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Smith Returns To Bills Camp Complaining About Contract

Bruce Smith had his first workout of the preseason with Buffalo, then left the field unhappier than ever about his contract.

The NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season, Smith held out for three weeks before reporting to the team before its overtime exhibition loss to Chicago on Saturday night. He was fined $105,000, $5,000 for each day he missed.

“It’s very difficult,” the 34-year-old defensive end said. “So far as the contract situation is concerned, I’m not going to talk about it anymore. There’s nothing else that can be said. I’m talked out.”

Smith has been complaining about a contract reworked in 1995 that calls for him to be paid $2.2 million this season. He wants to play out the final year in hopes of becoming a free agent.

“There’s nothing more that can be said. I’ve been over this question 1,000 times,” Smith said. “I played under a tremendous amount of stress last year, and look where it’s gotten me - basically, nowhere.”

Smith, who turned down a five-year, $22 million offer in May, joined the Bills less than a week after he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol near his home in Virginia Beach, Va.

Seau will miss opener

The San Diego Chargers will open the season without six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau.

Seau, who underwent arthroscopic surgery Monday for torn cartilage in his left knee, is expected to be out four weeks and will be miss the club’s regular-season opener Aug. 31 at New England.

Originally diagnosed with a mild strain of his left knee, Seau was injured on the final play of the first quarter in Saturday’s 20-13 exhibition victory over San Francisco.

O’Donnell tries to shed rust

New York Jets quarterback Neil O’Donnell had good stats in Saturday night’s victory over Philadelphia, completing 10 of 13 attempts for 112 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown pass to Keyshawn Johnson.

But those statistics hid the fact that O’Donnell looked like a quarterback who had played in just six regular-season games last season. O’Donnell at times looked indecisive.

Coach Bill Parcells wants to get O’Donnell much more work than he received last preseason when then-coach Rich Kotite sat him out for the exhibition finale at Oakland.

“He’s been fairly decisive in practice and in the game wasn’t quite as decisive,” Parcells said. “My job is to get this guy ready to play and I’ve got to communicate with him and receive input from him.”

Patriots welcome back Gash

New England fullback Sam Gash has returned to practice, six months after a severe knee injury ended his 1996 season. He was greeted with applause from his teammates when he walked onto the field Sunday.

“I was kind of surprised. I didn’t think it was that much of a big deal,” Gash said. “It makes you feel good to know they want you in there.”

American Bowl sites named

The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers will play in American Bowl games in 1998, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said.

The Cowboys will play in Mexico City, while the Packers will play in Japan’s Tokyo Dome.

Game dates and opponents haven’t been announced.