The miseries continue to mount for Miami Dolphins Coach Dave Wannstedt. He is looking for a tailback once again with new starter Lamar Gordon facing possible season-ending shoulder surgery, leading the Dolphins to consider a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for disgruntled former first-round draft choice Larry Johnson.
Although Gordon, who dislocated his left shoulder late in Sunday night's 13-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, is planning to seek a second medical opinion before deciding whether to undergo surgery, he probably is headed to the injured-reserve list. The Dolphins obtained Gordon in a trade with the St. Louis Rams to replace retired tailback Ricky Williams, but he has rushed for only 64 yards on 35 carries in three games.
Miami ranks last in the league in rushing offense and 31st in total offense, and has scored only 23 points -- fewest in the league among teams that have played three games -- while starting 0-3.
The Dolphins, for now, plan to start Leonard Henry at tailback Sunday against the New York Jets. Travis Minor and Sammy Morris, the original candidates to replace Williams, are hindered by ankle injuries, although Morris perhaps could be available this week. Dolphins officials have scheduled workouts today for several free-agent tailbacks, including Lamar Smith and Aveion Cason.
But the Dolphins might be the most logical trade partner if the Chiefs get rid of Johnson, their first-round pick last year who has been unhappy being stuck behind Priest Holmes and clashed publicly last week with Coach Dick Vermeil after Vermeil said at a news briefing that Johnson would have to "take the diaper off" to play. The Chiefs have shopped Johnson to the Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, an NFL source said Monday night. The Cowboys and Eagles don't seem particularly interested, and the Bucs are getting back tailback Michael Pittman this week.
Kansas City likely would seek a linebacker in a trade with Miami but could settle for a 2005 draft selection, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the trade discussions could be ongoing. The question is whether the Dolphins, after trading a third-round pick for Gordon, would want to part with another draft choice to try to fix the position during such a miserable season-in-the-making. A Chiefs-Dolphins trade would be a transaction between two desperate clubs: The Chiefs are 0-3 and have give up an NFL-high 86 points.
The trading deadline is Oct. 19. . . .
Wannstedt said during his news conference Monday that he is sticking with A.J. Feeley as his starting quarterback, at least for now. Feeley has thrown five interceptions, two of which have been returned for touchdowns, in 21/2 games since replacing Jay Fiedler as Miami's starter.
Bears Add Hutchinson
The Chicago Bears agreed Monday to a two-year, $900,000 contract with quarterback Chad Hutchinson, who was released by the Cowboys before training camp. Hutchinson could be an option later in the season for Coach Lovie Smith, who now turns to Jonathan Quinn as his quarterback with Rex Grossman sidelined for the remainder of the season because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.
Quinn, 29, was signed by the Bears as a free agent in the offseason after spending two seasons with the Chiefs in which he got into only one game. He spent four seasons in Jacksonville as Mark Brunell's backup before that, playing in 11 games and making three starts -- two as a rookie in 1998. He last threw a pass in a regular-season game in 2001. He at least is familiar with Bears offensive coordinator Terry Shea, his former quarterbacks coach with the Chiefs.
The Bears were among the teams that contemplated signing Kurt Warner in the offseason, but settled for having the untested Quinn behind untested starter Grossman. Grossman, a first-round draft pick last year, faces surgery and seven to 10 months of rehabilitation after getting hurt on a touchdown scramble in the final minutes of a 27-22 loss Sunday to Minnesota. He said during a news conference Monday that doctors told him he had a torn meniscus as well as sprained ligaments in addition to the torn ACL.
"I went to pump fake and I went to cut," Grossman said. "In a split second, I knew I was out for the year. . . . I knew instantly because it felt really bad. I've never really been injured [but] as soon as I planted, I knew I was done. It's a terrible feeling.. It's devastating."
Grossman said he's been told to expect to make a full recovery. "It's not a [permanently] damaging injury," he said. "I've just got to go through it.'' . . .
The Atlanta Falcons and other teams made a serious run at prying backup quarterback Billy Volek from the Tennessee Titans via free agency in the offseason. But the Titans, even with their tight salary cap situation, made keeping Volek a priority and re-signed him to a four-year contract worth $6.8 million. Now the Titans could be leaning on Volek after starter Steve McNair bruised his sternum late in Sunday's 15-12 loss to the Jaguars.
McNair spent the past two nights in the hospital, and Titans Coach Jeff Fisher said during his news conference Monday it wouldn't make any sense to play the reigning NFL co-most valuable player at San Diego this weekend if McNair would be risking further injury. McNair suffered a similar but more severe injury during the 2000 season and, after a bye week, played in the Titans' next game as a reserve and led them to a win. But Fisher is extremely confident in Volek, a fifth-year pro out of Fresno State who's in his second season as McNair's primary backup.
Volek beat the Buffalo Bills last Dec. 14 in his first NFL start while filling in for an injured McNair. Volek completed 26 of 41 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, in that 28-26 triumph. He also scored a rushing touchdown on a quarterback sneak, but absorbed a hit during the game that resulted in a lacerated spleen and ended the season on the IR list.
Three weeks before the Buffalo game, Volek relieved an ailing McNair in the second quarter and led three scoring drives that enabled the Titans to overcome a 21-14 deficit to beat the Falcons, 38-31. . . .
Watch out, Drew Brees. Chargers Coach Marty Schottenheimer elevated rookie quarterback Philip Rivers to second on the depth chart Monday, ahead of Doug Flutie and, at least for now, behind starter Brees. . . .
The Cincinnati Bengals' offense has gone 30 possessions without a touchdown, and quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked four times and intercepted three times in Sunday's 23-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Coach Marvin Lewis has last season's starter, Jon Kitna, available but indicated Monday he is sticking with Palmer as his starter. . . .
Likewise, Arizona Cardinals Coach Dennis Green indicated he is staying with his young quarterback, Josh McCown. The winless Cardinals have scored 25 points in three games and McCown lost three fumbles in Sunday's ugly 6-3 loss to the Falcons, leading Green to go to backup Shaun King in the fourth quarter. The competitive portion of the season might be over long before standout wide receiver Anquan Boldin returns from knee surgery sometime between mid-October and early November. . . .
No club did more in the offseason to insulate itself against an injury to its starting quarterback than the Oakland Raiders, who signed Kerry Collins after he was released by the New York Giants. The Raiders certainly are happy that they made the move, with Rich Gannon's season perhaps over after he broke a vertebra in his neck during Sunday night's victory over theBucs. Collins completed 16 of 27 throws for 228 yards and a touchdown to beat the Bucs. He will be backed up by Marques Tuiasosopo. Gannon's status is to be re-evaluated today. . . . .
Warner, who has kept top overall draft selection Eli Manning on the bench while leading the Giants to a surprising 2-1 start, emerged from Sunday's victory over the Cleveland Browns with a sore knee and ankle.
Martz Will Keep Pitching And Catching
In Steve Spurrier-like fashion, Rams Coach Mike Martz vowed during his news conference Monday to stick to his pass-first offensive approach. The Rams had 54 passing plays and only 15 running attempts in Sunday's 28-25 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints.
"That's just the way it is," Martz said. "Get used to it.'' . . .
The 3-0 Jaguars have scored 35 points this season, one fewer than the 0-3 Bucs. Jacksonville has allowed only 28 points, the second-fewest in the league among the teams that have played three games. The 3-0 Seattle Seahawks have yielded only 13 points. . . .
Jets center Kevin Mawae will try to play this week with a broken right hand. He has made 157 straight starts, the third-longest active streak in the league behind those of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre (192) and Chiefs guard Will Shields (178). The Jets are coming off a bye week. . . .
Browns tailback Lee Suggs has been cleared to resume practicing at full speed and probably will be in the lineup Sunday against the Washington Redskins. He has been sidelined since the exhibition season because of a pinched nerve in his neck. . . . With a bye week coming up next, the Bears probably will have middle linebacker Brian Urlacher sit out a second straight game to try to get his pulled hamstring to heal. . . . Titans safety Lance Schulters could be sidelined for the rest of the season because of torn ligaments in his foot. . . . X-rays of the left hand of Giants defensive end Michael Strahan showed no breaks. . . .
Denver Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan indicated he is staying with Quentin Griffin as his starting tailback even though Griffin has lost fumbles in three straight games and had only seven rushing yards on 12 carries in Sunday's 23-13 win over the Chargers. The Broncos' 37 rushing yards Sunday were their fewest in a game during Shanahan's 10 seasons. . . .
Jon Gruden's first 0-2 start as a head coach has given way to his first 0-3 start as a head coach. But he is doing his best to maintain his sense of humor, saying during his news conference Monday: "I think the future's so bright here, I've got to wear shades. . . . 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. That's the only way we are going to do things here."