Keenan McCardell's representatives say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rejected a proposed trade this week that would have sent the holdout wide receiver to the Kansas City Chiefs for tailback Larry Johnson.
The Chiefs reportedly have shopped Johnson to the Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. Johnson, a first-round draft choice last year, has been disenchanted being stuck behind Priest Holmes (and now Derrick Blaylock as well) on the depth chart. He doesn't have a carry or a catch this season and last week he objected to Coach Dick Vermeil saying that Johnson would have to "take the diaper off" to play.
The Chiefs need help at wide receiver, and a Johnson-McCardell trade makes sense for both sides because the Buccaneers just lost tailback Charlie Garner to a season-ending knee injury. But the Buccaneers have tailback Michael Pittman returning from a suspension this week, and team officials have been adamant that they won't renegotiate McCardell's contract or accommodate his request to be traded or released. He has two seasons remaining on his contract for salaries totaling $5.25 million, but wants a raise of nearly $2 million per season and has said in recent weeks he doesn't want to return to the Buccaneers.
If Tampa is eliminated as a possible destination for Johnson, the Chiefs might have to keep him or trade him to Miami for a defensive player or a 2005 draft pick. The Dolphins just lost Lamar Gordon, who was obtained in a trade with St. Louis to replace retired tailback Ricky Williams, to a season-ending shoulder injury but, after sending a third-round selection to the Rams for Gordon, might not want to use another draft choice to try to fix the same position. The Cowboys and Eagles don't seem interested in Johnson.
The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 19. Johnson and Green Bay Packers cornerback Mike McKenzie are the two most prominent players who appear to be possibly on the trading block . . . .
Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells doesn't sound desperate to fix a running game that has produced only 247 yards in three games.
"I saw a team win the Super Bowl last year with no running game at all, pretty much," Parcells said during a news briefing this week.
The New England Patriots averaged only 3.4 yards per rushing attempt during the regular season last year en route to their second Super Bowl title in three seasons, but upgraded their running game by trading for tailback Corey Dillon in the offseason.
The Cowboys are averaging 3.5 yards per carry and lost their most explosive runner, rookie tailback Julius Jones, to a broken shoulder blade. Parcells has had 40-year-old quarterback Vinny Testaverde throw 114 passes in three games. Testaverde, who became the starter when Parcells released incumbent starter Quincy Carter in training camp, has amassed 891 passing yards, the league's fifth-highest total.
"I have more confidence in the throwing game than I had last year," Parcells said. "I'm not saying anything about who's playing quarterback, but we have more weapons in the throwing game and the blocking has been pretty good, too."
Parcells No Fan Of Replay System
Parcells said this week that an instant-replay system based on coaches' challenges is "not equitable." He pointed out that a visiting team's coach usually isn't given the benefit of seeing a replay of a questionable call against him on a stadium's large video screens before deciding whether to challenge.
"They throw it up for the home team," Parcells said.
In Monday night's win over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, Parcells was the beneficiary of an ill-advised challenge by his old coaching rival, Joe Gibbs. Gibbs, coaching only his third game under the challenge system, challenged a clean touchdown catch in the fourth quarter by the Cowboys' Terry Glenn. The losing challenge cost the Redskins their final timeout, and they couldn't stop the clock to attempt a game-tying field goal when wide receiver Rod Gardner was tackled in bounds on a last-second catch.
Parcells could empathize.
"You have to have blind faith" in the assistant coach in the press box who's in charge of monitoring the replay, Parcells said. "The guy telling me, 'It looks like this to me' is telling me the truth . . . . It's a difficult situation. You're down there [on the sideline], and you don't really have the basis first-hand to make any decision. I'm just standing there. What evidence do I have? . . . I don't believe it's equitable, and I don't like it. That's only my opinion."
Urlacher Likely To Sit Out Again
The Chicago Bears probably will be without middle linebacker Brian Urlacher for a second straight game when they face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Urlacher sat out last weekend's loss to the Minnesota Vikings, ending a string of 64 consecutive starts, after aggravating his pulled hamstring in practice.
"We play guys that we think are a hundred percent ready to go without risking injury," Coach Lovie Smith told reporters after the Bears' practice Thursday. "That kind of sums it up with Brian . . . This is a Thursday and he hasn't practiced, so it doesn't look real good for him this week. But you never know."
The Bears have a bye after playing the Eagles, so they likely will have Urlacher sit out in hopes to getting him healed for their Oct. 17 game against the Redskins. Hunter Hillenmeyer probably will make a second straight start in place of Urlacher. Hillenmeyer played only two defensive snaps last season as a rookie but led the Bears with eight tackles against the Vikings . . . .
The Bears likely will elevate rookie cornerback Nathan Vasher into the starting lineup this weekend . . . . Rookie Craig Krenzel becomes Chicago's No. 2 quarterback behind new starter Jonathan Quinn -- at least until the just-signed Chad Hutchinson learns the offense -- on the heels of Rex Grossman's season-ending knee injury . . . .
Quarterback Steve McNair didn't participate in the Tennessee Titans' practice Thursday but did some throwing on the side. McNair told reporters that he suffered torn cartilage along with a bruised sternum during last Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but did not have any internal bleeding. The Titans are saying they will make a decision Sunday regarding McNair's status for their game at San Diego, but it seems likely that they will start highly regarded backup Billy Volek . . . .
Quarterback Tim Rattay practiced Wednesday and Thursday and likely will return to the San Francisco 49ers' starting lineup Sunday night against the Rams. Ken Dorsey started San Francisco's last two games after Rattay suffered a second-degree separation of his right (throwing) shoulder during the 49ers' season opener . . . .
Cincinnati Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis is planning to get some playing time for first-round draft choice Chris Perry at tailback Sunday at Pittsburgh. Perry has not yet gotten into a game this season . . . The Bengals promoted wide receiver Cliff Russell, claimed off waivers from the Redskins before the season, from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. . . . Lewis, trying to steel his 1-2 club against the criticism that has come its way, gave his players a presentation this week featuring the media criticism being leveled against other teams. . . .
Carolina Panthers Coach John Fox fined kick returner Rod Smart for missing Monday's practice. Smart (of "He Hate Me" XFL fame) had been unable to return to Charlotte on time because he'd gone to Florida for the Panthers' bye weekend and the Tampa airport was closed due to Hurricane Jeanne, but he took the fine in stride. . . .
New York Giants safety Shaun Williams will be sidelined for the remainder of the season after undergoing knee surgery Thursday. . . .
Giants quarterback Kurt Warner will play his first career game at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Warner originally was signed by the Packers in 1994 as an undrafted rookie out of Northern Iowa, but was released in training camp. He's fortunate. Instead of being stuck behind Brett Favre, the three-time league most valuable player who's about to make his 193rd consecutive regular season start for Green Bay, Warner got his chance in St. Louis and became a two-time league MVP who led the Rams to two Super Bowls.
Favre conceded during a conference call this week there's "not much" he remembers about Warner's brief tenure with the Packers.
"Kurt probably would be the first to admit that he didn't get a lot of chances here," said Favre, whose consecutive-starts streak began in 1992. "He was young. I was young. He virtually was unknown to everyone except the people he played college ball with. To say that I knew he was capable of doing what he's done up to this point would be a lie. But in defense of him, I didn't see him do a whole lot, and that was not by his choice. Guys come and go. They come and go, and he's probably seen guys come and go as well. That's basically it. There wasn't a whole lot to take from it." . . . The Dolphins could be without wide receiver Chris Chambers on Sunday against the New York Jets. He didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a sore knee.