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Cowboys' McIver Returns To Practice

Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Everett McIver returned to practice Monday for the first time since suffering a neck wound in a dormitory fight.

McIver, who reportedly received a six-figure payoff from Michael Irvin to remain quiet about how he was injured, had not participated in team drills since the July 29 episode.

"We're going to see how well he does today and then try to get him in the one-on-one play before the scrimmage against New Orleans on Tuesday," coach Chan Gailey said.

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The rookie coach, who has only said that McIver was hurt during "horseplay" in the dorm, said the team is trying to keep the saga from becoming a distraction.

"I think if you think things are going to go completely smooth all the time you're living a little bit in a dream world," Gailey said. "There are going to be problems.

"There are going to be ups and downs. How you deal with it is the key. You deal with it. You go on to the next one. You work together as a team. We've handled it. I've talked about it. It's done. You can't get caught up in that or you don't go forward where you are supposed to go forward."

McIver refused to comment on the incident, telling reporters: "The questions are over. I try to cooperate with you guys and you won't cooperate with me."

Gailey said that McIver remains the starting right guard, despite the success of his replacement, second-round pick Flozell Adams. Adams has split time at right guard and right tackle.

A bigger concern for the Cowboys is their defensive line, especially ends Kavika Pittman and Greg Ellis. Both were non-factors in Saturday's preseason loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Veteran end Fernando Smith, who was waived by Minnesota two weeks ago because of injury and salary considerations, auditioned for thposition Monday. Dallas was the sixth team Smith has visited.

The Cowboys did make one move, signing NFL Europe receiver Marco Martos of Mexico in preparation for Monday's game against the New England Patriots in Mexico City. Martos worked out with the Denver Broncos last summer.

49ers

San Francisco fullback Marc Edwards was activated from the physically unable to perform list Monday and joined the team's training camp practices for the first time.

Edwards, expected to start in place of free-agent loss William Floyd, had been sidelined since reporting for the start of camp July 17 with a bulging disc in his lower back. He received a cortisone injection and anti-inflammatory therapy to alleviate the problem.

The team is easing Edwards back into a football regimen, allowing him to take part in non-contact drills. Coach Steve Mariucci said Edwards probably would be held out of this weekend's game in Vancouver and see his first action Aug. 23 in an exhibition against Miami.

"The big test is going to come once we start hitting, getting in there and getting turned around a little bit, getting thrown around," Edwards said. "As for this practice, everything went well and I'm feeling great."

Panthers

Carolina attempted to plug defensive line gaps by signing former North Carolina lineman Oscar Sturgis.

The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Sturgis was a seventh-round draft pick by Dallas in 1995. He also spent brief stints with Green Bay and Miami in 1996.

Carolina lost defensive line starters Sean Gilbert and Shawn King to injuries in its preseason opening win over Jacksonville Saturday night.

Jets

Tackle Siupeli Malamala, recovered from a career-threatening knee injury suffered more than two years ago, was ready to reclaim his starting spot on the right side of New York's offensive line.

Then along came rookie Jason Fabini.

The Jets, who already have installed fresh faces at two positions on the line, seemed poised to welcome another this week. Fabini, a fourth-round draft pick out of Cincinnati, has been elevated to the first unit as Malamala finds himself on the outside looking in again.

"I know what 'Soupy' can do," Jets coach Bill Parcells said of Malamala. "I'm not interested in beating him up in camp. He has been taking all his turns; he hasn't missed any. He hasn't missed a practice since I've been here. I have a pretty good idea what he can do."

That, however, may not be enough. Fabini has been impressive during the first three weeks of camp, along with heavy action in last Thursday's 29-15 preseason victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I'm trying to get this kid ready to play, there's no secret about that," Parcells sai of Fabini. "He's doing pretty good. Technically, this kid is pretty well-advanced for a young player. He has pretty good technique and was taught well in college for some things. There are some other things he needs to work on, and he's doing that."

Giants

With the release of all-time leading rusher Rodney Hampton, New York planned a backfield by committee with Tiki Barber, Gary Brown, Tyrone Wheatley and fullback Charles Way sharing the running chores. Barber was slated to handle third-down duties, catching the ball out of the backfield.

It worked well for the Giants last year when Hampton was injured for most of the season and the backs combined for 1,988 yards, seventh best in the NFL.

But Barber has struggled lately, dropping a lot of passes. He's dropped them in training camp and he dropped another deep in Cincinnati territory in the opening series of the Giants' 24-17 win over the Bengals Saturday night.

"I think I get anxious some times," said Barber, who had 34 catches for 299 yards last year. "I want to catch it and go before I catch it. That's what happened Saturday. I just tried to run before I caught it. I would have scored, too."

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