SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Marcos Martos grew up in soccer-crazed Mexico City dreaming of playing in the NFL.
Everyone laughed at him, but he didn't listen.
Now Martos is a receiver in Carolina's training camp, trying hard to continue bucking his national trend.
"When I was 6 years old, I started watching TV, and I just loved the NFL," he said. "When I turned 7, my birthday wish was to play in the NFL one day. All my family just laughed so much.
"My family was always saying, 'Football, no! We play soccer here.' I guess I was a little bit stubborn. I played football."
Martos, who lives in Cancun, spent the past seven years playing for the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe. His best season was in 1998, when he caught 20 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns.
The highlight of his time there was actually the season before, when he caught a 66-yard touchdown pass from Jon Kitna in Barcelona's World Bowl victory over the Rhein Fire.
Martos worked hard then, lifting weights, practicing all the time and bringing home about $10,000 a season.
"I'd be rich right now if I had played soccer," Martos said. "In Mexico, the average player, they don't lift, they don't run. They make between $80,000 and $100,000 a month. A regular soccer player."
VIKINGS: Mankato, Minn., former Silver Bluff star Corey Chavous is playing strong safety for Minnesota right now while two young players, Willie Offord and Brian Russell, try to earn the other starting spot.
Offord is a free safety, but Russell will play the strong position if he gets the job - forcing Chavous to move to free. A winner probably won't emerge for a while, so Chavous could wind up switching positions shortly before the regular season begins.
Still, that's not a concern to the Vikings.
"No, we figure we need to give him a day because he is so smart," coach Mike Tice said.
JAGUARS: In Jacksonville, Fla., no progress was reported on Day 14 of rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich's holdout, which is now the longest in team history.
"My approach is to coach the guys who are here," new coach Jack Del Rio said. "I think there's no question that the longer a guy's out, the more it impacts his ability to contribute."
DT Marcus Stroud (knee) and RB Fred Taylor (bone bruise) are the notables who won't play in the preseason opener Saturday at Minnesota. Del Rio says neither injury is serious. Taylor hasn't practiced since last Wednesday.
BILLS In Pittsford, N.Y., Buffalo tight ends Dave Moore and Mark Campbell are among several players nursing injuries as the team prepares for its preseason opener at Baltimore on Saturday.
Moore and Campbell were held out of practice Thursday. Moore has a strained hamstring and will be a game-time decision, while Campbell (right hamstring) is expected to play, coach Gregg Williams said.
COWBOYS: San Antonio, receiver Joey Galloway left Dallas' camp after Thursday's practice to return to Ohio for his grandmother's funeral. He'll miss the preseason opener.
Coach Bill Parcells said Galloway will return to camp Sunday, rejoining the team after it returns from Arizona.
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