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Around the AFC

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001


Raiders' injuries healing

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders receiver Tim Brown won't let a sore knee keep him out of his first playoff game in seven years.

Brown tweaked his left knee in practice two weeks ago. He said Tuesday he needed the bye week the team got for winning the AFC West.

"I probably won't be 100 percent, but I'll be able to run," he said. "That's the most important thing."

The Raiders host the Dolphins in a semifinal Saturday.

Running back Napoleon Kaufman, who has not been to the post-season in his six seasons, has knee and thigh injuries. Coach Jon Gruden called him questionable.

Kaufman thinks otherwise.

"I feel like I'm really able to run and explode, and do all the things I'm supposed to do," he said.

Kaufman practiced, and Gruden said he looked good.

DOLPHINS: Running back Lamar Smith, who set an NFL playoff record with 40 carries in Saturday's 23-17 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts, sat out practice as a precaution.

Coach Dave Wannstedt said he expected Smith to be fine Saturday. Smith sprained his left ankle in the first quarter. He rushed for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

"I'm fine. I feel good," Smith said in a statement. "I'm a little sore, but you'd expect that after carrying the ball 40 times."

Receiver Leslie Shepherd, who has missed the past four games with a sore knee, practiced and was expected to play.

RATINGS: ABC's early wild-card game Saturday -- Miami's win over Indianapolis -- was down 2 percent from Tennessee's "Music City Miracle" victory over Buffalo last season.

The Baltimore Ravens' 21-3 victory over the Denver Broncos on CBS averaged a 17.1 rating, down 16 percent from last season's Sunday wild-card average.

Overnight ratings measure the country's 49 largest markets, about 65 percent of U.S. homes. Each ratings point represents a little more than 1-million homes.

RAVENS: The key in Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans could be the Ravens' run defense against running back Eddie George, who has struggled against Baltimore. The NFL's third-leading rusher sprained a knee early in the Titans' win in Baltimore and was limited to 28 yards on 12 carries in the Ravens' win in Nashville.

TITANS: Tennessee is the only team still in the playoffs without a positive turnover margin during the regular season. It lost the ball 30 times through interceptions and fumbles, and collected 30 takeaways. Baltimore led the league with a plus-23 margin.

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