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JAPAN Falcons, Colts have health as a priority



Published: Sat, August 6, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Today's exhibition game in Toyko might feature restricted defenses.

TOKYO (AP) -- Jim Mora saw the chance to have a little fun when asked how much Michael Vick would play in the first preseason game.

"The whole game," said Mora, the Atlanta Falcons' second-year coach. "We're going to encourage him to run. Oh yeah, sneaks, draws, bootlegs."

No chance of that happening. The Falcons won't take any chances with Vick in today's American Bowl game against the Indianapolis Colts -- not after what happened two years ago.

Vick broke a leg in a 2003 exhibition and missed the first 11 games that counted, essentially ruining the Falcons' season. He barely played in the preseason a year ago, then led Atlanta to the NFC championship game.

Of course, Mora knows the Japanese fans are eager to see one of the NFL's most exciting players for more than three plays. Likewise for Peyton Manning of the Colts, coming off an NFL-record 49 touchdown passes last season.

Blitz restriction

So, look for a gentleman's agreement between Mora and his Indianapolis counterpart, Tony Dungy.

"I need to talk to Tony and see what his plans are for Peyton," Mora said. "I think between us, we'll kind of manage it so that the people get to see those guys play."

In other words, both defenses might refrain from blitzing while their quarterbacks are on the field.

"What we really want to see is Michael Vick and Peyton Manning playing in the regular season," Mora said. "We also want to see Peyton Manning make some throws down the field [Saturday], and Mike Vick run around and make some throws, so if you pull off the blitz a little bit, you're going to get to see something.

"Tony and I will talk, and we will make sure it's a good show."

James is happy

Edgerrin James will be part of the show, even though the Colts' two-time league rushing champion threatened to skip the 14-hour flight to Tokyo.

"We're gonna have some fun here," James said after Friday morning practice at Tokyo Dome. "We always have a good time on this team. I've been getting out to see a few things and the fans have been great to me."

James and his teammates were set to visit U.S. servicemen at Yokosuka naval base later Friday before attending a function at the American Embassy in the evening.

Manning wasn't surprised to have James along, even though the running back is known to dislike preseason games almost as much as he does flying.

"Edgerrin says he's having a good time," Manning said. "I never had a doubt that he wouldn't make the trip."




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