San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf had to be forced away from a verbal confrontation with a heckling fan yesterday, the latest episode in his short but troubled NFL career.

The tense situation came the same day USA Today quoted the second-year quarterback as saying he probably won't be with the Chargers when his contract becomes voidable after the 2000 season.

The fan, 32-year-old Sean Peck, had been heckling Leaf during the Chargers' combined workout with the Miami Dolphins, including singing lyrics from the song "Lonesome Loser" by the Little River Band.

Leaf underwent surgery on his right shoulder early in training camp, which could force him to miss the season, and has been reduced to just watching practices.

Several minutes after practice ended, Leaf was walking across the practice field, heading away from the grandstands at UC San Diego, when Peck let loose with a verbal barrage.

"Hey, Ryan, you're the worst draft choice in NFL history. You make Heath Shuler look like an all-star. You're a loser. Go talk to Jimmy [Johnson] and try to get a job next year," he said.

After Leaf calmly walked back across the field, the situation eventually escalated to where Leaf, who is 6 feet 5 and 235 pounds, was forced back by offensive coordinator Geep Chryst and defensive backs coach Rod Perry.

Leaf left the field and declined to comment as he got into a convertible Mercedes and drove off.

BENGALS: Cincinnati has failed in its latest effort to sign quarterback Akili Smith, its first-round draft choice. The club and Smith's agent, Leigh Steinberg, are at odds over how Smith would earn his money. The Bengals say they have offered a six-year deal for nearly $45 million. Under that proposal, Smith would average $4.7 million per year for six years if he participates in 55 percent of the plays and, as the contract progresses, has thrown for 2,500 yards in two of the three prior seasons.

JAGUARS: Wide receiver Keenan McCardell is out indefinitely after injuring his right leg in practice, the team said. McCardell was hurt on a running play near the end of the morning workout. X-rays taken were negative and a deep contusion of the soft tissue in his lower right leg was diagnosed.