The Atlanta Falcons reported to training camp as NFC champions for the first time yesterday, but their lofty status was overshadowed by the absence of star running back Jamal Anderson.
As expected, Anderson did not show up at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and began facing fines of $5,000 per day. Negotiations on a new five-year contract broke down when a noon deadline passed without Anderson accepting the team's latest offer.
Both sides played down the passing deadline, saying they were still willing to negotiate.
Last season, Anderson rushed for a team-record 1,846 yards and set an NFL mark with 410 carries. He becomes even more important to the Falcons' offense after the release of speedy wide receiver Tony Martin, who faces a federal trial on money laundering charges.
DOLPHINS: Wide receiver O.J. McDuffie, who led the NFL last year with 90 receptions, signed a six-year, $20 million contract. McDuffie's old contract had two years remaining and would have paid him $1.3 million this year. The new deal averages $3.3 million per season through 2004.
EAGLES: Quarterback Donovan McNabb remained absent from training camp. McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, and the Eagles were still at an impasse over how to structure a seven-year contract believed to be worth at least $50 million. In an interview aired Tuesday on Philadelphia's Comcast SportsNet, Smith raised the possibility that the Eagles were reluctant to give McNabb a contract without voidable years because he is black.
STEELERS: Pittsburgh signed first-round draft pick Troy Edwards. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the wide receiver's deal was for $6.3 million over five years, including a $4 million signing bonus.