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Mason expects to return next month news services

An NFL player gets hurt playing golf? Believe it.

Derrick Mason

Derrick Mason, a sure-handed receiver for the Titans, broke his right hand Sunday while teeing off.

''It's just one of those freak things that happened,'' Mason told The Tennessean on Monday. ''I hit the ball the wrong way and kind of twisted my hand. I might as well rest it now and get back at it at the end of June.''

Mason told the newspaper he was using a driver off the tee when he hit behind the ball and into the ground. The hand started to swell immediately, he told the paper. ''I knew I had done something wrong, I just didn't know what."

The injury occured while Mason was taking part in a big charity weekend for the Titans. More than 25 players played in the coach Jeff Fisher's softball game on Friday. The celebrity hoops game was Saturday, with the golf event on Sunday.

An X-ray on the hand Monday revealed the third bone in the hand is fractured, according to the newspaper.

Mason was in uniform Monday and caught balls with his left hand in one-on-one drills in minicamp, but sat out team drills, The Tennessean reported. Fisher told the paper Mason won't be able to catch "for a few weeks." Mason hopes to be back for the June minicamp. Mason is coming off a terrific 2002 season that included 79 receptions and five touchdowns.

''I've been telling people I was rescuing my dog or something and I slipped and fell,'' Mason joked to the paper. ''I could see getting hurt in other sports, but not that one. Hey, things happen. It was just bad luck.''

Former PGA Tour pro Bob Wolcott, who also played in the charity golf tourney, said it's unusual to break a bone on a golf swing, but not unheard of.

''Derrick is a good athlete, so you have to imagine he is going to wield a club at 100 mph and all of a sudden you hit the ground, it doesn't move,'' Wolcott told The Tennessean. ''You're putting all that energy into something, and it is just like a brick or a piece of wood. Something has to take the shock, and what took the shock was his [hand].''

''As coaches, we can't keep them from doing everything but you can encourage them to make the right decisions and be careful," Fisher told the paper. "In Derrick's case, it was just a freak incident.''

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