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Chargers Release Free Safety McNeil

From Staff and Wire Reports

For the first two weeks of training camp, veteran defensive back Ryan McNeil lined up as the San Diego Chargers’ starting free safety. On Tuesday, the Chargers cut him.

“It just goes to show that the NFL is nothing but a business and that there isn’t any guarantees with anyone on this team,” said cornerback Tay Cody about McNeil’s release. “But, this was a little bit of a surprise.”

Before camp began, the Chargers made a big deal about the veteran experience McNeil was expected to provide this season, especially with the team’s off-season decisions to get rid of longtime defensive leaders in linebacker Junior Seau and safety Rodney Harrison.

But after a few practices watching the development of rookie safety Hanik Milligan and McNeil’s lack of blazing speed, Coach Marty Schottenheimer and his staff began to wonder whether McNeil would even be included on the regular season roster. That decision was made after the Chargers’ 20-7 exhibition loss Saturday at Seattle.

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“As we looked at everybody on the roster in the secondary, it was not likely that Ryan was going to make our football team,” Schottenheimer said about McNeil, who was making a position switch from cornerback to free safety. “Given that, I felt that the thing to do was to [release] him now. That gives him some time before the [NFL’s] final cuts to see if he could find a job.”

Second-year defensive back Vernon Fox, who played cornerback in college at Fresno State, took McNeil’s spot in the lineup in workouts on Tuesday. Fox will be backed up by Milligan and rookie Terrence Kiel, who has not practiced because of an injury. Wide receiver Onome Ojo was also waived.

-- Lonnie White

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The Jacksonville Jaguars reached an agreement with rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich on a five-year, $23 million contract, an NFL source told Associated Press.

The source, speaking on condition he not be identified, said the contract had yet to be signed as of late Tuesday, but that Leftwich would almost certainly sign and make it to training camp today.

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Cincinnati Bengal rookie quarterback Carson Palmer, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner from USC and the top pick in this year’s NFL draft, sat out practice because of a strained tendon in his right foot but expects to play Saturday against the Detroit Lions.

The Bengals said the injury wasn’t severe and will be treated mainly with stretching and rest.

Palmer was injured in the Bengals’ 28-13 exhibition loss Sunday to the New York Jets.

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First-round draft pick Willis McGahee agreed to a contract with the Buffalo Bills, but that doesn’t get the injured running back closer to playing his first game.

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In announcing the agreement, team President Tom Donahoe said he still hasn’t determined whether McGahee will open the season on the active roster. One option, Donahoe said, is putting the running back on the nonfootball injury list, allowing him to continue rehabilitating his injured left knee.

McGahee agreed to a five-year deal that could potentially be worth $15.53 million.

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Washington center Larry Moore will be sidelined two to four weeks because of sprained knee ligaments.... Minnesota cut receiver Derrick Alexander, whom the Vikings had signed last year hoping he would become the No. 2 receiver opposite Randy Moss.


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