A jury in Atlanta found Denver Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall not guilty of misdemeanor battery against his former girlfriend, announcing its verdict Friday after about an hour of deliberations.
Marshall had faced two counts of simple battery stemming from a March 4, 2008, argument with then-girlfriend Rasheedah Watley at the Atlanta condominium the couple shared.
"I'm just happy now that legally and emotionally we can move past this," Marshall said. He said he planned to celebrate Friday night by watching his teammates in an preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers.
His lawyer, Harvey Steinberg , expressed gratitude to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for waiting for the verdict before deciding whether to take any league action. Marshall was suspended for last year's season opener after a series of domestic disputes, and Goodell had said a conviction in the Atlanta case could have led to a second suspension.
Panthers' Smith returns to practice
Four days after kicking his helmet in disgust and climbing into a golf cart thinking his shoulder was broken, Carolina receiver and ex-Utah star Steve Smith was smiling and throwing tight spirals.
Fittingly, Smith's surprisingly quick return to practice Friday ended with a throw-and-catch session with inexperienced receiver Kenny Moore . They spent much of the offseason working out together, with Smith's young son toting along, an experience that conflicted with the Panthers star's loner persona -- and renewed his enthusiasm.
"It gave me those childhood memories of what I grew up with. I really liked how I felt, falling back in love with the game," Smith said. "So getting hurt, that's why I took it out on my helmet. Seven months of working hard, and then in seven seconds you're back in the same position.
"But in hindsight, it's not broken."
X-rays were negative Monday night, and after a day in a sling, Smith had progressed to an exercise bike. It was still thought he'd miss most, if not all, of the preseason.
So the sight of Smith running with his teammates in full pads Friday morning at training camp shocked onlookers. Saying he suffered just a "pretty good bone bruise," Smith participated in individual drills before sitting out the team work and avoiding contact.
Around the league
Jaguars » First-round draft pick Eugene Monroe has ended a 12-day holdout by agreeing to a five-year contract. Monroe, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound left tackle taken No. 8 from Virginia, could rejoin his teammates today. Financial details of the contract weren't immediately available.
Packers » Green Bay signed first-round draft pick B.J. Raji , ending the defensive lineman's nearly two-week training camp holdout. Citing two NFL sources it did not identify, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Raji signed a five-year, $28.5 million deal that included just under $18 million in guaranteed money.