Sports briefs, Sept. 19

Posted Sept. 19, 2011, at 10:25 p.m.

Merlin Olsen’s heirs settle asbestos lawsuit in LA

LOS ANGELES — The family of Hall of Fame football player and actor Merlin Olsen has settled a lawsuit with several asbestos companies that they say caused the rare form of cancer he contracted late in life.

Attorneys for Olsen’s wife and three children filed a notice of settlement on Wednesday in Los Angeles without providing further details.

A member of the Los Angeles Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” in the 1960s, Olsen died in March 2010 after battling mesothelioma.

Olsen claimed the cancer of the lung lining was caused by exposure to asbestos products at construction sites he worked on as a youth. The settlement covers 10 companies that manufactured or used the products.

The former defensive tackle later appeared in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie” as well as commercials and NFL broadcasts.

Vick’s status uncertain because of concussion

PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick pointed to the scoreboard on his way to the locker room after suffering a concussion, reminding hecklers the Eagles were winning.

Without Vick, Philadelphia couldn’t hold onto the lead and lost 35-31 to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night. The Eagles (1-1) may again be without Vick for their home opener against the New York Giants.

Coach Andy Reid didn’t rule out Vick’s return this week, but head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder wouldn’t give a time.

“That’s foolish on our part medically to put time frame out there,” Burkholder said Monday. “Everybody wants to know time frame, everybody wants to know whether Mike’s going to play, everybody wants to know whether Mike’s going to practice. We’re going to go through our protocol and when Mike’s ready to practice, I’m going to turn him over to Coach and he’s going to make a decision wh ether he’s ready to play, had reps, all that kind of stuff.”

Vick was injured in the third quarter when he was spun around by a defender and slammed into right tackle Todd Herremans. His neck whipped back and he bit his tongue, which led to him spitting blood on his way off the field.

Vick wasn’t woozy and seemed fully alert. He certainly was aware of the score — 31-21 in favor of the Eagles — when he pointed it out to fans in the Georgia Dome on his way in for tests. Vick barely failed those baseline tests, so the medical staff kept him on the sideline.

“He was just a little bit off, enough that we acted on the side of caution to hold him back as our standard protocol says,” Burkholder said. “I was with him on the airplane. He was absolutely fine last night. As the days go on, we’ll see, but last night he was pretty good. He told Coach he was fine, he told his teammates he was fine, he told me he was fine, and he was very far along l ast night.”

Vick must pass several different tests and be evaluated by an independent neurologist before he can be cleared to return. The Pro Bowl quarterback had thrown for 242 yards and two touchdowns in his first game as a starter in Atlanta since going to prison and being released by the Falcons.

“There’s a whole protocol to go through, and that’s why we have it laid out so we’re not guessing,” Burkholder said. “That’s why we have tests that we run, and all the protocol that we go through that we, the NFL and all the medical experts have put together, so there’s a lot to do yet.”

Reid sounded encouraged by a conversation he had with Vick after the game.

“He remembered everything,” Reid said. “He recalled everything. I tried to quiz him and see where he was at. He was frustrated that he wasn’t able to finish. He had a vested interest in finishing.”

Reid wouldn’t say whether Mike Kafka or Vince Young would start if Vick can’t play against the Giants. Kafka, a fourth-round pick in 2010, played well in his NFL debut against the Falcons. He completed 7 of 9 passes for 72 yards and finished off the touchdown drive after Vick got hurt.

Kafka drove the Eagles to Atlanta’s 22 in the final two minutes, but Jeremy Maclin dropped a pass on fourth-and-4.

Reid blamed his conservative playcalling for the offense’s inability to score on full drives without Vick.

“I sent a message to our team and not a positive one,” Reid said. “That is something I don’t do, in particular given how much trust I have him (in Kafka). I’m kicking myself in the trail for that right now.

“When you have a lead, you have to get after it and stay aggressive. Again, I didn’t set the tempo from that. We’re going to learn how to finish here, starting with me and the coaches and the rest of the guys.”

Young, a two-time Pro Bowl QB in Tennessee, was signed to be the backup, but he’s been out with a hamstring injury. Kafka is more familiar with the offense since he was here last year.

“I would have never traded Kevin Kolb if I didn’t have trust in Mike Kafka,” Reid said. “I didn’t show that last night. I didn’t prove it to you last night until the last series.”

Notes: Reid said hasn’t decided whether the Eagles will need to add another QB given the injuries to Vick and Young. … TE Brent Celek has a low back strain. DE Trent Cole has a strained tendon in his hand. DE Juqua Parker has a high ankle sprain and DE Darryl Tapp continues to recover from his pectoral strain that forced him to miss the game.

Packers S Collins out for season with neck injury

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Safety Nick Collins is out for the season after injuring his neck in the Green Bay Packers’ victory at Carolina on Sunday.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy says Collins spent the night in the hospital and arrived back in Green Bay Monday afternoon. After meeting with the team’s medical staff, they determined his season was over.

The team was not willing to disclose specifics of the injury. McCarthy says it’s not clear if he’ll need surgery.

Collins has been selected for three straight Pro Bowls.

It’s a new season but the same old problem for the Packers, who won the Super Bowl last year despite a rash of season-ending injuries to key players.

Chiefs RB Charles will go on IR, done for season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A bad season for the Kansas City Chiefs just got worse.

The Chiefs said Monday that they will put running back Jamaal Charles on injured reserve with a left knee injury, meaning he is done for the rest of the season.

Charles was hurt in the first quarter of the Chiefs’ 48-3 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. He took an awkward step out of bounds while finishing off a run and immediately grabbed at his knee. Charles had an MRI exam on Monday and Haley said the team decided he would be placed on IR.

Charles was coming off a breakout season in which he ran for 1,467 yards. He and the rest of the Chiefs are off to an awful start, losing their first two games.

Tight end Tony Moeaki went down with a torn ACL in their preseason finale against Green Bay, and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry was hurt in their regular-season opener against Buffalo.

NFL looking into Dunta Robinson’s hit

NEW YORK — The NFL is looking into the hit by Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson on Philadelphia wide receiver Jeremy Maclin that drew a 15-yard penalty in Sunday night’s game.

Robinson was fined $50,000 last year for a similar hit on the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson that left both players with concussions. The fine later was reduced to $25,000, but Robinson falls into the category of repeat offender.

The league has said flagrant hits by such players could lead to a suspension. The NFL has not yet suspended anyone for such hits.

Normally, any league discipline is handed down in midweek. But the NFL could speed the process given the high profile of Robinson’s hit — during a prime-time national TV game — and the cornerback’s recent history.

Robinson drew a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter after leading with his helmet and crashing into Maclin. Maclin was slow to leave the field but returned to the game.

Replays clearly showed Robinson leading with his helmet, something the league has been adamant about eliminating. The NFL this year also banned launches into a defenseless opponent.

Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday he had not heard from the NFL about the hit. Smith said after the game he thought it was a legal hit and “that’s the way we teach it.”

“My opinion didn’t change,” he said.

Last October, the NFL sent head coaches memos listing those players on their teams who were called for two or more unnecessary roughness penalties since 2008. Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, told The Associated Press this summer the league uses the last two seasons as criteria to determine repeat offenders.

“Player safety is a priority and we will not relent on it,” Anderson said in August. “Let me make it very clear, particularly in regard to repeat offenders, that egregious acts will be subject to suspension. We will not feel the need to hesitate in this regard.”

Anderson, assistant Merton Hanks, the former 49ers safety, and their staff go over every play following each weekend. Director of officiating Carl Johnson and his staff also are consulted. When it’s determined a fine or suspension is necessary, Anderson says the player and team are notified as quickly as possible.

The player can appeal to former NFL coaches Art Shell and Ted Cottrell, who are paid by the league and the NFL Players Association to handle those cases. Their appeal must be heard by the second Tuesday following notification of the discipline.

Commissioner Roger Goodell can become involved in the process at any time.

Officials in KC to begin All-Star Game planning

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Officials from Major League Baseball are in Kansas City this week to begin planning for the 2012 All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium.

Baseball officials are meeting Monday and Tuesday with Kansas City Royals executives to plan festivities surrounding the first All-Star Game hosted by the franchise since the 1973.

The MLB FanFest at the Kansas City Convention Center is scheduled for July 6-10, with events ramping up at the ballpark on July 8 with a celebrity softball game and All-Star Futures Game.

Teams will work out July 9 prior to the Home Run Derby, with the 83rd All-Star Game scheduled for July 10.

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