Pro Football Roundup : Haji-Sheikh Given Boot by Falcons

From Times Wire Services

Tuesday was a tough day for kickers.

Ali Haji-Sheikh, who holds the National Football League record for field goals in a season, was released by Atlanta, and the Dallas Cowboys halved the number of competitors for Rafael Septien’s old job by cutting three kickers.

Haji-Sheikh, who kicked 35 field goals in 1983, his rookie season with the New York Giants, joined the Falcons last year and played in the season’s final six games in place of then-injured Mick Luckhurst.

Luckhurst has performed well in the team’s two exhibition games.


Haji-Sheikh, however, missed two field goal attempts in Saturday’s exhibition loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. In four NFL seasons, Haji-Sheikh has made 63 field goals in 92 attempts. With Atlanta last year, he made 9 of 12 field goals and 7 of 8 extra-points.

The Cowboys released three kickers--Jeff Ward, an 11th-round draft choice from the University of Texas, and two free agents, Kerry Brady and Bryan Franco.

That left Roger Ruzek, David Trout and Luis Zendejas as the remaining competitors for the job, which opened up when Septien was released after being pleading guilty to indecency with a minor.

Also on Tuesday, the Cowboys signed wide receiver Johnny (Lam) Jones to a multi-year contract. Jones, the second pick overall in the 1980 draft, was waived by the San Francisco 49ers last week after being acquired from the New York Jets this month.

The Cowboys have been hit by numerous injuries to their receivers, including a broken leg that will sideline starter Mike Sherrard for the season.

The Raiders, who have been beset with injuries during training camp, got good news when tests proved negative on a knee injury sustained by return man Chris Woods, and two injured offensive lineman returned to practice.

A former star in the Canadian Football League, Woods was upended on his first return against the Buffalo Bills Saturday night.

Raider doctors suspected damage to Woods’ left knee, but tests conducted Monday showed no damage, and the wide receiver returned to training camp. He is expected to return to practice after Sunday’s exhibition against Dallas.


Starting right guard Bill Lewis returned to action after missing a week’s practice with a strained knee, as did rookie Bruce Wilkerson, who also had a knee injury.

Todd Blackledge was named the Chiefs’ starting quarterback by Coach Frank Gansz. Blackledge, a fifth-year player out of Penn State, also began last season as the starter but was replaced midway through the season by Bill Kenney.