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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

N F L _F O O T B A L L


Making it in
the NFL is a
numbers game

There is still hope for 14 of
17 players with ties to Hawaii,
but their last chance is Sunday
when the final cuts are made

By Pat Bigold

Fourteen of 17 players with Hawaii ties entering NFL training camps this summer are still with their teams after yesterday's mandatory cut to 65-man rosters.

The final cuts to 53-man rosters are due by Sunday.

Gone are the University of Hawaii's record-setting quarterback Dan Robinson (Baltimore Ravens), former Kailua High School and UH guard Joe Wong (Miami Dolphins) and former Punahou and Ohio State punter Scott Terna (Green Bay Packers).

Robinson and Terna were free agents while Wong, who sat out last season with a knee injury, was a seventh-round pick by Miami in 1999.

Two free agents remain and they are sitting on eggshells until the weekend.

"It's a numbers game," said former Farrington High School and University of California fullback Josh White, who is still with the San Francisco 49ers. "They know I can play and they know they can use me but I have to fit into what their numbers are."

The 49ers have indicated they will keep only two of the three men competing at fullback.

Fred Beasley is almost assured of retaining his starting role while second-year veteran Terry Jackson is capable of playing both fullback and tailback.

In San Francisco's 25-21 loss to Seattle on Saturday, White had a reception for eight yards (his third official catch in the exhibition season) and a two-yard carry.

Sharing a room with White has been former UH receiver Dwight Carter, who had no receptions in last weekend's game. His situation is less certain due to the fact that the 49ers have nine receivers now on their roster.

"I'm a little nervous," said White, who's been playing all of the second half of the exhibitions. "But whatever happens, happens. Just getting to this point is the best part."

One thing White said he won't forget is blocking Brian Young, St. Louis' 6-2, 277-pound defensive end.

"He's a whole lot of man," said White.

There's little doubt that the other UH player on the 49ers roster, rookie linebacker Jeff Ulbrich (third round draft pick), will make the team.

Ulbrich had an interception against Seattle's Jon Kitna on the first play of the game and set up the 49ers first touchdown.

Former St. Louis School and University of Utah running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala resumed practicing yesterday with the Pittsburgh Steelers after missing 1 1/2 games with bruised ribs.

Currently it looks like the third-year pro will be the Steelers' No. 3 tailback and No.2 fullback.

Also on the Steelers' roster after signing an $11 million free agent contract is defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen.

Von Oelhoffen, a seven-year pro from Molokai and Boise State, played his first six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

"It's awesome having Kimo here," said Fuamatu-Ma'afala. "We can stay up talking about Hawaii and talking pidgin all the time."

Fuamatu-Ma'afala said he found Mexico City, where the Steelers lost, 24-23, to the Indianapolis Colts, "dirty."

But he said he was surprised how friendly the Mexicans were.

"A lot of them knew my name better than the people in Pittsburgh," said Fuamatu-Ma'afala.

Starting for the second year in a row for the Chicago Bears is former St. Louis School and University of Washington center Olin Kreutz.

Former Kahuku High School and Brigham Young tight end Itula Mili is No. 2 on the Seattle Seahawks' depth chart. He's had seven receptions for 72 yards this preseason.

Continuing as starters with the Denver Broncos are former Mililani High School and UH defensive lineman Ma'a Tanuvasa (seven years), and former UH kicker Jason Elam (eight years).

Adrian Murrell, former Leilehua High School and University of West Virginia running back, is a backup to Stephen Davis in his first season with the Washington Redskins.

Murrell, who was with the Arizona Cardinals the previous two seasons and with the New York Jets before that, has had three 1,000-yard seasons in his eight-year career.

Two former UH offensive linemen who were drafted are sidelined with significant injuries.

Left tackle Adrian Klemm, a second round draft pick of the New England Patriots, is out for most of the season with damage to knee ligaments he suffered in minicamp.

Kaulana Noa, another tackle taken in the fourth round by the Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, has been sidelined since a late-July scrimmage with Tennessee with a dislocated wrist.

Former Kahuku and University of Colorado guard Chris Naeole, a starter with New Orleans, was out briefly but is now back to strengthen the right side of the Saints' line. Naeole was the Saints' first-round draft pick in 1997.

Also on the Saints' roster is linebacker Joe Tuipala, who was born in Honolulu but raised in California. He played at San Diego State.

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