August 31, 1997 in Sports

Sargent Keeps Bengals’ Attention Neck Injury Hasn’t Dashed Former Ewu Star’s Chances

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Kevin Sargent is 6-foot-6 and roughly 290 pounds, but he’s a pup in the NFL.

And he doesn’t like it. The former Eastern Washington University standout is on the Cincinnati Bengals’ physically unable-to-perform list, or PUP in NFL terminology.

Sargent missed last season with a herniated disc in his neck. He expected to recover in time for training camp, but suffered a slight setback in May.

“Basically the union in the bone graft slowed down,” he said. “I think I’m real close. My doctors, the Bengals’ nerve surgeon and team doctors all think the graft is good. It’ll just be a matter of playing with pain, but there’s no increased risk of that area being reinjured.”

After the required six weeks on the PUP, Sargent hopes to slowly work back into playing time on the offensive line. That outlook is much better than the one that greeted him after his surgery. He was injured last August. He hasn’t played a game since December 1995.

“I was in a brace and I could hardly move,” he said. “You look in the mirror and see yourself and say, ‘How am I ever going to play again?’ But then I got out of the brace and started moving my neck again. It’s like getting back on a bicycle.”

The Bengals obviously haven’t given up on Sargent, a former starter.

“I got a new (two-year) contract in March,” he said. “At that time my healing was coming along perfectly.”

Sargent spent last year at his Bremerton, Wash., home with his wife, daughter and newborn son, now 5 months old.

“It’s amazing how your body gets out of shape after not being able to do anything for four months,” he said. “My chest went down to my stomach. But I’ve pretty much got my strength back.”

Nuss at No. 3

Former Idaho quarterback Doug Nussmeier slipped to third on New Orleans’ depth chart behind rookie Danny Wuerffel.

“It’s real disappointing. I didn’t expect it, but sometimes things happen,” said Nussmeier, who was pleased with his performances in preseason games. “Obviously I’m frustrated, disappointed, but it’s something I can’t control.”

Nussmeier, entering his fourth year, said he doesn’t regret turning down a chance to play in the World League after his second season with the Saints. Numerous quarterbacks have boosted their resumes by playing in the World League, including Seattle’s Jon Kitna and Minnesota’s Brad Johnson.

“I just believe it was more important for me to be here at that time,” said Nussmeier, who played briefly in the World League after his rookie season.

Nussmeier’s contract expires after this season. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I feel I’ve gotten better every year in the league.”

Rypien update

Mark Rypien’s 2-year-old son, Andrew, is in the initial stages of his battle against a malignant brain tumor. Early reports from the doctors are encouraging, said Rypien, the former Washington State and current St. Louis Rams quarterback.

Andrew underwent surgery in Spokane a month ago and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments in St. Louis. Since he is only 2 and his brain is constantly growing, radiation treatment has been ruled out for now.

“He’s in the first course of a nine-week phase,” said Rypien, who administers some of Andrew’s nightly treatments. “The second nine-week phase is more intense.

“At times it’s hard, especially when he’s sleeping and I’m looking at him and he looks like he did when he was born. You lose your emotions, but you just gather yourself again. He’s fighting this thing pretty good and we’re happy with the results right now.”

Rypien has been appreciative of the efforts of medical communities in Spokane and St. Louis. “The care has been as good as there is anywhere,” he said.

Rypien isn’t certain how long he’ll continue playing, but “in the situation we have with my son, this isn’t a bad scenario for us,” he said. “We like the area and the kids like school here. Being in this role for a few years might be the best thing for all of us.”

Notes

West Valley High grad Tim Hanshaw is starting at left tackle for San Francisco because of an injury to Harris Barton. WSU’s Robbie Tobeck starts at left guard for Atlanta. Ex-Idaho Vandal Spencer Folau, who played in the World League over the summer, is Baltimore’s second-string center… .

Former Cheney High and University of Washington star Steve Emtman (San Francisco) and Idaho’s Barry Mitchell (Atlanta) and Ryan Smith (New York Giants) were among late cuts. Mitchell was signed to Atlanta’s practice squad… .

St. Louis’ No. 3 quarterback is Will Furrer, a former Pullman High star. Furrer’s father performed knee surgery on Rypien, then at WSU, in 1982.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos

MEMO: Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. NFL MINOR LEAGUES Breakdown by school of players on opening-day NFL rosters with local ties: Washington State 11 Idaho 9 Eastern Washington 4 Spokane Falls 1

2. AREA PLAYERS IN THE NFL Tom Ackerman, Eastern Washington - New Orleans, center, second season. Drew Bledsoe, WSU (Walla Walla High) - New England, quarterback, fifth season. Steve Broussard, WSU - Seattle, running back, eighth season. Lewis Bush, WSU - San Diego, linebacker, fifth season. James Darling, WSU (Kettle Falls High) - Philadelphia, linebacker, rookie. Anthony Davis, Spokane Falls - Kansas City, linebacker, fifth season. Mark Fields, WSU - New Orleans, linebacker, third season. Spencer Folau, Idaho - Baltimore, center, first season. John Friesz, Idaho (Coeur d’Alene High) - Seattle, quarterback, eighth season. Will Furrer, Pullman High - St. Louis, quarterback, fifth season. Tim Hanshaw, West Valley High - San Francisco, offensive tackle, third season. Jason Hanson, WSU (Mead High) - Detroit, placekicker, sixth season. James Hasty, WSU - Kansas City, cornerback, 10th season. Mike Hollis, Idaho (Central Valley High) - Jacksonville, placekicker, third season. Jim Mills, Idaho - San Diego, offensive guard, second season. Doug Nussmeier, Idaho - New Orleans, quarterback, fourth season. Ryan Phillips, Idaho - New York Giants, linebacker, rookie. Jeff Robinson, Idaho (Ferris High) - St. Louis, defensive end, fifth season. Mark Rypien, WSU (Shadle Park High) - St. Louis, quarterback, 11th season. Scott Sanderson, WSU - Tennessee, offensive tackle, rookie. Kevin Sargent, EWU - Cincinnati, offensive tackle, sixth season. Mark Schlereth, Idaho - Denver, offensive guard, ninth season. Kurt Schulz, EWU - Buffalo, safety, sixth season. Ed Simmons, EWU - Washington, offensive tackle, 11th season. Robbie Tobeck, WSU - Atlanta, offensive guard, fourth season. Brian Walker, WSU - Washington, safety, second season. Marvin Washington, Idaho - San Francisco, defensive end, ninth season.

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. NFL MINOR LEAGUES Breakdown by school of players on opening-day NFL rosters with local ties: Washington State 11 Idaho 9 Eastern Washington 4 Spokane Falls 1

2. AREA PLAYERS IN THE NFL Tom Ackerman, Eastern Washington - New Orleans, center, second season. Drew Bledsoe, WSU (Walla Walla High) - New England, quarterback, fifth season. Steve Broussard, WSU - Seattle, running back, eighth season. Lewis Bush, WSU - San Diego, linebacker, fifth season. James Darling, WSU (Kettle Falls High) - Philadelphia, linebacker, rookie. Anthony Davis, Spokane Falls - Kansas City, linebacker, fifth season. Mark Fields, WSU - New Orleans, linebacker, third season. Spencer Folau, Idaho - Baltimore, center, first season. John Friesz, Idaho (Coeur d’Alene High) - Seattle, quarterback, eighth season. Will Furrer, Pullman High - St. Louis, quarterback, fifth season. Tim Hanshaw, West Valley High - San Francisco, offensive tackle, third season. Jason Hanson, WSU (Mead High) - Detroit, placekicker, sixth season. James Hasty, WSU - Kansas City, cornerback, 10th season. Mike Hollis, Idaho (Central Valley High) - Jacksonville, placekicker, third season. Jim Mills, Idaho - San Diego, offensive guard, second season. Doug Nussmeier, Idaho - New Orleans, quarterback, fourth season. Ryan Phillips, Idaho - New York Giants, linebacker, rookie. Jeff Robinson, Idaho (Ferris High) - St. Louis, defensive end, fifth season. Mark Rypien, WSU (Shadle Park High) - St. Louis, quarterback, 11th season. Scott Sanderson, WSU - Tennessee, offensive tackle, rookie. Kevin Sargent, EWU - Cincinnati, offensive tackle, sixth season. Mark Schlereth, Idaho - Denver, offensive guard, ninth season. Kurt Schulz, EWU - Buffalo, safety, sixth season. Ed Simmons, EWU - Washington, offensive tackle, 11th season. Robbie Tobeck, WSU - Atlanta, offensive guard, fourth season. Brian Walker, WSU - Washington, safety, second season. Marvin Washington, Idaho - San Francisco, defensive end, ninth season.

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