Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Around the NFL

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Around the NFL

Article excerpt

PRACTICE? WHO NEEDS PRACTICE?

The last time Emmitt Smith missed an entire preseason two things were different. First, it was his choice. Second, he was seven years younger.

The Cowboys running back held out the entire 1993 preseason, then led the NFL with 1,486 yards rushing. This season, he missed all the preseason games with a strained calf he suffered Aug. 8.

"Mentally, he's ready to go," Cowboys coach Dave Campo said. "Emmitt understands the offense. I have no doubts Emmitt will be ready to go."

Nor does Smith. "There's no need for me to be out there being unsure and end up tweaking it [calf muscle] again and then having to sit for another two or three weeks," he said. "That would be stupid."

A FAMILIAR FEELING

Dave Thomas lost his job as a starting corner for the Jaguars last preseason to Fernando Bryant. One reason was Bryant was a first-round draft choice. Another is Thomas was beaten too often.

Thomas signed with the Giants as a free agent in the offseason, but being beaten hasn't changed. He was beaten several times last week in the Giants' game against the Jets, and with Jason Sehorn -- considered a top corner two years ago before a series of injuries -- returning to full health, quarterbacks likely will look to Thomas' side.

"Basically, I'm still learning the defense," said Thomas, who allowed a 52-yard touchdown pass to Wayne Chrebet off a flea flicker against the Jets. "My skin is like an armadillo and a rhinoceros. It's very thick."

A BAD, BAD FEELING

The Browns lost 14 games last season. That's a lot to any player, but particularly to defensive end Derrick Alexander.

Alexander, a Raines graduate and former Florida State All-American, never played on a team that had a losing season until last season. That includes high school, college and his first four NFL seasons with Minnesota.

"I've been sick of the losing since Game 1 of last year," Alexander said. "Fourteen losses last year? If you add up all the losses I've had in my career going into that season, they don't add up to much more than 14."

A COLLECTIBLE COMMODITY

The Ravens have the second- and fifth-leading receiving tight ends of all-time in 2000 free-agent signees Shannon Sharpe and Ben Coates. …

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