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Around the AFC

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000

BILLS: Quarterback Rob Johnson sat out Thursday night's preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles as a precaution. Buffalo's backup, Doug Flutie, already is out with a groin injury, and coach Wade Phillips decided not to risk an injury to his starter on the Veterans Stadium turf. Alex Van Pelt started.

CHIEFS: Kansas City, the Bucs' opponent tonight, is on the verge of its first winless preseason, covering 41 years.

CHARGERS: Coach Mike Riley, who has been in no hurry to announce the starting quarterback for the regular season, said he likely will do so Saturday. Ryan Leaf is expected to win back the job he lost during his tumultuous rookie season of 1998. He has looked impressive in helping the Chargers to a 3-0 record, and he will play the first half tonight against the Cardinals. Moses Moreno will start the second half. Jim Harbaugh, who started 12 games last year, might get some work in. ... Vice president of football operations Ed McGuire said the team faxed a contract offer to defensive end Neil Smith's agent. The Chargers want to hear back from Smith by this weekend.

DOLPHINS: Jay Fiedler, who had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right hip this month, will start against the Saints tonight and play into the second quarter. It will be Fiedler's only preseason tryout for the chance to replace Dan Marino. Damon Huard played in the first three games. ... Running back J.J. Johnson won't be suspended for violating the NFL's steroid policy, the league said. Johnson faced a suspension for the first four regular-season games, pending an appeal, the Associated Press reported. The NFL issued a statement saying reports were not true that Johnson would be suspended. It would not elaborate and declined to say whether Johnson's appeal had been upheld. The Miami Herald reported today that Johnson did win his appeal after a positive test in November 1999. Johnson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he was allowed to say no more than the NFL statement. The Dolphins declined to comment. The Herald said Johnson used the banned substance without team approval to treat a hamstring injury that plagued him throughout the 1999 season.

JETS: Jumbo Elliott, who came out of retirement to rejoin the team, had his suspension for his part in a bar fight reduced from two games to one. The offensive tackle was suspended after pleading guilty to harassment and disorderly conduct stemming from the July 1999 fight. When Elliott returned this month, he appealed his suspension to commissioner Paul Tagliabue. The NFL said the suspension was cut to the opening regular-season game, at Green Bay.

RAIDERS: Jackson County, Mo., prosecutors charged Andre Rison with four felonies for writing $158,000 worth of bad checks to a Georgia jeweler. According to court records, Rison wrote the four checks between June and December 1998 to pay for such things as a Rolex watch, diamond jewelry and a $40,000 gold necklace with the word "Dre," Rison's nickname. Rison was charged in Jackson County because the checks were drawn on a Jackson County bank and some of the merchandise was delivered to that area. The trial is scheduled for Sept. 25. Rison could not be reached for comment. Raiders officials declined to comment.

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