Indianapolis opened its preseason last night with a successful onside kick by Adam Vinatieri, and Peyton Manning quickly made the most of his brief appearance by throwing a touchdown pass in the Colts' 19-17 loss to the Rams in St. Louis.
Neither team wasted time in getting key players out of harm's way: Manning and receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne were gone after one series, while St. Louis played quarterback Marc Bulger, running back Steven Jackson, and receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce two series apiece.
New Colts kicker Vinatieri's game-opening onside kick was recovered by Von Hutchins at the Colts' 41. Manning missed on his first pass to Harrison, but connected with Wayne for 11- and 31-yard gains, setting up an 8-yard touchdown pass to backup tight end Ben Utecht.
Vinatieri, who signed with Indianapolis after helping the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles, kicked a 53-yard first-quarter field goal.
Two Colts running backs are seeking to fill the void left by the departure of Edgerrin James, but neither was impressive. Veteran Dominic Rhodes carried four times for 10 yards; first-round draft pick Joseph Addai carried three times for 3 yards.
In another exhibition game in Philadelphia, Browns tight end Kellen Winslow, playing his first game in nearly two years, made two catches in Cleveland's 20-7 loss to the Eagles.
Donovan McNabb (7 for 9, 78 yards) looked sharp for the second straight game, and Jeff Garcia connected with Darnerien McCants on a 32-yard touchdown pass for the Eagles.
Winslow hadn't played since he broke his right fibula while trying to recover an onside kick at Dallas Sept. 19, 2004. He missed the final 14 games of his rookie season, and sat out last year after a motorcycle accident May 1, 2005 almost ended his career.
Titans' White starts brawl
Rookie running back LenDale White
got into a brawl with teammate Donnie Nickey
at the Tennessee Titans practice. A recording by a television cameraman picked up linebacker Keith Bulluck
yelling that White had spit in Nickey's face. A few plays later, Nickey ran upfield and shoved White in the back. White elbowed safety Vincent Fuller
amid more pushing and shoving. Nickey threw at least one punch before players were separated, and he walked off, took off his helmet, and threw it on the ground . . . The Miami Dolphins plan to play Daunte Culpepper
, their new surgically repaired quarterback, in their exhibition opener tomorrow against Jacksonville, coach Nick Saban
said. Culpepper will be exposed to contact for the first time since a knee injury ended his 2005 season with the Minnesota Vikings last October . . . Broncos defensive end Courtney Brown
, whose career has been plagued by injuries, will miss the exhibition season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome left knee. Recovery is expected to take 3-4 weeks.
Lefotu awaits test results
Washington Redskins rookie Kili Lefotu
showed signs of improvement, and doctors were working to determine what caused him to lose consciousness in his room the day before. Lefotu, an offensive lineman, was being treated at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington after being transferred from Loudoun County Hospital, where he underwent a series of tests . . . Bill Parcells
said ``there would be a pretty good chance" that Tony Romo
, competing with Drew Henson
for the backup job behind Drew Bledsoe
, will start at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in their exhibition opener against Seattle tomorrow night . . . The Giants won't be at full strength when they play Baltimore tonight. Sitting out the game will be linebacker LaVar Arrington
(knee), tight end Jeremy Shockey
(post-concussion syndrome), linebacker Carlos Emmons
(neck burner), wide receiver Santorice Moss
(quadriceps), and offensive guard Chris Snee
(knee) . . . Veteran center Bob Hallen
, thrust into Cleveland's starting lineup to replace injured Pro Bowler LeCharles Bentley
, will announce his retirement today because of a back injury, the Browns announced.
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