Call it the curse of Guys-Who-Left UT early. F LaMarcus Aldrige, the no. 2 overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, will miss the start of Portland’s 2006-07 season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder.

In Nashville, Titans’ top pick QB Vince Young suffered a bruised right hand after his right hand hit a teammate’s helmet in practice. Afterwards, LenDale White denied spitting on the helmet.

Former University Of Memphis pitcher Stephen Gostkowski (above) has apparently won the New England kicking job. No word yet from Gostkowski or his teammates on Pats’ flagship WBCN airing spots for Smith & Wesson during N.E. games, a story covered by the Boston Herald’s Jessica Heslam.

The 30-second spot is set to music and ends with the message, œVisit to learn more about handgun safety and to find a dealer near you.

The ad touts the company™s gun safety locks and brags, œAmerican-made Smith & Wesson products are used by major law enforcement and military agencies.

œIt™s great they™re promoting gun safety. It™s a little odd to me that they™re trying to sell guns during a football game, said John Rosenthal, founder of the Massachusetts group Stop Handgun Violence. œFootball, beer and guns don™t mix.

Supply your own McAfee Coliseum joke, I’m sleepy.