Ragone, Palmer, team to cheer up paralyzed player

Updated: October 2, 2003, 1:38 PM ET

HOUSTON -- The brutality of football has hit close to home for Texans backup quarterback Dave Ragone.

Ragone, a rookie who figures to play little if at all this season, teamed with offensive coordinator Chris Palmer to sign a ball and send it to Mark Tupa, a freshman player at St. Ignatius High School who was paralyzed in a head-to-head hit during a game Sept. 11.

"We're going to give him a call in a week or so," said Ragone, who starred at St. Ignatius. "Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed. We're hoping for the best. There is a chance he might walk again. Anything we can do to raise his spirits, we'll do. We'll keep him in our prayers."

Palmer got involved because he coached the Browns when the franchise was restored to Cleveland.

If Tupa's name is familiar, it should be. His uncle is former Ohio State star and longtime NFL punter Tom Tupa, who currently kicks for Tampa Bay.

"I felt honored to do it, and Coach Palmer felt the same way," Ragone said. "It puts it all in perspective. It's the scary part of the game. Every time you go out there you take that risk."


GLENN OUT?: Several Texans suffered a variety of minor injuries during the Texans' 24-20 victory against Jacksonville last season, but the first quarter groin strain incurred by Pro Bowl Aaron Glenn appears to be the most serious.

Coach Dom Capers declined to guess how long Glenn would be out, but some players were discouraged by the news that Glenn will be missing some time.

"With strained groins you just don't know how fast they're going to come back," Capers said. "We won't know anything this week. We'll see where he is next week, but with a strained groin for a corner, you're going to be cautious with it."

Will he be ready for Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 12, the Texans' next game?

"I would not rule him out at this point in time," Capers said. "If he were playing this weekend, I would rule him out. Some (groin injuries) heal faster than others, and some of them linger."


RUNNING MEN: Stacey Mack came into the season as the unquestioned starter at running back. As the Texans evaluate themselves during the bye week, that could change.

Rookie Domanick Davis, a fourth-round draft choice out of Louisiana State, was on the field and very involved in the Texans' final 41-yard drive to beat the Jaguars last Sunday. Mack was on the bench and another rookie, Tony Hollings, was made inactive for the game.

Capers is pleased with Davis' 112 yards on 28 carries in three games this season despite missing almost all of August with a broken right hand. His average of four yards per carry is superior to Mack's 2.9 average.

"He's very talented athletically, he has an excellent work ethic and I think he's very serious about his job," Capers said. "I think that's enabled him to improve, and I think we've seen his improvement every week. Through the first quarter of the season he's made a major impact on our football team."

When asked if Davis might start the next game at Tennessee, Capers didn't commit to any of the backs.

"We feel like we have some young talent there, so it's going to be an ongoing process in terms of running back," Capers said. "You're going to play the guy with a hot hand and see how things go."


CAPERS' KEEPSAKE: When owner Bob McNair insisted Capers accept the game ball last Sunday for calling the make-or-break David Carr dive that gave the victory against Jacksonville, Capers followed his boss's order.

"I gave it to the equipment manager so I could get it painted up," Capers said. "I'll be putting that one on my mantel. You always remember those calls that work, because you certainly hear enough about the ones that don't work.

Capers, whose job it usually is to distribute game balls, said the scene Sunday where McNair interrupted Capers' postgame press conference to make the announcement was a first for him in two decades of professional football.

"I certainly appreciate it," Capers said. "I think everyone here knows what kind of respect I have for Mr. McNair, so that means a lot."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index