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The Comeback Kids
Peter King
November 11, 1996
Beebe, Nash and Odomes return to spotlight, McCardell catches on in Jacksonville, Bettis has last laugh
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November 11, 1996

The Comeback Kids

Beebe, Nash and Odomes return to spotlight, McCardell catches on in Jacksonville, Bettis has last laugh

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Nate Odomes. A two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Odomes played on the Bills' four Super Bowl teams before turning free agent and accepting a four-year, $8.4 million contract with the Seahawks in February 1994. However, shortly after signing, he wrecked his right knee in a charity basketball game, which caused him to miss the '94 season. A year later he tore the same ligament and missed the '95 season as well.

Without ever playing a game for Seattle, the 31-year-old Odomes was released. He signed with the Falcons in September. On Sunday he was called on to replace the struggling Lenny McGill—Odomes's first action since Super Bowl XXVIII in January 1994—and he responded with six tackles and a pass deflection as Atlanta won for the first time this season, 20-17.

"I started having flashbacks and remembering things my body used to do before I got hurt," Odomes said after the game. "Right now, it's just a matter of getting the footwork back, and then I think I'll be back. I feel the instincts returning."

The Understudy Pays Off

The Browns paid wideout Andre Rison $5.7 million last year, and the Jaguars are paying $2 million for his services this season. But for a total of $2.85 million, Keenan McCardell, Rison's lesser-known teammate in Cleveland and now in Jacksonville, has not only been the better bargain but also the better performer (chart, above).

McCardell, who had 1996 NFL single-game highs for receptions (16) and receiving yards (232) during a 17-14 loss to the Rams on Oct. 20, leads the Jaguars with 55 catches. Not bad for a player who spent his first four years in the league trying to find a home. A 12th-round draft pick of the Redskins from UNLV in 1991, he floated as a free agent to the Browns in '92, then to the Bears' practice squad in '93 and back to the Browns' active roster later that season. Stuck behind the bigger and faster Derrick Alexander, McCardell bided his time until Cleveland rewarded him with the third receiver's job early last season. He was signed by the Jaguars in March, and now he's on pace for a 96-reception season.

Dispatches

Steelers running back Jerome Bettis tormented his former team, the Rams, on Sunday, rushing 19 times for 129 yards and two TDs in a 42-6 win. That performance resulted in another round of Rams-bashing because St. Louis got only a second-round pick for Bettis on draft day last spring. Yes, Bettis has outrushed his Rams successor, rookie Lawrence Phillips, 953 yards to 316. But Bettis would be struggling too, if he were running behind St. Louis's woeful line....

Jim Harbaugh has been only a 49% passer during the Colts' 1-4 slide, and in the first 19 minutes of a 26-19 loss to the Chargers on Sunday, he threw four interceptions. He threw five all last season....

At 4-5, aren't the Dolphins about where we thought they would be? Coach Jimmy Johnson needs speed rushers and another cover corner, and someone should remind rookie defensive tackle Daryl Gardener that he's making first-round money to stop the run. Over the last three games, all losses, Miami has allowed Ty Detmer, Troy Aikman and Drew Bledsoe to complete a staggering 76.4% of their throws while sacking them only three times....

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