Jets' Abraham out 4 to 6 weeks with bad knee

Posted: Tuesday, August 06, 2002

All-Pro defensive end John Abraham of the New York Jets sprained his left knee in practice Saturday, but plans to be in the lineup when the team opens its season in less than five weeks.

An MRI examination Monday revealed a second-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament, and the team estimated he will be out 4-to-6 weeks.

Abraham thinks otherwise.

''I'm confident I'll be back before the first game in Buffalo,'' Abraham said. ''I'm shooting for the last preseason game or the first game.

''I feel I'll be ready in four weeks.''

A 2000 first-round draft pick from South Carolina, Abraham is being counted on to provide the bulk of the Jets' pass rush. Last season, he finished second in the AFC with 13 sacks.

Still, he believes the team is amply protected by the presence of veteran backup Steve White, signed as a free agent, and this year's top draftee, Bryan Thomas of Alabama-Birmingham.

''That's the reason they got Bryan Thomas,'' Abraham said. ''Someone to back me up if something like this happens. Bryan is coming along better than I thought he would. Steve also is stepping up.''

Browns

Rookie running back William Green was kept out of practice by the Cleveland Browns, who don't want to take any chances with their first-round draft pick.

Green hurt his right shoulder during practice against the Buffalo Bills on Friday in Rochester, N.Y., and although X-rays were negative, the Browns sat him for Saturday's scrimmage as a precaution.

He didn't participate in any contact drills on Monday, either, as the Browns prepare for their exhibition opener on Saturday at Minnesota.

Green, the No. 17 overall pick, has gotten off to a slow start with the Browns.

The former Boston College star reported to camp five days late because of a contract holdout, and looked very rusty during the team's first intrasquad scrimmage.

The Browns, who have been short on fullbacks at training camp, signed one-year contracts with free agents Chris Floyd and Kevin Mcleod.

The club also placed cornerback Lamar Chapman and tight end Rod Monroe on the reserve injured list.

Monroe, who played in seven games last season with the Browns, broke his leg in a pileup during last weekend's scrimmage with Buffalo.

Chapman played in only one game last season because of a knee injury and hasn't been able to practice this summer. He was also arrested on drugs charges and fined one game's salary by coach Butch Davis.

Floyd played in two games for the Browns on special teams in 2000.

Mcleod was with Tampa Bay in 1999, but has been out of football since being cut by Atlanta after training camp last year.

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Steelers

One of the few unanswered questions when the Pittsburgh Steelers' training camp opened was who would replace Bobby Shaw as the slot receiver: Terance Mathis or rookie Antwaan Randle El.

Turns out, it just might be Hines Ward.

Ward, a Pro Bowl receiver whose 94 catches last season easily set a single-season team record, isn't in danger of losing his starter's job across from Plaxico Burress.

But even though it was automatically assumed by Steelers watchers that Mathis would take Shaw's place, and that Randle El would push him for playing time, coach Bill Cowher may have a different plan -- for now.

When the Steelers open preseason play Thursday night against the Jets, Ward will slide from the outside to the inside receiver's role in three-receiver sets. The outside receivers will be Burress and -- surprise! -- Troy Edwards, who once didn't even figure to make it to training camp.

When the Steelers left Edwards unprotected for the Houston Texans' expansion draft, it seemed the 1999 first-round draft choice might have played his last game for Pittsburgh.

Much can change in the month that remains before the Sept. 9 opener at the Patriots. That's plenty of time to give Mathis, who didn't sign until after the off-season workouts were over, and Randle El exposure to an offensive system they're still learning.

But it's also a signal the Steelers aren't ready yet to give up on Edwards, who had only 37 catches the last two seasons after making 61 as a rookie in 1999.

''It's my fourth season here,'' Edwards said. ''It's time for me to do something.''

Ward sat out practice with a sore hamstring but is expected back Tuesday. Burress (groin) also left practice early with what appeared to be a minor injury.

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Packers

A year ago, Cletidus Hunt was preparing to serve a four-game suspension after training camp for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Now, he's preparing to be a full-time starter for the Green Bay Packers, who have one of the staunchest lines in football with him and Gilbert Brown at tackle and Vonnie Holliday and Joe Johnson on the ends.

The Packers think so highly of Hunt and his potential that they waived veteran Santana Dotson in the offseason.

Now that he's a starter, Hunt is trying to add a pass-rush dimension to his run-stuffing skills so he can stay on the field full-time as he focuses on just one position for the first time since he was drafted out of Division II Kentucky State in 1999.

With Holliday coming off his best season and the Packers adding the two-time Pro Bowl selection Johnson to the lineup, teams might challenge Hunt up the middle more even though stuffing the run in his specialty

Hunt can't wait.

''When I crush the guard and push him back into the backfield and make the back change his line, teams are going to look at that,'' Hunt said. ''And then it's another year, I'm smarter, quicker and stronger. So, how are they going to block me? That's what I'm going to make them start thinking when they watch film.''

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Chiefs

First-round draft pick Ryan Sims and Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez remain no-shows midway through the Kansas City Chiefs training camp.

Marvin ''Snoop'' Minnis ran some routes on an adjacent practice field by himself. It was the first time in training camp Minnis has tried to go at full speed, and Vermeil said he was encouraged by what he saw.

Minnis is recovering from a broken foot suffered in mini-camp.

Vermeil said he wasn't sure if offensive lineman John Tait would be available for this weekend's preseason game in San Francisco. Tait received 17 stitches in his forehead and suffered a broken nose in an altercation with rookie defensive end Eddie Freeman last week.

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Chargers

It doesn't appear the team and rookie cornerback Quentin Jammer will reach an agreement any time soon.

The Chargers faxed a fresh proposal to Mike Sullivan, the agent for team's first-round pick. But Sullivan wasn't encouraged.

''They said this deal is similar to what they gave LaDainain (Tomlinson) last year,'' Sullivan said. ''But somehow they forgot to include the $4.5 million in guaranteed salaries. If we had been moving forward, I would say this is a step back. But we haven't been moving forward.''

The two sides remain nearly $2 million apart in bonuses for the draft's fifth overall selection. While the Chargers declined to comment on the negotiations, it seems Jammer isn't frustrated after missing the camp's first 23 practices.

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49ers

Ron Stone, a two-time Pro Bowl guard in his first season with the San Francisco 49ers, will miss 2-to-4 weeks of training camp with a sprained elbow.

Stone was injured during a kicking play in the 49ers' 38-7 exhibition loss to the Washington Redskins in Osaka, Japan. His elbow is not dislocated, and coach Steve Mariucci hopes Stone will see action in at least the 49ers' final exhibition game.

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Bills

Ruben Brown was among four newly injured Buffalo players who didn't return to the practice field when the Bills resumed their training camp.

Brown, a Pro Bowl left guard the last six seasons, suffered a slightly sprained left knee during a joint practice with the Cleveland Browns Friday.

Also missing for the workout at St. John Fisher College were defensive linemen Kendrick Office, who'd had a concussion, and Erik Flowers with a chip fracture in his neck, as well as tight end Dave Moore with a slight groin strain. All were injured against Cleveland.



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