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NFL warns Lions DE about low blows

If Lions defensive end Kerwin Waldroup needed motivation for Sunday's game at Green Bay, he may have it now.

Citing Waldroup's recent history of illegal hits against quarterbacks, the league warned him: Stay away from the quarterback's knees or face suspension.

To Waldroup, one of the Lions' most aggressive pass rushers, the ultimatum that accompanied a league lesson on how to properly tackle quarterbacks was a low blow.

"Basically, I can't touch 'em nowhere under the knees," Waldroup said. "Can't grab 'em, can't hit 'em, nothing."

Waldroup got the warning from Gene Washington, the NFL's director of football operations, after they met at league offices in New York.

"He just told me they're going to suspend me if I hit another quarterback low," Waldroup said. "That was basically the issue. That was it right there."

NFL spokeswoman Leslie Hammond said the league took action because Waldroup has been fined three times in the last two seasons for illegal hits against quarterbacks. He was fined $7,500 last year for hitting Atlanta quarterback Bobby Hebert in the knees. He also has been fined twice this season.

"I have a problem with players being told they're going to be suspended," coach Bobby Ross said. "This is a game of aggression."

The warning marked the second time in less than a year the league has talked to the Lions about aggressive tactics in rushing the passer. Last November, former defensive line coach John Teerlinck was warned after the Lions claimed responsibility for knocking three quarterbacks out of action.

"Yes, I'm going to try to stay away from his knees a little bit, because I don't want to be fined," Waldroup said of Packers quarterback Brett Favre, "but it's not going to change my attitude. If anything, it's going to make me more intense."

BILLS: LB Chris Spielman plans to resume his career next season after surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. Spielman said his legs went numb on four occasions after he sustained the initial injury while making a tackle Oct. 20 against the Colts. He did not know when or where he would have surgery.

"By no means is this a retirement thing," Spielman said. "With successful surgery, and if things work out the way we anticipate, I'll be fine and ready to go next year with full-blown activity."

PACKERS: Favre returned to practice after sitting out a day with a painful case of turf toe on his right foot. Favre, who has started an NFL-high 95 consecutive games, is listed as probable Sunday. RB Dorsey Levens has received an ever-growing stack of letters after appearing on Oprah Winfrey's TV show and talking about "how hard it is to find a woman who is interested in you for you and not your money and fame."

CARDINALS: Ryan Tucker should see his first action Sunday. Tucker missed the first half of the season with a knee injury sustained in a bar fight in college, an injury that dropped him from among the top college centers to the fourth round on draft day. He'll likely back up G John Gerak against the Falcons.

BENGALS: S Tremain Mack was released from jail pending an appeal of his 30-day sentence for drunk driving. Mack will enter a substance-abuse program so the NFL can assess his drinking problem. The Bengals will resume paying his salary, but he won't return to practice until the league evaluates him.

OILERS: Owner Bud Adams said he will change the nickname of the Tennessee team if he can find the right name. Adams' decision to stick with the Oilers has been criticized strongly by Tennesseans who thought he was breaking his 1995 promise to hold a contest and pick a new name after the team arrived.

STEELERS: The Los Angeles Steelers. The Houston Steelers. Maybe _ in a Pittsburgh fan's worst nightmare _ the Cleveland Steelers. Impossible? Maybe not. The Steelers could abandon Pittsburgh if a sales tax increase that would partly fund a new $200-million stadium is voted down Tuesday.

NFL TRIAL: Rams president John Shaw defended himself from charges the team's deal with its new city was extortion. The city paid the Rams $75-million when the team moved to St. Louis from Anaheim.

Shaw said the Rams were able to extract such a bounty because the league discourages teams from attempting to move. He said the team asked for so much because it feared a protracted legal battle, so therefore he told St. Louis negotiators the deal had to be "extremely lucrative."

COLTS: QB Jim Harbaugh apologized for punching Jim Kelly, although he stopped short of admitting he did anything wrong. "If there was anybody who was offended by what I did _ my actions _ I'd like to apologize and hope it doesn't affect the perception you have of me," Harbaugh said during the taping of the Jim Harbaugh Show.

GIANTS: QB Dave Brown, out since aggravating a torn chest muscle Oct. 5, began throwing. Though he reported soreness, he might be ready by the Nov. 9 game against the Oilers.

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