No more (neck) bracing for Gannon

There is something noticeably absent about what Rich Gannon is wearing – that large plastic brace to protect the broken vertebra in his neck.

The Oakland Raiders quarterback stopped wearing the brace last week and was seen walking around the team's facility in Alameda, CA, much better right now. What that means for his future with the team is still open to question. Gannon is scheduled to see his doctors again in the next couple of weeks after being advised that it is in his best interest not to play football.

Despite being on injured reserve for the second straight season, Gannon has been attending meetings and games and helping his teammates any way he can. Gannon, who was the NFL MVP in 2002, turns 39 in December.

"I'm trying to be helpful but not be a nuisance," Gannon said.

Gannon sustained his season-ending injury in the first quarter of the Raiders' 30-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 26 after a helmet-to-helmet hit by Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Gannon had a season-ending injury last season in a 17-10 loss to Kansas City last Oct. 20, and had shoulder surgery in November.

Kerry Collins has filled in for Gannon in his absence this season but the Raiders offense struggled before ending a five-game losing streak with a 27-24 win at Carolina on Nov. 7, before enjoying a bye last week.

Smith has knee scoped

Raiders linebacker Travian Smith had arthroscopic surgery performed on his left knee Wednesday and will be sidelined at least three more weeks. The procedure was to repair a partially torn ligament.

Smith originally hurt his knee in a 35-14 loss at Indianapolis on Oct. 10 and hasn't played in since that time.

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