McCargo has herniated disc, goes back to Bills

Updated: October 16, 2008, 2:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- Defensive tackle John McCargo wanted a fresh start.

He'll have to go somewhere other than Indianapolis to get it.

John McCargo

McCargo

McCargo failed his physical, voiding the trade that sent him from Buffalo to the Colts and sending his rights back to the Bills, Colts spokesman Craig Kelley confirmed Wednesday night. The Buffalo News, citing two league sources, reported on its Web site that the Colts found a bulging disc in his back, a detail Kelley could not confirm.

Buffalo Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold, in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Tuesday night, said: "It is our understanding that John did not pass the physical administered by the Colts and so he remains with the Buffalo Bills."

It was a stark contrast to the way Wednesday started, with Colts coach Tony Dungy embracing the addition of McCargo and talking about how a new system may be just what McCargo needed to jump-start his NFL career.

"He was a guy we had good grades on [coming out of college], and he happened to be available," Dungy said earlier Wednesday. "It's an area we could use some help. If he was playing great for them, obviously, we wouldn't have him now. But we think he can fit well into this system, and we're hoping a change of scenery is good for him."

McCargo arrived in Indianapolis on Wednesday morning, one day after the Bills dealt him to the Colts for an undisclosed draft pick. He did not practice.

McCargo's agent, Hadley Engelhard, did not respond to a phone message left by the AP.

In an interview late in the afternoon, McCargo acknowledged he was waiting to take a physical and said he was eager to show he could succeed in a new defensive system.

While he showed no real concerns about passing the exam, the former first-round draft pick does have a history of foot problems. He broke his left foot in college, then again in his rookie season and doctors had to re-break it during his rehabilitation process in the spring of 2007.

"We've just got to see how this physical thing goes," McCargo said. "Or how this physical thing is going to go. So I'm just waiting on them."

The collapse of the deal creates an awkward situation for all three parties.

Indianapolis had already waived defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey, and Dungy said Wednesday the team was looking for an upgrade at defensive tackle. Indy had already allowed four running backs to top 100 yards this season and ranks 29th in the league against the run.

Meanwhile, in Buffalo, Bills coach Dick Jauron was asked Wednesday afternoon whether he considered McCargo a disappointment.

"There's certainly no benefit in me talking about it further than that to say I thought it was in our best interest and his, and we'll let it go," Jauron said. "We'll wish him the very best. He's with what we'd like to think is another good organization and a good football team."

McCargo wasn't much more forgiving.

"I think it's a better situation than what I was in," he said.

Clearly, McCargo struggled in Buffalo.

In 25 games with the Bills, he had only 2 sacks, one forced fumble and never cracked the starting lineup. The Bills expected far more from the North Carolina State alum when they swung a draft-day trade with Chicago to move back into the first round and selected him 26th overall in 2006.

He missed 11 games as a rookie and never quite fit in with the Bills, so the Bills were content to trade him.

"I think it's pretty simple," Jauron said before word of the failed physical broke. "We thought it was in our best interest as a football team, and we actually thought it was in John's best interest, too. We made the deal, and we move on from there."

ESPN.com senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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