Cowboys’ Phillips praises BryantDallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips praised wide receiver Dez Bryant on Sunday while also passing along some advice. Phillips said the former Oklahoma State star showed a lot of potential during the team’s three-day rookie minicamp but also told the first-round pick — as well as the other 25 rookies, eight first-year prospects and three tryout players — to be sharper when they join Cowboys veterans for the primary minicamp in June. "I think we got over the point we needed to, and that is they need to get physically better when they come back, and mental,” Phillips said. "We threw a lot at them mentally. When I sent them home, that’s what I told them, that’s what we’ve got to have when they come back here.” Bryant struggled with his conditioning, and also slightly turned an ankle during the last few plays of Sunday’s drills. But Bryant also made some spectacular catches, although against defensive backs with no NFL experience. "Dez Bryant is an absolute talent,” Phillips said. "You don’t get to be around that many players that come in and look that good that early. … He’s pretty natural, got great body control, great hands, quickness, power and speed.” Adding to Bryant’s NFL education was a personal pep talk after Saturday’s practice from Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, who won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys and still lives in the area. Bryant is wearing the No. 88 made famous by Drew Pearson and Irvin.
OSU’s Okung makes good impressionPete Carroll was excited when Seattle grabbed offensive tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas during the first round of the NFL Draft. The new Seahawks coach was even happier when he saw them during the team’s minicamp this weekend. Seattle selected Okung of Oklahoma State with the sixth overall pick and Thomas of Texas at No. 14. The Seahawks hope both can adapt quickly to the pro game. After Walter Jones announced his retirement, Okung was thrown into the mix at left tackle, lining up alongside recently acquired Ben Hamilton. He was back in the same spot Saturday. "Russell fit in very well and did some very good things today at the left tackle spot,” Carroll said. "I mean, I don’t know how he could know as much as he does other than the fact that Ben Hamilton was there helping him with the calls and stuff, which was great.” Okung made his presence felt on day one of camp, grabbing seventh-round pick Dexter Davis under the facemask and driving him away from a play. He admitted that his head is still spinning a bit while trying to learn the differences between Seattle’s scheme and OSU’s. "It’s different out here,” Okung said. "The little steps. The hand placement. All those little things come into effect. "I’m a bit overwhelmed, but I’m just taking everything in. I’m learning. I’m getting in the playbook. I’m being patient and things are going to get rolling.” With Carroll’s philosophy of competition at every position, both Okung and Thomas will have every opportunity to be an impact player in the fall.
Feds looking into Saints allegationsFederal authorities are looking into allegations made in a civil lawsuit accusing the New Orleans Saints of trying to cover up a senior staff member’s theft of prescription pills from the club’s training headquarters. Special Agent Roberto Bryan Jr., a New Orleans-based spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the agency was referred the case and an investigation is pending. The civil suit was filed Friday by former Saints security director Geoffrey Santini, a retired FBI agent who gave federal authorities evidence he collected before resigning from the team last August. The accusations also could constitute state offenses. However, local authorities say they have yet to begin a probe of their own.
Around the league→Bears: Chicago knows who its starting quarterback is. The question remains: Who’ll be Jay Cutler’s backup? With untested veterans Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez on the roster, the Bears got a good look at sixth-round draft pick Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan during rookie minicamp this weekend. Now they’ll need to decide whether these players can be adequate or if a veteran needs to be signed. Hanie has been with the team for two seasons, but has thrown only seven NFL passes. If the Bears decide the inexperience factor is too great, former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is still a free agent and ran coordinator Mike Martz’s offense in St. Louis. →Bengals: Defensive tackle Geno Atkins had to guard against dehydration during Cincinnati’s rookie minicamp, one of the effects of a condition that he inherited. Atkins was born with sickle cell trait, which also affected his father. Gene Atkins was an NFL safety for 10 years despite the condition, and his son is hoping to have a similar longevity. The Bengals were aware of Atkins’ condition when they drafted him in the fourth round from Georgia. They’re hoping he can improve their pass rush up the middle. Atkins says the only allowance he has to make for the sickle cell condition is making sure he drinks enough liquids. →Steelers: Wide receiver Limas Sweed injured his left Achilles tendon during the final day of a three-day minicamp, and coach Mike Tomlin says the injury could be serious. Sweed was hurt during a routine passing drill and was taken off the Steelers’ indoor practice field on a cart. He later left the team’s practice facility on crutches. If the Achilles is ruptured, Sweed likely would miss the season. Sweed, a second-round draft pick from Texas in 2008, had seven catches in his first two NFL seasons and was a major disappointment to the Steelers. He was removed from the active roster Dec. 22 for what the team said were personal reasons. By The Associated Press