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For San Francisco linebacker Gary Plummer, it's an exhibition game with some real meaning. It's the same for San Diego running back Natrone Means.

For eight seasons, Plummer plugged the middle for the San Diego Chargers. Tonight, he will be on the other side when his 49ers face the Chargers in an NFL preseason game."It's going to be exciting, another reason to get fired up about a preseason game," Plummer said. "These are guys who at times you played against in live scrimmage situations, and there's a lot of bantering going on back and forth over the eight years that I was there. So it's a chance for a couple of guys to maybe get back at me."

One of those is Means, who remembered when Plummer "used to get on us rookies all the time."

"It would be good to come through and and give him what you owe him," Means said.

Plummer, who now plays inside linebacker for the 49ers, will catch up with his old teammates at Jack Murphy Stadium in one of two preseason games Thursday night. In the other, the New England Patriots play host to the Washington Redskins in Foxboro.

Means was a rookie last year, gaining 645 yards as Marion Butts' backup. Butts was traded to New England in April.

"Gary's definitely a threat we're going to have to watch out for because he played here for a while and he knows our schemes," Means said of his former teammate. "I'd just like to check him out and see what he gets going."

San Francisco broke camp in Rocklin, Calif., with three offensive linemen and one defensive star nursing injuries that will keep them out of tonight's game.

Starting center Bart Oates (hip strain) and starting right guard Ralph Tamm (strained left arch) will both miss the game, as will reserve guard Derrick Deese (bruised bone). Defensive lineman Dan Stubblefield (lower back strain) also is out.

The Patriots, meanwhile, have made a habit of turning turnovers into touchdowns this exhibition season. They hope to continue that trend against the inexperienced Redskins.


Philadelphia running back Charlie Garner, the team's second-round draft pick, will be out of action indefinitely with a stress fracture of the first rib.

Garner, who has missed several of the team's practices at training camp, was believed to have a sore shoulder. An MRI test done Wednesday at the University of Pennsylvania hospital revealed the stress fracture.


Receiver Rob Moore underwent surgery Wednesday designed to speed up the healing process for his broken left wrist.

Moore was injured last Saturday at Philadelphia and it was reported he would have to wear a cast from 4-6 weeks. But the surgery by hand specialist Dr. George Pianka could make Moore available sooner.


Chicago's depleted receiving corps took yet another hit Wednesday when second-year receiver Terry Obee broke his leg and dislocated his ankle. Obee will need surgery and is out for the season, the Bears said.

Obee joined a growing list of injured receivers on the Bears. Curtis Conway missed 10 days with a hamstring pull, Tim Waddle was out for two weeks because of a knee sprain. And Jeff Graham is out with a groin pull. Waddle is the only one of the four expected to play Monday in Kansas City.


Dallas made rookie Chris Boniol their top kicker Wednesday by cutting his competitor, Richie Cunningham.

Cunningham was among eight players released as the Cowboys began working more starters and regulars into their training camp rotations. Dallas has 69 players on its roster, and must be down to the NFL maximum 60 by Aug. 23.

The only other somewhat prominent cut was third-year wide receiver Tim Daniel, who started all three preseason games because of injuries to starters Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper.


John Offerdahl, the oft-injured middle linebacker so crucial to Miami's defensive prowess in the past, signed an incentive-laden contract Wednesday.

Offerdahl, 30, participated in just 27 percent of the team's defensive plays last season. He received the NFL minimum salary of $162,000 and a rising scale of incentive pay based on his playing time.


Quarterback Shawn Moore was cut by Denver, leaving Tommy Maddox and Hugh Millen as John Elway's backups.

Moore felt his $273,000 salary was a reason he lost the battle to Millen, a former Patriots quarterback who signed for the minimum of $162,000.