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MIRER'S TIME WITH THE BEARS WILL BE OVER BY SUNDAY

Rick Mirer's disappointing career has hit a new low.

The No. 2 pick in the 1993 draft will be cut if the Chicago Bears can't trade him by Sunday, Mark Hatley, the Bears' vice president of player personnel, said Wednesday. The announcement came after the Bears and Mirer failed to reach an agreement to cut Mirer's $10 million contract.

"I wish it would have worked a different way," Hatley said. "We just decided we needed to go in another direction."

Mirer, who never threw a touchdown pass in a Bears uniform, had already left the Bears' practice facility when the announcement was made and couldn't be reached for comment. When he left the field after spending another practice on the sidelines, though, he talked as if he knew his career in Chicago was over.

"I made it clear that if they choose to keep me on this team, I'm willing to help them if they want to get guys in here and they need cap money," he said. "I wasn't going to go down a drastic amount to make the team unless they were going to make a commitment and I would have the chance to be here more than just four months.

"If they want to show me I'll be here, I'll be here. If not, I'll go somewhere else."

Mirer's salary would have cost the Bears $3.2 million against the cap this year, and they'll save $2.3 million by cutting or trading him.

He turned down two offers that would have paid him approximately $1.5 million, Hatley said. Mirer wanted long-term security, something the Bears couldn't give him.

Coryatt to play tonight

INDIANAPOLIS -- Quentin Coryatt, fighting chest muscle pain for the past month, will play tonight in the Colts' final exhibition game against the Detroit Lions.

Coryatt, took to the field for a light workout Wednesday after a quick trip to Los Angeles for a second opinion on his pectoral muscle injury.

"Quentin went to LA yesterday and had a second opinion from the doctor that did the surgery on him a couple of years ago. The doctor said he's fine to play. He's going to play tomorrow night," coach Jim Mora said after the practice.

Coryatt, who was fined $10,000 when he left training camp without permission after four practices, refused to talk.

"He might have some soreness in the course of the season, but it is not because there is anything wrong with him from the standpoint of the injury," Mora said. "He's ready to go, and we're ready to play him."

In the only other exhibition game tonight, Dallas plays at Jacksonville (8 p.m., Ch. 4).

Blake's future clouded

CINCINNATI -- The fate of quarterback Jeff Blake is a hot topic since the Bengals decided to relegate him to the bench for the season opener.

Teammates are wondering whether Blake will remain with the Bengals or be cut this weekend to help reduce the roster to 53 players by the end of preseason.

"We're going to do what's best for the team, and we'll do it in a timely fashion. I don't think that creates any problems," Bengals president Mike Brown said.

If Blake is released or traded, that would leave Paul Justin as backup to starter Neil O'Donnell. Coach Bruce Coslet has already designated O'Donnell as the starter in Friday's final exhibition at Atlanta and the season opener Sept. 6 against Tennessee.

Blake is scheduled to make $1.9 million this season and $2.15 million next year. Justin is to be paid $1.5 million this season and $1 million next year.

The Bengals also signed free-agent defensive lineman Harry Deligianis, a day after he was waived by the Jaguars. The 6-foot-4, 304-pound Deligianis had 54 tackles, including 18 for losses, and 17 sacks in 14 games with Youngstown State last year.

Expansion may go international

NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he expects the league to expand internationally between 2002 and 2012.

The commissioner said the NFL should place a team outside the U.S. after the Cleveland Browns plus a 32nd franchise -- probably Houston or Los Angeles -- are on the field.

"Once you get beyond 32, I definitely think international expansion," Tagliabue said. "You could put teams in Canada and Mexico. You could put a team in England or Germany."

The NFL is the only major North American sports league without teams outside the U.S.

Edwards in the spotlight

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Robert Edwards, New England's first-round pick, will be the featured performer in the New England Patriots' exhibition finale Saturday night.

Edwards, the rookie running back from Georgia, missed three of the Patriots' four exhibition games with a left groin strain, but he should get the bulk of the work at tailback against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We'll spot-play him so we don't wear him down, because his conditioning isn't going to be what it needs to be," Carroll said. "But I'd like to see him get 12 to 14 carries. It might takes us throughout the game to do that because we want to spread his plays out."

Edwards suffered the groin pull at the beginning of training camp, and aggravated the injury after carrying six times for 20 yards in the Patriots' exhibition-opening 14-13 loss at San Francisco.

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