Ryan Leaf never saw the welcome the Dallas Cowboys had planned for him. He failed a physical because of a wrist problem and remains one of the NFL’s many unemployed veteran quarterbacks.
Leaf’s name and the number 16 were written in black on a strip of white tape over a locker in the Cowboys’ clubhouse Wednesday. Three pairs of shoes, a white practice jersey, a helmet and several unused hangars awaited him.
“It was an injury that concerned us enough that we couldn’t make a decision to put him on the roster,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “I know he was disappointed. I don’t know that he was surprised. There’s no question he was surprised it would impact our decision as much as it did.”
Jones said that after an initial evaluation discovered the problem, specialists were brought in to give it a further look. He declined to give any more specifics.
Leaf left the team’s headquarters without talking to the media , ducking in the front seat of a van to avoid being photographed.
“Ryan was excited with the Cowboys opportunity and he couldn’t be more disappointed about how it turned out,” said David Dunn, Leaf’s agent.
The Cowboys were interested in Leaf as their third-string quarterback behind rookie starter Quincy Carter and second-year backup Anthony Wright.
St. Louis Ram Coach Mike Martz had to be talked out of closing practice after he was asked about using running backs Marshall Faulk and Trung Canidate together in the backfield.
Martz also whisked photographers and TV cameras from the field early in practice.
Answering questions about the Rams’ opener Sunday at Philadelphia, Martz snapped at a radio reporter who had noted the coach used the two backs at the same time last week in practice.
“Why don’t you just give them our game plan?” Martz said. “Why don’t you just tell them what we’re doing? You’ve got to be kidding me.
“Maybe we shouldn’t let you watch practice. Why don’t you just give them a telegram?”
While the Denver Broncos hid the identity of their starting running back as if it’s a matter of national security, Terrell Davis gave the media credit for trying to unlock the secret.
Most of his teammates expect that Davis will be the starter in Monday night’s regular-season opener against the New York Giants.
If that’s so, Davis wasn’t spilling any beans, and he refused to be tricked into admitting he was the starter.
After discussing the Giants’ talented defense, Davis was asked if he felt sorry for the starting running back who has to face such a defense.
“Very clever,” he said with a big laugh. “That’s very clever. That’s a good one.”
Coach Mike Shanahan, comforted by abundance of running backs, hasn’t announced who will start at the position.
Cleveland defensive end Courtney Brown suffered a sprained ligament in his right knee during last week’s final exhibition game against Carolina and will miss the Browns’ opener.
Coach Butch Davis said the Browns will wait a week to 10 days for the swelling to subside before they can make a more complete diagnosis.
To no one’s surprise, Drew Brees will be the San Diego Chargers’ No. 2 quarterback behind Doug Flutie.
Brees, who led Purdue to the Rose Bowl last season, beat out former Canadian Football League star Dave Dickenson even though he missed the first 19 training-cap practices in a contract holdout.
San Francisco’s Tim Rattay was officially named backup quarterback behind Jeff Garcia. Rattay beat out veteran Rick Mirer during the preseason....Chicago claimed running back Autry Denson off waivers from Miami and cut running back Skip Hicks.