Mandatory mini-camps are wrapping up around the NFL today. Veterans report for training camps late next month around the league.
Veteran nickelback Cornelius Brown hopes to be invited to the latter and get back to the NFL by winning a Champions Indoor Football title later this month with the Quad-City Steamwheelers.
"The plan is to play football year-round," Brown said ahead of the Wheelers' playoff opener Saturday at Sioux City. "Priority one is winning a title here. If we do that, we all win with more opportunities always coming to champions."
Brown just joined the Wheelers last week after leaving the Nebraska Danger late last month following a coaching change for the Indoor Football League team.
The 30-year-old twice was among the final camp cuts by the Chicago Bears in 2010 and 2012, with a 10-game stint with the Indianapolis Colts in between in 2011. Brown also was on an NFL practice squad with San Diego (2014) and played in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger Cats (2013).
"Green Bay and San Fran have talked about bringing me in," Brown reported. "But there were 2-3 years there where I didn't play, going back to school to finish my degree, so they need to see how I am now.
"That's why I'm here. I have to show them I can still tackle, that I'm still a ball hawk and I can still make plays when I get my hands on the ball."
Brown certainly impressed his new coach, fellow NFL veteran Cory Ross, with his "aggressiveness" in last weekend's regular-season finale for Q-C. Brown registered four tackles and a pass breakup while playing special teams and defensive back.
"Hopefully by August, I'm in a camp after showing I can be a viable safety or cornerback and special-teams guy," Brown said.
"It never used to be a premier position, but now the nickel is playing 80-percent of the time. So there's a place for me in the NFL. I'm more viable to a team because I can do that. I can play safety. I can come out of the box and tackle. I can run down on kickoffs all day. That's where I make my money."
Final countdown: Last week's additions of Brown and rookie cornerback Jordan Stargell likely marked the final roster moves this season for the Wheelers.
CIF rosters are now frozen unless there is a postseason injury, when any free agent can be signed.
"I really like the new guys we added defensively," Ross said. "That helps us in the secondary and on special teams to have some fresh legs."
In their first season since 2009, the Wheelers had 57 players appear on the roster, making 36 separate transactions since training-camp cuts Feb. 27.
A total of 17 players signed in the preseason never made it through camp cuts, and 13 were added after that ax fell.
From the team's original round of signings following an open tryout last October, 10 players remain, half of them linemen — Kewan Alfred, Ryan Brophy, Ryan Bubulka, Shawn Hill and Anthony Pruitt.
Also still around are Brophy's fellow homegrown heroes, wideout Keyvan Rudd and running back Zach Minch, plus wideout Daron Clark and linebacker Shannon Winesberry.
Shirts off their backs: The Wheelers helped raise $6,245 last weekend with their first charity jersey auction since 2009.
Interceptions leader Denzel Thompson fetched the highest price tag at $650. The top five included all-purpose yards leader Tyler Williams ($475), Augustana-graduated kicker Jacob Stytz ($460), Rudd ($400) and quarterback E.J. Hilliard ($400).
"Somebody must have been paying attention to those three picks I had (Saturday)," Thompson said. "This is a cool event. I'm glad I can help out in any way I can. It's all about giving back to the community."
The auction benefited the Genesis Family Connects initiative in Rock Island County, which provides new mothers with a home wellness visit by nurses and information about resources available.