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SPORTS WEEKEND | NFL DAILY REPORT

Couch Out at Least Six Weeks After Fracturing Right Thumb

October 20, 2000|Associated Press

Cleveland Brown quarterback Tim Couch fractured his right thumb on the final play of practice Thursday and will be out at least six weeks.

Couch was following through on a 25-yard fade pass to rookie Dennis Northcutt into the right corner of the end zone when his hand banged into the hand of linebacker Ryan Taylor.

"He'll need surgery and he'll miss at least six games," said dejected Brown Coach Chris Palmer. "If it was an injury to a player other than a quarterback he could come back in a couple weeks."

Palmer said the fracture was at the base of his thumb, and that Couch would need either a screw or pin surgically inserted. With nine games left this season, and the Browns not getting a bye until Week 17, there's a chance Couch might not return in 2000.

With Couch out, Doug Pederson will start Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pederson was signed Sept. 1, after backup Ty Detmer was lost for the year because of a ruptured Achilles' tendon.

"Here's another opportunity for a player to step up with another player's misfortune," Palmer said. "We just have to close ranks and march on."

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There is a chance the St. Louis Rams will risk their unbeaten record in Kansas City on Sunday without two starters on the offensive line.

Tackle Ryan Tucker (ankle) and guard Adam Timmerman (knee) have not practiced this week. Tucker is listed as questionable, Timmerman probable.

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Criticized for insisting on keeping the role of offensive coordinator while his team struggles, Jacksonville Jaguar Coach Tom Coughlin got support from quarterback Mark Brunell.

"In all honesty, Coach Coughlin hasn't fumbled a ball yet, he hasn't thrown an interception yet and he hasn't missed a block," Brunell said. "In my opinion, our past speaks for itself. We won 15 games last year with Tom Coughlin as our offensive coordinator."

But last season also was marred by rumors of bad feelings between Coughlin and Brunell. The two never appeared comfortable working so closely together in the first season after the Jaguars lost coordinator Palmer to the Browns.

"When we're not scoring points, the offensive coordinator-slash-head coach is an easy target," Brunell said. "But I don't think it's right. We need to go out there and play, execute and go win games."

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The Houston City Council has backed a Super Bowl bid for 2004 as organizers prepare to make their pitch to the NFL.

Council members agreed to provide about $400,000 in services for the event, including security, traffic control and signs. The city also would provide use of the George R. Brown Convention Center and a planned convention center hotel. Houston's formal bid to the NFL is scheduled Nov. 1.

NFL owners had tentatively agreed, when Texans owner Bob McNair paid a record $700 million for the new franchise last year, to give the game to Houston. But the city had to reserve 17,500 hotel rooms and meet other league requirements.

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Jacksonville receiver Jimmy Smith missed his second consecutive day of practice because of a bruised right knee, but is still listed as probable for the Jaguars' game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. . . . Rookie defensive end John Abraham will miss the New York Jets' game against Miami on Monday night because of an abdominal strain.

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