Originally created 09/17/99

Chandler might miss game



SUWANEE, Ga. -- Chris Chandler, who didn't practice with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, insisted he may wait until Monday's 9 p.m. kickoff at Dallas before deciding whether his strained right hamstring is ready for action.

While the quarterback held out hope of not missing Atlanta's first Monday Night Football appearance since the 1996 season, coach Dan Reeves was less optimistic.

"Our preparation has got to be that he isn't going to be there," Reeves said. "It would be a miracle if he's ready. We haven't ruled him out, but he's got a long, long, long ways to go."

Chandler agreed, but said the extra day of preparation may be enough time to recover from the injury suffered in the team's second-to-last offensive play in last Sunday's 17-14 loss to Minnesota.

"I can run for longer distances, I guess, but I still can't run very fast," Chandler said after the team wrapped up its workout session Thursday. "It was better than it was (Wednesday), and hopefully by (today), I will be able to practice real light on it and even more so on Saturday.

"I'd like to figure that out Monday. That's what I want to say. I don't know what the coaches' feelings are exactly. But we'll know more Monday before the game."

Third-year backup Tony Graziani worked out as the starting quarterback Thursday. Unlike some of his previous starts in emergency situations, he said he was more comfortable with the idea of starting against the Cowboys.

"I'm excited, I'm ready to go," Graziani said. "I've been preparing all week like I'm the starter. If he can't go, I'm ready.

"The experience of three preseason games under my belt allows me to see things out there faster. I just feel a lot better about things. It's every kid's dream to play on Monday Night Football."

Chandler, who because of injuries has never played a full season, was still hobbling Thursday, although he did ride a stationary bike, stretched and jogged for about an hour.

Chandler's 12-year career has been marred by injuries.

Last season, he missed two full games and parts of two others with various ailments. During a preseason practice, he injured the same hamstring that's bothering him now and sat out an exhibition game.