NFL notebook

Freeney's season is finished

Reinstated running back Ricky Williams is scheduled for a physical today in Miami. Reinstated running back Ricky Williams is scheduled for a physical today in Miami. (2005 FILE/MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/Associated Press)
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Associated Press / November 15, 2007

Dwight Freeney's season is over, and now Simeon Rice has a chance to start anew in Indianapolis.

Freeney, the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end and highest-paid defender in the league, was placed on injured reserve yesterday by the Colts. He's scheduled to undergo surgery later this week or early next week on his injured left foot.

The blow is potentially devastating to Indianapolis, which has already been depleted by injuries. Seven starters missed Sunday's loss in San Diego, and Indianapolis lost four more starters, including Freeney, during the game.

"Dwight is a player you cannot replace," former Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders said. "But we'll continue to move on, continue to get better. We'll put new guys in and continue to roll. That's what Dwight would want us to do."

Freeney injured the foot while making one of his patented spin moves on a pass rush during the fourth quarter Sunday. He immediately crumpled to the ground, hopped off the field, and could not put any weight on the foot while standing on the sideline. Eventually, he was taken to the locker room on a cart.

Further examination Tuesday revealed a more serious injury in the midfoot area where a cluster of bones forms a small arch between the ankle and toes. The official diagnosis is a Lisfranc injury.

In a statement released just before coach Tony Dungy spoke with reporters, the Colts said Freeney was expected to make a full recovery in time for next season.

To help fill the void, the AFC South-leading Colts claimed Rice, a two-time All-Pro defensive end, off waivers Monday. Rice spent the first half of the season with Denver, which signed him to a one-year, $3 million contract in September.

League reinstates Williams

Ricky Williams's suspension ended after more than 18 months when he was reinstated by the NFL, and was scheduled for a physical today in Miami and to meet with Dolphins coach Cam Cameron, said Williams's agent, Leigh Steinberg.

Cameron has been mum for months regarding whether he would want Williams, 30, back. But Steinberg said he was encouraged by a phone conversation with Matt Thomas, Dolphins general counsel-football administration.

"His indication was they were interested in Ricky," Steinberg said. "The spirit of the discussion was welcoming."

Williams is eligible to attend team meetings and practice immediately, but the earliest he would be allowed to play in a game would be Nov. 26. The team will have a roster exemption for up to two weeks if and when he starts practicing.

At quarterback, Cameron has decided to let rookie John Beck take the reins. Beck will make his NFL debut when he starts Sunday at Philadelphia, replacing Cleo Lemon, and the plan is to start Beck in the final seven games.

Beck took more than 80 percent of the snaps in practice, Cameron said. "He has earned the right to play," the coach said.

Grossman No. 1 again

Rex Grossman has his job back as the starting quarterback of the Bears, replacing injured Brian Griese for Sunday's game at Seattle. Bears coach Lovie Smith said his choice was apparently not based solely on Griese's sprained shoulder. "We're going to go with who gives us the best opportunity to win," Smith said . . . Jaguars quarterback David Garrard practiced with the first team, the latest step in his return to the starting lineup after missing the last three games with a sprained left ankle . . . Daunte Culpepper moved back into the starting quarterback role for the Raiders just in time to face one of his former teams, the Vikings . . . Even though Joey Harrington has led Atlanta to two straight victories and continues to practice with the first team, Byron Leftwich will be the No. 1 quarterback for the Falcons as soon as he's healthy. Coach Bobby Petrino's stance caught Harrington off guard. "That wasn't my understanding coming into today," said Harrington. "But I'm not going to create a fuss." . . . Steelers starting free safety Ryan Clark was placed on injured reserve because of a spleen problem that has sidelined him for three games. Pittsburgh also placed tight end Jerame Tuman (back) on IR . . . Redskins receiver Brandon Lloyd will be sidelined at least six weeks with a broken collarbone suffered when he made a diving catch of a touchdown pass on the last play of practice . . . Pro Bowl middle linebacker Antonio Pierce missed the Giants' practice because of a mild concussion. Receiver Plaxico Burress (ankle) and halfback Derrick Ward (ankle) also sat out . . . 49ers nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin will be out four weeks after straining his right calf Monday night.

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