Cleveland linebacker Marcus Benard collapses in locker room

Cleveland Browns linebacker Marcus Benard was taken to a Cleveland-area hospital for tests Thursday after collapsing in the locker room.

Benard was sitting in a chair in front of his cubicle when he suddenly fell to the carpeted floor. Some of his teammates, who were getting dressed for practice, thought he might have been joking before linebacker Matt Roth yelled for a trainer.

Benard did not appear to lose consciousness and his eyes were open as three members of Cleveland's training staff checked on him. He was taken to Southwest General Hospital.

Benard, 25, who leads the Browns with 4 1/2 sacks this season, was sitting up and appeared alert when he was wheeled out of the team's facility on a stretcher and placed in an ambulance. He collapsed just as the 45-minute media interview period was ending.

Benard made Cleveland's roster last season as an undrafted free agent from Jackson State. He has started two games this season for the Browns (3-5), who host the New York Jets (6-2) on Sunday.

Sterger meets with NFL

The woman who allegedly received lewd photos and inappropriate text messages from Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre met with NFL investigators Thursday, her manager said.

Phil Reese said in an e-mail that Jenn Sterger met with league officials and that "we cooperated fully by providing them with substantial materials in our possession. We now await the NFL's decision."

The NFL is examining whether Favre sent Sterger messages and photos while he was with the Jets in 2008 and she was a game hostess for the team.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had no comment.

Favre could face possible disciplinary action under the league's personal conduct policy.

Giants' Smith injures chest muscle

Wide receiver Steve Smith, the go-to guy on third down for quarterback Eli Manning, left practice after hurting a pectoral muscle.

Giants Coach Tom Coughlin was unsure about the extent of the injury and whether it would keep Smith out of Sunday's game against Dallas.

"He had trouble driving his arm after the injury, so he couldn't continue," Coughlin said. "I don't have anything to tell you about him until they do all of the tests."

Harvin misses another practice

Percy Harvin missed another practice for the Minnesota Vikings. The wide receiver was absent Wednesday too, after Coach Brad Childress said Harvin was seeing a doctor after his latest episode with a migraine.

Harvin also is dealing with a sprained left ankle he suffered in the Oct. 31 game at New England and played through Sunday against Arizona.

After being held out of Wednesday's practice, quarterback Brett Favre was participating Thursday.

Palmer expects to play Sunday

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer says he's returning to practice on a limited basis, going easy on his sore passing shoulder.

Palmer hurt the right shoulder when he was sacked during a 27-21 loss to Pittsburgh on Monday night. He was held out of practice Wednesday to give it time to recover. He said he'd be limited in practice Thursday but plans to do more as the week goes along. He expects to play against the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday.

Panthers' Beason to appeal fine

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason called his $10,000 fine for a hit to the head of New Orleans receiver Marques Colston unwarranted and vowed to appeal.

Beason acknowledged he was fined for the hit that drew a 15-yard penalty in the third quarter of Sunday's 34-3 loss to the Saints. Beason said he was covering another player when Colston caught a seven-yard pass near him and he lowered his head to brace for impact.

"It wasn't like the ball was in the air 40 yards downfield. It was a four-yard route," Beason said. "Defensive guys have the right to protect themselves as well. I don't get in that situation what I was supposed to do."

Delhomme returns to practice

Jake Delhomme's comeback season has been a disaster. But although he's been injured and lost his job to rookie Colt McCoy, the veteran quarterback says he will abide by whatever decision Coach Eric Mangini makes about his starter.

Delhomme returned to practice for the first time since reinjuring his ankle Oct. 10. He's not ready to play yet, but when he's 100%, Mangini will have to pick between Delhomme, McCoy and Seneca Wallace to be Cleveland's No. 1 quarterback.

As much as he would like to play, Delhomme promises "it's not going to be a problem any way we go with me."


St. Louis Rams rookie offensive tackle Rodger Saffold was held out of practice because of a bruised left shoulder he hurt earlier in the week. … Cincinnati Bengals right tackle Andre Smith has a broken foot that's likely to end his season. Smith hurt his left foot during practice on Wednesday and medical tests found a fracture. It's the same foot that he broke last season as a rookie. … Free safety Nate Allen (neck) and right guard Max Jean-Gilles (concussion) didn't practice Thursday and might not play when the Philadelphia Eagles visit Washington on Monday night. … Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young returned to practice, splitting the work with backup Kerry Collins. Whether Young starts Sunday at Miami depends on how his sprained left ankle reacts to his first work since he was hurt Oct. 31. … The players union has rejected a proposal from the NFL on long-term care for former players, saying the supplemental policy will exclude too many of them.

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