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HARBAUGH MAY BE FORCED TO WATCH AFTER HAMMERING BY BILLS

After taking a battering at the hands of the Buffalo Bills Monday night, Indianapolis quarterback Jim Harbaugh may be forced to take a seat on the bench for the Colts' game at San Diego on Sunday.

Coach Lindy Infante on Tuesday refused to speculate whether Paul Justin or Harbaugh -- hobbled with a sprained ankle suffered in Monday's game -- would start for the winless Colts. Indianapolis fell to 0-7 with Monday night's 9-6 loss to Buffalo.

"It's not fair to change anybody, just to change. That's the worst thing you can do," Infante said. "Harbaugh has an ankle sprain which is probably going to keep him down for a period of time, so that's more of an injury-related thing."

And it gives Infante time to make a decision. As of now, though, he won't automatically rule out Harbaugh, who has been sacked 28 times for 171 yards and has been relieved by Justin in four games this year.

"We'll have to wait and see. Jimmy's ankle is not real good. As we met him this morning, the prognosis is that he would be down at least this week," Infante said.

Harbaugh's right ankle is "severely" sprained, Infante said. "It could be a week, it could be two. He's a pretty quick healer, so we'll wait and see."

The Colts are off to their worst start since they lost their first nine games in 1991 and finished 1-15.

"This is certainly not a very pleasant thing that we're all going through. It's been tough on a lot of people," Infante said. "We're all agonizing with it. . . . There aren't any magical cures that you can just take, or have injected into you."

"It's like the same old swan song," wide receiver Brian Stablein said. "Every week we're that close, and we're not making plays. The defense plays a great game (against Buffalo). There's no reason for an offense not to put up more points.

"Offensively, we're just not clicking on all four cylinders when we have to. . . . You'd think eventually the cards are going to fall your way, and they're just not. To say we're frustrated is an understatement."

Broncos' blocker hurting

DENVER -- Denver Broncos fullback Howard Griffith, the lead blocker for AFC rushing leader Terrell Davis, might miss Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills because of a torn knee ligament.

Griffith, who tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Sept. 28, reinjured the knee in the third quarter of Sunday's 28-25 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Griffith hasn't missed a start because of injury since 1995, but he missed most of the Atlanta game in Week Five and did not return after twisting the knee against Oakland. Those are the only games in which Davis has rushed for less than 100 yards.

"If it's still giving him a lot of pain, I'm thinking about giving him a week off, then have him get ready so we don't continue to injure that knee," coach Mike Shanahan said. "I'll have to get a good feel for it this week because he's so tough. He never wants to tell you if he's hurting. We know he's hurting."

After the initial injury, Griffith was projected to miss 3-5 weeks, but he returned the following week.

Around the league

The Miami Dolphins signed free-agent defensive tackle Mike Chalenski, the team said. Chalenski, 27, had 41 tackles and half a sack in 15 games with the New York Jets last season. He was cut by the Minnesota Vikings during training camp this season.

Arizona Cardinals coach Vince Tobin went with a hunch Tuesday, naming rookie Jake Plummer to start at quarterback Sunday against the Tennessee Oilers. Plummer, who starred at Arizona State and finished third in last year's Heisman Trophy voting, earned the job Sunday when he took the Cardinals on a 98-yard, 14-play drive that put Arizona ahead, 10-7, against Philadelphia. The Eagles forced overtime and won the game, 13-10, but Plummer had a chance to demonstrate his leadership in the hostile environment of Veterans Stadium.

"I put Jake in and he brought us on a drive, 98 yards, and I want to see what else is there," Tobin said. "That's really the final analysis. I think there's something there that can be really, really good, and I want to look at it."

An MRI showed no ligament damage in starter Kent Graham's right knee or ankle, but he will be inactive for the second straight week unless the swelling disappears this week. Stoney Case got the first start of his career against the Eagles.

San Diego Chargers linebacker Kurt Gouveia is out for the rest of the season, the team said, citing a herniated disc that he aggravated last Thursday. Spokesman David Neville said the injury is in Gouveia's neck, and surgery is planned. Gouveia, 33, has played for the Chargers for two seasons. He was picked up as a free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Chris Chandler may be able to play in Sunday night's game at Carolina after tests showed no serious damage from his second concussion of the season. Chandler was knocked out early in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's 35-28 loss to San Francisco -- his second concussion in six weeks.

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Kevin Hardy will miss the next two to three weeks with a knee injury. Hardy underwent an MRI and has been diagnosed with a sprain of his medial collateral ligament, the team announced. Hardy, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, sprained his left knee on the sixth play from scrimmage in a 26-22 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

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