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Monday, January 3, 2005
Jewelry, cash stolen, but police nab suspects news services

Pittsburgh Steelers: The town house of wide receiver Plaxico Burress was burglarized by three men accused of taking nearly $63,000 in jewelry, cash and other items before the team played the Buffalo Bills.

About 90 minutes before Sunday's game, a neighbor called police after he saw a man ring Burress' doorbell, climb onto a second-floor balcony and forcibly enter the home, police spokeswoman Tammy Ewin said Monday.

The man went inside and let in two others, Ewin said. The men ran away, but police caught them in a wooded area near the Allegheny River a few minutes later.

Police identified the suspects as Gary Dollman, 24, of Lower Burrell, and two 21-year-old men from New Kensington -- Alfred Collymore and Victor Jones. They remained jailed early Monday, unable to post bond, and face a preliminary hearing Jan. 10.

The team had no comment Monday, Steelers spokesman Ron Wahl said.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns have begun to interview candidates for their vacant general manager post, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports.

Browns' owner Randy Lerner and president and CEO John Collins have traveled to Baltimore and Jacksonville recently to interview the Ravens' director of player personnel, Phil Savage, and the Jaguars' director of pro personnel, Charles Bailey for Cleveland's GM job.

Falcons assistant GM Tim Ruskell turned down an opportunity to interview for the position.

It is unknown whether or not the Patriots were called about vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli. Pioli said last month that he would remain in New England through the length of his contract, which expires in 2006.

Green Bay Packers: Pro Bowl wide receiver Javon Walker and tight end Bubba Franks are expected to play in Green Bay's wild-card game against the Minnesota Vikings after being injured Sunday in Chicago.

Walker had his head slammed into the ground and Franks jammed his left knee.

Coach Mike Sherman said Monday that backup running back Najeh Davenport, who missed the regular season finale with a strained shoulder, also is expected to play against the Vikings next Sunday.

But wide receiver Robert Ferguson is unlikely to play after missing the last two regular season games following a hit Dec. 19 by Jacksonville's Donovin Darius that left him temporarily paralyzed. Sherman did not yet rule him out entirely, however.

Sherman said Walker likely suffered a mild concussion but will practice Wednesday when the players return from a two-day break. He said Franks has a bruised knee.

Backup linebackers Paris Lenon (hyperextended elbow) and Steve Josue (bruised hip) and backup fullback Vonta Leach (shin bruise, sprained ankle) also were expected to practice this week. Lenon will be fitted with a splint.

Ferguson, the Packers' No. 3 wide receiver and kick returner, is still dealing with weakness on his left side and Sherman said he would have to "come a significant way" to be cleared to return.

"But I think once it comes, it comes. From my understanding, he could wake up today and be markedly better," Sherman said.

Tennessee Titans: With Steve McNair's return next season still in question while he recovers from surgery, the Titans are in no hurry to put his trusty backup under the knife.

Billy Volek separated his throwing shoulder Sunday in the fourth quarter of Tennessee's 24-19 victory over Detroit, and coach Jeff Fisher said the quarterback would have an MRI on Monday. Results were not available, but an exam prompted doctors to consult with specialists.

McNair had surgery to graft bone to his sternum last week, and the Titans are anxiously waiting to hear if the NFL's co-MVP in 2003 is confident enough in the repair to return for 2005. That is why they want to make the right decision for Volek.

He started eight games this season in place of McNair, and finished seventh in AFC passer rating. Volek threw for 2,486 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He became only the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 400 yards in consecutive games.

Volek separated his shoulder where the joint meets the clavicle. Fisher said that impacts the throwing mechanics and rotator cuff.

Washinton Redskins: Mark Brunell is uncertain whether he would be content to return the Redskins as a backup.

Brunell, who was benched in favor of Patrick Ramsey in November, commented Monday for the first time on coach Joe Gibbs' announcement two weeks ago that Ramsey will be the starter next season.

"I want to play, there's no question," Brunell said. "I'm confident that I can still play, no doubt about that. It would be hard to be a backup as it has been the last few weeks."

Brunell, 34, ranked last in the league in completion percentage when he was benched during the first half against Cincinnati on Nov. 14. Brunell's stats were the worst of his 11-year career, and he failed to throw for 100 yards in five of his nine starts.

Ramsey led the Redskins to victories in three of their last five games as the team finished 6-10.

Brunell said he came to Washington expecting to start when he signed a seven-year, $43 million contract after being traded from Jacksonville for a third-round draft pick. He said he was surprised when Gibbs announced that there wouldn't be an open competition for the 2005 starting job.

Indianapolis Colts: Three Colts -- tight end Dallas Clark, linebacker Rob Morris and wide receiver Troy Walters -- were being tested for concussions Monday.

All three still are expected to play in Sunday's first-round playoff game against Denver.

Coach Tony Dungy said the Colts escaped Sunday's 33-14 loss at Denver without any serious injuries or losing additional players for this week's playoff rematch with the Broncos.

Clark was the most significant player added to the injury list. A starter in the Colts' standard double tight end formations, Clark was hurt in the first quarter when Denver safety John Lynch delivered a bone-jarring hit. Lynch was called for a penalty on the play.

Walters also was hurt during Sunday's game, but Dungy did not appear worried about his availability.

Morris sat out Sunday's game after suffering a concussion in a victory over San Diego a week earlier.

"We made it through without any serious injuries," Dungy said.

Detroit Lions: Lions offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis will retire at the end of the month, Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said Monday.

"He has coached one year of high school, 14 years in college (at Michigan State) and 22 years in the National Football League," Mariucci said. "He has been excellent. Sherman and I go way back to Green Bay, where he and I joined Mike Holmgren in 1992.

"He's going to take time with his family and his wife, Toni, and enjoy himself a little bit."

Lewis, 62, joined the Lions in 2002. He was Minnesota's offensive coordinator from 2000-01 and Green Bay's offensive coordinator from 1992-99.

His NFL coaching career started in 1984 with San Francisco. The former Michigan State standout halfback was a Spartans assistant from 1969-82.

Minnesota Vikings: Strong safety Corey Chavous broke his left elbow in the regular-season finale against the Redskins and is not expected to play in Minnesota's wild-card game Sunday at Green Bay.

Chavous was scheduled for an MRI on the left elbow he hurt in Sunday's loss to Washington, and coach Mike Tice said it's probably broken. Chavous said Sunday he would not play.

Wide receiver Kelly Campbell separated his right shoulder in the regular-season finale against the Redskins, and nickel cornerback Terrance Shaw sustained an unspecified rib injury. All three players are questionable at best for this week, Tice said.

Special teams captain Willie Offord will replace Chavous, and cornerback Rushen Jones will move to safety to back up Offord and free safety Brian Russell.

The Vikings (8-8) have lost seven of their last 10 games, and were beaten twice this season by the NFC North champion Packers. Green Bay won the division by beating Minnesota on Dec. 24.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.