Oilers' Thigpen Out For A Month

The Tennessee Oilers got some good news-bad news Thursday. Arthroscopic surgery will keep receiver Yancey Thigpen out of the lineup at least four weeks, but the damage was less than expected.

"Basically, we were very fortunate," coach Jeff Fisher said shortly after doctors repaired Thigpen's knee. "We expected significantly more damage than what we found."

The two-time Pro Bowl player had just returned to the practice field Wednesday afternoon when he hyperextended his left knee running a passing route. He was carted off and underwent an MRI Wednesday night.

That test had Oilers' officials expecting Thigpen to be out much longer before doctors performed surgery Thursday afternoon. Instead, they simply removed several pieces of cartilage that had broken off when his knee gave way.

"There's no structural damage to the knee, so we're very, very fortunate," Fisher said. "He'll recover fully, and we'll have him back as soon as he's able."

Thigpen was listed as out for Sunday's game with the Chicago Bears (2-5), and how long he is out depends on his rehabilitation. Fisher said he will miss at least four weeks but that it could be shorter or longer by a week or two.

That means the former Pittsburgh Steeler, who signed a five-year, $21 million contract with the Oilers in February, should miss key AFC Central Division games against his former team on Nov. 1 and Nov. 15.

Thigpen had 20 catches for a team-high 273 yards and two touchdowns through five games. He finally was finding a rhythm with quarterback Steve McNair when he injured his hip and missed the Oilers' 44-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

McNair called the injury a sad situation considering Thigpen had only been in practice for a few plays when he hurt his knee.

"It's something that happens, and you have to deal with it. The young guys stepped up last week, and they've got to continue to do that," he said.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved