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In Sports from United Press International

Nov. 18, 2002 at 3:40 PM   |   Comments

Maddox improving

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox, who Sunday was injured in a loss to the Tennessee Titans, is improving and walking without assistance.

Steelers physician Dr. Anthony Yates said that Maddox has a cerebral concussion and a spinal cord concussion, not a contusion, as was reported Sunday.

Maddox underwent an MRI, CT scan and X-rays that all showed no structural damage. Yates said Maddox has a headache, but otherwise is doing well.

"Tommy is doing much better now," Yates said. "We are certainly happy with his progress. His official diagnosis is a brain, or cerebral concussion, and a spinal concussion, not a contusion. This is important in future management and future prognosis."

Yates said that Maddox will be hospitalized upon his return to Pittsburgh and be monitored by Dr. Joseph Maroon, the team's neurologist. Yates also said that it is too early to speculate on the future of Maddox' playing career.

"It's good news and I think everybody is pleased with the progress," said Steelers Vice President Art Rooney II. "It's a good situation he is up walking this morning. So far, so good."

Maddox was injured in Sunday's 31-23 loss to the Titans after being hit by linebacker Keith Bulluck. He lost feeling in his extremities, but later regained feeling at a Tennessee hospital.

He was taken off the field by ambulance and hospitalized after suffering the injury on the final play of the third quarter.

Team trainers and doctors spent at least 10 minutes tending to Maddox, who was motionless as he was strapped to a backboard.

Maddox was then loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to Baptist Hospital, where he remained overnight.

He was falling forward as he completed a pass to rookie Antwaan Randle El when Bulluck put his forearm into the quarterback's left shoulder.

Maddox, a first-round pick in 1992 out of UCLA, who revived his career in the Arena League and XFL, was responsible for all of Pittsburgh's five wins after replacing an ineffective Kordell Stewart in a Sept. 29 overtime win over Cleveland.

Last week, after throwing for a career-high 473 yards last week in a tie against Atlanta, Maddox threw for just 194 yards and was intercepted three times before he was injured.

Maddox, 31, entered Sunday's game as the AFC's second-highest ranked passer with a quarterback rating of 97.9.

After three years out of football, he starred in the Arena League in 2000 and the XFL in 2001, winning MVP honors in the now-defunct league before signing with the Steelers last year.

The Steelers (5-4-1) are in first place in the AFC North, one-half game ahead of Cleveland.


McNabb begins recovery process

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Quarterback Donovan McNabb, the key to a potential run at the Super Bowl by the Philadelphia Eagles, suffered a fractured right ankle Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

McNabb, the NFL's highest-paid player, was injured on the game's first series when he was sacked by linebacker LeVar Woods and safety Adrian Wilson. He fumbled and stayed on the turf, clutching his leg.

Despite the injury, McNabb returned to the game with his ankle heavily taped and with a noticeable limp. He gave a courageous effort, completing 20-of-25 passes for 255 yards while matching a career high with four touchdown passes in the Eagles' 38-14 victory.

"I felt like I rolled up on my ankle," said McNabb, who walked into the postgame interview room on crutches. "I actually didn't want anybody to touch it. "When the game was going on, I just tried to do whatever it took to win the game."

McNabb, who initially was diagnosed with a sprained ankle, finally left the game with less than five minutes remaining.

X-rays after the game revealed the fracture, which could sideline McNabb for the remainder of the season.

He did admit that he played in pain.

"I just blocked it out," he said. "Being on the sideline, it probably hit me a couple times, but I just focused on what we needed to do in order to put points on the board. It definitely is [a shock]. This is the first [serious] injury I've ever had. I didn't get hurt so I would [miss a game] in college. I never really got hurt in high school. So to get hurt now is something to deal with."

The Eagles have six games remaining.

"It's a 6-8 week injury," said Eagles Coach Andy Reid. "Somewhere in that area, if everything goes right, depending on how the options go."

Losing McNabb, 25, is a devastating blow for the Eagles (7-3), who lead the NFC East by one game over the New York Giants (6-4). McNabb took the Eagles to the NFC championship game last season.

McNabb, a threat on the ground as well, has accounted for 65 percent of his club's offense this season. He has thrown for 2,289 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding 460 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

With McNabb on the sidelines, five-year veteran Koy Detmer will take over as the starter. He has started just six of 51 games in his career.

The Eagles are determined not to panic in McNabb's absence.

"People don't know this, but Koy's a playmaker as well," said defensive end N.D. Kalu. "I've seen him make plays, going back to high school."

"We're going to have to step up to the occasion," said linebacker Ike Reese. "We've got a big game ahead next Monday night against San Francisco. I think it would be detrimental to the team if we started saying, 'What are we going to do now? What are we going to do now?' No one guy is above the rest of the 52 guys on our team. Although Donovan is a big part of our team and a big part of our success, I just think we have to rally. I don't know if our offense can go out and put up 38 points next week, but if our defense can hold San Francisco to 14 points, that'll give us a great chance to win the ballgame."

Earlier this year, the Eagles rewarded McNabb, making him the game's highest-paid player with a 12-year, $115 million contract.

His deal surpassed the $103 million contract quarterback Drew Bledsoe signed with the New England Patriots before the 2001 season.


Denver prepares for life minus Griese

DENVER, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The Denver Broncos lost starting quarterback Brian Griese to a sprained MCL in his left knee late in the third quarter of Sunday's 31-9 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Griese was injured after being hit in the knee by rookie defensive end Rocky Bernard following a completion to Rod Smith. Bernard was assessed a roughing penalty on the play.

Griese is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday, but even before that, he is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, and the Broncos already preparing for his absence.

"I'll follow you anywhere," linebacker Ian Gold told Beuerlein.

"I heard a pop and hopefully it's just an MCL," said Griese, who has been unable to play a full pro season without being sidelined by an injury.

"I'll get an MRI done and we'll know more then. The doctors think it's a second degree sprain. Right now, I'm planning on making that (playoff) run, but I have to do what they tell me. I'll find out what's wrong with the knee, and hopefully it's not too bad."

If Griese is sidelined for an extended period of time, the Broncos still have plenty of experience at quarterback in Steve Beuerlein, who is in his 16th season.

Beuerlein came off the bench Sunday and completed his only two passes for touchdowns, helping the Broncos pull away for the victory.

Outwardly, the Broncos do not appear fazed by Griese's loss.

"If he's rusty, it's because he's old, not because he hadn't played in a while," said wide receiver Rod Smith of Beuerlein, 37. "Heck, he's been playing as long as I've been alive."

Beuerlein, signed as a free agent prior to last season, missed the entire 2001 campaign after undergoing surgery on his right elbow. He has passed for 22,747 yards in his career, including a career-high 4,436 in 1999 while with Carolina.

Griese, often the target of criticism in Denver, has been the Broncos' starter since taking over for the retired John Elway in 1998. This season, Griese has completed 238-of-358 passes for 2,603 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.


Bears, Rams continue NFL rivalry

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Marc Bulger may be getting a final chance to shine Monday night when the surging St. Louis Rams host the Chicago Bears to conclude Week 11 in the NFL.

Bulger has led the Rams (4-5) to four straight wins since taking over as the starting quarterback for injured Kurt Warner, but Coach Mike Martz already has announced that Warner will return as the starter next week at Washington.

Warner, the NFL's MVP two of the last three years, underwent surgery on Oct. 1 to repair a broken right pinky. He was expected to be sidelined 8-10 weeks. He sustained the injury in St. Louis' 13-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 29, dropping the Rams to 0-4.

The following week, the Rams lost at San Francisco with Jamie Martin as their starting quarterback before Bulger took over and led them to four straight wins.

After a magical 2001 season in which they won their first division title since 1990, the Bears (2-7) have been hit hard by injuries and are mired in a seven-game losing streak, their longest streak since an eight-game slide in 1978.

Like the Rams, the Bears also have health issues at quarterback, but Chris Chandler, who left last week's game in the first half with a strained neck, is expected to start.


Jets activate Szott

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The New York Jets Monday added veteran guard Dave Szott to their roster and waived fellow offensive lineman Darnell Alford.

Szott, who signed with the Jets March 21, 2002 as an unrestricted free agent after starting all 16 games for the Washington Redskins last season, has been sidelined since suffering a torn ACL in his right knee in May.

He was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Aug. 26.

Szott, 34, a native of Clifton, N.J., returned from torn biceps suffered in 2000 when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs and helped pave the way for Stephen Davis to rush for 1,432 yards last season.

The seventh-round draft choice of the Chiefs in 1990 out of Penn State played 10 seasons in Kansas City.

Alford, who was signed off the Green Bay Packers' practice squad, appeared in two games with the Jets.


Texas takes big dip in coaches poll

ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Miami remained the unanimous choice for the top spot, but Texas dropped eight places after a tough loss when the latest college football coaches poll was released Sunday morning.

Miami (9-0) was idle on Saturday but retained all 61 first-place votes and a total of 1,525 points in the nationwide poll. The Hurricanes have won a school-record 31 games and host No. 19 Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Ohio State (12-0), which survived another scare on Saturday, is second with 1,455 votes. The Buckeyes kept their hopes for a national championship alive by edging Illinois, 23-16 in overtime.

Texas was hoping for a shot at Miami - the defending national champions - but saw their title hopes all but evaporate following a 42-38 loss to rival Texas Tech. Texas (9-2) dropped all the way to 11th.

Washington State (9-1), which was idle, and Iowa (11-1), which easily got by Minnesota, are third and fourth respectively. Oklahoma (9-1) rounds out the top five.

Georgia (9-1), Southern California (8-2), Notre Dame (9-1), Michigan (9-2) and Kansas State (9-2) all moved up a notch and complete the top 10.

Virginia Tech (8-2), which has a game with Miami left, is No. 12, followed by Florida (8-3), Florida State (8-3) and Colorado State (9-2).

Penn State (8-3) routed Indiana but remained 16th. Colorado (8-3), Maryland (9-2), Pittsburgh (8-2) and Louisiana State - which was hammered 31-0 by Alabama -round out the top 10. LSU (7-3) was 12th last week.

Boise State (10-1) climbed two spots to No. 21, followed by Texas Christian (8-1). Following their big victory, Texas Tech (8-4) moved into the poll at No. 23 with UCLA (7-3) and Hawaii (8-2) completing the top 25.

North Carolina State (9-3), Oregon (7-4) and Bowling Green (8-2) dropped out of the poll.


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