The topsy-turvy world of the Indianapolis Colts seems to be leveling off, at least for the moment.
The Colts looked awful in the first three weeks without the NFL's seventh all-time rusher, Eric Dickerson, and with rookie quarterback Jeff George starting. But an abdominal strain sidelined George the past two weeks and Indianapolis won both games with Jack Trudeau at quarterback. The Colts -- who say they'll keep Trudeau as starter until further notice -- are off this week but soon may have an addition: Dickerson is eligible to return from the non-football injury list for the Oct. 21 game with Denver.
In the offseason, Dickerson demanded to be traded and then criticized several teammates, including the offensive linemen. In the preseason, he failed a physical because of a hamstring injury after reporting 11 days late. The Colts placed him on the non-football injury list after he refused to let a team doctor re-examine him. Because of fines and lost pay, Dickerson could be out more than $600,000.
General Manager Jim Irsay said yesterday he, his father -- team owner Robert -- and Dickerson will meet this weekend.
"My feeling is that he wants to come back, play football and be left alone," said Jim Irsay by phone from Indianapolis. "If that's what he wants, he could be back in uniform next week. Right now, it is too premature to know if that would be the case."
Coach Ron Meyer said he wants Dickerson to return, but several players are hesitant.
Said Trudeau: "I'd hate for him to come back and it be a problem. But there's no way of knowing that. Potentially, he could help us; potentially he could hurt us. . . . What attitude he takes, I have no idea."Injury List
San Francisco running back Roger Craig played in 114 consecutive games before tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Sunday's victory over Houston.
"Don't count me out," said Craig, 30. "How long did my hip keep me out? They said I'd be out six to eight weeks and I didn't miss a game." Craig sustained a severe hip injury on Dec. 28, 1986, against Miami, but played the next week. . . .
New York Jets guard Dave Cadigan, who finally was living up to being the team's No. 1 selection in the 1988 draft, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Sunday's 20-16 loss at Miami. He'll have major surgery Oct. 15 and be out for the season. . . . New England center Gene Chilton also will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Fullwood Traded
When it came to running back Brent Fullwood, the breaking point for Green Bay Coach Lindy Infante came Sunday in a loss to Chicago when Fullwood left with an upset stomach and sore throat. Fullwood had not told Infante he was sick before the game. Yesterday the former No. 1 draft choice, who has been hampered with injuries throughout his career, was traded to Cleveland for a draft pick.
"I made a decision. I've been thinking about this for a while, but we've decided to let Brent Fullwood go, make a move for the future and go on with the rest of our lives," Infante said.
Fullwood takes with him a two-year, $1 million contract he signed after an 11-day holdout.Offensive Tricks
After four games without an offensive touchdown, the Steelers finally came up with one in a 36-14 win over San Diego. It was almost fitting that the score -- an eight-yard pass from Bubby Brister to rookie tight end Eric Green -- came on a busted play.
"We had the wrong guy and the wrong formation -- the whole damn thing" was a mess, Brister said.
When he came to the sideline, Brister hugged offensive coordinator Joe Walton, an interesting scene because Brister has criticized Walton's new system for two months. Brister said any offense that contains a play called "deuce split right tight Z short motion left 49 Z hot ace go on two" takes time to master. Catches of the Day
A 22-yard touchdown reception by Detroit running back Barry Sanders is a likely candidate for the NFL's season-long highlight film. He put a fake on safety Joey Browner in the open field that left the Vikings' Pro Bowler helpless.
"That's my idea of a good pass," said Detroit quarterback Bob Gagliano. "I throw it three yards and Barry takes it the rest of the way." . . .
Miami receiver Mark Clayton's team-record streak of making a catch in 56 straight games was broken -- but only for a few hours. Looking at the statistics from Sunday's game against the New York Jets, Clayton noticed that the stats did not credit him with a reception. He had made a 10-yard catch at midfield in the first half, but the Miami statistical crew thought the Dolphins had accepted a 10-yard penalty that negated the play.
Dolphins officials appealed on Clayton's behalf to NFL statistician Seymour Siwoff, who reviewed the matter and determined that Miami had indeed declined the penalty and taken Clayton's 10-yard gain. Siwoff ruled that Clayton had a catch, extending the streak to 57.