Former Kaepernick team-mate sceptical over NFL workout

Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid kneel to protest racial injustice during a rendition of the US national anthem in 2016 (AFP Photo/GRANT HALVERSON)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid expressed scepticism about an NFL-organized workout for close friend and former team-mate Colin Kaepernick on Wednesday, questioning whether this weekend's scheduled practice was little more than a publicity stunt.

In an unexpected move on Tuesday, the NFL said it had invited teams to attend a private workout by Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who ignited controversy by kneeling during the US national anthem to protest racial injustice.

Kaepernick has not played since opting out of his 49ers contract at the end of the 2016-2017 season -- the season he launched his protests -- prompting accusations that he had been blackballed by the sport.

Kaepernick, who has continued to work out regularly in the hope of being able to resurrect his NFL career, said Tuesday he was looking forward to Saturday's tryout in Atlanta.

"I've been in shape and ready for this for three years, can't wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday," the 32-year-old wrote on Twitter.

However, the timing of the NFL's workout has puzzled many across the sport. Scheduling the workout on a Saturday is potentially problematical because most coaches of NFL teams will be preparing for Sunday's round of fixtures.

NFL scouts are also more likely to be deployed at college games, which traditionally take place on Saturdays.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Reid questioned whether the workout was a sincere attempt by the NFL to help Kaepernick, who has repeatedly been targeted for criticism by US President Donald Trump.

"It feels like the same play from the NFL," Reid said. "It feels disingenuous. At this point it feels like a PR stunt.

"They told Colin that he has the opportunity. But it's the Saturday before a game. Teams are traveling on Saturdays.

"What head coach or general manager is going to be able to make this trip? But, as far as I know, Colin is going to be there and he’s going to perform, cause I know he's ready."

ESPN meanwhile reported that Kaepernick's camp had asked for the workout to be held on Tuesday next week in order to allow more team officials to attend. The request was turned down by the NFL.

Reid has been one of Kaepernick's staunchest allies during his period of activism.

The safety was the first 49ers player to kneel alongside Kaepernick in 2016, and joined the quarterback in a 2017 legal action against the NFL alleging he was being unfairly denied employment, a case that was settled in February.

Reid is adamant that Kaepernick still has plenty to offer any team willing to sign him.

"He's in the prime of his career," Reid said. "He still has a cannon for an arm. He can still run. Too late for his career? No."