Vinny Testaverde will be the starting quarterback for the New York Jets on Sunday, when the team plays the unbeaten Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Giants Stadium.
Coach Herman Edwards moved Testaverde, who was signed last week after quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler were lost to shoulder injuries, ahead of Brooks Bollinger today. Bollinger made his first NFL start on Sunday in Baltimore, but the Jets managed only 152 yards of offense in a 13-3 loss to the Ravens. Bollinger completed 14 of 28 passes for 149 yards and was sacked five times.
It's getting to be last-stand time for the Jets, who began the season with Super Bowl aspirations but have a record of 1-3 and now are turning to their fourth quarterback. Testaverde made 15 starts for Dallas last season, when he threw for 3,532 yards and 17 touchdowns but had 20 interceptions.
Alex Smith Gets Start
The San Francisco 49ers figured that, if their offense wasn't going to go anywhere with veteran quarterback Tim Rattay, there was no reason not to turn to Alex Smith and accelerate the prized rookie's learning process.
On Tuesday, the team's coaching staff informed Smith, the top overall choice in the NFL draft in April, that he would replace Rattay as the club's starter this week.
First-year 49ers coach Mike Nolan had left open the possibility in the aftermath of Sunday night's loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City of switching to Smith. The 49ers defense scored both of the team's touchdowns in the 31-14 defeat to the Cardinals. Rattay completed only 11 of 21 passes for 126 yards. He was sacked three times and threw an interception, and Smith was summoned to finish the game.
The loss dropped San Francisco's record to 1-3, and the 49ers are ranked 30th in the league in total offense. Rattay is the NFL's 27th-ranked passer.
Rattay is not solely responsible for the team's struggles. The 49ers have few talented players on offense to put around their quarterback, and Smith undoubtedly will struggle. But he must make his mistakes at some point, so why not now? The 49ers certainly aren't a playoff team this season, so any time that isn't devoted to trying to speed along Smith's development is wasted.
Nolan gave Smith a chance to earn the starting job in training camp but didn't want to hand it to him too soon if he wasn't ready, and Smith looked overwhelmed at times during the exhibition season. Rattay led a season-opening triumph over the St. Louis Rams, but the 49ers have lost three straight games since then. They host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
The 49ers signed Smith in July to the richest rookie contract in NFL history, a six-year, $49.5 million deal that included $24 million in bonuses.
McCardell Owes Bucs $1.5 Million
Wide receiver Keenan McCardell must repay $1.5 million to the Buccaneers because of his holdout last year that resulted in him being traded to the San Diego Chargers, an arbitrator ruled.
The Buccaneers had filed a grievance against McCardell, contending that he violated the terms of his contract with his holdout. Arbitrator Shyam Das agreed with the team and ruled that McCardell must return bonus money from the contract he signed with Tampa Bay in 2002. . . .
The Philadelphia Eagles placed defensive tackle Paul Grasmanis on the injured reserve list because of a torn Achilles' tendon. They re-signed wide receiver Darnerien McCants, who'd been released last week. . . .
Seattle re-signed wide receiver Jerheme Urban. . . . Cincinnati signed offensive lineman Larry Turner. . . . Chicago has promoted rookie wideout Mark Bradley, a second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma, to its starting lineup.
Consultants in Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings are bringing in veteran NFL assistant coaches Foge Fazio and Jerry Rhome as consultants this week. Rhome might be added to the staff to assist first-year offensive coordinator Steve Loney.
Full Backfield for Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Steelers likely will have their full complement of tailbacks available for Monday night's game at San Diego.
Willie Parker took over as the team's starter with Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis sidelined in the season's early stages. Staley has been working his way back from preseason knee surgery, and Bettis was plagued by a calf injury. Parker likely will remain the starter, but Coach Bill Cowher probably will look for opportunities in the coming weeks to work Staley and Bettis back into the mix. It could be difficult, however, for Cowher to find spots for all three on the active game-day roster.
The Steelers had a bye last weekend. Staley played briefly against the New England Patriots 10 days ago but didn't get a carry. Bettis is yet to play this season. . . .
Monday's game will be a matchup between coaches who are close friends. Cowher played for Chargers Coach Marty Schottenheimer with the Cleveland Browns and coached for him with the Browns and Kansas City Chiefs. . . .
Chargers guard Toniu Fonoti has missed San Diego's last two games because of a broken bone in his right hand, and he underwent a second surgery Tuesday for the injury that will keep him sidelined at least three more weeks. The Chargers, however, haven't lost anything because Kris Dielman has filled in capably, drawing praise from Schottenheimer.