Texans' Boselli trying to block out injury bug

ON THE NFL

Pro Football

August 18, 2002|By Ken Murray

It seemed like a good idea at the time. When the Houston Texans selected left tackle Tony Boselli with their first pick in the expansion draft, they thought they were getting a five-time Pro Bowl player who would anchor their offensive line.

Instead, they got an expensive rehab project with a pedigree.

Boselli has had three surgeries on his left shoulder since November, two since the expansion draft in February. And no one knows when - or if - he will play for the Texans.

Speculation is rampant the seven-year veteran will retire before ever taking a snap with the team. He insists otherwise.

"I know the rumors are out there, but I plan on playing," Boselli said. "My dad called me the other night from Colorado and he said, `So, I hear you're retiring.' I told him, `I promise you, if I'm retiring, you'll hear it from me first.' It's just a rumor."

The Texans investigated Boselli's injury background before taking the risk and are convinced he has not suffered a career-ending injury. They owe him a base salary of $4 million this season, but could recoup it by cutting him.

"From Day One, our doctors said he was going to play, and he's going to play," said general manager Charley Casserly.

Compounding the problem for Houston is the groin injury suffered by right tackle Ryan Young, out for six to eight weeks. Young also was taken in the expansion draft, seemingly setting up a stout front line for rookie quarterback David Carr. Now, the Texans are scrambling. They've got two rookies and two career backups among their five starting linemen.

Through their first two preseason games, the Texans had no running game, but the starting offensive line had given up only one sack.

Practicing for December

Bill Callahan says he has taken a "cautious approach" to his first training camp as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Some observers, however, feel the Raiders have gone soft. Here's why:

Of their first 27 practices in camp, only eight were in full pads. Even in those eight, coaches told players to ease off the contact. And of those 27 practices, only one lasted its allotted time.

The Raiders have a roster of aging stars. Callahan wants to cut back on potential injuries and to avoid another late-season collapse like last year, when the Raiders lost four of their last six games and had to play in the wild-card round.

After a 20-6 preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys, former Ravens safety Rod Woodson admitted he was surprised by the pace of camp. "I personally would have done a little more live scrimmaging before that first game," he said. "Maybe one full, live scrimmage between the two's and three's [second- and third-stringers]. We went after each other pretty good my last three years in Baltimore."

Cash call

Despite last December's free fall by the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Aaron Brooks thinks he deserves a contract similar to the six-year, $39 million deal signed by Denver's Brian Griese in April 2001. He is due to make the four-year minimum of $450,000 this season. He's the third-lowest paid starter in the NFL, ahead of only New England's Tom Brady ($432,873) and Detroit's Mike McMahon ($337,666).

Brooks even makes less than the Saints' No. 2 quarterback, Jake Delhomme ($563,000) and the third-stringer, Jeff Lewis ($550,000). He ranks 35th on the Saints' payroll overall.

"I don't think they should have waited to renegotiate my contract," said Brooks, who skipped the first three days of camp in protest. "I don't accept that they had to get the others done first. I'd think they would want to keep me happy and show that they appreciate me, but they haven't done it."

Hint: Brooks threw seven touchdowns and 13 interceptions in a four-game losing streak that ended the Saints' playoff hopes last year.

They said it

"I'm not in my right mind. I can't believe I once practiced twice a day in this kind of heat. To voluntarily come out is pretty crazy." - Representative J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), former Oklahoma and Canadian Football League quarterback, after straining a hamstring running sprints and practicing briefly with the Washington Redskins.

"We will win the AFC West." - Former Denver and now Oakland linebacker Bill Romanowski.

"I'm only going to make one promise. We'll show up." - Broncos coach Mike Shanahan.

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