49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

May 28, 2008
Oliver back in action for OTAs

Organized Team Activities kick off on Monday, and the 49ers expect to get a few of their injured players back onto the practice field. A trio of ACL tear patients - Manny Lawson, Joe Cohen and Melvin Oliver - did not take part in the three-day minicamp earlier this month. Starting Monday, Lawson and Cohen will go through individual drills but not team drills. Oliver, meanwhile, has been cleared for full participation. Oliver tore his right ACL in June, so he had a head start, recovery-wise, on Cohen and Lawson, who tore their ACLs in August and September respectively.

Oliver will return to find a logjam at his position. Last year, he was taking snaps behind Bryant Young at left defensive end. This year, he will find himself behind Isaac Sopoaga and first-round draft pick Kentwan Balmer at the position. On the other side, Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are first and second on the depth chart. Cohen will find a similar backup at nose tackle. He's got Aubrayo Franklin and Ronald Fields in front of him.

The others who will be sitting out are David Baas (pectoral) and Mark Roman (shoulder). Roman should return by mid June. Jonas Jennings (ankle) was nearly 100 percent during the minicamps. He could be back to normal for the OTAs.

So what's the difference between an OTA and a minicamp? Nothing, really. They're both non-contact (wink, wink) because the rookies haven't signed any contracts at this point. The biggest difference is that minicamps usually are mandatory while OTAs are optional. And when I say "optional," it's like when your mom tells you that Mother's Day cards are "optional." You'd better send one if you know what's good for you ...

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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