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Webber ready to shoulder load Bullet returns to floor as arm 'much better'


BOWIE -- One day he appeared worried, said he could barely raise his arm and seemed genuinely concerned about his sore left shoulder. But yesterday, it was back to business as usual for Washington Bullets forward Chris Webber.

Webber was sprinting up and down the floor and banging for position during practice yesterday, and later played in the team's intra-squad scrimmage just hours after being examined. X-rays on Webber's shoulder were negative, and the concerns of the 6-foot-10 forward who missed 19 games after separating the same shoulder last season were put to rest.

"It feels much better," said Webber, who awoke Wednesday morning with soreness in the shoulder. "I'm still concerned. But the concern isn't as great."

And it seems the prognosis for Mark Price is slightly better than originally thought. Price was expected to miss three weeks as he rested a sore left heel. But the recently acquired guard will go on the coming six-game road trip, and could play in the games in Mexico City on Oct. 28 and 29.

"He's going with us," coach Jim Lynam said. "Our expectations are that he'll play in the back part [of the trip]."

That would give the Bullets a full team for the first time since the start of preseason. Although Webber participated in last night's scrimmage and said he felt much better, he said he still would see a doctor independent of the team for personal piece of mind.

"I trust the team doctor truthfully, but I want to get a second opinion," Webber said. "Still, I'm convinced it's not as bad as I thought."

Webber spent Wednesday's practice getting the shoulder iced and massaged. He feared it was a recurrence of last season's injury.

From the team's perspective, Bullets general manager John Nash said he never felt the injury to his top player was serious.

"It was not a dislocation, it was not a mild separation, it was nothing more than a muscle strain," Nash said. "We just wanted to make sure it wasn't another occurrence.

The possible source of the injury -- a brief skirmish with Chicago's Luc Longley on Tuesday -- cost both players a $7,500 fine yesterday and suspension from the first game of the season.

"The team is going to help me pay the fine," said Webber, who claimed that Longley had elbowed him, leading to the altercation.

As for missing a game, he added, "It's a terrible way to start the season.

It does give rookie Rasheed Wallace a chance to start in his NBA debut against the 76ers in his hometown of Philadelphia.

"It's just another game," Wallace said. "The only thing that might be special is I have my family there."

Wallace also was involved in Tuesday's scuffle, firing the ball at Longley's head. The league fined him $5,000, with no suspension.

"I was in the wrong," said Wallace, who also had to be separated from New York's Charles Smith last week. "Mistakes happen. The only thing I can do is pay the fine."

NOTES: Webber had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in last night's scrimmage at Bowie State. Wallace had 17 points, and Gheorghe Muresan had 16 points and eight rebounds.

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