By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Washington Redskins starting right cornerback Shawn Springs walked out of Redskins Park yesterday with the same uncharacteristic brusqueness with which he had entered some hours earlier. He did not care to discuss the hyperextension of his lower back or the strained groin he suffered Sunday in Arizona, injuries that have become a primary concern for Coach Joe Gibbs as he prepares for the biggest game since his return to the Redskins.
"Don't ask," Springs said, before hurrying into the complex.
The Redskins' other starting cornerback, rookie Carlos Rogers, suffered an injured left biceps in the first quarter of the 17-13 victory over the Cardinals and walked out of Redskins Park last night sporting a baby-blue sling. Cornerback Walt Harris, who started nine games this season before losing his job to Rogers in the Nov. 27 game against San Diego, did not make the trip to Arizona because of a strained calf muscle, a similar injury to the calf injury that kept him out of consecutive games against Denver and Seattle.
The showdown with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field sits at the epicenter of the Redskins' universe, and injuries, especially to the secondary, could sharply alter the complexion, if not the outcome. The Cowboys are 8-5, one game ahead of the Redskins (7-6). With the glut of teams fighting for a playoff spot in the NFC and these head-to-head games essentially counting for two games in the standings, a loss may constitute a knockout blow.
"We're going to have to hope for some miracles," Gibbs said. "We're going to have to play this thing out during the week. This is a concern for us to get this team healthy."
Offensively, left tackle Chris Samuels arrived yesterday with MRI exam results of his injured right knee under his arm. Samuels left the complex clearly unconcerned about his condition.
"It's a little sprain. A little treatment and rest and I'll be ready for Dallas," said Samuels, who also is struggling with an arthritic ankle, which he hurt on the same play as the knee late in the fourth quarter. "This is it. This is a big game and I'm looking forward to playing."
Redskins Director of Sports Medicine Bubba Tyer said he was more concerned about Samuels's ankle, but did not request an MRI because it is an existing condition.
Free safety Sean Taylor has for the past 3 1/2 months been playing with a low-grade separation of his shoulder, suffered in the first game of the season. "Whether you call it a low-grade separation or a contusion, he practiced every day. He won't get treatment for it. He blocks out pain. He plays through it," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said. "It's a testament to his toughness as a football player."
The injuries will test the flexibility of Williams's defense and his ability to interchange parts. Without Springs at cornerback, reserve Ade Jimoh made one of the biggest plays of the game Sunday, stopping Arizona wideout Larry Fitzgerald on a crucial third and one from the Redskins 28 with 2 minutes 48 seconds to play. On the next play, the Redskins defense put the game away when Taylor stopped running back J.J. Arrington on fourth and two.
"I have no idea what will happen next week. Anything is possible in the NFL. I was just doing what we get paid to do," Jimoh said about the possibility of starting against the Cowboys. "If you can't come up to the line, you won't be playing very long in the league."
Weak-side linebacker LaVar Arrington did not play Sunday, nursing a right quadriceps he injured against Oakland and aggravated in the first half at St. Louis. Arrington and the Redskins' medical staff agreed he would return to practice this week. The combination of Chris Clemons, Warrick Holdman and a higher number of defensive formations that contain only two linebackers covered for a lack of depth Sunday. "I take it day by day. Whatever the trainers need me to do to be out there, I'll do," Arrington said. "Pain-wise, it feels a whole lot better, as far as the level of extension and flexibility. I think I'll be all right."
Defensive linemen Cedric Killings and Joe Salave'a have not played the last two games, because of a strained groin and left plantar fasciitis, respectively, while a third, Ryan Boschetti underwent an MRI for a mild knee strain.
Killings will practice this week, according to Tyer. Tyer said Killings could have played against Arizona but was held out for precautionary reasons, while Salave'a said he would like to return to practice this week. He is the one player Williams will allow to play without practicing.
"I'm feeling bubbly, but I need to get hit," he said. "It's one thing to be mentally ready for it, but you don't know until you put your body through it. It's been a long time."
Right tackle Jon Jansen will need to undergo thumb surgery in the offseason, but Tyer said Jansen's thumb was healed.
Meantime, quarterback Mark Brunell was sporting a bandage on his right thumb, his non-throwing hand, having jammed it into a helmet in the fourth quarter Sunday.
"He's fine," Tyer said evenly of Brunell. "It's Cowboys week. We have to get everyone up and ready to go."