Fans blinked when they saw Michael Irvin coming out of the backfield to catch a screen pass as if he were a running back. Running backs blinked Friday when Terrell Davis signed a nine-year-contract reportedly worth $56.1 million.
Irvin, the great receiver, was in the backfield during a drill at Dallas Cowboys camp at Wichita Falls, Texas, part of new coach Chan Gai-ley's plan to help Irvin beat double teaming."I love it," Irvin said. "I was really loving it until I saw big Leon Lett out there. If it had been a real game, I might have been in trouble."
Also practicing was running back Emmitt Smith despite soreness and swelling in his right knee.
Meanwhile, at the Denver Broncos camp in Greeley, Colo., the 25-year-old Davis signed a deal that makes him the highest-paid running back in the NFL and the highest paid player in the history of the club that has a quarterback named John Elway.
"The contract makes me a Bronco for the remainder of my career and that's really what I've been looking forward to," said Davis, who rushed for 1,538 yards in 1996 and 1,750 yards last season. He was also the MVP of the Broncos Super Bowl win over Green Bay.
OILERS: The Tennessee Oilers finally reached deals with their top two draft picks Friday as players spent the day unpacking for the start of training camp.
General manager Floyd Reese announced Friday afternoon that he had agreed to terms with No. 1 pick Kevin Dyson, a wide receiver from Utah, and second-round choice Samari Rolle, a cornerback from Florida State.
The first receiver taken in the draft with the 16th pick overall, Dyson received a five-year contract for $6 million with a $3.4 million signing bonus. Terms of Rolle's deal were not disclosed.
Dyson, only the second wide receiver drafted by the Oilers in the first round, had been in Nashville the past two weeks waiting for camp to open.
"I want to play. That's the bottom line. I just want to play football," said Dyson. "Any money they give me is a lot of money."
Dyson is expected to compete with veteran Chris Sanders for the other starting spot alongside Yancey Thigpen.
The 6-foot-1, 199-pounder caught at least 50 passes in his last three years with the Utes, with a high of 60 catches last season. He was timed between 4.35 and 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash in predraft workouts and impressed coaches during minicamps with acrobatic catches.
LIONS: Although he still wants his contract renegotiated, wide receiver Herman Moore appeared for Detroit's first practice session at Saginaw Valley State.
BILLS: As Buffalo's camp opened in Fredonia, N.Y., linebacker Chris Spielman announced that he won't play in his 11th NFL season, not because of neck surgery, but because his wife, Stephanie, has breast cancer.
John Holecek, who replaced Spielman in 1997, will start this season as middle linebacker in the Bills' 4-3 defense, coach Wade Phillips said.
"I've always been a husband and a father first and a football player second," Spielman, 32, told reporters during a conference call from his Upper Arlington, Ohio, home. "It was a very easy decision to make for me."
FALCONS: Defensive tackle Nathan Davis, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound tackle drafted out of Indiana last year, quit the Falcons on the team's second day of camp at Suwanee, Ga., saying he had no desire to play.
BEARS: At Platteville, Wis., Edgar Bennett was the No. 1 halfback as Chicago began practice Friday. The full-speed contact drills were his first since he ruptured an Achilles' tendon a year ago.
"It felt great," Bennett said. "I was really looking forward to it after missing all of last year."
Bennett, a part-time fullback for the Green Bay Packers, signed with the Bears as a free agent in the offseason with the understanding that he would get a shot to be the starting halfback.
Chicago then drafted Penn State's Curtis Enis in the first round a few weeks later and indicated he would be the team's featured back, but Enis is a holdout.
CHARGERS: Ryan Leaf is expected to take the San Diego Chargers to great heights. He might be a few days late getting started, though.
A big gap between contract proposals remains, and the quarterback who led Washington State into the Rose Bowl last January became an official holdout when he failed to show for the team's first practice Friday.
Leaf's agent, Leigh Steinberg, and Chargers negotiator Ed McGuire met Thursday night halfway between Newport Beach and San Diego to try and perhaps meet halfway between proposals.
Steinberg is believed to have asked the Chargers for $35 million over six years, with a $10.8 million signing bonus for Leaf, the second pick in the draft. The Chargers are believed to have offered roughly $24 million over six years, with a $7.5 million bonus.