Football

NFL notes: Favre says he'll return if he's healthy

Bobbie Williams, a 6-foot-4, 345-pound guard, greeted fans as entered the field at the Cincinnati Bengals pre-season training camp at Georgetown College.
Bobbie Williams, a 6-foot-4, 345-pound guard, greeted fans as entered the field at the Cincinnati Bengals pre-season training camp at Georgetown College.

Brett Favre probably could have gotten more peace and quiet if he had simply shown up for the Vikings' training camp.

A day after NFL sources said Favre sent messages to Vikings personnel and team officials telling them he planned to retire, the quarterback denied doing any such thing and told reporters in a brief interview in Hattiesburg, Miss., he will return for a 20th NFL season if he is healthy.

Favre, who will turn 41 on Oct. 10, underwent surgery on his left ankle in late May and still isn't satisfied with how it feels. "I haven't made a decision yet, so that tells you one thing," Favre said.

Favre's agent, Bus Cook, said the quarterback will visit noted surgeon James Andrews next week to have the ankle examined. "He's working out really hard, and everything seems to indicate that if he is healthy and can contribute and play at the level that he has become accustomed to, he will play," Cook said.

Favre denied his absence is related to getting a raise on the $13 million he is due in 2010. "It has nothing to do with money," Favre said.

However, according to NFL sources, the Vikings appear willing to sweeten the pot for Favre with an offer that could pay him $20 million, including $16 million guaranteed, plus incentives potentially worth $4 million based on post-season success.

Injured foot slows Smith

The Cincinnati Bengals are waiting on offensive tackle Andre Smith again.

The former first-round draft pick has yet to get on the practice field with his Bengals teammates. He's working out on his own, trying to get in shape and get beyond foot problems that held him back as a rookie.

So far, Smith has been one of the Bengals' biggest disappointments.

The sixth overall pick last year out of Alabama got into a contract holdout that forced him to miss much of training camp and the first three preseason games.

Two days after he joined the team, he broke his left foot during a non-contact drill. The injury limited him to six games, including only one start, last season.

He had foot surgery when the season ended, and has been slow to get back into playing condition. Coach Marvin Lewis said Smith might end up on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he would miss the first six games.

Jets' Holmes returns

Santonio Holmes spent last week in a hospital with his ailing son, his mind far from the football field.

The Jets wide receiver got back to work Wednesday, reporting for training camp and practicing with the team in the afternoon.

"The first day was cool, man," Holmes said. "I actually didn't think I was going to be ready for it. I've been doing a lot of traveling, doing a lot of family time and issues. But, I think it's just a mental thing. They got me back into the groove. I was ready to go."

Holmes was given a later reporting date of Wednesday — the team arrived for camp Sunday — so he could be with his son, Santonio III, who had his spleen removed. He wrote on his Twitter page last week that his son, who has sickle cell anemia, was in a hospital in Atlanta.

Suh practices

Ndamukong Suh took a flight from Nebraska to Michigan on Wednesday, signed his contract, passed a conditioning test and joined his Lions teammates for drills on a muggy afternoon.

"I'm happy to finally be out here," he said. "I enjoyed it, knocking off the rust."

The No. 2 pick overall in the NFL draft was greeted by chants of "Suuuuhhhh!" from fans as he walked on the practice field and was the center of attention for the next two hours.

Suh didn't report to training camp Friday and missed seven practices.

Suh's five-year contract is worth $40 million guaranteed and as much as $68 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were confidential.

Goodell calls for testing

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league wants to test players for human growth hormone "to protect the integrity of our game."

In an interview with The Associated Press, Goodell called the HGH issue a key element of ongoing labor negotiations involving owners and the players' union.

"It's very important. It's about the integrity of the game. It's about player health and safety," Goodell said. "It's about making sure that we're doing everything to protect our players and to protect the integrity of our game."

Around the league

Dolphins: Kick returner Kory Sheets tore his right Achilles' tendon in practice Wednesday and is out for the season.

Chargers: Rookie linebacker Donald Butler will miss the entire season after sustaining an Achilles' tendon injury.

Panthers: Right tackle Jeff Otah had arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome left knee Wednesday, a procedure the Panthers hope he'll recover from in time to play in the regular-season opener.

Rams: Offensive tackle Jason Smith, the second pick in the 2009 draft and recovering from a broken toe on his right foot, took limited repetitions for the first time in training camp.

Broncos: Denver signed running back LenDale White on Wednesday to provide depth after Correll Buckhalter (back) and Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) were injured on the first day of training camp.

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