Carolina and Jacksonville lose quarterbacks to injuries
For two years, the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars were leading charmed lives, going from fledgling franchises to conference runners-up.
Now, for the first time, both teams will have to deal with real adversity, as quarterbacks Kerry Collins of Carolina and Mark Brunell of Jacksonville were both seriously injured in exhibition games Saturday night.
Brunell, who led the NFL in passing yards (4,367) and rushing yards for a quarterback (396), injured his right knee when he was hit by the Giants’ Jessie Armstead in the second quarter of Jacksonville’s 38-16 victory.
An MRI test Sunday revealed damage to the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament _ although the extent of the injury remains unclear.
Once the swelling goes down, Brunell will have an arthroscopic procedure at the end of the week at the earliest to further assess the injury.
``We remain hopeful that the damage is not too extensive to the ACL and Mark could return at some point,″ coach Tom Coughlin said at a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
Collins suffered a broken jaw on a vicious hit to the head by Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski, during the second quarter of a 23-13 lose. He underwent surgery on Sunday and will miss up to six weeks.
``We were in a similar position last year,″ Carolina coach Dom Capers said Sunday about Collins’ injury, ``and Steve (Beuerlein) did a very capable job for us. He is a player who has played well in big games, not only for us but throughout his career.″
Beuerlein, an 11-year veteran, was 3-1 as a starter in 1996 when Collins went down with several injuries.
Brunell, who signed a five-year, $31.5 million contract two weeks ago, was replaced by Rob Johnson, who has thrown seven regular-season passes in two seasons.
Johnson looked sharp, going 5-for-7 for 170 yards and two touchdowns, including a 60-yarder to Jimmy Smith right after Brunell went down.
``In times of a crisis, we have to stand up together,″ Coughlin said. ``We have a good football team. There’s a lot to be accomplished here. We won’t feel sorry for ourselves.″
John Elway threw Sunday for the first time since rupturing his right biceps tendon, and not only did he say it felt good, but the quarterback added, ``there’s probably a chance″ he would play for the Denver Broncos next Sunday in their exhibition game at New England.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection, who is in his 15th season with the Broncos, said he threw 50 to 60 passes to wide receiver Patrick Jeffers.
Jeffers said, ``I couldn’t believe how well he was throwing. I came out of it with hands all red. He’s throwing with the same velocity he always has. He was gunning it.″
Elway injured the tendon in last week’s exhibition loss to Miami at Mexico City.
Deion Sanders has a bulging disc in his lower back that required a cortisone injection and kept him out of the Cincinnati Reds’ lineup Sunday.
Sanders is expected back in the lineup on Monday night in San Francisco. The injury will not interfere with his plans to play cornerback for Dallas this season.
``It’s fine,″ Sanders said after the Reds’ 8-1 loss to the Phillies. ``It’s just a little sore today from the shot. I should be all right to play (Monday).″
Said Cowboys head trainer Jim Maurer: ``They’ve informed us of the injury and are keeping us apprised of the situation. I defer any medical questions to the Reds’ medical staff.″
Former Indiana quarterback John Paci was among five players waived by New York on Sunday.
Paci spent most of last season on the Jets developmental squad, but was activated at the end of the season due to injuries to Neil O’Donnell and Glenn Foley. He was competing with Foley and rookie Chuck Clements to be one of O’Donnell’s backups.
Running back Ezra Johnson, safety Duane Butler, defensive end Terry Grooms and punter Monty Key were the other players released.
Three players were cut Sunday, including fourth-year defensive back Jocelyn Borgella, who was signed as a free agent from Detroit in March.
Rookie free agents fullback Darrell Medley of Virginia and wide receiver Geroy Simon of Maryland also were waived.