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Bars won't open for Saints games

New Orleans Saints: When the New Orleans Saints play four games at LSU's Tiger Stadium, the bars in East Baton Rouge Parish will be closed.

The Metro Council refused Wednesday to lift the Sunday closure rule, citing feedback from residents.

"Every e-mail and call that I have received on the issue has been against this. My constituents do not want to become New Orleans. They don't want to progress in that way," Council member Martha Jane Tassin said.

Another opponent of the measure, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Greco, said he could understand why some Saints fans might want to indulge after watching the Packers defeat the Saints 52-3 on Sunday.

"I think you've got to be drunk to watch the Saints these days. It would be hard to watch them sober," Greco said.

Council member Mickey Skyring had proposed suspension of the bar closing ordinance for Saints' game days.

Also, the New Orleans Saints, forced out of the Superdome by Hurricane Katrina, will play in front of their first
"home" sellout of the season Sunday against Atlanta.

The team announced a sellout Thursday of the second of three
games in the 65,000-seat Alamodome. The Saints will play their next
four home games at LSU in Baton Rouge, La., before returning to the
Alamodome for their final home game on Christmas Eve.

The sellout came despite uncertainty over the playing status of
Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick, who is nursing a knee
injury.

The Saints played in front of almost 59,000 in their first
Alamodome game against Buffalo two weeks ago.

Seattle Seahawks:
The Seahawks' receiving corps, already thinned by injuries to starters Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram, was down to its roster minimum today.

D.J. Hackett watched practice wearing sweat pants. The second-year receiver, who had his first NFL start at St. Louis last week, has a left hip injury.

The Seahawks listed him as probable for Sunday night's home game
against winless Houston.

Jackson, Seattle's leading receiver, is in Miami waiting for a
post-operation checkup next week with the doctor who performed
arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Coach Mike Holmgren has
said Jackson will likely miss at least two more weeks after that
appointment.

Engram remains out indefinitely with two cracked ribs. He was injured October second at Washington.

That leaves just three healthy receivers on the roster practicing with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the first-team offense: Joe Jurevicius, Peter Warrick and Jerheme Urban.

Dallas Cowboys: Linebacker Dat Nguyen went through some
portions of practice Thursday, but running back Julius Jones only
did rehabilitation work on his sprained left ankle.
Both were still listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Jones
got hurt and missed the second half Sunday against Philadelphia, a
game Nguyen missed with a neck injury.
"Julius is improving a little bit," coach Bill Parcells said
Thursday. "Dat was about out there doing some things. We were
pretty careful with what he was able to do. He's making progress,
but I wouldn't change the status of anybody right now."

Indianapolis Colts: Defensive end Dwight Freeney left practice early Thursday after having difficulty
loosening up.
Freeney walked off the field carrying an ice pack, but coach
Tony Dungy said Freeney was not expected to miss Monday night's
game against the St. Louis Rams.
"He had a little problem getting loose, but we think he'll be
fine," Dungy said. "We gave him a little bit of the afternoon
off."
Freeney, the league's sacks champion in 2004, is second on the
team with five sacks this season and has played a major role in the
improvement of the Colts defense, which has allowed a league-low 29
points in five games.
Starting safety Bob Sanders, who was listed as questionable on
Wednesday's injury report, may play Monday night.
Sanders injured his left biceps during last week's 28-3 victory
at San Francisco, and Dungy said there was no risk of further
injury if Sanders could play through the pain.
"Bob looked fine," Dungy said. "He told me last night that he
intends to play, so we'll see. It's a big game, the national
spotlight, so I think it will be tough to keep him out of there."

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguars running back Fred Taylor
missed part of practice Thursday with a sprained right ankle and
was downgraded to questionable for Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.

Taylor injured his ankle late in last week's victory over
Cincinnati. He ran 24 times for a season-high 132 yards, but sat
out the final series after turning his ankle on a 2-yard run with
about 4 minutes to play.

Taylor, who has 105 carries for 401 yards and one touchdown this
season, missed the final two games last year after tearing
ligaments in his left knee.

St. Louis Rams: Safety Michael Hawthorne, who lost his starting job in last week's loss to the Seahawks, was released.

Hawthorne, signed to a free agent contract in the offseason,
started the first five games at free safety. Mike Furrey replaced
him in the second quarter of a 37-31 loss to Seattle and tied for
the team lead with a career-high nine tackles, including seven solo stops.

In recent weeks, Rams coaches have been critical of the lack of
discipline at the safety position and Hawthorne was out of position on several plays last week. The overall defense has struggled, allowing 81 points the last two games.

Furrey, a former Arena League player who began his career as a
wide receiver and special teams player, will make his first career
start on Monday at Indianapolis. He moved to defense this season.

Buffalo Bills: Chris Villarrial is breathing easier and his stomach is no longer acting. The starting right guard was hospitalized last weekend.

Villarrial returned to practice Thursday after spending Sunday night in the hospital because of an intestinal disorder that
doubled him over in pain and limited his breathing, forcing him to miss Buffalo's 20-14 win over Miami.

"It was terrible. It was bad," Villarrial said. "It was
probably the worst pain I ever went through."

Without divulging the exact nature of the condition, Villarrial said he's taking medication and expects to play when Buffalo hosts the Jets on Sunday. Listed as probable on Buffalo's injury report, Villarrial was released from the hospital Monday and held out of practice as a precaution Wednesday.

Houston Texans: Texans star receiver Andre Johnson will
likely miss the first game in his NFL career on Sunday.

He is still recovering from a calf strain that forced him out of
Houston's 34-10 loss to Tennessee after just two plays. Sitting on
the sidelines, unable to help his team made him feel hurt.

The third-year player started all 16 games in both of his first
two seasons. The Titans game broke a string of 35 consecutive games
with a catch for Johnson.

"I'm not used to missing games so this is like my first time
going through this," he said. "It's really difficult. I want to
be out there and try to help the team win."

He is listed as questionable and has been held out of practice
this week. The Pro Bowler said it is unlikely that he will play
against the Seahawks.

Johnson is not limping and said he can do most things but that
there is "bad pain" when he runs full speed.

He had 79 receptions for 1,129 yards last season, but has
struggled this season with 10 catches for 76 yards.

San Diego Chargers:
Wide receiver Eric Parker was added to
the injury report on Thursday with a sore back.
However, Parker is listed as probable for Sunday's game at
Oakland.
Outside linebacker Steve Foley continues to be listed as
questionable with an abdominal injury, but coach Marty
Schottenheimer said he did almost everything at practice on
Thursday.
''My expectation would be that he's closer to ready than he was
at this time a week ago,'' Schottenheimer said.
Foley has played through the injury.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Four-time Pro Bowl receiver Hines Ward took on a new job Thursday: mayor of Washington, Pa.

The title was honorary and lasted one day, but in accepting the
designation Ward joined a select group that includes former
Presidents Kennedy and Clinton.

Ward received the key to the city as part of Hines Ward Day
ceremonies in Washington, a city of 15,000 located 30 miles from
Pittsburgh.

"It will look great on my resume," Ward said.

He was honored not just for his playing skills, but for his work
in charitable and civic affairs and for being a role model for
youngsters with his team-first attitude and work ethic.

Teammate Jerome Bettis, playfully made light of the honor.

"That city's in trouble," he said. "What does he know about a
fiscal budget or law enforcement policies? I wouldn't want to live
in that city."

If Ward does have a future in politics, he wouldn't be the first
Steelers receiver to seek office.

Hall of Famer Lynn Swann, who played for the Steelers from
1974-82, is a Republican candidate for governor in the 2006
Pennsylvania election.