Pregame will tell the story for Nutten

Updated: January 5, 2005, 8:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

St. Louis Rams: Before practice Wednesday, Rams coach Mike Martz said offensive guard Tom Nutten probably wouldn't play Sunday in the playoff opener against in Seattle after spraining his left knee in the season finale.

After practice, even though Nutten was listed as doubtful, the coach was a lot more optimistic. Martz said Nutten would practice Thursday.

"He may play this week," Martz said. "There's a chance. I was very, very surprised."

Nutten has started six of the last seven games at left guard. He was injured in the second half and Martz said if pressed earlier in the week he would have assumed Nutten would have been out for several weeks.

"If he goes out in pregame and practices well, he'll play," Martz said. "He's got too much experience and he's too good of a player."

NFL sets attendance mark again: The NFL went over the 17 million mark in attendance for the first time during the 2004 regular season, setting a record for the second year in a row.

The league sold 17,000,811 tickets, 90 percent of capacity.

The average attendance this season was a record 66,409, breaking last year's record of 66,328.

Denver Broncos: Never one to hold back, Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said Wednesday that Denver plans "to go raise mortal hell" with the Indianapolis offense this weekend.

In an animated interview, Coyer acknowledged the huge challenge the Colts present, but said nobody on the Broncos was surrendering.

His most fiery comments came in answer to questions about Broncos rookie Roc Alexander, who has been forced into a nickel back role in the secondary and will have to cover one of Indianapolis' three 1,000-yard receivers.

"It's tough for everybody," Coyer said. "It's competitive. These are good players. But the thought process can't be that way. They are what they are. We are what we are. And we've got to go raise hell and see who wins. We're going to go raise mortal hell and we'll find out."

Cincinnati Bengals: Rudi Johnson's agent Peter Schaffer met with team officials on Tuesday afternoon, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

"It's clear the Bengals understand Rudi's significance to the team, the franchise, the community," Schaffer told the paper Tuesday night. "The question now is whether we can reach an agreement on a suitable number before the start of free agency."

The two sides "exchanged concepts and thoughts as to the market for running backs, where it is, where it is going," Schaffer said. "We exchanged thoughts as to Rudi's value to the franchise."

Johnson set the franchise single-season rushing record Sunday at Philadelphia with 1,454 yards.

He can become an unrestricted free agent March 2. Contracts will expire March 1.

Washington Redskins: Sean Taylor's drunken driving charge was dismissed Wednesday, but the Washington Redskins safety was convicted of refusing to take a blood alcohol test.

Fairfax County General District Judge Mitchell Mutnick tossed out the drunken driving charge after viewing a videotape that showed Taylor performing a variety of field sobriety tests after he was stopped by police.

"I've seen a whole lot worse,'' Mutnick said. "I don't believe the evidence was sufficient.''

On the tape, Taylor performed tasks such as touching the tip of a pencil and walking in a straight line, but struggled with other tasks, including standing on one leg and reciting parts of the alphabet.

Taylor was arrested Oct. 28 after the trooper said he spotted Taylor's Mercedes going 82 mph. Taylor had attended a birthday party for teammate Rod Gardner at a Washington area nightclub.

Several Redskins, including Laveranues Coles, Fred Smoot and Clinton Portis were in court to testify on Taylor's behalf, but only Coles took the stand.

Taylor faces a mandatory 12-month license suspension, but that penalty was delayed pending an appeal set for March 10.

Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield pleaded no contest Wednesday to a felony charge of driving under the influence.

The charge was a felony because Warfield, 28, has two prior DUI convictions. A plea agreement with Johnson County prosecutors calls for him to serve 10 days in jail and 80 days of house arrest and pay a $1,500 fine.

In exchange for the no-contest plea, prosecutors dropped misdemeanor counts of driving with a suspended license and having no proof of insurance. Formal sentencing was set for March 3.

New England Patriots: Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is being sued by a contractor, claiming that Weis has refused to pay him the full amount for a Rhode Island home he built for the coach's family in 2000, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The contractor claims Weis refused to pay more than $161,000 that he still owes for the $373,000 house built in Cumberland, R.I.

Weis, who is completing his job as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, agreed to a six-year deal that will pay him a reported $2 million per year at Notre Dame.

Benoit said in court papers that he fears that the Weis family will sell the house and leave for his new job at Notre Dame without paying for the house.

Weis declined to comment through a team spokesman.

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