Linebacker says he'll be back by opener

Updated: August 10, 2004, 3:39 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Oakland Raiders: Linebacker Napoleon Harris will be sidelined for three to six weeks after tearing cartilage in his right knee during a training camp drill Monday.

Harris, who started 29 games in his first two NFL seasons, tore his lateral meniscus and is expected to undergo arthroscopic surgery Tuesday. Coach Norv Turner indicated that Harris could return for the club's season opener.

Harris, a first-round pick in 2002, was hurt during a scrimmage in the Raiders' first practice since returning from a day off Sunday. The team was not in full pads when Harris was injured. While Harris is sidelined, veteran Dwayne Rudd will replace him in Oakland's starting defense.

Miami Dolphins: Linebacker Zach Thomas practiced for the first time since training camp opened. Thomas, who led the Dolphins in tackles seven of the past eight seasons, had surgery a month ago to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.

Receiver Derrius Thompson, safety Chris Akins (leg) and cornerbacks Patrick Surtain (groin) and Sam Madison (hamstring) sat out practice.

Injured receiver David Boston had successful surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left knee, but he'll miss the entire season.

Philadelphia Eagles: Defensive end Jevon Kearse sprained his left knee but didn't consider the injury to be serious.

Kearse, who signed an eight-year, $66 million deal with the Eagles in March, was carted off the field after he hurt the same ankle he injured in Tennessee last season. X-rays were negative, and Kearse -- listed as day-to-day -- jogged to his car after speaking to reporters.

Kearse said he hopes to practice Tuesday and expects to play in Philadelphia's exhibition opener against New England on Friday night.

Meanwhile, backup QB Koy Detmer will not be available Friday because of an injury to his right knee that will require surgery on Tuesday. He is expected to miss about two weeks but should be ready for the start of the regular season.

Veteran quarterback Jeff Blake becomes Donovan McNabb's backup in the absence of Detmer, who had surgery on the same knee in June.

Dallas Cowboys: Keyshawn Johnson was late returning to the Cowboys camp in Oxnard, Calif., after some time off.

Coach Bill Parcells said Monday that only one player was late in returning, but wouldn't say who it was. Johnson confessed to reporters, just like he had to the coaches.

Johnson said he expected to be fined about $7,500. He said he didn't even try to sneak back into camp Sunday afternoon.

"No, I wouldn't do that. I called in, I knew I was going to be late," Johnson said.

Johnson was about 15 minutes late after spending the day in nearby Santa Barbara, where his kids took part in a basketball camp with Michael Jordan.

New York Jets: Brent Smith has danced around the offensive line so often, sometimes it is hard to figure out where he is on the field.

Smith came to the Jets as a tackle last season, but moved to right guard to fill the void left when Tom Nutten suddenly retired during training camp. Entering camp this year, Smith moved to left guard to fill the spot of another retiree, Dave Szott.

But less than two weeks into camp, Smith is back at right guard after the Jets signed veteran Pete Kendall. Now Smith has to earn his starting job back, competing with relative unknown Brandon Moore at that position.

"I don't think I've had a good camp so far," Smith said. "I've been on and off, not very consistent. I'm second team now, I just have to work hard to try to make the football team."

Jets injuries: Safeties Jon McGraw and Reggie Tongue, linebacker Eric Barton and wide receiver Santana Moss all sat out of practice with varying injuries.

Tongue, a free-agent acquisition slated to start, hurt his left calf on the second day of training camp. He doesn't know whether he will be able to play in the preseason opener against New Orleans on Friday.

Safety Jarell Weaver missed the afternoon practice with a groin injury. CB Ray Mickens hurt his right knee during the afternoon practice but is fine.

Chicago Bears: Weakened by the loss of starting CB Jerry Azumah, who will miss at least three months after neck surgery, the Bears late Sunday night signed three-year veteran Eric Kelly to bolster the position.

It is believed that Kelly, released by two teams this offseason, signed a one-year contract, likely for the league minimum.

Kelly was released by the Vikings in the spring after he became miffed at sliding down the depth chart and asked coach Mike Tice to cut him. He subsequently signed with Houston, but was released last Monday, after the Texans decided that they preferred to keep some of their younger cornerbacks.

There is a chance he will compete for playing time in Chicago at the nickel corner spot. Veteran R.W. McQuarters will move into Azumah's starting slot.

Kelly, 27, was a third-round choice from Kentucky in the 2001 draft and started in 23 games for Minnesota his first two seasons. But in 2003, with Minnesota coaches making alterations in the secondary, his role changed and he became a nickel defender and special teams player.

Despite playing in all 16 games in 2003, Kelly logged no starts.

He re-signed with the Vikings as a restricted free agent this spring, getting a one-year contract for the low-level qualifying offer. The beginning of the end came when Kelly complained that second-year pro Rushen Jones was moved ahead of him to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

In three seasons, Kelly appeared in 48 games. He totaled 143 tackles, three interceptions and nine passes defensed.
-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior writer

  • In other Bears news, the team signed six-year Arena Football League kicker Remy Hamilton and waived injured cornerback Josh Minkins.

    Hamilton was the AFL's leading scorer with 146 points as a member of the Los Angeles Avengers earlier this year. He set a team record with a 52-yard field goal July 6, 2002.

    A product of Michigan, Hamilton spent time in the Seahawks' camp last year after setting a career-high with 148 points with the Avengers in 2003.
    -- SportsTicker

    Jacksonville Jaguars: Wide receiver Jimmy Smith missed practice with a back injury that coach Jack Del Rio called "nothing major."

    Del Rio said the injury was "a back strain or ache."

    "It's kind of the aches and pains of training camp," Del Rio said.

    Also, the club waived place-kicker Seth Marler after he strained his quadriceps muscle several times during the first week of training camp.

    Del Rio said that if Marler clears waivers theJags would re-sign him and place him on injured reserve for the season.

    Marler was the regular kicker for the team last season, making 20-of-33 field goals.

    The injury leaves Jacksonville with Jeff Chandler and Josh Scobee competing for the job.

    Tennessee Titans: A second opinion confirmed that linebacker Peter Sirmon will need season-ending surgery to repair his injured left knee.

    Sirmon has been the starter for the Titans at left outside linebacker the past two seasons, and had a career-high 141 tackles last year. He hurt his knee during a non-contact drill a week ago while chasing a running back.

    Sirmon got a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, confirming that an operation is necessary to fix the torn anterior cruciate ligament.

    Coach Jeff Fisher said the Titans will search the waiver wire for a veteran linebacker. He said they are hoping Brad Kassell can return soon from a cut on his lower left leg, and the team drafted Rob Reynolds for more depth.

    Running back Chris Brown, who sat out a couple days because of a sore hamstring, returned to practice.

    Atlanta Falcons: Michael Vick will start in Atlanta's exhibition opener Thursday and play one series.

    Vick dressed but didn't participate in a scrimmage on Saturday at Tennessee. He strained his right hamstring while running in for a touchdown on Thursday, but was able to practiced twice on Monday.

    Atlanta coach Jim Mora tabbed Vick to start at Baltimore on Thursday and said rookie Matt Schaub -- a third-round pick from Virginia -- will replace him and play into the fourth quarter.

    Vick looked sharp Monday in throwing a 50-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to Peerless Price and later hit Dez White on a play-action pass over the middle that covered 43 yards. Both plays came in 5-on-5 drills.

    Vick also worked in goal-line situations, completing a 1-yard touchdown pass to fullback George Layne and running in for a score.

    Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

  • ALSO SEE