Antonio Gates said his sprained right foot was feeling better yesterday, and the Chargers' star tight end didn't rule himself out of next Sunday's game at Washington.

Gates was hurt in the third quarter of a 48-10 win over Buffalo on Sunday. He underwent an MRI exam yesterday, which showed no significant damage.

"My foot feels a lot better," said Gates, whose foot was in a protective boot. "It's just day by day. I'm preparing to play this week."

Coach Marty Schottenheimer said the team's relief was "considerable."

"You don't want to see any player sustain any kind of injury," Schottenheimer said. "In his case, he's a big part of what we're doing overall as a football team. But we have the good fortune of the football gods smiling on all of us."

Gates, who set an NFL record for tight ends with 13 touchdown catches last year, leads the Chargers with 56 catches for 784 yards and seven scores.

* BOLLINGER WILL START: Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger will start Sunday's game against New Orleans despite a concussion that sidelined him for most of the team's loss to Denver.

Coach Herman Edwards said yesterday that Bollinger underwent several exams and still had a minor headache, but is fine to play. Bollinger took a hard hit from Al Wilson in the first quarter of New York's 27-0 loss and exited with a concussion that left him vomiting on the sideline.

Vinny Testaverde went into the game and sprained his right ankle, leaving his status in doubt for this weekend. Testaverde is listed as probable, but if he's too sore to practice this week, Kliff Kingsbury will be the backup quarterback.

* BULGER LIKELY SIDELINED: Rams quarterback Marc Bulger likely will miss a few weeks with an injury to his throwing shoulder.

Results of an MRI exam revealed no tear or separation. The injury was described as a bruise after a 38-28 loss to the Cardinals, and interim coach Joe Vitt said Bulger was "sore, very, very sore."

Bulger also suffered a mild concussion and told the team's Web site: "It's going to be at least a couple of weeks. We'll see if it's longer."

Backup quarterback Jamie Martin finished Sunday's game and likely will start this week at Houston, with rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick moving to second string.

* DOLPHINS' THOMAS COULD MISS TWO GAMES: Miami linebacker Zach Thomas likely will miss the next two games with a separated right shoulder. His status for the rest of the season was not known as doctors evaluated the severity of the injury.

* SEASON OVER FOR LEHMAN: Lions linebacker Teddy Lehman's season is over after he was placed on injured reserve because of a foot injury. Lehman did not play in the last three games after getting hurt Oct. 30 against Chicago.