NFL NOTEBOOK

NFL NOTEBOOK

OSTERHOLT

No rest for weary McNair

From news services

The Titans hoped to rest banged-up quarterback Steve McNair this week. Billy Volek’s lacerated spleen put an end to those plans.

McNair is nursing an injured ankle and right calf, but because Tennessee has yet to secure a playoff spot, he might be called upon against Houston on Sunday.

That’s because Volek, a little-known backup, is out for the season after being hurt Sunday while leading the Titans to a 28-26 victory over the Bills.

That leaves rookie Jason Gesser, signed as an undrafted free agent, as the only healthy option. Gesser has yet to play a down in the NFL.

So it looks as if the Titans (10-4) will turn to McNair, one of the NFL’s most durable quarterbacks. He played with injuries often during a streak of 43 straight starts that ended last week.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said it was too early Tuesday to say if McNair would start Sunday. But he said his star quarterback was willing, if not altogether healthy.

“The fact of the matter is Steve was ready last week, and he was wanting to play,” Fisher said.

McNair received three hours of treatment Tuesday and was no longer wearing a protective boot on his left ankle.

Meanwhile, the Titans were negotiating with former backup quarterback Neil O’Donnell, a 13-year veteran who was cut after training camp but still has a home in Nashville.

Horn to get $30,000 fine

Saints receiver Joe Horn was fined $30,000 by the NFL for making a choreographed cell-phone call in the end zone.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the amount of the fine. Horn’s agent, Ralph Vitolo, said the player will appeal.

“Fining him is one thing, but to me that’s very excessive. This is not a murder case,” Vitolo said.

Return specialist Michael Lewis was fined $5,000 for helping orchestrate the stunt, and Horn told Vitolo that he would pay that fine.

Also Tuesday, Bengals receiver Chad Johnson was fined $10,000 by the NFL for retrieving a sign from behind a snowdrift and holding it up after a 10-yard touchdown catch Sunday. Johnson’s sign read: “Dear NFL: Please don’t fine me again.”

Wannstedt deflects questions

Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt flipped through the play-by-play on his way home early Tuesday morning, reliving every down and trying to figure out what went wrong.

He found plenty. Missed tackles, costly penalties and dropped passes were mostly to blame for Monday night’s 34-27 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The loss was Miami’s second in a row, leaving the Dolphins on the verge of missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season and saddling them with constant questions about Wannstedt’s uncertain future.

“I’m not really concerned about it,” Wannstedt said Tuesday. “I’m just concerned about this game. And that’s what the players are concerned about, and the coaches and everybody in this building. There’s not enough time to get caught up in all that stuff.”

The Dolphins (8-6) could miss the playoffs even if they win their final two games against Buffalo and the New York Jets. They need Denver (9-5) to lose at Indianapolis and at Green Bay to have a chance at making the postseason. If not, Wannstedt’s job could be in jeopardy.

“Take me out of the equation,” Wannstedt said. “We’re worried about winning these next two games to get into the playoffs. That’s the only equation. And that’s the only thought process for me, the coaches and the players.”

Around the league

[] Jets:

Receiver Wayne Chrebet still has headaches after going on injured reserve last month with postconcussion syndrome, and doesn’t know whether he will play next season. Chrebet sustained a concussion against the New York Giants on Nov. 2 and was placed on injured reserve 10 days later. He started feeling better a few weeks ago, but has occasional headaches. The nine-year veteran hopes to be ready for training camp in 2004, but has not made any decisions about his future. . . . Vinny Testaverde reiterated that he wants to return to the Jets next season as the backup quarterback. Even though the Jets are grooming Brooks Bollinger to eventually be No. 2, Testaverde said he would not accept becoming a third-stringer.

[] Pro Bowl:

Steve McNair led all players in fan voting for the Pro Bowl after being ignored last season, when the Titans were shut out of the league’s all-star game. The quarterback received 896,189 votes in the Internet vote followed by Kansas City running back Priest Holmes and Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning. Wide receiver Randy Moss of Minnesota was fourth and tight end Tony Gonzalez of Kansas City was fifth.

[] Giants:

New York placed cornerback Ralph Brown on injured reserve with a dislocated shoulder. To take his place, New York signed cornerback Ray Green.

[] Vikings:

Minnesota signed punter Leo Araguz, but decided to keep rookie Eddie Johnson on the roster despite his recent struggles. Defensive lineman Cedric Killings was released.

[] Miscellany:

Sirius satellite radio will broadcast NFL games for the next seven years under a $220 million agreement.

Copyright Copley Press Inc. 2003

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