Originally created 07/25/02

Dronett, Duckett won't be on hand for opening of Falcons camp



GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Atlanta Falcons won't have two key players when they open training camp Thursday at Furman University.

Defensive lineman Shane Dronett is expected to miss the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Also, first-round draft pick T.J. Duckett had not signed a contract and was expected to miss the midnight Wednesday reporting deadline.

The 31-year-old Dronett was set to start at left end in the 3-4 alignment implemented by new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Those plans were derailed when Dronett underwent surgery last week to repair a torn ligament in his left shoulder.

"It's disappointing," coach Dan Reeves said. "I'm just real upset for Shane. He worked awfully hard in the offseason."

The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Dronett had arthroscopic surgery to repair a labrum after last season, but he returned to participate in most of the voluntary passing camp drills last month. During that time, however, he reinjured the shoulder in the weight room.

Dronett, who finished third on the team with 5.5 sacks in 2001, likely will be replaced by Maa Tanuvasa, who played only two games last season with San Diego because of an ankle injury. Tanuvasa started 53 straight games for Denver from 1997-2000.

Duckett, the No. 18 overall pick, has participated in every practice and team function but won't report to training camp without a contract.

The Falcons have offered the running back a six-year deal that includes a $3.2 million signing bonus, but the former Michigan State star is seeking no less than the $4.6 million bonus that last year's No. 18 pick, offensive tackle Jeff Backus, got from the Detroit Lions.

Since Reeves was hired as coach and executive vice president in 1997, he has never started training camp without having his first-round pick under contract.

Joel Segal, Duckett's Washington-based agent, has not responded to the initial proposal the team sent two weeks ago. Segal declined to comment Wednesday when asked if he planned to speak soon with Ray Anderson, the Falcons' new executive vice president and chief administrative officer. Anderson took over contract negotiations after his hiring June 21.

Another draft pick has agreed to terms. Quarterback Kurt Kittner, a fifth-round pick from Illinois, is expected to sign a contract Thursday morning and take part in the opening workout.