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Oilers Complete Training in San Antonio

August 15, 1996

The Houston Oilers completed what is expected to be their last training camp in San Antonio on Wednesday, and coach Jeff Fisher could not have been more pleased.

``If this was a game, I’d say we’re going into halftime with a touchdown lead,″ he said of the progress made in his second training camp at Trinity University and the team’s sixth.

The Oilers are expected to train in Tennessee next summer, possibly in Johnson City, with their eventual move to Nashville.

``We wanted to improve, stay healthy, have a good tempo and maintain our focus. For the most part we had that,″ Fisher said.

Houston begins single practices on Monday at their training facility after playing the Detroit Lions on Friday night in the Astrodome.

``Camp is not over, we’re just changing the scenery,″ Fisher said with 2 1/2 weeks before the Sept. 1 season opener with Kansas City. ``We’ll go into one-a-days and continue to install things. The intensity will go up because we’re working with less people.″

Fisher said the roster cut to 60 players by Tuesday will be much tougher than last year. ``That shows we’re improving,″ he said.

The only camp negative, he said, was not being able to schedule practices with other teams, a new trend in the NFL. He said attempts to line up workouts with the New York Jets and Lions around the exhibition games were unsuccessful.

``I think those type of practices really help you, and we’ll continue to work on them in the future,″ he said. ``By and large the uncertainty of where we’d be at hurt us as much as anything. Scrimmaging the (Dallas) Cowboys twice made up for part of that.″


Wide receiver Jerry Rice and defensive back Merton Hanks are expected to sign new contracts, but backup quarterback Elvis Grbac could be gone after this season.

49ers president Carmen Policy said Wednesday the likelihood of keeping Grbac when his contract expires at the end of this season is ``remote″ because he could be an NFL starter elsewhere and make considerably more money.

Grbac, in his fourth year, earns $375,000 a year.

Policy expects to complete Rice’s revised contract soon after Sunday’s preseason game at Jacksonville. Rice makes $2.1 million a year but will get a substantial raise ``guaranteeing his presence on the team and his retirement as a 49er.″

Hanks, a six-year veteran and All-Pro last season, is considered one of the best free safeties in the league. He makes $700,000 this year, and Policy hopes to sign him to a long-term pact.


Guard Kevin Sargent was placed on injured reserve with a herniated disc in his neck, which was successfully operated on Tuesday.

Sargent, a fifth-year player, will likely be out for the season. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound offensive lineman started 15 games each of the past two seasons.

Sargent, 27, complained of numbness and stiffness after an Aug. 3 exhibition game against Indianapolis. He later reported numbness and tingling down his left arm when he bent his head forward.


A brief burst of optimism faded Wednesday as running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka’s holdout stretched into its 26th day.

When the Panthers reopened negotiations with Biakabutuka on Tuesday, team president Mike McCormack expressed hope that the latest attempt to sign their top draft choice from Michigan would lead to a quick resolution.

But by Wednesday afternoon, McCormack didn’t seem nearly as upbeat.

``There’s nothing new to report, nothing to talk about,″ he said.

Biakabutuka rejected a seven-year, $12.5-million contract that includes a signing bonus of more than $5 million. He was expected to help a team that finished 20th in rushing in the 30-team NFL last season.


Defensive end Reggie White’s agent confirmed to the Oshkosh Northwestern on Tuesday that discussions between his client and the Packers about a contract extension have broken off until after the season. He said White wanted to focus on the coming season without distractions.

White is in the final year of a four-year, $17 million deal he signed as a free agent in 1993.

``What this says is he’s one step closer to free agency,″ agent Jimmy Sexton told the newspaper. ``I can’t put odds on if he’ll stay or leave.

``His experience in Green Bay has been very positive. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. All they’re doing is taking a chance.″


Coach Wayne Fontes announced 11 cuts after Wednesday morning’s practice, leaving the Lions’ roster with 67 players heading into Friday night’s preseason game at Houston.

Players released were running back Ed Davis, offensive linemen Ryan Grigson and Barry Stokes, defensive linemen Troy Bailey and James Baron, receivers Desmond Bellot and Michael London, tight end Dan Latore, linebacker Mark Byers, placekicker Gene Adair and punter David Wing.

All but Grigson, a second-year player, were undrafted rookie free agents.

Quarterback Don Majkowski (ankle), wideouts Brett Perriman (knee) and Johnny Morton (bruised right quadriceps), and linebackers Michael Brooks (knee) and Reggie Brown (thigh) won’t play at Houston.