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NFL roundup: Vitt expects Brees in camp

The SportsXchange

New Orleans Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt told reporters Thursday that he expects Drew Brees to join the team for the opening of training camp.

Why?

"What else is he going to do? He can't sing or dance," Vitt joked.

Brees and the team remain in a contract standstill, and it remains a priority to reach a settlement. The Saints have placed a one-year franchise tag on Brees, which prevents him from talking with other clubs. He is holding out for a new multiyear contract.

Brees, 33, has skipped weeks of voluntary workouts, as well as the first six offseason practices over the past two weeks. The quarterback may also miss next week's minicamp and the final set of offseason practices later in June.

The Saints have until July 16th to sign Brees to a new long-term deal. At that point, he can earn about $16.3 million playing under the one-year franchise tag, or sit out and get nothing.

While he can't "sing or dance," Brees has been busy starting a lifestyle clothing company for men and women of all ages.

The intention is to sell apparel that "carries the spirit of New Orleans," Brees told The Huffington Post.

He expects to launch the company this fall, and is searching for a CEO to run it.

---Linebacker Shawne Merriman was cleared to return practice and was on the field at the Bills' OTA session Thursday.

It's a big step for Merriman, who has battled three years of injuries, including early-season surgery to repair his Achilles' tendon in 2011. When the Bills took to the practice field Tuesday, Merriman was in Birmingham, Ala. visiting with Dr. James Andrews.

"I got final clearance to go out and participate with everything. I was hoping for good news and I got it," Merriman said. "It was the first day of practice for me anyway in a long time. I had a lot of time off. I got a chance to go back out there with the guys and put on a helmet again."

Merriman is under contract for one more season, but it's an encouraging sign that he's able to participate this early in the offseason program.

---Former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, who was released earlier this week by the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League, is considering legal action against the Wranglers, TMZ.com reported Thursday.

The Wranglers released Owens on Tuesday, stating on its website that he was dismissed because he missed a scheduled team appearance at a hospital and because Owens said he would sit out two upcoming road games. The team gave Owens a $50 buyout for the 50 percent ownership stake Owens had in the team.

Owens has retained some lawyers and is considering suing the Wranglers for breach of contract, according to the report.

Owens claims his contract stated that he didn't have to play in road games unless certain financial conditions were met. He said his missed appearance at a children's hospital was the fault of the Wranglers' publicist.

---Don't believe New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks can return from a broken foot for the start of training camp? Nicks would like you to take it from his doctor.

"The doctor said that he had people come back as early as four weeks, six weeks to eight weeks," Nicks said Thursday. "It really just ranges. We just don't want any setbacks. So we are going to take it -- the team wants to take it 12 weeks, that is what they are giving us. So I think that is what we are going go by what the team gives us. But my goal is always to come back earlier. We just don't want any setbacks. We just have to play it smart and be ready for the season."

Nicks' timetable for return could vary, but a full 12-week recovery from his original injury last week puts him back on the field Aug. 20.

---Hines Ward predicted he wouldn't wear retirement well. He didn't wear it long, either.

Ward will be part of NBC Sports' football coverage, joining the Football Night in America show that airs Sunday night while also contributing to other projects.

"It is a big honor for me and I am looking forward to making the most of this great opportunity." Ward said in a statement.

Ward, 36, signed a multi-year agreement and appear on NBC Sports Talk with Peter King. He's also a candidate to work on the network's college football studio show.

--The Jacksonville Jaguars signed sixth-round draft pick Mike Harris to a contract. Harris, a cornerback, was the 176th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.

The Jaguars also re-signed free agent cornerback and return specialist Dontrell Johnson to a contract.

---After a 2-14 season and the decision to release a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player -- QB Peyton Manning -- the Colts expected 2012 ticket sales to take a dip. As of Wednesday, the franchise had 3,000 season tickets remaining but still expected to sell out games this year.

"We're not anticipating being blacked out," said Colts CEO Pete Ward.

The team has signed a one-year contract with Indy-based Get Real Sport Sales to help facilitate ticket purchases. Indianapolis has sold out 113 of its past 114 regular-season and playoff games, including 79 in a row since a Sept. 21, 2004 game with Jacksonville. Colts season-ticket renewals have slipped to 87 percent, the first drop below 90 percent in a decade.

Single-seat prices range from $380 to $1,260.

---The Redskins signed fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins, who figures to battle for the backup quarterback spot behind Robert Griffin III's title in Washington -- rather as insurance behind Griffin.

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