Injury bug bites hard in Week 3 of season

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

NEW YORK -- The NFL injury epidemic didn't pause this weekend, with Rich Gannon breaking a vertebra in his neck that will sideline him for eight weeks, and Charlie Garner and Rex Grossman out for the season.

Also gone for the year are Cleveland linebacker Ben Taylor, Cincinnati linebacker Nate Webster and Philadelphia fullback Jon Ritchie.

Gannon had an MRI on Monday morning and was taken for further tests. Oakland Raiders coach Norv Turner didn't believe Gannon was at risk for paralysis and said the quarterback was walking around the team's training facility before receiving the news about his neck.

Turner said Gannon will wear a hard neck brace for the next six weeks.

"He will be out an extended period," Turner said. "It's disappointing. ... It makes you sick to your stomach when any player puts as much into it as Rich has."

Turner said it would be premature to speculate whether Gannon, the 2002 MVP, would end up on injured reserve for the second straight season. Kerry Collins, signed in the offseason as a backup, will start while Gannon is out.

The 38-year-old Gannon left in the first quarter of Oakland's 30-20 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday night after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from linebacker Derrick Brooks.

In the same game, the Bucs' Garner, a former Raider, tore the right patella tendon in his right knee. The 11th-year running back was carted off the field during the second quarter.

Garner, 32, who signed with the Bucs after having offseason surgery on his left knee, slipped as he made a cut and appeared to twist his right leg. A teammate and a Raider also tripped over him.

Michael Pittman, who sat out Tampa Bay's first three games after being suspended by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy, will replace Garner.

The Bucs also lost tight end Rickey Dudley with a broken right thumb that will require surgery. Gruden said he will be out "a long period of time."

"I am going to be resilient," coach Jon Gruden said. "This is as low as I have been personally. The two or three friends that I have left in Tampa, I am sure will call me sometime today and pump me up. We are going to rebuild this thing. We are going to re-energize this thing and we are going to once again be great."

Bears

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- Starting quarterback Rex Grossman ruptured a ligament in his right knee. Grossman was injured in Sunday's 27-22 loss to Minnesota when he scored on a 6-yard scramble at the 2-minute warning. He left the stadium wearing a brace and using a crutch. An MRI confirmed the tear of anterior cruciate ligament.

Grossman is expected to undergo surgery in a couple weeks and will face up to 10 months of rehabilitation.

"In a split-second, I knew I was out for the year," Grossman said Monday. "It's devastating."

Backup Jonathan Quinn, who signed with the Bears in March, will become the starter. Chad Hutchinson was signed as a roster replacement for Grossman.

Eagles

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Fullback Jon Ritchie tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee covering a punt in Sunday's 30-13 victory over the Lions.

"We'll miss Jon," coach Andy Reid said. "He's a good football player and he's great in the locker room. I encouraged him to stick around the team as much as he can because he's a positive influence."

Ritchie is the fourth significant player the Eagles have lost for the season, joining running back Correll Buckhalter (knee), right guard Shawn Andrews (leg) and defensive end N.D. Kalu (knee).

Right guard Jermane Mayberry tore a tendon in his biceps on Sunday, but Reid is optimistic the former Pro Bowl selection won't miss much time. Mayberry could even return for this week's game against Chicago.

Tight end L.J. Smith hurt his shoulder against the Lions, but he also could return this week.

Browns

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Linebacker Ben Taylor tore a tendon in his chest during the first quarter of a 27-10 loss to the Giants.

Browns coach Butch Davis said the three-year veteran will undergo surgery Tuesday to have the tendon reattached to his pectoral muscle and will need four to six months to recover.

Taylor, the team's starting strong side linebacker, is the Browns' eighth starter injured this season and the second lost for the season. Defensive end Courtney Brown tore a ligament in his foot and will need six months to recuperate.

Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Middle linebacker Nate Webster had surgery Monday to repair the patella tendon in his right knee, torn during the closing minutes of a 23-9 loss to Baltimore on Sunday. Webster's loss is a major setback to a defense that's been run over. The Bengals gave up 196 yards to Jets running back Curtis Martin and allowed 186 on Sunday to Jamal Lewis. Opponents are averaging 5.7 yards per carry, the most in the NFL.

Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Brett Favre can add another ailment to his list: a bum left shoulder to go with a bruised left hamstring.

The three-time MVP revealed after the loss at Indianapolis on Sunday that his non-throwing shoulder has been bothering him for two years.

"If it was my right one, I wouldn't be playing," Favre said. "But I feel like Mel Gibson in 'Lethal Weapon.' It's just kind of loose and kind of wobbles around and pops out from time to time. As long as it pops back, I'm OK."

Favre, who has started 211 consecutive games, including playoffs, an NFL record for quarterbacks, was asked about the shoulder after he winced and held his left arm lower when signaling a touchdown after one of his four scoring throws against the Colts.

"It's been hurting for about two years. It's just that with each day that passes, believe it or not, it gets worse and worse," Favre said.

Favre said he considered surgery last winter, but decided against it, figuring rest was best.

"But when I started training camp, it actually felt worse than it did at the end of the season," Favre said. "But so far the worst of it is doing the half-touchdown (celebration). I can live with that."

Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Quarterback Steve McNair was to stay in the hospital Monday night with a bruised sternum. X-rays and a CT scan showed no serious injuries, and McNair will be released from the hospital Tuesday.

"He's just very sore," coach Jeff Fisher said.

After losing 15-12 to Jacksonville on Sunday, McNair spent the night in the hospital after he was unable to take deep breaths without pain.

McNair, the NFL's top rushing quarterback since 1997, apparently was hurt at the end of a 5-yard scramble. Instead of sliding, McNair dived forward looking for more yardage. As he went down, 312-pound Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud came down on McNair's back.

McNair, listed as questionable for Sunday's visit to San Diego, is the seventh starter injured, plus four backups. Tennessee won't have safety Lance Schulters, tight end Erron Kinney and defensive end Juqua Thomas on Sunday.

Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Running back Ron Dayne was scheduled to have an MRI on his left calf to determine what caused it to swell just hours before Sunday's game with Cleveland.

"It was really a strange reaction when it occurred, and it was one of those unpleasant things on gameday morning that you don't want to hear your trainer tell you," coach Tom Coughlin said.

Quarterback Kurt Warner left the locker room with ice packs on his left knee and ankle. He aggravated both when he was bent backward while being sacked in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

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