In Sports from United Press International

March 6, 2003 at 3:24 PM
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Hilliard signs Giants' contract

NEW YORK, March 6 (UPI) -- The New York Giants Thursday continued their active offseason activity, finalizing a deal with wide receiver Ike Hilliard.

They also addressed one of the team's biggest needs by signing long-snapper Ryan Kuehl.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but ESPN reported Sunday that Hilliard, 26, one of the most highly-regarded receivers available on the free agent market, agreed to a five-year deal worth $12.5 million, including a $2.5 million signing bonus.

Hilliard played in only seven games last season because of a dislocated shoulder, suffered against Philadelphia, when Eagles safety Brian Dawkins crunched him as he stretched to catch a pass. He had 27 catches for 386 yards and two touchdowns before the injury.

Hilliard suffered a neck injury in his 1997 rookie season and played in just two games, but between 1998-2001, he averaged 57.5 catches, 789 yards, and nearly five touchdowns.

"I'm excited about having Ike back," said Giants Coach Jim Fassel, who was instrumental in making Hilliard the seventh overall pick of the 1997 draft. "Ike is a gamer. He is a true player. He makes plays when you need them to be made in the game. He's a guy that's meant a lot to this organization. He's made a lot of plays, and he's going to get great opportunities next year to make them."

Kuehl's arrival could end the costly carousal the Giants had last season at long snapper. The Giants used five snappers last season, including Trey Junkin, who was brought out of retirement, and made the ill-fated snap on the last play of the wild card playoff loss at San Francisco.

Kuehl, who made the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent defensive tackle in 1996, has spent the last four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

"He's a consistent snapper, and he's a pro," Fassel said.

Already this offseason, the Giants have locked up free agent left tackle Luke Petitgout, veteran return man Brian Mitchell, and punter Jeff Feagles.

Redskins sign Bowen to offer sheet

ASHBURN, Va., March 5 (UPI) -- The Washington Redskins have continued their free agent shopping binge by signing restricted free agent safety Matt Bowen to an offer sheet.

Bowen, a backup free safety who started six games for the Green Bay Packers last season, had been tendered at a compensation level equal to a sixth-round pick.

The Packers have seven days to match the offer or accept the compensation. If they reject, it would allow Bowen to move to Washington.

Bowen, 26, served as the backup to Darren Sharper, was a regular in the dime package and played a key role on special teams for Green Bay. In Washington, he likely would become an immediate starter at free safety, replacing free agent David Terrell.

The sixth-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2000 started two games as a rookie, but suffered a broken foot in the 2001 season opener and was placed on injured reserve. After being waived off injured reserve in November, Bowen joined the Packers in Week 12, and played in the club's last five games.

The Redskins already have made a major splash in the free agent pool, signing guards Randy Thomas, Dave Fiore, and Lennie Friedman, defensive end Regan Upshaw, defensive tackle Brandon Noble, and placekicker John Hall, and acquiring running back Trung Canidate from St. Louis.

Jaguars ink two

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 6 (UPI) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed wide receiver Kevin Lockett and second-year offensive tackle Jay Humphrey to one-year contracts.

As a beneficial salary signee, Lockett received a $25,000 signing bonus. He also will earn a minimum-wage salary of $530,000, but will count $475,000 against the Jaguars' salary cap.

Humphrey will earn the minimum wage of $300,000.

Lockett, 28, is a six-year pro who joined the Jaguars midway through last season after being cut by Washington. He caught five passes, two for touchdowns, in the final seven games, two starts).

For the year, he played in 14 games, with 16 receptions for 205 yards and four scores. He also threw for a score.

The second-round draft choice of Kansas City in 1997 has career totals of 84 games played (eight starts), with 125 receptions, 1,662 yards, and eight touchdowns. He is the all-time leading receiver in Kansas State history.

Humphrey, 26, was a fourth-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 1999. He spent the '99 season with the team, and was on its practice squad in 2000.

He was with Denver in the 2001 preseason, and in 2002 was on practice squads in Carolina with current Jaguars offensive linecoach Paul Boudreau, and Green Bay. The native of Richardson, Texas was a three-year starter at Texas, where he blocked for Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams.

Bulls place Robinson on IL

CHICAGO, March 6 (UPI) -- The Chicago Bulls, who own the worst road record in the NBA, Thursday placed forward Eddie Robinson on the injured list with a right hamstring strain.

The 6-9 Robinson has missed the last six games with a right hamstring strain. He is averaging 5.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest in 53 contests, and has averaged 7.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 216 career games with Charlotte and Chicago.

Center Dalibor Bagaric was activated from the injured list to take Robinson's roster spot. The 7-1 Bagaric had tendinitis in his right knee and has played in just four games, scoring six points, pulling down 10 rebounds, and blocking three shots in 27 minutes.

The 7-1 Bagaric also spent a long stint on the IL with a lower leg injury. In 89 career games, he is averaging 2.7 points and 2.6 rebounds.

Chicago (21-41) hosts Golden State on Thursday night.

Neck injury sidelines Pincay

ARCADIA, Calif., March 6 (UPI) -- Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a neck injury at Santa Anita last Saturday.

Pincay suffered two fractures on the same bone in his neck after being thrown to the ground, when his horse, Trampus Too, clipped heels with Rainman's Request in the fifth race.

"He'll be released from an undisclosed Los Angeles hospital in the next day or so, and will be in a halo cast for eight weeks," Laffit Pincay III said about his father. "After the application of the halo, everything is where they (doctors) want it to be, and my dad is in good spirits. We expect a full recovery, and a decision on his career will be made at a future date."

Pincay, 56, is the all-time leading jockey with 9,531 wins, including a record 2,860 at Santa Anita Park.

Bonnies feeling the heat

OLEAN, N.Y., March 6 (UPI) -- The players' decision not to play the last two games this week on the St. Bonaventure schedule has been strongly criticized in a number of circles.

The players decided not to play Wednesday night against Massachusetts and Saturday against Dayton in the wake of a decision to forfeit six Atlantic 10 Conference games because of the use of an ineligible player.

Adrian Wojnarowski is a columnist for the Bergen Record in Hacksensack, N.J., and is a graduate of the school.

"We are St. Bonaventure University," Wojnarowski wrote Thursday in the paper. "We are shame, shame, shame. People used to find out we were Bonnies and tell us, 'Oh yeah, Bob Lanier.' That's all gone. All history. St. Bonaventure? They will bite back laughter. They will double over. We quit on the season. It is easily the darkest day in the school's history because this isn't just your garden variety NCAA violation. This is academic fraud."

In an article with Steve Wieberg of the USA Today, university spokesman David Ferguson alluded to scandal's emotional toll.

"With all the attention this has gotten and the series of decisions that have taken place," he said in explaining the players' vote to abort their season. "They just felt angry, frustrated and confused, and they just didn't have the enthusiasm or the motivation to concentrate on a game."

St. Bonaventure players were upset that, in addition to the forfeits, the league banned the school from the conference tournament that begins next week. The school believed the self-imposed sanction of six forfeits was a sufficient penalty.

Last week, St. Bonaventure asked conference officials and the NCAA for clarification on the eligibility of junior Jamil Terrell.

The school declared Terrell ineligible on Feb. 26 after determining he did not meet eligibility guidelines as they relate to junior college transfers.

The 6-8 Terrell earned a welding certificate, but not the associate's degree required by the NCAA, while attending Coastal Georgia Community College.

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