Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Carlson will make his first NFL start today against the Chicago Bears, replacing the injured Vinny Testaverde.
Coach Richard Williamson said yesterday that Testaverde, who strained lower back muscles this week and did not practice, isn't ready to play against the Bears.
Carlson, a second-year pro, has played in two games this season. He has completed 23 of 47 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown. He's also thrown three interceptions and been sacked seven times.
* SAINTS: Injured starting quarterback Bobby Hebert might be ready to play Monday night against the Raiders, coach Jim Mora said.
Hebert has missed all or part of the Saints' past seven games because of a sprained right shoulder and a bruised rotator cuff. With Hebert out, the Saints have gone 3-4 behind backup Steve Walsh and have lost four straight.
* JETS: Place-kicker Pat Leahy, who has a sore right hip and hamstring, won't know until tomorrow whether he can play.
Punter Louie Aguiar, who made a 51-yarder last month that was nullified by a penalty, is the emergency backup.
* PATRIOTS: A Suffolk (Mass.) Superior Court jury awarded a Wakefield man $3.25 million plus interest for injuries received in a bizarre accident six years ago.
Jon B. Pallazola, 32, received severe electrical burns from a torn-down goal post that touched a live wire outside Foxboro Stadium on Dec. 22, 1985. Fans had carried the post out of the stadium in a celebration of the Patriots' 34-23 victory over the Bengals that clinched a playoff spot for New England.
Pallazola never regained the use of his left arm. His lawsuit claimed that Wackenhut Security and the town of Foxboro, which provided security for the game, were negligent in allowing fans to rip out the goal post.
* COWBOYS: For a second consecutive day, quarterback Troy Aikman watched practice in street clothes.
Not to worry, though, say he and coach Jimmy Johnson. His status as an emergency backup to Steve Beuerlein has not changed.
"Troy's knee feels good, best it's felt," Johnson said. "We just didn't want to aggravate it."
* GIANTS: Will the Super Bowl champions be psyched up to play the Redskins tomorrow?
"When they know their season is over, they say, 'Let's go out and spoil somebody else's season,' " said Washington defensive end Fred Stokes. "It would probably make their season to go out and rip us up. You don't give up just because you're not in the playoffs."
Giants coach Ray Handley isn't so sure.
"Am I concerned? Yes," Handley said. "I don't know how the team will respond at this juncture."