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Some relief for Giants

Manning's elbow not seriously hurt

Eli Manning's elbow is sprained, bruised, sore, and nothing serious -- certainly not cause for the New York Giants to worry over who'll be under center when the regular season begins.

While Manning will sit out the Giants' exhibition game against the New York Jets Friday, he said yesterday if it were a big game, he'd play.

''If it was the first game of a long season you wouldn't want to risk doing anything worse, but if it was an important game then I could still throw the football," Manning said after the team doctor confirmed he had a sprain and bruise on the inside of his right elbow.

Coach Tom Coughlin said he felt Manning would be ready to play in time for the season opener against Arizona Sept. 11. The injury occurred Saturday in the first half of the Giants' 27-21 win over Carolina when Julius Peppers stripped Manning of the ball, recovered it, and returned it for a touchdown. Manning remained in the game and threw a 41-yard touchdown to Amani Toomer.

Former Boston College quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, acquired in the offseason from Washington, and Jesse Palmer have been competing for the No. 2 position. Hasselbeck, who has outperformed Palmer in the preseason, is expected to start against the Jets.

49ers carry on

Less than 48 hours after their teammate collapsed and died, the San Francisco 49ers gathered together, discussed their grief, and somehow went back to work. The team held a light afternoon practice at Santa Clara, Calif., after several hours of meetings and mourning for Thomas Herrion, the popular offensive lineman who died Saturday night after an exhibition game in Denver. ''It was a waste for me," left tackle Jonas Jennings said of the hour-long workout. ''Mentally, I wasn't there. But you've got to be a professional. You've got to do what's expected of you." Team physician Barry Bryant briefed the players on what they saw in the locker room in Denver, where Herrion collapsed. The team chaplain and a crisis expert also addressed the players. ''I knew it wasn't good when it happened," said guard Justin Smiley, who was next to Herrion. ''It's definitely scary. Every now and then, something brings you back to reality." . . . Cowboys rookie Demarcus Ware looks ready to be an NFL linebacker. In one half, Ware, a defensive end at Troy who was the 11th pick in the draft, forced two fumbles, recovered one, had an interception, a sack, and three tackles in Dallas's 18-10 victory over the Seahawks last night at Seattle . . . The Chargers placed All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates on the Roster Exempt List, meaning he'll have to sit out the final two exhibition games and the season opener against Dallas. Gates, who has been embroiled in a contract holdout, said he missed the team's Saturday deadline to report to camp because he couldn't get a flight. Gates reported Sunday night and signed a one-year $380,000 contract, the minimum for a third-year player.

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