EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Giants will be minus Michael Strahan for a while.

A sprained ligament in his right foot will keep the Pro Bowl defensive end off his feet for at least a week and out of the lineup for two weeks to a month – and possibly longer.

Tests on Strahan’s foot Monday revealed a sprain to the Lis Franc ligament, one of the main stabilizers in the middle of the foot.

“This is not an injury that requires surgery,” trainer Ronnie Barnes said. “Michael will be on crutches and in a boot for at least the next week. A reasonable timeframe for Michael’s possible return would be anywhere from two to four weeks.”

Strahan, injured in the second quarter of Sunday’s 14-10 win over Houston, was not available for comment Monday. But he told FOXSports.com that the recovery period might last up to two months.

“It’s really up to how long it takes to heal,” Strahan said. “It’s not torn, but it’s similar to the injury that I had as a rookie that kept me out for several weeks.”

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said it’s hard to set a definite recovery period.

“We’re still trying to understand exactly how we are going to see progress,” Coughlin said on a conference call devoted almost entirely to Strahan.

Bears

Brian Urlacher walked into a meeting room Monday with no noticeable limp, an encouraging sign for the Chicago Bears, still reeling from their first loss.

An MRI exam showed the star linebacker has a sprained big toe on his left foot and not the major injury the team had feared.

“Brian means quite a bit to our football team, so that was cause for concern, but we feel a lot better about it now,” coach Lovie Smith said Monday.

Whether Urlacher will be able to play this Sunday against the Giants was undetermined. But as the Bears tried to digest a 31-13 beating from Miami after seven straight wins, the news about Urlacher was some consolation.

“I was relieved to come in this morning and find out the MRIs and stuff were positive because I didn’t know,” fellow linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. “After the game we had no idea what it was. I don’t know much about it, but I know that it was good news.”

Urlacher was injured in the pileup after making a tackle with just more than a minute left Sunday. Although he didn’t comment to reporters at Halas Hall on Monday, last year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year earlier told the Fox Sports Web site he hoped to play this Sunday against the Giants.

“If it’s up to me, I will. They told me it all depends on how much pain I can take. I can deal with that,” Urlacher said.

Smith said wait and see.

“He feels better today and hopefully he’ll be able to feel better and be able to go this week,” Smith said. “We’ll see how it goes with him.”

If Urlacher can’t go, Hillenmeyer would move to middle linebacker.

Broncos

Broncos safety Sam Brandon is out for the year after tearing a right knee ligament in Sunday’s win at Pittsburgh.

Brandon, who’s been used mostly in nickel packages, will probably have surgery in the next two to three weeks after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, said his agent, Michael Hoffman.

The Broncos’ defense was decimated in the 31-20 victory.Defensive linemen Ebenezer Ekuban (thigh) and Patrick Chukwurah (hamstring strain) and linebacker Ian Gold (hamstring strain) all had medical tests Monday. Coach Mike Shanahan said the results won’t be revealed until Wednesday. Safeties Nick Ferguson and John Lynch had CAT scans for concussions and both came back negative.

“I can’t ever remember losing as many guys on one side of the football,” Shanahan said.

Cornerback Darrent Williams and receiver Rod Smith also separated shoulders during the game. Shanahan didn’t know how long the two starters would be out.

Vikings

Fullback Tony Richardson has a broken right thumb, but he doesn’t need surgery.

Richardson saw a hand specialist Monday morning after getting hurt in Sunday’s loss at San Francisco.

Another starter whose status is in question is defensive end Darrion Scott, who sprained his left ankle against the 49ers. It’s not a serious injury, but coach Brad Childress said the team would have to see how he progresses this week before knowing if Scott can play next weekend against the Packers.

The same goes for linebacker Napoleon Harris (dislocated wrist) and receiver Marcus Robinson (bruised lower back), who sat out against San Francisco. Robinson, who has missed the last two games, was planning to increase the intensity of his rehabilitation workouts this week.

Titans

Offensive lineman Daniel Loper will spend a second night in a Jacksonville hospital with a lacerated spleen, but is improving enough that he may not need surgery.

“We expect him to return tomorrow afternoon sometime,” coach Jeff Fisher said Monday. “His condition is improving rapidly, and it doesn’t appear at this time he’s going to require surgery, which is really good news as far as that’s concerned.”

Team doctors diagnosed Loper as having problems with his spleen during the Titans’ 37-7 loss at Jacksonville. Fisher said doctors X-rayed Loper and rushed him to the hospital before the game was over.

The Titans aren’t sure how Loper was injured. But the second-year player is part of the Titans’ wedge on kickoff returns, and Fisher said it was an injury associated with contact.

Assistant athletic trainer Don Moseley stayed with Loper in Jacksonville.

This team has experience with players and lacerated spleens. Billy Volek, now in San Diego, lacerated his spleen in his first NFL start on Dec. 14, 2003, against Buffalo. The symptoms worsened a day later, and he was admitted to a hospital.

Earlier this season, Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms had his spleen removed hours after a game. He is sidelined for the season.

Cardinals

The Cardinals signed middle linebacker Gerald Hayes to a five-year contract extension.

Hayes, a fourth-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh in 2003, leads the team in tackles with 61, 50 solo, after missing the entire 2005 season with a knee injury. He also has two interceptions, one sack and two fumble recoveries.

The 6-foot-1, 253-pound Hayes had a career-high 13 tackles in Arizona’s loss at Oakland on Oct. 22.

He is the second Arizona defensive player to sign an extension this season. Tackle Darnell Dockett signed a five-year extension on Oct. 13.

Eagles

Defensive end Trent Cole signed a five-year contract extension Monday that could keep him with the Eagles through 2013.

Cole is the second player drafted by the Eagles last year to receive a multiyear deal in the past week. Terms of his contract weren’t immediately known. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson got a seven-year extension worth $32 million last Thursday.

A fifth-round pick from Cincinnati, Cole leads the Eagles with 61/2 sacks in eight games. He moved into the starting lineup when Jevon Kearse went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 2.

Cole had five sacks as a rookie.

Cole’s signing continues a trend for the Eagles. Earlier this year, guard Shawn Andrews signed an extension through 2015. In July, center Jamaal Jackson signed one through 2013. Free safety Brian Dawkins and punter Dirk Johnson also signed extensions this year. The deadline for allotting signing bonuses to this year’s salary cap is Tuesday.

Browns

Cornerback Leigh Bodden’s second high ankle sprain of the season has put a bigger strain on Cleveland’s stretched-to-the-limits secondary.

Bodden, who missed two games last month with a badly sprained right ankle, is likely to miss a couple more games after injuring his left ankle in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to San Diego.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing,” Bodden said, “because I had finally gotten back out there.”

Bodden carried around a portable electrical stimulus machine in the locker room Monday. It’s a contraption he has become familiar with. Team doctors have not told him how long he’ll be out, but Bodden is encouraged because his latest injury doesn’t feel as severe as his first sprain.

Bodden got hurt Sunday when Browns rookie linebacker D’Qwell Jackson rolled up on his legs while trying to make a tackle.

The Browns are already without cornerback Gary Baxter, who tore both patellar tendons on Oct. 22 against Denver and is out for the season, Daven Holly was hospitalized last week with an undisclosed illness and was inactive.

Right tackle Ryan Tucker could return to the club this week. Tucker is being treated for an undisclosed illness on an outpatient basis and has not been with the Browns for two weeks. After missing two practices, he played against Denver on Oct. 22, but hasn’t been at the team’s facility since.

AP-ES-11-06-06 1806EST


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