Kicker Adam Vinatieri, 33, will miss the first game of his 11-year NFL career because of a lingering groin injury.
Vinatieri, who left the Patriots to sign with the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason, strained his groin in last week's victory over Houston and will sit out today's game against AFC South rival Jacksonville, coach Tony Dungy said yesterday.
The Colts were expected to sign veteran kicker Martin Gramatica as Vinatieri's replacement.
Vinatieri, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, was the AFC special teams player of the week in the first week of the season. Through two games, he leads the league in scoring with 27 points on seven field goals and six extra points.
Gramatica, who lost out to Stephen Gostkowski in his attempt to become Vinatieri's replacement with the Patriots, tried out with the Colts Wednesday.
Gramatica, who played his first six seasons in the NFL with the Buccaneers, signed with Indianapolis in December 2004, a week after he was cut by Tampa Bay. He was used for kickoffs in the Colts' final four regular-season games and one playoff game. Gramatica, 30, didn't play last year. In 93 career games, he has made 137 of 179 field goal attempts and 181 of 183 extra-point kicks.
The Colts will make game-time decisions on defensive end Dwight Freeney (buttocks), wide receiver Brandon Stokley (ankle), offensive tackle Ryan Diem (hamstring), safety Bob Sanders (thigh), and cornerback Kelvin Hayden (groin), Dungy said Friday.
Hayden was the only one to practice Friday. ``I'm sure all those guys will try to go and try to convince me on Sunday morning," Dungy said.
The NFL gave the Seahawks a two-week roster exemption for the former Super Bowl MVP, acquired Sept. 11 from the Patriots in a trade that ended Branch's 45-day contract holdout. Branch signed a $39 million, six-year contract (with $13 million in guarantees) two days later.
Coach Mike Holmgren said earlier this week that he will stick with Nate Burleson as the starting split end, but Branch would play. Holmgren also was considering more four-receiver sets because of injuries to tight ends Jerramy Stevens and Itula Mili.
Darrell Jackson will start at flanker and Bobby Engram is Seattle's other receiver. Mili will play but is not expected to start.
``If I didn't want to be here, I wouldn't be here," said McGinest. ``I wouldn't have signed here. Second of all, I'm not a quitter. I don't care what our record is, anybody who knows me or anything about me knows that I hate not playing."
McGinest addressed his desire to be in Cleveland in response to a question about the perception of some fans and media who were surprised he did not play after being listed as probable the Friday before the game last Sunday in Cincinnati. McGinest said he missed the Bengals game because his injured calf muscle ``kept grabbing" during warmups.