By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 9, 2006
Starting defensive end Renaldo Wynn underwent season-ending surgery yesterday, putting him out of the Washington Redskins' second-round playoff game Saturday in Seattle, cornerback Shawn Springs said he will return from injury for that game, and tailback Clinton Portis is expected to play through various ailments this weekend as well. Wide receiver James Thrash, who returns kickoffs, has a fracture in his thumb that will require surgery today, but team doctors believe he will still be able to play against the Seahawks.
Wynn broke his right forearm in two places in Saturday's 17-10 playoff win at Tampa Bay, and two plates were placed in his arm during surgery at Reston Hospital Center, said Bubba Tyer, the team's director of sports medicine. Wynn will wear a brace for at least eight weeks to protect the injury but should be fine for the start of offseason minicamp. With Wynn out, reserve Demetric Evans, who has made great strides, likely will become a starter.
"It's not a career-threatening thing, and he'll be fine," Tyer said of Wynn.
Springs, who has been dealing with a painful groin injury for the last four weeks, said he feels better than he has in a month and will practice with the team tomorrow. He credits part of his turnaround to rest from sitting out the game in Tampa, and believes the athletic trainers and a specialist who flew in from Atlanta treated the injury well. The specialist, who has worked with wide receiver Terrell Owens, a friend of Springs's, made a breakthrough Thursday, Springs said. But after consulting with cornerbacks coach DeWayne Walker, the decision was made to hold Springs out for the Tampa Bay game. Tyer said Springs still could run explosively during a workout Saturday.
"If I get a couple of days of practice, I think I can make some game-changing plays," Springs said. "I'm going to practice Tuesday."
Springs, a Silver Spring native, was already sending messages back to his former teammates in Seattle yesterday. Springs was drafted third overall by the Seahawks in 1997 and played seven seasons for them before signing with Washington as a free agent in 2004. He fully expects to play normally against Seattle, and with cornerbacks Walt Harris and Carlos Rogers also healthy, the Redskins' secondary could be as deep as it has been all season, which will be key against Seattle's passing attack. Having a full stable of cornerbacks will also allow Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, to go back to more man-to-man coverage from a zone scheme, and blitz more freely again.
"People haven't really seen our whole defense like it was last year when everybody was healthy," Springs said. "Now we're all coming back and we're playing healthy, we're going to look how we looked last year. And with all our corners back healthy, Gregg can start to pin it back."
The Redskins also realize they must run the ball more effectively than they did Saturday -- when the offense mustered only 120 total yards -- and Portis hopes to be able to carry a bigger load. He has a minor nerve injury in one shoulder and soreness in the other, and also is dealing with an injured wrist that might require offseason surgery. Portis had to split time with reserve Ladell Betts for much of Saturday's game -- Portis finished with 16 carries, his second-lowest total of the season -- but told Coach Joe Gibbs and others after the victory that he definitely would lay against the Seahawks.
Tyer said Portis likely will rest much of this week, and the coaches generally keep Portis limited to minimal snaps at practice anyway. The constant pounding, coupled with Portis's relatively slight frame, compounds the problem. Tyer said wearing a neck collar might help with Portis's injury, and rest is imperative.
Portis said he took two direct hits on his shoulder -- one in pass protection and one on his six-yard touchdown run -- that resulted in his arm going numb and forcing him out of the game. He returned sporadically, and said he felt a bit better yesterday. Portis said a series of deep-tissue massages helps the problem, and only extended offseason rest will get him back to normal.
"The last two weeks, it's been happening, but I don't think it's going to stop me from playing this week," Portis said. "I'll be geared up to play and eventually, hopefully, it'll go away. When the season's over, I need rest. There ain't nothing else you can do."
Thrash spent much of yesterday with a hand surgeon, and will be in a splint after surgery. Tyer said the team expects Thrash will be able to practice late in the week, and although he will have limited mobility in his thumb, he should be able to play. "It's something he'll be able to play with," Tyer said. "We'll make a specially designed splint and we'll see."
Quarterback Mark Brunell, who suffered a mild sprain of his right knee two weeks ago, said the injury did not bother him in Tampa -- despite a season-worst 7-for-15 outing -- and Tyer said Brunell suffered no physical setbacks in the game. Left tackle Chris Samuels, who has experienced knee problems much of the season, was hurting late in the game and sat out the final series, and likely will rest again early this week and undergo treatment before playing Saturday.
Wynn had not missed a regular season game in five years before being carted off the field Saturday, and has started all season on the defensive line. He will be placed on injured reserve but is expected to be around the club during this playoff push. Evans has thrived in spot duty.
"You have to prepare yourself in case something happens where you have to step in and fill a void," defensive tackle Joe Salave'a said. "And not just to be another body, but to be a force out there, and Demetric is a proven player. Now his reps go real high from sparingly coming in, and I think he's ready. But for sure, Renaldo is a big part of this team, and this unit."