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Sack king Strahan out for season

By wire services
Published November 9, 2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Giants All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

Strahan, the NFL's single-season sacks champion, was hurt Sunday in the third quarter of a 28-21 loss to the Bears. The 12-year veteran reached out with his arm to attempt a tackle on Anthony Thomas, and his arm was bent back as the running back cut inside.

Surgery is planned for Wednesday. Strahan was not immediately available for comment.

The news was doubly bad for the Giants on Monday. Fellow starting defensive end Keith Washington tore an ACL in his left leg against the Bears and also will miss the rest of the season.

Osi Umenyiora and Lance Legree finished the game at defensive end.

Coach Tom Coughlin said Strahan is the one player on the defense that opposing coaches have to account for every game.

"This injury is a shame because Michael really enjoys playing in this defense," Coughlin said. "He bought into our defensive philosophy and our schemes and how he fits into it.

"On the field, our players look to him for inspiration. Actions inspire. What the average person doesn't see is what a leader Michael is in the locker room and in the weight room when nobody is watching."

A player who has learned to deal with the weekly pain of football, Strahan had not missed a game since sitting out against Dallas late in the 1995 season with a hamstring injury. He has played in 137 straight regular-season games, starting 136, including the past 95.

JETS LOSE QB: When Chad Pennington got hurt last season, the Jets had a hard time winning.

They hope things go differently this time.

Pennington is out two to four weeks with a strained right rotator cuff, leaving former Cowboys starter Quincy Carter to handle the offense.

Pennington was hurt in the first quarter of a 22-17 loss to Buffalo on Sunday when he scrambled up the middle for a 12-yard gain.

He kept playing, but his arm started to stiffen and he left in the fourth quarter after his last two drives ended with an interception and a 13-yard sack.

An MRI exam revealed the strain. Pennington started rehabbing immediately to regain arm strength.

"I'm positive and upbeat about it and I'm still excited for our team," Pennington said. "I think we can be excited as a team because we're sitting here 6-2 and not 2-6 like we were last year.

"We still have an excellent opportunity with what we want to do when you look at the big picture."

LEFTWICH TO REST: Though Byron Leftwich's throwing arm is getting quite a workout, it probably won't help the Jaguars the next two weeks.

Leftwich's sprained left knee was re-evaluated, and doctors determined there was no need for surgery. But he will remain in a brace and on crutches this week and likely miss the next two games.

Backup David Garrard will make his second career start Sunday against Detroit.

Coach Jack Del Rio said there was a slight chance Leftwich could return Nov. 21 against Tennessee, but he is not counting on it.

He expects Leftwich back Nov. 28 at Minnesota.

WANNSTEDT UNDER FIRE: Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt is taking a wait-and-see approach to decide whether Jay Fiedler or A.J. Feeley will start at quarterback against Seattle in two weeks.

At the same time, many frustrated fans can't wait to see Wannstedt become the 1-8 team's former coach after a last-minute 24-23 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday.

The mounting losses have talk-radio callers pleading for Wannstedt's ouster and newspaper articles speculating about when, not if, he will be fired. But the coach, looking relaxed, kept a stiff upper lip when asked about his job.

"You got free pizza. Back off," he joked in response to a question about the horde of reporters and photographers who attended a news conference thinking Wannstedt might be fired.

Wannstedt said he had spoken with team owner H. Wayne Huizenga before Sunday's game. Many believe that, because Wannstedt wasn't fired heading into the bye week, his job is probably safe through the rest of the season.

[Last modified November 9, 2004, 04:50:14]


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