SI Vault
Peter King
December 06, 1999
Slash and Burn Pittsburgh has backed itself into a corner with Kordell Stewart
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December 06, 1999

The Nfl

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McCaffrey is tied for 10th in the AFC with 46 catches and tied for second in the conference with seven touchdown receptions. "The guy's an unbelievable football player," says Schlereth. "I know that I don't consider myself that tough."

Colts Free Agents
Polian Has His Work Cut Out

Sign of the times: Indianapolis is 9-2 and sitting atop the AFC East The long-term outlook appears bright for one of the league's up-and-coming teams, assuming, of course, that the Colts can keep their young nucleus intact.

Tight end Ken Dilger, one of the NFL's most underrated players, is eligible to become a free agent after this season, and if Indianapolis doesn't sign the fifth-year player to an extension, look for the Jets, whose offense has struggled without a tight end threat, to get into the bidding.

Indianapolis president Bill Polian, the architect of the Bills' Super Bowl teams of the '90s and the expansion Carolina club that played in the NFC Championship Game in only its second season, will have other tough decisions to make. "If'll be harder, a lot harder, than before," he says of life under the salary cap.

On an offense that already includes the high-priced duo of second-year quarterback Peyton Manning and rookie running back Edgerrin James, the Colts must find a way to lock up wideout Marvin Harrison, whose contract runs through 2000. "He's absolutely essential to our offense," Polian says of Harrison, who leads the league in receiving yards (1,114) and touchdown catches (12) and is third in receptions (69). Of course, Harrison would be a fool to leave Manning's side.

Chargers Ready To Test Leaf

Returning to practice this week after completing his four-game suspension for insubordination, San Diego quarterback Ryan Leaf might play as soon as the Dec. 12 game in Seattle. "I might borrow a page from [Chicago coach] Dick Jauron's book" Chargers coach Mike Riley says. "I like the way the Bears have put [rookie] Cade McNown in for a series or two in the games he hasn't started. I could see us doing that with Ryan. It's important that he play this season. We've got to get him ready for our future."...

Kudos to Vikings wideout Cris Carter for not treating his 900th catch on Sunday against the Chargers as if it were a major milestone. "All it means," said the 34-year-old Carter, "is I can try to put my foot on the gas and get to 1,000." Now that's a milestone. Only Jerry Rice (1,182 receptions) has gotten past it....

After notifying teams last week that it would fine players who made the controversial throat-slashing gesture, the league will dip into the paycheck of Saints linebacker William Whitehead for the gestures he made while celebrating his sack of Rams quarterback Kurt Warner on Sunday. Whitehead said he wasn't making the controversial slash, but rather was sending a message to God. "Good," one league official said on Monday. "Then he can consider his fine enforced tithing."...Linebacker Kevin Greene is 37, and the Panthers kept thinking they could replace him. But his 2½ sacks in a 34-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday gave him eight for the season....

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