The St. Louis Rams' best-laid plans for a turnaround season are in the hands of a quarterback known only for his exploits in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe.
Kurt Warner, who has one quarter of NFL experience, became the starter by default when Trent Green suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 24-21 preseason victory over the San Diego Chargers Saturday night.
Green, who joined the Rams in the offseason as a free agent from the Washington Redskins, tore the anterior cruciate ligament, suffered a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and also had cartilage damage.
Reconstructive surgery will be scheduled when the swelling subsides, in about two to three weeks. Robert Shively, the team physician, estimated the recovery period at 13 months.
The Rams acquired quarterback Paul Justin from Oakland as insurance, giving up a seventh-round pick in next year's draft.
Warner, 28, led NFL Europe in passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns in 1998 for the Amsterdam Admirals. Before that, he passed for 10,164 yards and 183 touchdowns in three seasons with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League.
For Green, it's time to move on.
"It's another hurdle, it's another obstacle," he said. "I'm just going to work my tail off and get ready for next year."
BROWNS: Once the feeling returned in Chris Spielman's arms and legs, he picked himself up, and though a bit shaky, walked off the field under his own power.
He may soon walk away from the NFL the same way.
Spielman, Cleveland's intense middle linebacker attempting a comeback from neck fusion surgery in 1997, could announce his retirement today after getting his second scare of the preseason following a violent helmet-on-helmet collision that sent him to the hospital during Saturday night's 35-24 preseason win over Chicago.
"He's exploring all of his options," said Browns Coach Chris Palmer, who spoke to Spielman twice yesterday. "He's going to look at everything and go from there. What we want to do is sit back, take a look at things, let things settle down for 24 hours both emotionally and physically and then talk about the subject at that time."
DOLPHINS: Running back Cecil Collins got encouraging news when tests showed no new break in his injured right ankle, giving him a chance to heal in time for the season opener. Miami opens the season Sept. 13, a Monday night, at Denver.
CHIEFS: Former linebacker Jaime Fields, 29, was killed in a car accident in Downey, Calif., by a motorist who ran a red light then fled by foot, police said. Fields was pronounced dead at the scene.