Cowboys’ Irvin Back In The Fold

Michael Irvin finally showed up in training camp Wednesday, his primary mission to teach the Dallas Cowboys’ young receivers how to replace him when he begins his five-game suspension on opening day.

Irvin went home to Miami last month after pleading no contest to cocaine possession and hasn’t been with the Cowboys in Austin, Texas, since camp began July 17.

“No one provides a spark like he does,” tight end Eric Bjornson said. “We are at the point of training camp where it kind of hits a lull. Guys are banged up and tired, and I think Michael will give us a boost.”

Irvin, sentenced to four years’ probation and 800 hours of community, will be allowed to practice and play until his suspension takes effect for the Sept. 2 opener at Chicago. He will return Oct. 13 for a home game against Arizona.

He is being replaced by Deion Sanders, who will move from his cornerback spot during the suspension unless cornerback Kevin Smith isn’t ready to return from an Achilles tendon injury.

Wheatley stressed out

Tyrone Wheatley, troubled by injury since being selected by the New York Giants in the first round of last year’s draft, has a stress fracture in his right leg.

Wheatley had been the star of the Giants’ training camp and has been expected to provide a speedy alternate to Rodney Hampton in the running attack. He gained 54 yards in nine carries in a recent 24-17 victory over Jacksonville.

Trainer Ronnie Barnes said Wheatley either could play with the fracture if he can stand the pain or he could rest. Barnes said the mending time usually is about a week or two.

Beep, beep, baby!

Defensive tackle Jason Fisk returned to the Minnesota Vikings training camp after spending time with his wife during the birth of their first child, Julia, who was born Monday.

“It definitely shifts your perspective on some things,” Fisk said.

Fisk had been wearing a beeper so he could be notified when his wife, Miriam, went into labor. It went off when he was carrying his tray through the food line Monday.

“I dropped my dinner and ran out of there,” he said.

George ready to sign

Holdout quarterback Jeff George reported to training camp in Suwanee, Ga., after the Atlanta Falcons agreed to give him his freedom if he would sign for one more year.

George, who has missed 2-1/2 weeks of training camp and the first exhibition game, showed up at 9 a.m. after agreeing to a one-year, $3.64 million contract, the team said.

He did not sign the contract immediately. He was to spend most of the day in physical exams.

George’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, said the agreement would have the quarterback play another season with the Falcons, then become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year if a multi-year deal is not reached.

Currently, the Falcons have locked up George by making him a “transition” player, which allows the team to re-sign him at an average of the top 10 quarterback salaries in the NFL.

Atlanta has agreed to renounce that designation after the 1996 season in exchange for George signing the one-year deal, which represents the average salary of the 10 highest-paid quarterbacks last year.

Ripkenesque streak

Minnesota’s Darryl Talley, who toiled in the shadows of Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett during his 12 seasons with the Buffalo Bills, will play in his 222nd straight NFL game when the regular season begins Sept. 1.

That might not sound like much compared to Cal Ripken’s 2,266-game streak in baseball, but it is perhaps equally impressive considering the punishment a linebacker absorbs over 13 seasons.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Vikings defensive tackle Jason Fisk, who has played in eight NFL games. “This game takes an extreme toll on your body. That’s quite a stretch.”

Talley, who signed with the Vikings as a free agent two weeks ago, actually hasn’t missed a game since his senior season at Cleveland’s Sha High School.

He was a four-year starter at West Virginia, and he has played every game since the Bills picked him in the second round of the 1983 draft.

“I never think about it,” Talley said of his streak. “My dad taught me a long time ago that if you do it all out, it’ll take care of itself.”

Quick kicks

The Jacksonville Jaguars released kicker Craig Fayak and signed Ed Brady, a 13-year veteran linebacker and long snapper. … Gus Frerotte, hoping to beat out Heath Schuler as the Washington Redskins No. 1 quarterback, will start Friday night against Detroit. … The San Francisco 49ers waived running back Russell White and signed running back Reynard Rutherford, who was cut by Kansas City two days ago. … Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham is a top candidate - along with Eric Dickerson, Jackie Slater and Shaun Gayle - to be a studio analyst on TNT’s football broadcasts this year. … Philadelphia Eagles coach Ray Rhodes said Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete, who are locked in a heated battle for the Eagles starting quarterback job, will share time against the New York Jets tonight, with Detmer playing the first and third quarters and Peete working the second.

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