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NFL briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000

McCaffrey a game-time decision DENVER -- Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey was downgraded from probable to questionable for today's game against the Falcons.

McCaffrey did not practice Thursday because of a groin injury. His status was changed Saturday because coach Mike Shanahan said he will not decide whether McCaffrey will play until game time, team spokesman Jim Saccomano said.

Robert Brooks is likely to start if McCaffrey does not play.

Saccomano said it was unclear whether McCaffrey injured his groin in Denver's season-opening 41-36 loss to St. Louis or in a subsequent practice.

The Broncos' injury woes worsened as tight end Billy Miller was added to the inactive list. He joined linebacker Al Wilson, offensive tackle Cooper Carlisle and defensive tackle Jerry Johnson, all placed on the list Friday.

Running back Olandis Gary was placed on injured reserve Friday. Gary, Terrell Davis' backup, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Monday night, ending his season.

Davis, hobbled by a sprained left ankle, was confined to individual drills in a limited workout Friday. Shanahan said his availability also would not be determined until just before game time.

The Broncos said they have signed running back KaRon Coleman to the active roster from the practice squad.

CHARGERS: Veteran defensive end Neil Smith practiced Thursday for the first time with his new team. He will wear No. 91 and could see between 10 and 20 plays today, coach Mike Riley said.

"It obviously brings us some clout," said linebacker Junior Seau, who lobbied to add Smith. "We're hoping we can get him out there to sack some quarterbacks in the AFC West."

GIANTS: The team's hopes of slowing Philadelphia's Duce Staley today will be hampered by the absence of strong safety Sam Garnes, who received a concussion late in last week's game.

Lyle West will start at safety. But Shaun Williams probably will take more of Garnes' run-stopping responsibilities because of his size.

"Lyle made dramatic strides this preseason," coach Jim Fassel said. "One reason is he is more confident, he has become more responsible. Last year he never said a word, but now he's communicating a lot more, too."

PATRIOTS: Hoping to improve its maligned offensive line, New England signed free-agent guard Joe Andruzzi.

The fourth-year lineman originally was signed by Green Bay in 1997 as a free agent out of Southern Connecticut State.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Andruzzi spent the entire 1997 season on the inactive list, but earned All-NFL Europe honors with the Scottish Claymores in 1998.

He played in 15 games for the Packers later the same year, and played in eight games last season before a season-ending knee injury. Andruzzi, 25, had successful surgery on the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in December, and was released by the Packers last month.

The Patriots allowed six sacks in a season-opening 21-16 loss to the Bucs.

To make room on the roster, the Patriots waived tight end Chris Fontenot.

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