The New York Giants yesterday placed Phil Simms on injured reserve, meaning the quarterback will be out at least until the NFC championship game.

Simms will miss a minimum of four weeks, making him ineligible to play until the Jan. 20 title game. He severely sprained his right foot during the Giants' game against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Bills said quarterback Jim Kelly, also hurt in that game, can practice in three weeks and play in four. "This is absolutely the best news we could have had," said General Manager Bill Polian.

A test on Kelly's left knee confirmed there are partial tears in the ligament and cartilage. Frank Reich will start for at least the last two regular season games.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Steve DeBerg is questionable for Sunday's game against San Diego. He broke the tip of his left little finger last week vs. Houston and yesterday said he was in severe pain.

And Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, who chipped a bone in his thumb Sunday against Atlanta, will miss Sunday's game vs. Pittsburgh and probably the finale against Cincinnati.

Jeff Hostetler now will be asked to take over the struggling Giants' offense. New York has lost three of its last four games.

The Giants' last two regular season games are at Phoenix and New England. If they win once, or if the Chicago Bears lose once, New York will get a first-round bye and not have a playoff game until the weekend of Jan. 12-13.

Hostetler has started only two games for the Giants in seven seasons and appeared in just 23 others. In his one start last season, the Giants beat the Cardinals, 20-13. In Week 6 this season, after Simms sprained an ankle, he rallied New York to a last-second win over Phoenix, 20-19.

"It's a great opportunity," Hostetler said. "But I can't put pressure on myself and say I have to do this and I have to do that. All I can do is what I'm capable of doing."