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Dungy is unnerved by Colts' scoring ills. Sound familiar?

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 25, 2002

When former Bucs coach Tony Dungy arrived in Indianapolis, people wondered if he could fix the team's sagging defense. Maybe they should have been asking if he could fix the offense instead.

Granted, it's only preseason and the team is without injured star running back Edgerrin James. But going into Saturday night's game, the Colts offense had struggled to move the ball, let alone score. In two preseason games, the first-team offense, the second-highest scoring unit last season, hadn't scored a point. In Game 2 against the Bengals, the unit mustered just 74 yards in three possessions.

Dungy, of course, isn't alarmed in the least. Then again, he never seemed alarmed when the Bucs offense would sputter week after week.

"We just have to play better, and we will," he said.

Quarterback Peyton Manning acknowledged the offense has some kinks to work out, but said it's just as potent as ever.

"It's disappointing, but not really discouraging," Manning said. "We're not that far away."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: From Seahawks rookie quarterback Ryan Van Dyke, comparing himself with newly signed quarterback Mark Rypien, who has been in and out of the league since 1986:

"He was learning to read defenses when I was learning to read."

HOW DOES HE FIND THESE GUYS?: Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil turned Rams quarterback Kurt Warner into a superstar after discovering him in the Arena League. Now he may do the same with Chiefs defensive end R-Kal Truluck.

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Truluck led the Arena League in sacks this season and has been dazzling at times in preseason. Against the Texans, he had two sacks, two quarterback pressures and a forced fumble.

"In (the Arena League) everything is so fast. The ball is out of the quarterback's hand in two steps, so as a rusher, you really have to get there quickly," said Chiefs vice president Lynn Stiles. "Here, the quarterback is holding on to it, "One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three,' and it has to feel like slow motion to him."

RUFFLED FEATHERS: Cowboys rookie quarterback Chad Hutchinson started Saturday night's game against the Falcons, which didn't sit well initially with starter Quincy Carter.

"Who wouldn't be upset," Carter said. "Who are they trying to get ready for the season?"

The Cowboys reassured Carter he is their starter and explained they started Hutchinson merely to get him experience should Carter get injured in the regular season.

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS: Rams punter Mitch Berger, who was close to Korey Stringer when both were with the Vikings, is angry the Vikings are squabbling with Stringer's family over compensation for his training camp death last season.

"I just know what's right. You act like you're going to take care of his family in public, and when the time comes to pay the check, you don't do it. It's just ridiculous to me," said Berger, who may have an ax to grind over how the Vikings got rid of him in a contract dispute.

"Eight-million dollars to (Vikings owner Red McCombs) is like me dropping a penny out of my pocket. Every minute they're stretching this on, they're just dishonoring his memory more. Somebody needs to step up and say they made a mistake. They're not going to die from admitting they made a mistake. But somebody else is dead from them making mistakes."

MAYBE NEXT YEAR: Apparently the quarterback battle in Detroit is over. Second-year pro Mike McMahon has won the job over rookie Joey Harrington essentially because ... well, Harrington is a rookie.

Coach Marty Mornhinweg said McMahon is more developed and that the rookie factor played a key role in his decision.

"Go and look up some stats on playing a rookie quarterback. Just go look up the stats," Mornhinweg said, noting that great quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman, John Elway and the Colts' Manning took a pounding as rookies. "Go talk to Troy Aikman. He'll say that (playing his rookie) year cost him years off his career because he got beat up so bad. Rookie quarterbacks tend to get beat up because they don't get the ball off, those type of things."

DID YOU KNOW: The Cowboys like the RealGrass playing surface so much at the Alamodome where they've had training camp that they plan to install it at Texas Stadium after the home opener.

Cost? A cool million.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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