has lingered since the end of the season.

The surgery will be performed by team physician Robert Anderson, and the recovery is expected to take four months, which means Newton will be back in time for training camp in late July.

Team officials said Newton is expected to miss time in minicamps in late May and June.

Assuming Newton's surgery goes as expected and the quarterback's ankle responds as doctors anticipate, the Panthers believe there is a possibility he could be throwing again by the middle of June, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder. The more encouraging time frame would make him available for organized team activities and a minicamp scheduled in June, the last before players reports to training camp.

Having Newton available sooner would be important as he will be confronted with the challenge of developing timing with a new receiver group as Steve Smith (Baltimore Ravens), Brandon LaFell (New England Patriots) and Ted Ginn Jr. (Arizona Cardinals) have all signed elsewhere as free agents. The Panthers have six receivers on their roster who have combined for five career NFL receptions.

Newton nicked his ankle in a Week 16 victory over New Orleans but played in the regular-season finale at Atlanta and in the Panthers' NFC divisional playoff loss to San Francisco without noticeable issue.

"The ankle was sore after the San Francisco game and we wanted to see if rest would calm it down, but it is still bothering him and the decision was made to address it," Panthers head trainer Ryan Vermillion said in a team release.

Carolina recently signed backup quarterback Derek Anderson


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[+] EnlargeAqib Talib
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesAqib Talib said he did not have a hip injury this past season despite being listed on the Patriots' injury report as having one.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- An already bubbling rivalry got a little more spice tossed in Wednesday when newly-minted Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said he did not have a hip injury this past season despite being listed on the New England Patriots' injury report as having one.

Talib, who signed a six-year, $57 million deal with the Broncos Wednesday morning, was asked if the hip injury -- one he had been listed with on the Patriots' injury report during the 2013 regular season -- was a concern as he began his Broncos' tenure.

The cornerback looked somewhat taken aback and said: "That was in Tampa, that was the right side. I haven't had a hip problem since Tampa. The Patriots have their way of reporting stuff, but I haven't had a hip problem since Tampa. The injury I had was actually a quad injury, it was reported as a hip injury, but that's how they do things."


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