- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

Even though he’s months behind, Michael Crabtree is confident he can play an important role for the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie.

Crabtree signed a six-year contract early Wednesday after a drawn-out negotiation that brought some questions whether the receiver would show up this season.

“It’s a lot of relief off my shoulders,” Crabtree said.

While specific terms of the deal, which was completed around 3 a.m., were not disclosed, Crabtree will receive nearly $17 million guaranteed, according to a person familiar with the contract. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the details weren’t made public.

Crabtree headed out for his first practice as the 49ers prepare for Sunday’s home game against Atlanta.

RAVENS: Tony Fein, an Iraq war veteran and NFL rookie linebacker who played with Baltimore during the preseason, died of unexplained causes in Washington state after collapsing at a friend’s house in what his agent said appears to be “an accidental situation.”

Fein, 27, an undrafted rookie free agent from Mississippi, was lying face down and unconscious, vomiting and barely breathing when medics arrived at a house outside Port Orchard on the Kitsap Peninsula just before 9 a.m Pacific time Tuesday, said Mike Wernet, a battalion chief and medical officer with South Kitsap Fire & Rescue.

BROWNSj: Cleveland coach Eric Mangini dumped Braylon Edwards off on his former team, trading to the New York Jets a receiver whose off-field troubles have matched his immense talent.

The Browns got receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker Jason Trusnik and two undisclosed draft choices for Edwards, who has 10 receptions for 139 yards but was shut out for the first time in his career in the Browns’ overtime loss Sunday.

EAGLES: Quarterback Donovan McNabb was back at practice and said he’ll be in the starting lineup when Philadelphia plays Tampa Bay on Sunday.

McNabb has been out since breaking his rib in the season opener. He missed two games before the Eagles had their open date this past weekend. McNabb, who still feels some discomfort when he laughs, coughs or sleeps on his side, said he expects to wear a protective jacket during the game.

GIANTS: While his painful heel injury is improving, Eli Manning is not guaranteeing he will quarterback New York this weekend against Oakland.

Manning, who has started the last 82 games, was held out of practice so he can get treatment on his plantar fascia, a band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and inserts into the heel.

BRONCOS: Denver might be without its most productive running back when it faces New England this weekend.

Correll Buckhalter, who sprained his left ankle against Dallas on Sunday and left the stadium on crutches, missed practice Wednesday. The Broncos likely will turn to rookie Knowshon Moreno, who has rushed for 249 yards, to start Sunday.

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