Plus, Pro Bowler Woodson waiting on MRI
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Starting left guard Frank Middleton and rookie receiver Carlos Francis have been lost for the remainder of the Oakland Raiders' season because of injuries that will require surgery.
In addition, four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson was having an MRI exam Monday for a hip pointer and his status was uncertain.
Middleton, an eight-year veteran who turned 30 Monday, was carted off the field midway through the first quarter of Sunday's 31-26 loss to the Saints with a torn left quadriceps muscle. Guard Brad Badger blocked a New Orleans player into him, causing 6-foot-3, 330-pound Middleton to fall awkwardly with most of his weight on his left leg.
Middleton tore his right quadriceps last season and finished the year on injured reserve. He may have played his final game for the Raiders, given that he always feels his roster spot is in danger and said during the summer he figured to be cut during training camp. Middleton, one of the team's unofficial spokesmen, restructured his contract before this season.
Francis tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee when he fumbled a fourth-quarter kickoff and was pulled down from behind by New Orleans cornerback Jason Craft. The fumble was recovered by Colby Bockwoldt, who ran it 6 yards into the end zone for what turned out to be the deciding score.
"He's a young player," coach Norv Turner said. "I think you learn by going through things like that. Unfortunately, the injury is a significant one. It's one guys come back from and play. He'll recover and we'll get him started again when he's able to go."
Defensive tackle Ted Washington has bruised ribs, but Turner was optimistic he might be able to play Sunday at San Diego.
"We'll see how he goes through the week, but he hopefully will be able to participate late in the week and be able to play," Turner said.
If Ron Stone, who has been nursing a left knee strain, is healthy enough to go this week, he would play right guard, moving Badger into the left guard spot to replace Middleton.
Stone ran Monday, but he hasn't played in Oakland's past three games.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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