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© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001


Titans' George to have toe surgery, miss camps

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Eddie George will have surgery to reattach a tendon in his right big toe, forcing the Titans' All-Pro running back to miss the off-season minicamps.

Surgery was scheduled for Monday in Charlotte, N.C., coach Jeff Fisher said. He said the injury was discovered during a routine MRI exam.

"It's not career threatening and actually may be career lengthening," Fisher said Tuesday. "The opinion of a number of specialists is the integrity of the toe could be threatened if the surgery is not performed."

The torn tendon runs from the base of the foot to the end of the toe, trainer Brad Brown said.

After the surgery, George will wear a boot cast and won't be allowed to put weight on his right foot without the cast for at least three months. George will miss the May and June minicamps.

George could begin light lower-body conditioning by July.

George hasn't missed a regular-season or playoff game in his five-year career with the Titans. He gained 1,507 yards on a career-high 404 carries last season. George and Eric Dickerson are the only running backs in NFL history to top 1,200 rushing yards in each of their first five seasons.

BILLS: A day after Doug Flutie met with the team's brain trust, Doug Johnson was at the franchise's Orchard Park, N.Y., offices to make his pitch to be the team's starting quarterback next season.

Details of the interviews were not revealed, and neither quarterback was available for comment.

A quarterback decision wasn't expected until next week.

This month, Bills president and general manager Tom Donahoe said the salary cap-strapped team could not afford both quarterbacks.

The Bills were projected to be about $13-million over the cap by the league's March 1 deadline, and that was before they re-signed Pro Bowl wide receiver Eric Moulds to a six-year, $45-million deal Friday.

Donahoe also said the feud that developed between the two quarterbacks over who should start divided the team.

The interviews are part of the process outlined by new coach Gregg Williams to determine which quarterback best fits the team's needs.

Meanwhile, the agent for starting defensive end Marcellus Wiley said negotiations remain on hold as the Bills struggle to get under the cap. Wiley becomes an unrestricted free agent next week.

"They have a tough situation, and they have a plan, they tell me," agent Brad Blank said. "And we'll see if they can work it out, fit us in."

Wiley replaced Bruce Smith as a starter and became the fifth player in franchise history to record 10 or more sacks last season. He was considered the Bills' second priority behind Moulds this off-season.

BRONCOS: Denver likely will offer quarterback Brian Griese a one-year contract that will make it more costly for other teams to entice the restricted free agent.

The Broncos say they will offer Griese the NFL-maximum one-year, $1.488-million Thursday, meaning any team pursuing Griese would have to give Denver draft choices in the first and third rounds. Denver would also get right of first refusal.

Griese is expected to re-sign.

PACKERS: Kicker Ryan Longwell signed a five-year contract for a "premium" price, said Andrew Brandt, director of player finance.

Longwell would have become an unrestricted free agent March 2.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Longwell had sought a big raise after the Indianapolis Colts made a four-year, $6.9-million deal with Mike Vanderjagt in November. Longwell's previous three-year contract averaged $334,000 a year.

CHMURA HEARING: Commissioner Paul Tagliabue met with Mark Chmura for almost two hours in New York to consider whether to punish the former Green Bay tight end, who was acquitted of sexual assault charges this month.

Chmura, who turns 32 Thursday, was released by the Packers last season after he was charged. He sat out most of 1999 with a neck injury.

Tagliabue could suspend or fine Chmura for violating league conduct rules. Chmura's acquittal could mean he won't be punished. Tagliabue said he expected to have a decision within a few weeks.

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