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Sports Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Negotiations stall as Leftwich loses practice time

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. With 24 practices down and 12 to go in training camp, quarterback Byron Leftwich has yet to show up for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The first-round draft pick is involved in contract negotiations that appear to be going nowhere. His holdout is at 18 days, the longest for a rookie in team history.

''We continue to talk,'' Leftwich's agent, Tom Condon, said Monday. ''I'm sure we'll talk again this week. Other than that, I don't know how to characterize it.''

The Leftwich pick raised some eyebrows around the league with Mark Brunell and second-year QB David Garrard already on the roster, the Jaguars certainly had bigger needs than another quarterback. Now that Leftwich has missed more than half of camp, his already slim chances of contributing this season have grown even slimmer.

''Obviously, the opportunities of training camp go by with each practice,'' said Paul Vance, the senior vice president for football operations.

Dolphins' Dixon has surgery, Moore out for season

DAVIE, Fla. Miami Dolphins left tackle Mark Dixon underwent surgery on his injured right ankle Monday, and linebacker Eddie Moore, this year's second-round draft pick, is expected to miss the entire season with a foot injury.

Dixon's return date is unknown, but Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt hopes he can return by the Sept. 7 season opener to protect quarterback Jay Fiedler's blind side. The surgery was to clean out the ankle and stabilize a stress fracture.

''I know he will do everything possible to get back on the field as soon as he can,'' Wannstedt said.

Moore visited a foot specialist in North Carolina and had surgery to stabilize an injury to his left foot that he suffered in the Dolphins' exhibition game against Tampa Bay on Friday.

Three horses destroyed after spill at Del Mar

DEL MAR, Calif. Three jockeys were injured and three horses euthanized on the track Monday following a chain-reaction accident during the fourth race at Del Mar. Jose Silva and Anthony Lovato were the most seriously injured, both fracturing a vertebra in their lower backs.

Lovato was taken to Scripps Hospital in Encinitas after complaining of lower back pain, and track spokesman Dan Smith said the X-rays revealed a fracture of the No. 1 lower lumbar vertebra. He said Lovato would be transferred to Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, where Silva was being cared for after fracturing the same vertebra.

''There was no nerve damage and appears to be no paralysis,'' track spokesman Mac McBride said of Silva's condition. Smith added later that Lovato's condition was the same.

Clarett meets with Ohio State AD, NCAA

COLUMBUS, Ohio Maurice Clarett met with Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger and NCAA officials on Monday, and the running back said he believed he would return to practice this week.

Clarett is being held out of practice with the defending national champions because of investigations by the NCAA and the university.

''I believe I'll be able to start practicing back again this week,'' Clarett said in an interview with ESPN. ''Things seem like they went very well. I'm cooperating with the university, and the NCAA is cooperating with me and I think everyone is happy with things.''

Geiger said the three-hour meeting did not involve the university's academic investigation of Clarett, but declined to provide further details.

''I can't comment on any aspect of what went on today,'' Geiger said.

The meeting was not a sign that the university was any closer to deciding Clarett's status, Geiger said.

NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard declined to comment on the meeting.

A 10-member university committee is investigating a teaching assistant's claim that Clarett walked out of a midterm exam last fall and later passed the course by taking an oral exam.

He is under investigation by the NCAA for use of a 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that was broken into while on overnight loan from a car dealership. In a police report, Clarett said he had lost more than $6,000 in clothing, cash and stereo equipment in the theft. He later acknowledged that he had exaggerated his losses to police.

''The NCAA has questions and they deserve answers, just like with any other program,'' Clarett said. ''It's just part of the program when you sign your scholarship. ... You have to realize that this is part of the program, just being compliant and responding to the questions well.''

Clarett set a record for Ohio State freshmen last year by rushing for 1,237 yards. He scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl to give the Buckeyes a 31-24 win over Miami and their first national title in 34 years.

Geiger said none of the members of the university investigative committee were at the meeting, which was attended by Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown and Clarett's attorney, Scott Schiff.

Brown, who met Clarett at an awards dinner, said he was there to support Clarett and his mother.

''It's terrible to see them going through this,'' Brown said. ''I'm going to support them with everything that I have.''

Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel was not at the meeting, Geiger said.

''He's worried about the other 100 guys,'' Geiger said. ''He's coaching his team.''

Ohio State opens its season on Aug. 30 at home against Washington.

Clarett said Tressel told him his status on the team hasn't changed.

''It's a little bump in the road that we're going through right now,'' Clarett said. ''He said nothing would change, just come back, practice hard, work hard.''

Clarett said he's trying to stay focused on playing football again.

''I can't control what the NCAA thinks or does,'' he said. ''All I can control is ... working out, studying film and trying to get back on the field and things of that nature.''



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