NFL, players union talking about HGH tests again

Associated PressJuly 22, 2013 

The NFL and players union are talking again about getting a test in place for human growth hormone as early as this season.

An email obtained by The Associated Press from the NFL Players Association indicates that the league and the NFLPA have jointly hired a doctor to conduct a study on NFL players to determine a good threshold for a positive HGH test. The email was sent by the union to players, in part to explain that the study requires them to have blood drawn during their physical when training camp begins. The email said the blood samples will only be used for the study.

The labor agreement that ended the NFL lockout in 2011 requires the league gain union approval before testing players for HGH. The union says it favors testing, but has reservations about the appeals process.

Cincinnati: The Bengals have released guard Travelle Wharton, who tore up his right knee during the first preseason game last year and missed the season.

Wharton signed with the Bengals after spending eight seasons with Carolina, where he started 99 games at guard and tackle. The Bengals installed him as their starting left guard, but he hurt his knee on the third play of the preseason opener against the Jets and needed surgery.

Clint Boling, a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, took over for Wharton and started every game at left guard.

Cleveland: Josh Gordon’s not looking back. There’s no point.

Unable to fix his mistakes but vowing not to repeat them, the Browns’ talented wide receiver apologized Monday for being suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Gordon, who emerged as a much-needed playmaker for Cleveland as a rookie last season, was suspended without pay in June by the league for the first two games of this season. Gordon will also forfeit two other game checks as part of his punishment.

In his first public comments since the suspension, Gordon, who was suspended in college at least twice for marijuana use, apologized for his latest misstep and promised to make amends with his teammates, Browns fans and Cleveland’s front office.

“This hurt a lot of people,” Gordon said.

Gordon would not go into any details about the reasons he was suspended, and referred to a statement he made last month shortly after the penalty was announced. Gordon stood by his previous comments that he used cough medicine containing codeine – a banned substance – while recovering from strep throat in February and said what he took was for “recreational use.”

Dallas: The Cowboys are hoping the first two days of training camp aren’t a trend.

It looks a lot like last year when injuries decimated a defense that couldn’t hold up late in a season that ended just short of the playoffs.

Defensive end Anthony Spencer can’t shake a troublesome knee problem, and backup Tyrone Crawford is out for the season after tearing his left Achilles tendon during the first full workout of camp.

Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff strained a hamstring during the conditioning test.

Tony Romo’s starting guards – Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings – are sidelined for now. So is backup Ronald Leary.

But defensive lineman Jason Hatcher says worrying about a replay on injuries is like a “cancer for the team.”

Denver: The latest distraction for the Broncos comes from All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, who insisted Monday he did nothing wrong in the face of reports he could miss four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy.

“I know I did nothing wrong. I’m sure this’l be resolved fairly,” Miller tweeted, acknowledging he had seen the reports and adding he was disappointed the Broncos have to open training camp with this news hanging over them.

ESPN first reported the pending discipline for Miller. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the possible penalty to The Associated Press. The person did not want to be named because the league hasn’t announced any punishment.

Shortly after last season’s 13-3 campaign ended with a loss to Baltimore in the divisional playoffs, none other than Miller guaranteed a Super Bowl title for Denver for the 2013 season.

Houston: The Texans have signed first-round pick wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, giving them seven of nine 2013 draft picks now under contract.

Hopkins, who left Clemson after his junior season, is a deep threat who could be the complement for star receiver Andre Johnson that the Texans long have sought. He caught 82 passes and set school records with 1,405 yards receiving and 18 touchdown receptions last year.

For his career at Clemson, Hopkins had 206 receptions for 3,020 yards and 27 touchdowns, becoming the sixth player in ACC history with more than 3,000 yards receiving and the only player in conference history to gain that many yards in just three seasons.

Kansas City: The Chiefs are still talking with the agent for No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, but the right tackle has yet to sign a contract and has not reported to training camp.

Rookies, quarterbacks and injured players reported to the Chiefs’ camp headquarters on the campus of Missouri Western on Monday, giving them a few days of extra work before the full squad reports on Thursday. The first full practice is Friday.

It’s unclear when Fisher will join the mix, though coach Andy Reid said that GM John Dorsey and Fisher’s agent, Joel Segal, were talking.

A rookie wage scale introduced in the latest collective-bargaining agreement took much of the drama out of rookie contract negotiations. Still, Reid said he’s not surprised the negotiations with Fisher are ongoing.

New York Jets: The Jets signed quarterback Geno Smith, their second-round draft pick, on Monday to a four-year contract that is worth about $5 million.

Smith, drafted 39th overall after an unexpected slide out of the first round in April, is competing with incumbent Mark Sanchez for the starting quarterback job. The signing was announced by the team, which still has its two first-round picks – cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson – unsigned.

The Jets’ veteran players report for training camp in Cortland, N.Y., on Thursday, but rookies were reporting Monday at the team’s facility in Florham Park, N.J.

San Francisco: Cornerback Eric Wright failed his physical with the 49ers, nullifying a trade to bring him to Northern California from Tampa Bay.

He was subsequently released by the Buccaneers.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh declined to say specifically what portion of the physical Wright failed and made just a brief statement on the situation.

Thus ends a quirky four-day stretch that began after the 49ers appeared to have acquired the former second-round draft pick from Tampa Bay on Friday in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2014.

Shortly thereafter, reports surfaced that Wright had been arrested a week earlier in Los Angeles on an unspecified misdemeanor charge. It’s unclear if the 49ers were aware of Wright’s situation when they made the trade.

Washington: Robert Griffin III has passed a major test toward his goal of playing in Week 1, getting the go-ahead from the team doctors days before the Redskins open training camp.

“Doctors cleared me to practice. Coach is going to ease me in,” Griffin announced Monday on Twitter.

The two sentences represent hurdles past and future. Even though Griffin says he has the medical OK, it is now up to coach Mike Shanahan to determine how often and how vigorously Griffin practices when the Redskins open camp Thursday in Richmond, Va.

The Redskins had no comment on Griffin’s tweet. However, a person familiar with the situation said the Redskins have cleared Griffin to practice. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club has not made an announcement.

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