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The Inside Track | NEWSWIRE

Slim Pickings for Palmer in Debut With Bengals

August 11, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

The Cincinnati Bengals struggled in their exhibition opener Sunday under new Coach Marvin Lewis, and No. 1 overall draft choice Carson Palmer had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in a 28-13 loss to the New York Jets.

Lewis became the third active black coach in the NFL when he took over for Dick LeBeau in January, hoping to turn around a franchise that has not had a winning season since 1990.

Playing through a steady rain at East Rutherford, N.J., the Bengals had a fumble and two personal-foul penalties and botched a field goal -- in the first half.

Palmer, who won the Heisman Trophy last season at USC, entered the game at the start of the second half and led the Bengals on their two scoring drives. But he also had two passes intercepted and returned for scores.

When asked whether there was one thing he needed to improve upon, Palmer had a simple answer: "Everything."

Trailing, 14-7, and driving with two minutes remaining, Palmer was intercepted by Wes Bautovich, who went 78 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-7 with 1:44 left. On the next possession, Troy Grant intercepted Palmer's pass and ran 36 yards for a touchdown.

Palmer, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 140 yards, threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chesley Borders with eight seconds left.

Palmer said he is content learning behind Jon Kitna, who completed four of six passes for 24 yards in one quarter and fumbled a snap that led to the Jets' first score.

"Jon is the best quarterback on this team, and I'm only up here 'cause it goes with being the No. 1 pick and Heisman Trophy winner," Palmer said.

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Tennessee free safety Lance Schulters has Bell's palsy, a virus that has partially paralyzed the left side of his face, the Titans announced.

Schulters sat out the Titans' exhibition opener against Cleveland on Saturday night, forcing the team to replace him with rookie Donnie Nickey. But Coach Jeff Fisher said Schulters has been cleared to practice and play.

"This is one of those situations we're going to leave up to him. As an organization and a staff, we're not going to say 'you're cleared to play,' " Fisher said. "We're hoping we can work him back into practice to where he's comfortable practicing."

Schulters, who was not available for comment Sunday on the players' day off, originally thought he had an earache last weekend. Trainers found no evidence of one, so he went to a dentist, where he had an emergency root canal for an abscessed tooth.

Numbness that affected his eyelid and the left side of his mouth did not go away, so doctors ran more tests. Trainer Brad Brown said Schulters was diagnosed with Bell's palsy on Saturday.

Brown said 85% of people affected by Bell's palsy recover completely, but it can take three weeks for symptoms to reach their worst. Recovery can take anywhere from three weeks to six months.

Schulters is being treated with steroids and other medicine. He also must wear an eye patch to help him sleep and keep his eye from drying out.

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Miami Dolphin quarterback Jay Fiedler returned to practice after sitting out Friday night's exhibition game against Tampa Bay because of back spasms.

Fiedler said he made it through practice without pain. He has a history of back problems, including injuries before the 2000 and 2002 seasons.

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Guard Brendan Stai of the New England Patriots announced his retirement, less than two weeks after signing a one-year contract. Stai, 31, an eight-year NFL veteran, spent five seasons with Pittsburgh and also played for four other teams.

Miscellany

Power forward Kenyon Martin is putting pressure on the New Jersey Nets for a maximum contract extension.

Martin, the No. 1 pick in the 2000 draft, is scheduled to be paid $5.1 million in the final year of his contract.

The New York Daily News reported that he broke off talks with the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions and asked to be traded after the Nets offered a six-year contract extension worth roughly $66 million.

The Oregonian reported that the Trail Blazers were considering a multiplayer deal that would include Rasheed Wallace going to New Jersey for Martin.

Chasity Melvin scored the go-ahead basket with four seconds left as the Cleveland Rockers rallied to defeat the Indiana Fever, 71-67, in a WNBA game in front of 6,691 at Cleveland.... Deanna Nolan's three-point basket with 4.2 seconds left in overtime gave the Detroit Shock a 90-87 win over the New York Liberty in front of 8,514 at Auburn Hills, Mich.... Tina Thompson scored 21 points and Sheryl Swoopes had 16 to lead the Houston Comets to their fifth consecutive victory, a 69-46 decision over the Phoenix Mercury in front of 8,535 at Houston.

Vineyard Little League of Rancho Cucamonga advanced to the championship game of the Western Region All-Star tournament with a 14-2 victory over Green Valley of Las Vegas in San Bernardino. The game was stopped after the top of the fourth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.

Vineyard, which scored five runs in the first and nine in the second, will play the winner of Chandler (Ariz.) and Laramie (Wyo.) in Tuesday's championship game.

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Chris Dufresne has the day off.

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