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May 25, 2011
Keeping score: How the 49ers stack up in player-led workouts

If there was an award for offseason dedication, the Redskins, Falcons and Dolphins would be at the top of the list. Led by linebacker London Fletcher, Redskins players practiced together during a two-day session in April and are holding another informal minicamp this week.


In Atlanta, quarterback Matt Ryan has been leading offensive players through informal practices while inside linebacker Curtis Lofton does the same on defense. In South Florida, quarterback Chad Henne and offensive tackle Jake Long have been organizing workouts since March, and the group that attends sometimes goes through two-a-day sessions.


A quick canvass of beatwriters across the country shows that most teams have at least a dozen or so players who meet regularly to stay in shape. Others have organized more team-wide sessions that mimic the OTAs and minicamps that the ongoing lockout has wiped away. One common denominator for teams that are holding more extensive practices: A strong leader - or two -- who has organized the event and in some instances has paid for rank-and-file players to attend. Another factor: A state or a city, such as Atlanta or Phoenix, in which a lot of players spend their offseasons.

NFC West

49ers: A group of 12-15 players, mostly those who live in the San Jose area, have been working out together. The sessions have focused mainly on conditioning, although quarterback Alex Smith has worked with a handful of receivers on pass routes from the team's new playbook. Offensive lineman Joe Staley and defensive lineman Justin Smith have been the main organizers.

Cardinals: Twenty to nearly 40 Cardinals players have consistently been working out together four days a week. Some defensive players are working out together separately.

Rams: Quarterback Sam Bradford is leading a group of 35 or so players through a series of practices this week in St. Charles. Mo. The sessions include work with the team's new offensive playbook. The players also are planning workouts in early June in the Phoenix area.

Seahawks: About 20 offensive players, led by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, have been training together at a local high school for months. Receiver Mike Williams said on a radio show this week that there is a plan to have a two-day minicamp next week in the Seattle area.

NFC East:

Cowboys: Led by quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys have held team-wide practices that have included as many as 45 players.

Eagles: Led by tight end Brent Celek and quarterback Michael Vick, a small group of Eagles, about a dozen or so, have been working out together, including running pass routes and going over plays at a nearby practice field.

Giants: The Giants recently had four days of informal practices, but only 12 players, including quarterback Eli Manning, attended.

Redskins: Organized by linebacker London Fletcher, the Redskins had a two-day session in April that attracted about 30 players. The team is having another session this week; 41 players were on hand on Tuesday.

NFC South

Falcons: The Falcons have run 7-on-7-style practices twice a week since May 10. About 30 players typically show up for the sessions, which are organized by quarterback Matt Ryan and linebacker Coy Wire, the team's players representative. Ryan provides the offensive script while middle linebacker Curtis Lofton provides the defensive script.

Panthers: The Panthers have scheduled group workouts for next week. It is not known at this point how many players will attend.

Saints: Led by quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints have held an organized conditioning program at Tulane University. Anywhere from 30-40 players have attended. The sessions aren't true "practices," but are very organized and are modeled after Saints' usual program.

Buccaneers: Led by quarterback Josh Freeman, a group of 20-25 players have been regularly working out and running routes at an undisclosed Tampa location.

NFC North

Bears: Bears offensive players have talked about holding workouts together soon but have not yet settled on a date. The defensive players won't be working out with them when the session is held.

Lions: The Lions players held a four-day workout session last week that was attended by 30-35 players. They expect to have another one in two weeks.

Packers: The defending Super Bowl champions have had no organized workouts or practices to this point.

Vikings: The Vikings have had small groups of players working out together, some of them in the Twin Cities. To this point there has been no team-wide practice session.

AFC West

Broncos: Led by safety Brian Dawkins, Broncos players - as many as 20 at a time - have been working out together for one hour, three days a week. The sessions have been focused on conditioning, not on practicing or running plays.

Chargers: Chargers players have been practicing regularly since mid-March. The group has varied from 10 or so players to a couple dozen. The sessions take place four times a week.

Chiefs: The Chiefs have been practicing together, but generally in small numbers. There have been no team-wide sessions to this point.

Raiders: Organized by defensive end Richard Seymour, 34 players met outside of Atlanta this week for informal practices. The group includes three members of the team's draft class, quarterback Jason Campbell, running back Darren McFadden and the starting receivers Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

AFC East

Bills: A group of 30 or so Bills players gathered this week at a local sports complex. The session lasted about two hours and will continue through Thursday

Dolphins: Quarterback Chad Henne and offensive lineman Jake Long have been leading workouts with 15-20 or so players in nearby Davie, Fla. The workouts, which began in March, take place three days a week and sometimes include two-a-day sessions. Other Dolphins, including Channing Crowder and rookie running back Daniel Thomas have been working out at Florida Atlantic University with players from other AFC East teams.

Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez hosted about 15 skill-position players for organized practices in Mission Viejo, Ca. the first week of May. It was dubbed "Jets West" passing camp.

Patriots: Led by linebacker Jerod Mayo, a group of 12 to 15 players has been working out together three days a week since March. Quarterback Tom Brady is not believed to have taken part in any of the sessions.

AFC South

Colts: Quarterback Peyton Manning has led organized workouts for skill players -- wide receivers, tight ends and running backs - while offensive linemen and defensive players have had more informal sessions on their own. There has yet to be any team-wide sessions.

Jaguars: Jaguars players have been working out together based on position groups. Player-organized practices, attended by perhaps 30 players, have been closed to the media.

Texans: Quarterback Matt Schaub has been leading practice sessions at Rice University. That group consists mostly of offensive players and defensive backs. A group composed of defensive players is working out at another location in the suburbs.

Titans: A group of 12-14 Titans players has been gathering regularly for workouts. The team has not yet had any team-wide practice sessions.

AFC North

Bengals: The team has conducted workouts and practices based on position groups, including one in California led by quarterback Jordan Palmer. About 14 skill players attended those sessions. Another 10-12 defensive players have been working out in the Cincinnati area. Seven offensive linemen recently trained together in Louisiana.

Browns: Led by quarterback Colt McCoy, the Browns have had a number of offensive sessions based on a playbook. About a dozen players have participated. Defensive players have not been part of those sessions and have not organized their own sessions.

Ravens: The Ravens will have three organized practices this week. Organized by receiver Derrick Mason, the first day of the session had 27 players.

Steelers: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has organized informal sessions at a local high school with a handful of players; others are working out in small groups in other parts of the country.

-- 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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