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AFC Roundup

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000

BENGALS: Quarterback Akili Smith sat out the team's skills session because of an allergic reaction that trainer Paul Sparling said could have come from sheets Smith put on his bed. Smith practiced in the afternoon and should be fine today.

BILLS: Although Rob Johnson had been designated the starter at quarterback, the hamstring injury to Doug Flutie still is causing adjustments. "We still have two good quarterbacks, only we'll start with one. We'll have to evaluate now, at least for the start of the season, who our second quarterback is going to be," coach Wade Phillips said. Behind Johnson are first-year player Mike Cawley and non-drafted rookie Phil Stambaugh from Lehigh. Phillips said he is considering free agent Alex Van Pelt, who played for the team from 1995-99.

BRONCOS: In a signal that the impasse could be a long one, holdout defensive tackle Trevor Pryce headed home after failing to reach a contract resolution. Asked if Pryce expected it to be a protracted holdout, Lamont Smith, Pryce's agent, said, "I think that would be a safe assumption at this point." Smith noted that Pryce had been in Denver, working out at the Broncos' practice facility in Arapahoe County, hoping for a resolution. "But after their rejection of our last proposal and the position that they took, there's no reason for him to stay around. He has left the city," he said.

CHARGERS: Quarterback Ryan Leaf missed his second practice in a row because his surgically repaired right shoulder was sore and stiff. Though Leaf thinks he'll be ready to play in the exhibition opener in a week at San Francisco, coach Mike Riley isn't sure. "Tell everybody that Jim Harbaugh's our starting quarterback and Moses (Moreno) is a competitor and Ryan Leaf's the X-factor," Riley said.

COLTS: Though impatient to prove last year was no fluke, the team is not about to rush things tonight against Atlanta. "With the five preseason games, I'll have plenty of opportunity to get prepared for the season," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "My guess is that I will not play a lot early on and I will progressively get more playing time as we get closer to opening day. You want everyone to be healthy for the start of the season, but at the same time, you want to get in there and get things going smoothly."

DOLPHINS: Wide receiver O.J. McDuffie, who has been hobbled with a left toe injury, was one of six players held out from workouts with the Bucs in Orlando. Also missing drills were defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (knee), defensive end Lorenzo Bromell (knee), tight end Ed Perry (knee), tackle Richmond Webb (elbow) and wide receiver Cory Thomas (hamstring).

JETS: New coach Al Groh plans to use Vinny Testaverde, Ray Lucas and rookie Chad Pennington about 20 plays each tonight against the Saints. Testaverde is coming back from a ruptured Achilles' tendon in the 1999 opener that cost him the rest of the season. "This game is a big test for me," Testaverde said, "not only how I hold up physically, but mentally more than anything, just knowing that I can do it. It's been almost a whole year since I've been hit, and that's part of me being able to come back from injury."

PATRIOTS: With injuries and departures, second-year center Damien Woody is the team's most experienced offensive lineman for now. But quarterback Drew Bledsoe is unconcerned. "You can look at it two ways. One, yeah, it is a little bit of a concern to go into these games with a lot of untested linemen," he said. "But the flip side of that is that you get a lot of young guys with some experience who normally wouldn't have had it. Hopefully, it will benefit us down the road."

RAIDERS: The players are getting a good early impression of kicker Sebastian Janikowski from Florida State. Janikowski booted a 53-yard field goal to keep his teammates from having to run "gassers" at the end of practice earlier in the week. "I kind of get the feeling that he is a guy who performs better under pressure," fullback Jon Ritchie said. "He proved that today."

RAVENS: Jamal Lewis, the team's first-round draft pick, will be sidelined 4-6 weeks after dislocating his left elbow during a scrimmage with Washington. The running back from Tennessee was injured on a 1-yard run on the Ravens' third offensive play, his first live tackle play as a pro against another team. Lewis was carrying the ball in his right arm and was trying to use his left to keep his momentum going when a defender rolled over it. "I thought it was broke," Lewis said. "I'd never felt that kind of pain before. Luckily, it was just dislocated." Lewis walked to the sideline, where trainers popped the elbow back into place.

STEELERS: Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride expects rookie wide receiver Plaxico Burress to cause problems for defenses. The team loves Burress' physical attributes and ability to catch passes at 6 feet 6 and 229 pounds. "He has some qualities that I think will make it difficult for cornerbacks to match up," Gilbride said. "Not that he has blazing speed, because he doesn't, but he has enough speed that corners are going to be hard-pressed to match up because he can adjust to the ball once it's in the air."

TITANS: Defensive end Jevon Kearse is a question mark for today's scrimmage against the Rams with a thigh bruise sustained in Friday morning's joint practice. "If he's still having problems in the morning, we'll hold him out," coach Jeff Fisher said.

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