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IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Quarterback Injuries Rule the Day

September 07, 1998

Sunday was a bad day for two groups of people: those poor souls who had to stay home with loved ones to watch Jerry Lewis' annual Labor Day telethon, and NFL quarterbacks.

So, as the telethon enters its' 853rd hour, cast your eyes away from the television and take a moment to reflect upon these injuries. And remember our phone lines are still open, so keep those calls coming.

* New Orleans Saint quarterback Billy Joe Hobert tore his right Achilles' tendon in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 24-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. Hobert was injured with 14:20 to go and the Saints leading, 24-14, when his leg caught on the artificial turf. Hobert, who was replaced by Danny Wuerffel, is out for the season.

* Rob Johnson, making his first start for Buffalo, was knocked out of Sunday's 16-14 loss to San Diego on the Bills' first play of the second half. Johnson suffered a concussion just after he released a pass to Andre Reed, which was incomplete. Johnson was replaced by Doug Flutie.

* Tennessee Oiler quarterback Steve McNair injured his right elbow late in the first half of a 23-14 victory over Cincinnati. X-rays at halftime showed no break. McNair was replaced by the ancient Dave Krieg, who recently celebrated his 91st birthday.

* Baltimore Raven quarterback Jim Harbaugh broke the ring finger on his right hand and was removed from the 20-13 loss to Pittsburgh in the second quarter. Harbaugh suffered the injury by falling on his hand after being pressured by a Pittsburgh lineman, and he was replaced by Eric Zeier.

* Washington quarterback Gus Frerotte went out of the 31-24 loss to the New York Giants early in the second half after spraining his left shoulder. Frerotte was injured while being blocked by Giant cornerback Phillippi Sparks near the goal line on an interception return for a touchdown by Conrad Hamilton on the Redskins' first play of the half. Frerotte returned on the next series and his pass was intercepted by end Michael Strahan, who returned it 24 yards for another touchdown. On the Redskins' next series, Frerotte was sacked by Keith Hamilton and Chad Bratzke. With veteran Jeff Hostetler sidelined because of a knee injury, Trent Green took over at quarterback.

* Trent Dilfer was Tampa Bay's lone bright spot in a 31-7 loss at Minnesota until he went out late game because of a bruised thigh. He was replaced by Steve Walsh.

* Kansas City's Elvis Grbac sustained a bruised right shoulder on the last play of the first half of a 28-8 victory over Oakland. He was replaced by Rich Gannon.

RAVEN FANS FLOCK TO NEW STADIUM

Bill Daywalt went to the Baltimore Ravens' attended two August exhibition games at the new stadium at Camden Yards.

Sunday's regular-season opener between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, however, might as well have been his first look at the $223-million facility.

"This is the real thing," Daywalt, 42, said. "They can't take this away."

Before heading to their end zone seats, Daywalt and son Billy, 12, paid $70 for seven cellophane-wrapped commemorative programs.

The new stadium, officially named Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards, seats 68,400 fans, features a video-game arcade for kids and an area that has velcro-covered walls. Fans can pay $1 to run, jump off a mini-trampoline and stick to the wall.

You can fill in your own Raven receivers-velcro hands joke here.

WE'RE KEEPING AN EYE ON CBS

CBS' first day of NFL games since January 1994 proved that getting back to the top is not as easy as writing a check for eight years of AFC football. But the opening weekend was as solid as could be expected for a network that had been away for four years.

The game coverage was clearly CBS' strength, with the exception of a few technical glitches. The use of the continuous time-score box was spotty, and some of the out-of-town scores updates were wrong.

The announcing teams of Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms and Verne Lundquist and Randy Cross meshed well.

But the personality of network NFL coverage comes from the pregame show, and that is where CBS needs the most work. The decision to go with rookie analysts Brent Jones, George Seifert and Marcus Allen means it will take CBS a bit longer to reach the level of its competition.

Jones was the star, being quick with a dig at his colleagues, telling Allen that the Chiefs will miss Greg Hill in the backfield and saying players of Seifert's era were out of shape.

SIX THINGS YOU SHOULD REMEMBER FROM SUNDAY

1. Tampa Bay's defense was the best inside the 20-yard line last season, giving up touchdowns less than 37% of the time. The Buccaneers were 0 for 2 in those situations Sunday.

2. The Redskins gave up an average 138.3 rushing yards last season, 28th in the league. Even though the Redskins lost, 31-24, on Sunday, they held the New York Giants to 82 yards in 30 carries, an average of 2.7.

3. In an embarrassing 38-0 loss to Seattle, Philadelphia averaged only 0.4 yards per pass play.

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