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Copeland gets a leg up


John Copeland remembers the way defensive line coach Tim Krumrie stared at his shriveled left calf last week.

"I felt pretty good about it, but Tim looked a little worried," Copeland said.

When Krumrie worries, people hop. Last week, Krumrie became part psychologist and part physical therapist as he ran Copeland through a variety of odd lookng drills.

There was Krumrie and Copeland playing catch with a roll of tape as Copeland hopped about on the offending leg. There was a hopping Copeland chasing Krumrie like a weary farmer grappling with his plow. There was Copeland looking like a man in a three-legged sack race.

So there was Copeland today looking pretty good after the most running he's done since he had a bone spur removed from his left ankle about a month ago. The defensive line ran the football version of "suicide sprints," running and touching every five yard lines. Then they ran around the field a few times.

If anybody knows how to get a leg back in shape, it's Krumrie. The Pro Bowl nose tackle had such a severe broken leg in Super Bowl XXIII, rods had to be used to heal it. But he was back in time to start Opening Day in 1989.

"The leg is fine, I just need to get my wind back," Copeland said. "The idea is to do functional work and Tim's been there. I'm just trying to make my leg stronger by trying to isolate it and do things without the other leg helping."

Copeland thinks he'll be ready for next month's voluntary camp and that he'll be ready for sure by the July 21 start of training camp.

PUNTER SIGNED:Greg Mueller, who punted for Northwestern State of Louisiana in 1996, has been signed as a punter/kickoff man.

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