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Quarles expected to miss 6-8 weeks

JOANNE KORTH, ROGER MILLS and TIMES WIRES
Published September 6, 2003

Shelton Quarles is scheduled for surgery today to set the broken bone in his left forearm and repair damage to his elbow sustained in Thursday's practice.

The initial prognosis is that the linebacker will miss 6-8 weeks, coach Jon Gruden said.

Quarles, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl last season at middle linebacker, fell awkwardly during a special teams drill and broke the ulna, the smaller of the two forearm bones. Of greater concern is the extent of damage to the elbow.

"Well, it's (to be) surgically repaired, so obviously there's some significant injury," Gruden said. "I can give you some more official news once that surgery is completed."

Quarles watched Friday's practice with his arm heavily bandaged and in a sling. He was in good spirits and joked about wanting to rejoin his teammates.

"I feel like I can play now," he said. "All I need is a brace; lock me in a tackling position and I'll be ready to go. A couple of shots - I'm not afraid of those."

Quarles said he landed with his weight on his arm, causing the bone to shatter. It did not break the skin, but Quarles could see the bone protruding, even under his long-sleeve T-shirt.

"It was poking out, so I was actually a little nervous when I saw it," he said. "They said I was screaming like a little girl, but (the doctors) said from what happened I had a right to."

Quarles expressed confidence in Nate Webster, who will start at middle linebacker in Monday's opener against the Eagles. Quarles also was encouraged that Anthony McFarland missed only four games last season with a fractured forearm.

"The quicker I can get back the better," Quarles said. "I'm not one of those guys who likes to stand around on the sideline. I'm definitely a cheerleader for my guys when I'm not in there, but I definitely don't want to do that for a living."

BURGESS OUT: Eagles defensive end Derrick Burgess tore his Achilles' tendon in practice and is expected to be out for the season.

Burgess, a third-round pick in 2001, missed 15 games and the playoffs after breaking his foot against Tennessee in September. After two surgeries, he worked his way back and earned a starting spot with an outstanding training camp.

The Eagles signed Marco Coleman to a one-year deal. Coleman was a Pro Bowl selection in 2000 with Washington and started all 16 games for the Jaguars last season.

BUCS SIGN WILCOX: The Bucs signed Daniel Wilcox, a tight end who also plays special teams, and released tight end Tony McGee. The move addresses a need after the loss of Quarles and the promotion of Webster, both special teams regulars.

Wilcox, a third-year player, was on the Bucs roster late last season but was inactive for the final two regular-season games and the postseason. He played in one game in 2001 with the Jets.

McGee, an 11th-year pro, was signed Monday to replace Rickey Dudley, who was injured in the final preseason game Aug.28. Gruden said McGee might be re-signed in the future.

WORKING TOGETHER: Last season, his third in the league, receiver Todd Pinkston led the Eagles and established career highs with receptions (60), yards (798) and touchdowns (seven).

But he didn't stop there. Eager to keep the momentum, Pinkston flew to Phoenix during the offseason to spend time and work out with quarterback Donovan McNabb.

"Todd has done a wonderful job of just preparing himself to go out each year," McNabb said. "I guess the whole motivational factor for him is that he's getting better and better each time. Todd came up to Arizona and we got some work done together with my training regimen as well as throwing the ball and just sitting down and getting to know each other. I thought that was big."

MAKING TROUBLE: They go way back. So far back, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said, he knew Gruden when he was quite the whippersnapper.

Johnson is a close friend of Gruden's father, Jim, and coached with Jim Gruden at Notre Dame, said he has a distinct memory of young Jon.

"He was always in trouble," Johnson said. "He was a middle child, so he was always fighting with his brothers (Jim Jr. and Jay). He is a very competitive guy. ... It seemed like you always had to worry about what Jon was doing. It seemed like he always had a lot of scrapes and fights."

UP AND DOWN: While former Gator Lito Sheppard will have punt return duties, cornerback Sheldon Brown has inched ahead of him on the depth chart at defensive back. Johnson said Brown will be the nickel back and Sheppard will come in when the team goes to the dime (six defensive backs).

OMISSION: The names of Bucs assistant coaches Joe Barry (linebackers), Richard Bisaccia (special teams) and Jeremy Bates (offensive quality control) were omitted from Friday's NFL special section.

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