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Watters a no-show at first day of Eagles minicamp

April 25, 1997

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Running back Ricky Watters was an unexcused no-show at the start of the Philadelphia Eagles minicap on Friday.

Watters, in the final year of a three-year, $6.9 million contract, had threatened this winter to hold out of training camp in July if he was not given a long-term extension. Friday’s minicamp marked the first move in what could be a summer-long battle.

``I have not talked to Ricky,″ Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes said after the conclusion of the morning workout. ``This is a mandatory camp. There’s no excuse not to be here. There are ways to deal with this with fines and such.

``Quite naturally we’re disappointed. We’ve lost some veteran players this year and we want to get something going here,″ he added. ``We want our veterans, our leaders to be here.″

Watters led the Eagles with 1,411 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns last season and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl.

But he has caused disruptions and controversy throughout his two years with the team, beginning with his first game when he asked ``For Who, For What″ about a pass he short-armed against Tampa Bay. Still, Watters had never missed a camp, or even a practice before Friday.

``We’re not going to turn this into a Ricky Watters situation,″ Rhodes said. ``Like I said, there are ways to deal with this, and it will be dealt with. We’ll play this year with, or without, Ricky Watters. Let’s talk about the guys who are in camp.″

Neither Watters, nor his agent Blaine Pollock, were available for comment on the absence. A member of Pollock’s staff said Watters ``wasn’t talking to the media.″

Watters boycotted the media most of last season. He chose specific times over the course of the year to talk, but generally was only heard from on his weekly cable television show.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was more relaxed about Watters’ absence.

``I’m not worried about Ricky,″ Lurie said. ``He keeps himself in good shape. He’s probably working out with Jerry Rice. Ray will deal with this his way.″

Asked if he was getting tired of Watters-related distractions, Lurie defended his star running back. ``Ricky is a great player,″ he said. ``We expect a great season from him.″

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