- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

From combined dispatches
Quarterback Steve McNair, still bothered by tightness in his back, didn't practice again yesterday and Tennessee Titans officials put him through some tests as a precaution.
An MRI and X-rays showed no problems, coach Jeff Fisher said as the team ended training camp with two workouts. He said McNair was given an injection in his lower back to ease some swelling.
"We feel like this will take care of this," Fisher said. "It's a precautionary deal, and he's just a little uncomfortable and we need to get on it now rather than have to do something in Week 2 or 3. I don't anticipate it being a problem whatsoever."
McNair ruptured a disc in his lower back in 1999 and missed five games that season.
He has kept up a vigorous exercise program to keep his lower back flexible. He was disappointed that he missed the final three practices, the only camp workouts he missed due to his health.
"It's just tightness in the back. Everything else is fine," he said.
Backup quarterback Neil O'Donnell likely will start for the Titans at Minnesota on Friday night in an exhibition game.
STEELERS: His second NFL concussion apparently was one too many for Kordell Stewart, one of more than two dozen Pittsburgh players trying out a new helmet designed to reduce head injuries.
When camp began, the Steelers' quarterback stayed with the traditional-style helmet he has worn since breaking into the NFL in 1995. After sustaining a concussion while being slammed out of bounds Sunday night by Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, Stewart began experimenting in practice with a new helmet introduced this year.
Because an ongoing study of football-related concussions has determined that 70 percent occur in blows to the jaw, temple and face as did Stewart's injury the shell of the new helmet covers a larger area near the jawbone than did previous helmets.
The helmet includes six ventilation holes at the top to expel heat and extra absorbent padding along the ear holes. It is manufactured by Riddell, which makes most helmets for NFL players.
The face mask is stronger and designed to absorb more impact than traditional helmets.
"We'll try it, see how it goes," Stewart said. "It's supposed to have more padding and all that good stuff."
The helmet costs about $30 more than a regular helmet and weighs about 2 ounces more. It was developed to help reduce the number of concussions estimated at 100,000 per season in high school, college and NFL football.
Stewart also had a concussion while playing against Indianapolis in 1997. He said he had another while in high school, so his latest concussion was at least the third of his career.
Stewart insists the concussion wasn't all that serious, yet he said he couldn't differentiate between colors immediately after the game Sunday.
STRAM: Former Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints coach Hank Stram has been selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame's seniors committee as a finalist for election in the class of 2003. As the seniors committee nominee, Stram will join 14 modern-era candidates who will be announced on Jan.25, 2003, the day before the Super Bowl.
To be elected, Stram must receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists. The hall's 39-member board of selectors will elect between four and seven new members during the meeting in San Diego.
TEXANS: Houston claimed defensive end Erik Flowers, a former first-round draft choice, off waivers. Flowers, the top pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2000, played in 15 games last season. He had 37 tackles, 20 of them solos, two sacks and four quarterback pressures in five starts.

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