Number of key quarterbacks battling injuries

Quarterbacks produce touchdowns, victories, headlines and the bulk of news during the season. It was no different Thursday, on the day Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner continued his improbable comeback and 49ers quarterback Alex Smith took a step back in his.

Despite a torn ligament in his left elbow, Warner went through another limited practice in Arizona, leading the organization to conclude that their quarterback is "probable" for Sunday's game in Washington against the Redskins.

Now granted, a left elbow is far more important to Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart than it is Warner. But when doctors examined Warner earlier this week, they told him the injury would sideline most players six weeks.

But Warner, with his pain threshold being what it is, is not most players. With the aid of a protective device on his left elbow, Warner wants to play and intends to play. If he does, it will spare the Cardinals from using Tim Rattay and Tim Hasselbeck, who was the analyst on FOX for Arizona's game in Baltimore last month, which is quite a transition.

There will be no transition in San Francisco this week. 49ers coach Mike Nolan informed Smith, who has been nursing a separated shoulder, that he intends to start Trent Dilfer for San Francisco's second consecutive game.

Dilfer took the snaps during both the Wednesday and Thursday practices and Nolan believes that, if a player cannot particiapte on those key days, he cannot play Sunday. Thus Dilfer will be getting the start against a New York Giants team that is leading the NFL with 21 sacks.

The 49ers hope and think that Smith should be able to return the following week against the New Orleans Saints. But they will have a better determination of Smith's availability at the start of next week. There is no need to make any snap judgements now.

In Tennessee, while trying to recover from his strained quad, Titans quarterback Vince Young did some drop backs and threw a little on the side. Titans coach Jeff Fisher has yet to rule out Young, yet for the time being, Tennessee believes it is leaning towards Kerry Collins.

However, there are a couple of facts that cannot be discounted. Sunday's game is a division game, in the city in which Young grew up, against the Texans team that bypassed him in the draft. Plus –- and this cannot be underestimated –- Young never has missed a game at any any level – high school, college, pros –- due to injury.

Tank rolls into Dallas

One day after reinstating wide receiver Koren Robinson, the NFL issued a green light to Dallas' suspended defensive tackle Tank Johnson.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell declined to reduce Johnson's suspension from eight to six games, but he is allowing Johnson to immediately report to the Cowboys' training complex to start practicing Friday.

The first game Johnson will be eligible to play is Nov. 11 in New York against the Giants, in what is shaping up as a pivotal game in the race for the NFC East title.

Johnson was thankful for the commissioner's decision, and especially happy that he will be allowed to play himself back into shape while still being banned from playing. And by the time he is allowed to play, Johnson believes he will be ready to go.

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