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Giants Start Collins Sunday

Kent Graham is going to miss the New York Giants' game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday because of a concussion, and Kerry Collins will start at quarterback.

Graham, who started the first four games, was injured in last Sunday's 16-15 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

He threw three interceptions against Philadelphia, one returned for a touchdown, and his status as the starter was in question. Giants coach Jim Fassel said he would evaluate Graham's performance and would announce his starter Wednesday. The injury made the decision for him.

Graham was examined Monday by neurologist Peter Tsairis of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

"All Giants are given neurological evaluations in the preseason and this information is used to determine any change in their neurological status," Dr. Russell Warren, the team's orthopedic surgeon said. "A battery of tests on Kent on Monday showed some significant alteration. At this point he is still symptomatic and will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. My recommendations to the Giants is that Kent not play this week."

Collins, a free agent who signed for nearly $17 million in the offseason despite a troubled past, was 6-of-12 for 86 yards and led the Giants on the game-winning field goal drive after replacing Graham in the third quarter Sunday. However, the drive included a fumble by Collins.

"Kerry will start. After listening to the doctors, obviously the mpost improtant thing is not to put Kent at greater risk," Fassel said. "The doctors told me because of the concussion Kent suffered Sunday, he will be more susceptible to concussions this week. If Kent were to sustain another concussion, we would be looking at a longer period of inactivity."

The Giants offense has struggled since the start of the season, although Graham has not been solely to blame.

Before the injury, Graham threw three horrible interceptions on plays he forced passes into coverage.

Fassel said it was almost as if Graham (15-of-29 for 171 yards) predetermined where he was going to throw the ball and didn't bother making any reads on the plays. Two Eagles literally battled for the ball on the third pick.

"After that last one, he forced it right into the teeth of the defense, I said I have to take him out of the ballgame," Fassel said.

Since becoming the Giants coach, Fassel has changed quarterbacks in each of his first two seasons. Danny Kanell took over for an injured Dave Brown (pectoral) in 1997 and led the Giants to thNFC East title, posting a 7-2-1 record as a starter.

New York won five of six games at the end of last season after Graham replaced Kanell as the starter.

"There is no question in my mind that I am aware when I made the quarterback switch the team has taken off," Fassel said. "... You weigh all those factors."

Collins, the fifth overall pick in the 1995 draft, led New York on an 11-play, 67-yard march that resulted in Brad Daluiso's game-winning 23-yard field goal with 7:43 to play.

The question about Collins is: Is he ready?

This is his first year in Fassel's offense and he hasn't gotten many reps since training camp ended. He also struggled mightily last season in Carolina and New Orleans in a season marred by a drunken driving arrest in North Carolina.

Fassel isn't sure whether Collins is ready, although he said he has made a lot of progress.

"If I am going to make any moves I want to make sure that guy is ready to play and to improve the play," Fassel said. "I don't want to go backwards. I want immediate better play from the position."

"It's not an easy situation," Collins said. "I think we both realize things like yesterday happen and it doesn't necessarily mean that permanent change is going to come."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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