The Oakland Raiders expect to know more soon about the status of quarterback Rich Gannon, who has been sidelined since breaking a vertebra in his neck on a hit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks during a game late last month.
Gannon has been examined by three specialists and is scheduled to rejoin the team today. He was with the Raiders in Indianapolis last weekend and watched their loss to the Colts from the press box. He was wearing a neck brace. The 2002 NFL most valuable player has been spending most of his time at his home in Minnesota.
The Raiders likely will determine soon whether Gannon, who turns 39 in December, will be placed on the injured reserve list for a second straight season. His 2003 season was cut short by a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery. Gannon must decide after his consultations with doctors whether to attempt to resume a 17-year NFL career that also has included stays with the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs.
Where Could Rice Go?
Wide receiver Jerry Rice says he'd like to be traded or released by the Raiders if he isn't going to be a significant part of the offense. A league source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he didn't want to offend Rice, said late Wednesday that there's little or no trade interest by other teams at this point in a 42-year-old wideout with five catches this season, even if he is probably the greatest receiver of all-time. But the Raiders might try to accommodate Rice's request and perhaps could release him, if that's what he wants, if they're unable to trade him, the source said.
The NFL's trading deadline is Tuesday. Rice met with Raiders owner Al Davis on Wednesday -- Rice's 42nd birthday -- after telling a Sacramento radio station Tuesday he suspects he could be traded, then reiterating his frustrations to reporters earlier in the day.
"I'm not trying to force anything,'' Rice told reporters Wednesday, adding that he was led to believe he could be a bigger part of the offense this season than he has been so far. "But, you know, it doesn't make any sense for me to stay here if things continue going this way.''
Rice's best chances to finish his career elsewhere, it seems, would be with the San Francisco 49ers or the Detroit Lions. The 49ers perhaps would be willing to welcome him back for a ceremonial farewell tour with his original team. There are few other compelling reasons, after all, for 49ers followers to continue to pay attention to the club this season. The problem is that Rice says he'd like to play next season as well as this season, and the 49ers probably wouldn't be interested in more than a short-term commitment.
There have been rumblings about a possible deal that would reunite Rice with former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci in Detroit. Lions President Matt Millen is a former teammate of Rice in San Francisco, and Detroit could use a wide receiver after losing Charles Rogers to a broken collarbone. The Lions could be a playoff contender and Rice perhaps could mentor rookie sensation Roy Williams. But Detroit already has depth at receiver with Tai Streets and Az-Zahir Hakim, and Rice would have to accept a complementary role there. The Lions have maintained they're not trying to trade for Rice.
Former Oakland coach Jon Gruden has collected his former Raiders players in Tampa. But he already has one old Raiders receiver after the Buccaneers signed Tim Brown following Brown's release by the Oakland before the season. The New England Patriots aren't bashful about adding veterans to their locker room and currently are thin at receiver, with Troy Brown and Deion Branch hurt and Bethel Johnson in Coach Bill Belichick's doghouse. But it's unclear if Rice would fit into the defending champs' plans.
Dolphins Sign Bryant
Miami signed Matt Bryant as its fill-in kicker to replace Olindo Mare, who has a calf injury. Bryant, who was released by the New York Giants in training camp after two seasons as their kicker, was released by the Colts on Monday after filling in for the injured Mike Vanderjagt for one game. . . .
Veteran defensive end Chidi Ahanotu, unhappy with his role on the club, abruptly left the Dolphins this week, failing to show up for practice and meetings Wednesday after meeting with team officials Monday. . . .
Quarterback A.J. Feeley participated in the Dolphins' practice Wednesday after being cleared by doctors. He was coming off what the team called a concussion. Jay Fiedler didn't practice Wednesday because of a rib injury but probably will start at quarterback Sunday at Buffalo. . . .
Safety Lawyer Milloy, sidelined since breaking his forearm in preseason, participated in portions of the Bills' practice Wednesday. It's still unclear if he'll play Sunday. He never had missed a game in eight previous NFL seasons. . . .
Buffalo released wide receiver Bobby Shaw after failed efforts to trade him. He had 56 receptions last season but only five this season. . . .
Rookie quarterback J.P. Losman did some throwing during the Bills' practice Wednesday, his most extensive on-the-field activity since suffering a broken leg in training camp. The first-round draft choice is ahead of his projected rehabilitation schedule and could resume full-speed practicing within two weeks, and he could give Coach Mike Mularkey a viable alternative to veteran Drew Bledsoe later in the season.
Steelers Lose Logan
Pittsburgh safety Mike Logan is to be sidelined at least four weeks by a torn hamstring muscle. . . .
Seattle re-signed offensive lineman Jerry Wunsch, cut by the Seahawks last month, and waived defensive back Tod McBride. . . .
Tailback Stephen Davis participated in Carolina's practice Wednesday and was said to have moved around better as he attempts to make his return from arthroscopic knee surgery. . . . The Panthers promoted running back Joey Harris and defensive tackle Jordan Carstens from the practice squad after losing tailback DeShaun Foster and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to injuries. . . .
During his weekly meeting with reporters Wednesday in Philadelphia, Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens said that Panthers cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. won't be able to push around the Philadelphia wideouts like he did to the Owens-less club during Carolina's triumph in last season's NFC championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Owens put his thumb to his chest and told reporters: "This ain't what he wants, right here.'' . . .
Patriots tailback Corey Dillon is bothered by a sore foot this week but was on the practice field Wednesday, although the extent of his participation was unclear. . . . Rookie Jamaar Taylor probably will replace the injured Tim Carter as the Giants' third wideout. . . .
Third-year pro Jonathan Goodwin and Brent Smith, a starter last season, lined up at the guard spots for the New York Jets in Wednesday's practice. Jets left guard Pete Kendall is sidelined by a fractured toe and right guard Brandon Moore could join him on the shelf because of a pulled hamstring. Kendall's absence gives the Jets less flexibility with center Kevin Mawae, who's playing with a broken right hand. The team has had Kendall, a former center, and Mawae switch positions at times. Because of the injuries, the Jets promoted guard Dave Yovanovits from the practice squad and waived center Drew Caylor, who was signed off the Steelers' practice squad last month. Caylor, from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, was a sixth-round draft selection by Pittsburgh in April out of Stanford. The Jets re-signed Caylor to their practice squad today. . . .
Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson shipped bottles of Pepto-Bismol to Cleveland's starting defensive backs with hand-written notes saying they could use the gifts to settle their queasy stomachs before facing Johnson on Sunday. . . .
Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia has been roughed up by blitzing opposing defenses in recent weeks, but Cleveland should get back right tackle Ryan Tucker from a quadriceps injury this week and plans to move Enoch DeMar ahead of Paul Zukauskas at left guard. Coach Butch Davis met with Garcia after Garcia was upset with Davis's suggestion during his Monday news conference that the quarterback might be "skittish'' with all the pressure he's under during games. . . .
Arizona released safety Dexter Jackson, Super Bowl MVP for Tampa Bay in the 2002 season. He has been sidelined all season by a back injury.