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BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
While a federal judge in Minneapolis hears a case on whether or not to lift the NFL lockout today, Jermon Bushrod will be working out at his college alma mater.
The New Orleans Saints left tackle has taken a simple approach to handling what he calls a frustrating situation.
He's focused only on things he can control.
That's why since NFL owners locked out players on March 12, Bushrod, a King George County native, has organized a charity golf tournament and a football camp.
He's tutored offensive linemen at Towson (Md.) University (his alma mater) and he's spent time with family and friends.
"I can control my training and I can control what I do in the community," Bushrod said yesterday.
What Bushrod can't control is his contract status.
The 2007 Saints' fourth-round pick is entering his fifth year in the NFL.
He played last season under a one-year contract he signed as a restricted free agent. If the judge rules in favor of the players today and the NFL operates under last year's terms, Bushrod could again be a restricted free agent.
The Saints will be able to sign him to another one-year tender worth $1.8 to $3 million. If another team signs Bushrod, the Saints would have the right to match any offer or receive draft picks instead.
Bushrod said he prefers to remain in New Orleans long term but is open to going elsewhere.
"I love playing in New Orleans," Bushrod said. "We have a great locker room, a great quarterback, a great organization and overall a great city. So if we can get something done, that'll be great. If not, I'll have to weigh my options."
The Saints drafted left tackle Charles Brown in the second round in 2010, but he's viewed as a developmental player. Bushrod has started the past two seasons, including the Saints' run to the Super Bowl title in 2009.
Bushrod said the lockout "is definitely getting in the way" of him securing his future, but he added that he trusts the representatives who are handling negotiations.
"We were prepared for this day," Bushrod said of himself and his fellow players. "It's not like it just came out of left field. As a union, we had good leadership and the right guys in place to get us on the right page, so we're definitely thankful for that. But as a whole, we'd rather be playing."
In the meantime, Bushrod is continuing to train independently. He's helping coaches at Towson for spring practice, while also keeping himself in shape.
He said that next week he might head to a facility in Atlanta to train with other professional athletes.
And until the lockout ends, he'll focus on other endeavors.
His golf tournament will be held on June 17 at Cameron Hills in King George.
Proceeds will go toward scholarships for King George student-athletes, even if they don't want to pursue sports in college.
"It's kind of a token of our appreciation for being a
Bushrod's second annual youth football camp will be held June 18 at King George High School.
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526