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NFL notebook

Niners' Smith done for season

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Associated Press / September 11, 2008
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Alex Smith's season is over with another shoulder injury. The high-priced quarterback's short career with the San Francisco 49ers is probably finished as well.

The 49ers put Smith on injured reserve yesterday with a broken bone in his right shoulder. The top pick in the 2005 draft probably will require more surgery on the joint that limited him to seven games last season.

Coach Mike Nolan improbably claimed to know little about the injury that ended his former franchise quarterback's fourth NFL campaign before Smith even played in a regular-season game this fall.

"I feel sorry for him," said running back Frank Gore, the Niners' third-round pick in Smith's draft. "He was a great teammate and worked hard. I just hope the best for him, and hope he gets well."

After paying Smith more than $31 million during his four years with the 49ers, the bleak realities of NFL salary cap life mean the club is likely to release him before next season. General manager Scot McCloughan said last week that San Francisco can't risk paying $9 million in base salary to a backup quarterback in 2009.

"I'm not going to answer any hypothetical questions about the future," said Nolan, who had an embarrassing public spat with Smith last year over the severity of the quarterback's shoulder injury. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Smith refused to comment.

Smith had surgery on his shoulder in December to repair three torn ligaments from a separated shoulder. After several months of rehabilitation, Smith appeared to be at full strength in training camp despite losing his job to J.T. O'Sullivan, who was quicker to pick up new offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system. But Smith experienced severe pain in his shoulder last Friday while making a long throw, and subsequent tests found a problem.

The 49ers signed 38-year-old backup Jamie Martin, a veteran of Martz's system who was out of football.

Colston out 4-6 weeks

Marques Colston, the New Orleans Saints' top receiver during the past two seasons, had surgery on his left thumb and will miss 4-6 weeks.

Colston said he tore a ligament when he reached to make a catch while taking a hit to his hands from Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber's helmet Sunday.

"I don't know if my thumb just got caught in an awkward position. It just bent all the way backward," said Colston, who was wearing a cast over his left hand. "I guess the only silver lining is that I'm going to have a chance to come back and play a good portion of the season and hopefully be back in time for that playoff push."

Colts to waive Johnson

Less than 24 hours after Indianapolis Colts starting defensive tackle Ed Johnson was arrested on a marijuana possession charge and speeding, Colts president Bill Polian said the team would waive him today. "In this particular case, Ed was well aware that his past history required him to be in complete compliance with club rules," Polian said. "Unfortunately, he chose to violate those rules." Johnson was temporarily expelled from Penn State in 2005 for violating the school policy on sexual misconduct and confining another student against the student's will . . . Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia is out of Sunday's home opener against Atlanta because of a sprained ankle. He will be replaced by veteran backup Brian Griese. "Brian Griese is a guy who's had a good training camp. We're going to give Brian the ball and rally around him," said coach Jon Gruden . . . Prosecutors filed charges against former Denver Broncos strong safety Billy Jenkins for vehicular homicide and driving under the influence after Tracy Gill, 51, a motor-scooter driver, was killed in a hit-and-run collision Aug. 28 near Denver. Jenkins also faces charges of leaving the scene and failure to provide insurance . . . Cleveland Browns starting safety Sean Jones will have arthroscopic knee surgery today and likely will be sidelined for at least one month . . . Former Broncos linebacker Al Wilson, sidelined with a neck injury since the end of the 2006 season, retired . . . The New York Giants and New York Jets jumped 21 percent in value in Forbes Magazine's annual ranking of NFL franchises because of their new stadium, which isn't scheduled to open until 2010. The Giants moved from eighth to fourth, valued at $1.178 billion, behind Dallas ($1.612 billion), Washington ($1.538 billion), and New England ($1.324 billion).

Young shows up

Vince Young watched practice with a wrap around his sprained left knee and avoided reporters wanting to talk about his mother's comments indicating he doesn't want to play because of the negativity he's faced since being booed heavily during a 17-10 win over Jacksonville. "He led us to the playoffs last year. We just want him to get healthy and back on the field," coach Jeff Fisher said. Young skipped an MRI Monday to determine the extent of his sprained medial collateral ligament. Fisher and a psychologist met with the QB at his home, then he took off, prompting a search. Veteran Kerry Collins will start; the Titans signed Chris Simms.

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