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Cowboys DB Sanders out for at least a month

Deion Sanders will not return to the Dallas Cowboys until September, and even that may be a bit optimistic, team owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday.

"I know we won't see him in a preseason game," Jones said, confirming for the first time what had long been suspected.

Sanders is in training camp but not practicing with the team as he rehabilitates his left big toe. He had surgery to fix an extreme case of turf toe in April.

There had been no estimate of when the All-Pro cornerback might suit up until Tuesday, when Jones said: "I see him really trying to push himself sometime in September."

Jones also noted that if Sanders sits out all of September, he would miss only two games because Dallas has an early bye-week. The Cowboys' third game is Oct. 3 against division rival Arizona in Texas Stadium.

Dolphins dump Wheatley

DAVIE _ On the first day of training camp, Tyrone Wheatley said the Miami Dolphins' battle at running back would be a six-week marathon.

He lasted less than a week.

Wheatley was released after a tentative performance in their first scrimmage Sunday, when he gained 18 yards in seven carries. The move left Miami with six running backs to contend for a maximum of four roster spots, including the starting job.

"Unfortunately for Tyrone, we brought in a couple of rookies who are pretty talented," coach Jimmy Johnson said.

Fifth-round draft choice Cecil Collins may pose the biggest threat to incumbent Karim Abdul-Jabbar. Collins, who played just six games at LSU because of drug and legal problems, scored on a 40-yard touchdown run in the scrimmage.

Wheatley, 27, was the New York Giants' No. 1 draft pick in 1995. But he started only eight games for them in four seasons and carried just 14 times for 52 yards last year.

In other news, linebacker Anthony Harris had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his groin. He is expected to be out at least 2{ months. The team signed DE Barry Mitchell and DT Cedric White.

FINES MOUNT FOR ANDERSON: A personal plea from coach Dan Reeves wasn't enough to end Jamal Anderson's holdout.

Reeves reached Anderson at his home Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Pro Bowl RB has remained during the first week of camp while haggling with the Atlanta Falcons over a new contract.

Anderson, set to make $2.6-million in the final year of his deal, is seeking a five-year contract with an $8-million signing bonus. The team has offered a $7-million bonus and at least $1-million less in guaranteed money over the life of the contract.

Anderson wasn't on hand Tuesday and faces at least $30,000 in fines _ the maximum $5,000 per day _ even if he reports today. "He said he would get here when it's 85," Reeves said. "I wasn't sure if he was talking about $85-million or 85 degrees."

GIANTS: CB Jason Sehorn's return is going to be delayed another 10 days because of a torn hamstring in his left leg. Sehorn, who missed last season with a knee injury, had the tear detected Monday after having an MRI.

LIONS: Despite a broken hand, CB Bryant Westbrook can continue training, coach Bobby Ross said. Westbrook, the team's first-round pick in 1997, broke a bone in his left hand during Monday's practice. CB Kevin Abrams, a former Hillsborough High standout, is out with a foot injury and will see a specialist. Ross said he wants another opinion on Abrams' injury "just to make sure" that it is all right to begin practicing. A billboard in the Detroit area features the team's logo, the surly visage of LB Stephen Boyd and the caption, "I stayed here to win." In your face, ex-Lion Barry Sanders? Not at all, team marketing director Steve Harms said. "In the aftermath of Barry's retirement, though, I could see some people asking about that."

PACKERS: Lamont Hollinquest, a special-teams standout and backup LB the past three seasons, was re-signed. Hollinquest signed a two-year, $1.6-million contract with Kansas City on March 5 but was waived in July.

RAIDERS: Free agent FB Zack Crockett, who signed a $4.5-million contract in the offseason, broke a bone in his right foot and is out 4-6 weeks.

TITANS: QB Steve McNair left practice with back spasms. He was treated and is not expected to miss any workouts.

DUBOSE DEATH: A San Diego attorney who represented Demetrius DuBose disputed a report that the former player had a violent past and recently was arrested for driving under the influence of a substance similar to PCP. San Diego police shot and killed the former linebacker after a scuffle outside an apartment on July 24. DuBose played for the Tampa Bay Bucs from 1993-96.

BEARS: Top pick QB Cade McNown took part in his first practice. McNown ended his holdout Monday with a contract that could pay him up to $22-million over five years. He arrived late Monday in Platteville, Wis., after a drive from Chicago that included several wrong turns and a mishap when he discovered he didn't have change for a toll booth.

BILLS: There's one thing that will send DE Bruce Smith into retirement at the end of the season. "If we get to the Super Bowl and win, I will retire," Smith, 36, said. "You'd better believe it."

PATRIOTS: Coach Pete Carroll said the left knee injury sustained by TE Ben Coates on Monday was not as serious as reported.