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NFL roundup

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 11, 2002

Jaguars dismiss fumbling Gibson

JACKSONVILLE -- Punt returner Damon Gibson's fumble was critical in more than one way. It helped cost Jacksonville a game and Gibson his job.

Coach Tom Coughlin cut the usually reliable third-year punt returner Tuesday, two days after his fumble cost the Jaguars a touchdown in a 28-25 loss to the Colts. Team spokesman Dan Edwards said Coughlin would have no comment.

Gibson, who said he never had fumbled a punt in a high school, college or pro game, misjudged a long punt, and it sailed over his head. He chased and reached to pick it up, but fumbled. The Colts recovered and scored the go-ahead touchdown three plays later.

The Jaguars have some players with punt-return experience and signed linebacker Bobby Brooks to replace Gibson.

Madden doesn't help MNF

NEW YORK -- John Madden's debut on Monday Night Football was the worst-rated opener in at least eight years. The Patriots victory over the Steelers on ABC drew an average rating of 12.8 and 23 share, a decrease of 3 percent.

Madden left Fox in February, signing a $20-million, four-year deal to join play-by-play announcer Al Michaels. MNF dumped comedian Dennis Miller and analyst Dan Fouts after two years in which ratings fell more than 15 percent.

Fox improved by 5 percent, posting an average 13.2 rating. It was the best Week 1 on Fox since 1999. ESPN's Sunday telecast of the Texans successful debut drew a 9.6 rating, making it the fifth-largest audience in cable history.

The rating is the percentage of all U.S. homes with TVs tuned to a program, and the share is the percentage of homes watching a program among those with TVs on.

BEARS: Cornerback R.W. McQuarters (sprained knee ligament) and defensive end Phillip Daniels (sprained ankle), both starters, will miss at least a month. Reggie Austin will replace McQuarters and Keith McKenzie will replace Daniels.

CHARGERS: Cornerback Quentin Jammer signed a six-year contract, ending his seven-week holdout. He will receive $12.45-million the first three years, including $10.5-million in bonuses.

EAGLES: Former Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Sinclair signed a one-year contract. Sinclair, who spent 11 seasons with Seattle, replaces Derrick Burgess, who will miss 8-10 weeks with a broken right foot. The Eagles released tight end Tony Stewart.

REDSKINS: Kicker James Tuthill was signed to replace Brett Conway, who will miss the season with a torn thigh muscle. Tuthill played two preseason games with Washington, but was released before the regular season.

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