Originally created 08/30/99

Football camp roundup: injuries take toll on teams



NFL trainer's rooms were busier than usual during Saturday night's exhibition games as a number of teams took some major lumps.

The St. Louis Rams lost starting quarterback Trent Green with a season-ending knee injury. Cleveland linebacker Chris Spielman, attempting a comeback from neck fusion surgery in 1997, might retire after a violent helmet-on-helmet collision sent him to the hospital.

New Orleans starting quarterback Billy Joe Hobert is expected to miss the Saints' final preseason game after fracturing one of his ribs.

Miami was relieved to learn tests showed running back Cecil Collins had no new break in his injured right ankle, giving him a chance to heal in time for the season opener.

New York Giants center Brian Williams, attempting a comeback after missing two seasons with an eye injury, sprained his left knee in the first half of a 16-10 loss to the New York Jets.

In the Rams' 24-21 victory over San Diego, Green tore the anterior cruciate ligament, sustained a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and also had cartilage damage.

Reconstructive surgery will be scheduled when the swelling subsides, in about 2-3 weeks. Dr. Robert Shively, the team physician, estimated the recovery period at 13 months.

The injury occurred when Chargers strong safety Rodney Harrison, blitzing on the play, lunged at the back of Green's knees just after a pass was thrown. Green had completed all 11 of his attempts before the injury.

Kurt Warner, who has one quarter of NFL experience, became St. Louis' starter by default. The team also acquired Paul Justin from Oakland as insurance Sunday, giving up a seventh-round pick in next year's draft.

Warner, 28, led NFL Europe in passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns in 1998 for the Amsterdam Admirals. Before that, he passed for 10,164 yards and 183 touchdowns in three seasons with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League.

"I'm confident in my ability and the coaches are confident in my ability," Warner said. "Now it's time to go out and prove to the rest of the world that I can be successful."

Spielman could announce his retirement Monday after sustaining a "stinger" during the Browns' 35-24 win over Chicago when he was blindsided by Bears center Casey Wiegmann while trying to cut back on a screen play.

After shedding and spinning off one blocker, Spielman turned and before he could get his feet planted, Wiegmann crushed him.

Spielman stayed on the ground for several moments, and later told Cleveland offensive tackle Lomas Brown, who also played with him in Detroit, that he had been momentarily paralyzed.

"He's exploring all of his options," said Browns coach Chris Palmer, who spoke to Spielman twice on Sunday. "He's going to look at everything and go from there. What we want to do is sit back take a look at things, let things settle down for 24 hours both emotionally and physically and then talk about the subject at that time."

He got a scare in training camp when he was blasted by fullback Tarek Saleh, a blow that sent him to the hospital for an MRI.

Chicago lost backup defensive tackle Jimmy Herndon for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

Hobert completed 10 of 15 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns before a helmet to his right side fractured one of his ribs.

"It shouldn't be that big a deal," Hobert said, although he admitted he was in pain just standing still. "If they wanted me to play in the next game, I could as long as I wore a protective rib vest."

The Saints plan to hold Hobert out of Thursday's preseason game against Tennessee and have him ready for the opener against Carolina.

Collins, the Dolphins' fifth-round draft pick, will be on crutches for a few days and miss Thursday's game at Green Bay. There's a possibility he could be ready when Miami opens the season Sept. 13 at Denver.

"I'm glad it wasn't serious," said Collins, who leads the team with 34 carries and 144 yards. "I'm going to work hard with the trainers to do everything I can to try and get ready as soon as possible."

An MRI exam showed Collins aggravated an injury Collins sustained two years ago at LSU. Collins broke his right leg and damaged ankle ligaments in an October 1997 game against Vanderbilt.

Williams' injury doesn't appear to be that serious, coach Jim Fassel said Sunday.

The veteran center had an MRI and there appears to be no structural damage. While Fassel is optimistic, he would not say when Williams will be back until he speaks with Dr. Russell Warren, the team's orthopedic surgeon.

In other training camp news:

Ravens

Baltimore isn't making much headway in their contract talks with Pro Bowl defensive end Michael McCrary, who reportedly left the team over the weekend after discussions over a possible extension reached an impasse. The Ravens, however, insisted that McCrary never informed them of that decision.

McCrary underwent offseason knee surgery and wasn't supposed to play Saturday anyway. The players were given Sunday off, so McCrary won't be considered AWOL until Monday, when he is scheduled to begin practice for Friday's exhibition finale against the New York Giants.

Eagles

Starting quarterback Doug Pederson said he should be back on the field the next day or so, after suffering a lower back contusion in the third quarter of Thursday's 17-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

"It feels great," said Pederson, following treatment on his back Sunday. "I took today off to help it heal. I want to get back out there tomorrow."

Pederson was hit in the back by a Vikings linebacker when he dove to the ground after scrambling with the ball.

Panthers

Carolina waived linebacker Horace Cook, defensive tackles Chartric Darby and Jerome Davis, offensive tackle Jeffrey Flowe, wide receiver Terry Guess, offensive guard Michael Lies, linebacker Sam Manuel, defensive end Andre Slappey and running back Reggie Shufford.

Redskins

X-rays were negative on Dan Wilkinson's dislocated left ring finger. The defensive tackle is not expected to miss any practice time.

Defensive end Kenard Lang could be out for a week after spraining an ankle.