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Bills' Everett has neck surgery

September 10, 2007|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

The first full day of games is a day of celebration for football lovers across the country, but that celebration was subdued in Buffalo, where Bills tight end Kevin Everett underwent neck surgery Sunday night, hours after incurring damage to his spine during a game against the Denver Broncos.

"He's had some sparse movement," Everett's agent, Brian Overstreet, told the Associated Press. "The next couple of days is going to be critical. Our concern is for him to come out of this healthy and, hopefully, be able to walk again."

Everett fell to the ground and never moved after a helmet-to-helmet hit when he tackled Denver's Domenik Hixon during a kickoff to open the second half. Everett was put on a backboard with his head and body immobilized, and carefully loaded into an ambulance during a delay in action that lasted about 15 minutes.

Bills Coach Dick Jauron said immediately after the game that the player sustained a cervical spine injury but wouldn't discuss the severity. Those who witnessed Everett lying motionless on the field could only hope for the best.

"It was real hard," cornerback Terrence McGee said. "I watched the whole thing and he never moved. . . . It's real sad to see him go off on a stretcher, but we hope he's OK."

Ryan Neufeld, another Bills tight end, was seen leaving Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital after the surgery and told Buffalo television station WIVB that the surgery "went well as far as we can tell and he's recovering right now."

Replacing a legend

Replacing Bill Cowher was never going to be easy, but the Pittsburgh Steelers helped new Coach Mike Tomlin make a smooth transition by routing the Cleveland Browns, 34-7, in Tomlin's debut.

Then the team made Tomlin feel right at home by presenting him with the game ball, and that brought a smile to Tomlin's face -- a far cry from the scowling, square-jawed look Cowher made famous during his 15 years as coach. He retired after last season.

"It's big," safety Ryan Clark said. "I think any time it's a young guy in a head coaching job in a storied franchise there's going to be a lot of pressure. We wanted to come out of the box strong and take some of the pressure off of him."

A career-high four-touchdown passing performance by Ben Roethlisberger, trying to rebound from a difficult 2006 season, helped Tomlin win the first game since 1991 that had someone other than Cowher calling the shots on the Steelers' sideline. Tomlin, 35, deflected attention from himself.

"This is not my story; this is the story of the 2007 Steelers. That's what I want it to be. Today's victory will allow it to be our story. We have a lot of men in there working."

Going the distance

New England's Ellis Hobbs set an NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return, raising the question: What was he doing running the ball out when he caught it that deep in the end zone?

"I didn't even think about kneeling that ball," he said. "We're taking them all out. They pay me to make plays. They don't pay me to take knees. This isn't college. This isn't high school. We're in the NFL. They pay me to return the ball and guys in front of me to block. Why not give them something to celebrate and enjoy?"

Early success

As No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell continues his holdout from the Oakland Raiders, a couple of other rookies had impressive debuts.

Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings had 103 yards in 19 carries and added a 60-yard touchdown reception, Marshawn Lynch of the Buffalo Bills carried 19 times for 90 yards and a touchdown and Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Peterson set a team record for rushing yards by a rookie.

"I always expect myself to go out there and help the team by making plays," Peterson said. "That's what you dream about the night before. I was prepared and I felt like I had a pretty good day."

Sophomore jump

Houston Texans defensive lineman Mario Williams endured a season full of doubters last year, those who lambasted him and the team for making the defensive lineman first pick of the 2006 draft when Reggie Bush and Vince Young were available.

Williams finally had an answer Sunday, when he had five tackles, including two sacks, and returned a fumble for a touchdown in Houston's 20-3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last year, he had 47 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in 16 games.

"I don't really feel like I'm under any pressure," he said. "When you look at it, the pressure applied from critics and media and whatever, I'm always behind anyway. I was drafted No. 1, but I was never really whoever else you might try to compare me to."

Fantasy dud

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson began the season with high expectations after leading the NFL with 2,334 yards from scrimmage but had about as disappointing an opening day as anyone in the league.

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