St. Louis Rams President John Shaw said today that the team would like to keep quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Trent Green next season, but admitted that may be a difficult proposition unless "one of those players is willing to sit on the bench."
Warner, the league's MVP after throwing 41 regular season touchdown passes, was the backup going into '99 until Green suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the preseason. Green, a starter with the Redskins in 1998, left via free agency for a three-year, $14 million deal that allowed him to return to his hometown team.
Green indicated today that he wants to play where he can start, and "I'd be kidding myself," if he thought that would be in St. Louis. He said it was "not realistic" to think a competition for the starting job would be equal in training camp this summer considering Warner's stunning success this breakthrough season.
"I'm not one to make demands," Green said. "We'll talk after the season, but I've sat long enough in my career in D.C. [that] I'm disappointed, but I plan on being in the league for a number of years."
Green said he is thrilled for Warner's and his team's success, even if he's spent the entire season rehabilitating his knee.
"I was feeling real confident before I got hurt, but to say I would have had the same numbers [as Warner], I wouldn't say that," Green said. "But I want to be somewhere where I have the opportunity to start. Coming here and to then have this happen to me is unfortunate, particularly since I wasn't able to finish what I started."
Thigpen Healing Tennessee wide receiver Yancey Thigpen, who had 38 catches and four touchdown receptions in '99, missed another day of practice today but said he is more optimistic he may be able to play Sunday, despite a hairline fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone on his right foot suffered last week against Jacksonville.
Thigpen, listed as questionable, was wearing a protective plastic boot today. He said team doctors are looking into fitting him with a special plate for his shoe to ease the pressure on the injury near his right little toe and allow him to play.
"Once I get out there, I think the adrenaline will take over," he said. "I trust the doctors and the coaches trust me. If I feel I can play, they'll let me play. If they have uncertainty, they probably won't play me."
Thigpen said he expects a final decision either Saturday or after he goes through warmups on Sunday. "Right now, it's a game-time decision, he said. "If I can't go, there's no need for me to suit up and take a roster spot. But the swelling has gone down, and that's a great sign."
Contract Talk NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw said today that the union and the league are discussing the possibility of extending their labor contract for three years through the 2005 season. The decision will be made by December, Upshaw said.
Upshaw also defended actions by Cleveland Browns tackle Orlando Brown, who is facing an indefinite suspension by the league for shoving an official after being struck in the eye and injured by a thrown penalty flag. Upshaw said Brown did not return to the field to attack the official, but was attempting to rejoin the Cleveland offense.
Union officials said they have filed complaints against four teams--the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals--accusing them of violating the league's franchise-player rules.
CAPTION: Yancey Thigpen wears boot to protect a hairline fracture in his foot but still hopes he can play Sunday.