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Monday, August 5
Updated: August 6, 9:31 AM ET
Evans bruises spinal cord, regains feeling

Associated Press

CANTON, Ohio -- Houston safety Leomont Evans bruised his spinal cord Monday night during the first half of the Texans' NFL debut against the New York Giants.

Leomont Evans
A motionless Leomont Evans is taken off the field after a first-half hit. He woudl later be diagnosed with a bruised spinal cord.

Early in the second quarter of the Hall of Fame game, Evans was injured while rushing a punt from the right side when he lowered his head and tried to power past Giants running back Sean Bennett.

After driving his head into Bennett's chest, Evans dropped face first to the artificial turf as the ball was kicked.

The 28-year-old defensive back was motionless as teammate Avion Black returned the punt 71 yards to New York's 18 with 12:24 remaining in the first half.

Late in the game, a team spokesman said Evans had regained some feeling in his upper body and both legs. Evans' breathing and vital signs as well as an MRI exam and CAT scan were normal, the spokesman said.

Evans was being evaluated and treated at Aultman Hospital.

''He came out fast with his head down,'' Bennett said at halftime. ''It wasn't an especially hard hit. I didn't really know what happened. He just went down.''

Houston's training staff rushed onto the field as soon as they could to tend to Evans, who signed with the club as a free agent in December.

As Evans was being treated, the Texans knelt as a group in prayer in front of their bench. Soon after, about a dozen New York players -- led by All-Pro Michael Strahan -- dropped to a knee.

Emergency personnel then strapped Evans on a backboard and took his facemask off before immobilizing his head and placing him on the stretcher.

Evans' injury turned an exciting night of pageantry and history for 23,000 fans and a national TV audience into a somber reminder of the violent nature of pro football.

Evans was drafted in the fifth round in 1996 by Washington out of Clemson.

He started all 16 games with the Redskins in 1999. He was cut in 2000 by Detroit and played last year in the XFL.

The Texans also lost wide receiver Trevor Insley, who broke his left ankle in the second half.

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