Garrard needs surgery for intestinal disease

Updated: May 20, 2004, 7:30 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Jacksonville Jaguars: Third-year veteran David Garrard, the promising young Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback who drew trade inquiries earlier this offseason, will undergo surgery next week to treat a recently diagnosed intestinal disease that has slowed him for the last couple months.

Garrard is battling Crohn's Disease, a chronic and incurable disorder that is marked by inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal tract, and which often leaves victims in severe pain. While surgery will not cure Crohn's Disease, it often alleviates at least some of the symptoms, and grants patients a degree of relief and normalcy.

The Jaguars' No. 2 quarterback, who was hospitalized last weekend because of severe pain, will have the surgery next Thursday and the rehabilitation period is expected to be about six weeks. Garrard and team officials are confident the youngster will be ready for training camp in late July, but that remains to be seen.

Ray Pinney, a Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman in the 1970s, battled the disease but recovered sufficiently to enjoy a relatively long and productive career. The surgery that Garrard has scheduled will remove the diseased area where the intestines meet the colon.

"The best thing is for me to go ahead and have the surgery, to remove the sick area, and be done with it," Garrard told the Florida Times-Union. "There shouldn't be any problems. I could have lived with it if I was a normal person."

A fourth-round draft choice in 2002, Garrard remains penciled in as the No. 2 guy on the depth chart, behind starter Byron Leftwich, but the Jaguars recently signed unrestricted free agent Doug Johnson, formerly of Atlanta, to bolster the position.

Garrard, 26, is viewed as a young player with an intriguing upside. He has played in just six games in two seasons, with one start, and has completed 32 of 58 passes for 317 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.

New England Patriots: New England wide receiver Bethel Johnson, who as a rookie in 2003 led the AFC in kickoff return average, will be sidelined for an indefinite period following surgery earlier this week to treat a chronic intestinal problem that has plagued him since college.

The team's second-round pick in 2003, Johnson missed considerable time during his tenure at Texas A&M because of the problem. He endured multiple surgeries including an operation in which his spleen was removed. Sources close to Johnson said that, while he will miss much of the Patriots' offseason conditioning program, he should be ready for the beginning of training camp.

One of the league's fastest players, Johnson averaged 28.2 yards on kickoff returns as a rookie and had one runback for a touchdown.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seattle Seahawks have hired veteran NFL front office executive Jay Nienkark to oversee the team's salary cap.

Nienkark, 40, was fired by the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago in a modest shakeup of the team's front office. He had been with the Cardinals for 12 years and that included seven seasons in which he managed the Arizona salary cap. As was the case in Arizona, he will be involved in Seattle with some contract negotiations.

Seattle has been without a cap manager since Mike Reinfeldt resigned three months ago. Other Seahawks officials have handled negotiations and cap chores since his departure.

Carolina Panthers: Restricted free agent safety Travares Tillman, who played in seven games for Carolina in 2003, has re-signed with the NFC champions.

The three-year veteran, claimed on waivers by the Panthers last September after he was released by the Houston Texans, signed a one-year, $628,000 contract. The deal is equal to the amount of the restricted free agent qualifying offer the Panthers made to Tillman in March to retain a right of first refusal.

A former Georgia Tech star, Tillman entered the NFL as the second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in the 2000 draft. He was released by the Bills, however, after two seasons and was out of the NFL in 2002. With the Panthers last season, Tillman played mostly on special teams and had four tackles on the kickoff and punt coverage units.

For his career, Tillman has 55 tackles, one interception, five passes defensed and a forced fumble. He has appeared in 35 games and started 10 of them.

Tennessee Titans: The Titans got a glimpse Thursday of what they missed for most of the 2003 season: Joe Nedney kicking the ball deep.

Nedney tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his non-kicking right knee in the season opener last year while making a tackle. Having been through such an injury before, he chose season-ending surgery to repair his leg.

The Titans' doctor cleared him after a physical Monday, and coach Jeff Fisher held him out of Tuesday's organized workout as a precaution before letting him kick away Thursday.

"We saw everything that we missed last year from him -- the distance and the height and the quickness and the leg strength," Fisher said. "He is obviously back, and it's nice to have him back."

--Associated Press

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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