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Lockout ends, work begins

Football: For two local players, two local coaches, it's time to prepare for 2011 NFL season.

July 26, 2011|By Grant Gordon,

GLENDALE — As April concluded, Glendale Community College product Zack Williams was realizing his dream of becoming a NFL Draft Pick, as the Carolina Panthers selected the Washington State center in the sixth round.

But as a part of the 2011 draft class, Williams encountered the unfortunate situation of being able to do little more than sit and wait for his time as a Carolina Panther to begin, as the NFL lockout prevented players from negotiating contracts, reporting to team facilities, practicing under coaches, etc.

That all changed on Monday afternoon, however, as player representatives for all 32 NFL squads agreed to accept the league's proposal for a 10-year collective bargaining agreement and ended the lockout.


"I was excited to finally get back to football," Williams said on Tuesday as he began his trek from Washington D.C. to Panthers training camp. "It's been difficult not being around football. Just being able to get back on the field is exciting."

Williams is one of two local players, along with Flintridge Prep graduate Ramses Barden, that's set to get back to work when their teams' respective camps open on Friday, while former Glendale Community College players Andy Reid, the Philadelphia Eagles longtime head coach, and Hue Jackson, the Oakland Raiders' first-year coach, are set to open their camps today.

"I'm happy that the NFL and its players can get back doing what they love to do," Reid told on Monday. "The coaches can get back to coaching. Players can get back to playing and we're all pleased about that."

Among the offseason topics Reid must address, the Eagles are likely to trade quarterback Kevin Kolb, as Michael Vick has established himself as the teams' bona fide starter. As for a backup, reports have surfaced that future Hall of Famer Brett Favre, who Reid worked with in his days as a Green Bay Packers assistant, has drawn interest from the Eagles' brass.

Tuesday was the first day in which teams were allowed to sign draft picks and begin negotiations with free agents. Of course, it was also the first day to simply get things back in the direction of a normal offseason.

"As far as our team, we look forward to reconvening in the near future and we are looking forward to holding training camp once again on the campus of Lehigh University," Reid said. "We understand that we have a lot of work ahead of us in order to get ready for the season opener at St. Louis and I'm excited to get started on that as soon as we can."

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