Doug Flutie, the New Jersey Generals' million-dollar rookie quarterback who suffered a fractured collarbone almost four weeks ago, has been declared ready to practice and could play in Monday night's U.S. Football League playoff game against the Baltimore Stars, the Generals announced yesterday.
Flutie, who has missed three games since being injured June 1, was X-rayed by team physician Mark Schottenfeld yesterday afternoon. Although the injury Flutie has usually takes six weeks to heal, Schottenfeld said Flutie was progressing rapidly and cleared him to practice later this week.
The Generals, who obviously missed Flutie in a 14-6 loss to the Birmingham Stallions Sunday that cost them the USFL Eastern Conference title, had a day off yesterday and were not scheduled to practice until Thursday. Flutie is scheduled to be evaluated again at the end of the week by Schottenfeld, Coach Walt Michaels and Generals management.
Neither Michaels nor Flutie was available for comment, but Schottenfeld said Flutie has full extension in his arms.
"He's coming along nicely, otherwise we wouldn't let him practice," Schottenfeld said. "He's young and strong and competitive. It's only been four weeks since the injury, which is early, but the X-ray looks good and he feels good."
The Generals (11-7) are 1-2 since Flutie was sidelined. Backup quarterback Ron Reeves has thrown for 461 yards in 3 1/2 games, but he has completed only two touchdown passes and thrown five interceptions. The Generals meet the Stars at the Meadowlands Monday (9 p.m.) in the first round of the playoffs. New Jersey probably will not announce a starter until game time, unless Flutie fails his practice physical.
The Generals' announcement yesterday seemed to come as a slight surprise to Stars Coach Jim Mora, but he said Baltimore would not alter its practice plans for the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner. "We just have to assume that he'll play," Mora said.
Michaels had said on Monday that if Flutie was ready, "we'll try him," but that he would not suit up unless he could start.
The Stars and Generals have met seven times in the history of the franchises, with Baltimore leading, 4-3. They split two meetings this season. In the first, Flutie threw two interceptions and was held to six yards rushing in a 29-9 Stars victory at College Park's Byrd Stadium.
In the second game, the Generals beat the Stars, 10-3, at the Meadowlands when Flutie staged a last-minute drive that went 81 yards, culminating in his five-yard scramble for a touchdown.