Originally created 09/27/03

NFL notebook



JACKSONVILLE - Jaguars rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich most likely will make his first NFL start Sunday, with Mark Brunell downgraded to doubtful for the game against Houston.

Brunell injured his elbow in the first quarter last weekend against Indianapolis and needed five stitches after the game. He has not practiced this week and was listed as questionable on the team's first injury report Wednesday.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio wasn't available but told a national radio audience it is "very unlikely" Brunell will start.

"I'm ready to go," Leftwich said following a short team workout Friday.

He has played in the Jaguars' last two games and has impressive numbers, connecting on 11 of 13 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

VIKINGS: Daunte Culpepper was upgraded to questionable, meaning there's a 50 percent chance the injured quarterback will play against San Francisco. He and coach Mike Tice said it will be a game-time decision.

Culpepper, who leads the league with a passer rating of 108.0, has three small broken bones in his left lower back and a fourth that's partially broken. He practiced Friday for the first time this week, splitting time with Gus Frerotte on the first team.

BILLS: Running back Travis Henry might be unable to play against Philadelphia because of torn rib cartilage. He is listed as questionable and did not practice this week. The Bills had hoped he would be able to work out Friday, but that did not happen.

Coach Gregg Williams said Henry's status will be a game-time decision. If he isn't available, third-string tailback Joe Burns of Georgia Tech will get the bulk of the work. Burns has played sparingly this season, gaining 48 yards on 15 carries.

BRONCOS: The NFL fined the team $25,000 for showing up in the wrong colored uniforms for a game against San Diego and fined wide receiver Rod Smith $20,000 for accidentally hitting an official.

The Broncos were penalized for wearing white uniforms Sept. 14 against San Diego, even though Denver had agreed beforehand to wear dark uniforms.

"I knew we would be fined something," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "That's a little bit of a slap on the wrist. They knew it wasn't intentional or the fine would have been a lot more."

Smith was fined for striking umpire Undrey Wash during Monday night's 31-10 win over Oakland. Smith got tangled with Raiders defensive tackle Chris Cooper after a 6-yard reception and took a wild swing that struck Wash.

  • Also, Clinton Portis will be a game-time decision Sunday against Detroit. Portis ran hard during the team's light workout Friday, but he can't seem to shake the soreness in his chest.
  • Portis was injured two weeks ago when San Diego's Kwamie Lassiter hit him under the pads. He started against Oakland on Monday night but missed most of the second half after landing on his shoulder.