Originally created 08/04/98

NFL notes: Manning to be target of defenses



Petyon Manning will no longer be off limits.

Hitting Manning in training camp and in last week's practice and scrimmage with the St. Louis Rams was a no-no. The ban will be off on Saturday when the Colts open their exhibition season at Seattle.

"It's got to happen sometime. That's the only way you're going to get better," Manning said Monday.

Seattle has an advantage of having already played its first game, defeating Dallas 20-19 on Friday, while the Colts will be playing their first exhibition.

"It will be a challenge on both sides of the ball. No matter what happens, I think we'll get a lot of benefit out of it," he said.

Manning expects to lean heavily on tight ends Ken Dilger and Marcus Pollard. The 6-foot-5, 259-pound Dilger and the 6-4, 257-pound Pollard will provide Manning with the big targets he didn't have at Tennessee.

"I had a lot of good receivers in college, but never really had a tight end like those two guys. They've got good hands. They're so big, its easy to spot them in a pattern," Manning said. "And they're both excellent blockers.

"I look for them to be a very big part of our offense."

Dilger and Pollard are equally excited about catching balls from Manning. With an inexperienced line and a revolving door at quarterback last season, Colts tight ends combined for only 50 of the team's 317 receptions and 609 of the 3,560 passing yards.

"Marcus and I are pretty good tight ends as far as running and blocking. The more talented people we have out there on the field, the better it is for the team," said Dilger, who spent much of the offseason preparing himself mentally and physically for an added workload.

"We've had a pretty good tempo in camp. It's been a carryover from offseason work both on and off the field," Dilger said. "Obviously, I'm excited about catching more balls and gaining more yardage than last year. But the important thing is to win more games."

DOLPHINS

Miami receiver Yatil Green, recovering from minor knee surgery, is expected to return for the team's final two exhibition games.

Green, who missed all of his rookie season last year with an injury to his right knee, underwent arthroscopic surgery Sunday on the same knee to remove damaged cartilage.

Despite the setback, coach Jimmy Johnson said he expects Green to regain the form that made him the team's first-round draft choice in April 1997.

"I don't have any reservations," Johnson said. "He has come a long way. You have to remember that the knee injury he suffered a year ago was a severe one."

SAINTS

New Orleans quarterback Heath Shuler returned to training camp on crutches and wearing a toe-to-knee cast on his left leg.

Shuler, who had offseason surgery that removed the bones in the ball of his left foot and repaired torn ligaments, returned to the doctor who performed the operation this weekend. He had experienced numbness in the foot.

Tests revealed a cyst under the scar tissue on the foot.

"It's pressing on the nerves. That's why I'm having the numbness," said Shuler, who will be in a cast for about five days. "There's nothing they can do about that, but there's no ligament damage. That's what I was really worried about."

BEARS

Chicago rookie tight end Alonzo Mayes grudgingly ended a 10-day holdout by signing a three-year contract late Sunday night that, in his opinion, is not commensurate with his ability.

"I'm still not satisfied, but what's the purpose of holding out if you're not going get anything out of it," Mayes said. "I just have to go out and prove who I am."

Bears vice president of operations Ted Phillips called the negotiations "a unique situation" because Mayes was a fourth-round draft pick with first-round talent. Mayes' stock dropped after testing positive for marijuana during the NFL scouting combine in February.

Chicago compromised by offering Mayes incentives that would allow him to earn more money than a fourth-round pick usually would.

PATRIOTS

After one game, New England coach Pete Carroll is happy with the Tebucky Jones experiment.

Jones, the second of New England's two first-round selections in this year's draft, played tailback and safety at Syracuse, but Carroll is trying to make Jones into an NFL cornerback.

"Tebucky made it through the game," Carroll said after a 14-13 exhibition loss to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night. "At least he went out there and got to play a game. He had a couple of plays where he knocked the receiver into the backfield."

Jones had one tackle, when he pushed the man trying to block him into the ball carrier. None of the receivers he was covering had any receptions.

"I'm not satisfied, because I don't think you can ever be satisfied," he said. "I want to be one of the best, so that means practice, practice, practice. I have more work to do."