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Around the AFC

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2000

JAGUARS: Pro Bowl defensive end Tony Brackens signed a six-year contract Friday that could be worth up to $40-million with incentives.

"I can go home, get ready, get everything out of my mind, clean slate, and try to win football games for the organization," Brackens said.

The base deal is worth $38.3-million -- an average of $6.4-million per year. Brackens had 12 sacks last year and made his first Pro Bowl.... First-round draft pick R. Jay Soward is expected to miss the season opener after spraining his left ankle Thursday against Atlanta.

"I'm not going to say how long, but I'd say he's very, very doubtful for this week," coach Tom Coughlin said.

The receiver from Southern Cal sustained a high ankle sprain on the second-to-last play. The injury normally takes at least three weeks to heal. Soward had sewn up the third receiver's spot, ahead of Reggie Barlow and Alvis Whitted.

Jacksonville will likely be missing running back Fred Taylor and center John Wade for the opener against Cleveland. Right tackle Leon Searcy and safety Carnell Lake are out long-term.

Left tackle Tony Boselli says he hopes to play on his rehabilitated knee. He saw his first action of the preseason Thursday, playing the first 10 offensive snaps. ... Senior vice president Michael Huyghue said training camp is too long and wants teams to be able to exceed the salary cap to replace injured players.

PATRIOTS: Guard Todd Rucci, who is recuperating from knee surgery, was placed on the non-football injury list. The designation gives the team six weeks to decide whether to place Rucci on the active roster or on injured reserve for the season. ... Coach Bill Belichick said he will likely make roster cuts Sunday, just before the 4 p.m. deadline. Belichick will also have to get a few players through waivers so he can put together a five-man practice squad.

TITANS: Simple circumstance threw Kevin Dyson and Mike Jones together, and together they'll remain forever.

Since they fell into history together in January, tangling on the turf of the Georgia Dome on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV, Dyson and Jones have been inextricably linked.

Jones, the game-saving tackler of the Rams, and Dyson, the wide receiver who fell just short, have been made to re-live that play so many times that they have become numb to it.

"They still have the Lombardi Trophy, and we're still the AFC champs," Dyson said. "If it was the other way around, maybe I'd be glad to talk about it."

The play has become bigger for Dyson than the 75-yard lateral-for-touchdown return he ran in with 16 seconds left to beat the Bills in the first round of the playoffs. It has become so big, in fact, Dyson wonders if it could be the most memorable play of his career.

"Right now, I'm just hoping to get back there again," Dyson said, "and, hopefully, wash those other plays out."

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