Prioleau's Strange Injury on First Play Sets Tone

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Throughout the preseason, Washington Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said he was comfortable with the personnel in his secondary. What he didn't care to discuss was injuries.

With starting left cornerback Shawn Springs out of last night's game as he recovers from abdominal surgery, the last thing the Redskins needed was another injury to their defensive backs.

But on the opening kickoff, nickel safety Pierson Prioleau, an important part of the Redskins' five- and six-defensive back packages, was lost for the night and possibly for the season. On what he called a bizarre exchange, Prioleau injured his right knee without being hit, was fitted with an immobilizing soft cast that stretched from his upper thigh to his ankle, and was helped off the field. Afterward, Prioleau could not reach far enough to put on his own shoe.

He will undergo an MRI exam today.

"It was a freak accident," he said. "They jumped me on the kickoff. It's a technique some teams use to keep one guy from getting downfield. They ran a guy right at me, and as I planted to try to avoid him, my foot got stuck in the turf. There was no contact at all."

A Bright Spot in Randle El

On a night that did not follow the Redskins' intended script, free agent acquisition Antwaan Randle El was one of the few Redskins who distinguished himself.

Showing the play-making ability that made him a dangerous offensive threat for years in Pittsburgh, Randle El excelled first on special teams, then in the passing game and once more in a late rally that nearly put the game into overtime.

Randle El caught five passes for 34 yards and averaged 9.3 yards on three punt returns. More significant than his numbers -- he also ran for four yards on one carry -- was his potential. The Vikings were aware of his every move.

"You saw a lot more. That's what we are and who we are," Randle El said, adding that after a preseason in which the offense was kept under wraps, associate head coach Al Saunders's offense began to show its promise.

"We've got little things that we need to fine tune, things that we thought we had completely down. . . . You can't do that when you have an opportunity."

Deja Vu

Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels stood in the home locker room shaking his head. After last night's loss, he thought he was watching a mirror image of the early weeks last season when the Redskins barely pressured the quarterback and often came tantalizingly close -- but just short -- of creating turnovers.

Against the Vikings, the Redskins produced one sack, by reserve defensive lineman Demetric Evans. On first and 10 from the Vikings 39, Evans moved around the right tackle and caught Johnson from behind, forcing Johnson to lose control of the ball as he attempted to throw. Like last season, when the Redskins forced fumbles but often were unable to recover them, Vikings center Matt Birk grabbed the loose ball and the Redskins lost another opportunity to gain momentum. "Brad has a great feel for the football and takes care of the football," Vikings Coach Brad Childress said. "Any time you take care of the football and don't turn it over to them you have a chance to win."

Daniels Takes a Hit, but Returns

In addition to Prioleau, Daniels also was carried off the field after taking a helmet to the knee with 2 minutes 8 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He came back on the next series.

"It was just numb," Daniels said. "I couldn't feel anything. Joe Salave'a said, 'Stay down.' I just tried to shake it off, but I'm okay."

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