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Vincent signs with Redskins

Washington fills need in secondary

After six weeks of letting receivers run unfettered through the secondary, the slumping Washington Redskins addressed the problem yesterday by signing five-time Pro Bowl defensive back Troy Vincent.

Vincent, whose 47 interceptions rank second among active players, was released from Buffalo's injured reserve list last week. The 15-year veteran hurt his hamstring in preseason and aggravated it in the season opener against the Patriots, but said last week he had fully recovered and was ready to take offers from other teams.

``Obviously, I'm not the answer," said Vincent, who spent the day taking a crash course in the defense. ``But I do believe I can bring some value."

The 35-year-old Vincent joins a team that has spent heavily on safeties and cornerbacks, only to watch them allow more passing plays of 20-plus yards (25) than any team except Green Bay. The Redskins (2-4) ranked 23d in the league in pass defense through Sunday's games, and they lost on Sunday to a rookie quarterback (Vince Young) starting for a winless team (Tennessee).

``We felt like it was a chance to add somebody who was a quality guy," coach Joe Gibbs said, ``a guy who can play multiple positions back there for us."

Alexander on mend
Instead of a walking boot protecting his broken left foot, Shaun Alexander was wearing flip-flops.

``Walking around in flip-flops is a good thing," the league MVP said with a beaming smile.

And instead of doctors initially warning the Seahawks running back he may be out until December, they gave Alexander his best news yet. The bone he cracked Sept. 24 showed ``very, very great" healing in X-rays yesterday, according to Alexander.

``Pain is gone," he said.

The team is now estimating Alexander will miss perhaps two more weeks.

``I met with him today," coach Mike Holmgren said. ``And he is feeling great and really is champing at the bit to come back, thinks he could practice." But the doctors' timetable is a bit more conservative.

The NFC West-leading Seahawks (4-1) are 1-1 without Alexander following their 30-28 win Sunday at St. Louis.

For Alexander, who had not missed any of his first 99 NFL games before this injury, two more weeks is better than more than two months. He said that is what doctors initially told him could be his absence after he broke the foot he had badly bruised in the Sept. 10 opener.

``I'm excited," he said. ``I definitely feel if this was the Super Bowl or the playoffs, I'd definitely be out there -- but since it's not, then it's going to be whatever they say."

Hargrove sent to Bills
Defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who lost his starting job with the Rams after skipping two days of practice and meetings this season, was traded to Buffalo for a fifth-round draft choice in 2007. Hargrove was inactive for Sunday's loss, and has played just three games this season. The third-round selection out of Georgia Tech in 2004 played in 35 games for St. Louis, starting 19. He has just two tackles, one assist, and a half sack this season. Last month, he failed to show at Rams Park on consecutive days. Hargrove was fined an undisclosed amount and did not make the trip to Arizona for the Rams' 16-14 victory Sept. 24. Rookie Victor Adeyanju took over Hargrove's spot. Hargrove apologized but did not say why he took time off without notifying the team. Hargrove could get immediate playing time in Buffalo, which hosts the Patriots Sunday. The Bills' pass rush has been ineffective, and the team is thin on the defensive line . . . Cornerback Phillip Buchanon was released by the Texans, ending his injury-filled and lackluster stay in Houston. Buchanon, a first-round pick by Oakland in 2002, rarely played on defense this season after suffering from a laundry list of minor injuries, including a sprained ankle and bruised ribs. He didn't make a tackle until this week, when he had two while briefly filling in.

McNair groggy, but OK
Steve McNair is expected to recover from a concussion and neck sprain sustained Sunday in time for Baltimore's next game. When he returns, it will be as the starting quarterback. The Ravens have a bye this week, which means McNair will have additional time to bounce back from the injuries he received in a 23-21 loss to Carolina. ``Steve is here today, and he's doing pretty good," coach Brian Billick said. ``He's groggy. He went through the full gauntlet of tests. He seems to be OK, and right now there's no reason to believe he won't be available for us in two weeks when we go to New Orleans." With fill-in Kyle Boller leading the way, the Ravens scored more points than in the previous two weeks combined. Boller's 97.0 quarterback rating is superior to that of McNair, who has thrown seven interceptions against five touchdowns and has a rating of 64.1. ``Steve's our starting quarterback," Billick declared. ``We feel fortunate to have two good QBs." . . . Curtis Martin will remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list until at least after the Jets' game at Cleveland in two weeks. Martin had surgery in December on his right knee, but was slow to recover. He was placed on the PUP list before training camp so he could continue to rehabilitate the knee, which reportedly has a bone-on-bone condition . . This week's TV games are the Patriots at Buffalo (1 p.m., Ch. 4); Detroit at the Jets (1 p.m., Ch. 25); Washington at Indianapolis (4:15 p.m., Ch. 25); and the Giants at Dallas (Monday night, 8:30, ESPN).

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