Originally created 07/27/06

League suspends former Bulldog



Cincinnati middle linebacker Odell Thurman has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policies,

The former Georgia star became the team's starting middle linebacker as a rookie last season, when the Bengals made their first playoff appearance since 1990. Thurman was excused from the team's minicamp in June for personal reasons.

"It's very disappointing to us that Odell has this misconduct with league policies," coach Marvin Lewis said. "I am very disappointed. It's something that he needs to get in line in his life."

Thurman, 23, a second-round pick, had 1.5 sacks and led the team in tackles in nine games last season.

Thurman's suspension is the latest embarrassment for a team that has had four other players arrested in recent months.

FALCONS: In his first two training camps as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Jim Mora had to wait six days for the team's top draft pick to report.

Mora, whose Falcons lost six of their final eight games and finished a disappointing 8-8 last season, hopes the trend stops when veterans and rookies take part in the first practice of camp today.

Though the team had not made a formal announcement, three of the five picks have reached contract terms and reported on time Wednesday to meet the 4 p.m. deadline for rookies.

Quarterback D.J. Shockley, a seventh-round pick from Georgia, offensive tackle Quinn Ojinnaka, a fifth-rounder from Syracuse and receiver Adam Jennings, a sixth-rounder from Fresno State, reached agreements. They will join their new teammates for the two-hour workout today.

Cornerback Jimmy Williams, a second-round pick from Virginia Tech, and running back Jerious Norwood, a third-rounder from Mississippi State, are still unsigned.

DOLPHINS: Daunte Culpepper will take part in Miami's first training camp workout Saturday even though he has yet to fully recover from knee surgery last November.

Coach Lou Saban didn't rule out Culpepper playing in the first exhibition game Aug. 12 against Jacksonville.

"I can't make any predictions," Saban said. "We're making these evaluations on a day-to-day basis as to what his workload is and what he is capable of doing. When the games come, we'll make those same kind of determinations."

The Dolphins will open their second camp under Saban with much of the attention on Culpepper, acquired in March in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. He gives the Dolphins their most talented quarterback since Dan Marino retired six years ago, but his health is an issue.

RAIDERS: The Art Shell era has just begun and Jerry Porter is already having problems with his new coach.

A day after publicly demanding a trade, Porter sat out practice Wednesday with a calf injury. While other injured players such as Ronald Curry were on the field with their teammates for part of practice, Porter was nowhere to be seen during workouts.

Porter declined to talk to reporters Wednesday, but Shell said the trade request was a "non-issue" and the team is unlikely to grant his request.

RAMS: St. Louis agreed to terms with tight end Joe Klopfenstein and linebacker Jon Alston, one day before the start of training camp.

Only first-round pick Tye Hill, a cornerback from Clemson, has not signed, but coach Scott Linehan believes Hill will be in camp by the weekend. The Rams have nine of their 10 draftees under contract.

JETS: D'Brickashaw Ferguson should be right on time when New York players report to training camp today.

The No. 4 overall pick was close to signing a contract Wednesday night, and expected to be at team head quarters on reporting day. The Jets start practice Friday morning under new coach Eric Mangini.