Robert Griffin III dropped back and launched passes during the Washington Redskins' non-contact practice Thursday, the latest sign of progress from the second-year phenom who said his goals include being ready for training camp and starting the season opener.
So focused is Griffin that he's changed account passwords as an ever-present reminder of the Sept. 9 "Monday Night Football" date with the Philadelphia Eagles. Griffin is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews in January.
"The knee feels great," Griffin said in his first wide-ranging interview since doing jumping jacks on stage to a roaring ovation at the Redskins' draft day party three weeks ago. "I'm able to do all the stuff out there without any hesitation, so that's the best part about it. I'm excited about that. It's all about having that confidence, and if you put the work in, you'll have that confidence when you get back out there on the field. It's about playing like you were never injured."
---New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday that he wasn't surprised by Wes Welker's free-agent defection to the Denver Broncos, since he understands the nature of the business.
"I don't think anything surprises me anymore in the NFL," he told the "Dennis & Callahan Show" on WEEI sports radio in Boston. "I've been around long enough to see things happen at different times with the greatest players of all, whether that's Wes or Randy Moss being traded by the Raiders or Brett Favre and playing for the Jets and Vikings."
---Walker, Texas Ranger is a Tim Tebow fan. Chuck Norris, who played the ultimate tough guy title character from 1993-2001, wrote in an online column that he sees a version of himself on the football field in the now unemployed quarterback.
Since being released last month by the New York Jets, Tebow has been told he might be suited for a backup role in the Canadian Football League or could fit in arena football. Norris feels Tebow should be in the NFL.
"Tebow is a player who rises to the occasion and delivers big in critical moments," Norris wrote in a column posted this week for the non-profit conservative website Newsbusters. "He reminds me of myself when I used to compete in martial arts."
---Johnny Jolly may never play another down in the National Football League, but he passed an important test toward making that happen. The former Green Bay Packers defensive lineman graduated from a court-ordered drug treatment program in Houston on Wednesday, and will rejoin the team with the hopes of resuming his NFL career.
He'll join the team for OTA's beginning next week, according to multiple reports. Jolly hasn't played in the NFL since 2009, after he was suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Roger Goodell for his multiple drug arrests. He's remained clean and completed the program. He was reintstated March 4, 2013.
---Running back Giovani Bernard signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, who now have eight of 10 draft picks under contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A second-round pick, Bernard rushed for 2,481 yards and scored 31 touchdowns in just two seasons at North Carolina. He is expected to serve as BenJarvus Green-Ellis' primary backup, and Bernard also has good hands with 852 receiving yards for the Tar Heels.
---The Pittsburgh Steelers have five of their nine draft picks under contract after signing third-round pick wide receiver Markus Wheaton, fifth-round pick cornerback Terry Hawthorne and sixth-round pick wide receiver Justin Brown. Financial terms of the four-year deals were not disclosed.