Testaverde injury gives Jets a scare

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2002

The New York Jets got a scare Tuesday when quarterback Vinny Testaverde banged his right thumb on a teammate's helmet and had to leave morning practice.

Testaverde, however, said there was no major damage. He said he would miss a few days as a precaution although he could be held out of practice longer.

''Anytime you miss a day of camp, it can't be good,'' he said. ''I would rather have a setback in camp than during the regular season.''

Testaverde said he has jammed the thumb several times in his 15 years in the NFL.

''It's usually been just a couple of weeks,'' he said. ''But I don't expect to miss too much time. I certainly hope to be back by the start of the regular season. I think I can be back in a couple of days. I don't have to rush back.''

The Jets' first preseason game is Aug. 8 at Pittsburgh, but Testaverde was expected to play little in any case.

Coach Herman Edwards also seemed unconcerned with the injury.

''I'll talk to Herm, the trainers and the doctors to see what they say,'' Testaverde said. ''If it was up to me, it would probably be just a couple of days, but it's not entirely up to me.''

Edwards said last week that Testaverde could not lose his starting job in training camp, but that Chad Pennington would get the opportunity to prove himself and earn Edwards' confidence in case Testaverde faltered in the regular season.

''I feel like I can run the show,'' Pennington said. ''A good NFL team, in order for it to be successful, you have to have two good quarterbacks.''



Seattle signed top draft pick Jerramy Stevens to a five-year contract worth about $6.2 million.

Stevens' agent, Marvin Demoff, confirmed the signing but would not reveal the amount of Stevens' signing bonus. Seattle selected the tight end with the 28th pick in the first round of the April draft.



Drafted seventh overall by Minnesota this spring, offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie was slated as an instant starter.

His contract holdout, though, entered its fifth day, so the Vikings decided not to keep holding a spot for him.

''Obviously the anointing of him as a starter is over,'' coach Mike Tice said. ''Right now, Everett Lindsay is our starting left tackle, and so we just have to go with the guys we have.

New offensive line coach Steve Loney has had to do some juggling. Not only is McKinnie absent, but Lewis Kelly -- who was going to start at right tackle originally and would be the left tackle with McKinnie out -- has been limited by a strained quadriceps.

Temperatures soared well into the 90s, so the defense again wore yellow jerseys with the offense wearing white.



Left tackle Jeff Backus, expected to be a key to the Detroit Lions' offensive line this season, left camp Tuesday morning after injuring his left knee.

Backus was blocking in a drill when he crashed to the ground. The 6-5, 309-pound Backus left the field with assistance from trainers.

He was placed on a cart and driven into the inside part of the team's training facility.

Results of an MRI exam were negative, but Backus had a bone bruise.

Running back Luke Staley, the Lions' seventh-round draft pick out of BYU, had to leave practice after he strained his right knee while running sprints. Staley broke a bone in the same leg last season and worked through extensive rehabilitation before the draft.



Sage Rosenfels, the only holdover quarterback on Washington's roster, will start the team's first exhibition game in Osaka, Japan, this weekend.

Coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday that Rosenfels will play the first half and Danny Wuerffel the second half. Shane Matthews will start and play at least three quarters the following week at Carolina.

The fourth quarterback, first-round draft pick Patrick Ramsey, remains unsigned. Ironically, he's the only one of the four virtually guaranteed of a place on the final roster.

The Redskins also signed oft-injured tackle Daryl Gardener to a one-year deal Tuesday to ensure some depth in the defensive line.

Gardener, a brash player coming off two career-threatening back operations, chose the Redskins over the Denver Broncos, and the Redskins decided concerns over his history of back injuries and clashes with teammates and coaches were outweighed by the need to have a solid front four.

Gardener was released two weeks ago by the Miami Dolphins, who drafted him in the first round in 1996.



Tony Gonzalez had a lengthy phone conversation with Kansas City Chiefs president Carl Peterson, but the All-Pro tight end was still a no-show at training camp.

The impasse started over money, but has escalated into Peterson's demand that Gonzalez give up his pursuit of a dual career in the NFL and NBA. Peterson has pulled back an $8 million signing bonus and told Gonzalez he will not consider a long-term contract unless he agrees to quit basketball.

Offensive lineman John Tait was led off the practice field bleeding from a head wound sustained during a fight.

Tait fought with rookie defensive end Eddie Freeman toward the end of the afternoon practice. Freeman has been involved in several scuffles during the first week of camp.

''He took a few stitches,'' coach Dick Vermeil said of Tait. ''His helmet came off and he took a fist right between the eyes.''

As Tait and Freeman struggled, several other players began to join the fray, with offensive players in white jerseys grabbing defensive players in red uniforms. Vermeil stopped practice and yelled loud enough to be heard all over the field.

''If this doesn't stop, I'll run every one of you out of here,'' he said. ''This is not red jerseys against white jerseys. It's the Chiefs. We just got a man hurt here.''



Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the Titans' No. 1 draft pick, said his five-day contract holdout might put him behind during training camp.

''I missed out, lost a lot of valuable time,'' he said before his first practice Tuesday night. ''Hopefully, I can begin catching up at practice today. I know it will take a while.''

Haynesworth agreed to a five-year, $8.3 million contract Monday night, his agent said. The former University of Tennessee standout was the first Titans' draft pick since Steve McNair in 1995 to remain unsigned at the start of camp.



Running back T.J. Duckett missed his eighth and ninth training camp practices Tuesday because of a contract dispute.

The Falcons talked with Duckett's agent, Joel Segal, but had not reached agreement with their first-round draft pick.

''There's no question his value is diminished with each practice he misses,'' coach Dan Reeves said. ''It's a very difficult situation.''

The Atlanta Falcons endured another scorching day at training camp.

The temperature climbed to 96 at Furman University, with the heat index calculated at 102 degrees for the two-hour afternoon session.

The stifling conditions prompted Reeves to work his team in lighter pads and shorts during the second of two practices.



Pittsburgh kicker Todd Peterson bolted training camp, but for good reason: to kick at Heinz Field.

Former Steelers kicker Kris Brown had trouble kicking at the new stadium last season, so Peterson plans to practice there regularly all season.

Brown seemed to lose in confidence at Heinz Field after missing four of five attempts in a 13-10 midseason loss to Baltimore. He went on to miss a league-high 14 attempts. Visiting kickers made three of nine attempts there.

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