Vikings' Stringer rushed to hospital after workout in heat, humidity

Posted: Wednesday, August 01, 2001

MANKATO, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer was hospitalized Tuesday after workouts conducted in extreme heat.

Vikings trainer Chuck Barta said Stringer was taken by ambulance to Immanuel St. Joseph's Hospital after going through morning conditioning drills and returning to the team's locker room.

Barta didn't elaborate on Stringer's condition but did refer to it as ''serious.'' The hospital declined to release any additional information.

''We've had a lot of players with heat cramps, a lot of legs cramping up,'' Barta said. ''That's not unusual, but it is unusual for here because we haven't had this type of heat for four or five years.''

The temperature on the team's second day of training camp reached the low 90s, but stifling humidity raised the heat index to as high as 110 degrees.

The 6-foot-4, 335-pound Stringer and defensive tackle Fred Robbins also had to sit out the Vikings' workout on Monday afternoon because of heat exhaustion.

Stringer, who struggled earlier in his career to keep his weight under control, made the Pro Bowl last year for the first time. He and 359-pound guard David Dixon helped clear holes on the right side of the line for running back Robert Smith, who rushed for a franchise-best 1,521 yards last season.

Picked by the Vikings in the first round of the 1995 draft, Stringer started every game at right tackle the past two seasons.

Because of the blazing heat, the Vikings' special teams practice in the afternoon was shortened by 30 minutes. After thousands showed up for practice on Monday, attendance dwindled drastically Tuesday -- surely because of the sweltering day.

''It's been a year of extremes,'' coach Dennis Green said. ''The heat is something we expect.''

Carolina Panthers

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Chris Weinke couldn't think of a better place to spend his 29th birthday.

The rookie quarterback is competing with Jeff Lewis for the Carolina Panthers' starting job.

''I will always remember this birthday being my first camp and being the 29-year-old rookie,'' he said. ''But I hope the day gets by pretty fast and I don't have to think about the fact that I'm a year away from 30.''

There are only 15 players on the Panthers' 84-man roster older than Weinke. But the former Florida State star views his age as a positive.

''It makes the transition a little easier in terms of coping with everything that it takes to be a professional athlete,'' said Weinke, who spent six seasons in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor league system before going to college. ''I've been a professional athlete before and it's helped me in this process.''

Baltimore Ravens

WESTMINSTER, Md. -- Elvis Grbac hadn't even thrown his first pass of training camp when he began to feel out of place as the new starting quarterback of the Super Bowl champions.

After checking into the Baltimore Ravens' hotel, the eight-year pro felt like a rookie again.

''I had to find out where the meeting rooms were, where to go, who to sit with in the cafeteria,'' he said. ''Thank goodness I didn't have to sing, because I can't sing at all.''

But the man can throw a football, and that's why the Ravens gave him a five-year, $30 million contract in March and bid farewell to Trent Dilfer, who went 11-1 as a starter in Baltimore's magical Super Bowl season.

Although it took some time for Grbac to adjust to his accommodations, he quickly drew attention on the field. His 50-yard strike to Patrick Johnson during the opening practice Monday wowed a crowd at Western Maryland College and earned high-fives from his new teammates.

Denver Broncos

GREELEY, Colo. -- Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak will continue calling plays for the Denver Broncos this season.

Kubiak took over the play calling last season, with considerable success. With quarterback Brian Griese missing six starts and 1,000-yard rushers Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary combining to miss 28 starts, the Broncos still averaged 30.3 points per game, the second-highest total in the franchise's 41-year history.

Coach Mike Shanahan said it would be foolish for him to resume direct control of the offense, considering the close relationship Kubiak and Griese have developed.

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Dorsey Levens has mixed feelings about splitting time in the Green Bay Packers' backfield with rising star Ahman Green.

He knows he won't get overworked during camp, which should help him stay healthy after yet another offseason of rehab following operations to both knees. But he doesn't want to lose his edge.

''In one sense, it's a luxury as far as staying fresh,'' Levens said. ''But in the same sense, you want to go out there and play as much as you can to get a feel for the game. I know personally I get better as the game goes along. The more reps I get, the better I get.

Green, who led the Packers in rushing and receiving last year, recently signed a five-year, $17.5 million extension. Levens took a pay cut to return to Green Bay with the hopes of re-establishing his Pro Bowl form of the late 1990s before leg injuries curtailed his career.

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CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) -- Ki-Jana Carter, newly signed by the Washington Redskins, is starting to run the rust off.

''Wow,'' Carter said. ''It's amazing what a year off does. You do all the running you want, all the preparation you want, but once you get out here and do drills with the team, it's a totally different type of running. I'm a little rusty right now.''

The oft-injured former Penn State running back signed a one-year deal Tuesday and will battle for the backup job behind Stephen Davis.

The 27-year-old Carter was drafted No. 1 overall by Cincinnati in 1995, but two major knee injuries and a broken wrist limited him to 732 yards over five seasons with the Bengals.

He was cut in a salary cap move after the 1999 season, and he didn't play at all last season. Only two teams gave him tryouts in 2000, and one of those came at the end of the season.

The Redskins signed their second-round draft pick, cornerback Fred Smoot from Mississippi State. Smoot arrived in Carlisle late Tuesday and signed a four-year contract worth about $2.6 million, including a $1.3 million signing bonus.

''It's real good, real good to be here,'' Smoot said as he was escorted into the team's dining hall.

That left San Diego's Drew Brees as the only second-round draft pick still holding out.

Smoot had been wearing No. 23 during the Redskins spring minicamps, but that number was given to Carter on Tuesday. Smoot will probably get No. 21, Deion Sanders' old number.

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) -- Colts cornerback Mustafah Muhammad strained his left hamstring during morning workouts.

Muhammad was injured on a play in which wide receiver Jerome Pathon beat him and safety Chad Cota down the field. As Muhammad chased Pathon, he pulled up lame.

''They said he strained it,'' coach Jim Mora said. ''I'm not sure how bad it is.''

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UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Lions resumed training at Saginaw Valley State following a meltdown by first-year coach Marty Mornhinweg.

Mornhinweg cut the practice Monday after just 35 minutes. He told his team to leave the field and rode away on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

''In my opinion, there was nobody on that field that was ready for practice,'' Mornhinweg said. ''I'm talking players, coaches, equipment guys and the public relations department.''

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Halfback Sean Bennett, who missed last season with a knee injury, will not start practicing with the New York Giants for at least another week.

''He's running but not full speed,'' coach Jim Fassel said Tuesday. ''I'm not in a hurry with him. I told the trainers I would rather have him a week late than a day early. I want to get him healthy.''

Bennett started at halfback at the beginning of the 1999 season but missed seven games after twice sustaining knee injuries. He was hurt on the last day of training camp last year and had season-ending knee surgery.

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay punter Mark Royals will be sidelined three to four weeks after spraining his right knee when he collided with a teammate during a special teams drill.

An MRI exam performed after Royals was injured Monday revealed the injury.

''It was a freak thing,'' Royals said Tuesday. ''But if you are going to have something sprained, that's what you want to have sprained. ... Anything else could have been possible surgery and I would probably be out for the rest of the season.''

Royals hopes to return before the Sept. 9 regular season opener at Dallas.

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- Shane Matthews will start at quarterback in the Chicago Bears' preseason opener Saturday against Cincinnati.

Matthews and coach Dick Jauron said the choice was not an indication of how the team's three-way battle for the starting quarterback job was going.

''The coaches know what all of us can do. So I'm not putting any more pressure on myself,'' Matthews said.

''You just want to be sharp because you don't really know how long you're going to play. So if you only get 10 or 15 plays you want to make them all work.''

Jauron said Cade McNown will likely start the second preseason game at Tennessee. Jim Miller, sidelined because of a hamstring pull, will return fully to practice next week.

Also Tuesday, the Bears signed -- then unsigned -- kicker Jimmy Kibble after learning he recently pleaded guilty to having sexual contact with two students from a Virginia high school where he coached.

Kibble, 23, of Manassas, Va., was indicted June 4 and later pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for the sexual contact with two 16-year-old girls.

He was freed over the weekend after serving one month of a six-month sentence.

''Once we gathered all the information there were some concerns, and then we opted to rescind the contract,'' general manager Jerry Angelo said. ''All I'm saying to you is we did our homework and we made a decision and we'll let it go at that.''



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