NFL WEEK 4 NEWS AND NOTES

NFL WEEK 4 NEWS AND NOTES

Redskins' Taylor out of Dallas game with injury
September 22, 2008

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Washington Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor will miss next week's game against the Dallas Cowboys after undergoing a minor procedure on his calf.

Taylor was kicked in his left leg in the second quarter of Sunday's 24-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He finished the game and tipped two passes during a crucial goal line stand in the second half, but the leg became sore Sunday night.

Taylor checked into a hospital early Monday morning and underwent a 20-minute procedure. The operation drained a pool of blood that had accumulated in the calf.

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Westbrook day-to-day with ankle strain
September 22, 2008

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -All-Pro running back Brian Westbrook is day-to-day with a strained ankle, an encouraging sign for a Philadelphia Eagles team that can't afford to lose its top offensive player.

An MRI on Monday revealed no damaged ligaments, coach Andy Reid said.

``He's limping around without the crutches,'' Reid said. ``I guess that's a positive.''

Westbrook injured his right ankle while hurdling a teammate on a 2-yard run on the first play of the second quarter of Sunday's 15-6 win over Pittsburgh. He walked to the locker room without help, but didn't return and left the stadium on crutches.

Westbrook led the NFL with a franchise-record 2,104 total yards from scrimmage last season and earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl. He signed a a new three-year contract in August worth $21 million, including $13 million guaranteed the first two years.

Westbrook scored five touchdowns in the first two games this season. He has 161 yards rushing and 46 more receiving.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb, who missed five plays against the Steelers in the third quarter, has a bruised chest. McNabb, who also had an MRI exam, is expected to play against Chicago on Sunday night.

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Shockey out 3-6 weeks with a sports hernia
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

METAIRIE, La. (AP) -Tight end Jeremy Shockey, the Saints' second-leading receiver through three games, is expected to be out for three to six weeks because of a sports hernia.

Shockey, who was acquired from the New York Giants in a trade shortly before training camp, had 16 receptions for 151 yards during the Saints' first three regular-season games. He played Sunday in New Orleans' 34-32 loss at Denver, catching five passes for 56 yards.

On Monday afternoon, Saints spokesman Greg Bensel confirmed a report on the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune's Web site that Shockey was scheduled to have surgery this week.

A sports hernia is the weakening of muscles or tendons in the lower abdominal wall. For Shockey, it's the second serious injury in as many seasons. He broke his left leg last December and missed all of the Giants' postseason run to a Super Bowl championship.

Shockey's absence also is the second major blow to the Saints' receivers this season following the loss of Marques Colston in Week 1.

Colston, who led the Saints in receiving in each of the previous two seasons, needed surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is not expected back for another month.

Shockey lobbied for a trade to the Saints in the offseason, hoping to rejoin head coach Sean Payton, who was the Giants' offensive coordinator in 2002, the flamboyant tight end's rookie season.

Shockey caught more passes (74) for more yards (894) that season than any other in his career and was the rookie of the year. With the Saints, he was expected to play a major role in a pass-oriented offense led by quarterback Drew Brees.

So far, the Saints' leading receiver this season is running back Reggie Bush, who has 26 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

With both Colston and Shockey out, the Saints may have to rely more on receivers David Patten, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and Terrance Copper. However, Patten pulled his left groin during Sunday's game and is unsure of his status for this week, while Copper was inactive last weekend with a pulled hamstring.

The Saints also have two other tight ends in Billy Miller and Mark Campbell, although Campbell also was out last weekend because of a pulled hamstring.

Payton met with reporters earlier on Monday afternoon, but did not mention Shockey's injury.

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Steelers' Parker, Hampton out for Ravens game
September 23, 2008

PITTSBURGH (AP) -The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without injured Pro Bowl running back Willie Parker and nose tackle Casey Hampton for Monday night's home game against Baltimore.

Parker, who had 243 yards in the Steelers' first two games before being held to 20 during a 15-6 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday, has a sprained left knee that occurred late in that game.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not say Tuesday if Parker might miss more than one game.

With Parker out, first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall will make his first NFL start. Mendenhall, from Illinois, has 28 yards in 10 carries during limited playing time - partly because he fumbled three times in the final two exhibition games.

Hampton, a Pro Bowl defensive lineman the last four seasons and the key to the Steelers' run defense, has a strained groin. He will be replaced by Chris Hoke, who made 10 starts in 2004 after Hampton injured a knee.

Defensive end Brett Keisel, who sat out the Eagles game with a calf injury, is also out. He may be sidelined for a month or more.

Ben Roethlisberger, sacked eight times by the Eagles, injured his right hand late in the game but is not expected to be limited in practice, Tomlin said.

Tomlin said no personnel moves will be made along the offensive line, despite the repeated breakdowns in protection that had Roethlisberger constantly ducking defenders. The Steelers (2-1) were held to 160 yards, with 33 yards rushing on 19 carries.

Parker was leading the NFL in rushing with 1,316 yards when he broke his right leg on a carry early in the Steelers' Dec. 20 game at St. Louis last season. Without Parker, the Steelers ran for only 92 yards combined in their final two games, a 27-21 regular-season loss at Baltimore and a 31-29 wild-card playoff loss at home to Jacksonville.

That inability to run the ball effectively without Parker led the Steelers to draft Mendenhall.

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Rams will start Green on Sunday against Bills
September 23, 2008

ST. LOUIS (AP) -Marc Bulger is out as St. Louis Rams starting quarterback after producing only two touchdowns in three games, and 38-year-old backup Trent Green is in.

The benching of the Rams' highest-paid player, announced by coach Scott Linehan in a terse, two-paragraph release on Tuesday, signals just how desperate times have become for the sagging franchise. Linehan is 11-24 in his third season, including 0-3 this year with none of the games competitive.

Last week, Linehan was told by new owner Chip Rosenbloom that improvements need to be made or that changes would be forthcoming. This is Linehan's first head coaching job at any level, earned off success as an offensive coordinator with the Dolphins and Vikings, and he was a quarterback in college at Idaho.

The team said in the release that Linehan would not comment on his decision until after practice Wednesday. The Rams, who play the Buffalo Bills at home on Sunday, were off Tuesday.

``Scott made an announcement, and he'll amplify it tomorrow,'' team spokesman Rick Smith said.

The Rams have lost 16 of their last 19 games while getting outscored 116-29. The point total would not have been enough to win any of the first three games, and their mediocre 240-yard total in Sunday's 37-13 loss at Seattle was still a season best for the league's lowest-ranked offense.

Linehan had hinted at possible changes during a news conference on Monday.

``I forsee evaluating everything,'' Linehan said. ``What they are right now does depend on the health of our team in spots, but I would think that anything's possible at this point as far as our lineup.''

Linehan added that he was tempted to make moves just to shake things up.

``Yeah, I think we'd be crazy if we didn't try something different because what we've done for the first three weeks is not working,'' the coach said.

Green has experience under new offensive coordinator Al Saunders and quarterbacks coach Terry Shea, possible reasons for the switch. Green earned his second Pro Bowl berth in 2005 with the Chiefs while working under those two coaches, throwing for more than 4,000 yards.

Green started for the Chiefs from 2001 until being sidelined by injuries midway through 2006. The start will be his first since the fifth week last season for the Miami Dolphins.

Green is from St. Louis and he, not Kurt Warner, was supposed to be the starting quarterback on the 1999 Rams team that won the Super Bowl, signing as a free agent after a successful year as Redskins starter the previous season. Warner was thrust into the starting role and a storybook season after Green's season-ending knee injury during the preseason.

Bulger, 31, has been the starter since 2002, stepping in when Warner was sidelined by injuries. He became the highest paid player in franchise history after signing a six-year, $65 million contract extension on the first day of training camp in 2007.

Last year Bulger had only 11 touchdown passes with 15 interceptions while working behind an injury-raged line and missing four games due to injuries. He's been beat up again this year, absorbing 10 sacks the first two games while appearing somewhat skittish at times in the pocket, although the Seahawks sacked him only once in Sunday's 37-13 loss at Seattle.

In his last 31 starts dating to 2006, Bulger has been sacked 97 times.

Bulger was 18-for-31 for 184 yards with one touchdown and an interception on Sunday, his third consecutive game below 200 passing yards.

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Chiefs' Huard could start Sunday against Broncos
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -Saddled with a 12-game losing streak, the rebuilding Kansas City Chiefs may decide they need a win more than a long look at a young quarterback.

Without coming right out and saying so, coach Herm Edwards strongly hinted Tuesday that veteran Damon Huard would probably get the nod on Sunday against Denver and that second-year man Tyler Thigpen would return to the bench after one start.

''I'll decide on that tomorrow. Sleep on it a little bit more,'' Edwards said. ''I'm leaning that way. I've got to address the team, exactly what we're going to do.''

Most of the players probably feel that Huard gives them the best chance of upsetting the unbeaten Broncos and snapping the longest losing skid in franchise history. After Brodie Croyle was injured in the season opener at New England, Huard came in and nearly pulled off an improbable victory before losing 17-10.

In eight starts for an injured Trent Green in 2006, Huard was 5-3.

But making the switch also means the Chiefs (0-3) will not have had the same man start at quarterback two games in a row all year, a confusing lack of continuity for what is already the youngest team in the NFL.

''When you lose your starting quarterback, it's tough,'' Edwards said. ''Then you have to move on, and that's what we've done. What's hurt us more than anything else, I think, when you look at us, we haven't made a lot of explosion plays in the passing game. I think we have exactly three plays over 20 yards in passing. We have eight runs over 10 yards.''

In his first NFL start last week at Atlanta, Thigpen was 14-for-36 for 128 yards and a touchdown in a 38-14 loss. He played much better after a rough beginning. But he also threw three interceptions, including one that was returned 10 yards for the Falcons' final touchdown.

''You anticipated that the first time the guy starts, that he's going to be a little high-strung. And he was,'' Edwards said. ''He threw a lot of high balls. He threw some balls that you wish you could take back. We've given up 30 points on turnovers so far this year, and that's hurting us. We gave up 17 in that game.''

Huard hit 10 of 16 passes for 135 yards against Oakland on Sept. 14 before hurting his neck and leaving the game. Although much more experienced, he's also less mobile than Thigpen or Croyle, who is expected to be out until Oct. 19 against Tennessee.

In giving Thigpen the start last week, Edwards pointed to the top-to-bottom rebuilding process the Chiefs began this year and said he wanted to get a look at the former seventh-round pick from Coastal Carolina.

Presumably, the same argument could be made this week.

''I thought what he did before the half, he did a great job moving the team,'' Edwards said. ''Then he came out in the third quarter and moved the team. So he did some things. We got down there two more times. So I thought we found out a lot about him. He found out a lot about himself, too, and what it's going to take to play in this league.''

In the meantime, fans are restless and showing little patience with what the Chiefs are trying to do. Edwards insisted he will stay the course and continue playing young players, although perhaps not at quarterback.

''I'm patient with this whole process, and it is a process,'' he said. ''This whole situation that we're in right now is a process. Sometimes, if you don't realize that, you won't be patient. You'll panic. And I'm not a panic kind of guy. When you panic, you make wrong decisions.''

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Browns stick with QB Anderson against Bengals
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -Derek Anderson has kept his starting quarterback job with Cleveland for now.

Anderson, who has been ineffective during the Browns' three-game losing streak, will start Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Coach Romeo Crennel considered benching Anderson for popular second-year backup Brady Quinn, who has played in only one game as a pro.

Anderson made the Pro Bowl last season but has been in a prolonged slump dating to the final weeks of 2008. He has thrown two touchdown passes and five interceptions this season and his quarterback rating has been the league's second worst.

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Bills WR Parrish out 4-6 weeks
September 24, 2008

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -Receiver Roscoe Parrish will miss four to six weeks after having surgery to repair ligament damage in his right thumb, leaving the Buffalo Bills without their fastest and one of their most elusive threats.
   
Coach Dick Jauron made the surprise announcement Wednesday, a day after Parrish had what was described as a brief but intricate operation. Jauron said Parrish told him he was hurt early in the fourth quarter of a 24-23 win over Oakland last weekend.

Parrish continued playing despite the injury and scored on a 14-yard catch, which cut the Raiders' lead to 23-21 with 4 minutes left. He finished the game with three catches for 42 yards, all coming in the fourth quarter when Buffalo rallied to score 17 points in the final 8 minutes.

Jauron didn't know the exact nature of the injury, but said Parrish had no ligament support in his thumb if it moved a certain way. The decision to have surgery was made when team doctors raised the possibility of Parrish missing the rest of the season if he reinjured the thumb, Jauron said.

The AFC East-leading Bills, off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 1992, play at winless St. Louis on Sunday. Parrish could potentially miss only three games because Buffalo has a bye week after playing at Arizona on Oct. 5.

Fullback Darian Barnes missed practice Wednesday after hurting his right foot against the Raiders. Barnes showed no signs of a limp while running on the sideline. Barnes said medical tests were negative and anticipates playing this weekend.

With Barnes as their only fullback, the Bills had reserve offensive lineman Jason Whittle practice at the position.

In Parrish, the Bills lose their No. 3 receiver and one of the league's top punt-return threats. Parrish has seven catches for 60 yards this season and ranks third in the NFL, averaging 15.2 yards per return after three games. He also scored on an electrifying 63-yard return in a season-opening 34-10 win against Seattle.

Rookie receiver James Hardy is expected to move up to fill the No. 3 spot behind starters Lee Evans and Josh Reed. Hardy, the Bills' second-round draft pick, has had difficulty making an immediate impact. He has two catches for 19 yards and a touchdown, but does not possess the breakout speed to stretch the field that Parrish does.

The Bills' offense is off to a hot start, producing 285 yards or more in each of its three games after reaching that mark only six times last season. The offense has also scored seven touchdowns after managing just 20 last season.

Reed, backup running back Fred Jackson and rookie first-round pick Leodis McKelvin are among the Bills' options to take over returning punts.

Parrish missed practice and did not make himself available for comment. Jauron met with him earlier in the day and said Parrish was not experiencing much pain.

``We're just hoping it heals real fast and we get him back on the field,'' Jauron said.

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