Trickle of NFL Players Head Back to Work - Sort Of

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --Several Tennessee Titans showed up to their practice facility on Tuesday after a federal judge ended the NFL lockout.

They quickly found out they were on their own in their first trip to the facility since the lockout began March 11. Titans coaches and members of the staff were busy preparing for the draft, which begins Thursday night.

Titans player representative Jake Scott arrived at the team's practice facility in his workout gear. But instead of getting a workout in, Scott's stay lasted only 10 to 15 minutes — the time it took for him to have a brief conversation with senior executive vice president Steve Underwood, who addressed reporters during the team's annual pre-draft press conference Tuesday afternoon.

"As a result of some parts of the (court) order, we had so far today seven players who have been here in the building," Underwood said.  "We welcome them.  It's been a long time since we've had players in the building.  We were glad to have them here.  I sat down and visited with each of the players personally.  Some of them wanted to go to their locker, some of them wanted to sort of understand what was going on.

"As you know, both the union and the league have sought additional clarification from the district court in connection with the order that was issued yesterday, including filing a request for a stay of the injunction, which was part of the order.  Up to now, nothing has happened," Underwood continued.  "We're still seeking additional clarification of what the various rights of the parties are under those papers.  The players are, of course, welcome to come to the facility.  We really don't have much for them to do.  We're focused on the draft, and the reason, I think, that I'm beginning here is so that we can free up having to worry about additional questions related to the players being at the building as we talk about the draft, which is the single-most important thing that our club is focused on."

Scott, meanwhile, said the club is in a difficult position.

"They don't really know what to do," he said. "They're being told by the league that we're not supposed to be working out. Basically, we're told if we go in the building nobody is going to interact with us. Or if you go in, you're on your own. They're not going to stop us from walking around the building, but they're not going to interact with us if we do go in the building.

"For the time being, if the stay gets issued from the appellate court or not, we're probably better off just continuing the routine that we have," he said.

Linebacker Rennie Curran, quarterback Rusty Smith, tight end Jared Cook and punter Brett Kern also showed up to the facility on Tuesday hoping not only to work out but to get time with and playbooks from the Titans' new coaching staff.

"I was going to try and get a little bit of the offense since we were allowed to show up, but the coaches were busy getting stuff ready for the draft, so they were not even available to see anybody," Smith said. "I do not have a playbook. It is somewhat frustrating. They did answer questions for us. I got to go and get something out of my locker, which was nice, and if I want to, I can go and use the (indoor field). But other than that, it's more or less like the lockout is still in place without it actually being in place."

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson lifted the lockout Monday and has given the players until 9 a.m. Wednesday to reply to the league's expedited motion for a stay. The NFL questioned whether Nelson exceeded her jurisdiction, and said it would seek an immediate stay of her ruling as well as relief from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

And even though the lockout is lifted at least temporarily it's anything but business as usual.

"You can't make the strength coach show up, and the training staff show up and the equipment guys. Technically, I guess the building is available to us, I guess that none of the other aspects are," Scott said.

Curran and the others were told that new coach Mike Munchak, who was hired Feb. 7, and his assistants would be in draft meetings all day Tuesday and unavailable to meet with them. The NFL draft begins Thursday evening.

Scott said he wanted "to come in and get a workout and hopefully, meet the coaches and get a playbook and get started on getting ready for this season. Guys like me who are early in their careers, we need this jump. ... We didn't get to meet a single coach, which is understandable.

"The draft is in a couple of days. Like I said, we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

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