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Renewed Rice joins camp early

SHARE Renewed Rice joins camp early

Jerry Rice couldn't wait to get back on the football field.

Rice, coming back from two serious knee injuries that sidelined him almost all last season, showed up at San Francisco's training camp a day early and caught some passes before a cheering crowd of 3,000."It's a fresh start for me," said Rice, the NFL's career leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. "With everything that happened to me last year, this is a new start. I feel like a rookie all over again."

Rice came to camp Monday, a day before the 49ers' first full-squad workout. He worked out individually, running routes and catching the ball while the rest of the team scrimmaged.

"I'm probably about 90 percent right now," he said.

Rice, who turns 36 in October, tore ligaments and cartilage in his left knee during San Francisco's season opening-loss at Tampa Bay. He returned against Denver on Dec. 15, but broke his left kneecap after catching a touchdown pass.

Coach Steve Mariucci plans to limit Rice's preseason schedule in order to get him ready for for the 49ers' regular-season opener Sept. 6 against the New York Jets.

"We are in no rush to see him practice twice a day every day," Mariucci said. "The main objective is to get him to feel good for that first game."

RAIDERS: Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson signed with Oakland a day before the opening of training camp.

Woodson, the fourth overall pick in the draft, reportedly signed a six-year deal worth $14.5 million, including an $8 million signing bonus.

Woodson is the highest draft pick this year to come to terms with his team. New Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Woodson will be given a legitimate chance to start.

SEAHAWKS: Seattle opened its training camp without holdout quarterback Warren Moon.

Newly acquired running back Ricky Watters said he hopes the 41-year-old Moon works out his contract dispute with the team.

"He's one of my heroes," said Watters, who signed as a free agent after gaining 1,110 yards with Philadelphia last season. "I expected to be playing with him."

It is the first training camp holdout of Moon's 20-year pro career. Last year, he set team passing records with 313 completions and 3,678 yards.

PACKERS: Reggie White, who has gotten into hot water for his remarks on homosexuality and other social issues, wasn't talking at Green Bay's training camp Monday.

White was set to talk with a group of reporters, but coach Mike Holmgren canceled the interview because he didn't want his star defensive end making any more news. Holmgren has done the same thing in the past with quarterback Brett Favre.

"Put them in a situation where they have a microphone in front of them and anything could be said," Holmgren explained. "I would just like to minimize the distractions just a little bit."

FALCONS: Mark Rypien, a former Super Bowl MVP who signed with Atlanta as a backup quarterback to Chris Chandler, was placed on waivers.

Rypien, 35, signed a two-year, $1.85 million contract with the Falcons in April. But family illnesses kept Rypien from taking part in any of the team's offseason training camps after he signed.

The 13-year NFL veteran has put his football career on hold since his 2-year-old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His wife, Annette, also has a serious illness.

Rypien, who has played with four NFL clubs, was the 1991 Super Bowl MVP with Washington.

COLTS: Peyton Manning, the top pick in the NFL draft, said he might not reach a deal with Indianapolis before training camp opens Thursday.

"Like I said all along, I hope it gets done," said the former Tennessee star. "But it is an important decision and it is one that needs to be done right."

COWBOYS: Defensive end-linebacker Broderick Thomas, who tore up his knee in Sunday's practice, is out for the season.

The 10-year veteran from Nebraska was expected to be Dallas' top pass-rusher this season.